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Can we get more from Indonesia than "just" Bali

Can we get more from Indonesia than "just" Bali

Old Sep 15th, 2010, 12:21 PM
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Can we get more from Indonesia than "just" Bali

Hello,
I am planning a trip for my husband, myself and our two kids (5 and 7 at that time) for Fall of 2011. I was originally thinking of Bali, then Vietnam and/or Cambodia, but I haven't decided yet. It will be about a 4 week trip. Although my husband I love adventure travel, with the kids (and to allow my husband a needed break from the corporate pace) we'd like it to be a slow paced vacation. I love what Bali has to offer, but found myself drawn to the temples of Cambodia and the less developed areas of both Cambodia and Vietnam. I'm really torn because Vietnam plus Angkor Wat seemed to give us everything we wanted, but everything is far apart so we'd always be on the move which isn't good right now. So now I'm wondering if perhaps I should look at visiting Bali and other portion(s) of Indonesia to get this type of experience without too much hassle. Any suggestions?
Thanks!
MunichB is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2010, 12:28 PM
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Take a look at central Java. Borobudor, which is the largest Buddhist monument in the world is stunning. And the nearby temples complex of Prambanam has dozens of Hindu temples. No, it's not Angkor Wat, but it is wonderful in its own right. There is much to do/see/experience on Java.

Java is a quick hop from Bali.
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Old Sep 15th, 2010, 12:42 PM
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Ditto on Java, especially Yogyakarta and Borobudur. We did this on our trip to Indonesia back in April (for the first 5 days of our trip) and really were surprised by how much we loved it.

Rougher than Bali, for sure...but that kind of side trip the perfect companion piece to a trip to Bali IMHO.
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Old Sep 15th, 2010, 07:06 PM
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Java is beautiful, serene and culturally rich with great natural beauty, many ancient sites and contemporary arts and performance traditions. There are plenty of choices in accommodation, but tourism is mostly underdeveloped.

Be aware, however, that Ramadan 2011 will start end July and the big Islamic holidays following Ramadan will begin August 30. Java pretty much shuts down during Ramadan and immediately afterwards millions of people will be on the move. You do not want to travel in Java from around August 25-September 10. This applies to Lombok too, but to a lesser degree. If your trip covers this period, go to Bali first and Java/Lombok after the holidays.

You could easily fill up 4-6 days in Central Java in a combination of the countryside around Borobudur and in the city of Yogyakarta and Solo (Surakarta).

The Mt. Bromo area on the east coast is a natural phenomenon – a cluster of active volcanoes with profoundly impressive scenery.

The Ubud area would a mix of relaxation, adventure travel and arts and culture. Lombok and/or one of the nearby islands (Gilis) for beachlife.

To get from Yogya to Bromo you fly into Surabaya and drive to the mountain area. You can also drive from Yogya to Bromo but it’s a long (about 12 hours) trip.

From Yogya or Surabaya you fly to Denpasar Bali or Mataram Lombok. You can also take ferries between East Java to North Bali and between Bali and Lombok.
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Old Sep 15th, 2010, 07:10 PM
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You could easily spend 10 days in Bali and 7-8 in Java. Would you and your kids like to visit charming primates in Sumatra? or Borneo? Staying in the Indonesian islands would make for the most efficient use of your time. Perhaps consider a separate trip to Cambodia, Vietnam or other places in that same area.
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Old Sep 15th, 2010, 08:19 PM
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There is so much more to Indonesia than just Bali! In addition to Java and Sumatra which have been mentioned above, consider places like Sulawesi and Celebes which are not heavily touristed at all. Borneo which is divided between Malaysia and Indonesia (with Brunei thrown in for good measure) would offer lots of interesting opportunities. Lombok is also a consideration, although parts of that are certainly becoming as developed as Bali. But even on Bali, there are places you can go in the north and northwest which would be far less developed than places like Seminyak and Ubud.

On the other hand, if you are drawn to the ideas of temples rising out to the jungle, other than at Borobudur (which is not a working religious site) you will not find that in Indonesia. You will find a bit on Bali (Hindu temples of course), but not in the same way as offered by Laos and Cambodia with chanting monks, incense, temple bells and golden temples spires. (Of course you won’t get much of that in Vietnam either.)

One thing about Vietnam in the fall is that they can get a lot of rain. Esp. in October and November. If you are including beach time in Vietnam, this could be an issue. (This will be an issue in Laos and Cambodia as well.) Not sure when exactly your trip would be, but take a look at weather websites and consult guidebooks to make sure you are comfortable with that possibility. Even Sept can be wet in some places in the south. I also agree that to appreciate Vietnam fully, you do have to move around quite a bit from places like Hue, Hoi An, to inland areas, to Hanoi, etc. You have the time with 4 weeks, but may not want to move that much. In Bali you could rent a house somewhere and use that as a base to explore virtually all of the island via day trips (or just explore fully the little corner where you are). Or rent two houses in different areas and spend 2 weeks in each.

However, with 4 weeks, you certainly have a good bit of time. I would think Ankor Wat and then Bali would be very doable in that time frame. You can fly from Ankor to Bangkok or Singapore and connect on to Bali, in one (admittedly longish) day. Visiting both would also give you a nice contrast between the Buddhist and Hindu, and possibly Muslim as well if you make a short trip to other places in Indonesia like Jogyakarta or Lombok.

I will say that in my opinion if your objective is to have a relaxing time getting to know a place slowly, that Bail probably offers the best chance for this as its tourism infrastructure is so developed. It is so easy to rent a house, to get around the island, to find shops which would have food items you want, and language is not an issue. I think trying to replicate this same experience living in hotels and moving around as you would need to in Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam will not be the same. The do not offer the same level of infrastructure. (They will shortly, esp Vietnam.) A place like Sulawesi, while very interesting, will not offer much support and I think you probably would find the infrastructure rather difficult at times; although you get adventure of course. Perhaps not so much fun with a hungry 5 year old. In Bali, you do have to take the good with the bad with their highly developed infrastructure, because parts of Bali are just like South Beach to me (e.g. Seminiyak), but if your goal is to stay put and relax, Bali would IMO work best. It is also a fascinating culture and a magical place.
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Old Sep 16th, 2010, 12:20 AM
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An additional word on Sulawesi -- this is one of my favorite places in Indonesia and anywhere. There are two primary attractions, both of which offer a fairly good selection of tourist infrastructures.

First, Central Sulawesi which is accessed by driving several hours (4-5?) from the southern city of Makassar (Ujung Pandang), is the home of the Torajan society. Tanah Toraja is both extraordinarily scenic and culturally fascinating. My son was about 10 when we first went there and it was a great trip for him, though be aware that the rituals involve extensive slaughter of animals which may upset some children -- and some adults. The arts and architecture are also signficant.

The other area of interest is northern Sulawesi around the town of Manado which is accessed either from Makassar or from Singapore. There is magnificent diving and snorkling around Bunaken island and the Lembeh straight and several nature preserves with apes, monkeys, hornbills and assorted other creatures.

Because of the prevalence of European travelers the accommodation choices in both areas are quite good with a wide range of prices. Sulawesi would not be impacted by the Islamic holidays as the people are mainly Christian or Animist.
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Old Sep 17th, 2010, 03:11 AM
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Bali is definetely the most famous amongs tourist…lots of international flights to Bali

There are a lot more to see in Indonesia…but perhaps the access may not be as easy as Bali, you may need to go by domestic flight

Try google the following places:
Lombok Island…island next to Bali
in Central Java…Mount Bromo, Borobudur Temple (not sure about the spelling), Prambanan Temple
Komodo Island…the only place in the world you can see wild komodo dragon
Raja Ampat…I've never been there, but they look amazing….check in google image
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Old Sep 17th, 2010, 11:33 AM
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We have been to Bali 3 times over the past 10 years for a total of 14-15 days. Maybe we missed a lot or had excellent guides but I really doubt it based upon reading just about every guidebook under the sun. That said We have been to Vietnam but not Cambodia and would suggest you consider as others have focusing on Indonesia as long as you are not planning on traveling during the period Oct-Feb. when weather is not ideal. In my opinion to keep the kids attention and making your trip meaningful I might suggest 7-8 days in Baliand 5-7 days in Central and East Java and if the kids are water rats and the youngest puts her head in the water a 3 day stay in Monado with some lovely beaches but some of the best snorkeling you swill find that is easily accessible is in Bunaken National Park. It is a treasure. Then as suggested a flight to Sulewisi and go up to Tarajakland (spelling is off)is an experience and the markets in the trip up and back can really be very interesting. There are 4 hotels up there and the nicest is quite luxurious and you could spend 2 days up there and 3-4 driving with or without a guide elsewhere in Sulewisi. That probably is moving around a bit but would really give you an immersion into Indonesion cultures and their different ways of like.
I used a terrific small guide firm in Central Java that you might want to contact. He is $20+ more than the others but he has 2 suberb guides and for 5 days in Java it's only an extra $100+/-. You can contact him at [email protected]
I think his new wensite may be up which is [email protected] or similar. He made our 5 days im late March simply facinating.Pardon any typos.
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Old Sep 17th, 2010, 05:46 PM
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try Yogyakarta, it's a quite ethnic city with a strong Java-Culture atmosphere...you can go to Borobudur temple (one of seven wonders in the world, and one of the biggest Buddhist's temple in the world with a great view), Keraton Yogyakarta as a central government place but still with an old tradition ways..a lot of place to eat called "lesehan"..shopping at Malioboro..

and if you still have a lot of time, go to Mount Bromo, it's a very wonderful scenery..can't tell you with the words..you should see it with your own eyes how beautiful the scenery is...
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Old May 6th, 2011, 06:25 PM
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A question for Marmot and others, as I am considering a return to Indonesia sometime this year as well:

When you talk about driving, particularly in eastern Java and on Sulawesi, do you mean renting your own car, or hiring a car/driver? When I went to Bali I was strongly advised against driving on my own. Is it generally easy and affordable to hire drivers in Sulawesi and to the Mt. Bromo area in East Java?
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Old May 6th, 2011, 09:16 PM
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John, Good point. When I say "driving" I mean hiring a car and driver. Self driving is borderline safe in Bali. In Java and Sulawesi I wouldn't even think about it. Even if you were foolhardy enough to consider it, car rental facilities are not commonly accessible.
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Old May 7th, 2011, 01:16 PM
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I cannot believe some of the replies here. Babymocca has come the closest. You have small children! Sulawesi, predominantly known for its funeral rites and somewhat challenging distances and travel comfort is hardly the place for travel with small children. Borobudur is to Ankor as Decorah, Iowa is to Paris: it is a rockpile with many great carvings which 99% of people breeze past. Sumatra is far more interesting, but mostly too adventurous for children. Lombok is such a great place. Lovely empty beaches, reasonably priced accomodation, drivers for hire by day with comfortable cars and you can motor along as though you were in Bali about 30 years ago. Finally, Laos is written of above as tho it is one uniform place - it is not. The south is quite different from the North and both have a lot of reasons to visit.
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Old May 7th, 2011, 03:18 PM
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The only thing I can say about Lombok is that after 3 days we were bored. We found 2 days touring just about covered it and one day on the beach but that could have been in Bali but I agree fort a cheaper price.
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