Indonesia has it all; history, culture, stunning national parks, picturesque beaches, lush rainforests, world-class water activities, and wild jungle parties. Consisting of around 14,000 separate islands, Indonesia is the fourth-largest populated country in the world with about 250 million people. The majority of the population lives on a select few islands giving some select towns and cities a dearth of cultural variance. There around 300 native ethnic groups encompassing the world's largest island group. When people think of Indonesia they automatically think of the island of Bali, and rightfully so. Bali is a place of overwhelming beauty that it is hard to travel to Indonesia without visiting it. However, the Country Crawl Team has been all over the Indonesian islands and we would love to share with you some other exquisite gems that we will visit on future tours.
Okay, well, we had to start off with Bali, right? One of the world's most popular destinations boasts its reputation for good reasons. You will immediately catch a glimpse of Bali's beauty while flying into the local airport. Be sure to keep your window shade open because there are very few entrances to an island that rival this one. Bali is abundant with lush scenery, historical landmarks, brilliant beaches, and fabulous food. It contains some of the world's most picturesque accommodations, just be sure to research a little bit. Below we will provide you with a few recommendations.
What your interests are determines what you can indulge in. If you are coming down to hang out at the beach, doing a little kayaking and a lot of lounging, head towards Nusa Dua Beach. It is located at the Southeast corner of the island, and there are many luxury chains and hotels available. If you do not feel like dipping deep into that wallet, just rent a scooter or hire a taxi and make the trip. An absolute sensational beach where you can rent beach and cliff side bungalows is Padang Padang Beach in Uluwatu, Bali.
Uluwatu is located on the Southwest point of Bali, and it screams beauty. There are many different strips of beach that contain pearly white sand, but Padang Padang beach is where the action is. Surfers from across the world frequent this beach for its magnificent view and perfectly-breaking waves. You can head north on the beach and do some rock climbing and sightseeing. Come early in the morning to rent guesthouses or bungalows entrenched with some of the most gripping views starting around $10/night. Of course, there are other nice beaches to travel to, it's just up to you! Country Crawl does NOT recommend going to Kuta Beach; when you see it, you'll know why.
Bali is also important for its cultural and historical presence. There are many different temples, monuments, and traditional and cultural dances/people that make Bali special. If you are seeking to be active or adventurous, this place is right for you. You can go surfing in Uluwatu, Canyoning or repelling in Gitgit, hiking around waterfalls in Ubud, mountain biking across the island, and scuba diving or snorkeling in the North. There are no shortage of things to do, things to see, or places to go. The local Balinese people who comprise about 93% of the island are overwhelmingly hospitable.
If you are looking for great food, check out the local markets and food stands. An Indonesian favorite is Satay. There are many different types of Satay including; goat, mutton, beef, pork, chicken and fish. Make sure to have it authentically cooked over a wood-burning stove and drenched in peanut sauce; served tastefully on a skewer. There are many Western restaurants and bars around town which give the traveler an "at-home" feel. We recommend you stray off the beaten path and explore and connect with the local people. They are always willing to help, and will go out of their way to show you their lovely land.
Gili means small island in Indonesian, but the three best are just off the northwestern tip of Lombok. Gili Trawangan leads the group because it is the largest and most developed. Neither of the three Gilis have cars or any motorized vehicles which is extremely uncommon for Southeast Asia where motor scooters are everywhere. So relax and take a horse-drawn taxi or peddle a rented bike around the island in the soft sand.
Gili T as it is know has a large SCUBA population and parties every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It is a perfect balance of relaxation and fun. Moreover, there is a mosque located on the island that can be heard around the island during prayers. Gili Meno is the second largest of the the three and is a honeymoon destination. The island is extremely laid-back and created for romance, so if you have someone special this is the place you want to go. Finally, there is Gili Air which is the smallest of the trio, but it is growing up fast. With a well developing restaurant/bar scene and beautiful bungalows it is definitely worth a stop either for a day-trip or a few nights of island life. Don't forget to enjoy the sunrise over Mount Rinjani, Lombok and the sunset over Gunung Agung, Bali.
Lombok's Mount Rinjani is a must climb. It is a must to explore Komodo National Park during high-season May to October.
Jogjakarta is one of the most historic cities of Indonesia. Once the capital of the country, it is still an epicenter of the Island of Java, and contains two of the world's most dominant temples within reach. Although the actual size of Jogjakarta is not all that big, its supreme focus on the Hindu-Buddhist culture still reigns heavily. Jogjakarta and its surrounding areas are very tranquil. You can rent scooters and drive through the mountains, to the temples, or just around the downtown area.
Borobudur Temple is simply astounding. There are many different ways to get to Borobudur Temple, and you can't go wrong. However, we recommend renting your own scooter or motorbike and finding your own way. Grab a map, grab some sunscreen (it's likely very hot!), and grab some cash for temple entrance. It's not easy to maneuver your way throughout the outskirts of Jogjakarta to Borobudur, but it's a journey you won't forget. Chartering a seat on a group tour is possible, but it is not as personal and a bit pricey. Additionally, if you do end up on a group tour, the majority of them commence around 4:30 a.m. Another note about Borobudur is if you are a student, bring your student ID and receive a big discount.
The Borobudur architecture and grounds are exceptionally well maintained. The entire site was constructed in the 9th century and one of the main purposes of its erection was to attain nirvana. UNESCO has recognized Borobudur as a World Heritage Site for many years now due to its historical, cultural, and architectural importance. There are many different vantage points which allow the traveler breathtaking views of the surrounding regions. Prambanan Temple is the other World Heritage Site located close to JogJakarta. It is the largest Hindu temple in all of Indonesia. Due to its vast grounds and magnificent aesthetics, you must reserve a full-day for viewing purposes. There are very pairs of architecture that rival that of Borobudur and Prambanan.
If you are all worn out from exploring these worldly ruins, walk around the local streets and find a massage parlor. Indonesia has some of the best and cheapest on the planet, starting at just $5 for 60 minutes.
The triple cauldron is stunning for sunrise. Most travelers wake up extremely early to get a glance of one of the world's most wondrous sites. After you've hiked up the mountainous trail, take a horseback ride to the ledge for a look into the steaming belly. Enjoy the rides up and down the mountain because they are some of most scenic rides in Indonesia. All trails and hiking are filled with lush greenery and mountainous rice paddies. Best enjoyed during dry season May to October. Making the trek to Bromo National Park will be one of the most fulfilling and beautiful experiences of your lifetime. A few members of the Country Crawl Family have engaged in the experience and know the best routes and plans for booking an excursion. It is included in the Ultimate Indonesia Island Hopping.