Travel itinerary in Indonesia, points of interest and useful information
information from 2015 and 2017
Airport Ngurah Rai Airport Bali
We land at Bali's main international airport just before midnight. Due to the late hours, the arrival hall is empty. We're getting to immigration officials, paying a $ 35 fee at the first Visa On Arrival counter (one of 3 VOA counters).
Note: In June 2015, the Indonesian government abolished the visa requirement for the Czech Republic (and many more) on the first
30 days of stay. Therefore a fee of USD 35 on arrival is waved as well as Departure tax fee.
If you plan to stay in Indonesia for longer than 30 days, you must apply for a standard Visa On Arrival at the airport for 35 USD (stamp), which you will later extend for one more month. More about extending the tourist visa here.
With the visa payment receipt, we approach the second officer, who with a stone face sticks a visa stamp in our passports.
Note: Immigration officials checked the proof of payment for the visa only. Didn't ask for any bank account balance statement, nor return ticket or anything else.
In online forums, you might read about many cases involving ubiquitous porters waiting for your suitcases. I've rocked up at the airport in Denpasar several times and never met a porter. In case you encounter them and decide to use their services, the official rate set by the airport should not exceed 5,000 IDR per baggage.
2017 information: When boarding for a flight to Indonesia, you will be most likely required to show a return flight ticket from Indonesia (an email confirmation is Ok). If you don't do so, you may be denied boarding the aircraft. If you not sure how long you will stay in Indonesia, consider booking a ticket without having paid for it. Some agencies allow you to first book a flight and pay later. All you need is the flight confirmation.
After receiving the visa stamp and picking up the backpacks, we pass through the green "Nothing to declare" and enter the arrival hall. On the left side you will see the Duty Free Shop, and across behind the railing, crowds of waiting people, touts, and taxi drivers. If you need to withdraw some local currency now, you can do it before entering the Duty-Free. There are 3 ATMs at your convenience. In other parts of the airport, I haven't found any other ATMs. If you not in hurry, I would wait with your withdrawal until you get to Kuta (withdrawal fees should be lower). Those who need 4G internet connection immediately can buy a tourist SIM card at a portable counter (more details on the 4G Internet in Bali here). If you plan to use the prepaid taxi service, you will find the "Prepaid taxi counter" on the right side at the entrance to the Duty-Free.
Note: Metered taxi to Kuta should cost 60K - 75K. Outside of the airport building, the touts will try to convince you to take the very same taxi for 100K - 200K.
After passing through the expensive Duty-Free, you will have to face the crowds of shouting arrogant taxi drivers and this is when the real Asian adventure begins.
Note: If you need to buy water or refreshments, in front of the airport hall, by the road, from the lift to the right - there is a much cheaper small store. You will save - instead of 15,000 IDR in the arrival hall, you will only pay 5,000 IDR. When paying with a card, the minimum purchase is 50K IDR.
Overnight stay at the airport
It was late already, so we decided to spend the next few hours at the airport. We wanted to skip the stress of searching for overpriced taxis and accommodation in the middle of the night in an unknown city. And yes, Denpasar airport has enough free space (floor) to sleep for a few hours.
After a few hours of sleep, surprisingly rested we headed off to the largest tourist resort city in Bali - Kuta.
Since we refused to pay for expensive taxis at the airport, we went to Kuta walking. We got out of the airport building, pushed our way through the crowds of cocky taxi drivers. They were rolling eyes in disbelief when they saw us determinedly walking towards the city center wearing heavy backpacks.
It was not as bad as it may seem. Kuta is a 40-minute walk north of the airport. We headed out in this direction and plunged into the narrow aisles connecting the low profile houses of the locals. We were fascinated by the diverse outdoor architecture of the local buildings, especially of the small temples buried between the family dwellings. The morning air was saturated with the smoky smell of incents sticks that formed part of sacrificial rituals. Gifts for the gods - usually a handful of rice, fruits, candies, and cigarettes were placed in a banana leaf in front of each house.
The more we were penetrating Kuty's center, the more the neighborhood was changing along the way. Small and simple dwellings of local people have been replaced by complexes of resorts and hotels, luxury restaurants and souvenir shops. As soon as we passed along Roxy, Burger King, McDonald's, KFC, and Starbucks, it was clear that we have just arrived in the very center. We walked through Jl. Pantai Kuta street which lies at the beginning of Kuta Beach and walked past the Hard Rock Hotel Bali and reached the junction with Jl. Popies 1. Most cheap backpackers accommodation is located in the streets of Jl. Popies 1 and 2. We took it straight into Jl. Popies 1. Finding suitable accommodation was a matter of a few minutes - In Jl. Popies 1 there is a nice selection of cheaper guesthouses. We just gave it a try and stopped by Ayu Beach Inn, hidden in a quiet side alley 50 m from Popies 1. And, we liked it. We decided to stay for three nights. The receptionist started with the usual fairytale story - if we stayed for more nights, we would get an "exclusive" discount. We are not naive, but with the price of 150,000 IDRs per night, we were happy.
Note from 2017: Guest House Ayu Beach Inn now offers the cheapest double room with fan for 175K IDR. Not a penny less. The owner lightly refreshed the rooms with a white paint and introduced a new warm water tap, so, therefore, the 25K surcharge. Even this time we enjoyed our stay, but next time we will consider other options as well. Check Booking.com - basic rooms start in Kuta at 70,000 IDR. Rooms of similar style to the Ayu Beach Inn (with breakfast, WiFi and swimming pool included) start around 130,000 IDRs.
Ayu Beach Inn tour
Kuta is a chapter for itself, the streets in the vicinity of Kuta Beach and Legian Beach are traps for tourists. You won't see anything of local or native Balinese culture here. Everything revolves around luxury hotels, luxury restaurants, boutiques, shopping malls, travel agencies, exchange offices. At the marketplace, you can get the usual kitsch crap: souvenirs, stickers, wooden penis as a bottle opener, poor quality clothes and shoes (Magda's overpriced flip-flops lasted only two weeks!), watches, pendants, jewelry - just everything that would be available at any Chinese market around the world. Yelling touts are being shouted down by very young energetic girls with tons of makeup on their cheeks screaming out loud the only word "masas, masas," who are eventually willing to offer an extra-ordinary "happy ending masas" at night.
We were hungry. Paradoxically, we were not able to pick one of these restaurants. Everything here gears towards wealthy tourists. The choice is vast, you can get everything from Italian cuisine, over steaks and burgers, seafood to Indonesian cuisine. As the majority of tourists comes from Australia, west European countries or the US, restaurant prices are adjusted accordingly. Honestly, an ordinary Czech guy has to look around a bit. It's necessary to check a few menus until a suitable restaurant or bar is located - nothing is as cheap as we would expect in Asia. Prices in Kuta are around the same level as in the Czech Republic. In the end, I assure you that you will find your favorite place to eat anyway.
Kuta is not a bad choice. It is a good place to start or end the trip in Indonesia. You can find here all the tourist facilities, cheap hotels, bars and restaurants, crowds of young people and wild nightlife, a nice beach for surfing. Overall, this is an excellent spot to gain energy for further travels. Read more about Kuta in the article "Kuta from a different point of view."
Medewi Beach, Bali
Medewi Beach ... So here's all about surfing. You are coming here if your intentions about surfing are serious enough. There is not much happening around here, just a bunch of tanned long-haired local and foreign thugs riding the waves. They spend early mornings and late afternoons surfing. During the day they are chilling on a bench in some warung or hanging out with their buddies at the hotel. You will find Medewi on the way from Denpasar to Gilimanuk, after about 3.5 hours of minibus ride (I recommend taking a big bus - it is faster) and about 20 km away from Negara. Be prepared to hop off on time, Medewi is a tiny village with one mosque. The beginning of the village will be announced by a huge banner with a writing Medewi Beach and a few portrayed surfers on it. Do not expect much. Basically, there goes only one driveway down to the beach (Jl. Pantai Medewi). Cheap accommodation is right there. You have a choice between the luxurious Mai Malu Hotel at the beginning of the road, expensive bungalows by the beach, or some considerably cheaper homestays along the way.
Note: After several days of eating in beach Warung, you will surely appreciate good quality food at the Mai Malu's restaurant. This property with a restaurant owned by Australians offers higher standard accommodation options (150K - 200K IDR), and higher standards are reflected in the quality of meals in the restaurant as well. We have been eating here several times, and we can recommend 100%.
Medewi and surroundings
We were quite satisfied with the Homestay Devi at the blue laundry label, 50m from Mai Malu down the road. We paid 86,000 IDR/night - initially, we agreed to 80,000 per night, but somehow the lady didn't want to bother bringing back the change. This was a classic low-cost homestay - a mediocre quality dark room with a stinking dark bathroom. For our benefit, we had a modest sitting area outside, and breakfast included. For breakfast, a single choice between coffee and tea was possible; the banana pancake was mandatory. Getting breakfast from the lady owner was sometimes superhuman performance. One had to personally pick up the madam from her hammock sometimes to get breakfast at all. As time went on and as the lady started running out of ingredients, we could only guess what variation of pancake we would get that day - sometimes banana pancake without banana, but with condensed milk, sometimes banana pancake with chocolate and without condensed milk and sometimes everything together.
While during the breakfast preparation the lady was apathetic when it came to business, she got suddenly very active. She asked us to buy Coca-Cola in her stall, and every time we did shopping elsewhere, we could expect a regular eyeball scan of the plastic bags we were carrying. As the time of our departure was approaching, during the last two days the lady vehemently promoted her private transport. Every morning we found her business card on the table before we even got the breakfast.
Lovina Beach, Bali
This was one of our most pleasant stays in Bali. We had a great time indeed. Besides we were in the great company of our two Dutch friends. Lovina is a small and quiet town in the north of Bali, a short ride from the city of Singaraja. Its character rather aimed at those tourists who were looking for peace and relaxation. There are many resorts, bungalows, and hotels of all quality and price levels spread along the entire beach.
We have chosen this city as the starting point for our visits to the immigration office in nearby Singaraja during the extension of the tourist visa. We recommend a newly reconstructed hotel in the center of Lovina Beach - Hotel Dupa, whose owner was a friendly and very helpful person who offered us a super bright room with a fan, bathroom and a view of rice fields at a nice 100K per night. We also borrowed a scooter from him, for 40K per day. It wasn't any old machine either since had only 7,000km on it. To eat we used to go to Ayu Warung and Apple Warung near the beach in Jl Street. Mawar.
What can you do in Lovina? This city is no different from other beach towns. Most activities include lounging by the pool at the resort, lounging on the beach, and when you get hungry, you'll head out to find some nice restaurant, and you'll get that sorted right away. There are plenty of restaurants and warungs meeting all your needs. Outside the continental and Balinese classics, there are many fish and seafood dishes offered. Why not to get together with the typical dishes like goreng, gado gado, mie goreng some nice fish as well. Nightlife is here good too. Even though there is no disco, there are heaps of bars with live music or just a nice sitting area. If you hesitate what bar to choose, Happy Hour offers will undoubtedly help you to make that decision — a large beer you can get for 25K and juice for 5K. Well, not to bad, ain't it.
We couldn't relax forever. So we decided to explore the nearby surroundings. We borrowed a scooter and headed off towards the lakes Danau Buyan and Danau Tamblingan. Once you get off the main road to Gilimanuk, the traffic gets much weaker, you feel safer on the scooter, and the ride becomes more pleasant. There is a possibility to plan the route through the narrow local roads to find out more about domestic life in the smaller villages scattered along these lonely roads.
On top of that, those views and the surrounding nature are really worth it! We visited Hot Springs, a natural thermal swimming pool, right next to a Buddhist temple for incredible 5,000 IDR. If you don't mind paying entrance fees, you can visit the Sing Sing Waterfall and Gitgit Waterfall (about 30,000 IDR each). Both a few miles away from Lovina.
Dinner at Ayu Warung
View from the amazing hotel Dupa (Hotel Ass in polish)
View of Danau Buyan a Tamblingan
You might visit Padangbai only when you transiting to the neighboring island Lombok. There are a few hotels and restaurants, and some tourists have been staying even for a longer time - especially those who fancy diving. Nonetheless, staying in Padangbai is a good option if you plan to divide your day trip from Gili Islands to Denpasar / Kuta into two parts. We stayed at the Parta Inn - you get as much comfort as what you pay for, but a hearty breakfast and WiFi are included. We got a basic standard room for 100K. The lady owner with one lazy eye was trying really hard to convince us during the initial "transport to Gili Islands offering" ceremony, but then she gave us a room and we enjoyed the stay. Cheap Warung Sinar (map) is not bad at all, so we recommend it.
If you don't know what to do with your spare time, go to White Sand Beach or Blue Lagoon. They are located close to the town center and, in fact, the White Sand Beach has surprised us with its stunning look.
Note: Be prepared, that on every corner you will get harassed by the local thugs trying to sell overpriced fast boat tickets to Lombok and Gili Islands. The cheapest deal Padangbai - Gili Air you can get from a local reseller for 175K (2017, slow ferry, van, boat). If you decide for an even cheaper and slower local alternative, buy ferry tickets directly at the harbor for 40,000. The ferry will take you to Lembar Harbor in Lombok. Here bargain as hard as you can and pay about 150K for a private car to Bangsal. In Bangsal, you can get cheap public boat tickets (Gili Air 12K, Gili Meno 25K) and all the way from Padangbai to Gili Air will cost you around 127K per person. I don't find any reason to pay 50K per person extra to some dubious agencies for the same route.
Note - 2017: Parta Inn changed its name to Guest House Harmony and offers rooms in the 200K range (black hole, fan, bathroom) - 350K (nice room, AC, bathroom). Wifi and breakfast are included. They have increased the prices 2x in past 2 years. Unbelievable! We stayed across the road at Home Stay Tirta Yoga in a two-floor apartment with a terrace for 175K (Wifi, breakfast included, map). I can only recommend it. Good to know that sometimes in the temple behind the walls, local children learn to play the traditional Balinese gamelan music. And the noise could be unbearable! Overall, compared to 2015, Padangbai accommodation prices have grown steadily. Previously we paid 100K, today the same low-cost average room costs twice. Even online.
You have to see the beautiful and clean White Sand Beach for yourself. The Blue Lagoon perhaps not really - the beach and the sea were covered with plastic garbage, and we struggled to find a spot for our towel on this crowdy beach.
Huge portions at a reasonable price (including seafood and German classic Schnitzel with Bratkartoffeln), cheap fresh juices, cheap coffee, and beer can be found in our most favorite restaurant in Padangbai - in Pantai Ayu Restaurant (map , meals preview, and menu). Located right next to the German diving school.
Blue Lagoon Beach
White Sand Beach
Gili Air - for many a symbol for a perfect holiday destination on a "deserted" island, full of refreshing cocktails and all day swimming in clear turquoise blue water. If you are searching hard enough, you will surely find a deserted beach spot just for you, so you can sit back and enjoy the stunning sunsets over the neighboring Gili Meno.
For us, it wasn't such an idyllic stay as most tourists might imagine. Specifically, all three islands of Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan are an excellent example of devastating effects of massive tourism having a drastic destroying impact on the nature of the islands, the mentality of the local population and the overall experience of your stay. About 20 years ago it must have been a completely different (and better) experience.
As low-cost travelers initially, we faced a big problem to find any suitable accommodation in the price range up to 150K. Finally, we found a pleasant bamboo cottage at Alak Cottages (150K), 100m down the path away from the main road near the harbor (search for Blues Corner Cafe and Bungalows). Two young guys were in charge of this small family business of 4 cottages. It was a tranquil place during the day, but after midnight, passing crowds of drunken people were shouting behind the fence.
Go get a huge spring roll (Martabak Spesial, 30K) or pancake at Bambu warung (map). From there on the way down the street south towards the beach, you will find some interesting and cheap warungs as well, incl. A stall with fried chicken at the end of the road (10K per piece).
Note from 2017: Our stay on Gili Air during our most recent visit was quite shocking. Compared to the still charming Gili Meno, Gili Air has changed significantly over the last year and a half. Unfortunately, for the worse. All around the island, there are countless new luxury bungalows and over-sized Western-style restaurants being built. Area of untouched land covered with the original pure jungle vegetation is rapidly and unceasingly fading away. It is virtually impossible to find a private place on the beach over the omnipresent beach bars. The still untouched strip of beach on the west side of the island, once perfect for observing the romantic sunsets, is now covered with trash. Cheap basic warungs south of Bambo warung (as I described previously) retreated and gave place to excessive developments of more prominent kitschy wooden structures of overpriced bars. Overall, Gili Air has gotten much pricier. Grab delicious crispy chicken Lalapan Ayam with rice in the inexpensive Ina Warung (40K, map, meal and menu samples). If you look for excellent accommodation, I recommend visiting spacious and clean homestay Andin Bungalows (from 165K, Wifi, and breakfast included, map). These bungalows were definitely one of the best and comfiest guesthouses we've had in Indonesia. As the first thing in the mornign, the fancy-looking lady owner served a perfect breakfast and then thoroughly cleaned our room.
After arrival, we walked all around the entire Gili Meno. In 1.5 hours, we were unable to find adequate accommodation below 200K, and we were about to go back to Gili Air. We were truly amazed what ridiculous shelters they were asking money for - overpriced old moldy bungalows for 250K (and up), an open shed for 200 K (bed with a roof above and scarfs instead of walls). At the worst moment (resigned on the way back to the harbor), a random beach boy approached us and took us to the Bungalows Sasak. The accommodation was just Ok. We got an older but spacious bungalow with an attached outdoor bathroom for 200K (incl. large breakfast, a barrel of drinking water and WiFi at the front desk. Cheap&delicious meals we were getting at Putri Homestay warung.
Gili Meno is the quietest of all islands. You can walk around the entire island in less than 2 hours and surprisingly it's still possible to find a private spot on the beachfront with perfect views.
View of the "harbor" of Gili Meno
Beach on Gili Meno
Dreamy sunset on the beach
Gili Meno: How did Sasak Bungalows look like? Take a look!
Gili Islands: Gili Air and Gili Meno at a glance
Before visiting Gili Islands, I suggest reading my comment from 2017 on the ever-deteriorating condition of the Gili Islands through the uncontrolled influx of mass tourism.
There is not much to see in Denpasar. Most travelers stay near the Ubung terminal and continue a day later to the west of Bali or even further on to Java. If this sounds like your plan too, we recommend the newly reconstructed Warta Sari Hotel, 200m north of the Ubung Terminal. Ask for a room with a terrace at the hotel's frontside. Standard room prices start as low as 120K, and Nasi Putih for breakfast is included. Wifi at the front desk.
During one of our other visits to Denpasar, we stayed at Nakula Familiar Inn (advertised in LP). It is a beautiful and clean family guest house. They offer nicely furnished rooms (fan or AC) with Wifi and outdoor porch. In the morning you will get a free energy bomb - a typical Balinese dessert, which will surely fill you up. The only complaint I would have is the price - for 200K I would expect a bigger breakfast included.
Interestingly, Denpasar, just 8km away from the touristy and party-crazing Kuta, still preserves its original character. Since you won't see many tourists around in the town, women wear here traditional dresses (some even burkas), nudity and alcohol on the street is strictly prohibited (if you want to buy a beer, you need to ask for it in a local shop, they will pull it out of some hidden back shelf). Souvenirs are hard to find in Denpasar. On the other hand, you will encounter more warungs with local food (don't expect any English), bakso stalls and markets selling colorful dresses and fabric rolls of all sorts. The only city attraction could be the Bajra Sandhi Monument surrounded by a little greenery and football fields, where local youngsters wearing tracksuits do their running rounds.
You have a few shopping malls here, a few electronics stores. If you can't stand warung food any longer, you can get some good bite at KFC, McDonald's or very cheap food court Tiara Dewata.
Do you need to extend your Indonesian tourist visa or apply for a visa to other countries? Do it in Denpasar.
We got here a half-year Indian visa struggle-free!
Karangasem Banyuwangi, Java
Lovely village, bordered by endless fields of rice paddies located in the very east of Java. Everyone here greeted us warmly, even the cashier in the shop didn't rip us off (normally they add a tourist tax to the local prices), and we got a bakso for 7,500 IDR outside the train station. This is one of those unique examples of pure local village life not yet damaged by tourism. We stayed one night and traveled further west. Count on meager standards of accommodation provided. You might end up in a small moldy room with a single bed for two at 90K - 140K easy.
We passed through Surakarta/Solo on our way to Pacitan. Even though it was only one night, the experience was unforgettable. Once we arrived at Solo Balapan station after sunset time, we had to march 3km long to the tourist "hotel" zone. The whole experience was magnified by the ongoing Ramadan - at the same time from dozens of minarets, we heard Koran chanting echoing unceasingly. We walked around mosques filled with hundreds of prayerful people, without exception, completely dressed in white robes - burkas. The men stood in front and the women in the back. Moreover, the Muslim character of this place was sharply underlined by the Oriental architecture of houses all around us.
Finding any kind of accommodation in the dark, narrow aisles without indicators has taken longer than usual. Finally, we reached the massive iron gates of the Paradise Hotel. These huge green doors were inserted into an even more massive concrete wall, topped by a barbed wire barrier. To our surprise upon ringing the bell, a sympathetic little guy opened up. We walked through a wide corridor, admiring the size and outdated majesty of the hotel. For sure, this Oriental hotel must have followed the latest fashion trends back in time - walls adorned with massive mirrors and ceilings decorated with hanging dusty chandeliers. Only those rooms - they were meeting the standards maybe sometime back in the 60s. Since then, the facilities and furniture have not changed much. In the bathroom, traditional mandi was present, but the shower hose was missing. Therefore we requested another room with a working shower. There was no problem with the room replacement, as we were the only guests at the hotel. After the guy swept the bathroom's floor, changed the bedding and picked the cockroaches, the new room was ready for us!
Surprising old school decoration inside the Paradise Hotel - we felt like "in paradise" indeed
We did not have enough and went out to explore the night streets of Surakarta. We attracted attention from all passing people since we were the only white tourists in the town. Occasionally we could hear comments of the locals, most of the time they were just staring at us. Was nice to see the locals enjoying the first meal of the day, sitting on carpets spread on wide sidewalks. Countless women were cooking local specialties at their street stalls, but we took it straight to Fried Chicken - since it looked like the hygiene on the street was secondary.
Upon return, we were a little afraid that the guy from the hotel would let us stand outside the heavy doors. Fortunately, he opened, let us in, and we had a wonderful sleep.
This unforgettable town in south Java, a few hour drive away from Jogja, I would rate as the best stay/experience during our travels in Indonesia. If you fancy nontouristy areas, Pacitan is your perfect spot! You will feel like in paradise there - enjoying the genuine local atmosphere (not spoiled by mass tourism), enjoying the beautiful surrounding nature and surfing like crazy every day - surfing conditions are ideal here.
Do not expect many westernized facilities in the city. With a few exceptions, you will be eating in warungs (not to worry - you can get some western food like pizza too). Focus on warungs with a bunch of bowls filled up with a different kind of food - all piled up behind a glass wall. The choice is, and for a big dinner, including drinks, you would normally pay 15,000 - 35,000 IDR per person. One of such buffets, you will find about 100m southwest from the gas station on the Jl. Jenderal Gatot Subroto. Continue driving, and after another 200m you must try the incredible Martabak Special at a small donut stall (open after sunset). This big fat puffy banana pancake with a layer of condensed milk and chocolate is addictively tasty, and I guarantee that one won't be enough!
For an occasional change, we can recommend the Fried Chicken bistro on Jl. Jenderal Achmad Yani west of Alun Park - Alun Pacitan. Fried chicken (chicken menu 23K), pasta, hamburgers, and Indonesian food you can get here for a few bucks.
Accommodation options in the city are limited. Outside the town on the beach road, you can't miss Harrys 1 and Harrys 2, popular place within the surfing community. You can choose between standard rooms (starting at 70K - sleeping on the floor, for 90K you will get a beautiful room) and the bungalow for about 200K. Do not expect free Wifi here. On the other hand, you can use the fully equipped kitchen in both buildings. You can cook here and use all the facilities (fridge, coffee maker, toaster and many more). For a scooter, you will pay 50K a day.
Believe it or not, this laid-back style is highly addictive, and that's why we stayed 8 nights - the second longest stay at one place in Indonesia. The daily routine is pretty straightforward here, in the mornings and afternoons you go surfing, during the day you can relax or go on a trip (loads to see around Pacitan). At night, you cook something delicious with your friends and have a great time chilling on the outdoor veranda. Long story short - this is a paradise!
Where to go on a trip? Take a scooter and explore the surrounding breathtaking beaches of Pantai Srau, Pantai Watukarung, and Pantai Klayar - Gili Islands are nothing compared to this. Walk on the path (sometimes over cliffs) along the beach and find a private beach stretch just for yourself. Imagine, no tourists, beautiful scenery, golden sand, small lagoons in the rocks and all of that within 30-35 km away from Pacitan. Do not skip the impressive Bomo Goa Gong cave complex (10K) and rejuvenate yourself in the hot spa pools Cave Air Hancat Spa (10K).
Pantai Klayar phenomenal beach
Fields around Pacitan
Kopi time at Watukarung beach
Preparation of the sweet delicacy Martabak
The city of Jogja, as is Yogyakarta called by local people, surprisingly disappointed me. Honestly, I expected more than I got. Jogja is noticeably more touristy - the city center is full of street markets and persistent scammy touts. Even those prices are cranked up a bit. The Street Jl. Malioboro is the center of it all. All around you, you can see street vendors, exchange offices, hawkers, shopping malls, taxi drivers, rickshaws drivers, who won't leave you in peace for a moment. You will surely come across a nice guy who, after an initial friendly conversation, will drag you around fraudulent backyard shops or lure you to a batik show that ends today (!) - but fortunately for you, if you hurry up, you will still be able to see it for yourself...
If you are looking for a hotel in the zone between the train station and the street Malioboro, prepare yourself for the worst. There is a vast number of hotels, losmen, and guest houses, but that quality! The quality is horrible - usually, they offer you a dark, damp and not really clean room at a price around 100K. An obese guy stopped us on the street and led us to the Merapi Hotel. For 120K we got a decent room with a bathroom, Wifi, and a delicious breakfast. We recommend. If you are looking for better standards, go outside this zone. Then you can get a hotel with a pool, breakfast, and Wifi around 180 - 200K.
In Jogja, you will find some of the historical heritage sites dating back to the era of their greatest glory (18th century) - the dilapidated Sultan Palace (7K), the neglected Kraton with a bunch of monks still living on its premises (12.5K), the moldy Water Palace (12K) and a few museums and galleries along the way. If you believe in miracles, do not forget to walk by Alun - Alun Selatan Jogja Park. Two beautiful trees are sticking out in the midst of the grassy park area. Close your eyes and try to walk between them blindfolded. Succeeding without crashing your forehead brings you good luck or makes your dreams come true - the interpretations vary.
To move around the city you can use public transport, bus routes are quite clear. Single fare is only 3.6K.
Sleeping rickshaw drivers in Alun Alun Selatan park
After having traveled for more than a month around cities and beaches, we decided to go to the mountains instead. The tectonically active village of Dieng Plateau, a few hour drive northwest of Jogja, provides the ideal base for exploring terraced rice fields nestled in the steep rolling slopes of the surrounding hills, the Telaga Warna lake (three-colored lake), the Telaga Pengilon lake (you don't have to pay the entrance fee if you find a way how to sneak in - it's possible), the Telaga Merdada Lake, the Sikidang Crater and the remains of the Hindu Temple Arjuna Temple (25K Sikidang Crater and Arjuna Combo). Rent a scooter for 100K (including 2l of petrol) and go explore this hilly and tectonically active landscape (steam geysers, hot rivers, mud volcanoes). It's definitely worth it!
The town offers many homestays of different quality and prices in the range of 150 - 250K. A significantly cheaper option is the losmen&restaurant Bu Dojio for 75K (room with Wifi, shared bathroom) at the main intersection. Options, where to eat, are limited. They cook well in the losmen mentioned above, and you can get very cheap street food in the village (chicken, fried breaded vegetables and tofu).
Terraced rice fields around Dieng
Steaming crater Sikidang
We visited Jakarta only briefly. If you arrive by train at Gambir Central, you can leave your backpacks at the train station and go for a stroll to the Monumen Nasional just around the corner. You can walk to the backpacker street Jl. Jaksa - not a very pleasant place with overpriced warungs. If you need to get to the airport, take a direct airport Damri bus at the Gambir station (40K).
Kuta Medewi Beach Lovina Beach Padangbai Gili Islands Denpasar Karangasem Solo Pacitan Yogyakarta Dieng Jakarta