Holiday in Indonesia...not Bali?

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metacritic
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Holiday in Indonesia...not Bali?

Post by metacritic »

I'm thinking of a family trip to Indonesia and would be eager to see parts of the country that aren't Bali. Does anyone here have experience in Flores, Sumatra, or Borneo? Kids are 8 and 11. Intrepid but we do like some creature comforts - we don't look to backpacks, for instance. Thanks in advance!
ohai
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Re: Holiday in Indonesia...not Bali?

Post by ohai »

If you are flying say, between Sumatra and Borneo and such, you can also go easily to other South East Asian countries - they might even be closer to where you are than other parts of Indonesia. Regional air travel is seamless and cheap (like $50 sometimes) - you just walk in relatively easily, not like the US that has become a TSA nightmare.

For example, Borneo has some nice nature stuff such as Mulu Caves, which is a spectacular nature park and world heritage site. It is in Malaysia, but is adjacent to the Indonesia parts of Borneo island and is probably more interesting than whatever is on the Indonesia side.

https://mulupark.com/

Overall, Indonesia is not very tourist friendly compared to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and so on. So, you should plan accordingly.
aerofreaky11
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Re: Holiday in Indonesia...not Bali?

Post by aerofreaky11 »

There's an awesome 'primate' rescue in Borneo. Mount Kinabalu is also beautiful, but not with kids.
MJS
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Re: Holiday in Indonesia...not Bali?

Post by MJS »

Komodo National Park, near Flores. Dragons, coral reefs, hiking, pink beaches, not too commercialized. The government keeps threatening to close the Park for a year or two to do development.
liynus
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Re: Holiday in Indonesia...not Bali?

Post by liynus »

we hired a whole boat and crew for cheap to go to the orangutan national park.
this was more than a decade ago.
the crew included a guide to the park.
you have to sleep on the boat, it took a night to go through the rivers, crew cooked us amazing curry.
we split the cost among 3 slightly poor young folk.
the orangutans were like right in front of you, not in a cage. but please don't touch they are strong!!
one of the most memorial trips in my entire life.
sorry i don't know the details. we didn't even pre plan just arrived in town and hired a crew of 4-5 and it was long ago.
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kramer
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Re: Holiday in Indonesia...not Bali?

Post by kramer »

I was in Bali in late September last year (shoulder season, not high season) ... it was overrun by tourists ... it was so bad that I looked up the statistics and discovered that the number of Bali tourist arrivals doubled from 2013 to 2018 ... I would not go back unless I was on the way to somewhere else in Indonesia although I did enjoy most of my time on Bali itself. Bali is the Hawaii of Indonesia and not really representative culturally of the country as a whole (for one, it's 90% Hindu instead of 90% muslim like the country as a whole).

I can recommend Yogyakarta on the island of Java and you can see the city plus Borobudur and the Prambanan temples (two different locations, can do both on a single day trip from Yogyakarta, two of the cultural jewels of Indonesia's past). Java is the world's most populated island and I just enjoyed seeing regular life there plus tried all kinds of Indonesian foods in Yogyakarta. The city is safe with good air links.

For beach and island activities you might want to consider Lombok. It is being rapidly developed as an alternative to Bali (it is an adjacent island). You can also climb the volcano there via guided hike (3 days, 2 nights or 2 days, 1 night ... latter only to crater rim) or even just stay near the volcano and enjoy the different nature, waterfalls and culture there. There are beach resorts especially on the west, southwest, and southeast of the island. Flights between Lombok and Bali are frequent daily and cost less than $40 or you can take fast ferries between the two islands as most long distance air connections go through the airport on Bali.

I will be monitoring this thread because I really enjoyed Indonesia but like the OP I would like to experience the non-Bali parts of the country.
Nicolas
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Re: Holiday in Indonesia...not Bali?

Post by Nicolas »

I’ve never been, but I found this article “7 Best Places in Indonesia To Visit Which Are Not Bali” https://www.teacaketravels.com/best-pla ... ia-travel/
middistancerunner
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Re: Holiday in Indonesia...not Bali?

Post by middistancerunner »

I used to live in Indonesia, about a decade ago. I found it a wonderful place to travel completely off the beaten path, but I did learn Indonesian while I was there, which helped a lot, as outside of areas that are known for tourism people don't necessarily speak English. Regular Indonesians are insanely wonderful people and I had a great time living there.

I think anything you can find in a guidebook like Lonely Planet et al will have some kind of tourist infrastructure, meaning someone there who can guide you in English, somewhere to stay like a hotel, etc. So I think if you stick within what a guidebook recommends you can have a good time. I found that I didn't always like traveling in all those places, though - in some cases, they ended up feeling a little weird, like a little bit of tourist infrastructure propped on top of regular peoples' lives. Bali, to my surprise, I found I could actually like - it is much more touristy but the infrastructure felt more natural/integrated into daily life, so it felt a bit less... adversarial?

I've never been to Flores but always wanted to; I did go to Lombok and didn't love it for the above reasons. I found that guides/touts (who aren't always locals of the area you're visiting) were pretty aggressive there.

My all time favorite trip was in the mountains of Sulawesi, where I hitched rides on the back of motorbikes and stayed in peoples' houses, which is what you do when you're traveling in Indonesia to places that are truly not touristy. That's probably more off the beaten path than you want or could do as a non-Indonesian speaker.

Seconding someone else, you might consider Java, which will be full of people and civilization but not like Bali. Bandung, a large city in the mountains, is under-touristed by westerners and is quite beautiful, or was 10 years ago, especially driving through the tea plantations and visiting sulfur crater lakes. Jogja is a common tourist spot and you can visit Borobudur and surrounding. There are some amazing old Hindu artifacts/sculptures/rock statues all around that area.

Where else have you traveled with your family? It's not hard for Indonesia to feel big and exotic even if you don't go deep into the Borneo jungle. Just traveling around the big cities that aren't tourist hotspots could give an interesting, rich experience.

Happy to answer any specific questions you might have.

Oh also Indonesian is a pretty easy language and it would be worthwhile to learn a little before you go.
middistancerunner
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Re: Holiday in Indonesia...not Bali?

Post by middistancerunner »

Nicolas wrote: Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:09 am I’ve never been, but I found this article “7 Best Places in Indonesia To Visit Which Are Not Bali” https://www.teacaketravels.com/best-pla ... ia-travel/
OMG, do not dress like the woman who wrote that article :oops:

It's a progressive muslim country (outside of Bali) and not hard at all to be respectful. Short sleeve shirts are fine, but no bare shoulders, and no shorts. Head coverings only required in mosques (or in some deeply religious areas of Sumatra I believe, though I never traveled to an area where it was required.)

"Instagrammable" was not a thing when I was there so maybe things have changed but I doubt it. Western tourists who dressed like that stuck out like sore thumbs and not in a good way.
German Expat
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Re: Holiday in Indonesia...not Bali?

Post by German Expat »

We went to Jakarta, Bali and Gili Gede a bit more then 1 year ago. We do like creature comfort and like to stay at nice hotels so I am not sure what type of traveler you are and what you like to do and see.
I did not like Bali that much, the resort hotels are very nice but the Island is just too overrun. We did like our hotel (St Regis Nusa Dua) and also did day tours to Ubud etc. with a private driver (arranged outside the hotel).
Afterwards we wanted to relax a bit and found a really nice hotel on Gili Gede (one of the not party Gili islands).
https://www.kokomogiligede.com/
We really enjoyed it there and was quite relaxing with snorkeling, swimming etc.

In general plastic on the beaches and in the water is a big issue even with the nicer hotels cleaning it up daily.

Jakarta itself (we had flights in and out of Jakarta) was an experience but a huge city with large traffic issues. Also very flood prone as seen just very recently).

We did like it and people were friendly and did not have many issues with touts etc. On a side note Bali itself is not Muslim (90% Hindu but the rest of the country is).

Our purpose for the trip though was to relax during Christmas and New Year and we did not pack much into it. A lot will depend what you like to do. For a couple lazy days I can recommend the hotel on Gili Gede.
Topic Author
metacritic
Posts: 357
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2007 12:58 pm

Re: Holiday in Indonesia...not Bali?

Post by metacritic »

Lots of great advice in this thread and I am always drawn to posts by people who really know a place.

Our favorite trips have been in southern Africa, Bali/Singapore, and Hawaii. We also loved listening to the call to prayer in Gili Air (though it was more of a club scene than I anticipated, which turned me off). I loved Bali (but stayed in villages and away from the most touristed areas, which turned out to be a VERY fortuitous decision). That said, I found Ubud charming -- even with all the tourists. As a solo traveler I love southeast Asia, east Africa, and north Africa dearly. I'd love to go to Cambodia, Thailand or Vietnam with the kids (I've been without) but much of the area isn't ideal in August, when kids are on holiday.

I'm intrigued by Java but really love beaches and lush environments, which is why I was considering Borneo, Flores, etc. I just find the degree of information pretty scant and so it is hard to figure out planning ... or even how to make decisions.

Thanks, all, for the advice. Please keep it coming.
middistancerunner wrote: Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:26 am I used to live in Indonesia, about a decade ago. I found it a wonderful place to travel completely off the beaten path, but I did learn Indonesian while I was there, which helped a lot, as outside of areas that are known for tourism people don't necessarily speak English. Regular Indonesians are insanely wonderful people and I had a great time living there.

I think anything you can find in a guidebook like Lonely Planet et al will have some kind of tourist infrastructure, meaning someone there who can guide you in English, somewhere to stay like a hotel, etc. So I think if you stick within what a guidebook recommends you can have a good time. I found that I didn't always like traveling in all those places, though - in some cases, they ended up feeling a little weird, like a little bit of tourist infrastructure propped on top of regular peoples' lives. Bali, to my surprise, I found I could actually like - it is much more touristy but the infrastructure felt more natural/integrated into daily life, so it felt a bit less... adversarial?

I've never been to Flores but always wanted to; I did go to Lombok and didn't love it for the above reasons. I found that guides/touts (who aren't always locals of the area you're visiting) were pretty aggressive there.

My all time favorite trip was in the mountains of Sulawesi, where I hitched rides on the back of motorbikes and stayed in peoples' houses, which is what you do when you're traveling in Indonesia to places that are truly not touristy. That's probably more off the beaten path than you want or could do as a non-Indonesian speaker.

Seconding someone else, you might consider Java, which will be full of people and civilization but not like Bali. Bandung, a large city in the mountains, is under-touristed by westerners and is quite beautiful, or was 10 years ago, especially driving through the tea plantations and visiting sulfur crater lakes. Jogja is a common tourist spot and you can visit Borobudur and surrounding. There are some amazing old Hindu artifacts/sculptures/rock statues all around that area.

Where else have you traveled with your family? It's not hard for Indonesia to feel big and exotic even if you don't go deep into the Borneo jungle. Just traveling around the big cities that aren't tourist hotspots could give an interesting, rich experience.

Happy to answer any specific questions you might have.

Oh also Indonesian is a pretty easy language and it would be worthwhile to learn a little before you go.
yakk0
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:41 pm

Re: Holiday in Indonesia...not Bali?

Post by yakk0 »

metacritic wrote: Thu Jan 16, 2020 3:17 pm
I'm intrigued by Java but really love beaches and lush environments, which is why I was considering Borneo, Flores, etc. I just find the degree of information pretty scant and so it is hard to figure out planning ... or even how to make decisions.

Thanks, all, for the advice. Please keep it coming.
I grew up in Borneo. Consider Sabah state in Malaysia. Some of the better tourist infrastructure in Borneo. Search for Sepilok (orangutan reserve), Sipadan and Mabul (scuba diving), Gaya Island (marine reserve, close to city of KK), Sandakan (close to turtle hatcheries), pygmy elephants (not sure where's best to see these) to get some ideas. Note that most of those places aren't that close to each other so you can't do it all unless you move around a bit.

Someone else suggested Mulu, but I don't think I would go with kids. It's definitely an adventure (very thick rainforest, caves, river boats) but not near any nice beaches, very isolated so not really anything outside of the excursions and hotels (ie no shops/restaurants), and extreme humidity (I'm from a coastal town where humidity is regularly 80%+ but found the humidity in the rainforest, which is probably close to 100%, oppressive).
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