From Bali to Lake Toba | Complete guide to visit the lake, Medan Region and Bukit Lawang and its Orangutans

Lake Toba off the beaten track

Lake Toba, what to see? what to do ? How to go from Bali to Lake Toba? Lake Toba is a masterpiece of Mother Nature, as she does so well. She imagined everything like this: a dark volcano, a blue lake in it, with a fertile island on it. Isn’t that a masterpiece? It’s magnificent, relaxing, rejuvenating… In short, an essential stopover during a trip to Sumatra. The fastest flight from Bali to Lake Toba (DTB Silangit Airport) lasts 5 hours (3h 75m flight + 1h 20m transit). Or From Bali to Medan airport takes 2h 30m From Bali to Medan. Once in Medan airport, take a car / bus a round 6 hours. Lake Toba is a destination that has to be earned: it’s long, it’s expensive, it requires planning well in advance.

What can you imagine about Lake Toba?

Peaceful, a canoe floats on the mild waters of Lake Toba. The fisherman has a net in his hand and the surrounding hues are bluish or evening pink. He will bring fish for the market. Calm reigns at Lake Toba. On dry land, where the strange roofs of the houses point towards the setting sun, we sip our mango cocktail while waiting for the dish of large grilled crayfish with tasty flesh.

Lake Toba was formed by the explosion of a giant volcano 74,000 years ago. The explosion is the largest ever known, 10,000 times larger than that of mt St helens in 1980, considered one of the largest. The energy released is equivalent to 1 billion tons of TNT, or 67,000 times the Hiroshima bomb.
The lake is what remains of the collapsed crater. It is 100km long and 31km wide. It is the largest lake in Southeast Asia.
Samosir Island is one of the pieces of the caldera that collapsed 30,000 years ago. The lake is 450m (1476ft) deep.

Danau Toba dari Samosir
A view Danau Toba from Samosir Island. PL 05 SIGIT, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How to go from Bali to Lake Toba?

By plane

1. The fastest flight from Bali to Lake Toba (DTB Silangit Airport) lasts 5h 50m hours (3.75h flight + 1h 20m transit)

    • Ngurah Rai (DPS) >via Jakarta (CGK) 1h 30
    • Transit in Jakarta: 2h 30
    • Jakarta (CGK) > Silangit (DTB)  2h30
Airlines from Bali to Lake Toba:

2. Ngurah Rai (DPS) > Medan (KNO) 3h 25m (direct flight), then 6 hours drive to Lake Toba.

Airlines from Bali (DPS) to Medan (KNO):

By car or bus

From Bali to Lake Toba it takes around 55 hours drive.

How to get to Lake Toba?

To visit Lake Toba and Samosir Island will require a little effort.

Most travelers used to pass through Medan on their way to Parapat. From the latter, it takes about four to six hours by car to reach Lake Toba.

However, since November 2017, a Silangit Airport (DTB) has been inaugurated and is located east of the lake and it now takes 30 minutes to get to Balige. Daily flights connect the city to Medan and Jakarta. Since June 2018, new destinations have been opened, notably for Penang and Kuala Lumpur.

There is no direct means of transport to get to the island of Samosir, located inside Lake Toba. You will first need to take a plane to Medan, a city in North Sumatra, then take a taxi to Parapat (the nearest town to Lake Toba) and from Parapat, take a boat or ferry to Tuk Tuk on the island of Samosir.

Step 1

Fly to Medan. You can take a look at this article for all the information to book a domestic flight in Indonesia. From Bali to Medan, the flight time lasts an average of 3.5 hours and the price fluctuates between €90 and €200 depending on the season and the company.

Or fly from Bali (DPS) to Silangit Airport (DTB) takes 6 hours (including the stopover in Jakarta)

  • Bali (DPS) > Jakarta (CGK): Travel time: 1 hr 50 min
  • 2 hours layover Jakarta (CGK)
  • Jakarta (CGK) > Silangit Airport (DTB): Travel time: 1 hr 55 min
  • Then from Silangit Airport (DTB) to Lake Toba, takes only 30 minutes drive.

Step 2

Take a taxi to Parapat (a small town on the shore of Lake Toba). The journey takes 4 to 6 hours. There are three ways to get to Parapat:

  • Shared taxi: IDR 80,000/person. The taxis there are mini-vans that have a maximum capacity of 7 passengers. The vehicle will only leave when it is full. You can book one directly from your hotel in Medan or at the Transportation Desk at the airport.
  • Private car: IDR 400,000
  • Public bus: IDR 35,000/person. If you take this means the public bus, you obviously will not have the same comfort as in a private car or a mini-van (you will be tight, the seats are very uncomfortable and smoking is allowed in the vehicle)

Step 3

Take the ferry from Parapat to Tutuk on Samosir Island. There is a regular ferry service that operates every hour from 8:30am to 7:00pm. You can buy your tickets in Parapat or directly on the boat for IDR 7,000. The ferry from Tuk Tuk to Parapat also operates every hour from 7am to 5pm.

Flight from Bali to Lake Toba via Medan Airport Kualanamu International Airport (KNO)

Direct flight from Bali Airport (DPS) to Medan takes 2h 30mn. Then you have to drive or take a bus and it takes around 6 hours drive.

Airlines from Bali to Medan:

  • Lion Air (nonstop flight available 3h 25m)
  • Air Asia (nonstop flight available 3h 25m)
  • Batik Air (no direct flight, you need to stopover in Jakarta)
  • Citilink (no direct flight, you need to stopover in Bandung or Jakarta)
  • Garuda Indonesia (no direct flight, you need to stopover in Jakarta)
  • Super Air Jet (no direct flight, you need to stopover in Jakarta)

How to go to from Medan to Parapat

Mostly, travelers come from Medan to go to Lake Toba. If this is your case, to get to Parapat on the shores of the lake facing Samosir, the easiest way is to take a tourist minibus from the Amplus Central bus station. It is a little more expensive than public transport, but it avoids bus changes and saves time. The price is around IDR 80,000 for a 4-5 hours drive.

By local bus there will be changes. Account 40,000RP (2.5 euros) and 5-6h drive (departures every hour).

The shared taxi offer is almost equivalent. It leaves when it is “full” (up to 7 places). Account 90,000 Rp per person (negotiable!), plus IDR 10,000 for the faster toll road.

A normal taxi, just for you: IDR 400,000 by negotiating well (about 25 euros)

How to go to from Parapat to Tuk-Tuk

Transport to Samosir Island (Lake Toba) from Parapat is by ferry. From the pier of Parapat, take the ferry to Tuk Tuk which is opposite on the island of Samosir. boats leave every hour from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Parapat has no real interest and we advise you to immediately go to Samosir. Know this says that it is quite possible to sleep in Parapat (in the case for example where you miss the last boat). Once in Tuk-tuk, you will find everything you need in guesthouse and restaurant. If you want to isolate yourself even more, you will still need time to leave Tuk-tuk for your accommodation (bus? or taxi? or boat? several options are possible, check with your guesthouse).

Read also: Bali Airport DPS | Important and Practical Tips to Improve your Experience at Ngurah Rai Airport

Direct flight from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia to Medan only 1 hour

There are direct flights from Kuala Lumpur (KUL airport) to Medan (KNO airport) with only 1hour flight time. Then you have to drive or take a bus and it takes around 6 hours drive.

Airlines from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Medan (KNO):

Direct flight from Singapore to Medan only 1h 30mn

There are direct flights from Singapore to Medan with only 1h 30 minutes flight time. Then you have to drive or take a bus and it takes around 6 hours drive.

Airlines from Singapore (SIN) to Medan (KNO):

Culture and people of Lake Toba

Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, but the Batak country remains predominantly Christian Protestant. The Bataks were animists several centuries earlier.

Here is the Batak Toba clan. The island of Samosir is the cradle of this culture. Even today you can witness customs, cultural demonstrations and rituals. Oh ! it is perhaps less impressive than the offerings or sacrifices of the inhabitants of the Toraja country in Sulawesi, Indonesia. But it is always a moving moment to discover such special architecture and traditions. Open your eyes and ears for Batak songs, tribal paintings on the walls and wooden pillar houses with their boat-shaped roofs.

Activities to do and visits around Lake Toba

Surrounding Lake Toba are magnificent historical monuments, temples, traditional villages and breathtaking natural landscapes.

1. Samosir Island

Day cruise on Lake Toba to discover the white sand beaches and the traditional villages of Ambarita and Simanindo. Then, show of folk dances performed by the villagers. Continue to Tao Island for a swim in the calm waters of the lake. Discovery of the royal tombs of the Sidabutar King family in Tomok.

Tomok Village

You can do stopover in the village of Tomok for a unique cultural experience. Located at the edge of the Parapat pier, this small village is home to beautiful Batak houses and many historical sites.

Tomok, Toba Samosir (3)
The atmosphere in the Tomok, Toba Samosir regency, North Sumatra. Wagino 20100516, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The tomb of King Sidabutar, the stone statues, the sigale-gale dance performance and the nearby Batak Museum are some of the highlights of the stay. You will also find here many stalls selling typical Batak souvenirs.

Sarkofagus (4)
Sarcophagus is in a tourist area Tomok, Toba Samosir regency, North Sumatera. Wagino 20100516, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Binangalom Waterfall

Binangalom Waterfall is one of the most popular attractions on Samosir Island. The waterfall originates from the top of a hill and flows directly into the water of Lake Toba. During the summer season, you can swim in the natural pool of the lake, at the foot of the waterfall. Don’t forget your go-pro to take nice pictures! 🙂

Binangalom-Situmurun
Binangalom waterfall. The other side of Lake Toba, Binangalom Waterfall or commonly called Situmurun by local people. A unique waterfall that directly descends to Lake Toba. Gerry Wowiling, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hike Pusuk Buhit Volcano

Pusuk Buhit is a volcano located in North Sumatra. It is inactive and offers a magnificent view of the green hills of the village below. A legend of the Batak people says that the first Batak man (the king) was born on this volcano… Even today, many Batak seniors climb this volcano to obtain divine blessings. Depending on your physical condition, it will take you between 7 and 8 hours of hiking to reach the top of the volcano.

Pusuk Buhit
Pusuk Buhit, the small cone has formed on the southwestern margin of the caldera and lava domes. Johnnysiahaan, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Holbung Hill (Bukit Holbung)

Before driving an adventure to the hill it is better to visit the village. There are around 500 people living in Huta Holbung. It may be more than that, though. Due to the beauty of Holbung Hill, more tourists come here. It’s perfect for a trip. Approximately, you can reach the top in 10 – 15 minutes. No problem. There is a path. You can also see a lot of hill weed along the way. Once you reach the top, you will be speechless. The beauty in this hill is incomparable. This can be your next wonderful holiday.

The locals even call this location Teletubbies Hill. It is due to its similarity in both beauty and size. Not only does it provide breathtaking scenery, the hill offers refreshing atmosphere. From here you can even see majestic Pusuk Buhit and Lake Toba. All of these attractions make for a great portrait of nature. One thing you shouldn’t clutter up. As a visitor, you must keep the environment clean. Holbung Hill is a valuable tourist attraction in North Sumatra. Everyone should take good care of it.

How to reach the hill: you can use two different routes. First, he is from Medan at Tele. During the trip, you can pass through Kebanjahe. Another route is through Siantar, the Paracoup and Samosir. It depends on your starting point. If you choose the second route, you must use Port of Raja de Tiga to reach Tomok in Samosir Island. What about adaptations? There are several hotels in Samosir. Each of them has distinct facilities and cost. Make sure you bring enough cash.

Bukit Holbung
Bukit Holbung. Francis Hartanto, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Discover the local culture by visiting the Huta Bolon Simanindo Batak Museum

The museum is simple, but you can see beautiful Batak houses. There are also beautiful pieces of craftsmanship from the region on display in one of the houses. Batak Museum

Entrance fee: IDR 50,000 (including puppet show)
How to get there: The Batak Museum is located in Simanindo, 19km from Tuk Tuk.
Hours: daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Telephone: +62 813-9672-1133

Tari Sigale-gale Pulau Samosir
Tari Sigale-gale. Life-size puppets of Huta Bolon Simanindo Museum in Simanindo, Samosir Island, North Sumatra, Indonesia. (Puppetry is common in Indonesian culture). Dan Lundberg, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bathe in the natural hot springs: Aek Rangat

At the foot of the Pusuk Buhit volcano, very close to Pangururan are the Aek Rangat hot springs. Come and recharge your batteries after your volcano hike!

Aek Rangat Hot Springs

Entrance fee: IDR 2,000 to access the area, swimming pool entrance fee is IDR 10,000
Google Maps coordinates
Hours: daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Telephone: +62 813-9672-1133

Hills of Siogung-Ogung Hotspring 01
Hills of Siogung-Ogung hotspring. Christian Advs Sltg, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

2. Parapat

The Sunday market in Pekan Tigaraja
In the village of Pekan Tigaraja, a weekly market is held every Sunday where you can buy Batak handicrafts, traditional clothing and also local and fresh fruits and vegetables. How to get there: The market is located in the small town of Pekan Tigaraja, close to the ferry area.

Parapat-harbor 09N9196
Parapat harbor, Lake Toba, Sumatra. Nomo michael hoefner / http://www.zwo5.de, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Batu Gantung Rock in Parapat

The town of Parapat takes its name from this historic stone hanging from a rock. According to a local legend, this stone which has the shape of a female silhouette suspended from the wall of a cliff is the symbol of a young woman who found herself trapped in a mountain and who was never rescued. Before being buried alive in the mountain, the young woman would have repeated the word “Parapat”, thus giving this name to the eponymous city. How to get there: The visit of this cliff can be organized with tourist agencies or boat companies

"Batu Gantung - Rock Hanging" with historical laden story. - panoramio
Batu Gantung – Rock Hanging with historical laden story. tigoretagore, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

3. Merek

Take a hike to see the magnificent Sipiso-piso waterfall

Hiking enthusiasts will be delighted to climb this magnificent waterfall which is considered the highest in Indonesia! With a height of 120 meters, this waterfall offers a breathtaking landscape. It is barricaded by lush nature, which makes it an even more natural and extraordinarily beautiful landscape. Admittedly, the hike takes a good 7 hours of walking, but it is really worth it. If you are in good physical condition, I really advise you not to miss this beautiful waterfall.

Read also: From Bali To Raja Ampat (4 Kings) | Complete Guide to Visit West Papua

How to get there: Head by scooter to Simanindo, northeast of Samosir, 20 minutes by Tuk Tuk. Then take a boat to Tigaras. Then you have to take the scooter back to Merek (you will see beautiful landscapes on the road), and ask the locals where the junction is to get to the Sipiso-Piso waterfall (the signs indicate the road only when you come from the North of the island).

AIR TERJUN SIPISO-PISO (SUMUT)
Sipiso-Piso Waterfall is located in Tongging Village, Brand District, Karo Regency, North Sumatra Province. NOVA BARUS, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Medan Region and Bukit Lawang

It is a volcanic island with tropical forests, mountains, volcanoes but also heavenly beaches and beautiful villages to visit in some isolated areas of Sumatra.

Medan region

Medan is a large port city located in the northern part of the island of Sumatra. It is also the capital of the northern province. It is the second most populous city in Indonesia behind Jakarta with over 4.5 million inhabitants.

It is a very charming city that welcomes many tourists who come to travel to Indonesia every year. There are many tourist sites and attractions.

The most famous and visited place is the Masjid Raya Al Mashun mosque. You can also visit the Maimun Palace which is a huge building. There are also beautiful beaches that are often crowded with tourists and locals.

Here are the places to visit in the Medan region of Sumatra:

  • The Maimun Palace
  • Tjong A Fie Mansion
  • Masjid Raya Al Mashun Mosque
  • Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni Temple

Medan old city hall
Medan’s Old City Hall. Rochelimit, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bukit Lawang

Bukit Lawang is a small tourist and unmissable village located in North Sumatra. Tourists meet there to observe a rare species of monkey: orangutans.

It is also the gateway to Gunung Leuser National Park. Visiting Bukit Lawang will give you the opportunity to observe the last living wild orangutans on the planet.

Here, the forest is heavenly and you can go deep into the jungle by taking many hiking trails. Exploring the jungle will allow you to discover many other incredible species such as the Sumatran tiger or the rhinoceros.

The village is crossed by the Bahorok River on which many water activities can be offered.

Bukit Lawang is definitely one of the must-see places to visit in Sumatra and Indonesia!

Orang-utan bukit lawang 2006
Orang-Utan In Bukit Lawang, North Sumatra. Tbachner, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Here are some ideas of places to visit in the Bukit Lawang area:

  • The trek in search of orangutans
  • Bukit Lawang Wisata Alam
  • Bukit Lawang Bat Cave
  • Selang Pangeran Beach
  • Orangutan in Bukit lawang

Kawasan Hutan Bukit Lawang
Bukit Lawang is one of the interesting tourist areas in Bahorok District, Langkat Regency, North Sumatra Province. Bukit Lawang is part of the Gunung Leuser National Park. Meanwhile, Gunung Leuser National Park and the surrounding area are known as the Leuser Ecosystem Area, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has swift and rocky rivers, dense tropical forests and various protected wildlife. Andreiromario, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

From Medan to Bukit Lawang

Sources:  CleverlySmart, PinterPandai, Wonderful Indonesia, Northabroad, TripCanvas

Photo credit (main picture): Yudhapohan (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Photo description: caldera Toba or better known as Lake Toba was designated as a UNESCO Global Geopark at the 209th Session of the UNESCO Executive Council in Paris, France, Tuesday, July 2, 2020.

From Bali to Tana Toraja | Discovery of a millennial animist culture!

Tana Toraja is an ethnic region and not a city. The Toraja people live in a mountainous region in South Sulawesi. The majority of the Torajas are of the Christian religion (Protestant then Catholic): the bell towers of the Protestants are distinguished by a rooster. There is no direct flight from From Bali to Tana Toraja. The fastest flight lasts 7h 30m and includes a stopover. Tana Toraja, a mountainous region where lives a people who knew how to preserve their ancestral traditions and an extraordinary culture.

The Torajas are known mainly for their rites and funerary sites as well as the architecture of their habitat. Between July and August, the small villages are a buzz of activity as it funeral season.

Death is not considered as a sad event but as a time to celebrate, with elaborate festivities. The squimish may want to pass as the celebration includes buffalo slaughter.

Boat-House Mausoleum, Kete Kesu Village, Tana Toraja 1376
Boat-House Mausoleum. Kete Kesu Village, Tana Toraja. A modern form of burial in Toraja is to inter the deceased in mausolea such as this. The burial chamber is cylindrical in form, but its cross-section resembles a leaf or a bud from nature. The end of this one is decorated with a sunburst motif, that resembles the Majapahit Sun on Java. The burial chamber is encased in a boat-shaped bier; the “boat house” architecture is ubiquitous in Toraja, unique to that place, and used both in the distant past and today for houses, granaries, and coffins. Traditional sun-and-moon roosters and other decorations are painted underneath the roof, and portrait photographs of the principal deceased couple (other family members may also share the burial chamber) are affixed below the pediment. Michael Gunther, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

History

The Torajas are said to be former sailors from southern China or Burma. After having conquered the coasts of Sulawesi, they took refuge in the mountains before the invasion of the Bugis peoples and the arrival of Islam.

In Sulawesi, it is the originality of their culture and their impressive funeral ceremonies that have made the Toraja famous. The very particular architecture of their houses in the shape of a boat and the fantastic landscapes of rice fields will make you understand to what extent the Tana Toraja is a land of encounters, sacred rites and beauty…

So, isolated from the world and to meet their needs, they learned to use every plot of land, abandoning slash and burn cultivation for terraced rice fields. So many vestiges for you to discover!

Rumah Adat Tongkonan (Toraja) 01
Tongkonan, the traditional house of the Toraja tribe. The roof is curved like a boat, consisting of a bamboo structure (currently some tongkonan use zinc roof). The location of this Tongkonan is in the Ne’Gandeng Museum, Tagari, North Toraja. Ribkha Tandepadang, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

From Bali to Tana Toraja by Plane

This is the best travel itinerary from Bali to Tana Toraja by plane (at the moment):

  • Ngurah Rai Airport (DPS) to Sultan Hasanuddin Airport (UPG) flight time: 1 hr 20 min.
    Stopover in UPG.
  • Sultan Hasanuddin Airport (UPG) to Toraja Airport (TRT) flight time: 55 min.
  • And only around 1h 15mn drive from TRT airport to Rantepao (biggest city in Tana Toraja)

Example flights from Bali to Tana Toraja:

  • Ngurah Rai (DPS) > Makassar (UPG) > Toraja Airport (TRT)
    • Flight time: DPS to UPG 1h20mn and UPG to TRT 55 minutes. Total flight time: 2h 15m (excluding transit). With transit, sometime it takes 7 to 9 hours in total (flight time and transit time).
    • And only around 1h 15mn drive from TRT airport to Rantepao (biggest city in Tana Toraja)
  • Ngurah Rai (DPS) > Makassar (UPG) > Lagalio Palopo (LLO)
    • Flight time: Ngurah Rai (DPS) to Makassar (UPG) 1h 20m flight. STOPOVER. Makassar (UPG) to Lagalio Palopo (LLO) 1h flight. Total flight time: 2h 20mn (excluding transit).
    • And from (LLO) drive to Tana Toraja Regency takes around 4 hours drive by car.
  • Ngurah Rai (DPS) > Jakarta (CGK) > Makassar (UPG) > Toraja Airport (TRT)
    • Flight Time: DPS to CGK 1h 50m and CGK to UPG 2h 25m and UPG to TRT 55m. Total flight time: 4h 10mn (excluding transit).
    • And only around 1h 15mn drive from TRT airport to Rantepao (biggest city in Tana Toraja)
  • Ngurah Rai (DPS) > Makassar (UPG) > Mamuju (MJU)
    • Flight time: Ngurah Rai (DPS) to Makassar (UPG) it takes 1h 20m by flight. STOPOVER in Makassar Sultan Hasanuddin (UPG) to Mamuju (MJU) it takes 1h. Total flight time: 2h 20mn (excluding transit).
    • And from Mamuju (MJU) to Tana Toraja Regency takes 7 hours drive by car / bus.
  • Ngurah Rai (DPS) > Makassar (UPG)
    • Flight time: Ngurah Rai (DPS) to Makassar Sultan Hasanuddin (UPG) it takes 1h 20m by flight. Total flight time: 1h 20mn.
    • And from Makassar airport (UPG) to Tana Toraja Regency takes 9 hours drive by car / bus. But along the way you’ll pass the scenic rice terrace and Bugis traditional house.

Airlines from Bali to Raja Ampat:

How to get to Toraja by bus or car from Makassar, Ten Tena or Ampana?

The big city of the Toraja country is Rantepao. I fyou decide to fly from Bali to Makassar, you have to get to Toraja by private car or bus. The journey is long… very long, whether you come from North or South Sulawesi.

  • Makassar (south) > Rantepao: duration 9 hours – € 12 / IDR 200,000
  • TenTena (north) > Rantepao: duration 13 hours – € 11 / IDR 180,000
  • Ampana (north) > Rantepao: duration 17 hours – € 15 / IDR 250,000
  • Manado (north) > Rantepao: duration 26 hours – € 40 / IDR 600,000

TIPS

  • For night journeys, remember to put on your pants + a sweet because like everywhere in Asia, the air conditioning is on full blast in the night buses and it is very cold!!
  • You can also privatize a mini van with driver for more comfort.  It won’t be much shorter but you won’t be with other people.  Personally, I find that night buses are more comfortable (seat almost bed) and safer. Minivans tend to drive a little fast and on this type of road, in the event of an accident it is always better to be the bigger one

The strong points in Tanatoraja

◊ Visit of traditional villages to discover the Toraja way of life
◊ Discovery of funerary caves and their impressive balconies with mortuary effigies
◊ Drive through sublime landscapes and cross Bugis villages
◊ Discovery of the animist beliefs preserved by the Toraja people with perhaps the chance to participate in a funeral ceremony if planned in the region during your stay

Things to do and see in Tana Toraja

1. Rantepao, capital of the Tana Toraja

The big city of the Toraja is Rantepao. This is the city that serves as a starting point for the discovery of the Toraja.

When you visit Rantepao and the Toraja, you quickly realize that the whole life of the islanders is organized around death and funerals.

Rantepao is both the tourist capital of the Toraja country and the base camp to discover the traditional Toraja villages and the incredible landscapes of the region. Indeed, it is an excellent starting point to meet the Toraja people known for their unusual funeral ceremonies and rites.

The city itself is not very big. It is discovered quite quickly through its 3 main arteries. However, in spite of its size, the guetshouses, the restaurants as well as the souvenir shops abound there.

Paddy Fields Rantepao Sulawesi (109318155)
Paddy Fields Rantepao Sulawesi. Ullasa Kodandaramaiah, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Although it is the tourist capital of the Toraja country, there are not many things to do in Rantepao. The main attraction of the city remains its market housing a traditional market and a market for animals. The first takes place every day. You will find a succession of stalls rich in colors offering fresh products such as fruit and vegetables, fish, rice… The market for animals, meanwhile, takes place every Friday. It is renowned for its buffaloes, a sacred animal central to the beliefs of the Toraja people. If any buffalo costs between € 3,000 to 4,000, an albino buffalo, recognizable with its pink skin and blue eyes can be worth up to € 45,000.

From Rantepao, it is easy to discover the surrounding landscapes, made up of mountains and rice terraces. Make a few stops in traditional villages like Palawa where you will discover the atypical houses called Tongkonan.

When to go?

The city of Rantepao enjoys a humid tropical climate with two distinct seasons. A rainy season between November and April, and a dry season, between May to October. The best time to visit this region is between the months of June to October.

How to get there?

Most tourists who wish to travel to Rantepao by bus do so from Makassar in the south, and from Tentena in the north.

Bus to Rantepao from Makassar:

From Makassar, two main companies namely, Litha and Bintang Prima, travel to Rantepao. In addition, their buses are comfortable and allow you to rest during the 8 hours of road necessary to cross the 350 km which separate these two localities. The trip costs around 150,000 Rp/pers.

Bus to Rantepao from Tentena

From the town of Tentena, several bus companies offer trips to Rantepao.

Several bus companies offer trips from different towns north of Rantepao. The cost of the trip is around Rp 170,000 and the trip lasts between 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

2. KeTe Kesu (Tongkonan Village)

KeTe’Kesu is an old Toraja village on the edge of a pond where you can see Tongkonans (the famous Toraja houses) and a sanctuary cave where chiefs would be “deposited”. One can enter the Tongkonans if they are open.

These houses (the Tongkonans in general) have the particularity of not being able to be bought or sold. Only on family inheritance.

This village is indeed famous for its traditional Toraja cemetery where the bodies are placed on cliffs and caves behind this village. There are also several tombs that are considered modern, namely tombs that use buildings such as houses and have photos of family members who have been buried in them.

Keti Kesu, Tana Toraja 1373
KeteKesu, Tana Toraja. Kete Kesu is one of the villages that has been designated by the Indonesian government as a national heritage site and, more practically speaking, as a tourist destination. It is arranged in the traditional way, with granaries to the left and houses to the right. The buildings are of course modern, but the boat shape of their roofs is very old, and is thought to trace back to the seafaring origin of this Austronesian people. Michael Gunther, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

3. Londa cliff

Londa, a small village located not far from the capital of the Toraja country has become an essential stopover thanks to its unusual rites and traditions. Indeed, in this village, the deceased are placed in a cave (about 1 km deep) located on the side of a cliff. At the entrance to this cave, there are also the famous Tau-tau, these small wooden figurines carved in the image of the deceased. If the sight of a few bones doesn’t scare you, visiting Londa Cave will give you a memorable experience during your stay in Indonesia.

History

The presence of the Tau-tau, some of which are several hundred years old, proves that the Londa cave served as a cemetery for the inhabitants of the region since very remote times. A legend also says that in the past, a couple whose relationship was forbidden found themselves in this cave to kill themselves. For some, they jumped off the cliff. For others, they hanged themselves. But no matter how they died, visiting the cave you will find the bones of a man and a woman placed side by side.

Tana Toraja, Londa outside
Rock tombs in Londa. Kondephy, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visit Londa Cave

The village of Londa is located 6 km (3.7 miles) from Rantepao, the capital of the country Toraja, the most visited place in Indonesia after Bali and Java. Like all the villages that make up the Toraja country, Londa has its own funeral rite which has become a real tourist attraction over time. Indeed, the village is famous for its rather special tombs. Located on the side of a steep rock, two natural caves with a length of about 1 km (0.6 mile) serve as a vault for the deceased of the village.

With the company of a guide, you have the opportunity to visit these burial chambers. However, the course is not easy and requires good physical condition. Given the depth of the cave, you should also have a good source of lighting, or failing that, you can always rent oil lamps, better known as Petromax, at the entrance to the site. For the local guides on site, you should know that most of them are family with the deceased. Thus, they will not only be able to lead you through the cave, but also tell the story of this place and explain to you why certain deceased are placed in such a place.

Tau Tau figurines

But before visiting the cave itself, one of the things that will not fail to attract your attention are the many statuettes carved in the image of the deceased located just above the entrance to the cave. Known as Tau-tau, these wooden figurines indicate the presence of a person who belonged to a high social stratum. Of great artistic and cultural value, the Tau-tau, some of which are hundreds of years old, are prone to theft due to their high price.

Inside the cave, hundreds of skulls and thousands of bones are strewn all over the floor, while the coffins are hung high. But despite all this, the air is breathable and there is no unpleasant smell. If the first meters of the cave are easily accessible, the deeper you go inside, the more access becomes more and more difficult. You will even have to crawl to reach the last burial chamber.

Rotsgraven met tau-tau in Tana Toraja, KITLV 177770
Tana Toraja, Lemo, Tau Tau. Steijlen, Fridus., CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How to get to Londa?

The village of Londa is only 6 km (3.7 miles) from the town of Rantepao, in the direction of Makale. 15 minutes is enough to get there by car, and even less if you go there by scooter.

4. Visite funeral sites

There many funeral site, below are the most commons.

And yes, to attend a funeral ceremony in the Toraja Country, you will necessarily have to be accompanied by a local guide. Or at least the first time. Indeed, the guide has the authorization to introduce tourists during the ceremonies. Moreover, by going there with a guide, you will have all the explanations. And a funeral ceremony in the Toraja without explanations is of no interest. Plus, it will be exactly where to go and when.

Tana Toraja, Salu funeral (6823105668)
Tana Toraja, Salu funeral, a new group of people paying respect to the deceased enters the ‘house’ with the tau tau to receive food and drinks. Arian Zwegers, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Lemo

Lemo is the largest troglodyte cemetery in the Toraja Country.
There are only 2 or 3 people left who still know how to dig graves in the traditional way… that is to say, by hand!

GiorcesToraja 030
Lemo, Toraja, South Sulawesi. Giorces, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

From Rantepao to Lemo it takes around 20 minutes by car.

  • Bori Rante

The particular case of Bori Rante. When we visited, the ceremonial ground was in the middle of nature. Today, the only photos found online show a site of megaliths surrounded by tongkonans. It would seem that these tongkonans are houses for funerals, like in Sa’dan.

A site with huge megaliths and troglodyte tombs. At the time, the site hosted animal sacrifices.

Boro Parinding or Bori Rante, is a grave complex of stone burrows and rante or the place of the death ceremony of Rambu Solo which is located in Bori Village, Sesean District, North Toraja.

Leaving the site from the back, passing in front of the recent troglodyte tombs and going up in the direction of the “200 buffalo horns” we come across a Tongkonan with a lot of buffalo horns (is it the 200 buffalo horns?).

Kalimbuang Bori
Rante Kalimbuang or also known as Bori Parinding is an Indonesian cultural heritage site in Bori Village, Sesean, North Toraja. JelajahSuwanto, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Lokomata

Only 5 km (3.1 miles) from Batutumonga, on the road to Pangalla, Lokomata is visited by a few tourists because of its large rock. This circular mastodon, a good 20 meters (65 ft) in diameter, is dug with graves. The village behind is, like many others in the region, denatured by corrugated iron.

  • Tampang Allo (The Chiefs Cemetery)

Open cave containing several “sarcophagi” of what would be former Toraja caste leaders. The burial cave is like a cemetery but of a particularly special kind. The one chosen by our guide is not touristic, it is small but representative of the customs of the Toraja country.

The coffins are wooden, and most of them are very damaged, the bones and skulls have fallen out. These were therefore replaced in a well-ordered manner in different places in the cave. You will also find “tau tau”, small symbolic wooden effigies. It was an opportunity to ask him a thousand questions about this culture so incredible and different from ours. In this cellar, the oldest coffins date back more than 400 years.

5. Do Trekking

  • In the middle of rice fields and mountains in the vicinity of Lemo. Being invited to share a delicious toraja coffee in the middle of the rice fields by the farmers.
  • From Makale: Suaya, Tampangallo, Kambira (babies in the trees).
  • The landscapes around Batutumonga (rice fields in water, funerary sites).
  • Batutumonga, Lempo, Deri, Palawa: landscapes, funerary sites, traditional villages.
    The landscapes around Mamasa, with many villages.

6. Visit Traditional villages

  • Kete Kesu: Tongkonan houses and burial site.
  • Palawa: tongkonan.
  • The villages around Mamasa, with a different Tongkonan architecture: less colorful, lots of geometric patterns and pointillism and no animal painting. And boat-shaped coffins – the Mandar come from the sea.
  • Ballapeu and its surroundings.

7. Visit Statue of Jesus Christ Blessing (Jesus Buntu Burake)

Jesus Christ Blessing is at Makale in Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi. It stands on the top of Buntu Burake hill at about 1 700 meters (5 577 ft) above sea level and offers a great panorama. With a total height of 40 meters (130 ft), it is one of the tallest statue of Jesus Christ in the world.

Patung Yesus Kristus Memberkati
Jesus Christ Blessing Statue (Jesus Buntu Burake / Patung Yesus Kristus Memberkati) ni Makale. Herryz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

8. Tilanga Natural Pool

This picturesque place with clear blue waters is located very close to Lemo or 10 km north of Makale. We weren’t going to go there at all, jump in another truck for Makale, but on the way the man told us about the lake, and we turned back.

From the main road in Tilanga, walk a few miles, but what a beautiful views on the sides.

Other Best South Sulawesi places to visit

Makassar, the main city of Sulawesi

Makassar (also known as Ujungpandang) is a city located in South Sulawesi. This beautiful city that mixes tradition and modernity is the capital of the province of South Sulawesi.

The city of Makassar is very pleasant to visit. There is a long walk to do on the coast. You will also be able to visit Fort Rotterdam and a floating mosque.

The atmosphere of Makassar is very warm and the location of the city is ideal for natural explorations in the region.

From Bali to Makassar

It takes 1h 20 minutes from Bali to Makassar airport.

Here are some ideas of places to visit in Makassar on the island of Sulawesi:

  • Fort Rotterdam
  • Losari Beach
  • Samalona Island
  • Akkarena Beach
  • Dome 99 Mosque

Makassar Montage
From top, left to right: Karebosi Skyline, Trans Studio Makassar. Floating Mosque Makassar, Traditional Macasssr houses Makassar-Gowa road, Statue. File:Makassar CBD Skyline.jpg: HumaidynursaidyFile:TransStudioStreet.JPG: SankoFile:Floating Mosque Sulawesi.jpg: IkhvanFile:Bugis houses Sulawesi.jpg: BanjuniFile:Fisher Statue.jpg: SergeyFile:FortRotterdam3.jpg: SankoFile:Losari Beach.jpg: Closariderivative work: Badpuccini, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lake Tempe and its floating homes

Tempe Lake is a large lake located in the South Sulawesi region. It is a magical place where you can find floating houses inhabited by Indonesians.
The houses move according to the wind and the currents. The inhabitants of this houses are mainly fishermen.

Visit Lake Tempe in a traditional canoe, admire the beauty and serenity of this lake, as well as the daily life of fishermen who live around it with their floating houses. Considered one of the greatest freshwater fish products in the world!. Then continue to visit Palopo with the boat port and fishing village, the road climbs with the magnificent landscape between the mountains, hills and the sea.

Floating houses on Lake Tempe
Floating houses on Lake Tempe. Francesc Genové, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You could try to stay with the locals in one of these floating houses in order to experience an extraordinary adventure! It’s quite easy to visit the floating village by chartering a longboat from the bustling market town of Sengkang. It generally takes about an hour to reach the floating village and you’ll need at least an hour to float among the homes and watch the fishermen pulling traps or casting nets.

Taka Bonerate National Park (Selayar Island)

The Taka Bonerate National Park is located on a collection of small islands in the Flores Sea in southernmost Sulawesi. It extends over 15 islands for a total area of 5 308 square meters (57 134 square feet). According to Wikipedia, it is the 3rd largest atoli in the world.

Keindahan Taman Nasional Takabonerate
Taka Bonerate National Park is a marine park which includes the Takabonerate atoll islands, located in the Flores Sea, south of Sulawesi island of Indonesia.
The area, which consists of the atoll islands and surrounding marine area was granted national park protection status in 1992. In 2015 the Taka Bone Rate National Park has been included in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves. RaiyaniM, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Taka Bonerate National Park is renowned as a scuba diving destination. It is a nature reserve that protects many marine species but also many species of birds. There are some wonderful coral reefs here. So, do you want to go diving in one of the most beautiful marine places in the world?

How to go to Selayar island?

In fact, Selayar is very accessible, only 40 minutes by plane from Makassar, for 25 euros via wings air. To get the tickets, you can use Traveloka (the tickets are not more expensive there, and above all it solves the problems linked to the lion air / wing air site which does not work with all credit cards). The airport is located near the main town of Benteng, a small seaside town (taxi journey IDR 150,000) where you can ask the inhabitants for homestays. You can enjoy fresh fish on the port, sarraba (drink ginger coconut palm sugar, to die for).

The following destinations are served from H. Aroeppala Airport (KSR):

  • Airlines Destinations
  • Aviastar Mandiri: from Bone, Kendari, Labuan Bajo, Ruteng
  • Citilink: from Makassar
  • Susi Air: from Bima, Bone, Kendari
  • Wings Air: from Makassar

Or you can drive from Makassar Taka Bonerate National Park (Selayar island) by driving and then ferry
it takes around 5 hours 30 minutes.

Surroundings

In the surroundings, you can negotiate with a boatman to take you to the beach of Liang Kareta (count in IDR 300 000 for about half a day, you can also ask to take you snorkeling in the surroundings, in particular the site of ujung lola, in the northwest of the island opposite Benteng, pulau pasi, but people call it by the name of the villages, especially that of Gusung, go for a walk there too, there are mangroves). You can rent fins for IDR 20,000 a day from shops in Benteng.

In the vicinity of Beteng (15 minutes by scooter) there is also the village of Bitombang, known for its houses over 100 years old, built on huge stilts (7 to 12m), and the many centenarians who populate the city.

Bantimurung-Bulusaraung National Park

Bantimurung-Bulusaraung National Park is located in South Sulawesi, north of Makassar.

This is a huge park with an area of more than 43,000 square meters (462 848 square feet). The park is composed of 3 distinct types of ecosystems: a karst region, lowland forests and low mountain forests.
It is a region where rare species of butterflies, birds and insects are found. There is also the butterfly museum.

Bantimurung-Bulusauraung National Park
Bantimurung-Bulusauraung National Park, South Sulawesi – Indonesia. 22Kartika, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you visit the Bantimurung-Bulusaraung National Park, you should take a trip to the famous Bantimurung waterfall. It is a magnificent waterfall 15 meters (49 feet) high.

Bantimurung National Park waterfall
Waterfall at Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park. Benjuni, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are also many caves in the park and beautiful hikes to do in this beautiful park to visit in Sulawesi!

Mount Karst and lakes in Bantimurung - Bulusaraung National Park
Bantimurung-Bulusaraung National Park is a national park in South Sulawesi in Indonesia. The park contains the Rammang-Rammang karst area, the second-largest karst area known in the world after the one in South-Eastern China. The park is in Maros Regency, 50 kilometers (31 miles) to the north of Makassar (one hour drive) or just 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) from Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport (30 minutes drive). Most of the Karst formations are tall and steep at almost a 90-degree angle line along both sides of the road from Maros city to Bantimurung continuing on up to the Pangkajene and Islands Regency (Indonesian: Pangkajene dan Kepulauan, commonly abbreviated as Pangkep). Aalmarusy, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sources: PinterPandai, CleverlySmart, Lonely PlanetDiscover Your IndonesiaWonderful Indonesia, UNESCO

Photo credit (main picture): Rudyasho (CC BY 4.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Photo description: funeral ritual Rambu Solo in Tana Toraja.

The Off the Beaten Track Adventure From Bali to Komodo Island

This itinerary from Bali to Komodo island is made of unforgettable adventures and discoveries: ideal for holidays with family or friends!

Between its pink sand beaches, its hikes on green hills and volcanoes, and its incredible diving spots, Komodo National Park is a real treasure for travelers in search of magnificent landscapes and unforgettable adventures. Not to mention the famous Komodo dragons, to see absolutely once in your life! Komodo National Park includes the three large islands of Komodo, Rinca and Radar as well as many other small islets that are full of breathtaking landscapes, stunning seabed and animals that you will not see anywhere else. Follow this guide to organize a successful stay in Komodo!

In 1991, the park was included in the list of World Heritage and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO since 1977.

See Komodo, the world’s largest lizard, in their natural habitat with this tour from Bali. You’ll fly to Flores Island and cruise to Rinca Island, part of Komodo National Park, where you’ll have the chance to see the gargantuan creatures up close. This package includes two nights of accommodation, breakfast and lunch over two days, and the services of a local guide.

How to go from Bali to Komodo Island?

1. Go Labuan Bajo? (starting point for cruises to visit the Komodo Islands)

Labuan Bajo is the starting point for cruises to visit the Komodo Islands. There are two ways to get there: by plane, it’s fast, comfortable. Or by boat, but it is longer and the crossing can be dangerous.

By airplane

A) From Bali to Komodo Island by plane, then ferry

Duration: 1 hour 20 minutes. Cost: fares start at IDR 469,000 (US$31.50)
From Bali Airport (DPS) to Labuan Bajo (LBJ) Airport, it takes 1h 10mn.
From Labuan Bajo ferry terminal to Komodo National Park it takes (2h 30min by ferry once a day).

What airline companies run services from Bali and Komodo Island?
  • Wings Air
  • NAM Air
  • Batik Air
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Citilink Indonesia
  • Air Asia

If you are boarding an international flight, the island is accessible via Jakarta on the island of Java, or via Denpasar in Bali (DPS airport). From these 2 cities, you can then take a domestic flight to Labuan Bajo in Flores, this is the airport and the departure city for tours to visit the Komodo Islands. A flight from Jakarta to Labuan Bajo will take about 2.5 hours while a flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo only takes an hour.

B) Flights from Lombok to Labuan Bajo

Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cost: fares start at IDR 703,000 (US$47.50)
For some years there has also been a daily flight from Lombok to Labuan Bajo, operated by Lion Air/Wings Air.

C) Flights from Jakarta to Labuan Bajo

Duration: 2 hours 15 minutes
Cost: fares start at IDR 1,200,000 ($81)
Direct flights from Jakarta to Labuan Bajo are operated by Lion Air and Citilink. The duration of the trip is around 2h15 and fares start from IDR 1,200,000 ($81).

D) Flights from Surabaya to Labuan Bajo

Duration: 1h30.
Cost: fares start at IDR 630,000 ($42.50).
The flight between Surabaya and Labuan Bajo only takes 1.5 hours. Batik Air operates a daily direct flight that departs at 11:10 am from Juanda de Surabaya airport.

By boat

Less comfortable, long but more economical option: you can also get to Labuan Bajo by boat from Bali or Lombok and then by bus. But this alternative is not recommended because of the very fluctuating schedules, the length of the journey (36 hours minimum) and above all the discomfort and insecurity of the ferry.

Another alternative if you have more time is to take a multi-day boat trip from Lombok, an island just east of Bali. But this cruise is long with uncomfortable boats. On this route the sea can be rough and accidents have been reported in the past.

2. How to get around in Flores?

You can choose to take a day trip which will allow you to visit the islands of Rinca and Padar in 1 day with a departure in the morning and a return in the late afternoon.

If you want to visit more, as well as other more remote islands then you will need to take a 2 to 4 day cruise depending on what you want to visit. You will therefore live aboard a boat for several days and sail from island to island, alternating visits to islands, beaches, snorkeling spots, hiking…

Komodo dragon at Komodo National Park
Komodo dragon at Komodo National Park. Adhi Rachdian from Indonesia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Is it dangerous to visit Komodo?

As for Komodo… that’s another story! There have been accidents before and they are potentially dangerous wild animals. Indeed, their saliva contains many bacterias and their bite can be fatal. In addition, they measure up to three meters long, weigh 150kg (330 lbs) and can run at more than 20 km/h (around 12 mp/h). Generally it does not make you want to rub it too much.

However, if you listen carefully to the instructions and don’t mess around, you should be fine. Listen to the rangers, stay in a group and in Indian thread, don’t make noise or sudden movements, stay away from the Komodo (5 meters or 16 feet seems appropriate) and everything will be fine. If you are bleeding or having your period, it seems that you should report it, because blood attracts Komodo dragons.

Activities and excursions in Komodo Island

Komodo National Park is largely a scuba diving destination without too much tourist infrastructure. The attraction is rather the incredible nature, so it is possible to do other activities during your stay, or for non-divers, such as:

  • Go hiking in the hills of the islands and around the Kelimutu volcano
  • Go visit the famous Komodo
  • Explore Flores Island sites (e.g. Python Cave)
  • Snorkeling on a day trip

There are several travel agencies in Labuan Bajo that can arrange all of these excursions.

1. See the Komodo dragons at Komodo island

The Komodo dragons are undoubtedly the main attraction of the island. Disturbing and fascinating at the same time, going to meet these mythical animals will make you live unforgettable moments. Other animals also invest these places, such as buffaloes, wild horses and deer.

Komodo Island is part of Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in the Lesser Sunda island chain, Indonesia. It is famous for being home to the legendary Komodo dragon, the largest species of lizard on the planet.

It’s the only place in the world where you can see them in the wild, but Komodo has plenty more to offer. Komodo Island has amazing and varied landscapes – from white sand beaches to pink beaches, from tropical forests to grassy savannah hills.

It is also one of the best scuba diving destinations in Indonesia, with dozens of pristine reefs filled with colorful marine life. Along with over 1,000 species of fish, the waters around Komodo Island teem with whales, sea turtles, reef sharks and manta rays.

Sunrise on Komodo
Sunrise on Komodo Island, Indonesia. Jon Chia, source: FlickrSunrise on Komodo CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The many islands of Komodo National Park are scenic and varied and the magnificent dragons are found on four different islands: Komodo, Rinca, Gili Montong and Gili Dasami. In fact, Rinca Island is the best option for seeing dragons in the wild, as it is home to more Komodo dragons and is also closer to Labuan Bajo town, so easily accessible on an excursion. of a day with half a day of snorkeling on the reefs.

Planning to go to Komodo Island? It is quite easy to get there wherever you are in Indonesia. The first option is to fly to Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores and then take an organized boat tour to Komodo.

The second option is for more adventurous travellers: Take a 3-day, 2-night boat tour from the Gili Islands or Lombok to Flores with several stops (including Komodo) along the way. For many travelers, this is one of the best experiences of the whole trip to Indonesia!

Scuba dive to admire the underwater flora and fauna

Here is the list of the best dive sites on the island:

Manta Alley: this is the best place to observe the famous manta rays. This relatively shallow site, between 10 to 20 meters, allows you to maximize the time spent underwater and make the most of the aquatic spectacle.

  • Batu Balong: its coral gardens are teeming with fish. Strong currents and steep drop-offs attract big fish like Napoleon wrasse and sharks at greater depths. Photographers will be able to capture unforgettable photos.
  • Golden Passage: This is a popular drift dive site close to Gili Lawa Darat. You can see corals, reef sharks, and sometimes even dolphins and manta rays.
  • Manta Point: this site offers the chance to dive with manta rays that come to feed in the current. This drift dive with strong current allows you to see white tip reef sharks, nasons and small squills.
2. Go to Padar island

Padar Island is one of several islands scattered in the Komodo National Park area, this island has a shape with several bays, white and reddish beaches and several beautiful hilltops.

Padar Island is covered with savannah hills. Steep volcanic mountains covered with bushes and meadows lead to deep bays with beaches of different colors, popular with divers. Its three main turquoise bays have stunning beaches: one is white, another is charcoal black, and the other is soft pink. The black beach has a volcanic origin, while the pink consists of red coral mixed with white sand.

The best time is April-June and also the dry season; September-November. July and August are very crowded and December to March is too rainy. Padar is about 30 km (20 ml) from Labuan Bajo, a fishing town on the westernmost part of Flores. Take a 30 minute hike to the top of Padar to see the whole island.

Pulau Padar 1
Padar Island is the third largest island in the Komodo National Park area, after Komodo Island and Rinca Island. YUS JULIADI, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

3. Visit Rinca island

If you are eager to meet the famous Komodo dragons during a hike, then do not hesitate to discover the island of Rinca. Indeed, this island is the closest to Labuan Bajo (on the western coast of the island of Flores), the starting point for excursions to Komodo National Park. Unlike Komodo Island, Rinca Island is smaller with an area of approximately 196.25 km². The chance of seeing giant monitor lizards in their natural environment is then greatly increased.

It is worth remembering that komodos are wild animals and that they can present a certain danger if their tranquility is not respected. It is mandatory to keep your distance from the animal and to follow all the recommendations of your guide and the local ranger who will accompany you on the excursion.

Rinca Island is the closest to Labuan Bajo and surprisingly the least visited. A 2-night boat cruise in the Komodos archipelago not only allows you to meet the dragons, but also to discover the richness of the underwater fauna and flora of the Komodos archipelago.

Panorama of Rinca Island
Rinca Island located in the Komodo National Park, East Nusa Tenggara. Pambudiyoga, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

4. Stop at Kawa island

Kanawa Island is also known as the gateway to Komodo Island because all ships heading to Komodo Island will definitely pass through this island.

The island which has an area of ​​about 32 hectares (80 acres) is approximately 15 km (9 miles) from Labuan Bajo (the capital of West Manggarai).

You can spend a day relaxing on the hammock, camping, playing beach volleyball, getting a massage on the beach, trekking to the hills, snorkeling, diving, or enjoying the view of the sky at night.

Kanawa Island from Above
Kanawa Island from above (in the Komodo National Park). SunDawn, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

5. Visit Pink beach (Pantai Merah Muda)

Is Pink Beach really pink?

Let’s be clear: if you’re expecting a flashy pink beach, you’re going to be disappointed. On the other hand, yes the sand of this page has a rather pink color, due to the presence of large fields of multicolored corals which are located offshore.

Apart from the giant lizards that give the park its name, Komodo National Park is also well known for its beautiful, undeveloped beaches. One of the most unique is Pink Beach (Pantai Merah), named for the pink sand that gets its color from weathered chunks of red coral from the nearby reef.

Clear, calm waters make the beach an excellent site for snorkeling, especially since the coral reefs just below the surface are home to hundreds of species of marine plants and animals. Located about 15 minutes by boat from Loh Liang pier, Pink Beach is a great place to relax in the sun or cool off in the water after a day of trekking in the national park.

Extraordinary
Pink beach Komodo Island. Christopher L Edison, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are 2 pink beaches:

The pink beach on Padar definitely has more colorful sand, but the Komodo pink beach has a nicer background for photos, with lots of steep hills and trees.

Facts

Komodo National Park is located in Indonesia, in the Lesser Sunda Islands, bordering the provinces of the West Lesser Sunda Islands and the (East Lesser Sunda Islands).

The national park includes the three large islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as many other smaller ones. The total area of the park is 1,817 km² (701 miles²) with a land area of 603 km² (375 miles²).

The park also has many lesser islands (island group); Such as Gili Motang Island and Nusa Kode Island.

The national park was established in 1980, with the aim of protecting the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) and cetaceans. The objective was later extended to protection of the flora and fauna of the region, including in the maritime areas.

The islands of the national park are of volcanic origin and 4,000 people live there. In 1991, the park was included in the list of World Heritage and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO since 1977.

Health and security

If you plan to go on a trip to Komodo Island, I advise you to invest in a good travel insurance that also covers scuba diving. You never know what can happen and good insurance can get you out of tough situations. I recommend this travel insurance because they offer worldwide coverage and cover many risky sports like scuba diving.

KOMODO DRAGONS & PINK BEACHES – KOMODO ISLAND BOAT TOUR

SAILING AT KOMODO ISLAND

Sources: CleverlySmart, PinterPandai, UNESCO, Wonderful Indonesia, Divezone

Main photo credit: Irdan nofriza nasution (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Main photo description: Padar, also known as Pada, is a small island located between Komodo and Rinca islands within Komodo archipelago, administrated under the West Manggarai Regency, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. It is the third largest island part of Komodo National Park.

One of the natural charms of Indonesia in the province of East Nusa Tenggara is Padar Island, an exotic island with its natural marine beauty that offers a million natural charms.


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From Bali to Darwin | Complete Guide to Visit Darwin and Surroundings

Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory region of Australia, of which it is also the most populous city. From Bali to Darwin is only 2 hours 30 minutes by airplane. Located on the Timor Sea, in the very north of the island, a regional economic center with its 150,000 inhabitants, it was first a colonial outpost before becoming, over the course of its history, one of the most modern cities. , thriving and cosmopolitan Australian continent. The place is not lacking in character: Darwin is famous for being the city with the most lightning storms worldwide, but also… the city with the most accidents involving saltwater crocodiles, monstrous reptiles that can reach seven meters in length and weigh almost a ton!

From Sydney to Darwin takes 4h 30mn by plane; airlines: Virgin Australia, Jet Star and Qantas.

A university city, young and urban, it is among the Australian capitals the one with the highest proportion of Aborigines: they had moreover set up trade routes between Southeast Asia and South Australia, long before the arrival of the first European settlers.

Wondering what to do in Darwin during your stay? Here is the answer with our essentials to visit Darwin and enjoy your visit without missing a beat!

From Bali to Darwin direct flights

Ngurah Rai (DPS) to Darwin (DRW) flights

The flight time between Ngurah Rai (DPS) and Darwin (DRW) it takes around 2h 30m and covers a distance of around 1764 km (1096 miles). Services are operated by Jetstar. Typically six flights run weekly, although weekend and holiday schedules can vary so check in advance.

Read also: International Direct Flights to Bali

1. Darwin Waterfront

This is the place that can satisfy all those looking for relaxation: large lawns for sunbathing, palm trees and a lagoon pool with waves… If you are lucky, you can even attend a session of open-air cinema or take part in a Tai Chi class in the morning!

One of the most pleasant waterfront areas in Australia is located in the heart of Darwin, 5 minutes walk from the city center. Take a wave in the very popular hot tub, swim in the saltwater lagoon, relax in one of the colorful cafes, taste a craft beer in the tavern, enjoy a good meal in one of the many restaurants or sit in the shade in the lush green grounds. Then visit the attractions of nearby Stokes Hill Wharf, with fabulous views across Darwin Bay.

Darwin Waterfront Precinct 01
Darwin Waterfront Precinct. Alex Healing, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

2. Smith street and its Aboriginal art shops

Located in the heart of the city centre, Smith Street is a charming and lively shopping street: it is Darwin’s authentic artery! Its tourist attraction is linked to the massive presence of traditional stalls presenting handicrafts created by the aborigines, who are very numerous in the city. Why not visit it when you come to visit Darwin?

Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, Darwin, 2021, 02
Darwin (AU), Parliament House (Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory), Near Smith streetand Darwin Waterfront Precinct. Address: 15 Mitchell St, Darwin City NT 0800, Australia. Kgbo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The communities come to sell souvenirs and picturesque accessories, sometimes made of surprising materials – kangaroo hair, or crocodile skin! Many small gastronomic establishments serve a varied and delicious food and the place will certainly delight young and old.

Smith Street Mall
Smith Street Mall. Bidgee, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

3. Crocosaurus Cove

What to do in Darwin when you like to shiver? The Crocosaurus Cove is an animal park dedicated to reptiles, stars of the area. Interactive, it offers many workshops that will appeal to the little ones, and presents the different characteristics of crocodiles, lizards, turtles, the last descendants of dinosaurs! Guided tours can be enjoyed in several languages ​​and, for the more adventurous, a one-of-a-kind attraction is offered: immersion in a cage in a pool with… a sea crocodile, a gigantic and frightening mastodon!

And if you are particularly fond of crocodiles, why not take the “crocodile jumping” cruise on the Adelaide River, another must-see in Darwin? You can observe wild crocodiles in their natural habitat and see them jump out of the water to catch meat hanging from a fishing rod!

Young saltwater crocodiles at Crocosaurus Cove, Darwin, Australia, 02
Young saltwater crocodiles at Crocosaurus Cove, Darwin. Mutante, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

4. The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) is a cultural space not to be missed for anyone who wants to visit Darwin; located in the inner suburbs of the city, at Fannie Bay, it is one of the largest museums on the Australian continent, and an essential tourist stop.

It presents the specificity of aboriginal culture, the rites and customs of this very special people, but also their fascinating ability to live in harmony with nature. Along the paths, discover the boats that allowed the first settlers to land on the island, then the animal species specific to the country, and in particular the famous crocodile Sweetheart, which had the particularity of attacking boats which had the misfortune to cross his path! MAGNT website: https://www.magnt.net.au

MAGNT Sweetheart
Sweetheart the crocodile at Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT), Darwin, Australia. Jpatokal, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

5. George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens

A favorite that is really worth it for anyone who wants to visit Darwin: the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens is an unmissable stop, a well-deserved break within a 42-hectare nature reserve highlighting the local tropical flora, countless varieties of flowers as well as one of the most beautiful orchid greenhouses in the world.

In addition, the visit is very pleasant because the heat is absorbed by the lush vegetation, and this space promises to be a must for those who are still looking for what to do in Darwin. Oh, and don’t forget to try one of the delicious tropical fruit muffins sold in the shaded aisles!

Fountain in the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens
Fountain in the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens. Stephen Michael Barnett, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

6. Darwin Military Museum

Did you know? During World War II, the city of Darwin was bombed 64 times in the space of two years! Inevitably, the conflict marked the collective memory of the inhabitants hard and the Darwin Military Museum, created by the association of Australian gunners, now serves as a place of remembrance.

It is very popular with students and college classes in the country, as well as with passing visitors who come to discover period photographs, as well as multiple objects, each with their own history. Ready to take the leap into history? Come and visit Darwin through this memorial!

Darwin Military Museum
Entrance to the Darwin Military Museum. MorePix, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

7. Leanyer Recreation Park

Coming to Darwin with your family, with your children? Or, if you haven’t lost your child’s soul, go to the Leanyer Recreation park and its gigantic slides to cool off during the hot days of the southern summer. For young and old, the place is a bubble of freshness in this northern territory known for the harshness of its summer temperatures.

If you don’t know what to do in Darwin, know that it is very busy during the weekend, where locals come to have fun. So prefer to go there during the week to avoid the queue and the wait specific to the most popular amusement parks.

leanyer slides recreation park
Leanyer Recreation Park. Photo credit: Northern Territory Government of Australia

8. Do as the locals do – Go to the market!

What to do in Darwin when you like… to do nothing? It’s very simple: go through Mindil Beach during your stay! This beach, located near the city’s business district, is a popular place for locals who come to relax with their families and do their shopping.

You should know that Mindil Beach is home to a small picturesque market, open during the dry season (April to October), which has the particularity of being open until sunset… which you can admire, once your purchases have been made. , sitting on the beach. The place is popular with lovers and all romantics who come to visit Darwin.

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Mindil beach market, Darwin. Tourism NT (Image gallery Tourism NT), Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons

Find locally made treasures and tantalize your taste buds at Darwin’s famous open-air ‘markets’. At the Mindil Beach Sunset Market (Thursdays and Sundays, April to October), sit down at the beach with a snack from one of the market’s 60 stalls, to watch a fiery sunset dip into the ocean. Every weekend, the suburbs of Nightcliff, Parap, Rapid Creek, Palmerston, Coolalinga and Malan transform into open-air markets where residents buy their fruits and vegetables, and feast on laksa (spicy noodle soups) and fresh fruit juices.

9. East Point Reserve

Locals love this place. Located next to the Military Museum, you can access it by bike to stroll through the 200 hectares (494 acres) of trails!

East Point played an important role in protecting Australia during World War II. Visit the Darwin Military Museum to see images of Darwin’s World War II bombings, its photographic and informational exhibits, and explore the turret enclosure. The East Point Reserve is home to abundant wildlife, so take a walk in search of wallabies, bandicoots, brushtail possums and many species of reptiles, butterflies and birds. the 30 minute loop from the parking lot near the lake through the monsoon vine forest in the mangroves. Follow the walk in the tidal region – look for many species of fish, crustaceans and molluscs.

East Point Reserve has several popular beaches, including Darwin’s most popular family beach at Fannie Bay. Lake Alexander draws its seawater from the bay, for safe, sting-free swimming year-round.

East Point Reserve, Darwin, Australia (314880633)
East Point Reserve, Darwin, Australia. yeowatzup, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

10. Bicentennial Park

Bicentennial Park perched on the cliffs of Darwin Harbor along the Esplanade, Bicentennial Park is a good place to catch a sea breeze or spend an afternoon following the WWII walking trail picnicking or relaxing. relax in the open grasslands.

Stretching along Darwin’s waterfront overlooking Darwin Harbor and shaded by tropical trees, the park is a great place to stroll.

Be sure to visit the Cenotaph, Darwin’s first war memorial commemorating Australians who lost their lives in World War I, as well as Aboriginal men and women whose skills in the bush helped the army during the war. World War II to protect the remote north coast. See Darwin’s tribute to the 200 Remarkable Territories – hand-painted tiles on panels dotted along the Esplanade commemorate some of the Territory’s ‘quiet achievements’, including pioneers, publicans and pastors.

To get away from the activity of the city. Very pleasant park where you can rest while contemplating the seafront. World War II memorial at the end of the park near the Parliament.

The park stretches from the Parliament of the Northern Territory to Doctor’s Gully. It is the site of large gatherings such as memorial services and Greek Glentis, but is also perfect for a game of footy, whatever the code. There is a network of shared trails that provide access to areas such as Lameroo Beach and the northwest end, where Doctor’s Gully fish feed.

Bicentennial Park, Darwin, Australia (314891617)
Bicentennial Park. yeowatzup, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Darwin and Surroundings

Sail across the bay from Darwin to the Tiwi Islands, glide through the swamps in an air boat to encounter local wildlife, or cool off under a waterfall in Litchfield National Park; you’ll be spoiled for choice in and around Darwin, and you’ll love discovering the many facets of this very special region.

The prosperous and welcoming capital of the Northern Territory, Darwin attracts travelers from all over the world, who come to enjoy its tropical and relaxed lifestyle.

With its waterfront restaurants, crocodile-spotting tours, moving heritage and easy access to the charming Tiwi Islands, there’s plenty to do in Darwin for a weekend or for an extended stay.

Litchfield National Park

Litchfield National Park is just an hour and a half from Darwin by car and is a local favorite all year round. You can easily enjoy it for a day, but with all these swimming spots and beautiful waterfalls, it is definitely worth spending the night nearby. It is a sensational natural water theme park where you can enjoy waterfalls, rock pools and hiking trails, and all less than an hour and a half from Darwin!

Located 130 km south of Darwin, you can visit it in one day. If you want to stay longer, several campsites have been set up there and the nights under the stars will be very pleasant.

00 2444 Australien Litchfield-Nationalpark
Termite buildings in the Litchfield National Park, in Northern Territory Australia. Termites are derived from the Termitidae species. The hills reach heights of up to 7 meters. W. Bulach, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Litchfield National Park is totally free. You will find waterfalls, natural pools where you can swim safely (respect the warning signs), hiking. It is also an opportunity to meet kangaroos, snakes, spiders, bats, crocodiles in their wild state. The main points of interest are: Magnetic Termite Mound, Florence, Wangi and Tolmer Falls.

Litchfield National Park - Wangi Falls
Wangi Falls view from boardwalk in the evening. Litchfield National Park, NT Australia. Possibly Litchfield’s most popular attraction, Wangi Falls is easily accessible and open all year round. However, swimming is not always possible due to water levels from heavy rain. Ovico, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Berry Springs Nature Park – A real little nature paradise just 40 minutes from Darwin!

These are natural hot springs located 60km from Darwin (free). There are three pools. It’s very family-friendly. It has toilets, barbecues and free showers. Ideal for spending a day there and having a picnic with friends.

Family fun at Berry Springs Nature Reserve
Mid-afternoon at one of the natural pools at Berry Springs, about 60km from Darwin. A family-friendly place in a natural setting. Jessica.Oreilly, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Experience Aboriginal culture on the Tiwi Islands

Take a day trip to the picturesque Tiwi Islands, 30 minutes by plane or 2.5 hours by ferry north of Darwin, to share the strong bond of the Tiwi Aboriginal people with their rich culture. Meet local artists at the arts centers on the islands and experience a traditional “smoking ceremony”. If you can, go in March to attend the annual football grand finale and art sale, a very popular and very special event.

Tiwi Islands car ferry
Tiwi Islands Car Ferry, 2011, seen from Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island across Apsley Strait to Melville Island. Satrina Brandt, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ngaruwanajirri Aborigin Art Center, on Bathurst Island (opposite Tiwi Island)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural aspirations and expressions, Ngaruwanajirri Incorporated is an arts centre at Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island. Ngaruwanajirri, which means ‘helping one another’ in Tiwi, was established in 1994.

It was originally set up for disabled Tiwi residents but now includes all artists, with the original artists working with traditional wood carvers. Art created includes natural ochre paintings on paper and canvas, batik on silk, lino prints on paper and fabric and ironwood carvings. Many paintings and carvings from Ngaruwanajirri, including tutini poles for Pukumani ceremonies, have been exhibited in Darwin, interstate and overseas. Works reside in private collections and art galleries both nationally and internationally.

Location
The Keeping House, Wurrumiyanga, Bathurst Island

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday 8 am to 12 pm, or by appointment.

Contact
Phone: 08 8978 3724 or 0437 783 724
Email: ngaruwanajirri.inc@bigpond.com
Website: https://tiwilandcouncil.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=page&p=278

Tiwi Island art gallery ceilingCeiling of a Tiwi Island art gallery and studio. Satrina Brandt, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kakadu National Park

Located 250 km from Darwin (ony 1h 40 mn drive), Kakadu National Park is Australia’s largest national park. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Admission is $40 per person.

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The largest waterfall in the park, Jim Jim Falls. Tourism NT (Image gallery Tourism NT), Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons

This park is endowed with an incredible richness both by the beauty of its flora, fauna and the aboriginal art that can be admired there. To access the entire park you need a 4×4 since some roads are not accessible to vans or cars.

Main points of interest: Twins Falls, Jim Jim Falls, Nourlangie Rock, Ubirr.

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Nourlangie Rock. Tourism NT (Image gallery Tourism NT), Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons

The park has been listed as a World Heritage Site since 1981. The site has been continuously inhabited for more than 40,000 years and contains remains of hunters and fishermen from the Neolithic period to the present-day Aborigines. It presents a history of techniques and behavior illustrated by paintings. Moreover, it concentrates on itself all of the Australian landscapes (with the exception of the arid zones which cover 80% of the territory).

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Kakadu Escarpment. Tourism NT (Image gallery Tourism NT), Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons

How to get to Darwin?

Darwin has an international airport which is located in the suburbs of Marrara 13 kilometers north of the center of Darwin. The air network remains the best solution to get to this remote place, and our partner Skyscanner will allow you to find a flight at preferential rates. From Charles de Gaulle airport, your trip will be punctuated by at least one stopover (very often in Singapore) and should take you at least 19 hours!

In addition, the modern and efficient infrastructures (several railway lines ensuring the south/north link with the rest of the Australian territory, a tram, as well as a road network of excellent quality but not very dense) make it possible to vary the means to get to the city, and, once there, to visit Darwin easily. For more autonomy in your stay, you can also rent a car at Darwin airport.

Where to stay in Darwin?

Darwin is a good-sized city that offers several types of accommodation, each with their own advantages, to choose from according to your profile as a traveler who has come to visit Darwin. For a typical and family accommodation, choose without hesitation the many guest houses, in the center and outside the city, run by authentic and warm Australians.

Members of the junior clientele will appreciate the many youth hostels, very widespread in Australia (the destination being popular with young backpackers, or seasonal workers), while those with a comfortable budget will opt for a room in the neighborhood from the city center and its typically Australian wide alleys: you can also find the hotel of your dreams in Darwin by carrying out a search on this hotel comparator. And if you prefer a flexible and affordable solution, opt for an Airbnb accommodation, in order to benefit from a pied-à-terre (a small living unit) that suits you and makes you feel at home. Finally, our article on the best areas to stay in Darwin should also help you!

Now you know how to best enjoy when you come to visit Darwin, and the charms of this special region during your stay. But will you be able to choose what to do in Darwin and… will you prefer to go there in winter, or in summer?

Read also: From Bali To Raja Ampat (4 Kings) | Complete Guide to Visit West Papua


Sources: CleverlySmart, Tourism NT, Tourism Australia, Sightseeing Tours Australia

Photo credit (main picture): yeowatzup, source: Bicentennial Park, Darwin, Australia via Wikimedia Commons

NB: Prices and opening hours of attractions are subject to change without prior notice.

Photo description: Bicentennial Park, Darwin, Australia.

From Bali to Manado | Complete Guide to Visit Bunaken, North Sulawesi

Manado is the ideal starting point to discover North Sulawesi. In addition to diving or snorkeling in Bunaken National Park, Manado offers beautiful excursions around the Minahasa culture: Ascent of the Mahawu volcano and its acid lake, discovery of the Tandano caldera lake, visit of a fish farm and visit of the Waruga animist tombs. From Manado, a day of hiking can be organized in Tangkoko Park, to meet endemic species such as couscous or tarsier, the smallest monkey in the world. There is no direct flight from Bali to Manado at the moment. But you can fly directly from Singapore to Manado!

In 1658, the Dutch East India Company built the Fort Amsterdam fortress in Manado.
Members of a religious mission in the Netherlands build the first Christian church which they call Oude Kerk (“Old Church”).
In 1859, the English biologist Alfred Wallace arrived in Manado.
During World War II, from 1939 to 1945, the city suffered severe bomb attacks.

From Bali to Manado by airplane

  • Bali to Manado via Ujung Pandang (UPG Makassar)
  • Bali to Manado via Jakarta (CGK)

Airlines from Bali to Manado

  • Lion Air
  • Batik Air
  • Citilink
  • Garuda

How to go to Bunaken from Manado?

To reach Bunaken Island, it’s very simple. Just take a boat from the port of Manado. The port is located just behind the Manado market. The most complicated thing is knowing which boat to take. In fact, there are two types of boat:

  • Tourist boat / speed boat: price of the boat (1,000,000IDR) to be divided by the number of people.
  • Local boat: crossing costs IDR 50,000 per person and takes 45 minutes.

The local boat to joined Bunaken from Manado, called the Bahtera boat; departs daily at 2 p.m.

Finally, for the return to Manado, the public boat leaves from Bunaken every day EXCEPT Sunday at 9 am.

Most hotels in Bunaken pick you up for free when you arrive in Bunaken (if you let them know beforehand). The resorts are not located right next to the port, otherwise you will have to go there on foot (at least 15 minutes walk) or by motorbike taxi (IDR 15 000 per person).

Read also: From Bali To Raja Ampat (4 Kings) | Complete Guide to Visit West Papua

1. Visit the city of Manado, capital of the North (point of arrival)

Manado is the capital of North Sulawesi, it will be especially your point of arrival before discovering the surroundings.

Manado is very well connected to major cities in Indonesia and even in Asia.
But from Europe, the most logical thing is to land in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia. Why?

  • Jakarta will be your gateway to Indonesia and you are sure to be visa-free when arriving there.
  • The Jakarta-Manado flight is direct – about 3 hours.

Manado Skyline SSW waterfront 2
View of Manado’s waterfront facing south-southwest. Juxlos, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The city’s temples are superb

The Ban Hian Kong is a small 19th century Buddhist temple, the oldest in the region, the Kuan Yin temple, the great mosque and the many churches are also worth visiting.

Ban Hin Kiong
Ban Hin Kiong Temple, Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Sakurai Midori, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Escape to Lembeh Island

In less than an hour by boat from the coast, the island of Lembeh will be a total change of scenery!

The island is separated from Celebes by the Lembeh Strait and is a popular scuba diving site due to its high biodiversity.

Lembeh Island view from Port of Bitung
Lembeh Island view from Port of Bitung. Sakurai Midori, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stroll through the atypical local market of Tomohon

The Tomohon market is truly an experience to do when visiting Sulawesi. Fruit, vegetables, exotic flowers but also grilled animals of all kinds!

The markets of the city will allow you to discover a little more the life of the inhabitants. Discover the seaside fish market “Pasar 45” and the citrus market.

The city of Manado offers the Bemo as a mode of transport

The Bemo: it’s a van with 2 benches, a sort of hybrid between a taxi and a bus. It is a means of transport that is both practical and economical. Normally with 10 seats, it can accommodate 16 people with their luggage.

2. Bunaken

This small, car-free island, surrounded by incredible marine life, is breathtaking! Renowned worldwide for its seabed, Bunaken is one of the best spots in Indonesia but also in the world for scuba diving. Bunaken has one of the most important marine biodiversity. Located 18 km (11 miles) from the coast of Manado, Bunaken Island is a little gem with only 3000 inhabitants.

Bunaken is considered one of the best scuba diving destinations in amazing Indonesia. People from all over the world come here just to dive. Divers will be delighted by the huge drop-offs covered with magnificent corals and by the crystal clear waters! The seabed around Bunaken Island is also incredibly deep, down to 1600m or 5249ft. This destination really has something special!

Here you can find large pelagic fish as well as small creatures that make this dive destination great for underwater photography.

Bunaken Island belongs to the Bunaken Marine National Park established in 1991. It encompasses several other islands like Manado, Tua, Siladen, Montehagen, Nain and Nain Kecil. Due to the creation of the marine reserve, the waters around Bunaken are healthy and offer fantastic biodiversity and some of the most beautiful corals in the world.

Bunaken Marine Park (8)
Bunaken National Marine Park, Manado, Indonesia. Sakurai Midori, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This destination also offers great snorkeling options for non-divers.

Activities to do and excursions in Bunaken, Manado

Bunaken Marine National Park is primarily a diving destination. However, there is the possibility of doing lots of other things during your stay or if you are not diving:

  • Snorkeling above the coral gardens, which are fantastic right in front of most hotels.
  • Hike the trails around the island or climb the volcano of Manado Tua.
  • Fish with local fishermen, but outside the marine reserve 😉
  • Go on a whale or dolphin watching excursion
  • All these excursions can easily be organized for you by your diving club.

Bunaken ManadoTua2
Manado Tua is a volcanic island in the Celebes Sea off the northeast coast of Sulawesi. The island is located on Bunaken National Park. User: (WT-shared) Jpatokal at wts wikivoyage, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Best time to visit Bunaken, Manado

During the peak of the tourist season which takes place in July and August, the dive centers can be full and it is recommended to book well in advance! Otherwise, the rest of the year is ok. See our diving page for more information.

Direct flights from Bali to Bunaken

There are 2 flights daily from Bali to Bunaken (Manado, Sam Ratulangi International Airport) and it takes 3 hours 50 minutes with Lion Air.

And from Bunaken to Bali, there are 2 direct flights.

Health and security

If you plan to go on a trip to Bunaken, Manado, we advise you to invest in a good travel insurance which also covers scuba diving. You never know what can happen and good insurance can get you out of tough situations. I recommend this travel insurance because they offer worldwide coverage and cover many risky sports like scuba diving.

Where is Bunaken, Manado located in the world?

Bunaken is a very small island (8 km²) located at the northern tip of the island of Sulawesi, in northern Indonesia. It is part of the immense Bunaken Marine National Park, which covers an area of ​​890.65 km² of which only 3% is terrestrial.

Marine National Park Conservation Fee

There is an entrance fee for Bunaken Marine Park. It costs IDR 150 000 per person (about CHF 10 or EUR 9.50 or USD 10.10) and generally it is the resort that obtains it and gives you your badge.

There is no tax for the Lembeh Strait.

If you have any other questions or comments, please let us know in the comments or by contacting us directly.

BUNAKEN NATIONAL PARK DIVE SITES

North Sulawesi consists of three main diving areas: Bunaken National Marine Park on the west coast, the Bangka Archipelago in the north and the Lembeh Strait on the east coast.

Although covering an area that is not very large, each of these areas offers very unique diving experiences. With access to over 150 dive sites, North Sulawesi is a fantastic place to spend your diving vacation!

Water temperature: between 26℃ or 78.8°F (Lembeh) and up to 30℃ or 86°F (Bunaken).
Topography: reef flats, coral walls, sandbanks, pinnacles, slopes.
Currents: Generally light, suitable for all skill levels.

Lekuan 1, 2 and 3

This large diving area can be visited in 3 times because there are so many things to see. It is a huge drop-off covered with giant sponges, black corals and gorgonians. It is undoubtedly one of the favorite sites for divers. The crevices are home to multiple species, butterflyfish, fusiliers, sea snakes, parrotfish, boxfish but also many turtles, eagle rays and napoleons, which roam around.

Lekuan 1. The first dive on Lekuan gives you the tone, indeed the wall is so big that you won’t be able to see everything. The water is crystal clear, you will come across sharks, turtles, trevallies, good-sized napoleons, and large schools of angelfish.

Lekuan 2. Second dive to continue exploring the reef. Here it is a beautiful collection of soft corals, there are hard corals, or even small caves and crevices. This beautiful setting is home to a dense fauna of tropical fish and turtles.

Lekuan 3. Here you will dive down a small sandy slope to reach the drop off again. Barracuda shoals are common, but there are also macrofauna, such as cleaner shrimp. The sea fans and sponges are superb.

Fukui Dot

This site is in the southeastern part of Bunaken Park. It is a slope where multitudes of corals of all kinds, sponges and giant molluscs have landed. You will encounter schools of various fish, barracudas, eels, red mullets, eagle rays, parrotfish, etc.

Barracuda dot

It is a large drop off with several stages covered in sand. The clarity of the water makes the visibility excellent, you can see up to 30 meters. Barracuda and parrotfish abound at this dive site, which is reserved for experienced divers, due to the strong currents.

Panggulingan

You will start the dive on a gentle slope to reach a beautiful drop-off. The fauna is very dense on this site with large napoleons, butterflyfish, eagle rays, and sometimes small sharks.

The Molas Shipwreck site

This site has a very varied underwater life. The wreck of an old warship lies between 10 and 42 meters deep. Black, hard and soft corals, but also sponges, blue ribbon moray eels, frogfish, nudibranchs and lionfish are just waiting to be unearthed. It is not possible to enter the wreckage.

Batu Hitam (black rock)

Located near the Molas wreck, it is a beautiful reef with coral tables. This beautiful macro dive is ideal for photographers, as there is no current. There are ribbon moray eels, a fine collection of nudibranchs, leaffish, frogfish and crocodilefish.

Siladen Island offers two dive sites

On Siladen 1, you will dive over a vertiginous wall. The fixed fauna is remarkable. This site is very popular for snorkeling. Macrofauna is everywhere, you will see a lot of pygmy seahorses, and crabs. Sometimes in the blue, we observe white tip sharks.

Siladen 2 is on the northeast coast of the island. It is a gentle slope with large rocks and a multitude of corals. The current is stronger, it attracts pelagics. We observe sharks, napoleons and parrots.

Bunaken Timur 1 & 2

It is a huge reef located east of Bunaken Island. We can say that the area is home to all the fauna of the region and superb corals, of all sizes and colors. There is a nice variety of reef fish, but also pelagic and macrofauna. When there is no power, it is a dream location for photographers.

Mandolin Dot

Here a lot of sea fans and many small caves, habitats of a beautiful fauna. This site is accessible from the shore. If you do not want to explore the caves, you can admire the top of the reef, the fauna is very dense: surgeons, groupers, napoleons, rays or turtles.

Manado Tua

Around this small volcanic island, you will observe dizzying drop-offs, cracked by crevasses, where huge turtles hide. The decor is set: here we observe elephant ear corals, magnificent gorgonians, and all around are whitetip sharks and blacktip sharks, emperor fish, batfish and fusiliers swirling around.

3. Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park on the way to Gorontalo

Bogani national park formerly known as Dumoga Bone National Park, it was established in 1991 and was renamed in honour of Nani Wartabone, a local resistance fighter who drove the Japanese from Gorontalo during the World War II.

The park is considered by the Wildlife Conservation Society as the most important site for nature conservation in Sulawesi. It is home to many endemic species of the island, among which the threatened anoa.

Also found in the reserve are hammerhead chicken, babirusa (deer boar), the Sulawesi warty pig and the Gorontalo macaque.

The park contains endangered species of plants and trees such as the palm Pholidocarpus ihur and other special wood species and plants from the genus Amorphophallus . In the park are observed: 24 species of mammals, 125 species of birds, 11 species of reptiles, 2 species of amphibians, 38 species of butterflies and 200 species of beetles. The mammalian species such as the crested macaque (Macaca nigra), Temminck’s macaque (Macaca nigrescens), celebes tarsier (Tarsius tarsier), celebe palm roller (Macrogalidia musschenbroekii), anoa ( Bubalus depressicornis also called gems buffalo), berganoa ( B. quarlesi), golden babiroessa (Babyrousa babyrussa also called deer boar), and the flying fox Rousettus bidens (often referred to as Bonea bidens or Bone bat ) are all endemic mammals that only occur on Celebes.

The park is also home to numerous endemic bird species such as the rusty-brown pitfall ( Ninox ios ) and the iconic hammerfowl (Macrocephalon maleo). A kind of grouse that lays the eggs in places with geothermal heat.

Maleo bird

The maleo is endemic to the island and is the park’s mascot. 2 This bird has successfully bred in the park, and as of February 2012, around 3,300 birds have been released into the wild.

Macrocephalon maleo - Muara Pusian (2)
Maleo (Macrocephalon maleo) at Muara Pusian, North Sulawesi. Ariefrahman, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Hungoyono camp on Bone Bolango is the largest habitat for these Maleo with four breeding sites. Birds usually need hot geothermal sand to breed, like in the Hungoyono camp.

Spectral tarsier / ghost tarsier

The ghost tarsier is one of the endangered species that inhabits the park.

Tarsiers are nocturnal creatures that do activities at night and sleep during the day. Therefore Tarsiers hunt at night. Their main prey is insects such as cockroaches, crickets, and occasionally small reptiles, birds and bats. Its habitat is in the forests of North Sulawesi to South Sulawesi, as well as on islands around Sulawesi such as Suwu, Selayar and Peleng.

Tarsius tarsier Tandurusa zoo
Tarsier Tarsius sp., Grand Naemundung Mini Zoo, Tandurusa, Bitung, North Sulawesi. Sakurai Midori, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tarsiers can also be found in the Philippines. In Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park, South Sulawesi, Tarsier is better known by the local community as “balao cengke” or “squat mouse” if translated into Indonesian.

4. Discover the main volcanoes Mahawu and Lokon

Ideal for hiking and for a change from the city or the sea, discover the two volcanoes Mahawu and Lokon.

Mahawu

Mount Mahawu is a stratovolcano located immediately east from Lokon-Empung volcano in North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Set off on this 12.9 km (8 miles) round-trip route near Tomohon, North Sulawesi. Generally considered a moderate course, it takes an average of 4h 23min to complete. It is a popular route for roaming, hiking and mountain biking, but you can still enjoy some quiet moments.

Mahawu (34799015484)
Crater of Mahawu in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Jacob Mojiwat, source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmojiwat/34799015484/ (CC BY 2.0), via Wikimedia Commons

The hiking trail here is no less beautiful than the crater, by the way, as this hiking trail has the charm of a soothing grove.

Sunlight streaming through the tree branches also accompanies tourists on the hiking trail in mount Mahawu.

Another attraction of Mount Mahawu is that it has rare plant species. The rare plants that thrive here are rare plants typical of North Sulawesi.

Lokon

Mount Lokon is beautiful too,also known as Gunung Lokon (in Indonesian language), together with Mount Empung, is a twin volcano in the Tomohon, Minahasa Regency, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, roughly 10 km (6.2 miles) south of Manado.

Check out this 6.6 km (4.1 miles) round trip route near Tomohon, North Sulawesi. Generally considered a moderate course, it takes an average of 2h 54min to cover it. It is a popular route for roaming and hiking, but you can still enjoy some quiet time.

Lokon (35471444692)
Mount Lokon seen from East in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Jacob Mojiwat, source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmojiwat/35471444692/ (CC BY 2.0), via Wikimedia Commons

Mount Lokon climbing route is quite difficult as there are a lot of big rocks to climb and the rocks are a bit slippery due to the moss growing around the rock.

You will cross a dry river which is an old lava flow and small sandy rocks, be careful as on your side is a steep ravine.

You also have to be careful near the crater, sometimes the smell of crater gas will be carried away by the wind, and this gas is poisonous, do not inhale the smell of this crater gas.

Photo credit (main photo): Niek van Son (CC BY 2.0) Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/niek_van_son/29789916401/ via Wikimedia Commons

5 Reasons that will make you visit Mount Agung

From Mount Agung in Bali, the panorama is simply magnificent. Do not hesitate to climb this superb sacred volcano!

1. Because Mount Agung is a remarkable religious symbol

This imposing mount was already considered sacred before the expansion of Hinduism. Nearly 900 meters on one of its flanks, there was a sanctuary where the cults of the mountain and the ancestors were carried out. This site will become one of the best attractions in the area. This is the temple of Besakih. It is the largest Hindu temple in Bali! You must visit it.

Here you will see altars, shrines and precious statues. So take the opportunity to climb the mountain and fetch the palm fronds and wet them with holy water, as the pilgrims to the site do. A fine example of cultural sharing.

2. Because its ascent is a very exciting challenge

It is always very exciting to face such a colossus. Put your muscles to the test, and show your courage by trying to climb this mountain. Several options are available to you to achieve this! You can launch from Besakih Temple to reach the top in approximately 6-7 hours. Others can approach it from Pasar Agung Temple with around 3-4 hours drive.

There is a route located in the north at sakti, very suitable for you who are not very fit physically. So it’s up to you to make your choice! The only thing that is clear is that you will be thrilled whichever path you choose.

3. Because you will discover marvelous valleys there

Other priceless riches surround this mountain. Head to the area between Sidemen and Selat. She is incredibly beautiful! This is the most scenic area in all of Bali. Marvelous rice terraces are observed. Rice being a very popular food in this part of the world, its cultivation is widespread. What will strike you is the care given to the plants. Ingenious!

The decor is very uplifting! You will also see lush wooded hillsides. This area is a real attraction. Make your stay unique by visiting these magical places.

4. Because charming guides will make your visit more rewarding

To allow you to take full advantage of this trip, you are strongly advised to seek the services of a guide. It’s primordial ! Several reasons may justify this state of affairs. The guides, who are generally natives, have a better understanding of the places and will be able to show you around the best places that exist. They know the trails even in bad weather conditions.

They can speak local languages. All this saves you a lot of inconvenience! Given the sacredness of the site, they really put their heart into it to offer you the best memories of your life in complete safety.

5. Because it is a real providential locality

Everything is done in Agung to make it a piece of paradise on earth. Once at the top of the mountain, you will have panoramic views in all directions. Exquisite wildlife is found there! Wild pigs and macaques are present in the wooded depressions of the site. Eagles and falcons are frequently seen there. At the base of the mount, you will see an elegant well-stocked forest.

Observed from several positions, Agung is just grandiose. To top it off, witnessing the sunrise is luminous. It is an extraordinary moment!

Besakih Bali Indonesia Pura-Besakih-03
Besakih temple with Mount Agung background. Besakih is The Mother Temple of Besakih, or Pura Besakih, in the village of Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung in eastern Bali, Indonesia, is the most important, the largest and holiest temple of Hindu religion in Bali. Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The place of Mount Agung in Balinese culture

The Savior Mount

Its size, its majesty, but also its dangerousness have made gunung Agung, literally the “high mountain”, the most sacred mountain in Bali. Nevertheless, it’s a safe bet that Mount Agung has been worshiped for a long time, even before the introduction of Hinduism on the island. Indeed, archaeologists have discovered that Pura Besakih, – the largest and most important Hindu temple in Bali, located 1000 meters above sea level on the southwestern slope of the volcano – was erected on an ancient shrine, several thousand years.

Myth

Like every important place, Mount Agung is accompanied by a legend made of Gods and their incredible stories. Regarding the Agung volcano, the story is a bit complicated, but we will try to simplify it for you… At the beginning of time, the mythical God Sang Hyang Widi, began a long meditation, during which he created the foundations of his universe. It was separated into three parts: the sky was the domain of the Gods, the basement was that of the demons and the sea that of the animals.

However, this imperfect God had forgotten to create a place for Men. He then decided to take a large fish from the sea which he transformed into Bali. The eye of this fish has become the famous Mount Agung, its hearing Lake Batur, its caudal fin the Gunung Abang and its backbone the chain of volcanoes that crosses Bali. The Balinese therefore live today in Bali, land of men, above the world of demons and under the benevolent eye of their legendary Gods.

Read also: Things To Do When Arriving at Bali Airport (DPS) | Tips for Every Traveler As Soon As We Land

The capricious mountain

Mount Agung is both feared and revered by the Balinese people. Because despite its sometimes deadly anger, it is its eruptions and its deposits of ash and mineral matter on its slopes and in its valleys that make the excellent fertility of the Balinese soil. And the inhabitants return it well, multiplying the offerings and the prayers in his honor, in the hope of obtaining his clemency. During the 1963 eruption, the lava stopped just a few meters from the Pura Besakih temple.

The Balinese saw it as a sign of the Gods who had shown their omnipotence and their anger with this eruption, but ultimately decided to spare their place of worship from the lava. For the inhabitants of the Island of the Gods, Mount Agung is equated with Mount Meru. In Hindu mythology, the latter designates the central mountain, the axis around which the world revolves. Mount Agung at the center of the world is more than enough reason to decide to climb its slopes and reach its summit!

Mount Agung 2016-08-06 (28796213173)
The South side of Mount Agung, Bali, Indonesia.. Gunung Agung is a stratovolcano, which explains this perfectly conical and sloping shape. Everyone Sinks Starco, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Climbing Mount Agung

Choose the season for your trekking

Although more difficult than the ascent of its neighbor Mount Batur or Mount Bromo in Java, the trek that leads to the summit of Gunung Agung is accessible to all with good equipment. However, it is preferable to climb during the dry season (March to November) rather than during the rainy season, which can make the trails difficult to pass.

Prepare your trek

Departure Duration Distance Altitude Min Altitude Max Positive elevation Orientation Level
Pura Pasar Agung 1/2 day 6 Km 1600 m
5249 ft
2820 m
4265 ft
1300 m
4265 ft
North Difficult
5-7 hours
Pura Besakih 1 day 15 Km 1100 m
3608 ft
3142 m
10308 ft
2100 m
6889 ft
East Difficult
3-4 hours

Two routes are possible:

1. From Pura Pasar Agung

One starts from Pura Pasar Agung, a temple located on the southern flank of the volcano, 1600 meters above sea level. It is shorter but does not offer access to the highest point. The second starts from a little lower on the western slopes of the volcano, from Pura Besakih. The start and the ascent always take place at night, so that you can enjoy the sunrise at the top. It is therefore imperative to have a headlamp to climb! Also, a rain jacket, good shoes and warm clothes – even gloves and a hat! – are recommended. For around IDR 750,000 per person (about € 50), you will treat yourself to the services of a local guide who will accompany you to the crater, including breakfast at the top.

2. From Pura Besakih

From Pura Besakih, count about six hours of ascent and three hours of descent. The trek starts in the jungle, then you’ll gradually leave the tropical forest for these lunar landscapes, and these paths lined with slag. The slope can be steep in some places, the paths sometimes slippery and steep, so caution is advised during the entire ascent and descent. Arrived at dawn at the top, before the mist and clouds set in, you’ll are struck by this breathtaking panorama – and by the fresh air a little, too! The magical view offered by Gunung Agung is worth the effort made during the night. To the east, you can see Mount Rinjani, which soars majestically towards the sky. You’ll enjoy an absolutely grandiose view of the whole of Bali: its lush vegetation, its hills and its rice terraces, surrounded by this sea on the horizon which extends indefinitely.

Indonesia being the geographical area with the greatest concentration of volcanoes in the world, organizing a stay in Bali or the Sunda Islands without tasting the joys of a night trek and the breathtaking views offered by these curiosities of the nature would be missing something!

Puncak gunung agung
An inscription at 3142 meters (10308 feet) above sea level of the mountain peak. Rendika Iswandi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Practical info | Mount Agung trekking preparations

For the ascent, bring good walking shoes, warm clothes, water bottles and torches or headlamps.

For who?

Trekking on Mount Agung requires being in good physical shape. Indeed, it is not an ordinary walk, but a hike reserved for the most athletic among you. If you’re out of breath just from walking around your neighborhood, don’t try the adventure. In addition, the ascent is prohibited for women who are menstruating. The Balinese are very superstitious and consider this an omen of bad luck.

When to go there?

It is advisable to climb Mount Agung during the dry season, i.e. from April to September. During the wet season, the paths can be dangerous, as they are too slippery. In addition, the sunrise will be less impressive than in the dry season. Attention, the ascent is prohibited during April, when there is a ceremony at the Besakih temple or at the Pasar Agung temple.

How much does it cost?

Officially, a trek to Mount Agung costs nothing. The only thing you will have to pay for will be your guide. Depending on your negotiating skills, you will get IDR 900,000 to IDR 1,800,000, or about €50 to €100 per person.

Find the right guide

Apart from a good physical condition, you will have to find the right guide, the one who will be able to manage your excursion with pleasure. Some tourists come back very disappointed from their trek because of an incompetent guide or one who does not listen to their needs. We advise you to book through a serious agency and ask for the number of years of experience that the guide has on the counter. If the name of the guide changes at the last minute, refuse! You do not know if the person is competent to accompany you.

Prepare

At the start of the hike, you may get hot quickly, so a t-shirt should suffice. However, the higher you go, the more the temperatures will drop. So remember to bring a warmer garment. Then, it is advisable to put on real good quality hiking shoes. Finally, take supplies, sandwiches, protein bars, drinks and pharmacy supplies in case of injury.

Photo credit (main picture): Arthamade, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Photo description: view of Mount Agung from Sanur beach, which is only visible in the morning.

Activities in Bali with children | What to do in Bali with kids?

Bali is a very easy destination to go with young children. And to prove to you that your children will not be bored, We offer you activities in Bali with children; a selection of visits, activities that will undoubtedly delight our little globetrotters.

Do not hesitate to tell us about your experience if you already know these attractions to give us your impressions!

Waterbom: The Best Water Park in Asia in Kuta Bali (30 minutes from Seminyak)

Waterbom is simply the best water park in Asia and the number 3 in the world. So if you are looking to spend a day with family, couple or friends having fun, look no further. This water park is at the best international standards, the slides, the infrastructures are at the top of what is done. Whether for young or old there is something to entertain everyone. This is one of the most favorite activities in Bali with children

The park is located in the center of Kuta, only 10 minutes from the Bali airport and very close to many shops and shopping centers. The park of almost 4 hectares brings together 22 slides of all types for young and old. In addition to the slides you will find a trampoline, restaurants, SPA, swimming pools.

In the park all transactions are done via a bracelet that you can top up with money to pay for your purchases.

Waterbomparkslides
Waterbom Bali. I, Scoreed, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It is possible to enter and leave the park they will give you a bracelet. This is interesting if you want to go out for lunch because catering is rather expensive in the park. For example, you can have lunch opposite the “Discovery Mall” shopping center (Google Map).

If you’re wearing swim shorts and not a bathing suit, make sure your shorts don’t have rivets, or you’ll be denied some slides.

There’s plenty to keep you entertained for a whole day, so plan to spend a full day there.

Practical information & Booking

Address: Jalan Kartika Plaza, Tuban, Kuta
Website: https://www.waterbom-bali.com

Schedule
Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Seasons
Dry season from April to November and wet season from December to March. No matter the season you will have a good day

Visit Bali Zoo

The Bali Zoo is the perfect place to spend some family time and see wildlife up close. You can meet many animals there: African lions, Bengal tigers, orangutans and many other species.

It is really very pleasant to walk in the park which has tropical vegetation and green gardens. Young and old will be delighted to be able to feed the elephants, pet the deer, meet the orangutans…

Orangutan Bali Zoo
Orangutan, Bali Zoo, Indonesia. Ossi Petruska from Espoo, Finland, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are several entrance packages available allowing you to spend a morning, half day or a whole day at the zoo, depending on the activities you wish to do.

Practical information & Booking

Address: Jl. Raya Singapadu, Sukawati 80582, Indonesia
Hours: The zoo is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Website: https://www.bali-zoo.com

Bali Zoo
Bali Zoo, Singapadu, Sukawati, Bali. Ossi Petruska from Espoo, Finland, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Access: the zoo is located 15 minutes south of Ubud. From Ubud, head south along the main Batubulan road. Once you get to the Singapadu Community Meeting Hall, turn right and you will come to the zoo. You can also access it from Kuta, with the 3 pack, a shuttle will pick you up and drop you off at the Beachwalk mall.

Go to the cinema in Bali

You have several cinemas in Bali in Denpasar and Kuta but the best is the one in Kuta at the Beachwalk shopping center. It is the most recent and therefore the one offering the best facilities. You will have a cinema similar to what we find in France with seats, screen and sound of very good quality as well as the most recent films.

Address and Contact
Within the Beachwalk shopping center (Google Map) in Kuta on the 2nd floor. Very easy to reach by car or scooter.

The cinema only opens at noon, no need to go there in the morning to buy your tickets.

Telephone: (0361) 8465621

Elephant rides in Bali

Elephant rides in Bali can be one of the activities in Bali with children.

1. Bali Zoo

We have already presented the Bali Zoo in a previous article. You can actually take an elephant ride there for 15 minutes with pack 5 or for 30 minutes with pack 6. In each of the packs are included the lunch buffet at the Elephant View restaurant, the visit to the zoological park as well as the return shuttle that drops you off at your hotel.

Address: Jalan Raya Singapadu, Sukawati 80582, Indonesia
Duration: 15 minutes (pack 5) or 30 minutes (pack 6)

Normal Price Pack
Pack 5 adult: 108.03€
Pack 5 children (2 to 12 years old): €76.88
Pack 6 adults: €149.82
Pack 6 children (2 to 12 years old): €110.40

2. Bali Safari & Marine Park

The Bali Safari & Marine Park also offers several entry packs, with different possible activities. If you choose the LEOPARD or RHINO packs, you can take a 10-minute or 30-minute elephant ride.

The LEOPARD package includes:

  • A welcome drink
  • Safari drive
  • Aquarium visit
  • Lunch at Uma Restaurant
  • Animal shows: tigers and elephants
  • Elephant ride for 10 minutes
  • Bali Agung Show
  • Unlimited access to the Fun Zone and the water games area
  • Photo souvenir

The RHINO pack includes all the activities of the LEOPARD pack, plus:

  • Elephant ride for 30 minutes
  • Dinner with the lions
  • Round-trip private transportation

The safari allows you to get close to wild animals and gives you the opportunity to take beautiful photos, and the elephant ride is an unforgettable experience to try at least once in your life.

Address: Jalan Raya Singapadu, Sukawati 80582, Indonesia
Duration: 10 minutes (Leopard pack) or 30 minutes (Rhino pack)

Normal Price Pack
Adult Leopard Pack: €112.18
Children’s Leopard Pack (3 to 12 years old): €84.14
Adult Rhino Pack: €163.60
Children’s Rhino Pack (3 to 12 years old): €130.88

3. Taro Elephant Park

The Taro Elephant Park is, as its name suggests, a park specializing in the preservation of elephants. All the elephants in this park were saved from the deforestation of the island of Sumatra. Plus, the elephants at Taro Elephant Park are free-roaming and well cared for, and you’ll even get to feed them.

You must choose the Elephant Night Safari + Dinner pack to be able to take the elephant ride. This pack includes:

  • Round trip
  • Visit of the park and opportunity to feed the elephants
  • Elephant ride for 30 minutes
  • Elephant show
  • Having dinner
  • Insurance
  • Taro Elephant Park

Address: Jalan Elephant Park, Taro, Tegalalang 80561, Indonesia
Duration: 10 minutes (Leopard pack) or 30 minutes (Rhino pack)

Normal Price Pack
Adult pack: €129.64
Children’s package: €89.75

Visit the Monkey Forest in Ubud

Right in the center of Ubud is a forest inhabited by monkeys. It is indeed their forests, they are numerous and rule the roost 🙂 In our opinion, this is the best activity visit in Ubud not to be missed!

There is an entrance, but that won’t stop the free-roaming monkeys from coming out of the forest and coming to you if they suspect you have food in your bag.

Admission is IDR 30,000 rupees (€2) for adults and IDR 20,000 for children. Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Walk in the forest

The forest is rather large, enough to walk for 1 hour or more in the middle of the monkeys which are absolutely everywhere you cannot miss them. The latter are very intelligent and watch everything that moves to find food. They are not so interested in your glasses or caps but really in the food. If a monkey sees you putting your hands in your pockets or your bag then they will think you have something to eat and will immediately come to you and often help themselves and try to look in your bag.

What to feed them?

It is forbidden to give them peanuts, biscuits … the only food allowed are bananas which you can bring from outside but which the park encourages you to buy on site to help finance the park.

Monkey Forest Ubud, Indonesia - panoramio (8)
Monkey Forest Ubud, Indonesia. Michelle Maria, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Are monkeys aggressive?

Yes and no. Some are rather calm and others are on the lookout for anything that moves to feed. So if you have to eat they will not hesitate to jump on you. Which is rather amusing but can scare some people off. And indeed to play they can sometimes try to bite you, not very hard but here it is a risk. I’ve been there many times and never had a problem.

Visit of the Indonesian Cultural and Heritage Park in Bali: Taman Nusa

Here is a visit that few know and yet is really worth the detour. This cultural park is not even listed in some of the guides at the moment and that’s a shame! So keep reading to learn more about this cultural tour which in my opinion is the best to do in Bali with the Bali Museum in Denpasar!

Visit Indonesia in an afternoon!

This is the slogan of this park which allows you to discover the culture of the different regions of Indonesia in a fun way through reconstructions of monuments, houses…
You will also have a panorama of Indonesia through time, from the prehistoric era until today.

Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

Address and contact:
Taman Nusa, Jl. Taman Bali, Br. Blahpane Kelod, Gianyar
Telephone: +62 361 952952
Website: http://www.taman-nusa.com

Bali Bird Park

The Bali Bird Park brings together over 2 hectares: 1000 birds of 250 different species from Indonesia, Africa, Latin America and Australia. It is the largest bird park in Indonesia. During a walk you will cross different areas that recreate the natural habitats of different birds. Throughout the day you will have the opportunity to attend several shows and interactive sessions with the birds to leave with beautiful memories.

Bali Bird Park is where you will find the finest collection of Indonesian birds and species in Africa and North America. An absolute paradise for birdwatchers, the Bali Bird Park is where you can teach your children about species conservation and compassion for birds and animals. Besides the bird park, there is also a reptile park on site. You’ll have to pay a separate fee for the reptile park, but it’s worth it.

Useful information

Address: Jl. Serma Cok Ngurah Gambir, Singapore, Batubulan, Sukawati
Telephone: +62 361 299352
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily
Website: https://www.balibirdpark.com

The park is located in Sukawati between Sanur and Ubud, it’s really not far, so this outing can be done perfectly from Ubud or the south of Bali:Sanur, Seminyak, Legian, Kuta, Jimbaran. You can easily get there by car, scooter and taxi, there is parking on site.

You can go directly to the ticket office, pay for your tickets and receive a brochure with the map of the park as well as the program of the various shows throughout the day.

Photo credit: AgungAtmaja via Pixabay


Ready to book your villa in Seminyak center?

Located in Center Seminyak – Bali, Villa Carissa offers a private swimming pool and enclosed garden to guarantee your privacy. You can book your private pool villa here with us.


From Bali to Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta (or Jogja) is a must visit destination for travelers to Java Island. Renowned for being the cultural center of Java, this student city attracts many artists and intellectuals from all the provinces of the Indonesian archipelago. Direct flight from Bali to Yogyakarta it takes 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Yogyakarta is also a city apart in Indonesia, because it is still under the governance of a sultan and has inherited a cultural richness that is now visible through the many palaces, museums, temples and historic buildings. In this article I share with you all the information to visit the city of Yogyakarta!

3 Ways to get from Bali to Yogyakarta

Plane

Flying is by far the fastest and easiest way to reach Bali from Yogyakarta to Bali. The flight takes less than 2 hours with tickets starting at IDR 650,000 (US$ 40). Note that this includes short taxi transfers to and from the airports.

  • Lion Air
  • AirAsia
  • Garuda
Train and ferry

If you feel like an adventure and have time for it, you can also take a combined train and ferry trip from Bali to Yogyakarta. The trip takes at least 19 hours, through East Java and along the west coast of Bali, including an additional bus ride from the port to central or south Bali. The total cost is approximately IDR 500,000 (US$ 32). If you decide to go overland, we highly recommend visiting the Bromo and Ijen volcanoes as well as the Sewu waterfalls.

Bus

It’s also possible to take the bus from Bali to Yogyakarta, but it’s an uncomfortable 20-hour trip that involves several transfers and is often affected by delays. Long-distance buses can be very tiring and are not the safest way to travel, especially at night.

Activities and places not to miss in Yogyakarta

1. Visit the Kraton, the sultan’s palace

The spiritual and royal center of Yogyakarta, the Kraton is the sultan’s palace, where the royal family resided for centuries. It is rather large, it takes a good hour to go around. It is like a mini-city, there are courtyards with elegant pavilions. I advise you to take a guide who can explain the interior of the Kraton and contextualize the history of the sultanate because a visit alone is not really of interest except to admire the architecture. You can also see dance, music and puppet shows there, there are several throughout the day.

Yogyakarta Indonesia Kraton-the-Sultans-Palace-02
Kraton the Sultan’s (king’s) palace. Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Address: Jalan Rotowijayan Blok No. 1, Panembahan, Kraton, Kota Yogyakarta
Opening hours: every day from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Admission: 20,000 IDR/person (+1,000 IDR for the right to take photos)

2. Visit Borobudur Temple

Located 40km from the city center, the Borobudur temple is a must visit place for tourists who come to visit Java. The largest Buddhist temple in the world, Borobudur is also the most visited tourist site in Indonesia. If you want to admire the sunrise at the top of the temple, you will have to put your hands in your pocket, but it is worth it because the view from the top is incredible, and there will be fewer tourists than during the day.

Borobudur Northwest View
Borobudur temple, Jogja. Gunawan Kartapranata, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Manohara hotel (2-star hotel) located inside the park is the only one that offers a special “sunrise tour” ticket to watch the sunrise. For the simple visit of the temple at conventional times, you can benefit from a student rate if you have your student card (to have in hand, or photocopied), i.e. 50% reduction.

Short history:

The main stupa enthroned at Borobudur Temple in Central Java, Indonesia. The world’s largest Buddhist monument was built in the 8th century by the Syailendra dynasty. The upper terrace is round in shape with a row of bell-shaped stupas containing a Buddha figure which symbolizes Arupadhatu, the realm of the formless. The main stupa itself is empty, symbolizing complete perfection of enlightenment.

Stupa Borobudur
Borobudur Temple in Jogja – Central Java, Indonesia. Gunkarta, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: Jl. Badrawati, Kw. Candi Borobudur, Borobudur, Magelang, Jawa Tengah
Hours: daily from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., but possible to buy a more expensive ticket to see the sunrise at 5 a.m.
Admission: 325,000 IDR/person (450,000 IDR for the sunrise tour via the Manohara hotel) and 162,500 IDR for students with their student card

3. Visit the Taman Sari Water Castle and its underground mosque

Located south-west of Kraton, the Taman Sari – literally the “garden of perfumes” – is a palace on the water which once served as a place of relaxation and meditation built at the request of the sultan in the 18th century. At the time, this large royal park housed luxurious pools, water games, pavilions and several small lakes as well as rooms to accommodate the sultan’s wives. Today only the baths and bedrooms have been preserved, but the architecture of the castle is no less impressive. There are also many underground tunnels and an underground mosque. The place is a real labyrinth when you do not know the places. I advise you to take a guide who can explain the places to you and immerse you in the history of this magnificent aquatic palace.

Taman Sari Water Castle, Yogyakarta
Taman Sari Water Castle, Yogyakarta. Dudva, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: Wisata Taman Sari, Taman, Patehan, Kraton, Kota Yogyakarta
Hours: daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Admission: IDR 15,000/person

4. Stroll through the Prawirotaman district and admire the street-art

The Prawirotaman district is one of the most frequented districts in Yogyakarta by tourists. Indeed, this district brings together all the hotels, restaurants, bars and travel agencies of the city. It is particularly in this district that we recognize that Yogyakarta is a city populated by artists, because the walls of this district have been magnificently decorated by young local artists, lovers of street-art!

5. Visit a batik workshop

Batik is a fabric dyeing technique widely used in Indonesia. This traditional technique comes from Yogyakarta and was exported throughout the Indonesian archipelago, then to Africa. In Yogyakarta, you can therefore visit one of the many batik workshops, meet local artists and admire them handling the technique meticulously, or even try it yourself.

6. Climb the Merapi Volcano

Culminating at a height of 2934 meters, the Merapi volcano dominates the city of Yogyakarta. It is the most active volcano in Indonesia, its last eruption dates from May 2018. Before climbing the volcano, check with the agency organizing your trek to find out about the activity of the volcano and to know if the roads are in good condition.

Inside an active volcano - Merapi (7756647556)
Inside an active volcano – Merapi volcanoe. Jimmy McIntyre – Editor HDR One Magazine, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can also do the Merapi Lava Tour: for 2 hours, you can rent a jeep with driver for 350,000 rupees and visit the Merapi volcano and its surroundings. The jeep can carry 3 to 5 people, and the tour includes a visit to Museum Sisa Hartaku, a small museum showing the damage caused by previous eruptions of the Merapi volcano: old motorcycles, clothes, objects and furniture that have more or less resisted the eruption…

Merapi Volcano during sunrise 2019
Merapi Volcano during sunrise. Desember01, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

To be able to admire the sunrise, you have to get up and leave very early from Yogyakarta. Count about 1h30 for the car trip to the bottom of the volcano, and about 4h for the hike. Once at the top, the sunrise offers a magnificent and unforgettable spectacle. After so much effort for the ascent, the reward is all the more beautiful!

To book, you can go directly through a local agency on site at the entrance to Mount Merapi.

7. Visit the Affandi Museum

Afandi is one of the most famous artists in Indonesia. Located by a river, the museum was once its own home. He himself designed and drew the plans for his house as well as the showrooms for his works of art. All his paintings were painted by hand or directly with his paint tubes. Inspired and influenced by great European artists like Van Gogh, his works are no less original and impressionist in style. This museum is undoubtedly one of the most interesting to visit in Yogyakarta. Not to be missed for art lovers or budding painters!

Address: Jl. Laksda Adisucipto No.167, Papringan, Caturtunggal, Kec. Depok, Kabupaten Sleman, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta
Hours: daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: IDR 50,000/person

8. Watch the sunset at Prambanan Temple

Classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Prambanan Temple is a set of 240 temples that were built in the 9th century. This site includes 4 main temples and several small ruined temples. It is a large site that requires at least 2 good hours of visit if you are on foot (you can also visit the site by bike).

Candi Prambanan sebagai Peninggalan Agama Hindu
Candi Prambanan. Ridwanpurwantobatam, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can spend hours admiring the carved bas-reliefs that tell of the lives of Hindu gods. The temple is all the more magnificent to visit at sunset and at the end of the day there are fewer people. As for the Borobudur temple, don’t forget your student card to benefit from a 50% discount!

Prambanan Complex 1
Prambanan Temple Yogyakarta. Gunawan Kartapranata, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: Kranggan, Bokoharjo, Prambanan, Sleman Regency
Hours: daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: 325,0000 IDR/person (162,500 IDR if you have your student card)

9. Eat a gudeg: the culinary specialty of Yogyakarta

Gudeg is one of the culinary specialties of Yogyakarta. This dish is made from young jackfruit boiled in traditional herbs and coconut milk, and served with rice, egg and chicken. It is the flagship dish of the region, so you can easily find it in small shops or stands in the street.

Gudeg Jogja
Gudeg Jogja. Eny Santiati, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Otherwise, we can recommend this address, it is a small restaurant with a terrace serving a very good gudeg at an affordable price. Many locals go there and some tourists:

Gudeg Sagan

Address: Jl. Prof Dr. Herman Yohanes No. 53, Caturtunggal, Depok, Samirono, Kabupaten Sleman, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55223
Hours: daily from 9 a.m. to 12 a.m.

10. Walk down Malioboro Street and City Centre

Malioboro Street will immerse you directly in local life. It is an essential walk to do if you come to Yogyakarta: many shops, small restaurants and food stalls, shops and local market… Ideally to be done in the evening to enjoy the local atmosphere, see people chatting on the benches , enjoy small street concerts. Agoraphobes refrain because it is a really crowded and very lively avenue.

Malioboro Street, Yogyakarta
Malioboro Street, Yogyakarta. Gunawan Kartapranata, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fort Vredeburg Museum

The museum is very strategically located from the city center and has a fairly high value. Maybe for some people who hear the word “museum” or “fort” will think that it is very old-fashioned and boring. However, the Fort Vredeburg Museum is different.

Fort Vredeburg, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Museum Benteng Vredeburg. Pras, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The place is quite spacious and there are many spots to take pictures. In a number of buildings within the fort there are dioramas (miniature three-dimensional objects / theater decorations) about Indonesian history. The Vredeburg Fort Museum is one of the tourist attractions in Yogyakarta that must be visited.

Sources: PinterPandai, Red Fedora Diary, The Travel Author

Photo credit (main picture): Gunawan Kartapranata (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

From Bali to Gili Islands

A little paradise 1 hour away by fast boad from Bali to Gili islands. The Gili Islands in Bali are 3 small pieces of paradise land lined up off Lombok, Indonesia. Gili Trawangan is the largest and busiest of the three islands. It is also the most accessible by Fast-boat.

The options are endless when it comes to choosing ferry or fast boat from Bali to Gili Islands. There are 9 ferry companies with a total of 13 ferry routes connecting Serangan to Gili Air, Gili Trawangan, Gili Gede & Gili Meno, Padangbai to Gili Air, Gili Trawangan & Gili Meno, Amed to Gili Trawangan & Gili Air, Sanur to Gili Trawangan, Gili Air & Gili Meno & Benoa Harbor in Gili Trawangan.

The fastest route between Bali and Gili Islands is Gili Trawangan with a crossing duration of around 1 hour 15 minutes. With so many routes on offer, we make it easy for you by comparing all equivalent crossings with just one click. So you can quickly find what you are looking for.

Gili Islands Region map
Gili Islands map. User:(WT-shared) Burmesedays,OpenStreetMap, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There is no motorized transport on the islands apart from electric scooters. The short distances over land are covered on foot, by bicycle or cidomo (a small horse-drawn carriage). Accessible only by sea, the islands are visited by a variety of fast boats that operate various routes from Bali.

There are a range of direct fast boat services from Bali and Speed ​​Boat from Lombok to the Gili Islands, all of which also serve Lombok, some of which go past Nusa Lembongan en route.

Cidomo Senggigi
Cidomo. Midori, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fast boat the best way to get to Gili Trawangan Meno and Air islands

In addition to this previous article on the different means of transport to get to Lombok, we will here address the same subject but specifically to get to the Gili Islands in Lombok via the port of Padangbai.

What is the best way to get to Gili Islands from Trawangan, Meno and Air?

As a reminder, the 3 Gili islands named: Trawangan, Meno and Air are part of Lombok and not of Bali. These 3 islands located northwest of Lombok have almost become a must for all travelers visiting Bali.
Although it is possible to go to the Gili Islands by Plane, Fast or speed boat or Ferry we will discuss these 3 solutions here but as much to tell you right away the Fast boat is the winning solution.

Ferry from Bali to Gili Trawangan Meno and Air Islands

We recommend this solution for travelers whose decision-making element is only the price (pay as little as possible). Because it is indeed the cheapest solution but the slowest and least comfortable and I would not recommend the Ferry for those going to the Gili Islands.

You need transport from your place of residence in Bali to the port of Padang bai about 1h30-2h from the south of Bali, then the crossing to Lombok about 5 to 6h, you disembark at the port of Lembar in the South West of Lombok , then transport to the port of Bangsal north of Lombok for the Gili and finally the public boat to one of the 3 Gili islands.

Finally the cost will not be very far from that of the Fast boat by including all the costs… The ferry is relevant if you want to go to Lombok and visit the south and the center and not the Gili Islands.

Plane from Bali to Lombok then transport to Gili Trawangan Meno and Air islands

The cost of the plane is quite close to that of the Fast boat but is slower because you will arrive at Mataram airport in the south of Lombok from where you will have to find transport to the port of Bangsal in the North of Lombok to take a boat to the Gili Islands. With this additional transport, the cost becomes higher than Fast boat and longer.

So here again the plane would be a very good solution for those wishing to visit Lombok but in the case of the Gili Islands the Fast boat remains the best solution.

But for some the plane will be more practical, if you are traveling with a baby, or if you are seasick because the waves are sometimes important during the crossing and if you have very little luggage to carry.

The Fast boat best solution from Bali to the islands Gili Trawangan Meno and Air

The Fast boat remains in our opinion the best solution to go to the Gili Islands whether Trawangan, Meno or Air. For a fixed price you will have: the pick-up on the way to your hotel in Bali, the Fast boat round trip and the drop-off at your hotel on the return to Bali.

A driver picks you up at your hotel, drops you off at the port of Padangbai from where you board the Fast boat to Gili. On the return, the boat drops you off in Padangbai and a shuttle will drop you off at your hotel.

Transport Hotel Bali=> Port Padangbai

Transportation from your hotel to Padangbai port normally is included in your ticket. The transport zone covers hotels in the city center of the following cities: Ubud, Sanur, Seminyak, Legian, Kuta, Jimbaran Bay, Candidasa.
If your hotel is outside the transport zone there will be a supplement to pay depending on the address of your hotel.

Transportation Port Padangbai=>Hotel Bali

The shuttle service area that drops you off on the return covers hotels in the city center of the following cities: Sanur, Seminyak, Legian, Kuta, Jimbaran Bay, Candidasa and also at the airport. For Ubud the free shuttle drops off passengers not at their hotel but in town. Likewise, if your hotel is outside the transport zone then they will drop you off downtown.

Duration of crossings from Bali to Gili Islands

The crossing takes 1h30 from Padangbai to Gili Trawangan, 1h45 to Gili Air. The return from Gili to Padangbai takes 1h45-2h.

Return or Depart via Amed

It is possible to leave from Padangbai and return via the port of Amed or vice versa. The routes between Amed <=> Gili are operated by the companies Freebird and Kuda Hitam.

Weather-related risks

There are some risks, if it is too windy the authorities will ban all Fast boat crossings until the situation improves, this rarely happens and when it does the ban lasts only 1 or 2 days I would say 1-2 times a year.
Then the sea can be rough so you can be more or less shaken.

Finally the companies are more or less good, I mainly use for myself, my friends and the readers of lebaliblog the Wahana, Patagonia and Ekajaya companies with which we have not had any problem for the moment and with which we are satisfied.
Overall it’s a great experience and you can even sit on the roof of the boat and enjoy the view during the crossing.

3 Main Gili Islands

1. Gili Meno, a peaceful adventure and the smallest of the Gili Islands

If you want to live a whole new experience with a peaceful adventure, this is the right island for you! Located just one kilometer from Gili Trawangan, it is the smallest of the three islands, but also the most popular with tourists. There is a calm that will please you. In Gili Meno, the sand is powdery white, the landscape surrounded by the beach is charming. This is the perfect place for moonlit walks. No wonder so many couples choose it for their honeymoon. Gili Meno is a haven of peace.

Meno is the smallest and quietest of the three Gili. It is undoubtedly the one that has remained the most authentic with the western part of the island almost virgin of any construction with beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear water.

  • Activity: snorkeling, beach.
  • Housing: limited supply of housing.
  • Restaurant: limited offer of restaurants.

Gili Meno
Gili Meno. Flickr user: yeowatzup https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeowatzup/, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

2. Gili Air, suitable for snorkeling

Covered with powdery white sand beach, Gili Air offers, like Gili Meno, a peaceful atmosphere. If you love snorkeling, then put on your fins, your mask and grab your snorkel, because here the aquatic hike promises to be superb. Your exploration at the bottom of the sea will make you discover formidable aquatic species, you will swim with giant green turtles or hawksbills as well as tropical fish. The warmth of local life mixed with the sublime beauty of the landscape makes this site a destination of choice.

Gili Air is a mix of the other two Gili. It has facilities that have nothing to envy to those of Gili Trawangan (restaurants, hotels) while being much more peaceful.

  • Activity: some diving schools, snorkeling, some evenings, beach, bike…
  • Accommodation: mainly bungalows.
  • Restaurant: wide choice of restaurants for all tastes and all budgets.

This island is made for you if: you want to relax without getting bored and enjoy more upscale facilities than the one on Gili Meno.

Gili Air Eastern coast looking at Lombok
Beach on Gili Air, looking at Lombok Island. Laurent Bigué, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

3. Gili Trawangan, the island to party

We cannot all unanimously love calm; that’s a fact. Fortunately, moreover, because I dare not imagine what our world would be like then. A festive atmosphere, nothing much better to enjoy life. Gili Trawangan is world renowned for this. The parties are exceptional on this island and leave a pleasant taste. More populated, more developed, it is an ideal destination for holidays. Do not be surprised that on the evening or the morning of your departure, a shadow of sadness appears on your face. This island has the magic of never being enough for the visitor. We never want to leave this island.

Read also: 2 Weeks Itinerary in Bali | What to do and visit in Bali for 14 Days | Best Itinerary

It is the largest but the most urbanized and lively of the three islands. The atmosphere in Trawangan is clearly festive with visitors coming from all over the world.

  • Possible activity: diving school, snorkeling, clubbing, beach, night market, cycling…
  • Accommodation: wide variety of accommodation (hostel, bungalows, high-end resort, etc.)
  • Restaurant: wide choice of restaurants for all tastes and all budgets.

This island is therefore rather made for you if: you like to party, you travel alone and/or you like to mingle with other travelers…

Beach - Gili Trawangan (16950555226)
Beach on Gili Trawangan. Jorge Láscar from Melbourne, Australia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The diving sites in Lombok

Scuba diving in Lombok is organized mainly either around Senggigi in the west, or around the Gili Islands in the northwest, or in the south at Belongas Bay.

In Belongas Bay, we discover a wide variety of sites to see hammerhead shark, pinnacles with abundant marine life of tuna, barracuda and mobula rays visible particularly from June to the end of October. Senggigi dive sites are made up of rocky slopes and plateaus on which soft corals and colorful gorgonians host small marine species. They are more macro diving spots. The sites are accessible to all levels of diving.

The dive sites around the islands Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno are also a favorite area from Lombok. This truly charming, car-free Indonesia dive destination offers more beaches and reefs for scuba diving, snorkeling and snorkeling. The dive sites are easy to explore, there is little current, pretty coral gardens, a maximum depth of 32 meters (105 miles) and lots of turtles. Ideal for doing a PADI Open Water Diver (level 1) or for swimming with turtles while snorkeling.

Best time to dive in Gilis Islands, Lombok

Diving in the Gili Islands is possible all year round but try to avoid the months of December and January. Heavy rains during these months reduce visibility somewhat. The best season for diving is from May to September.

Photo credit (main picture): Author: Kok Leng Yeo from Singapore (CC BY 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Photo description: Gili Islands & Gunung Rinjiani, Lombok, Indonesia.

From Bali to Lombok

You can get from Bali to Lombok by: plane, speed boat or ferry. If your budget is tight and looking for the cheapest then the Ferry will be your choice. Then the plane is surprisingly 2 times cheaper than the boat and faster so the plane will be the best choice, unless you fear the plane or prefer the boat you can then turn to these Fast boats.

Lombok is an Indonesian island, separated from Bali by the Lombok Strait. Lombok is what many consider to be the authentic Bali, not yet eaten away by mass tourism. Gorgeous beaches, waterfalls to die for and a volcano towering over the island with stunning views.

Compared to Bali, there are very few tourists in Lombok and the local people have retained their local lifestyle. Although some high-end hotels have already started to appear, the majority remain very accessible with inexpensive and traditional accommodation.

How to get to Lombok from Bali?

You can go from Bali to Lombok either by plane (around 30 minuts flights) or by fat boat (around 2 ½ hours).

Flights from Bali to Lombok

The old airport, Selaparang International Airport (AMI) was closed on September 30, 2011 to be replaced by Bandara Internasional Lombok (LOP) Flights to and from Bali are operated by these companies:

  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Wings Air
  • Lion Air
  • NAM Air
  • Air Asia

Fast boats from Bali to Lombok

Possible to connect Bali to Lombok by Fastboat. These depart from the port of Padangbai first go to the Gili Islands and then go to the port of Bangsal in Lombok. So you can choose to land in Gili or Lombok. Some companies leave from Serangan further south of Bali but the price is twice as expensive as via the port of Padangbai!

Via Padangbai Port:

From the following cities: Canggu, Candidasa, Jimbaran, Kuta, Legian, Nusa Dua, Sanur, Seminyak, Sukawati, Ubud

  • PADANGBAI – GILI – PADANGBAI – City Back
  • PADANGBAI – GILI – AMED
  • PADANGBAI – GILI – NUSA LEMBONGAN – SANUR – City Back

Via Amed Port:

Departing from the following cities: Amed and Tulamben

  • AMED – GILI – AMED
  • AMED – GILI – PADANGBAI – City Back
  • AMED – GILI – NUSA LEMBONGAN – SANUR – City Back
  • AMED – GILI ONE WAY

From Sanur – Serangan:

Only people wishing to visit/stay in Nusa Lembongan and Gili. No direct route between Sanur and Gili.
From the following cities: Canggu, Jimbaran, Kuta, Legian, Nusa Dua, Sanur, Seminyak, Sukawati, Ubud, Uluwatu

  • SANUR – NUSA LEMBONGAN – GILI – PADANGBAI – City Return (itinerary also possible via Serangan see below)
  • SERANGAN – NUSA LEMBONGAN/NUSA PENIDA – GILI – PADANGBAI – City Back
  • SANUR – NUSA LEMBONGAN – GILI – AMED

Bali – Lombok by public boat (Public ferry)

The Ferry is the cheapest and slowest solution. The price is IDR 46,000/person, it is possible to bring a car or a scooter. The departure is from the port of Padangbai in Bali and the arrival in Lembar in the South West of Lombok. The crossing lasts about 5 hours, plus sometimes the wait to embark / disembark. Departures are regular 24 hours a day, tickets to be purchased on site at the port directly before departure.

The ferry designates the public ferry departing from the port of Padangbai in Bali and arriving at the port of Lembar in Lombok, which takes 5 hours. Any other boat is not a ferry but a fast-boat. There is on average a ferry every 2 hours and this 24 hours a day.

Watch out for incidentals! You have to add the price to go to the port of Padangbai (still 2 hours from the south of Bali), and also add the price to go from Lembar to your resort in Lombok, outside the port of Lembarest under the influence of ‘a local mafia that is efficient enough to make it almost impossible to buy the race at a normal price….

In addition, to the 5h crossing, you have to add the road time to go and leave the 2 ports… in short, a very long day awaits you….

Let’s be clear: apart from the few situations described below, the public ferry is of little interest!…

However, the slow-ferry becomes an interesting option in a few situations:

1. if you have a vehicle to transport, such as a scooter rented in Bali. The ferry also takes cars, but beware the price is high: you might as well rent a car and then another in Lombok. The rates per passenger and per vehicle are visible on the official website of the ASDP company. (choose province = Bali, departure = Padangbai, arrival = Lembar)

2. if you are a group of at least 4 people, and you have time to spare (!): at €3 per person instead of €20/30 per fast-boat/plane, the ferry may be amortized. Not recommended, however, if your travel time is short, because you will lose a whole day of transport, and this on each trip… time ismoney…

3. if you leave from Padangbai (or from Amed): if you are already in the north of Bali, the 5 hours of crossing the slow-ferry will be compensated by the 2 hours of road that you will not have to do to reach Bali airport.

The essential things to do in Lombok

Visit Lombok: What are the best things to do and see in this jewel of the Indonesian archipelago?

1. Pura Batu Bolong
2. Senggigi Beach
3. Kuta Lombok
4. Belongas Bay
5. Benang Kelambu
6. Pura Lingsar
7. The Gili Islands
8. Mount Rinjani

Where to stay in Lombok?

Lombok (which means “chilli” in Javanese) is a volcanic island in Indonesia, located in the Bali Sea within the Lesser Sunda Islands, between the islands of Bali and Sumbawa. Recognized by Unesco as a biosphere reserve, the island is indeed famous for its exceptional fauna and luxuriant flora. Renowned for its surfing “spots”, its crystal clear waters and its coral reefs, it has attracted a clientele fond of exoticism and authenticity: it is -for the moment- much less invaded by tourist crowds than its sister Bali , and will seduce you with its typically Indonesian strong character.

Wondering what to do in Lombok during your stay? We present to you the essentials to fully enjoy the treasures of this volcanic island!

1. Pura Batu Bolong

This Hindu temple is located in the middle of an idyllic setting: overlooking the rocky coastline, it allows you to come and admire the splendid sunset on the seaside while enjoying the peaceful atmosphere and the spirituality emanating from the place. Its many pagodas and statues impose silence and help to reinforce the tranquility of the place. A must stop for anyone who wants to visit Lombok while getting away from the frenetic atmosphere reigning in its beach bars!

SenggigiPuraBatuBolong
Senggigi Pura Batu Bolong. Torbenbrinker, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

2. Senggigi Beach

If you do not yet know what to do in Lombok, Senggigi is the dream seaside resort; coconut palms, fine sandy beaches, ideal for lazing around and resting! Senggigi beach is a 13 km (8 miles) beach bordered by clear turquoise water: a reference known throughout Asia. The large size of the beach gives you the opportunity to isolate yourself and enjoy a few quiet hours, between sky and sand.

Senggigi Beach Boats
View of part of Senggigi Beach, Lombok, Indonesia. (WT-en) Jpatokal at English Wikivoyage, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

3. Kuta Lombok

Kuta Lombok is an internationally renowned surf spot, and many people come to try their luck in the heart of these exotic landscapes. But who says surf spot says night entertainment: if it is easy to feast in Kuta, it is quite impossible to spend a relaxing and family holiday there, the various nightlife establishments clearly making an eye out for a public young and party animal came to visit Lombok.

Selamat Pagi, Kuta Lombok
Morning view of Kuta beach area, Lombok from Merese hill. Focusfeel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

4. Belongas Bay

What to do in Lombok if you are a fan of diving? Go to Belongas Bay, a small cove where many “dive centers” make it possible to twirl in the middle of a rich fauna and abundant colors! Hammerhead sharks can be approached by the more adventurous, but rest assured: these pose no danger! Easily accessible by car or scooter, it would be a shame to visit Lombok without carrying out this exceptional activity.

The dive sites

Scuba diving in Lombok is organized mainly either around Senggigi in the west, or around the Gili Islands in the northwest, or in the south at Belongas Bay.

In Belongas Bay, we discover a wide variety of sites with abundant marine life. Schools of tuna, barracuda and flights of mobula rays visible particularly from June to the end of October. Senggigi dive sites are made up of rocky slopes and plateaus on which soft corals and colorful gorgonians host small marine species. They are more macro diving spots. The sites are accessible to all levels of diving.

The dive sites around the islands Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno are also a favorite area from Lombok. This truly charming, car-free Indonesia dive destination offers more beaches and reefs for scuba diving, snorkeling and snorkeling. The dive sites are easy to explore, there is little current, pretty coral gardens, a maximum depth of 32 meters (105 miles) and lots of turtles. Ideal for doing a PADI Open Water Diver (level 1) or for swimming with turtles while snorkeling.

5. Benang Kelambu

In the middle of Mahogany (a mahogany forest), inland, a famous trekking path cracks until reaching the waterfalls of more than 30 m (98 feet) of Benang Kelambu. The icing on the cake: it is possible to swim in this water filtered by the volcanic rock of Lombok! Soothing place and offering a magnificent panorama of the lush landscapes of the island.

Located only 1 km (0,62 mile) away, the Benag Setokol waterfalls collapse into a 20 m (65 feet) high cavity, the starting point of a river flowing into a steep valley… where you can nevertheless refresh yourself and eat braised suckling pig, a local speciality!

Benang Kelambu - panoramio (1)
Benang Kelambu waterfall. Erlan Rudiyanto, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

6. Pura Lingsar

If you still don’t know what to do in Lombok, we recommend this jewel built in 1714 by the Hindus of Bali, it is the most important religious site on the island: Pura Lingsar is the perfect manifestation of the reigning religious syncretism in the Indonesian archipelago, the fruit of centuries-old mixing between different religions. The temple is a symbol of worship syncretism specific to the Indonesian archipelago, known to be a model of tolerance, and one of the unmissable monuments of the island!

COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM De poort van de pura in Lingsar TMnr 10016648
Lingsar temple. Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

7. The Gili Islands

The Gili Islands are the three pearls of Lombok, three paradisiacal islets where you can find all the activities specific to these little pieces of paradise: excursion in the middle of the coral reefs in palm and snorkel, workshops to discover the luxuriant jungle, or quite simply… idleness on the white sand beaches, sipping an iced coconut juice or a mixed fruit cocktail.

From Bali to Gili Islands | Complete guide to visit Meno, Air, Trawangan Islands

8. Mount Rinjani

To climb Mount Rinjani is to embark on a total adventure: it is reserved for an informed public and rather physically comfortable, because it is long – and this, whatever the path chosen – and grueling – the hundreds of meters of elevation gain are still going on. In addition, the paths taken plunge into a wild and luxuriant jungle, humid and sometimes oppressive due to its density! Strong emotions, in short, but which will leave you with lasting memories once you reach the top: well deserved given the effort, the view is quite simply one of the most beautiful in the Indonesian archipelago.

The little extra? It is possible to swim in a lake in the shape of a crescent moon, which took place within the crater formed by the volcano!

Gunung rinjani
Mount Rinjani is located in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara and Mount Rinjani is the 3rd highest mountain in Indonesia. The uniqueness of this mountain is the presence of a large lake and in the middle of the lake there is a new mountain finger which is still active today. Aldoarianto.87, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sources: Adventures and Sunsets, Journey Era

Photo credit (main picture): Hanif Dzaki (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Main photo description: Mount Rinjani National Park is a mountain located on the island of Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. There are also Mount Baru Jari and Lake Segara Anak which are tourist attractions. The peak of Mount Rinjani itself is at an altitude of 3 726 meters (12 224 feet) above sea level.