Our whirlwind tour of Indonesia!
Ahh Indonesia, the country that captured our imagination and left our taste buds tingling in the short week we spent there. Starting in Bali, a popular destination with Australians, we were unprepared for the pure natural beauty that awaited us as we whisked our way around this paradise nation. We visited a whopping 5 places in the week we were there, so here’s our Bali one week itinerary to help us share with you how we did it and how to avoid making the same mistakes we did!
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Our Bali one week itinerary
Bali – Ubud
We started this adventure with a short flight from Sydney to Bali Denpasar where we were greeted by our driver, Suka (Organised through our awesome airbnb host for IDR 400,000). Suka was a fountain of knowledge as he drove us for an hour to our hotel, explaining where we were and what there is to do in each town.
We arrived late at night but even then I was overwhelmed by this country. The intricate statues on each intersection and the little street food stalls were worlds away from the nightlife of Sydney. We wound our way around through jungle roads, I couldn’t help notice the sense of community that oozed from the people on the streets. We reached Ubud close to midnight and were treated to a peak at a local ceremony at the street temple. Suka explained that we were lucky to have been able to get through as the locals usually close the roads for these types of ceremonies. Locals walked around in traditional attire while hundreds of scooters lined the streets, it really was a nice unexpected welcome to Ubud. Embarrassingly, I can’t recall what the ceremony was for although I know Suka did tell us.
Ubud, Bali > Nusa Lembongan > Nusa Ceningan > Nusa Penida > Gili Air
Day 1 – A fruity salad breakfast with coconut pancakes, scrambled eggs and fresh watermelon juice served on our jungle view balcony…
Looking for flights to Bali? Here’s how we found our cheap flights>
Day 1 – Ubud Monkey Forest
Have you really been to Ubud if you haven’t visited The Monkey Forest? Wanting to make the most of our first day, we rose with the sun to watch it rise over our jungle view. After breakfast we took a stroll through town as we slowly made our way to one of Ubud’s biggest attractions. The walk should only have been 30 minutes but due to all the little curiosities along the way, it took us an hour. So definitely give yourself plenty of time to get there so you don’t have to rush past anything.
Reaching the main entrance to The Monkey Forest it was obvious this was much more of a tourist attraction than the photos have you believe. A huge car park already filling up with scooters and a big ticket booth gave it a ‘zoo’ kind of feel to begin with but once you’re inside it is far from that.
Stepping through the arch I was dubious about what we were about to experience, we’d heard of people being swarmed by Monkeys but was that really the case? I had thoughts of us going the whole morning and not seeing a single Monkey in this famous forest… I was wrong. Very wrong. It was amazing.
There are several paths you can take around The Monkey Forest, you really could spend all day here! Take your time, explore each little path and watch your bags! If they think you have something interesting, they’ll investigate it thoroughly.
Tips for your first trip to the Monkey Forest
Take loose items such as sunglasses
Have food on you – not even hidden in your bag!
Approach the monkeys! They’re wild! Let them come to you and don’t pet them!
Make eye contact! Definitely not with the big males, they’ll treat it as a threat
Expect to be jumped all over straight away
Keep your phone/camera on a wrist strap
Look up! You’ll be surprised who’s watching you from above
Go against the crowds – we had some of the best Monkey interactions when they weren’t surrounded by lots of people
The Monkey Forest kept us busy until lunchtime, so once we left the madness behind we headed in search of somewhere to eat. If you leave through a side exit you’ll walk straight out onto a busy side street and maybe even get to see a Monkey or two causing havoc in the shops. We chose to eat at D’Warung, a busy little restaurant that offered outdoor seating looking over their pond and water feature. It was a nice escape from the heat and their freshly squeezed mixed fruit juice was refreshing.
What better way to end your first day in Indonesia than with a Balinese Massage? After walking around town taking in the sights, sounds and smells we headed back to our hotel for our final Ubud treat. Bali is famous for its Spas and Balinese massages and having just left the Dairy Farm we were indeed ready for some pampering. We had looked around town to see what else was on offer, looking for an authentic yet relaxing experience; for what we wanted our hotel had the best package. There are definitely plenty of places to choose from so I don’t doubt you’ll find the perfect place for you.
We ended the day with a meal at Bebek Bengil, a traditional Balinese restaurant serving authentic Balinese food. The chicken Sata was delicious, served with rice and an egg it was plenty after a busy day. Dec had the chicken with the ‘local Balinese sauce’ which, although nice, if you’re not a fan of spicy food we suggest airing on the side of caution. Again served with rice and a small side salad it was plenty, but it was far spicier than we expected and we even had the chef watching out of his hatch to see how we would react to it.
If you plan on staying a little longer, here’s a guide on what else mainland Bali has to offer!
Day 2 – Nusa Lembongan + Yellow Bridge
Our second day and we were off to our second island. Nusa Lembongan is just a short ride away by fast boat. We had our next hotel organise the boat from Sanur – Nusa Lembongan as they managed to get us a better price that included car transfers from each hotel. We paid IDR 670,000 with Glory 2 Express fast boat, they collected us at 9:30am from our first hotel and after an interesting boat ride they dropped us off at our second hotel around lunch time.
From door to door the journey took about 2 hours but the actual boat ride was only 30 minutes. I’m not a fan of boats but thankfully Glory 2 Express don’t cram everyone onto their boats. Glory 2 Express use fairly new boats, which is why our hotel recommended them. Some of the others in the harbour were a bit, umm, questionable to say the least so I’m certainly glad of the choice we went with. It wasn’t too bumpy either, thanks to Sakur’s previous tips on getting the earlier boats as the water gets rougher later in the day.
From Nusa Lembongan Mushroom Bay, Glory 2 Express drove us to the otherside of the island in a little open backed car. Our hotel was on the quieter side of Nusa Lembongan but this, in my opinion, wasn’t a bad thing. Being away from the majority of the tourists meant that we could enjoy the island in relative peace as well as having access to Nusa Ceningan without the need of a bike!
Once we’d checked into our next hotel (Poh Manis Lembongan – Linked below) and gathered some local tips on where to eat from their manager John, we headed down the little track towards the harbour and the famous Yellow Bridge. This side of Nusa Lembongan was surprisingly busy but with locals not tourists, scooters coming and going, children playing in the streets. We found the people here extremely friendly too!
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If you’re looking for an Island Paradise, this is the place to be. Crossing the bridge into Nusa Ceningan you’re not short of bars and restaurants with waterside seating and steps leading down to the ocean, it’s an idyllic place to revive after a busy day travelling. Coming in the afternoon means the low tide leaves behind crystal clear waters too, so it’s the most picturesque time to come. Also, If you wait until just before the sun goes down, you’ll even manage to get a picture of this iconic bridge without any people on it.
We spent the rest of the day wandering around the area taking it all in and stopping off at whichever bar took our fancy. Ending the evening in ‘The Sands’ where we enjoyed some more amazing food, the sweet and sour chicken was delicious and their home made burgers were big enough they had Dec regretting ordering extra chips. Walking around these islands at night didn’t make us feel uncomfortable or unsafe, even when you reach the part where there are no lights. Guided just by torch light we really did feel like we were on a deserted paradise island, we never wanted to leave.
Day 3 – Nusa Penida
The day we had been waiting for was finally here!! Nusa Penida, our top bucket list item for this trip. With it’s growing fame thanks to Instagram and those classic views we knew we had to get here before it became a huge tourist trap. Our amazing host John helped us organise getting to and from the Island as well as organising a driver to get us around Nusa Penida. Although now we realise we could have gotten a boat for a lot cheaper than what he arranged, having his help for the whole trip made it worth the price. The whole day cost us IRD 1000,000, this included our return boat, a day with our own driver, entrance fees to the most popular spots and lunch so although it was more than we could have paid we feel it definitely wasn’t expensive and was 100% worth the money (AUD$94, for the day, for two of us…)
People say don’t get the public boats across to Nusa Penida, we say why? They aren’t the little wooden boats you see on the shore. The public boats act like buses, ferrying people to and from the surrounding areas and are the slightly bigger motorised boats. It’s IRD 50,000 per person, per trip if you want to organise it yourself and we highly suggest using them! Sit amongst the locals as they nip across for their shopping and get a taste for their daily life. It’s about half an hour by the public boat as it stops off at Lombok first before docking in Nusa Penida.
If you have arranged a driver or Bike hire prior to arriving to the Island, be sure to know the name of your driver/company before you arrive as there are crowds of men waiting to rent you a scooter once you step off the boat. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by it but if you’re firm and know where you’re going they will leave you alone, our driver met us straight off the boat, greeted us by our names (also important) and guided us to where the car was parked. If you haven’t arranged anything, there’s plenty to choose from when you get here but make sure the bikes are safe.
Having our car and driver hire meant we could get chauffeured to 3 spots of our choosing around the island. We know that this limited what we could see but we didn’t feel confident enough to brave it on our own and get a bike, so this was our compromise. Be prepared for some very bumpy rides, the roads here are practically none excitant and the drivers don’t exactly slow down.
Our first stop was the famous Kelingking Beach or T-rex beach as it’s famously known. Kelingking Beach was our whole reason for visiting Nusa Penida having first found out about it from a blog post, since then we’ve increasingly seen photos popping up all over the social media’s but mostly Instagram. Due to its growing fame, I would advise getting here early, we arrived around 9 am and it was already quite busy however by the time we left at about 10 am, the steep steps down the ‘spine’ were very crowded. Our guide knew all the best photo spots and helped us avoid any crowds, even helping us find the perfect place to fly the drone. It was everything we imagined and more! The locals have clearly clocked on to how popular it is becoming as there are now little shops popping up and buildings being developed nearby. If you can, buy some water off them. Help support the locals who’re home we are
One tip: Don’t wear flip-flops if you plan on walking down the iconic steps. They are steep and only made of rock and bamboo, I regretted wearing mine as soon as I saw them. Thankfully our guide helped us as much as he was able.
Kellingking Beach completely took our breath away, look out for wild Manta Ray here too!!
Angles Billabong/Broken Beach
Our next stop was Angles Billabong and Broken Beach. Surprisingly these were even more touristy than Kelingkings beach. Huge queues for the toilets and even a restaurant selling westernised food. I really wasn’t expecting it to be so busy, especially after the fairly peaceful morning we’d just had at the most famous landmark on the Island! That being said, we hadn’t actually done much research on the rest of the Island so as our guide took us down to the shore we were excited at what we would find. The views were stunning! The water around the Nusa Islands is so clear, I couldn’t help but just stand and watch it. Even being surrounded by so many people, there was a sense of calm there. Broken Beach was a popular spot for drone fans, so if you have one be aware of who’s around you and where their drones are. OH and be sure to have your swim stuff handy for Angles Billabong! If the waters are right you’ll be able to have a paddle in the tidal pools.
Top tip: Don’t try to fly your drone through the archway, we saw one guy lose his Mavic Air to the ocean when he attempted it and clipped the rocks. The arch isn’t as straight as it looks!
Our driver took us for some more photos before stopping off at a hidden cafe for some lunch. We didn’t actually know this was included until afterwards when we tried to pay, so it was a really nice surprise! The staff were dressed in traditional Indonesian clothes and as is the Indonesian way, they were also very friendly.
Broken bay – A beautiful natural phenomena that is worth putting up with the crowds for
The final stop for the day was Crystal Bay, the perfect end to a perfect day. White sands and as the name suggests, crystal clear waters make this beach the perfect place to soak up some sun. On the left of the beach is an old abandoned set of steps, our driver eagerly coaxed us over to them before we had the chance to refuse and helped lift me up; the bottom few steps appearing to have been missing for quite a while. Had it not have been for him insisting, I probably wouldn’t have climbed up but I’m glad I did! The views from the top were breathtaking, made better knowing that not many of the other beachgoers had spotted this stairway to viewpoint gold.
We got the boat back at 5pm after exploring some of the local shops by the shore. Another short boat ride saw us back at Nusa Lembongan in time for sunset from our balcony. If you’re ever in Nusa Lembongan and in need of a place to stay, we can’t recommend Poh Manis enough!
If you can’t get enough of inodnesias unique coast lines, Flores has a lot to offer too and is next on our Indonesia bucket list!!
It’s safe to say we absolutely must go back to Indonesia, Bali, Nusa Penida… all of it. It’s captured our hearts in a way we never expected a country to, the people are so friendly and ‘put up’ with the tourism boom incredibly well to say most of these places are just tiny islands. Check in next week for part 2 of our Bali one week itinerary and discover why Gili Air was the highlight of my year!
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