Where to go in Indonesia or Malaysia
January 25, 2011 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Java vs. Bali vs. elsewhere for 3 days in Feb after Singapore?

We (bf and I) have 6 days (wish it was longer) after flying in to Singapore in mid-Feb and we were thinking 3 days in Singapore and then 3 days somewhere else.

Things we like: vegetarian food for me, unusual food you can't find elsewhere for him, surfing, modern and ancient art, hiking, interesting geology, spa things

Things we don't need: big cities, tons of activities (some would be nice but it is a short time we need some relaxation), nightclubs, things that we can already find in NYC

So where should we go? Looks to me like both Bali and Java have a lot to offer but I don't know much about either and there may be cool places that I am not thinking of.
It should be somewhere not too far from Singapore.
I've heard that Java has some good surfing but that it is not for beginners and that we are going in the wrong season. Any tips on that or other places to take lessons?
posted by rmless to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I can't speak to Bali Surfing. But loved Bali, in particular Ubud (which is near the center). It would touch on most of your points except surfing because its a bit inland.

Note it was like a 40 minute cab ride out to the beach for $20 if your bf wanted to try to get to the beach to hit some waves.
posted by bitdamaged at 9:38 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I vote Bali, Ubud for you, (art, food, spas, gorgeous hikes) Padang Padang for him or Uluwatu, if he is not a good surfer, beware lifeguards are rare to nonexistent , stay away from Kuta it is all the things you say you hate,
posted by kanemano at 9:56 AM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

Bali is a sort of surfing Mecca, but it's not really known for beginner-friendliness either.
surfing in Bali

That said, I know there are at least some spots on the island (like Kuta) where the waves are relatively gentle and have rentals and lessons and things easily available.

People go to Java to surf waves like this. You bring your own boards, no one offers lessons, you need a boat to get there, and it's shallow and the bottom is coral.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:07 AM on January 25, 2011

I believe Bali is duck-typed.
posted by run"monty at 10:30 AM on January 25, 2011

Best answer: Neither - for three days, you don't want the hassles, crowds, or dubious water sanitation that Bali or Java (which is as large as England!) present. Try Tioman, Malaysia - it's much closer to Singapore (though still a flight, only 40 minutes), infinitely less touristed, and is more than OK for surfing. It's only 3 days, as well - the easiest is probably the best in this case. Tioman is also a volcanic plug, so there's your interesting geology!
posted by mdonley at 1:03 PM on January 25, 2011

I need to look up Tioman now! But if it's between your original choices... definitely Bali. Java's cities are extremely crowded and unpleasant (from what I saw.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:41 PM on January 25, 2011

Never been to Java, but I've been to Bali three times and would love to go back. Ubud is gorgeous, full of art, amazing food (vegetarian and vegan options abound), and did I mention it's gorgeous? Go to Bali.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:15 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the warnings about surfing in Java and Bali and the info on Tioman! Would love more input as well if anyone has more suggestions.
posted by rmless at 8:01 PM on January 25, 2011

Best answer: Well, if you go to Ubud, there are some amazing cooking classes at Casa Luna, which also has a pretty good bakery, a guest house, and also runs a hands-down-don't-miss-it restaurant called Indus, which is situated over the river valley that cuts through the west side of town.

Aside from that, the evening fire dances (called Kechak dances) are fantastic, as are the traditional dances held at the palace across from the main market.

There are places to stay at nearly every level, from guest house/backpackers' hovel to luxury resort, and we've stayed at pretty nice places (large room, pool) for less than $30 a night.

Massages are absolutely fantastic, and ubelievably cheap. In Kuta (avoid it) they are cheaper, but in Ubud you could (as of three years ago) get a great hour long massage for less than $10. Plenty of spas offer fantastic couples packages, and I'd recommend those as well.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:26 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Bali! But not the beach towns unless hanging out at generic resorts and generic bars with generic drunk Australians is your idea of a good vacation.

Head inland to Ubud. Some of the best food I ever ate in my life was there. Fascinating art, inexpensive crafts, amazing massages/spa treatments, and the monkey forest! Oh, the monkey forest! Feeding bananas to the monkeys was one of the most fun experiences I've ever had in my life. I had monkeys all over me. Monkeys! On my head! And they tickle. Just thinking back on it makes me giggle with delight all over again.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:15 PM on January 25, 2011

Response by poster: Hi guys,
Just got back from Ubud, Bali and it was great!
We went surfing (I am the surfer, bf is a newbie) and took a vegetarian cooking course and went to the market and the Monkey Forest and had a great time. We ended up staying at the beautiful Kamandalu resort and got a villa with a private pool and it was AMAZING just for reference if anyone is looking at this later and wants to go. We spent a day on the beach in Kuta for the surfing and the rest of the time exploring and hiking around Ubud.
posted by rmless at 12:47 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh and the place we ended up taking the cooking course is a restaurant called Bumbu Bali. It was great- just the 2 of us and they did a special vegetarian menu for me. We tried to book at Casa Luna but they were unresponsive and then got back to me the day before the class and said no, but luckily we found this other place.
We got great massages in Kuta at a place called Putri Bali.
posted by rmless at 12:53 PM on February 24, 2011

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