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Indonesia for backpackers

Backpacking route

Pictures from Indonesia

Indonesia is a vast country with numerous islands. If you want to explore all the country, several months are required. Then, a good plannification is important to distribute your time.
The most famous island is Bali. Most tourists include it in their route. It means that this is the most conglomerate island. From Bali you must choose (depending on your preferences) next destination to the nearby islands such as Java, Sulawesi, Lombok and Sumatra, among others.
Indonesia is also the cheapest country throughout Southeast Asia in our opinion (except for alcoholic drinks). People are friendly and without iniquity, just the normal behaviour of trying to earn money from tourism.
For these reasons, we try to come back to Indonesia as soon as possible.

NOTA: The cheapest flight company for domestic flights is Lyon Air.

What we have written about?

Travel feedback:

Date: from 20/02/2011 to 21/03/2011
Total expenses: 1360 Euros (2 persons), detailed as follow:

  • Visa: 42 euros
  • Accommodation: 250 euros
  • Food&Drinks: 250 euros
  • Transport: 160 euros
  • Domestic flights: 440 euros (four flights per person)
  • Motorbike rent and petrol: 40 euros
  • Entrance fee and tours: 60 euros
  • Other expenses: 113 euros
Best places: Tana Toraja, Bunaken, Borobudur, Prambanan, Ubud
Change: 1 euro = 12,000 Rupiah (Rp/IDR) (aprox)
Route: to see our route click on the following picture.


Planning:
JAVA

1.- YOGYAKARTA

Yogyakarta is situated in the South of Java Island. At the beginning, Yogya doesn´t surprise us. However, after spending some days on this city, we have enjoyed its atmosphere (full of life), markets and restaurants (where you can eat good food).

- Getting there&away: A night bus from Jakarta to Yogyakarta takes 12 hours and it costs Rs 150,000. You should check for cheapest options.

- Accommodation: We´ve stayed at Losmen Anda Hostel. Double room with private bath costs Rs 50,000. Rooms are simple and the hotel doesn´t offer any extra service as breakfast, wi-fi or sheets etc. It only offers towels. It´s located on the Gang II in Sosrowijayan area. From this area, you can walk to everywhere.

- Sights: The city doesn´t offer many tourist attractions. You can visit Kraton Palace and the Temple of Water (it´s almost in ruins due to an earthquake. The most interesting place has been the Pasar Beringharjo, a local market where you can find everything.
Yogya is the cradle of the traditional Batik art. Pictures and clothes are painted with this style. However, we really don´t like this patterns. In addition, it´s quite easy to buy bad quality and sellers can become aggressive.

- Arounds: The best option to visit the main interesting places is hiring a moto (50,000 rupees per day). Then, you can explore in a day-trip the two most famous temples in the island: Borobudur and Prambanan.

  • Borobudur: Buddhist Temple is located 42km from Yogya and it´s really relevant in the Buddish religion. The monument comprises six square platforms (which symbolize the Earth) topped by three circular platforms (which symbolize the Sky). Each floor is decorated with relief panels Buddha statues in different states. These masterpices are carved in the stones of the temple. Admission fee is $ 16 or $ 8 with student card. If you want to enjoy the sunrise before 6 am, it is possible from the Manohara Hotel but you have to pay 320,000 rupees.
    Just 3 km from Bodobudur, Mendut Buddhist Temple is located (admission fee: 3,300 rupees). It´s famous for its Buddha with his legs resting on the ground (usually, they are sitting on their crossed legs) of 3 meters high.

  • Prambanan: This Hindu temple complex is situated 16km from Yogya. 240 temples were built. Nowdays, only 16 temples are still standing. These temples symbolize the universe, life itself. In each temple, ancient stories are explained. They are carved in its walls. Admission fee is $ 13 and $ 7 with student card.

NOTE: It´s worth visiting both temples with a guide (60,000 rupees). If you go by your own, you only see figures. However, you can understand the meaning of such figures with the help of a guide.

2.- GUNUNG BROMO

This volcano is one of the three volcanoes that emerged from a vast crater of 10 km and its scenery makes this place spectacular and unique. Nowdays, the volcano is active so one can´t climb to the crater. It´s worth visiting it for feeling the roar of the volcano, seeing the smoke and lava which are expelled or the ash that covers the entire village of Lawang Cemoro.

- Getting there&away: From Yogya, we take a mimi-bus with the BIMA tour & transport company. We booked it at the tourist office but there are many agencies that offer it (some of them are cheaper). The bus costs Rs 160,000, leaving at 8.30 am and making change from vehicle to reach Cemoro Probolinggo Lawang (35 km). It takes approximately 12 hours.

- Accommodation: we arrive at night and the mini-bus leaves us at the hostel which is included in the tour and the hostel is far away from the center so the options are few. Double room with bathroom outside costs us Rs 50,000.

- Sights: To get a panoramic view of the volcano, the best option is hiring a Jeep (80,000 rupees per person, you have to bargain) which takes you to Pananjakan to enjoy the sunrise. Otherwise you have to walk 10 km. Once the Jeep leaves you, you have to climb for half an hour to the lookout to get there at 4.30 a.m. or hire a horse.

ADVICE: If you are going to see the sunrise, we recommend you bringing warm clothes and flashlight.

NOTE: from Jogya, you can book a tour which includes transportation to Cemoro Lawang (town base to explore the volcano), accommodation and transport to Denpasar (Bali) for 340,000 rupees. In either way, it stops at Probolinggo (35 km Cemoro Lawang). This tour is cheaper than if you do it by yourself.

BALI

3.- KUTA

It´s the Ibiza of Asia. This village, located only 10 km from the capital, Denpasar, is packed with restaurants, discos, nightclubs, shops and bustling beaches. It is a destination for those people who love the nightlife and its atmosphere. Nevertheless, it doesn´t offer any other tourist attraction.

- Getting There&Away: bus from Celomo Lanwang - Probolinggo - Denpasar. It takes about 12 hours and it crosses from one island to the other one by ferry (1 hour). From Denpasar, we take a Bemo for 20,000 rupees per person to Kuta.

- Accommodation: we´ve stayed in two different hostels:

  • AYU BEACH INN. Triple room with bath and fan, balcony, swimming pool and breakfast costs 200,000 rupees. It´s located in Poopies Lane I, in the heart of Kuta.

  • MAHENBRA BEACH INN. Double room with bath and fan (very simple) and breakfast costs 100,000 rupees. It´s located in Poopies Lane II, in the center of Kuta.

  • HOTEL AQUARIUS. If you want to be near the action this is your hostel. Triple room with private bathroom, breakfast include costs 200.000 rupees. Includes breakfast Incluye desayuno, wifi and swimming pool.

- Sights: Some people thinks that Kuta is Bali. However, other people hate Kuta. It depends on your preferences. If you like touristic places with a lot of bars, discos and restaurants, Kuta is your place.

- Arounds: Near Kuta you can visit two interesting temples.

  • TANAH LOT: See Arounds in Ubud.

  • ULUWATU: a temple balance on the cliff's edge with drop of 250 ft overlooking to the Indian Ocean. distinto.

    ADVISE: Be careful because monkeys can steal some objects to tourists.

4.- UBUD

This small village (just 35 km from Denpasar) is located among mountains and rice terraces. It is an ideal place to settle and explore different villages and temples. Ubud has all kind of services and facilities for tourists and for all budgets but it also offers peace of mind.

- Getting there&away: from Kuta, there are several bus companies offering this service. The price per trip is Rs 50,000 and it takes an hour and a half.

- Accommodation: We stayed at AYU BUNGALOWS (Hanoman St, Padangtegal, Ubud). Bungalow with private bath and breakfast included costs 90,000 rupees. It isn´t located in the center of Ubud but it takes 10 minutes on foot.

- Sights: There are several interesting places which can be visited in an afternoon / evening because of its proximity. You can visit part of Puri Saren Agung, Ubud Palace (free admission). In front of the palace, the market is located. This place is intended for selling all kind of souvenirs and one can haggle. Nearby, there is the beautiful Pura Taman Saraswati, the temple of water (free admission). Moreover, people can see different Balinese style doors and small temples through the village. Another visit is the Monkey Forest (admission fee, 20,000 rupees) where there is a temple surrounded by a lush forest full of monkeys.

- Walks from Ubud: Ubud is a good place to base and explore by your own rice fields and small villages. The only problem is that there are no signs so sometimes it´s quite difficult to take the right way.
We have done two typical walks:

  • Forest monkey and Penestanan: This 8 km walk parts from the Monkey Forest, South of Ubud. Crossing the forest, you will reach Nyuhkuning village and following the main road, there is Dangin Lebak, a good place to buy wooden figures at good price. When local dining room appears (Banjar Dangin Lebak), you must turn right onto the dirt road that runs through rice fields. From here, you must reach Penestanan, town plenty of art galleries and painting. And you can continue on the road to Ubud.

  • In the main street (Jalan Raya Ubud) where the market takes place, you have to go to Ibah Luxury Villas, a luxury hotel where a path starts on the left side and leads down towards a path between two valleys with amazing views. At the end of the trail, Bangkiang Sidem village is located. You can return the same way.

- Arounds: We have hired a motocycle (30,000 rupees per day) to visit the following places:

  • Bedulu: the most famous attractions in this village, which is located 3 km from Ubud, is Yeh Pulu (Entrance fee: Rs 15,000) where you can see different figures carved in the stone and Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave), as its name suggests is a cave whose entrance is carved an elephant (Entrance fee: Rs 15,000). We don´t recommend visiting both places.

  • Pejeng: This village is next to Bedulu. It is famous for its temples (Pura Panatanan Sasih, Pura Kebo Edan, Pura Jagat Pusering). In all of them, admission fee is a donation but in our opinion are not spectacular.

  • Mas: the center of wooden sculpture. There are many shops and galleries where you can appreciate the work done, sometimes the figures takes the form of bizarre shapes that there is no place for them at home.

  • Tanah Lot: is one of the most famous and visited temples in the island (admission fee: Rp 10,000). The rush hour is at sunset when thousand of tourists are looking for a place to enjoy the sunset. The temple itself is not exceptional but it has great spiritual significance. You can purify your body and soul for a symbolic donation.

    NOTE: This temple can be visited in a day trip from Kuta and Ubud.

SULAWESI

5.- PALU

The city doesn´t offer any interesting attraction, but there is an airport. It means, it´s one option to reach Sulawesi Island. We think that it is better to reach Sulawesi through Makassar and from there, take a bus to the North.

- Getting There&Away: We arrived via domestic flight from Denpasar to Makassar and from Makassar to Palu with the low-cost Air Lyon company.

- Accommodation: We stayed at the Purnama Raya Hostel. Double room with extra bed costs Rs 65,000. It's dirty, unhygienic and both (room and bathroom) are very nasty. Breakfast is not included. It is located 15 minutes from the coast on foot. We don´t strongly recommend it.

- Sights: Palu is a city without any interest. It only has small karaoke bars which are set up at the shore of the beach where local people go to have fun.

6.- TENTENA (DANAU POSO)

Tentena es un pequeño pueblo localizado al norte del lago Poso. Aquí es donde se junta el río con el lago. Tentena is a small village located in the North of Poso Lake. In this place the river meets the lake.

- Getting There&Away: The bus from Palu to Tentena costs Rs 80,000 per person and it takes about 9 hours. However, time varies depending on the traffic.

- Accommodation: We stayed at the Victori Hostal. Triple room with private bath (no hot water) costs150,000 rupees. Breakfast is included (banana pancakes and tea or coffee). It is located near the lake, but Tentena is so small that you can walk everywhere.

- Sights: Tentena is a very quiet place. However, we haven´t found anything idyllic and we felt it dispensable. Moreover, the tourism facilities are not really good. There are few restaurants (some local restaurants along the river).
Many tourists come here for some interesting treks which take several days through wild landscapes. It´s an option for those people who want to relax before continuing their journey to Togian Islands if they go to the North or Pendolo to the South.

NOTE: from Pendolo to Tentena, you can go by bus or by crossing the lake with a small boat. People say that the boat offers the best scenery. However, when we've been here, the boat was damaged and we had no choice, local bus (3 hours).

WARNING: In Tentena, there is only one ATM machine to withdraw money and no place to change money. This means that those people who accept money to change, they will ask for high commissions.

7.- RANTEPAO

Rantepao is the capital of the northern region of Tana Toraja. This region is surrounded by mountains and rice fields as well as it maintains ancestral customs. Rantepao is a good place to establish as a base and explore this spectacular area by motorcycle.

- Getting there&away: We arrived after 12 long hours in a local bus full of chickens, rice bags, backpacks, people, etc.. The bus costs 100,000 rupees per person.

NOTE: There are generally three types of buses: The local one for about 100,000 rupees, the "executive class" for 110,000 rupees and the "comfortable class" for 120,000 rupees. We recommend paying a little bit more for the comfortable class because it has air condition (Like the executive one) and it is very wide with good cushioning for the bumps. We have caught the local bus and it has been a nightmare. We don´t recommend it to anyone.

- Accommodation: We stayed at Rainbow hostel in a triple room for 150,000 rupees. Rooms are simple and they don´t have hot water. However, it includes a breakfast based on delicious banana pancakes and coffee. In addition, the owner, Nana, is very nice and she will do everything possible to make you feel at home. She can give you hot water for the shower or you can cook with her. The hostel is located 5 minute walk from the main street and less still of Marts Café, a lively restaurant among tourists.

- Sights: The most interesting part of the town is the open market, located in Bolu. To get there, just take a "Pete Pete" for 3,000 rupees per person. The market takes place every day, but only once per week there is a great atmosphere because you can visit (10,000 rupees per person) the area where buffalos and pigs are sold. Strolling through the market you can find everything: food, clothing, electronic equipment and souvenirs among other things.

NOTE: To go inside the animal area, in theory, you have to pay Rs 10,000 per person, but when we went there, there was nobody at the office and it was free.

NOTE: there are few restaurants in Rantepao and tourists usually meet in the Mart's Café. In addition, there are several local guides every night playing guitar, creating a good atmosphere.

ADVISE: It's normal to end up sitting with a guide offering his services at excessively high prices. Among guides is a non-aggression pact and they try to confuse you to book their services.

ADVISE: Getting to anywhere on your own by motorcycle is very easy except for funerals. Guides know it and they never reveal the exact location where funerals take place. Besides, if you ask for the name of the village where the celebration is, they always say the word "Tondok". This is a trap because Tondok means village in their language

- Arounds: We think that three days is perfect for exploring the area of ??Tana Toraja.

  • Day 1: One of the reasons why tourists come to this place (although it sounds a bit macabre) is attended a typical funeral in the area. Funerals are very popular and they last an average of three days of celebration. Using the moto and following the signs that people are indicating (there are no many signs) we arrive to Lemo where tombs are carved into the stone with balconies adorned with figures that symbolizing death. Last visit of the day is Kambire. In this place, there is an old tree with the hollow trunk which buried the children who died before they stand in their teeth.)

    NOTE: to reach places, where funerals take place, is quite complicated because it doesn´t provide you with all the necessary information so it is advised to book a guide.


  • Day 2: On the way, we arrive at Londa (6 km from Rantepao). It´s worth exploring these caves with the help of a flashlight because the on the way you will find caskets, skull and crossbones with cigarettes, bones, etc. Finally, Makula. It is known for a hotel that has a thermal swimming pool. The problem is that we had read that it was a luxury resort and we´ve found a nasty hostel with a green pool. Of course, the route to get here is priceless.

    ADVISE: It is necessary flashlights to visit Londa caves. If you don´t carry one, you will have to rent one.


  • Day 3: we visit the North of Rantepao which is famous for setting up the best rice fields of the area. Firstly, we reach Deri and on the way to Batututonga, we stop at the Magic Montains, amazing!. Wherever you have a look, you will see rice terraces. It´s spectacular!.


NOTA: El alquiler de la moto nos ha costado 50.000 rupias por día, y cada día nos hemos gastado unas 8000 rupias en gasolina.

8.- MAKASSAR

Makassar is a city which offers harbour and airport, making it the main access to the Sulawesi island. However, there is nothing special and people come here just for this reason.

- Getting There&Away: The bus from Rantepao to Makassar (320 km) costs 120,000 rupees and it takes about 9 hours (time varies depending on traffic). The bus class was a "comfortable class" and it was spectacular. We could sleep very well.

- Accommodation: We stayed at Legend Hostel. Double room (for three persons) costs us 95,000 rupees. There is no ventilation as well as it´s dirty and shared bathroom. Breakfast is included, based on an omelette sandwich and coffee. It´s located in the center of Makassar so you can visit siteson foot. The owner of the hostel is quite nice but we can recommend this hostel.

- Sights: The city offers so little to tourists in a day and walk down the coastal road and the Fort (Fort Rotterdam) built by the Dutch when they settled on the island.
Makassar also has a reputation for offering the best seafood in all Sulawesi. However, we tasted one of the best-known local restaurants and the seafood has been quite disappointing.

9.- MANADO

The city itself doesn´t offer anything in particular, but there is airport so this city become a base for exploring the area.

- Geting There&Away: We arrived via domestic flight from Makassar to Manado with low-cost Air Lyon company.

- Accomodation: We don`t spend any night in Manado. We directly take the public ferry (25,000 rupees per person) to Bunaken Island (it takes 45 minute).
In Bunaken, we have stayed in Panorama hostel. It costs Rp 125,000 per person in a bungalow with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. It includes three meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and it has wifi (extra payment). It is located in the area of ??Pantai Liang.

NOTE: There are two sleeping areas on the island. Pantai Liang is where more hostels are located and a little more friendly and Pantai Pangalisang, less cheap, overlooking the mangroves and closer to the best areas for diving.

NOTE: If you stay there for several nights, you can get the ferry to the island for free.

NOTE: If you can´t get the public ferry (it only departures once per day), you can rent a private one for 250,000 rupees.

NOTE: It is interesting to carry water and some food to the island, because everything is more expensive.

- Sights: Palau Bunaken is a nice island which has become very famous among divers from all over the world. The reason is the wide variety of beautiful coral and fish. However, it is better snorkeling than diving because corals are perfect and there are fewer fishes than it was expected. It's a shame but both, local people and fishermen, are finishing the main attraction for tourists.

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