Indonesia is one of the largest countries in Southeast Asia, with more than 17,000 islands and many places worth visiting. That's why, when planning your trip, you have to think about which parts of the country you would like to visit. It is one of the most complete destinations. You have incredible beaches; unique diving and surfing spots; thousands of temples to visit; volcanoes; deserts; jungles; waterfalls; etc.
We had 3 weeks and decided to visit the island of Java, Bali and the Gili Islands. The itinerary will include these islands as well as other options that you can add if you have more days.
- Day 1: Jakarta
- Day 2 and 3: Yogyakarta
- Day 4, 5 and 6: Mount Bromo and Ijen Volcano
- Day 7, 8, 9 and 10: Bali (Ubud)
- Day 10 and 11: Nusa Penida
- Day 12: Nusa Ceningan
- Day 13, 14 and 15: Gili Islands
- Day 16, 17 and 18: Bali (Canggu)
Day 1. Flight to Jakarta
Our flight arrived in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. Because of everything we had read and because we had no days to spare, we didn't spend any time there and continued our journey to Yogyakarta, the city of temples. You can get there by plane or train. We chose to take the 9-hour train journey as we were on a tight budget and wanted a different, more local experience. Although we did, we recommend taking the plane to save time.
From the airport we took a Grab (the Uber used in Southeast Asia) to Pasar Senen station, where we took the train.
Our experience was very good, they leave on time and the Javanese helped us with everything we needed. The island of Java is not the most touristy island and everything is usually in Indonesian, but don't let that scare you! The people will be more than happy to help you.
After a long journey we arrived in Yogyakarta at 22:30. As we knew we would be arriving at night we decided to get a hotel near the station. This was a good decision because when we arrived at night there was nothing to see and not many people to ask...
Day 2 and 3. Yogyakarta
The first day was spent wandering around the city, wandering the streets, eating like a local and watching the sunset at Pinus Hegger: What to do in Yogyakarta.
The second day started at 3 am because we were going to see the sunrise at the impressive Borobudur temple and then we were going to visit the Prambanan temples. For this we hired a driver who picked us up from the hotel, took us to the temples, had lunch and dropped us off at the hotel in the afternoon. After a short nap we went to visit one of the main streets: Malioboro.
Total nights in Yogyakarta: 3.
Day 4, 5 and 6. Mount Bromo and Volcano Ijen
Our excursion to Mount Bromo and Ijen Our tour started in Surabaya, a city 7 hours by train from Yogyakarta. This journey took us the whole day, but that same night we started the tour. Although there are other ways to do it, we decided to choose the cheapest one, the train cost us $USD5 each.
At 14:30 we took the train from Yogyakarta to Surabaya where our driver would pick us up to start the tour that evening.
On the first day we saw the sunrise on Mount Bromo, walked around its crater and headed to our hotel near the second stop: Ijen Volcano.
In the early morning of the following day we started our drive to the Kawah Ijen volcano. It gets dark so we can see the famous blue fires of the volcano and then watch as the sunrise begins to illuminate the most acidic lake in the world, a truly worthwhile experience.
Once back in the car, our driver took us to the port of Ketapang, where we took a ferry to Bali, which costs $USD 0.60 and takes 30-40 minutes to reach the island. How to get to Bali from Java, and how to get from the port to Ubud.
Day 7, 8, 9 and 10. Bali (Ubud)
One of the best ways to get to know Bali is to stay in Ubud and tour the island from there. Most people do this by motorbike, as it's one of the cheapest ways to do it and allows you to drive around freely. As none of us had ever ridden a motorbike before and Bali is not the best place to learn as the roads are chaotic and there are many ups and downs, we hired a local driver who took us to all the places we told him to.
There are many things to do in and around Ubud: What to do in Ubud in 4 days and where to stay.
Total nights in Ubud: 5.
Day 10 and 11. Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida is one of three islands south of Bali that are well worth a visit. The other two are: Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.
To get there we took a ferry from Bali to Nusa Penida, which we booked through the hotel. In Ubud there are many tour and transfer companies but all of them told us different prices. We ended up opting for the hotel transfer as a matter of convenience and safety. The transfer included: transfer from Ubud to the port of Sanur and a fast boat from there to Nusa Penida. The price is $USD 18 per person and the trip takes about 4 hours.
Total nights in Nusa Penida: 2.
Day 12. Nusa Ceningan
To cross from Nusa Penida to Nusa Ceningan we took a public boat for USD $3.5 each, which leaves every 30 minutes from the island's harbour.
It is the smallest of the 3 Nusa islands and can easily be explored on foot or by motorbike, as the roads are in much better condition, with no ups and downs. What to do on Nusa Ceningan and where to stay.
Total nights in Nusa Ceningan: 1 night.
Day 13, 14 and 15. Gili Trawangan
The Gili's are 3 small islands northwest of Lombok with white sandy beaches and turquoise water, ideal for relaxing for a few days and snorkelling with turtles; plus you can't miss the underwater museum!
You can get there by fastboat from Nusa, Bali and Lombok. We went from Nusa Ceningan and it cost us $USD 18 each. It took 3 hours, with a stop in Bali to pick up more people and continue the trip.
Total nights in Gili T: 3 nights
Day 16, 17 and 18. Bali (Canggu)
Our last stop was Canggu, a beach south of Bali. This area is full of Australians, as it is the closest and cheapest destination for them to escape the winter. It's a paradise for vegan and healthy food, surfing and yoga, and chic clothing and decor shops.
It's a cool place, ideal for a few days of relaxation after so much travelling, but we don't think it's a must on your itinerary.
Keep in mind that the beaches are not paradisiacal, so if you're looking for that, you won't find it here.
We use the time here to relax after not stopping for 15 days, enjoy some western food and read a good book on the beach.
Total nights in Canggu: 3
Day 15, 16, 17 and 18. Labuan Bajo and Komodo National Park
It is a paradisiacal national park located between the islands of Flores and Sumbawa. It is known for the Komodo dragons that inhabit it, for its incredible beaches and landscapes.
To visit the park you can go on an excursion from the Gili or Bali islands (4 days by boat), or you can fly to Labuan Bajo and take a 1, 2 or 3 day boat trip. You can book the excursion from Labuan Bajo or Gili, but if you are travelling in high season, I recommend that you book it in advance.
We would have loved to do this tour, but as we travelled in high season and given that it is believed to be closed for 2 years in 2020, the prices were very high and out of our budget.