INDONESIA

 

INDONESIA

With over 17,000 islands, Indonesia is a diverse country in the truest sense of the word. Ancient culture, active volcanoes, virgin rainforest, incredible diving and snorkelling – it’s got pretty much everything on a traveller’s wishlist.

BLOG POSTS
AUTHENTIC BALI AND HOW TO AVOID THE CROWDS

The island accounts for 40% of Indonesia’s overall visitor numbers – and most of those head to the overcrowded beach resorts in the south. Here’s an itinerary for those wanting to escape the crowds and see more of the authentic Bali

HOW TO EXPLORE THE BEST OF NORTH SUMATRA IN 14 DAYS

It can be a challenge to travel around wild and rugged northern Sumatra – but here’s a 14-day itinerary designed to explore the best it has to offer

THE BEST WAY TO EXPLORE THE EPIC ISLAND OF FLORES IN 14 DAYS

From Maumere in the east to Labuan Bajo in the west,  Flores is a special brew of volcanoes, remote villages and appalling roads – here’s our guide to getting the most out of your trip

WHY YOU SHOULDN’T HESITATE TO VISIT BANDA ACEH

Largely free of international tourism, Banda Aceh is the conservatively Islamic and previously tsunami-battered city on the northern tip of Sumatra – but’s that’s no reason not to go

KOMODO DRAGONS, MANTAS & FLYING FOXES

Searching for Komodo dragons, mantas and flying foxes in Indonesia’s fabulous Komodo National Park on a two-boat trip from Labuan Bajo

ALL ABOARD THE LAST CEMENT TRUCK TO WAE REBO

Our epic and surprising journey to Wae Rebo in Flores, one of Indonesia’s most remote traditional villages

VILLA MANULALU – A JEWEL IN FLORES’ CROWN

If you’re travelling in Flores then don’t miss this hidden gem – Villa Manulalu, near Bajawa

THE INCREDIBLE CRATER LAKES OF KELIMUTU

Often completed shrouded in mist, the volcanic crater lakes of Kelimutu are a tantalising early morning start for visitors to Flores – but the effort is well worth it

CONQUERING INDONESIA’S SPECTACULAR MOUNT INERIE

We marched right up to the top of the hill and we surfed back down again – if you want to climb a volcano in Flores then look no further

14 THINGS WE LEARNED ABOUT BALI

Thinking of visiting Bali? Here are our musings from 18 days on the Island of the Gods and what we learned about it

WHERE WE’VE STAYED

UBUD, BALI

Nirwa Homestay
 Nirwa Homestay

Nirwa Homestay

Nights
3

Cost
300,000 IR per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, fan, wifi

Rating ****
Friendliness 5 Cleanliness 4 Location 4 Comfort 4 Facilities 3 Food 4 Value for money 5

What we thought
Located away from the traffic noise of Ubud high street, this was one of the hidden gems we discovered on our Big Trip. Our room was a large, comfortable and traditional Balinese cottage (albeit with furniture that was old rather than “antique”) with fields of rice paddies surrounding the homestay. Co-hosts Made and his wife really went out of their way to look after us – and the banana pancakes for breakfast were fantastic! Highly recommended and, at £15 per night, a steal.

Trip Advisor reviews

SIDEMEN, BALI

 

Teras Bali Sidemen Bungalows
Teras Bali Sidemen Bungalows

Teras Bali Sidemen Bungalows

Nights 
3

Cost
500,000 IR per night 

What that included
Bed & breakfast, fan, wifi

Rating ****
Friendliness  3 Cleanliness 4 Location 5 Comfort 5 Facilities 4 Food 2 Value for money 4

What we thought
We managed to secure the best room in this lovely guest house for a heavily discounted £25 per night through Booking.com. Gorgeous room overlooking a lovely infinity pool, with views of the jungle in front of us and Gunung Agung (Bali’s highest volcano) to the left. The only thing that let it down was the bland and soulless food served in the restaurant, which was a shame as the restaurant’s setting was stunning, too. If they got that bit right this would be a stunner. Expect to pay double the price in peak season, though.

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Advisor reviews

AMED, BALI

Sama Sama Cafe & Homestay

Sama Sama Cafe & Homestay

Nights
3

Cost
328,000 IR per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wifi

Rating ***
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 4 Location 4 Comfort 2 Facilities 2 Food 3 Value for money 3

What we thought
Located across the road from the cafe and beach, the rooms were newish, although the air-con was freezing! Our sleeping was interrupted by a chorus of cockerels from what seemed like just after midnight, and the sound of a circular saw was never too far away. Fine for a cheap few days or so.

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MUNDUK, BALI

 

Villa Dua Bintang
Villa Dua Bintang

Villa Dua Bintang

Nights
2

Cost
661,000 IR per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, wifi

Rating ***
Friendliness 4 Cleanliness 4 Location 4 Comfort 3 Facilities 2 Food 2 Value for money 2

What we thought
Situated in a spectacular hillside location, in a huge family room with floor to ceiling windows, this was our splurge in Bali. Yet, overall it disappointed because of the bland food in the restaurant (it was a half an hour walk in total darkness at night to the nearest warung so we were tied to it), the extremely poor wifi (which we needed) and the building works on site all day

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MOUNT BATUKARU

 

Bali Mountain Retreat
Bali Mountain Retreat

Bali Mountain Treat

Nights
2

Cost
370,000 IR per night

What that included
B&B, wifi

Rating **1/2
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 3 Location 2 Comfort 3 Facilities 2 Food 1 Value for money 2

What we thought
We stayed in a quite amazing converted Balinese “bale gade” for one night – after which we had to move out as woodworm were eating their way through the roof! The retreat is in a very isolated location within the mountains, which means that if the weather is poor (which it was) there isn’t an awful lot to do. Unfortunately, Nicky also suffered food poisoning from what were likely to be some dodgy bean sprouts in a salad from the restaurant. Unless you want lots of isolation and time to meditate then we’d say it’s not worth the long journey.

Trip Advisor reviews

AMED

 

Galang Kangin Bungalows
 Galang Kangin Bungalows

Galang Kangin Bungalows

Nights
1

Cost
450,000 IR per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wi-fi

Rating ****
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 4 Location 5 Comfort 4 Facilities 4 Food 3 Value for money 3

What we thought
Great location right on Jemeluk beach with superb snorkelling straight off the beach. Unpretentious but spotlessly clean room. We only stayed for one night ahead of our boat transfer to Gili Air but we would have been happy to spent more time there.

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GILI AIR

 

Damai Homestay
 Damai Homestay

Damai Homestay

Nights
4

Cost
300,000 IR per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wifi

Rating ***
Friendliness 4 Cleanliness 2 Location 3 Comfort 3 Facilities 2 Food 3 Value for money 4

What we thought
A French-run homestay, it’s comfortable enough for the price and we were well looked after by the amiable Jacques. Wifi was poor, however, and the open air bathroom could have done with a fair amount of cleaning

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GILI MENO

 

Kontiki Cottage Guest House
 Kontiki Cottage Guest House

Kontiki Cottage Guest House

Nights
5

Cost
400,000 IR per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wi-fi

Rating ***
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 4 Location 4 Comfort 4 Facilities 2 Food 1 Value for money 3

What we thought
Nice large room, comfortable bed and located just a stone’s throw from the best slice of beach and snorkelling on Gili Meno. Unfortunately, let down by haphazard service and, frankly, appalling food. At least the wifi was reasonably good.

Website

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SANUR, BALI

Puri Kelapa Garden Cottages
 Puri Kelapa Garden Cottages

Puri Kelapa Garden Cottages

Nights
4

Cost
630,000 IR per night

What that included
Bed & Breakfast, air-con, wifi

Rating ***1/2
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 4 Location 4 Comfort 4 Facilities 5 Food 3 Value for money 3

What we thought
Nice, if slightly dated, individual cottage within lovely grounds and next to a good sized swimming pool. Although it’s not situated on the beach, it’s only a short walk away and some of the best warungs in Sanur are close by. And the wifi was excellent, which was a bonus as we used much of our time there planning our forthcoming trip to Australia.

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Trip Advisor reviews

DENPASAR, BALI

Praja Hotel
Praja Hotel, Denpasar, Bali

Praja Hotel

Nights
7

Cost
375,000 IR per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wi-fi

Rating ***1/2
Friendliness 4 Cleanliness 5 Location 3 Comfort 4 Facilities 4 Food 2 Value for money 4

What we thought
Stayed twice here – for our first four days it was an ideal base for us to catch up on our “admin” (blog posts, trip planning, booking flights, editing photos etc). Fast wifi, comfortable and clean rooms, and located in a non-touristy, upmarket area of Bali with great local restaurants to hand – and it was cheap. Our second visit, however, was a travesty in comparison – the hotel was full with a tour party of young children who basically ran amok for the two days we were there. None of the management seemed interested in taking the tour organisers to task over it either.  A shame really because it would definitely put us off going back.

Website

Trip Advisor reviews

MONI, FLORES

Daniel Lodge
Daniel Lodge, Moni, Flores

Daniel Lodge

Nights
1

Cost
355,000 IR per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast

Rating *1/2
Friendliness 2 Cleanliness 2 Location 2 Comfort 1 Facilities 1 Food 3 Value for money 1

What we thought Very poor value for money – dirty room and bathroom, lots of noise from the nearby road and a faulty water pump next door to our room which whirred into action every 60 seconds or so for the full 24 hours we were there. Suffice to say we had a sleepless night. To make matters worse we spoke to the owner about it early evening and he promised to switch it off when we went to bed – which of course he didn’t. We left after one night even though we’d prepaid for two via booking.com – it was that bad!

Trip Advisor reviews

ENDE, FLORES

Mentari Hotel
Mentari Hotel

Mentari Hotel

Nights
1

Cost
250,000 IR per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, a/c, wifi

Rating **1/2
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 3 Location 2 Comfort 2 Facilities 2 Food 2 Value for money 3

What we thought
Cheap and reasonably cheerful, we only booked in to break our journey from Moni to Bajawa. Basic accommodation in a quiet area of Bajawa. We wouldn’t rush back.

Trip Advisor reviews

BAJAWA, FLORES

Villa Manulalu
Villa Manulalu, Bajawa, Flores

Villa Manulalu

Nights   
4

Cost
350,000 IR per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast

Rating ****1/2
Friendliness 5 Cleanliness 4 Location 5 Comfort 4 Facilities 4 Food 4 Value for money 5

What we thought
Just fantastic. Incredible mountain views, great food, superb staff, ultra-comfy and huge bed – and all for under £17 per night. With the imposing volcano Gunung Inerie to the right and views across mountains towards the sea in front, it’s a place to just unwind and breathe in the clean mountain air. Or you can explore the surrounding area by visiting traditional villages and natural hot springs or even climbing Gunung Inerie itself – all of which can be arranged through the guest house. Don’t miss it if you’re in Flores.

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RUTENG, FLORES

Susteran St Maria Berdukcita
Susteran St Maria Berdukcita

Susteran St Maria Berdukcita

Nights   
1

Cost
350,000 IR per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast

Rating ***
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 5 Location 3 Comfort 3 Facilities 2 Food 2 Value for money 3

What we thought
This is a convent which doubles as a guest house. Our room was big, clean and comfortable – but as it was situated in a buildings complex at the rear we overlooked a number of houses (not much more than shacks to be honest) which featured a number of howling and barking dogs who kept at it for the duration of our stay. However, there were plenty more rooms in the main building where none of the noise could be heard, so had our room been there we would doubt have enjoyed our stay more.

Trip Advisor reviews

WAE REBO, FLORES

Martin Homestay (Dintor Village)
Martin Homestay, nr Denge, Flores

Martin Homestay

Nights   
2

Cost
400,000 IR per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, dinner

Rating **
Friendliness 2 Cleanliness 2 Location 3 Comfort 2 Facilities 1 Food 3 Value for money 2

What we thought Very basic and small timber huts overlooking rice paddy fields. Incredible noise from hundreds of frogs during the night makes sleeping without earplugs impossible. Almost entirely used as a base for trekking up to Wae Rebo, although other accommodation in Denge itself would be better placed as a base. Overpriced for what was on offer.

LABUAN BAJO, FLORES

 

L Bajo Hotel

Nights
2

Cost
333,000 IR per night

What that included Room only, a/c, wifi

Rating ***
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 3 Location 3 Comfort 2 Facilities 1 Food 3 Value for money 2

What we thought
Business-style hotel which was actually better than the low expectations we had for it. Set back away from LB’s main strip it was reasonably quiet and comfortable – although the wifi that we really needed was very slow. Would recommend though as good value accommodation in overpriced Labuan Bajo.

Trip Advisor reviews

LABUAN BAJO, FLORES

 

Villa Seirama Alam
Villa Seirama Alam, Labuan Bajo, Flores

Villa Seirama Alam

Nights   
1

Cost
600,000 IR per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast

Rating ***
Friendliness 2 Cleanliness 3 Location 3 Comfort 3 Facilities 4 Food 3 Value for money 2

What we thought
We only arrived late evening and stayed just the one night so didn’t get the opportunity to appreciate the hillside setting and facilities of this place. Had a less than friendly conversation with the owner via telephone who wasn’t happy that we’d turned up later than expected, which wasn’t a great start. Very friendly staff at breakfast, though. Small villa room with great views of the harbour and islands, and adjoining kitchen/breakfast area.

Website

Trip Advisor reviews

BUKIT LAWANG, SUMATRA

Eco Travel Cottages
Eco Travel Cottages

Eco Travel Cottages

Nights
1

Cost
400,000 IR per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, fan, wifi

Rating ****
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 5 Location 4 Comfort 4 Facilities 4 Food 2 Value for money 4

What we thought
Superb hardwood interior decor with great views out over the river. Big, comfortable bed with an additional bed on the mezzanine floor. Only let down by the poor breakfast – with our table’s setting down by the river it deserved better! Highly recommended though if you’re staying in Bukit Lawang.

Website

Trip Advisor reviews

BUKIT LAWANG, SUMATRA

 

Jungle Inn

Nights
1

Cost
400,000 IR per night

What that included
Room only, fan, wifi

Rating ***1/2
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 3 Location 5 Comfort 3 Facilities 3 Food 3 Value for money 3

What we thought
We only stayed here as Eco Travel Cottages were fully booked after our one night stay there. Not quite as comfortable but with a larger room and a nice “jungle shower” feature. The view of the river was even better too. And, although the wifi was pretty patchy we managed to piggy-back on the wifi from the bar next door. Still, good value (as everything seems to be in Bukit Lawang) and probably the best located of all BL accommodation if you’re not going to be out trekking, rafting etc.

Website

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LAKE TOBA, SUMATRA

 

Tabo Cottages
Toba Cottages

Toba Cottages

Nights
4

Cost
600,000 IR per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, fan, wifi

Rating ****
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 4 Location 4 Comfort 5 Facilities 5 Food 4 Value for money 4

What we thought
We upgraded to the honeymoon suite as we received a generous 30% discount on the room. And it was a gorgeous, traditional Batak-style room, with a mezzanine floor and huge balcony. The bed was huge and one of the comfiest we’ve slept in, too. If the service had been just a little more upbeat it would have been perfect. Highly recommended.

Website

Trip Advisor reviews

BANDA ACEH, SUMATRA

Medan Hotel

Nights
1

Cost
330,000 IR per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, a/c, wifi

Rating **
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 1 Location 3 Comfort 2 Facilities 2 Food n/a Value for money 2

What we thought
We weren’t expecting much when we booked this place – and we were right not to do so. It was merely a room for us to get some sleep ahead of our tour of Banda Aceh the following day. We didn’t even bother to hang around for breakfast the following morning. To be fair there’s not much choice in town either. OK for one night.

Website

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PULAU WEH, SUMATRA

Freddie’s Santai Sumurtiga
Freddie's Santai Sumurtiga

Freddie’s Santai Sumurtiga

Nights
11

Cost
285,000 IR per night

What that included
Room only, fan, wifi

Rating ****
Friendliness 5 Cleanliness 3 Location 4 Comfort 3 Facilities 4 Food 5 Value for money 5

What we thought
This place has the owner’s personality stamped all over it. South African, Freddie, is probably the most hospitable host you’re ever likely to meet – and the producer of some of the best food we’ve had on our travels. For 65,000 IR (£3) he serves up a 4-course buffet dinner with a range of local and international dishes – including some from his homeland. We stayed in two bungalows, one of which had fantastic views right over the beach – from where there’s some good snorkelling to be had. The rooms themselves are fairly basic, although they do include a fridge, drinking water barrel, tea and coffee. The only downside was the morning call to prayer at 5am  – which wouldn’t have been so bad had the loudspeaker not been right outside our bungalow. And one morning this went on for 45 minutes!

Website

Trip Advisor reviews

MORE ON INDONESIA
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