Another spectacular Indonesian sunrise featuring otherworldly landscape of Mount Kelimutu and its three differently coloured lakes: turquoise, green and the colour of a well know non-alcoholic beverage. It’s possible to hike around and get onto the rims for a closer look of these sulphuric beauties. Monkeys might be your only friends once the crowds disperse (a fraction of people compared to Mt Bromo). The 7km hike back to the village is a thrill in itself too. Cloud forest bursting with birds, very unusual and loud singing. The drive to the top of the mountain can be arranged in Moni.
Google map: bit.ly/T5xydv
It is possible for up to eight people to rent a boat for USD300-400 in Labuan Bajo, Flores, for a two-day adventure to the lost world of the Komodo dragon. On day one you travel through Labuan Bajo’s archipelago for a bit of snorkelling among some of world’s most richest coral seas. Expect to see corals of all shapes and sizes and of all colours imaginable, fish to match and the odd turtle if you’re lucky. The approach to the island of Rinca was like arriving to King Kong country as you know that the beast is there: Komodo dragon is the largest lizard in existence! Night on the boat but not before witnessing the flying fox spectacle at dusk - the biggest flying mammal in the world. Day two to the island of Komodo for a scary but scenic hike with the ranger always on a lookout for dragons. More snorkelling off the paradise island of Kanawa before sailing back to Labuan Bajo archipelago. Dream!
The adventure starts at 4am in the village of Cemoro Lawang, Eastern Java. The 4x4 ride takes you to the viewpoint where in pitch black, probably wearing the rented jacket, you’re waiting for the sunrise. Slowly the darkness gives in and the silhouettes of mountains start appearing. The first morning light reveals the spectacular landscape with Mt Semeru in the distance, the highest mountain in Java; Mt Batok, beautifully grooved greenish cone of a dormant volcano; and of course, fuming Mt Bromo encircled by the sea of sand. It is possible to visit its rim by climbing 250 steps and the stop at the Hindu temple on the way there is obligatory.
Google map: bit.ly/ZIpIui
As the cultural centre of Java, Yogya - or Jogjakarta as it's sometimes spelled - is well-worth a visit. The magnificent Buddhist temple Borobudur is 60km away, you can also watch the Ramayana being performed in the 9th century hindu temple at Prambanan.
For those who like mountain climbing, Yogya makes a good base for the Merapi volcano. The city also has a nice vibe with its large student population.
Yogya is easily accessible with direct flights from Singapore, KL, Jakarta and Denpasar(Bali).
Google map: bit.ly/ZIpZgE
Seeing the sun rise at Mount Penanjakan and then climbing 249 concrete steps up to the ridge of Mount Bromo to peer into the active volcano, albeit accompanied by hundreds of other tourists, is on the “to do” list of every visitor to Eastern Java. However, continue your journey by jeep beyond the volcano and you will have the Sea of Sand to yourself, with unique views from within the Tengger caldera of Mount Semeru, the highest mountain on Java and also an active volcano. You eventually emerge from the desert of ash to be surrounded by verdant hillsides with wild flowers and crazy paving terraces of cultivated farmland. Continue to the 13th century Budhhist temple of Candi Jago in the village of Tumpang, then on to Malang, founded in the 8th century and still displaying its recent Dutch colonial heritage, and you will have encompassed thousands of years of astounding geology and history in a single day.
A tiny crescent shaped strip of perfect white sand on Indonesia's most remote island right off the tip of the country. You will find almost no tourists here, quite a few turtles and the snorkelling and diving are second to none. Crystal clear waters, an abundance of marine life and warm tropical temperatures. There is virtually no accommodation on Pulau Weh so be prepared to book in advance if you can for one of the handful of places available.
Pulau Weh, Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia
On a walk back to the hotel, the exterior of Balique caught my eye - earthy, softly lit and inviting. What sets this gem apart from everything else is the effortless way in which Indonesian elements are blended with retro vintage themes. The palatable items are varied, from a fresh salade nicoise to the local Nasi Goreng. There is no need for air-conditioning as the sky-high ceiling fans circulate the natural breeze of the island. The furnishings are raw yet artfully decorated. Balique stimulates all your senses and one can find me there everyday on trips to Bali, whether it be for tea time or a laid-back lunch.
Travelling through Indonesia always involves resisting the magnetic pull of Bali. Parts of the island are still beautiful, but much has been destroyed. Lombok is to the east of Bali and from Mangsit Beach you can watch spectacular sunsets behind Bali's Gunung Agung. This is the best way to see Bali, and the friendly folk at Windy Beach Cottages will happily bring you a cold beer to ease the hardship.
Visiting a cooking school is a great holiday activity to partake in while in Indonesia. Indonesian cuisine is one of the most underrated cuisines I feel. It is really worth exploring the vast array of dishes and ingredients unique to their culture. There are really some amazing flavours.
There are several dotted around Bali but the most reputable schools are located in Ubud, which is a mountain village, around one hour drive from the airport which is worth visiting.
A must-see for anyone visiting Indonesia is Mount Bromo - an active volcano on the Indonesian island, Java. Base yourself in the nearby village of Cemoro Lawang and drag yourself out of bed before sunrise – trust me, it’s worth it – to head up Mount Bromo. The view of the surrounding volcanoes with the cloud of smoke high above your heads and the sun lighting up the Tengar massif is spectacular. On the way down, you’ll pass a hive of activity on the hillside as locals prepare their goods to sell to tourists.
Mount Bromo, Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, Java, indonesia
Google map: bit.ly/XKd20s
Away from the hustle and bustle of Kuta, Ubud is still very much alive - with a busy market, monkey forest and temples putting on performances each night. Heading west from the market and taking a right up Jalan Kajeng, you will stumble across authentic restaurants and homestays. Ubud’s crown jewel is it’s amazing location. If you continue along that road, taking the left at a fork, you will find yourself surrounded by rice paddy fields, stretching as far as the eye can see. Great to do in the late evening as the sun sets and then grab dinner on the way back into town.
Jalan Kajeng, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Google map: bit.ly/R589ky
The teahouse serves a fabulous afternoon tea with traditional Javanese snacks cooked to order, cakes and fresh local tea and coffee, in an attractive Javanese setting, with very pleasant staff. Then wander round the hotel which is full of artefacts and historical and cultural treasures.
We were staying in the Komaneka Bisma and were walking back to our hotel one evening after a lovely meal, we fancied a drink but didn't fancy Cafe des Artistes at the bottom of Jalan Bisma. So we walked on to our hotel along the rice field road. We walked past a shack/bar/music venue. it was full of locals watching a local band playing Nirvana!!! we have never enjoyed drinking warm beer so much in our whole lives. we were welcomed in with opened arms and the invite to dance was one we couldn't resist! it was hot and sweaty but real, we were treated as one of the locals and my wife and I felt safe. It was surreal listening to Indonesian Nirvana in a small shack in a rice field on our honeymoon but it's an evening we'll never forget.
Jalan Bisma, Ubud, Indonesia, right off Jalan Raya Sanggingan, between Cafe des Artistes & between Komaneka Bisma.
Google map: bit.ly/Ud2SYM
One of the best dive destinations. Manta, whale shark, turtle. Beneath the waves are spectacular reefs full of fish, some very rare. Plenty of wobegong sharks. Fly to Sorong to get on a boat. Above the waves the islands are beautiful with no-one there except the occasional friendly local village and the scenery is spectacular - similar to Halong Bay in Vietnam but you will be the only people there.
Jalan Gunung Merapi 38, Sorong, Papua Barat Indonesia
+62 813 4437 9888
It's a safari park in Puncak. The animals are well treated and you are able to get close up to the Indonesian wildlife. It's a very good place to take children - mine are seven and five and it's a good day out.
You can have mixed feelings about zoos but I thought its animal welfare was similar to western zoos. I suggest you buy the bananas and carrots before you get to the park from the street vendors and maybe take the free safari bus.
It's a genuine local restaurant tucked away by the harbour. Home to many cats, it serves the best banana pancakes in S.E Asia, complete with a lake of honey.
Aside from this it's also completely reasonable, even by local economy standards, and the view is beautiful.
Near the harbour, Gili Trawangan.
Google map: bit.ly/R59V59
A beautiful picturesque area in central Bali. It is still very underdeveloped, no mass tourism or big hotel chains. A quiet little gem and a refreshing change from the more touristic areas of south Bali and Ubud. A beautiful locally run place is called Sawah Indah villa, absolutely gorgeous, (check out the tiling in the bathrooms) tastefully decorated and they offer reasonably priced tours to Mount Agung. There are also other options in Sideman but I must say this is my favourite. The food is nothing to shout about in Sideman, but I am a veggie so my options are limited. I would definitely recommend eating local food rather than western food, which is not very inspiring. If you get the opportunity to go to a ceremony at the local temple, don't miss it. A truly magical place, lots of great gentle walks through the rice fields and the view of Mount Agung will take your breath away.
Seeing the sun rise at Mount Penanjakan and then climbing 249 concrete steps up to the ridge of Mount Bromo to peer into the active volcano, albeit accompanied by hundreds of other tourists, is on the “to do” list of every visitor to Eastern Java. However continue your journey by jeep beyond the volcano and you will have the Sea of Sand to yourself, with unique views from within the Tengger caldera to Mount Semeru, the highest mountain on Java and also an active volcano. You eventually emerge from the desert of ash to be surrounded by verdant hillsides with wild flowers and crazy paving terraces of cultivated farmland. Continue to the 13th century Budhhist temple of Candi Jago in the village of Tumpang, then on to Malang, founded in the 8th century and still displaying its recent Dutch colonial heritage, and you will have encompassed thousands of years of astounding geology and history in a single day.
BromoTennger Semeru National Park
Google map: bit.ly/XKd20s
This small island just off Bali is nothing short of a dream. Small personal guesthouses (losmens) are the norm, reef surfing, amazing food and the most hospitable people you will find. It is definitely worth taking a break from the chaos of Kuta to sample this delight - and if you can stay at Putu's losman, the couple that run it are nothing short of awesome!!
You can book to go to Lemboggan from any of the local (cornerstall) travel agents.
Google map: bit.ly/V7icSb
One of the most incredible and surreal places I've been to. After a rocky jeep ride and a long hike with stunning views (encountering the Ijen sulphur miners en route) you come to the surreal landscape of Lake Ijen, a sulphuric acid lake of turquoise blue (and a foul stench) where miners work for under $10 a day and for a pack of cigarettes you can take a photo of them as they carry their heavy bright yellow load with just a straw basket. Spectacular landscape and a world away from usual Javan landscapes.
East Java near Randu Agung.
Google map: bit.ly/SSuxwZ
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com