I recently visited Indonesia and had such an amazing time! Quite a few people asked where we went to and how long for etc, so I thought I could cover it all in a rather long extensive blog post…
All photos in this post are unedited and taken with my Olympus PEN camera.
We spent 3 weeks in total in Indonesia and I think that was just the right amount of time to see what we wanted to, and get everything ticked off the list.
Indonesia in general…
Bali – I don’t know why but I thought there were going to be a lot of beggars and homeless people, but I honestly didn’t see one. They all make their own small businesses, even if it is just selling drinks on the beach but a lot of them seem to make their own money. Being a blonde young women, I actually felt totally safe at all times. The Balinese are very religious (Hinduism), respectful and honest. They all seemed very happy, even those with very little. I thoroughly enjoyed their culture and was truly inspired.
Lombok – Just a 2 hour boat ride from Bali and the culture it felt pretty different. Again, I did feel safe, the people were still friendly and helpful. The religion here is Muslim, and I really noticed quite a difference. Not bad difference, but just different. The Gili islands belong to Lombok so they had a similar feel to them as well. Although Lombok didn’t feel very touristy and the Gili Islands felt very touristy!
When checking in for our flight, they needed to see proof of how and when we were leaving the country, we knew we only had 30 days on our visa and wanted to play it by ear and book a flight when we were ready, but we had to have something booked before they could check us in. We had to roughly work out how long we wanted to spend there and get a flight booked! Luckily 3 weeks was just the right amount of time.
We flew from Cairns Australia to Denpasar Airport. Denpasar is the main airport in Bali. Kuta is a resort area really close to the airport and people had said to start the trip there, but I hadn’t heard any good reviews, it just sounded like Magaluf for ozzies, no thanks, think i’ll pass! We chose Seminyak as our first place to start our Indonesian adventure.
Seminyak – 3 nights – Primera Hotel (16GBP a night)
It was 20 minute taxi ride from the airport which cost us 10GBP and a great place to start if you are working your way around Bali. We had been staying in hostels in Australia and I was so excited that we could stay in a hotel for cheaper than a hostel! The hotel was fairly basic, but clean and right in the centre which was all we needed. The staff were helpful too. Seminyak turned out to be one of my favourite places in Indonesia. Seminyak is full of bars, restaurants, shops and spa’s. It is a busy town and really has a holiday vibe to it. The beach in Seminyak centre is good, the sand isn’t a white as some of the other places, but it is a 10 min walk from the hotel, the sea was warm and it has great restaurants a long the beach where you can grab lunch or a cocktail… or two! The only thing was the locals regularly come over to your sun lounger asking if you want to buy a sarong, some bracelets, watches, sunglasses… etc. I did actually buy a sarong but turns out they were a lot cheaper in the little shops. You always have to haggle in Bali, whether it is for a taxi, or something in shop, you can always get them down on price.
There are a lot of spa’s here too, I had a 1 hour massage for 3GBP! Again, you can always get them down on price, but here it was so cheap anyway that I didn’t really need to haggle. To be honest, this wasn’t like a fancy spa we have at home, it was just a small beauty salon, but it was a great massage!
In the afternoon on the beach, the bars put out a tonne of bean bags and these gorgeous bright coloured umbrellas and get the music on! It is such a great atmosphere to relax and have a few drinks while the sun goes down, they do this all the way along Seminyak beach, every afternoon.
My favourite foods in Seminyak…
- Potato Head Club, a large open restaurant and bar with a pool overlooking the beach. It is free to get in the day time, so if your hotel doesn’t have a pool, it is a great place to hang out in the day! Although, it is quite expensive compared to other bars in Bali.
- Boss Man Burgers, if you are into your burgers, you can’t miss this place! The juiciest burger with cheese loaded fries, not forgetting the truffle mayo… need I say more!
- Nalu Bowls, seriously tasty smoothie bowls! They made fresh smoothie bowls topped with granola and delicious fresh fruits. It was so hot in Bali, this was the perfect refreshing light lunch. When we were in seminyak, we actually came here 3 times, I was obsessed!
- The Dusty Café, a small quirky restaurant serving up extremely yummy food at a really reasonable price!
Canguu – 2 nights – Premier Surf Camp (20GBP a night)
A lot of people we met travelling all raved about Canguu, so we thought we’d better see what it was all about. We got a taxi from Seminyak which cost 7.50 GBP which took around 30-40 minutes. When we arrived, we couldn’t find any restaurants or anywhere to have dinner. We walked for about 30 minutes in search of food and found a small place on the beach in the end! Turns out you really need a moped to get around this village as it is all pretty spread out. Luckily my boyfriend drove the moped and I just clung on the back for dear life! There was scooters, cars, and buses everywhere! I would say Canguu is Bali’s version of Byron Bay in Australia, a small surfer village.
If you are a surfer this place would be great as there are so many waves to catch…. but I’m only a beginner surfer and they were way too big for me to take on!
We visited Tanah Lot from here which took about 30 mins on the moped.
There were a few cute shops and restaurants in the centre but again, all quite spread out. 2 nights here was plenty for me.
Ubud – 5 nights – Bliss Bungalow (25GBP a night)
This was another favourite place in Bali. We originally booked 4 nights here and extended it to 5 nights as we loved it so muh and there was a lot to do.
Ubud is in the centre of Bali so there is no beach but plenty more to keep you occupied. Again, lots of spas, restaurants and shops. We stayed at Bliss Bungalow and it was amazing for 25 a night! I can’t recommend this hotel enough, breakfast was included in the price and they bought it to your room at no extra cost if you didn’t want to go to the restaurant. The staff were so friendly and helpful. We had a four poster bed, a balcony over looking the rice terrace, a view of the swimming pool from our bathroom and a bath! Usually I wouldn’t batter an eyelid having a bath in a hotel room, but after 7 weeks of showers, having a bath was heaven! It wasn’t right in the centre of Ubud so a moped was really handy here. You can rent them from the hotel, or the hotel actually runs a free shuttle bus in to the centre too.
There is so much to do in Ubud, here’s what we did…
- Hired a driver for the day to take us around the main temples and tourist spots. It is a ‘thing’ in Bali, to hire a taxi for the whole day and they will take you around and wait for you all day. We met a lovely taxi driver one evening and he said he would take us around the next day. I think we paid him around 17GBP and he picked us up at 10am and dropped us back at 5pm. We visited the Holy water temple, elephant cave, Rocky temple, Rice fields (really incredible) and a big waterfall.
- Trekked Mount Batur (an active volcano) for sunrise. This was an experience i’ll never forget! We got picked up from our hotel at 2am and driven to the bottom of the mountain to start our trek at 4am. I had no idea we’d be doing anything like this so I only had my Vans with me and they were not the comfiest things getting up a mountain. We reached the top by around 6am ish for the 6.30am sunrise. It was amazing to be above the clouds watching the sunrise. As it was an active Volcano, you could see the steam coming out of some of the cracks! It was pretty tough but it was worth it! We booked this with a tour agency in the town centre.
- The Monkey Forest. This is in Ubud Centre and easy to get to. The monkeys are crazy! They aren’t afraid of us humans! They were trying to get in peoples bags looking for food! You can buy bananas there to feed them but as soon as they spotted a banana they would jump on you and take it! I didn’t buy any bananas as I was actually a bit scared, some of them were quite big and unpredictable! It was hilarious to sit back and watch people feed them.
- We went to a traditional fire dance at the palace in the town centre one evening. The dance told the story of their culture which was interesting to see.
- Explored the town centre and Ubud market… oh and there was a Nalu Bowls here too so had to make a stop there!
Kuta Lombok (Lombok) – 2 nights – Kuta Baru Hotel (23GBP a night)
From Ubud, we got a bus to Padang Bai harbour and then the ‘fast boat’ from there over to Lombok. As I mentioned, there is a Kuta in Bali, but confusingly enough, there is also a Kuta in Lombok, called Kuta Lombok. It took 2 hours to get there from the harbour and cost around 17GBP in a taxi.
Our hotel was great, really helpful staff. Kuta was a small village right at the bottom of Lombok, we only came here because we had read about lots of beautiful beaches. So we hired a moped and went beach hopping around the south of the island. We visited Selong Belak beach which actually had gorgeous soft white sand but when we arrived, the tide was right in so there was hardly any beach to sit on. The waves were crashing in to the small family run restaurants on the beach which they thought was funny, I think things like that happened every day and they didn’t take it too seriously. In England you could imagine us Brits outraged by it!
We then scooted over to Mawun beach which was really relaxed and quiet. We bought a pineapple from a local boy who cut it up and make it look like an ice cream!
Last we visited Kuta beach which was the least favourite but still relaxing and chill out just to soak up the sun.
Sengiggi (Lombok) – 2 nights – Lombok Sengiggi Hotel (22GBP a night)
Sengiggi is the most touristy area in Lombok, although it still didn’t feel very ‘touristy’. There wasn’t really much to do here apart from drive the moped around exploring the really beautiful views. You could see the 3 Gili islands from one of the view points here too! We ate at a restaurant called Albertos which was on the beach under the stars. The food was delicious and a rather romantic spot for dinner. Albertos was actually a small hotel with a nice swimming pool, so the next day, we came back here for lunch to use the pool as our hotel’s pool wasn’t great.
Gili Trawangan – 4 nights – Wisma Bunda – (20GBP a night)
From Sengiggi we booked a cheap boat ticket to Gili Trawangan. It was half the price of other tickets we had seen and thought we’d got a real good bargain… until we got picked up from our hotel in a small old mini van, I had to squish in with some other foreigners and Tom had to sit in the boot! It sounds funny now, but when its 30+ degrees and you are literally sticking to the stranger next to you, it wasn’t so funny. We then got to our boat, and it was a boat for locals, where they transport their food over to the Gili islands. Boat is the only way to get to the island, so they were stacking the boat up with beer, rice and local produce, and we literally had to sit on it with our big heavy rucksacks. I honestly thought this little wooden boat was going to sink! 30 minutes later we arrived to Gili Trawangan, usually known as Gili T.
Gili T is the largest and busiest out of the 3 Gili islands, the other 2 being Gili Air which is the ‘middle’ sized island and Gili Meno which is the smallest island.
On the Gili islands the only mode of transport is either push bike or horse and cart. Imagine New York Central Park horse and cart, 4 big horses easily pulling along a cart, this was completely the opposite. 1 small horse, more like a pony, pulling along a full to the brim cart. Ok I guess the people on the island don’t know any different and they have no other means of getting building materials, food, etc around the island, but I really hated seeing the pony struggle to pull the cart along in the heat and thought it was cruel. It took around 10 minutes to walk to our hotel from the harbour, our hotel was situated just off the busy road which was great as it was nice and quiet in the evenings.
You can cycle around the island in an hour, we decided to do this in the blazing mid afternoon heat, what a brilliant idea. The sand is white and the waters are beautiful and turquoise, a really picture perfect beach, although to get in and out of the sea is actually pretty painful as there are tiny sharp stones all the way along the beach.
There are so many ‘dreamy’ things to do on the island, you can watch a movie in the evening on the beach, watch the sunset on the famous swings, eat local food, eat fresh seafood, snorkel, scuba dive, and drink copious amounts of fresh coconut. I was just a little disappointed with the beach, if you was in the sea, you had to be on constant watch out for boats coming in to moor up. They didn’t seem to have an area for boats, they just came in everywhere.
We went scuba diving with Blue Marlin which was absolutely amazing! I have never dived before and it was just another world down there. It was so peaceful as you could only hear yourself breathing. I really want to do more diving and do my PADI qualification now!
Bars and restaurants fill the streets on the island, we had a really delicious dinner at Scallywags, if you are heading over to Gili T, it looked like Scallywags had great accommodation which might be worth checking out! Also, M’adison Gili looked nice, if you can splash out a little more, stay at Le Pirate Beach Club, looks amazing!
Gili Air – 2 nights – Kaluku Gili Resort (23GBP a night)
Gili Air was so quiet and relaxing compared to Gili T. It was totally chilled out. We stayed in the cutest beach villa on the beach for only 23 a night, including breakfast. Very unfortunately I either picked up some kind of 24 hour bug, or food poisoning as I was so ill for the majority of our stay here.
What I did see of Gili Air was so beautiful, it had cute little bars on the beach front with shells hanging up, lots of white wooden benches, it was basically an Instagram addicts heaven, so was Gili T! We didn’t visit Gili Meno, but heard the beaches were amazing there.
We got the boat from Gili Air back to Bali, and then a bus to Seminyak for a final night before our early morning flight to Singapore.
It was a really magical three weeks, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading all about it and hopefully it will spark up a little wanderlust in your life and encourage more happy travels <3 Feel free to tweet me @laurabyrnes6 if you have any questions I may be able to help with!