Pacitan is located on the southwestern tip of East Java Province. Territory bordering with Ponorogo in the north, Trenggalek in the east, the Indian Ocean in the south, and Wonogiri (Central Java) in the west. Most of the area in the form of limestone mountains, which is part of the series of the South Mountains. The land is less suitable for agriculture.
Bali is one of the most popular destinations in Indonesia, and there is a good reason why. Simply put, it’s amazing. If it had better internet, I would live there in a heart beat. The countryside is beautiful, the beaches (outside of Kuta) are picture perfect, there is great hiking, friendly locals, world-class dining, and it’s inexpensive. Bali is the total package. There’s a reason why so many people go here and never leave. I spent a month exploring this island and would happily go back and explore it again. If you are considering going here, just pull the trigger and go. You won’t regret it. And once you leave the touristy southeast corner of the island, you won’t be bothered with crowds of tourist who never venture past their bars and spas in Ubud and Kuta!
Accommodation – Cheap guesthouses usually cost around 120,000-150,000 IDR per night though you can find some as low as 70,000 IDR. Bali has some of the most expensive hotels in the world, going as high as over one thousand dollars per night. If you are looking for nice hotel, expect to pay around 300,000-700,000 IDR per night for a double room.
Food – Local food is extremely cheap, starting at around 6,700 IDR for street food and 13,500 IDR for a local meal. Western food is more expensive but is still affordable at around 121,000 IDR.
Transportation – Transportation around Bali is very cheap. You can get taxis for around 65,000 IDR and private mini vans across the island for around 200,000 IDR.
Activities – Most people on Bali go surfing, visiting a dancing show, or go hike a few mountains. Most of these items cost between 135,000-350,000 IDR. The famous Mt. Batur hike costs between 400,000-805,000 IDR depending on the company you go with.
Money Saving Tips
Eat the local food – You can pick up tasty local fare for around 6,700 IDR, though most meals cost around 26,800 IDR. Stay far away from the western restaurants if you want to save money and experience the local flavor.
Bargain – Nothing is ever at face value in Indonesia. Bargain hard and bargain often. Don’t ever pay the first price you were quoted.
Head north – The southern area of Bali (Kuta, Ubud, Seminyak, etc) is the most popular and most expensive part of the island. If you head to the beaches in the north or northeast part of Bali, you’ll find that prices are about half the cost and you’ll be able to find better deals on accommodation.
Top Things to See and Do in Bali
Visit a Hindu temple – The island of Bali is covered in temples. There are at least three to every city and they are considered to be the best-known attractions. The most prominent temples are the nine directional temples and The Mother Temple.
Dip in to some hot springs – There are several on the island. It is incredibly energizing to sit in these natural pools while you take in the lush, beautiful landscape all around you. In the northeastern mountains, there are some on the shores of Lake Batur. Another good spot is Air Banjar, which is located on the northern coast of the island near Lovina.
Adventure sports – There are tons of adventurous activities to do. You can go bungee jumping, paragliding, hiking, mountain cycling, horseback riding, jungle trekking, and even treetop zip-lining.
Scuba diving and snorkeling – While snorkeling is always an option here, Bali is most popular for its phenomenal dive spots. The reefs here are beautiful and there is an amazing variety of fish to see. The wreck of a US cargo ship, Liberty, is a highly recommended spot.
Visit the spa – Bali is the perfect place to re-energize, by pampering yourself and releasing bottled up stress and tension. There are a number of Balinese spa treatments, which involve the use of various herbs and spices, and Balinese massage is one of the most relaxing in the world.
Party in Kuta – Kuta is kind of like the Tijuana of Bali. The streets are narrow here and there are hundreds of stalls, selling faux-brand ripoffs and novelty souvenirs. There are plenty of hotels and you are sure to get some great sun time in, but the frantic energy here is only inviting for so long. Personally, I hate Kuta and think there are a lot of better places on the island.
Go dolphin watching – This is one of the cliché tourist activities here, but it is still fun. There are various companies that offer sunrise boat trips—and you are likely to hear about them at every hotel you stay in. It’s about a two hour trip and it’s best to get a ticket the day before.
Learn about Balinese Culture in Ubud – Ubud is the second most popular tourist area and was made super famous by the book, Eat, Pray, Love. However, this is still the best place to observe Balinese on Bali and is still considered the island’s cultural capital. There are a number of beautiful temples, numerous historical sites, dancing shows, a monkey temple, and some of the best food on the island. People tend to stay here awhile Here’s an example of Balinese dancing:
Take a trip to Nusa Lembongan – Located right off the coast of Bali, this little island is a good alternative to the craziness that is Bali. The beaches aren’t great here but the surfing is really good and some of the best breaks in Bali. The diving is also really good here and it’s cheaper than the mainland.
Watch the monkeys – In Ubud you can also visit the Ubud Monkey Forest, a nature reserve and sacred area with temples. It’s very touristy, and a lot of people break the rules and feed the monkeys, which teaches them bad habits. Still, it’s exciting to watch all of the long-tailed macaques running around and playing with each other.
Watch a Buffalo Race – Chances are, after a few days in Bali, you will have seen the water buffalo working in the various fields. In Negara, locals riding chariots race buffaloes every second Sunday from July to October. Negara a bit out of the way and the races take place at 7am, so you probably should arrange accommodation for the night before.
Situated just off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia, the Gilis are made up of three small islands: Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan. Over the years, these sleepy little islands have become a huge destination for backpackers and budget travelers. Though they are not as tranquil and cheap as they were in the past, if you are looking for a quiet alternative to Bali with even better beaches and seafood, come to the Gilis. They are a wonderful destination to relax and soak up the sun! I was always amazed at how few crowds there were on the islands. Take advantage of that, go, relax, get a tan, and enjoy!
Accommodation – There are a lot of cheapHOTELS AND guesthouses on the island. Prices start at about 135,000 IDR in low season and go up from there. Double rooms with private bathrooms and air-con start at 330,000 IDR.
Food – Most meals are between 40,000-67,000 IDR. A nice seafood dinner will be around 135,000 IDR without drinks.
Transportation – There aren’t any cars on the Gili islands, so you can walk everywhere. An island hopping boat will take you between islands for 25,000 IDR per ticket. Take the time and explore by foot!
Activities – Simple activities such as a pony cart ride are about 26,800 IDR. Diving is around 470,200 IDR for a fun dive, but can cost less if you get a discount or bring your own equipment. Most of the activities on the island revolve around the beach and ocean.
Money Saving Tips
Bike rental – Rent a bike for as little as 13,500 IDR per hour and is a great way to get around and see as much as you can of the islands.
Street stalls – There is a wealth of stalls selling delicious food at around 13,000-20,150 IDR. Eat here instead of the more expensive sit down restaurants and really get a sense for the local culture.
Top Things to See and Do in the Gilis
Scuba diving – All three islands have scuba diving training centers. Lionfish, scorpion fish, cuttle fish, octopus, and different types of rays litter the waters around the islands. The diving here is better than Bali, in my opinion. It’s cheaper to learn here too.
Go snorkeling – You can take a private boat if you are with a large enough group or join other people or you can rent snorkeling gear for half a day from one of the centers near the beach. The three-island snorkel trip will take in the tropical fish, turtles, and various wildlife of the waters.
Check out the local bars and nightlife – Gili Trawangan is the party island out of the three, whereas Air is the quietest. Party nights are regular and are rotated between the bars, which usually stay open until 4 am. When the islands are busy, the famous Full Moon parties are held on the beach on the southern part of Trawangan with a DJ playing beats to sunrise.
Lounge on the beaches – The Gili islands have beautiful beaches and you can find most people each day sitting on the beach getting some sun. The sand is white and soft, the water clear and warm. There is no doubt that you will want to spend most of your time here.
Get involved in water sports – You can hire a fishing boat for the day or if you want something a bit different parasailing, water-skiing, wake-boarding are available activities here.
Go kayaking – On the northern side of Trawangan you can rent kayaks or take a guided tour of the island by kayak. Karma Kayaks is a good place to rent them from. On your trip you’ll probably encounter rays, turtles and other wildlife.
Try your hand at surfing – The southern tip of Trawangan is the area to go to if you want to surf. The waves here are pretty decent all year round. You don’t have to be an experienced surfer. They have lessons for all experience levels!
Take some time and just relax – One of the main luxuries of being in an environment like this, is that you are completely free to just sit back and watch the day roll by. There is little more than the sound of the ocean to distract you from the pleasure of your hammock and a good book!
Visit the sea turtles – Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno have hatcheries that lie right on the island’s big beaches, but you can also go snorkeling around the turtle populations. Check with your hotel for the best spots of the moment for catching the sea turtles, and rent some snorkeling gear.
Cycle the islands – These islands are so small, that it won’t take you long to tour each one by bike. Pack some snacks, some beach gear, and make an afternoon of it! Bike rentals start around $1 USD per hour.
Spend the day on Lombok – If you haven’t yet, you should consider spending some time on Lombok. This island is easily accessible by boat from the Gili islands, and makes for a simple day trip. Lombok has good opportunities for trekking (Mt. Rinjani), surfing, and cultural sightseeing.
Try freediving – Some of the dive schools in the Gili Islands offer freediving lessons. If you’re already an experienced diver and are looking for a challenge, this may be something to consider. Make sure you ask a lot of questions to the divemasters about regulations and safety procedures before booking.
With over 13,000 islands, Indonesia has something unique to offer for all sorts of visitors. From the cool white sands and raucous volcanoes of Bali, to the vibrant capital city of Jakarta, to the untouched lands of Sumatra, you can always find something different here. Indonesia is home to a vast array of indigenous animals too (including the Komodo dragon). With extremely inexpensive local food and reasonably-priced accommodation, it’s no wonder Indonesia is a popular destination with so many travelers. I hope you use this guide to plan an excellent trip there (though one visit is certainly not enough!).
Accommodation – Hostels usually cost around 135,000 IDR per night for a shared room and 335,000 IDR for a double private. Prices will be up to half the price outside of the major cities. Most hotels begin at 405,000 IDR per night for a double room.
Food – Local food is extremely cheap, starting at 6,700 IDR for street food and 13,500 IDR for a full local meal. On average, you’ll spend 26,800-40,500 IDR for a solid meal. Western food is more expensive but is still affordable at around 121,000 IDR for a meal and drink.
Transportation – For traveling between islands, ferries cost around 6,500 IDR (and up) for a ticket from East Java to West Bali, and the rates go up from there for other routes. An eight-hour journey on a bus costs around 67,000 IDR. Overnight bus will start at around 128,000 IDR.
Activities: Attractions are not hugely expensive. You’ll pay around 87,500 IDR for entrance in to Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park and the same for Bunaken. Borobudur costs 270,000 IDR. The famous Mt. Batur hike is between 405,000-805,000 IDR.
Money Saving Tips
Eat on the street – You can pick up tasty local fare for around 6,700 IDR cents! Street side snacks, soups, and noodles will keep your wallet fat! Markets are your best bet for finding seriously cheap food.
Bargain hard – Nothing is ever at face value in Indonesia. Bargain with sellers as most of the time, the price they’ve quoted will not be the price you’ll pay if you bargain!
Top Things to See and Do in Indonesia
Relax in Bali – Bali is probably the most famous of Indonesia’s islands and for good reason. Although often crowded with travelers, there is no escaping the fact that this place is beautiful. Try some surfing at Bingin Beach or visit the Pura Besakih, the Mother Temple, which is a truly stunning building. Bali is more expensive than the rest of Indonesia. Make sure you see some traditional Balinese dancing in Ubud.
Dive in the Gili Islands – For a true sense of an island paradise, head to the Gili Islands. You won’t find any cars on these islands; bike travel or horse and cart are the ways to see all that Gili has to offer. You’ll find excellent scuba and snorkel facilities, as well as nightlife on the party island of Gili Trawangan.
See Komodo Dragons – The subject of more nature documentaries than pretty much any other lizard, the Komodo dragon is a force to be reckoned with. They are fierce creatures. Komodo National Park is a UNESCO site and is the only place to see the world’s largest lizard in the wild.
Jakarta – Indonesia’s capital is a large, bustling city with a population of over 10 million. For a moment of calm, people-watch from one of the cafes overlooking Fatahillah Square in the Old Batavia, the Dutch quarter, where you can take in the historic architecture. In terms of nightlife and eateries, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Jakarta.
Watch the sunrise at Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park – One of the most popular tourist attractions on Java is Mount Bromo and its National Park. You’ll not want to miss out on getting a snap of the smouldering Bromo volcano as it lies surrounded by the almost lunar landscape of the Sea of Sand. If you’re there in mid-August, you’ll be just in time to see Upacara Kasodo, the monthly ritual which the Tenggerese take part in. Get up early to catch one of the most memorable sunrises of your life.
Explore Hindi Prambanan – This is the crowning glory of Hindu temples and was built in the 10th century. At 150 feet, the main temple is taller than Borodudur and is architecturally impressive. Chances are you’ll spend more time taking pictures than you will admiring the site and its ancient statues, so don’t forget to put down the camera sometimes.
Amaze yourself in Borobudur – Borodudur is a huge Buddhist temple complex dating from the 9th Century, making it older than Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. Like Prambanan, Borobudur has also been afforded World Heritage status with UNESCO. I personally love this site. As you walk up to the top, you can see reliefs meant to highlight Buddhist teachings. It is said you can’t move on to the top until you discovered the meaning of each relief.
Snorkel or dive in Bunaken – The Bunaken National Marine park is where you’ll want to go if diving and snorkeling are your thing. These deep waters offer fantastic visibility and some of the world’s most biodiverse marine life. Keep an eye out for tuna, sharks, rays, turtles, and sea snakes.
Have a spa day – When you are in a place like this, it only seems right to treat your body to some probably much needed, deep pampering treatments. Getting a massage is basically a given, but why not do it on a beach. Body wraps, facials, manicures, and pedicures are also a nice bonus.
Broaden your taste buds – With such a mass amount of islands composing Indonesia, there is a huge number of different cuisines to try. Don’t get stuck eating the same thing over and over again. Javanese, Sundanese, Padang, and Balinese food are just a few different preparations to get excited about.
Visit Yogyakarta – Known as Yogya for short, this city is considered to be the main tourist city of Java. There is an interesting blend of old customs with modern living here and a certain artistic and intellectual presence hangs in the air. There are a number of restaurants, clubs, shopping areas, historical sights, and museums to check out.
Shop in Denpasar – This is the capital of Bali and essentially the central spot of development and financial growth on the island for the past two decades. It is heavily populated and there are a number of shops to see as well as an arts center and the Museum Negeri Propinsi Bali.
See the orangutans in Sumatra – A mysterious and very human creature, the orangutan finds its habitat on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. A visit to see these creatures is a moving experience. And, given the rapid deforestation and fires in the area, you probably want to do this sooner rather than later as these animals are gravely endangered.
Explore village life in Kalibaru – Kalibaru is a small village on the southeastern side of Java. It’s quiet, secluded, and a great place to tour a local cacao plantation or one of the many other types of plantations in the area on your way to or from Bali.
Find tranquility in the Bogor Botanical Gardens – 40 miles outside of hectic Jakarta, lie the Bogor Botanical Gardens. With over 200 acres land and 15,000 species of plants and trees, the gardens are a lovely spot in which to lose yourself for a couple of hours.