Destinations, How to..., Indonesia, Travel Guides

How to… spend 3 weeks in Indonesia

Indonesia is huge and when I planned our 3 week (well slightly more than 3 weeks) itinerary in 2013 I found it really difficult not to pack too much into our short time there, I knew Bali was a must for us as we wanted to dive the Liberty Wreck at Tulamben, but when it came to the rest of the region I didn’t want to spend loads of time travelling between areas or islands. So this meant the Komodo Islands were out and the Gili’s were in and a hop to the mainland Java was too much hassle but fairly developed Lombok was just a short boat or plane ride away and our 3 week Indonesia itinerary between the 3 was born so here is how we did it.

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Planning…can you tell I am a teacher?

Days 1-3: Tulamben, Bali

After arriving at Denpassar airpot, we had a transfer to Tulamben booked with our dive company Bali Diving Academy to take us to Scuba Seraya Resort where we would be staying for 3 nights to do our Advanced Open Water course. You can read about our experience of diving in Bali in my scuba travels series. This area of Bali is very quiet compared to the rest of the island and is famous for the black sand beaches and amazing dive sites. It was the perfect introduction to our stay as the resort had brilliant Indonesian food and beautifully relaxing surroundings, ideal for tired and weary divers.

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Scuba Seraya Resort

Scuba Seraya Resort

Scuba Seraya Resort

We then booked a tour/transfer to Ubud with Sila’s Bali Tour so we could cram in some key sights on our journey, this was a brilliant touch as it meant we didn’t lose much time as we would have had to do the journey anyway and just made sure we saw some great stuff on the way.

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Ujung Palace, one of the stops with Sila

Days 4-8: Ubud, Bali

Whilst in Ubud we stayed at the Saren Indah Hotel near the Monkey Forest, this was an ideal base to explore Ubud and surrounding areas from, and it felt nice being a short walk from the main tourist area. I loved strolling around Ubud and sampling all the amazing restaurants and cafes as well as getting out and about on bicycle and raft tours, you can read more about all this in my main Bali post.

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Rice paddy views at Saren Indah

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Sacred Monkey Forest, Ubud

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Balinese show

From Ubud we were picked up by Gili Cat (boat operators) and taken to Padangbai ready for our boat crossing to the Gili Islands.

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Padangbai, thankfully this wasn’t our boat

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Padangbai

Days 9-15: The Gili Islands

Even though I’d read that Gili Trawangan was a bit of a party island it did not put me booking our stay on the larger of the Gili Islands, we could have gone to quieter Meno or Air but we really enjoyed the range of restaurants, bars and shops on Gili T and to be honest didn’t see too much of the crazy party side of the island.

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Spent most of days here…at the Pearl Beach Lounge

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No cars on the island, just horse and cart

We of course did more diving, lots of swimming in the sea and in the pool at the Villa Ombak and Pearl Lounge, dependent on where we based ourselves for the day and bought drinks and food meant we had full use of the facilities at either. We stayed off the main strip (it’s not really a strip at all as the island is so small and there are no cars!) at the simple, but lovely Rumah Purnama owned by Amanda who was super helpful before and throughout our stay.

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Enjoying a coconut water at Pearl

From Gili T, we booked a short speed boat over to Lombok I much preferred this journey to the bigger boat that had brought us over from Bali.

 Days 16-20: Kuta, Lombok

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Bangsal Harbour, Lombok

On arrival at Bangsal Harbour, Lombok we were met by a driver arranged by the very lovely Yuli and Mike from Yuli’s homestay where we would be staying in Kuta. Our journey to Kuta was great we drove through local markets and jungle lined simple roads, tourism in Lombok at that time was still fairly in its infancy and most guests still visit the resort of Senggigi however the new Lombok International Airport means that the south of the island is becoming more popular and Kuta, Lombok is now well known for its superb beaches.

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Local market, Lombok

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Local market, Lombok

Thankfully it’s no where near as popular as it’s namesake on Bali and still has a back-packer feel to it despite the presence of one mega-chain Novotel, and is also brilliant for diving, roaming around on a moped and just taking time to relax on the untouched beaches, most of the time we were the only ones there.

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Perfect white sand and blue sea…just us

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and views like this…

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and this cow!

Very quickly after we’d arrived in Lombok it was all too soon to leave for our return to Bali, this time instead of a boat we booked an internal flight with the help of Mike from the homestay.

Day 21-24: Seminyak, Bali

From Denpassar airport we hopped in a BlueBird taxi to our last digs of the stay, the Blue Karma Resort where we’d cashed in some free nights we had saved up and plumped for a one bedroom villa. Ending the trip in our own little lap of luxury was amazing and the resort had a great spa, good room service and dining options on site and was so close to all the Seminyak shopping and restaurant action we could ever need.

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Blue Karma Resort, Seminyak

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Blue Karma Resort, Seminyak

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Blue Karma Resort, Seminyak

Our villa and the resort were so nice that for the majority of the time we just enjoyed staying put except for our one big night out at Ku De Ta, where we watched the sun go down, drank cocktails and enjoyed a perfect last supper.

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Ku De Ta, Bali

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Sunset at Ku De Ta, Bali

As we were already in Seminyak it was just a short taxi drive to the airport meaning we could maximise the most of our last day at the resort before our night flight back to Singapore.

There are of course many more areas to discover in Indonesia and I left feeling we’d still only touched the surface of both Bali and Lombok, let alone the rest of it – Sulawesi has some of the best diving in the world as is already on my list for the future. I’d also love to go back to Lombok and see how much if at all it has changed, please comment below if you’ve been recently and let me know what it’s like now.

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