Seminyak - Ubud - Central Temples - Mountain Temples - Mt Batur - Gili Islands
Combining Bali's rich culture with its beautiful beaches and adventure pursuits, this 10-day itinerary offers a fascinating introduction to the island.
Visit Java's highlights in just a week. Wander at the ancient temples of Borobudur and Prambanan, take in the royal heritage of Jogjakarta, close your journey with the stunning volcanoes of Bromo and Ijen.
Let the tropical magic of the island of Bali conquer your heart. Explore one of its mystical temples, walk along breathtaking terraced fields, and laze for days in the white sands of its world-class beaches.
Take in the highlights of Sumatra in a week. Encounter free orangutans in Bukit Lawang, witness ancestral Batak ceremonies in Lake Toba, and admire the tropical waterfalls and impressive canyons of Bukittingi.
Venture deep into the jungles of Borneo as you discover orangutan sanctuaries and the ancestral culture of the Dayak. Sail across rivers on a traditional boat and spend a night in a tribal longhouse.
Escape from the crowds in Bali and visit the pristine island of Flores. Climb to the crater rim of the breathtaking Mt. Kelimutu, and crown your journey cruising the sublime nature of Komodo.
Discover Komodo National Park in-depth: cruise around the cluster of islands, go trekking to get superb views, admire the mighty dragons, and go for a dive in one of the top destinations in the world.
Relax at Kuta, Lovina, Candidasa and Nusa Dua beaches, marvel at Besakih, Umun Danu, Tanah Lot and Uluwatu temples, go rafting in the Ayung river, and contemplate the island's lovely countryside with its fabled lush rice terraces.
Come and see why Komodo is one of the Natural Wonders of the World. Go island hopping and observe the mythical dragons, bathe in immaculate beaches, and discover the surreal marine life beneath.
Conquer the stunning beaches of the four coasts in Bali, tour along emerald rice terraces and magical temples of the inner parts of the island, and interact with local traditions in authentic villages.
Take in the most breathtaking destinations in Java, Bali and Lombok. Explore its massive temples, witness sunrise from a stunning volcano, then soothe your body and mind at the blissful beaches of Bali.
Take a break from the crowds in neighboring Bali and discover the pristine beaches and underwater beauty of Lombok. Relax in the mythical Gili Islands, Sengiggi, and tour the untouched villages inland.
Journey to one of the best preserved cultures in Indonesia, the Toraja of Sulawesi. Marvel at its crafts and architecture and contemplate the funerary traditions with their graves in stone cliffs and ancient trees.
Go inside an active volcano. Literally. Lose your breath with the stunning sunrise over the magical volcanic landscape of Mount Bromo, and live it again at the blue acid lakes and smoking sulphur mines of Kwah Ijen.
A short break to the natural and cultural highlights of
the island of Java. Discover the surreal geology of Bromo volcano, the
blue acid lakes of Kwah Ijen, and the elaborate carvings of two massive
temples, Prambanan and Borobudur.
Combining Bali's rich culture with its beautiful beaches and adventure pursuits, this 10-day itinerary offers a fascinating introduction to the island.
Immerse yourself in Bali's exotic artistic cultures and traditional village way of life on this 7-day itinerary from Ubud.
Experience the island's temple architecture, then encounter picture-perfect beaches from southern Bali to the Gili Islands.
Relax in a beach resort, spot dolphins then trek through rice terraces, volcanoes and tropical waterfalls.
Watch the sunrise over Borobudur and shop for local batik before taking in the smoking caldera of Mount Bromo and the "blue fire" of Kawah Ijen.
Enjoy the sands of Kuta, discover Sasak villages and trek to the beautiful crater lake of Mount Rinjani before relaxing on one of the idyllic Gili Islands.
Discover Bali's spectacular underwater world on this 7-day itinerary featuring shipwrecks and colorful coral gardens teeming with life.
Get up close to orangutans on a river cruise in Borneo then fly south to Flores to see Komodo dragons and a myriad of marine life in the world heritage Komodo Islands.
Trek to the summit of Mount Kelimutu, visit the indigenous communities of Bajawa and Was Rebo, then venture west to the Komodo Islands.
Spot wild orangutans in Bukit Lawang, visit the traditional Batak villages of Lake Toba and learn about Minangkabau culture in Bukittinggi.
Explore the karst landscapes of Bantimurung, go snorkelling off the white sands of Bira and encounter the unique funerary rites and burial traditions of Tana Toraja.
With more than 13,000 islands scattered across the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Indonesia is the largest island country in the world.
Bali's evocative architecture is one of its biggest draws and nowhere is it more impressive than in the island's temples.
With its jungle-clad volcanoes descending to picture-perfect beaches, Bali is the crown jewel of Indonesian tourism. Legendary surf breaks around the southern Bukit Peninsula while the artistic and cultural hub of Ubud has become a centre for yoga, massage and health spas. Witness Balinese Hinduism at the temples of Pura Besakih and Pura Ulun Danu Bratan and take in the breathtaking rice paddy fields of Jatiluwih.
Constructed in the 9th century in the shape of a Buddhist mandala, Java’s UNESCO World Heritage Site of Borobudur is considered one of Buddhism’s most impressive temples. It’s adorned in more than 500 Buddha statues and 2672 relief panels, most breathtaking at sunrise when bathed in the morning light and during the annual Vesak celebrations.
Situated in the east of Java, the smoking volcano of Mount Bromo lies inside the spectacular Tengger massif, together with the volcanoes of Mount Semeru and Batok, and is considered sacred to the local ethnic group of the same name. Take in the breathtaking sunrise views towards Bromo from Mount Penanjakan, then trek across the sea of sand to its caldera for an up-close view into its fiery pit.
Scattered off the northwest coast of Lombok, the three picture-perfect Gili Islands are a scuba diving and snorkelling paradise, ringed by palm-fringed beaches. Party into the early hours on the largest island, Gili Trawangan, cycle the rural lane ways on laid-back Gili Air, and snorkel with sea turtles at tiny Gili Meno’s ‘Turtle Point’.
Protecting some of the most marine-species rich oceans in the world, Komodo National Park and its UNESCO World Heritage-listed islands are like nowhere else. Take an island-hopping boat tour to witness the endemic Komodo dragon, relax on the romantic sands of Pink Beach, and delve below the surface to discover its myriad of marine life either scuba diving or snorkelling.
With its luminous yellow rocks set against a brilliant turquoise acid lake, Kawah Ijen is an otherworldly landscape in the east of Java. Hike in the pre-dawn dark to watch electric-blue flames rising from its burning sulphur and witness locals heaving basket-loads from its smoking heart, then take in an unforgettable sunrise from the crater rim.
Set within the lush rural landscapes and rugged mountains of southern Sulawesi, Tana Toraja is renowned for its traditionally painted, boat-shaped houses and fascinating funereal rites. Hanging graves watched over by wooden effigies and cave tombs nestle into the cliffs, while baby graves inhabit tree trunks, and the hospitable Torajans welcome visitors to participate in their lavish celebrations of death.
Famed for its traditional arts, cultural heritage and 18th century royal kraton palace complex, Yogyakarta is a bustling city on the island of Java. Shop for local handicrafts on Jalan Malioboro, watch a classical Javanese dance performance, and be awed by the UNESCO World Heritage-listed temple complex of Prambanan. Then embark on side-trips to explore the rice paddy swathed landscapes of the Dieng Plateau, the Buddhist mandala at Borobudur and the active volcano of Mount Merapi.
Surrounded by rugged hills that descend to its azure blue waters, Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake in the world, formed by an eruption in Sumatra 70,000 years ago. Go swimming, canoeing and fishing along its tranquil shores and embark on a culture village visit to Samosir Island, home to the Batak tribe with their buffalo-horned houses and ancient stone monuments.
Situated in the heart of Flores, the three summit crater lakes of Mount Kelimutu exhibit strikingly different colours that appear particularly mystical at sunrise. Hike to the blue-hued ‘Lake of Old People’, the green-tinged ‘Lake of Young Men’ and the rich red ‘Lake of Young Maidens’, believed by locals to be the resting place for departed souls.
Trek to witness the endangered Borneo orangutan within Tanjung Puting National Park or the Bukit Baka-Bukit Raya National Park where clouded leopards and sun bears also reside. Or catch a glimpse of the even rarer Sumatran orangutan in the Bohorok Orangutan Centre of Sumatra’s Bukit Lawang.
Venture below the water’s surface on a scuba diving adventure at one of Indonesia’s world renowned sites. Witness the breathtaking marine diversity in the ‘Amazon of the Underwater World’ within Papua’s Raja Ampat archipelago, or explore the staggering macro life at Sulawesi’s Bunaken National Marine Park.
Tackle the challenging overnight trek up the jungle-draped slopes of Mount Rinjani to watch sunrise over its crater lake, home to the smoking volcano of Mount Baru. Bathe in its natural hot springs before continuing on to Rinjani’s summit for unparalleled views across the island of Lombok.
Experience a traditional Balinese dance performance in one of the island’s evocative Hindu temples. Witness the mythological wild animal known as Barong in its fight over evil, the trance-like chorused Kecak dance presenting tales from the Ramayana epic, or the colourfully-costumed female dance of Legong.
Go swimming with manta rays in the clear blue waters of Manta Point on the southwest coast of Bali’s Nusa Penida where these majestic animals frequent a natural cleaning station. If you visit between late-July and November you may also glimpse the reclusive Oceanic Sunfish, known locally as Mola Mola.
While traditional wayang kulit shows are much loved across Indonesia, the theatres in Yogyakarta are particularly renowned. Shows traditionally depict stories from the Hindu epics and are accompanied by live gamelan music, with plenty of modern references and humour thrown in.
Venture into the Central Highlands of Papua from the town of Wamena on a multi-day trekking expedition. Soak up its inspiring scenery, agricultural terraces and traditional Dani villages, where life has changed little over the past century.
Indonesia experiences a tropical climate, with year-round warm temperatures that average between 28-30°C. While its seasons can largely be split into two - the ‘dry’ period from May to September and the ‘wet’ from October through to April - this varies slightly across the archipelago. The rainy season’s short, tropical downpours don’t tend to put a dampener on sightseeing, although they can make trekking conditions more difficult and create rougher seas.
Java largely conforms to these ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ seasons, with slightly less rainfall in the east of Java compared to the west. The ‘dry’ months of May to September are the best time for sightseeing in and around Yogyakarta, as well as Borobudur and Prambanan, and the mountainous slopes of Bromo and Ijen are far easier to manage. Keep in mind that temperatures do drop considerably at night and in the pre-dawn hours, so bring warm clothing if you plan on doing sunrise treks.
Nusa Tenggara’s ‘dry’ season tends to start a little earlier in April and between then and September you’ll experience generally clear blue skies that are ideal for lazing on the beaches of Gili Islands and trekking Rinjani. This is also the best time for snorkelling and diving in the Komodo Islands, when seas are relatively calm and visibility good.
Because of Sumatra’s large size, sprawling across the equator, weather conditions in the north of the island are slightly different from the south. The north experiences its heaviest rainfall between October and January (although you can expect showers year round), while South Sumatra has a more defined wet season from November to March. The drier conditions of February to September make this the best time to visit Lake Toba and its surrounding ethnic villages.
While Bali’s seasons are officially split into a ‘wet’ (October to March) and ‘dry’ (April to September), there really is little difference between the two along the coastal regions, with only short tropical showers that transform into clear blue skies just as fast. Ubud and Mount Batur experience slightly higher rainfall and cooler temperatures during the ‘wet’ season and the seas can be rough for diving and snorkelling during January and February. May through to September is the peak of the tourist season, with Europeans on their long summer break and Australian’s escaping the winter cold back home, so expect far more crowds and inflated hotel prices during this period.
The south of Sulawesi experiences heavy monsoon rains between November and April, while the northern regions see rain throughout the year. Things are at their driest between July and October, with the funeral season in Tana Toraja generally between June and August for those wanting to experience this unique Sulawesi tradition.
Borneo has a less defined ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ season compared to other Indonesian islands, with light rains falling between March and May and heavier downfalls from November through to January. If you’re coming to spot orangutans, then the ‘dry’ season from June through to October is the best time to visit, as they prefer to seek shelter during the rains and can be more difficult to see.
Encompassing the Toba, the Karo, the Simalungun, the Pak Pak, the Mandailing and the Angkola tribes, the term Batak refers to these closely-related ethnic groups of north-central Sumatra. Cultural visits to their traditional boat-roofed villages around Lake Toba offers a fascinating insight into their unique religions, creation myths and burial traditions.
Comprising more than 200 ethnic subgroups, the Dayak are the indigenous, non-Muslim people of Borneo’s interior. Once feared for their ancient headhunting practices, today the diverse Dayak groups live within distinct longhouse villages and exhibit their traditional animist beliefs through masked and ceremonial dancing.
Set within the picturesque mountains of South Sulawesi, the Torajans are renowned for a life that revolves around death, with elaborate funereal celebrations and unique burial rites. A highlight of any visit to Tana Toraja is attending a funeral ceremony, often held long after the person’s death and extending over several days of buffalo sacrifices, traditional dancing and feasting.
Long renowned as fierce warriors, adorned in bird of paradise feathers and boar tusks, the Dani tribe inhabit the fertile mountains in the west of Papua. Multi-day treks are the best way to not only meet this recently-discovered tribe and purchase their traditional handicrafts, but spend the night within their round hut villages which perch along the terraced valleys.
Held every June to July at Denpasar’s Taman Werdhi Budaya Arts Centre, this celebration of dance, music and handicrafts brings together performers from not only Bali, but other Indonesian islands. Shadow puppetry, traditional architecture and grand productions of the Ramayana and Mahabharata ballets are just some of the highlights amidst its colourfully decorated venues.
Bringing together Papua’s Dani, Lani and Yali tribes for a mock war battle, the Baliem Valley Festival showcases the region’s diverse indigenous cultures. Accompanied by traditional Papuan pikon music, sege throwing and archery competitions, this lively display of power, fertility and prosperity takes place over three days each August.
Celebrating the return of ancestral spirits to the earth, Bali’s annual Galungan festival is calculated according to the traditional Balinese calendar each year and marked by temple offerings, sacrifices and prayers in the lead up kuningan. The streets are lined with bamboo penjor poles with offerings hanging at their ends, while lavish feasts and parades ignite the streets.
Commemorating the destructive force of this legendary volcano, the 10-day Krakatoa Festival is held in the Lampung province of southern Sumatra each August. Masked parades and dances, kite-flying competitions and live music mark this explosive event, together with a culinary bazaar showcasing the local cuisine and rich weaving history.
Held each June in Surakarta’s Solo City, this colourful parade of extravagant costumes and dancing celebrates Indonesia’s batik tradition. Each year highlights a different theme, with both traditional and contemporary designs showcased.
From the Middle Eastern influences on Sumatran cuisine to the Polynesian elements in the east of the archipelago, Indonesia’s geographical sprawl has had a strong impact on the diversity of its food. Add to that more than 300 different ethnic groups and it’s easy to see why the country boasts more than 5000 traditional recipes. Rice and noodles form the base of most meals, often in steaming soups, while vegetables, tofu and tempeh accompany many dishes. As a predominantly Muslim nation, beef, chicken and fish are the most common sources of protein, although babi guling, (suckling pig) is a celebratory specialty in Bali. Street carts and local warungs serve up cheap and tasty dishes across the country, with more upmarket restaurants offering both local and international cuisine in the bigger cities and tourist resorts.
Translating as ‘fried rice’, nasi goreng is considered by many the national dish of Indonesia, with a smoky flavour due to its ground shrimp paste, shallots, caramelised sweet soy and tamarind. It often incorporates egg or chicken, with salted dried fish known as ikan asin also popular in some regions.
Satay ayam comprises marinated chicken which is skewered and grilled on the barbecue, served with a delicious peanut sauce. It’s one of the most popular dishes in Java, but can be found smoking away on street sides across the archipelago.
Combining boiled vegetables, tempeh and egg, dolloped with a spicy peanut sauce dressing and topped by emping crackers, gado-gado is perhaps Indonesia’s most delicious vegetarian dish, found at street-side stalls and warungs countrywide.
Served within a steaming bowl of beef broth, heaped with noodles, vegetables, tofu and egg, bakso is a traditional meatball made from beef surimi with tapioca flour and a favourite with traveling food carts. While most bakso is made from beef (and sometimes chicken), adhering to local Muslim beliefs, in non-Muslim areas such as Bali pork bakso is also common.
Served savoury or sweet, martabak is a stuffed fried flatbread that has its origins in the Middle East. From egg and chicken mince to chocolate and condensed milk, the fillings of martabak are only limited by the imagination of the street cart owner.
From the tourist markets of Bali to the massive department stores of Jakarta, Indonesia is renowned across Asia for its cheap and plentiful shopping opportunities. Bali’s southern beaches have mushroomed with designer home wares stores and surf-oriented shops in recent years, while the art and craft market of Ubud offers the best range of local handicraft souvenirs such as wood carvings, paintings and masks. For leather work and shadow theatre puppets, Yogyakarta is the place to go, while traditional textiles, including the intricately patterned songket and the distinct dyeing of ikat, are renowned on Surabaya and Lombok. While most shops have fixed-prices, at market stalls bargaining is the norm, with prices generally around a third to half of what is originally quoted.
Featuring elegant geometric patterning and nature-inspired motifs, Indonesian batik is printed onto finely-woven cotton, dyed in various shades of brown, cream and indigo. While batik cap is literally ‘stamped’ onto the fabric, batik tulis is hand-drawn and far more expensive to purchase, with the town of Pekalongan the centre of its production.
These highly detailed shadow puppets make for a unique cultural souvenir, with regional variations across Java, Bali and Lombok. They are named for the leather used in their design, with buffalo horns shaped into handles to control movement and beautiful hand-painted decorations.
Traditionally worn during temple dances depicting Mahayana epic stories, Balinese masks are now sold as wall decorations to visiting tourists, together with wooden carvings depicting religious scenes and figures. The village of Mas is famed for its traditional carved masks and wooden home furnishings, crafted by masters whose skills are passed down through generations.
From the intense, earthy flavours of Sumatran coffee to the sweet, nutty Balinese beans and chocolate tones of Papuan varieties, Indonesian coffee is noted for its diversity across the archipelago. You’ll find cheap, ground local coffee in convenience stores everywhere, while export quality can be found in specialised coffee houses and tourist markets throughout the islands.
Traditionally depicting classical Hindu stories in what was known as Kamasan style (named for the village of its origination), Balinese paintings today feature scenes from everyday life in the European-influenced Ubud style. This cultural hub is the best place to purchase highly-detailed Balinese paintings from its art galleries and open studios.