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Thoughts on using a travel agent for Indonesia, recommendations?

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Mar 1st, 2012, 08:17 AM
  #1
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Thoughts on using a travel agent for Indonesia, recommendations?

Hello again,

I am trying to plan a 2-week honeymoon in Indonesia this July and was wondering if using a travel agent might help us come up with a reasonable itinerary and get good flight deals. I've never used one before. Any thoughts or advice - and if you think its worth trying one, any recommendations for a great agent - are very much appreciated.

I'm NOT looking for a tour operator.

Note, we live in DC but not sure that matters. I'm happy to do all the work via email or phone.

Thanks!
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Mar 1st, 2012, 08:30 AM
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I've found that Asia specialists can sometimes get you better deals on airfares, so this is worth pursuing. I doubt very much it would help you with hotels, but you never know.

If you are just going to Bali, look at someone who specializes on that destination alone.

One thing I'd add is that you should look at departing from both the NYC area as well as from the DC area; if you are willing to take the train up to NYC, you can connect pretty easily to a later afternoon or evening flight to Asia, and that could save you some money possibly (or not, so you have to price everything). There are several direct and nonstop flights to Asia from NYC-area airports, though none directly to Indonesia that I'm aware of.
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Mar 1st, 2012, 08:53 AM
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Thanks so much! Are there any asia specialists you recommend?
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Mar 1st, 2012, 09:14 AM
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There are a lot of Japan, Philippine, and China specialists in NYC, but I don't personally know of a company that deals with Indonesia. Hopefully someone here can help. There was a recent article in the New York Times that does have a few recommendations for specialist agents (they were comparing what specialists can do versus a new search engine). So perhaps this will help: http://frugaltraveler.blogs.nytimes....nd-the-corner/
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Mar 1st, 2012, 11:01 AM
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What is it you want a travel agent to do? An agent might (or might not) be able to come up with a better airfare transpacific than you can.

As far as coming up with an itinerary, that is some thing you really need to do. Agents tend to try to cram in too many places (I think they believe that will make you think you got your money's worth) so that you really don't get a chance to experience a place. Especially on a honeymoon, you want time to relax and explore.

You are very likely to get better hotel prices yourself than through an agent.
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Mar 1st, 2012, 11:40 AM
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indonesia is a very big place... you need to narrow your trip down... do you have a good general guidebook on I? bali is often a mainstay of a visit to I, but there are many other places.

fodors and frommers are my fav general guides... your library might have one.

i would briefly explore a TA for flt prices but it is not fair to waste their time if you plan to do it on your own...

if bali is in your plans you need hotel asap as july is prime time there...
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Mar 1st, 2012, 12:05 PM
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The only complete guidebook for Indonesia is the Lonely Planet. There are other guides available specific to Bali, but if you plan to go beyond Bali, you'll need the Lonely Planet.
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Mar 1st, 2012, 03:49 PM
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My preferred guidebooks are the Periplus series, especially the ones for individual islands or by interest. Insight is also good. These are excellent for cultural and historical background and for information that doesn't change -- like archeological sites and natural attractions. Be sure to check the publication date.

But for up to date data on accommodations, restaurants, time tables, and maps, guidebooks are obsolete before they are published. Use the internet and word of mouth -- Fodors, Trip Advisor.

Flights from the US to Indonesia are fairly straight forward. First you have to get to an Asian hub -- either across the Atlantic or Pacific -- non-stop or with one stop. Then you connect to Jakarta or Denpasar (or possibly another island). I like SQ best, but all of the major airlines will get you within a connecting flight.

The travel agent may be able to get you within spitting distance (Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul) but you're probably better off working on your connections and your itinerary yourself. I find that few people in the US grasp the scale and location of Indonesia and the difficulty of getting around outside of Bali and a few big cities.

I would play around with an on-line site like expedia. See how best to get from DC to Hong Kong or Singapore. Once you have an ide of the price range you can ask a travel agent for comparison. If Business Class is in your budget you can't do better than the SQ non-stop from Newark to Singapore. There are plenty of connections from Singapore to Indonesia.

I wouldn't use a travel agent for hotels/resorts. There is much better and much more uptodate information on the internet. July is high season in Bali so don't expect deals, but it helps to call or email the resort directly.
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Mar 3rd, 2012, 07:56 AM
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About itineraries, I agree that the best thing to do first off is read a lot about the different cultures and islands so you get a idea of what you what to do and see in Indonesia. A travel agent probably won't be very helpful with your plans except for what you direct them to book for you.

About hotels, I don't know what your budget or style is but don't feel that you need to book into the most famous or very top of the line hotels to have a fabulous honeymoon. There are many many wonderful choices, so if in July the #1 hotel on Trip Advisor is fully booked, it is not a terrible thing.

Have a fun time planning!
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Mar 3rd, 2012, 09:05 AM
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I agree with kulak and I do find Fodor's-S.E. Asia fairly detailed. Lonely Planet is a bit too detailed unless you really want to do a ton of cultural experiences. We found Frommer's to be far too general and Rouge Guide the same. I would submit tgo you that in 2 weeks you loose 2 days traveling RT so you in affect have 12+ days. I would not use a TA either. In fact many of the good ones with connections now charge $200-$300 for their services and still get a commission from most hotels.
Having visited Indonesia 3 times in the past 10 years and once about 18 years ago with another trip planned for December I think as an American traveler I have some good insights.
Your budget drives just where you stay and but yoyu can fly to a few places for $100-$150 RT and I would taske advantage of that. The trip I planned for my daughjter 2 years ago included 6 days in Bali with 4 in the Ubad area. If your budget allows and they have availability The Chedi Club is understated elegance and the Hanging Gardens is beautiful but it's layout requires a bit of walking. They are within 10-15 minutes of Ubad center and though both say they have a scheduled shuttle into the center of town they took us and picked us up at any time we requested though taxi's back will cost $3-4 USD but make sure you set the rate when you get in. YHou might want a few days in a beach environment and the area of Sanur is quite nice. It to as Ubud has a number of artisan shops but to be frank both areas and just about all of the main areas of interest are over-commercialed compated to 9-10 years ago. The Hyatt Regency in Sanur is very large with attractive rooms and grounds but it is also huge. But it ooffers everything at a reasonable rate. You might try to ask for a room one section away from the lobby which makes the place seem smaller. I arranged for my daughter to stay there for 2 nights but arruive by 1 PM (request early check-in) so you can maximize your time there. We have a passion for East Java and the flight uis onlt 75 minutes and cost my daughter $175 RT. The temples there especially Borobudur an 8th Century edifice is amazing as is Prambanan. Also our guide took us to several small villages ewhere groups of families were collectively making, flour frompalm trees, tofu (for hotels and markets) and pottery. You would think you were the 19th Century. There are still a few Sultans in Java and in Yogja (Central Java) there is one and a 1 hour visit through his palace is worthwhile.If you are there on a Sat. or Sunday ther is a ballet or puppet sow every week at 11:30 that is very enjoyable. There is a Hyatt Regency about 8-10 minutes from town that is nicer than the one in Sanur and the room rates through our guide were $180 for 2 for my daughter and husband. The phoenix Hotel is prettu nice and is nearer to the city but the town closes around 7 PM If you spent 2 full days there I would defonetely go to Dieng Plateau. Though the trip is long 2 hours plus once you get within 1/2 hour of the plateau you see agriculture that in some ways is more interesting than Bali's endless rice fields. We had our guide stop at at least 1 market on the way out and one was just facinating. My daughter enjoyed it because in the buying and selling of cows, pigs, etc. the women were in charge and dod all the negotiations. It would also be wise to ask the guide to make a market stop on the return to break-up the trip. It's a long day 7:30-5:30 but worthit.
I would use 2 sources for getting a rate in Bali. One is the hotel's actual website and compare it to Agoda.com. Sometimes the rates are the same or one is less than the other. When they are about the same we prefer dealing directly with the hotel.With Agoda you pay up front but our experience has been excellent when we once needed to cancel.
I would strongly suggest you consider our guide if you go to Central Java. At $80 USD for a 10+ hour day he is $15-$20/day more than others but he is so well qualified and pleasant he will make the trip really worthwhile. He was appointed last year as the UNESCO Advisor to Boborobudur and his English is terrific. He has lived in East Java in his youth and the last 30 years in Central Java. His van is comfortable and has good A/C. You can contact him : Bobodururtourand travel.com or [email protected] (Home Office).
In Baliguides cost $40-$65 USD for a 10 hour day and we used a fellow you can search through this Forum to get his email. He goes by the name Balifriend and his first name is Putu. Last year we paid $65 with tip/day. Make sure he does not have his cousin take you. He is inexperienced so his knowlwge base is limited. But we did use him for pick-up and return to the airport for $45+$5 tip.
We love the area and our daughter hopes to return in 2013.
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Mar 4th, 2012, 03:20 PM
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I gave you the website incorrectly for our guide if you decide to go to Java.
It is Bobobudurtourandtrevel.com
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Mar 4th, 2012, 03:22 PM
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Again I messed up.

Bobbudurtourandtravel.com

I really should learn to type but at 60+ it's not easy.
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Mar 6th, 2012, 11:49 AM
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StanKase thanks for all the information. I will definitely look into your guide. I just got off the phone with an agent I had tried out to see if I could get a better deal on flights and the answer is No. We're thinking of starting out in Bali, first in the south because we have enough starwood points for 5+ free nights at a fancy hotel, then Ubud then East/Central Java.

Is it fairly easy to book domestic flights within Indonesia once we arrive?
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Mar 6th, 2012, 12:21 PM
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Yes.
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Mar 6th, 2012, 03:07 PM
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Lois, your hotel in Bali will book the flights for you. After you've made your Bali reservation I'd email the concierge at the hotel and ask them to book the flights and bill to your credit card. July is high season and the popular flights fill up. Or use an Indonesian travel agent like Smailings or Bayu Buana.

East Java (Bromo/Surabaya) and Central Java(Borobudur/Yogyakarta/Solo) are two different places, and it's not so easy to get from one to another. You can fly, you can take a train or you can drive, but all have downsides. The distances due to bad roads and mountains are always greater than anticipated.
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Mar 6th, 2012, 07:53 PM
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Loislanddc; At the Chedi Club from their website they are offfering a special through 2012 because of the slow tourist tade based on a few articles that did not show Bali in the best light. You can stay 3 nights and pay for 2 nights including fuull American breakfast and good at that. We are staying a forth night but could not get a break on the 4th night rate but they are picking us up at the airport in a luxury sedan. Not that we need more than a car but it was a gesture maybe partially because we are returning guests. But if you stay 4 nights you can in an email ask about transfers. It is not as much to save the money but it is comforting to be greeted after arrival from a 20+ hour flight.
Marmot is correct itis difficukt to get from East Java to Central Java and having been to both I wpould opt for Central Java. If it is a cloudy morning you would not even see the sunrise at Mt. Bromo. That happened to us once in Hawaii after getting up at 3 AM.
We are taking Cathay Pacific from JFK and it is non-stop going and 1 stop returning . The cost doing it on-line was $1375 in Coach. I considered Premium Economy but it is $7000/person. Cathay just renovated Coach and I replaced the seats and they are now 1.5 inches wider at I think 18.8 in. The pitch is the same but having used them before the seats went back enough so wil an Ambian we were able to sleep for 7-8 hours taking the midnight flight out of NY.
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Mar 7th, 2012, 12:03 PM
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Thanks for all the advice! This forum is a lifesaver. Its good to know we can't really do central and eastern java in one trip (I really don't want to spend too much time in transit). Any other thoughts/opinions in what is better, East Java or Central Java? Mt. Bromo does look amazing and I think we were leaning more toward nature.

For what its worth, we probably have a full 13 days not including our flying in and out of Indoensia. Probably the longest vacation either of us will get to take for a long while which is why we want to spend it wisely!
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Mar 7th, 2012, 01:01 PM
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If you are at all interested in either Buddhism or Hinduism, Central Java is the placce to visit. Borobudor is the largest Buddhist monument in the world. Prambanam is a huge complex of several hundred Hindu temples. Both are near Yogyakarta. You can also drive up into the hills, either to the Dieng Plateau or to the slopes of Mt. Merpati for a dose of nature. Do you have the Lonely Planet Guide? The LP has good info about both areas - take some time to read about them.
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Mar 7th, 2012, 06:53 PM
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Both areas offer beautiful natural surroundings, though Borobudur monument and the Bromo group of mountains are each in a special class of its own. Both are incredibly scenic and photogenic. Borobudur is more accessible and with the addition of other sites in the area is widely cultural. Bromo requires more effort and is nature at its most profound.
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May 19th, 2012, 08:52 AM
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For loislanedc.. Just feel free to come to Indonesia n spent ur honeymoon time. Its so easily to book a hotel n plan a trip to Indonesia, by internet, you can arrange by yourself so u dont need a tour agent. For 2 weeks I suggest you to spent 5-6 six days in Bali, then 2-3 days in Malang (nearest city fr Bromo Mountain), last to Yogjakarta (incl. Visiting Borobudur, the largest buddhist temple in the world, only 30 km from Yogjakarta).
1st step: Just arrange your plane from USA (more prefer from NY, coz more many option) direct to Denpasar return. It is depend on your flight budget. But I recommend CX or SQ.
2nd step: Arrange your hotel online, for Asia destination I recommend Agoda. If you member of starwood, you should try Novotel Nusadua resort. I think its the best privileges resort in Bali. Do the same for Malang and Yogjakarta. Especially for hotel in Malang you should stay at least 2 nite coz, the best view of Bromo mt when sunrise.
3rd step : Local transport. There are direct flight from Bali to Malang operated by Lion Air using ATR, it can b booked online. Then Malang to Yogja there only train. But it is a premium Train 3 times a day. You can easily buy train ticket from the hotel,no need reservation, but at least spare 1 day from the date you departure.
Last, book a flight from yogjakarta to denpasar online again, it served by Garuda, Sriwijaya, Air Asia, n Lion Air (local airplane).
Bali tour, bromo tour, n borobudur tour you can arrange it after you arrive in the hotel. The cost varied, but its about 30-45 us$ pp.
I hope this is helpful, and feel free to come.
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