Indonesia - itinerary help needed

Old Oct 27th, 2009, 01:40 PM
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Indonesia - itinerary help needed

Hi,

I leave for Indonesia with a guidebook in a few days and I have no real plan. Have a month off and would like an adventurous trip with a mix of culture, diving, silence and exquisite scenery, and fun.

I will be flying into Jakarta and from there anything is an option. I am a very keen diver so north sulawesi is on the cards for me for sure. I would like to do some off the beaten track exploring off hidden gems. I would like to spend some time on the volcanoes so was thinking of Mt. Bromo. I'm backpacking and certainly not an expensive resort person so staying away from Bali on this trip. Any suggestions for itineraries or places would be most appreciated.

I'd rather do a few places well - so Sulawesi and Java rather than just be taking flights most of my trip to tick off boxes.

Thanks
buffoon_explorer is offline  
Old Oct 27th, 2009, 02:59 PM
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I think your plan to do a few places well is excellent. I love central Java - so much to see and do in and around the Jogjakarta area Borobudor, Prambanam, Dieng Plateau, etc).

There was a report here about Sulawasi here within the last year or so - do a search for it. It had lots of interesting info.

You have plenty on your schedule and don't need more, but I thought I'd mention that if you are interested in Bali's unique culture, it's not all expensive resorts. Indeed, you can live quite well as a backpacker in Bali.
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Old Oct 27th, 2009, 04:25 PM
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I agree that you could easily fill up a month between Java and Sulawesi. Even within these islands the distances between place to place are quite great and the most reliable form to transport is air.

The first thing I would say is don’t rely on your guidebook for advice for anything practical as conditions are sure to have changed. You can get more up to date information on places to stay, restaurants, transportation and general logistics on the internet. Second, it’s the rainy season so make sure you get solid local advice before climbing any mountains.

My top choices would be Central Java / Borobudur, Bromo (in spite of the rain), Central Sulawesi / Tanah Toraja, North Sulawesi. Bali is also wonderful (and as Kathie says not out of range for budget travellers) but you may have to choose between Sulawesi and Bali for a month of slow travel.

I would do Sulawesi first. Fly from Jakarta to Makassar to Manado. There are plenty of good dive sites in the Bunaken area. On the Western side I’d highly recommend the Lembeh Strait. Kungungan Bay Resort may be on the pricy side but it’s a phenomenal dive experience. Tangkoko National Park is also a wonderful visit.

Then I’d fly to Makassar and get a guide to drive to Toraja. Profoundly beautiful scenery and one of the weirdest cultures on the planet.

Back to Makassar and fly to Surabaya, drive to Bromo. Stay on the mountain. There are several backpacker places. Lava View Lodge is good, but they’re all fairly basic.

Fly from Surabaya to Yogyakarta. Stay at Borobudur, the Manohara. Plenty of good mountains in this area as well.

Since Bali is an appealing destination (especially for the fun part of your wishlist) here’s an alternative itinerary:

Fly from Jakarta to Yogya. See Borobudur and surroundings.
Fly or train from Yoyga to Surabaya. See Bromo.
Get a guide to Mt. Ijen. Sulphur mining in the crater.
Ferry to North Bali. Stay at Pemuteran. Dive at Menjangan. Spend a few days in the North Bali area.
Continue on to Ubud. The Ubud area is worth a good week. you can definitely get away from the luxe resort scene and take advantage of culture + nature.
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Old Oct 27th, 2009, 06:56 PM
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If I'm not mistaken, you're arriving in the off season for diving north Sulawesi. Of course, the dive resorts will tell you conditions are good all year, but they're really not. Since you're flexible, you may just want to wait and see what conditions are like when you're there. I would definitely recommend that you visit Toraja, so you can decide after that if North Sulawesi seems like a good idea.

I personally like the diving around Bali, and since the good dive sites are along the north and east coasts - well away from the main tourist areas - staying around there is more budget-friendly than the south.
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Old Oct 28th, 2009, 09:34 AM
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Thank you for all the advice. I've been able to chalk out a rough itinerary on the basis of all three of your advice. Just three more questions:

1) Is Central Sulawesi safe? Have read that it wasn't last year so just want to make sure.

2) What about the Raja Ampat islands? I'm a diving fanatic, who hasn't dived in a year so if once I reach North Sulawesi I realise all I'd love to do is dive I might head to Raja Ampat islands - is it easy to get tehre? Is it generally beautiful to hang out for a few weeks there?

3) Any suggestions for budget hotels/hostels in Jakarta that are safe for a lone woman?

Thanks again
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Old Oct 28th, 2009, 06:41 PM
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It has been many years since there were any problems in central Sulawesi. Toraja itself has always been relatively safe. The problems were in more remote areas.

Raja Ampat is very good, but is somewhat remote. Have a look at Komodo and Flores in your guidebook. I did a Komodo dive trip earlier this year, and posted a trip report here about it. Really fabulous diving, plus the dragons, and bats. Flores looks interesting and I want to go back there one day to see the island itself.

On a budget, you could island hop using ferries from Bali to Lombok (diving around the Gilis at Lombok is supposed to be good) to Sumbawa (or is it Sumba, I get the two mixed up) to Komodo and Flores. There are guest camps on Komodo and Rinca if you'd like to try sleeping with the dragons.

I don't know hostels (losmen) but there are several budget hotels around Jakarta. The 'express' hotel format is catching on big there. Formule 1 (Accor group) has two properties. The one at Cikini is very nice. Accor also has several of their Ibis hotels in Jakarta, which run in the mid $30 price range.
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Old Oct 28th, 2009, 06:48 PM
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1) Central Sulawesi -- especially the area around Poso -- has had occurrences of sectarian violence. I think the risk of being affected in Tanah Torah is slight.

2)I believe Raja Ampat is in Papua, not Sulawesi. That's really getting out there!

Another place that I'd recommend is in South Sulawesi -- Wakitoba. I haven't been there myself but I hear it's spectacular.
http://www.wakatobi.com/home.php

As an island nation there is plenty of good diving all over Indonesia. I like the North Sulawesi area -- both Bunaken and Lembeh -- because it offers a good balance between developed and pristine. The infrastructure is there and so are the fish!

3) I'd suggest the Gran Mahakam Hotel in South Jakarta. Jakarta is not a particularly dangerous place but it can be unpleasant or at least bewildering. I'd recommend going upscale rather than hostel level.

Hotel Ikon in Kemang would be a great choice for a single female traveler. Lots to do in the neighborhood.
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Old Oct 28th, 2009, 09:22 PM
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I've also heard good things about Wakatobi, but I've also heard it's one of the most expensive places to dive, due to few operators and distance. Raja Ampat is also a bit pricey, since you have to fly to Papua (about 6 hours from Bali) then book yourself on a live-aboard.

You might want to check out http://divehappy.com for dive information. It's written by the SE Asia correspondent for Easy Diver magazine. He has lots of information and is rather price-conscious.

A cheaper option in the Kemang area is the Grand Kemang. It's right in the middle of the Kemang street, which is full of restaurants (including one of mine). The Grand Kemang is about a third the price of the Ikon. I've stayed there twice, and it's quite nice.
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Old Oct 29th, 2009, 03:31 AM
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Thanks guys. Wakatobi seems great but it's more expensive than diving with Papau Diving in Raja Ampat so I think I'll splurge on myself on that bit of the trip and do the rest more basic and cheaply. I am also attracted by the remoteness. Not really interested in the Komodo dragons or sleeping near them

Just need to decide if I will do Manado at all or skip that now that I'm going to Raja Ampat...

Really appreciate your help.
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Old Oct 29th, 2009, 04:13 PM
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Good luck and please come back and tell us all about it.
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Old Nov 26th, 2009, 08:40 PM
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For Jakarta, Kemang (South Jakarta) is the place to be

Not really in the CBD but a very nice suburb

Same if you travel to all other countries, travelling alone is more risky…beside paying twin share is gonna be cheaper than single

If you happen to go to Bunaken (Manado), stop by in a restaurant called "City Extra" in Kalase area
They have a very nice and affortable sea food…
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Old Nov 26th, 2009, 09:53 PM
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explorer - What kind of diving do you prefer? If you like muck diving, Lembeh can't be beat. Just returned from diving there the list of weird critters this year was terrific. Both KBR and Lembeh Resort run very good operations. Lembeh Resort went way above the call of duty in helping us out of a reservations glitch that was not their fault - they couldn't have been nicer. Other places dive the same sites, but the accommodations may not be as nice at many of them.

If you're a wall diver, which is pretty, but not my favorite, Bunaken is mostly walls. Wakatobi is very expensive. Raja Ampat has great diving and best done on a liveaboard. There's also a liveaboard trip that includes Banda Sea and Raja Ampat so you'd get some really good variety in dive sites. I can't remember off the top of my head what time of year they do those trips, but I think it was around now. For all around good diving Komodo is very good, and if youlike night diving, it has some of the most stellar night dives with tons of action.

Borobodur is a definite reason to be in Java and Manohara, while very basic, is right at the monument and you eat breakfast right there up close and personal. A drive up to the Dieng Plateau is a really beautiful way to spend a day too.

Hope you have a great time - I'll be back next year!
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Old Nov 26th, 2009, 09:55 PM
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Oops! Just noticed this may be a little late for your original post date.
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Old Nov 29th, 2009, 10:58 AM
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marmot; Can I do a day trip,10-11 hours, fron Yogya to Buntang and is it worth giving up going to Deing Plateau or Gedong Sorgo trips in order to make that trip with my guide/and driver? What are the pluses and minuses knowing we seek natures beauty, possible animal sightings, villages with different customs vs. major shrines, etc.?
Thanks.
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Old Dec 1st, 2009, 02:27 AM
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Stan, please check the name of the place again. I'm not familiar with Buntang. If you mean Bandung it's a long, long drive. Scenic but not exceptional.

I'm not sure about experiencing the Dieng Plateau by car. My experience was on foot, which I know may be problematic for you.

Java is fairly understated. The mountains and rice paddies are beautiful. The arts and crafts are very good. But aside from Borobudur there's no particular place or site that stands out as spectacular.

Java is also one of the most densely populated places on the planet. Aside from the volcanic areas there is very little land that is uninhabited or uncultivated. Not much in the way of wildlife except goats and the odd monkey.
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Old Dec 1st, 2009, 05:01 AM
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marmot; I meant Bandung and based upon what you are saying I will stay with my current itinerary.
thanks.
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