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Bali & Flores or Sulawesi for first trip to Indonesia!

Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 04:41 PM
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Bali & Flores or Sulawesi for first trip to Indonesia!

Hi everyone,

I am planning my first trip to Indonesia for 17 full days beginning of September. I love nature, culture, authentic places in the countryside & good beaches for snorkeling and diving!

My initial plan was to spend 6 days in Yogyakarta/Java then head to Bali where I will spend one day in Pemuteran mainly to do snorkeling/diving in Menjangan Island then head to Ubud for 3 days, then my last leg will be 7 days in Flores.

I came across many posts regarding Sulawesi and it also seems really interesting and I am wondering if I should skip Bali and Flores and just do 6 days in Yogyakarta/Java then 11 days Sulawesi.

What drew me mainly to Bali was Ubud and the beautiful green nature and the countryside atmosphere, so I was wondering if Sulawesi has a similar place and as for Flores, the beaches in Flores seemed great for snorkeling and diving, along with some great mountain and volcano sites like Mount Kelimutu, Padar Island and may be a tour to Wae Rebo Village.

So if you visited both which plan would you pick ?

Thanks a lot for your help.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 06:53 PM
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Hi giicko,

We spent a while in Java a couple of years back travelling down from Jakarta via Bromo, Borobudur getting the ferry accord to Bali. The scenery was spectacular. There are some photos and more detail of our trip on our blog @ https://accidentalnomads.com/category/indonesia/

We despite being keen divers, we bypassed Permuteran on that trip as we had dived Menjangan on a previous trip and were not that impressed. The beaches weren't great either.

We are currently at the airport awaiting our flight to Sulawesi where we will travel from Makassar up to Tanah Toraja via Senkang and Ramang-Ramangso I will post about our impressions then. We are not going to the north of Sulawesi on this trip but the diving from Manado is supposed to be some of the best in Asia. Maybe worth considering.
FWIW, I did look at Flores and Komodo but decided that Sulawesi was more what we were looking for this time.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 07:40 PM
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Hi crellston,

Thanks for replying. I am surprised that you didn't like Menjangan, I read lot of great reviews on it but I might think now to use this day somewhere else.

I am torn between flores and Sulawesi! but I will do more search to decide.

Good luck in your trip, fill me in when you get back
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Old Jul 24th, 2017, 04:56 AM
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I think it's difficult to make a comparison between Bali and Sulawesi. They are really two different trips.

Although Bali is heavily touristed, it still retains its appeal both for culture and nature. It's basically a small island, easy to get around with a wide range of accessible services. The reefs in the north and east are good, but no where near the level of what you would find in Sulawesi or other parts of Indonesia. The combination of Central Java, Bali and a week in Flores would make a wonderful first trip to Indonesia. I haven't been to Flores, but it's on my list, especially for textiles. I'm a great fan of the Central Java country side, but not so much Yogyakarta. If you make this trip, I'd cut out a few days in Yogya and either add Bromo (East Java) or more time in Ubud.

The reefs in North Sulawesi -- Bunaken and Lembeh Strait -- are phenomenal and the culture of Toraja extraordinary. The down side of Sulawesi is that it isn't so easy to get around. Toraja is a half days drive from Makassar. Manado is a flight. Outside of the Toraja area overland travel is difficult. The whole island is lightly populated with some spectacular scenery. You just have to work harder to get from place to place than you would in Java-Bali.
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Old Jul 25th, 2017, 12:10 AM
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Hi marmot,

Thanks for replying, the culture and countryside atmosphere is what drew me to Bali and specifically Ubud and may be a day trip in Munduk, so I plan to stay there for 4 days and as for Yogya and Java, I plan to stay for 3 days Yogya, and 3 days in Java to visit Mt Bromo and Ijen crater, are there major sites in Java that I need to check, I could definitely take a day from Yogya to Java.

Sulawesi seems really big to only spend one week even flores seems big but I will be able to see more in flores in a week than in Sulawesi. So I will probably leave Sulawesi for my next trip.
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Old Jul 25th, 2017, 05:43 AM
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Bali is a unique culture, different than the rest of Indonesia. Any time you can spend in Ubud, the artistic centre, will be time well spent.
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Old Jul 25th, 2017, 06:09 AM
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glicko, Yoga (the city) is on Java (the island). There is plenty to see and do on Java. In addition to Borobudur, there is Prambanam (a Hindu temples complex) and the Ramayana is performed there regularly. You have already decided to visit Bromo. You might want to take a look at our photos of Java and it has a link to my trip report www.marlandc.com/Java-2012. Java, like most of Indonesia is primarily Muslim, whereas Bali is Hindu. Bali is unique in Indonesia with it's fascinating culture and arts. I highly recommend a visit to Bali as well as a visit to Java.

Have a wonderful trip!
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Old Jul 25th, 2017, 04:43 PM
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You might also find some helpful information about Java and Bali in my trip report:
http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...a-and-bali.cfm

I wanted much more time in Java and Bali that you are currently contemplating, but of course, it depends on one's interests.....
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Old Jul 26th, 2017, 04:44 PM
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It is pretty easy to fly from Bali to Labuan Bajo in Flores (go on Garuda) and from there there are lots of dive shops in LBJ.
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Old Jul 27th, 2017, 07:06 PM
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Thanks a lot Kja for sharing your trip, I enjoyed your writing style Well your trip plan looks so much different than mine and I am a bit confused now on what to see and what to leave for another trip. I think Indonesia is one of those countries with tons of stuff to see and do @ each corner! Also the link you provided for the 9 days in Ubud looks really interesting, I might even cancel my Flores days and just stay in Bali and may be do diving and snorkeling up north in Amed!

Thanks
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Old Jul 27th, 2017, 07:21 PM
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I'm glad you find my report useful, and thanks for your kind words about it, giicko! I agree that Indonesia offers an incredible cornucopia of options -- no bad decisions, IMO, just very difficult ones!
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Old Jul 27th, 2017, 11:04 PM
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Lots of good choices! I think you could easily fill up 17 days between Java and Bali. If you choose to include Flores you might want to eliminate one of your stops in Java. I'd agree that it's better to save Sulawesi for another trip of its own. Sulawesi is a huge island and deserves a lot of time.

Just to clarify: Yogyakarta is a medium sized city in Central Java. Borobudur monument is in the country side about an hour outside of Yogya. Depending on time and interests there are several interesting sites both in Yogya and in the surrounding area. Since you like nature, I'd suggest you stay near Borobudur.

Mt. Bromo is in East Java. The fastest way to get from Central Java to East Java is to fly from Yogya to Surabaya. Again, if spectacular natural scenery is your objective I'd recommend that you stay in the Bromo area which is several hours drive from Surabaya airport.

From Surabaya you can fly to Denpasar, South Bali. You could also arrange overland travel from Bromo to the ferry that will take you to North Bali, not too far from Pemuteran. If you take the ferry you might also want to make a stop to see the Ijen sulphur mines.

I'd give the snorkling and scuba in the Pemuteran area (especially Menjangan Island) a slight edge over Amed, though I'd say that Amed is a slightly nicer community. If you cut out Flores you could probably do both. Neither has a particularly notable beach, but the scenery and atmosphere is nice.

Sidemen (south of Amed) and Munduk are both quite scenic with lots of nature oriented activities. Ubud has both nature and culture, though it's more heavily touristed than Sidemen or Munduk.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 03:21 PM
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Hi marmot,

Thanks a lot for chipping in with these great ideas! I love how everyone is sharing their experiences!

I am still considering canceling Flores but for now here is my current plan which I know will shift a lot

Day 0: Arrive Jakarta then fly directly to Yogyakarta, will arrive around around sunset to there will be time to visit the night market around Malioboro

Day 1: Yogyakarta
Taman Sari - water castle
One of the museums
Beringharjo market

Or Dieng Plateau

Day 2: Yogyakarta
Sunrise @ Borobudur
Prambanan temple
Sunset @ Prambanan temple
Ramayana Ballet @ Prambanan temple


Day 3: Mt. Bromo
Early Plane to Surabaya
Take the train from Surabaya to Probolinggo, then probably a private taxi to Cemoro Lawang
Sunest or Sunrise @ Mt Bromo depending on the arrival time in Cemoro Lawang

Day 4: Kawah Ijen:
Get down from sunrise and head to Kawah Ijen.
Do the sunset on the same day if possible

Day 5:
Head to Banyuwangi to take a direct bus to Ubud
Spend the afternoon exploring Ubud

Days 6-9: Ubud with a one day trip to Munduk (Need to search more on what to do in Ubud)

Bike ride thru the rice fields
Yoga
Dinner @ Locavore
Lake Bratan and water temple
Campuhan Ridge Walk Scenic Walk


Day 10: Flores:
Fly from Bali to Flores
Hire a private boat to get to Kanawa Island for a day trip

Day 11: Flores:
Diving

Day 12: Flores:
Pink beach
Padar island for sunset

Day 13: Gili Islands
Fly to Bali and transfer by a speed boat to the Gili islands

Day 14: Gili Islands

Day 15: Gili Islands

Day 16: Gili Islands

Day 17: Transfer to Lombok for a night flight back to Jakarta

Day 18: Back to real life

Initially I didn't have the Gili islands in the plan, but I wanted a nice beach to relax for the last 3 days and I couldn't come across anything like the Gili islands on Flores. Please advice if you know of a nice spot, may be Maumere but the pictures are kinda underwhelming!

Also, I wanted to visit the Bajawa area in Flores for Bena village but I read that it's very touristy and fake, did you ever visit that area??

Please feel free to comment on my plan
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 04:15 PM
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I had a side question, since I will be flying quite a bit, do I have to avoid Lion air and the other cheaper ones? are they really unreliable?
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 12:10 AM
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My personal opinion is that you've too many different destinations: Yogya, Bromo, Ijen, Ubud, Flores, Gilis. Too much time in transit and not enough down time. I think you're greatly underestimating the travel time from place to place and how tiring Indonesia can be (heat, humidity, lack of sleep, overall strangeness). I'd suggest that eliminate two and add some breathing space to the other four.

In Indonesia I would choose AirAsia or Garuda first. If neither flies where you want to go, then any of the other domestics airlines would be third choice. Some of them have had safety issues in past (you can look up their records) but they're still flying and thousands of people use them every day. Be prepared for delays, though. Don't schedule the next event too closely.
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 01:17 AM
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I agree with Marmot that you are attempting to pack too much in. Days 3-5 I just don't think will work.

Sunrise and sunset at Bromo are both pretty special and you should try and fit in both which would require two nights The dawn is by far the most impressive and it would be a real shame to go all that way and miss it.

It took us the best part of the day to drive from Bromo to Ijen. You have two choices there, get up around 01.30am and hike up the mountain and down into to the crater to see the "blue flames" - we met people who did just that and were disappointed as they did not appear. Some where also scared witless climbing down into that crater in the dark!
We chose to hike up at 05.30 as dawn broke. It was an incredible experience, the timing was just right.

We then drove to the ferry in a few hours , sailed across to Bali and got the bus down to Denpasar which took longer than expected, around six hours as I recall. The bus driver lied through his teeth when he said it was a direct bus!! Silly me!

This was a couple of years ago and were headed to Ubud but then there were no direct buses so we had to spend an overnight in Denpasar and got a taxi the next day. Perhaps there are now direct buses?

I know it's is probably not in your plans, but, FWIW we arrived in Tanah Toraja yesterday from Makassar. A lovely city and the friendliest people! Great food too. Marmot was spot on regarding the trip from Makassar to Toraja, we rented a car and driver and it still took the best part of ten hours. Apparently a bus take over 11 and flights are unreliable.

Was it worth it? Absolutely! We have only spent one day here, but alreadly feel that it is an incredible place, with some of the best scenery we have encountered anywhere in Asia.

We have a few more days here including a visit to a funeral, some more villages before heading back to Makassar via SengKang lake and the karst she of RamangRamang.
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Old Jul 31st, 2017, 12:06 AM
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marmot & crellston, thanks a lot for your valuable input! I agree that my plan seems rushed, I wish I could fit more time to be able to explore more! luv traveling but the time is always lacking!

I will definitely revise my plan and repost.

again thanks for your comments, very helpful!
giicko is offline  
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