We had only two weeks in Indonesia, a country made up of a chain of over 18,000 islands. Obviously, it’s not enough. We decided to split our itinerary between a few days in Jakarta and spend the rest on Bali.
From rice terraces, to an amazing diving in Pemuteran, conservation projects, thousands of temples and great food, one thing stood out for me about Indonesia: the people. They were unbelievably friendly and welcoming, often stopping us to ask if we were enjoying their country, offering to help when we were lost, and translating for us when a vendor didn’t speak english.
Why Indonesia? After our last jaunt to Southeast Asia, Dan had enough of planes and insisted on not heading back over to that side of the world for a while. But, I had other plans… and as our resident Trip Planner (should I add that to my resume?), I reserve the right to do what I want. United had a great fare, so I bought the tickets!
My top advice? Look into the immigration laws before you head to a country. As US residents, I know we have it very easy when it comes to getting visas. I assumed Indonesia was like every other country I’ve been to, and for the most part it is, but they really like to see a printed out version of your exit strategy. And the electronic one I had on my phone was almost not good enough.
What’s the best way to get around? We flew from Jakarta to Bali via a sale from AirAsia. The rest of the time we hired private drivers. Getting around Bali via public transportation isn’t very easy.
Glad I packed: A pair of khaki shorts. I wore them almost every day.
Should’ve left at home: Long pants, I didn’t need them at all, and they actually took up a good amount of space.
Wish I’d packed: A pair of gym shorts. For some reason I thought I’d just want to wear the khaki ones. But they need to be washed every now and then when you wear them 17 hours a day.
Best souvenir: A custom made dress I got in Ubud – it’s so cute and lightweight, and it has pockets – people!
Best Meal: We loved the food in Indonesia, so much so that I created a recipe for nasi goreng, the national dish of Indonesia. For me the best dish was a toss up between Nasi Pecel in Jakarta and Nasi Campur at Cafe Wayan in Ubud. Dan would choose the Nasi Goreng at Bali Eco Stay in Tabanan.
Best Accommodation: It’s hard to pick one, so I won’t. We got to live like locals in a kampung in Jakarta, stay beach front across from a sea turtle hatchery in Pemuteran, became one with nature in Tabanan and lived in luxury in Ubud.
Worst Accommodation: We had almost no choice but to stay our last night in Indonesia at the Sheraton Airport Hotel. While the hotel itself was OK, the food was outrageously expensive! Both the food and hotel were nowhere close to any of the others we stayed at on this trip. And both were way overpriced.
Favorite spot: Pemuteran, a small beach village on the northwest coast of Bali is just one of those places I could see myself getting lost in, forgetting about the “real world”. Not to mention it has some spectacular diving!
Favorite thing we did: I know I keep talking about the diving, but it was so stunning it’s hard not to. A close second was visiting the sea turtle hatchery. I’ve never exclaimed “awwwww” so much in my life.
For those of you interested in the nitty gritty, below you can find a breakdown of our itinerary and budget.
We started off in a kampung in Jakarta for 2 nights. The apartment building had close access to street food, public transit and a phenomenal view from the rooftop terrace. We visited central Jakarta, which seemed almost a world away from the area we stayed in.
We flew to Denspasar, Bali and hired a driver to take the 5-6 hours to Pemuteran. The drive is actually quite nice through rice terraces, up and around mountains and passed Ulun Danu. We spent 6 days in Pemuteran, diving some of the most incredible dive sites I’ve seen (Bio-Wreck and Underwater Temple Garden come to mind), as well as visiting Menjnagan Island (for more diving). Since I really like to be underwater as much as possible, I spent the rest of my time snorkeling.
We stayed and dove with Reef Seen Bali, who is doing some really great conservation work in the area, mainly with coral reefs and sea turtles. It was inspriing to be around people who really want to make a difference in this world.
After Dan peeled me away from Pemuteran, we headed to Tabanan for a few days of unplugging and being with nature. We got to walk around local villages, see amazing waterfalls and spend time in rice fields that we had all to ourselves.
From there we went to Ubud, where we were able to take a day trip to see many of the temples and the rice fields of Jatiluwih. We visited the cheeky monkeys and sacred temples at Monkey Forest, shopped at the Ubud market and ate our way through the city.
What I would change: If I had more time, I would have visited Borobudur on Java. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, and I was really bummed when we decided we just didn’t have time for it on this trip.
What I would do all over again: I would definitely stay in the kampung in Jakarta again. It was a unique experience, being submerged in local life like that. Not to mention it was super close to rows of street food. Just thinking of the satay and peanut sauce has me drooling.
Indonesia budget breakdown:
Total spent: $4805 for 2 people
Flights from the US: $2165 got the two of us into Jakarta
Transportation in Indonesia: $395 (including flights to Bali)
Accommodations: $1090 (including a splurge in Ubud)
Activities, diving, shopping, local transportation, souvenirs and food: $1155 ($660 on the diving alone)
Where we could have saved: We definitely splurged on an accommodation in Ubud, and I’m so glad we did. It was our first time really throwing caution to the wind as far as price goes. It was well worth it, only now I’m addicted to luxury so this might be a problem for the future… 🙂
Have you been to Indonesia? What else would recommend?