Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How to plan your trip to Indonesia: what to see and what to do

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How to plan your trip to Indonesia: what to see and what to do

Hey guys, it has been some time since I last posted something on my blog! Well, I'm happy to announce that my summer has officially started! I finished the other day my exam session and now I'm ready to start thinking about my summer! ☀️🌴 This year it's time for another adventure, this time in Sri Lanka! Can't wait to share my journey! Anyways, a lot of people lately are asking me about my trip in Indonesia, wanting some tips on where to go, what to see and what to do in this amazing country. First of all, for those who didn't know, I been in Indonesia two years ago, after my graduation, with four friends of mine. We stayed there for over a month and we visited Java, Bali, Lombok and the Gili Islands. This is why I wanted to share this guide with you, with some useful tips about Indonesia and where you should definitely go and what you should definitely see! I hope this will be very useful for everyone who's looking for suggestions on their next adventure to Indonesia. So this is the official guide on how to plan your trip to beautiful Indonesia: what to see and what to do! Enjoy.

General information

The best guide I found about the country, is the Lonely Planet. In the firsts section you can find some useful information about the culture, the history, the currency exchange, the best season to visit Indonesia and so on. What I recommend to you, is to book a driver, at least in Java. Two years ago, when we visited the country, we noticed that it would have been easier to move on the island with a driver, which wasn't actually really expensive. In this way, we had a local person who could give us useful advices, speak to the other locals who couldn't understand English and mostly, we never got lost while driving haha. For the accommodations, we just booked the hotel in Bali, because we knew it was a very touristic destination and we were scared we wouldn't find a place to sleep if we didn't book in advance from Italy. For the other places, we just knocked on the door or listened to advices of the locals along the way. 
The first thing we did at the airport was to buy a dictionary Indonesian- Italian because some locals couldn't really understand English (like our first driver), so we could try to communicate in Indonesian, which was actually one of the funniest things of our journey. 😂 

Java

Our trip started from here: Jakarta. We decided to stay a couple of days in the city at the end of our trip, when we had to take the flight back home. So, after a couple of days in Singapore, we started our trip in Java. 
First stop: Krakatau, which is a volcanic island between Java and Sumatra. We took a private fast boat from Carita to this island and then started hiking on the volcano. The view is breathtaking and it's definite worth the effort. After the hike we did some snorkeling in an aerea nearby and we were stunned by the amount of colorful fishes we found swimming there!

Second stop: Cirebon. Well, actually this isn't a real tourist attraction, in fact, the citizens of Cirebon, as they saw us, began taking picture of us! I remember it isn't even on the travel guide, but we finished there because of a series of unfortunate events, but this city let us breathe the real Javanese atmosphere and it was the perfect occasion the get in touch with the locals, who took us around the city and the market. We also saw the palace of the sultan, the Kraton. The manager of the Hotel where we were staying, took us to dinner and we ate the very best sate ayam! If you happen to be here, and don't know where to stay, I suggest to you the "Hotel Pia" , where you can meet the kindest people on earth!

Third stop: Yogyakharta. Normally, people stay here in order to visit the Borobudur and the Prambanan temples, which are really close to the city. Anyway, if you have some time, it's worth to visit the market of Yogyakharta, which is huge! An old men let us try almost every kind of spice in the spice market. The spice market is beautiful!! Another thing we did is eating on the floor some fried food in the street of the city. Drinking tea melati (Jasmine tea) and listening to some locals playing music... Wonderful!

Fourth stop: Borobudur and Prambanan templesThe first one is a buddhist temple and the second one is a hindu temple. Of course these two temples are the major tourists attraction of the island, but both are amazing and it's worth to see them! If you book a guide, they will tell you all the interesting history behind these beautiful temples!

Fifth stop: Sunrise over the Mount Bromo. The image of the sun rising over the crater of the Mt. Bromo is something I'll never forget. This was maybe my favorite thing of the whole trip to Indonesia. It's one of those experiences that I will never delete from my mind. Anyway, it's been kind of difficult to reach the top of the mountain (because we took a wrong road and our car was to heavy for 6 people plus backpacks...but the trip was sooo funny), but once we got on the top, we had the most delicious nasi goreng (fried rice) of our lives! The hotels there were fully booked, but we managed to find a house of some local people nearby to sleep a couple of hours before the alarm clock started ringing at 2.45 am! The trips to see the sunrise over the crater usually start at 3. am and I suggest you to book a guide so you can just follow them and be on the top for the sunrise.

Sixth stop: One of these is Kawah Ijen, a volcano that has a one-kilometer wide lake, which is blue and is the most acid one in the world due to the sulfur miningThis experience has been unforgettable: we woke up at 1 am ( we actually didn't "wake up" because we really didn't sleep..) to start our hike to the top of the volcano! One of the most difficult hikes of my life.. After an hour I was about to faint! Once at the top, you start going down to the mining and in the crater to see the blue flame (which is visible only at night). After seeing the blue flame we started hiking upwards to the top to wait for the sunrise. We also saw the miners... They carry on the shoulders up to 100kg sulfur twice a day, up and down, for just 10-12$ a day... It was really impressive. Anyways be careful here: the road is very slippery and dangerous, this is why it's compulsory to have someone guiding you to the way. 

Bali

Bali is definitely the island where you can encounter the most tourists in all Indonesia. I actually really enjoyed Bali, the nightlife and the amazing panoramas we had the chance to see, but the tourists were just too much for me. Anyways, you can see amazing things here in Bali. My advice is to stay away from Kuta, unless you are a great surfer and you're looking for some amazing waves to surf. In Bali we rented a car and a friend of mine was driving through the island. Although it was really hard to find one for five people, so if you have chance, book in advance. One of my favorite places in Bali is Ubud: this part of the island can offer you breathtaking views. We visited the Palace in Ubud, right in the center of the city. Another thing you can't absolutely miss is the Pura Taman Saraswati temple, which has a beautiful little lake in the middle of it.  Absolutely visit the beautiful rice terraces in Bali and also Jungle Fish. A place directly in the jungle, where you can have some rest, take a bath and swim in the amazing swimming pool with a beautiful view over the jungle. You'll have to walk a bit, but it's definitely worth it (a little expensive to eat and to drink, compared to other places in the island). A must do in Bali is to visit the stunning Pura Luhur Uluwatu temple. It's a temple on a cliff, with a breathtaking view over the ocean and the rocks. How to end the day in the best way? Of course drinking a smoothie at sunset in Bingin Beach. In Seminyak you can find a lot of cool & chilly bars and clubs where you can go to relax a bit at the end of the day. For clubs, I suggest you either Seminyak or Kuta, where you can find a huge number of little clubs and discos. Don't miss Potato Head in Bali: a beautiful private day club with chilly music and an amazing view. The food is great. 

Gili Islands

There are three islands: Gili Trawangan, which is the biggest and where you can find a lot of hotels, hostels and so on, Gili Meno and Gili Air (which didn't have any hotels and stuff two years ago, but maybe things have changed). This islands are pure paradise. The water is crystal clear and the people are the nicest. We found some guys who took us all around the island of Gili T and showed us the best places. One thing you have to do is rent a bike and go discover the island and do a snorkeling trip through the three islands. We saw the big turtles here 🐢 . It was an amazing experience! A lot of people asked me where I took the pictures on the swing... Well it's called Ombak Sunset and it's the best place to watch the sunset in Gili T.  There are many places where you can go to eat something or at night. If you want to have a good italian pizza, you can eat at "Egoiste", right in front of the sea. At night we spent time at New Rudy's PubJiggies and the very best Sama Sama Raggae Bar.

Lombok

Concerning Lombok, I have to say we didn't have many days at our disposal to do everything we wanted to do, but we definitely enjoyed the island and its beautiful waterfalls. Yes, because the waterfalls in Lombok are something special you have to see! We moved around the island with taxis, but sometimes it was a little hard to find one. Anyways the best beach is in Kuta Lombok. I heard there is an amazing volcano for hiking, but it takes 3 days to hike over the top, and we simply didn't have time. This is a very good excuse to go back some time ;) 

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