Indonesian hijinks- where to?
July 9, 2010 11:34 PM   Subscribe

(Travel filter) Where should we go in Indonesia? Going there for 5 weeks in December, from Australia. We are not interested in kicking it with our compatriots in Kuta or generally, on staying on any very touristy beach or place for an extended period of time.

Both my husband and I have done a fair bit of traveling within and beyond Asia and I've lived in a Muslim country and are keen to see a little more of Indonesia than Bali, at least! We were quite keen to go to Papua and do some trekking but the political situation there has deteriorated, it seems, to the point at which this is not sensible. We are happy to spend some time on the ferries and boats and can do a flight or two but would prefer to keep costs down.

I have the Indonesia LP. But LP does, in my experience, tend to 'recommend' everything and nothing in terms of places to go.

We'd like--
some beach time (no dive licenses but possibly interested in acquiring one).
some 'culture', without being much interested in tourist shows that are officially put on solely for our benefit.
some hiking/walking/mountain-y time. We are not hard core trekkers though, and don't have a tent or anything. Day hikes or guided hikes, please.

Any suggestions about things we should do, see, or eat, are welcome!

Thanks for your help, hivers.

PS- I know there are similar questions out there, but they are a little dated and given the changing political climate, this is pretty relevant I think!

Finally... we are flying into Denpasar. Thanks
posted by jojobobo to Travel & Transportation around Indonesia (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I just came in to recommend Bandung for a few days as well - it's a wild juxtaposition of outlet malls full of vacationing Jakartans and Singaporeans, volcanic parks as mentioned by Burhanistan above, cool cafes in the Dago hills north of town, and some very cool Dutch colonial architecture from the first half of the 20th century - it was to be the capital after the war.
posted by mdonley at 12:20 AM on July 10, 2010

Adding to the list...

You can visit Ujung Kulon and (Anak) Krakatoa
posted by singingfish at 3:44 AM on July 10, 2010

Belitung has nice beaches and is very laid back.

I also recommend Lake Toba in Sumatra.
posted by dydecker at 4:19 AM on July 10, 2010

Go to Yogyakarta and take in the temple tours. Borobudur, Prambanan, and the Kraton (Sultan's Palace). No beaches, but it's wonderful to do your walking time learning about the local high culture.
posted by micketymoc at 4:40 AM on July 10, 2010

Just a warning, if you're the kind of person that becomes irate and frothing at unfair tourist practices/pricing, Boroburur and Prambanan will drive you insane. Make sure you know how to get to the public bus terminal in Yogi, by the way... scammers ABOUND.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:35 AM on July 10, 2010

Best answer: Seconding the excellent diving in Bunaken. Caveat: you will be utterly spoiled for diving just about anywhere else, the diversity of marine life and the amount of color are phenomenal.

The north coast of Bali, specifically Pemuteran, is quite lovely with temples and beaches and a fraction of the tourists to be found in Ubud or Kuta. Also some quite decent diving.

We skipped Yogyakarta on our trip because it was the immediate aftermath of the 2006 earthquake, and I wish I'd been able to visit Borobodur. So check that out.

We wanted to see some stuff that was "off the beaten path" and I can tell you two islands to skip- Ternate and Tidore. Not worth your time. Sometimes there is a reason why things are off the beaten path...
posted by ambrosia at 9:37 AM on July 10, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all these great answers. Very helpful! Does anyone have any info on how to get to these places (roughly-- bus, plane, boat)?
posted by jojobobo at 10:57 PM on July 10, 2010

another data point, I went to the Gili Islands in 2003, absolutely loved it, great place to get a dive license (although dynamite fishing was taking off when I was there, not sure how much it affected the diving since then) and a great place to chill. You can get there in a day by ferry from bali, or fly to lombok, then cab and then public boat over.

Also, I thought Flores was great, completely untouched by tourists, cheap and amazing landscape. MFM me if you need more info. Enjoy...
posted by chromatist at 5:33 AM on July 11, 2010

Ubud is awesome. Great art, great food, great massages, and the monkey forest is a ton of fun.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:11 AM on July 11, 2010

Are you aware that most of Indonesia gets most of its rain between November and March?

I've spent 5 months in Indo in the last 2 years, 3 months earlier this year. I go for the diving which is excellent, but also travel around as much as possible, backpacker style, to experience as much of the country/people as I can.

My number 1 recommendation in Indonesia is Gunung Bromo. An amazing sight, but people who were there in the wet season were disappointed due to rain/clouds.

Yogyakarta is good for culture although I was disappointed by the Sultans Kraton. You can do Prambanan and Borobudur from Yogya but I agree that Borobudur is way better, although there are performances every night at Prambanan of one of the Hindu epics.

Bunaken and Tana Toraja are good suggestions but both will be pretty wet when you will be there.

I was on Bunaken in mid Feb this year. It rained 3 days out of 4, full on tropical rain. Bunaken is a great place to learn diving, the fish life/coral/visibility is very good and there are no or very slight currents. I would recommend anybody to get certified there.
Beginning of March I visited Tana Toraja where it rained every day, not heavily, just the occasional shower. I toured the whole area by motorbike in 5 days. (MeMail me for a guide recommendation/phone no.)

The rest of Bali is very different to Kuta, Kuta is a monster. Ubud is the cultural capital of Bali and shouldn't be missed. The north coast is very very chilled with good diving around Menjangan. On the East coast there is very good diving around Amed/Tulamben. There is a WW2 wreck at Tulamben which is a phenomenal dive.

To get to Tana Toraja from DPS you fly to Makassar and take an overnight bus, the bus is very comfortable with reclining seats and lots of legroom.
To get to Manado (for Bunaken), you will need to fly either from DPS or Makassar.
If you go to Bandung you can fly from Jakarta to anywhere in Indo.

I would not go to Bunaken or Tana Toraja when you are planning to go, due to the rain. I would explore Bali and its neighbours (Gilis/Nusa Lembongan), with a trip to Yogya and visit Gunung Bromo between Yogya and Bali.

I find Indonesian people incredibly friendly and helpful, keep your wits about you and don't think that everybody is trying to scam you. Saying that, you should be very very careful when changing money in Kuta, many many people get scammed by money-changers.

Hope this helps, feel free to MeMail me with any questions.
posted by DelusionsofGrandeur at 7:40 AM on July 11, 2010

Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Bandung and Bali, for a start, are connected by Air Asia, probably Indonesia's safest airline and the only one I think you'll have luck booking online. It's easily the most hassle-free, air-conditioned way to go as well. Usually like $20-$40 per person per flight, but watch weekend/holiday flights to Bali.
posted by mdonley at 3:10 PM on July 13, 2010

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