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Indonesia Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your Indonesia vacation


Renee38
Villarisi Hotel, Kuta, Bali, Indonesia 5 stars
The Villarisi Hotel is located on a side street, away from the heavily trafficed thoroughfare but just 5 minutes from the beach and surrounded by shops.The small , 36 room, boutique hotel features traditional Balinese and Javanese architecture and decor. Rooms open on to private balconies and are airconditioned with mini bars, TV, phone, and Western style baths. On the hotel premises is a restaurant serving Chinese, European and Indonesian cuisine either inside or on the patio. The hotel also has a swimming pool, accessible over a covered bridge, a spa, a rooftop garden with beach views and an underground parking lot. The staff is extremely courteous and helpful. Breakfast is included in the room price.

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JamesH
Surf Boat Trip: Bali, Lombok, Nusa Lembongan 4 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
A friend and me took a boat trip from Kuta, Bali. The company is called Captain Coconut’s and they were a good team. We left early in the morning from Kuta harbour. The other passengers sharing the boat with us turned out to be a really good group; there were two Spanish guys, four Australians, four French, and one Swiss guy.
The boat took us first to Nusa Lembongan, and we explored Shipwrecks, Lacerations, Razors and Playgrounds. Do not be fooled by the name, Playgrounds was a heavy wave breaking over shallow reef and at low tide I could see bare coral under the sucking waves! A point to note is that, at times like this when there were a range of breaks to surf, there was enough to go around, but on other days, the problem with being on a boat is, you are travelling with a crowd already. Also, other boat trips tend to follow the same route, so the surf can get seriously crowded.
We surfed Super Sucks, Scar Reef, Yo Yo’s, and also Desert Point, which was an epic day. A huge swell had been forecast for the day we went to Desert Point and we were not disappointed. Huge waves, literally three times head high were peeling across the reef. I went in the water but didn’t dare surf; these waves were too much for me! I spent most of my time paddling away from the break as a rip was pulling us towards the breaking waves. A couple of guys off the boat who had helmets surfed and had a great time. If I do another boat trip I will definitely buy a helmet, I think it can really give you that extra bit of confidence that can really improve the surfing you do.
My favourite day was at Scar Reef which we had breaking perfectly, and at head high, not too big.


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hosuli
Jali's Cafe, Gili Meno, LOmbok 5 stars
Jali's cafe was another one of my favorite places on Gili Meno island. Located on the front/main beachit is a lovely little place with little open bamboo huts/platforms where you can eat. They serve simple Indonesian dishes mainly and I found that it was the cheapest place to have dinner on the island. Often n the evenings the owner and his friends were playing guitars and drums on the porch, really good atmosphere. They also had a little internet hut, said on the wall that it is always online. Internet worked once during our two week holiday but never mind, it somewhat came a joke to come every day to check if it might work.

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hosuli
Raja's bungalows, Senggigi 3 stars
We stayed four night all together in Raja's Bungalows and even I didn't much like Senggigi town itself this hostel was really good. The have big and clean rooms with little verandas in front of them. Rooms are nicely decorated and they all have fans. The rooms also had lovely and big outdoors bathrooms with showers, western style toilets and also Indonesian Mandis (tub for your bathwater). In the evening the bathroom walls were taken over by tiny gekkos and once we accidently crushed one under our backpack..poor thing. Raja's Bungalows also had a free morning wake up at 4.30 am by the local mosques which maybe was not the best thing in our stay.

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hosuli
Senggigi, Lombok 2 stars
After our exhausting trekking to Senggigi we planned to rest few days in Senggigi but our planned stay was bit longer because my boyfriend fell ill and had high fever. The medical service test of the trip, Senggigi doctors turned out to be really good. Senggigi itself is a main tourist town in Lombok and we were visiting outside the busy season so all the street sellers targeted us few tourist. Bit too much attention from them really, because you could not even have your dinner without people coming to sell dvds and bracelets. Felt like everything was just targeted to tourist and there was no local life. Maybe this is why Senggigi did not left really positive image in my mind. There is a beach but I think the beaches on near by islands are much better.

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hosuli
Senaru village, Lombok 4 stars
Senaru village is usually the starting point for Gunung Rinjani treks but even if you don't go trekking I can recomment the village. It is really beautiful village, on the slopes of the mountains and I think it was also nice to breah some cooler mountain air. Around the village there is couple of different waterfalls where you can swim. We visited the nearer one but it was the last day of Ramadan holiday so the waterfall was packed with local families. I didn't wanna/dare to go for a swim in my bikinis under all the local muslim families already staring at us so unfortunately missed that experience although it looked really tempting. Apparently usually the waterfalls is very quiet and you can easily go for a cooling swim.

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hosuli
Gili Trawangan, Lombok 2 stars
The biggest one of the three Gili Islands and the busiest. We made a day visit from Gili Meno by the shuttle boat and I must admit I didn't really like the place. Too many bars, hundreds of accommodation places, lots of people and just too many people trying to sell weed or magic mushrooms. It really is the party island from the three Gili Islands and I think it good place to go if you are young, single and into partying and some beach life. But if you wanna see Indonesian way of living I think it might not be a place to go. But at least we got to use the internet that worked properly and they had good bookshops to change our already read books to new ones. And some good restaurants too.

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hosuli
Amber House, Gili Meno, Lombok 5 stars
We stayed two weeks in Amber house, on the north end of Gili Meno. In the end of the two week stay we calculated we ended up paying around 70euros all together for the accomodation. This included our own bungalow with a fan and fresh water bath room/shower just near the beach and breakfast in the morning. Indonesian style we could choose from pancakes (banana and pineapple), toasts or fresh fruit salad and tea and coffee. I think this is one of the cheapest places to stay in Gili Meno. Theplace is run by a lovely young Indonesian family and they also have a restaurant if you want to have lunch or dinner there. In the peak times( July-Sep) it is good to reserve in advance.

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hosuli
Good heart cafe, Gili Meno, Lombok 5 stars
During our two weeks on Gili Meno island Good Heart cafe on the west side of this small island became to our favorite hang out. During the day they have bamboo sun chairs on the beach, reggae playing in the background and great snorkelling just in front of your nose. I think I had fresh lemon juice there nearly every day.In the evening it s great place to watch the sunset and enjoy a dinner. The menu is really variable, lot of fresh sea food available daily. The whole places is ncely decorated with shells, bamboo lights and candles so it is really atmospheric.

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hosuli
Gili Meno Snorkelling 5 stars
All around the north side of Gili Meno there is really good snorkellig and the gear can be rented from most of the hotels. Mostly I liked the Meno wall reef in front of the Good Heart restaurant because it was really easy to access from the beach and there is a nice slow current which takes you to the other end of the reef so you don't even have to swim. Corals were really beautiful here. On the north side of the island it is the best change to see big turtles, I saw four on one snorkelling trip which was amazing. Turtles can be best seen early moring before all the diving and snorkelling company boats hit the reef. Also in fron of Amber House there was good snorkelling. I liked the fact that all the spots were so easily available, you could ust swim there from the beach when you felt like.

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hosuli
Gili Meno island, Lombok 5 stars
Paradise! We arrived to Gili Meno after sunset and it seemed like the island was asleep, only few lights every here and there. I thought it was perfect after busy Bali. The island is indeed very peaceful and tropical paradise. Great white sandy beaches and terrific snorkelling. Gili Meno is the smallest of the three Gili Islands and also the most quiet and clean. There are about 10-15 different accommodation options and some good places to eat. Our planed one weeks saty extended to two weeks because we liked it so much. The beaches are just some of the best and the locals are really friendly. If I would have a normal permanent job and one month holiday a year then I might spend my holiday in Gili Meno, it was so relaxing. And the sunrise seen from the beach over mountain Rinjani is just stunning.

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hosuli
Gunung Rinjani Trekking, Lombok 5 stars
Gunung Rinjani is the second highest mountain in Indonesia (3726m) and we had decided to trek to the top. Not quite sure if we were fit enough and if it was already raining there we asked around and got millions of different answers,varying from people have died there, very difficult to ” I always climb it drunk and smoke weed all the time, very easy”. Finally we got some sensible answer and decided to try our strenghts. We booked our trek through Rinjani trekking club, highly recommended! Our guide and portier were amazing and I would not have done the trek without them. Really cheering and pushing us forward even in the hardest bits. On the first day I was so sure I'm never goona make it:) We took 3 days, 2 nights programme, which was enough for us to get to the summit. It is really a tough one if you're not super fit. If you wanna make it to the summit I would say make a 4days, 3 nights hike. And the cheaper agencies who book the trip are always ot so good, we met two english girls who's guide was completely in experience, unfit and all the time 3hours behind the girls. Not what you want.
Rinjani was the toughest trek I ever done but the most amazing and rewarding too!


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AndreaLJC
Costs in Indonesia 2 stars
Costs in Indonesia vary loads, usually because you are being lied to so be careful to not get ripped off. Always look for prices before asking costs or ask of approximate costs at your hostel or hotel first. If anyone tries to do you a favour there will normally be money involved even if it doesn’t seem like it at first! If you are wise with your spending, not because of budgeting but because of not being overcharged then you can expect to pay about ₤15 a day (that will include a hostel room, food, drinks and sight seeing). Travel can set you back (as again you are often lied too) but often it is much cheaper to fly long distances any way so make sure you check all your options.

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JennyPenny
Gift-Giving in Indonesia 4 stars
Gift-giving is quite popular in Indonesia. I have found that presents range in type, cost, and meaning. Whenever I traveled, I was reminded by Indonesians to pick up local “oleh-oleh” (souvenirs) to bring back and share. For example, when I visited Yogyakarta, it was customary for me to purchase bags of crunchy snacks (e.g., peanuts, fried eel, shrimp crackers), “lapis legit” (layered spice cake), and different candies for my friends and work colleagues in Jakarta. Food gifts go over very well, I might add. On a trip to Bali, I was sure to buy sarongs (cloth wraps) and trinkets such as necklaces and purses for others, but I think the dried jackfruit and bananas were more popular! As an FYI, “Brownies Kukus” (chocolate brownies that are steamed and not baked) is a famous oleh-oleh from Bandung and “Bika Ambon” (chewy rice-flour cake) is a well-known dessert from Medan. It’s great to see travelers on airplanes carrying boxes and boxes of souvenir desserts, which may be picked up from the airport stores in case you are in a rush or forgot to buy something earlier. If you are coming from overseas, it is good to stock up on souvenirs to be given to people who help you out while you travel in the country. I recommend light, small items like key chains, calendars, pens, magnets, toys for little ones, etc. T-shirts are much appreciated, too, but go for sizes like adult small, adult medium, or child large. Some people I know like to give cigarettes, especially when traveling in rural areas, but I haven’t done that before as I am a non-smoker and I prefer not to encourage the habit, which unfortunately, is widespread in Indonesia and even among young boys. If you happen to be invited somewhere for a meal, you can bring a sweet of some kind or fruit. Avoid alcohol unless you know the people really well and/or they ask for you to bring it. If you attend a potluck and are bringing a dish of your own to share, try to make something vegetarian and definitely halal (permissible for Muslims). If it’s a holiday or special event, ask around and others will give you ideas for the right gift. Also, it is useful to know that it is not usually customary to open gifts (e.g., birthday presents) in front of others. There are exceptions of course, but don’t get offended if the person indicates that he/she will open your gift later.

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JennyPenny
Potentially Sensitive Questions in Indonesia 3 stars
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Though I have traveled quite extensively in Indonesia, I still sometimes get frustrated with “sensitive questions.” I know that Indonesians often do not mean to offend, so the discussions can be forgivable for the most part. Travelers, particularly women visitors, should know that it is common practice to be asked about things that may be considered private to you, but public knowledge to others, even strangers. For example, popular questions guests to the country can expect are listed below:

1) Where are you from?
2) Are you married?
3) Do you have children?
4) How old are you?
5) What is your religion?

My women friends and I have also been asked quite frequently:

6) Why are you traveling alone? Where is your husband, boyfriend, or father? How come they let you go out on your own?
7) What do you think about [insert almost any idea about sex and sexuality here]?
8) Do you want to have an Indonesian boyfriend or husband? Why or why not?
9) What birth control method do you use?

Don’t be shocked that these questions are a part of standard chitchat. It is also considered polite to ask Indonesians similar questions as the ones they have asked you. If you do not want to answer a certain question, simply say you’d rather not answer such a personal question as it is not your custom or tradition. I have found this to be quite effective and a nice “educational moment.” You can offer suggestions for other forms of small talk, too, like sports, music, weather, etc. Sometimes you might find someone who is particularly bold and may intentionally be pushing the limits of discussion. You can politely change the subject, refuse to answer a question, or ignore the person altogether.


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JennyPenny
Bathrooms and Toilets in Indonesia 3 stars
Bathrooms and toilets: what a topic for travelers! I wasn’t sure what bathrooms and toilets were going to be like in Indonesia before I visited. I had heard various descriptions which sort of prepared me, though. When I actually finally saw them, they made a lot of sense in terms of design and function. Bathrooms can look different depending on where you go (e.g., urban versus rural areas). A typical bathroom will have a toilet that is essentially a hole in the ground/ceramic with footrests on the left and right sides. A person squats down over the hole to use it. If you are wearing pants, it is helpful to roll the legs up before entering the toilet area as the bathroom floor can be quite wet. The area can be wet because people will use a plastic scooper (it looks like a very small bucket with a long handle) to take water from a tank or large bucket and poor it down the hole, i.e., flush the toilet. Sometimes it can take several scoops of water to adequately flush the toilet. As an FYI, Indonesians do not usually use toilet paper. They instead use their left hand and lots of water to clean themselves. You can get toilet paper from a store and carry it with you if you prefer not to follow suit. Just be sure to put toilet paper into a garbage can and not down the toilet if possible since clogs can occur. The bathroom’s tank of water typically does not have a lid, is waist high or higher, and should be full of water. If the tank is low, turn the faucet on to fill it up. Fill it up after you use it as well. The water should be kept clean, so do not step/climb into the tank, wash your hands in the tank, or put anything but the plastic scooper in it. The tank is a communal water source for toilet and bath use, which means any contamination could cause problems for more than one person. Don’t be surprised if you happen to see little squiggly things in the tank that look like small worms. They are probably mosquito larvae, so be careful. I have seen people in more rural areas put fish in the tanks in order to keep the mosquitoes at bay. As for baths or showers, take the water scooper and pour water over yourself one scoop at a time. The water will usually be cold, so you will either have to bathe quickly or take your time depending on your temperature threshold. If you are staying at a hotel, there will probably be “Western” showers or bathtubs, toilets, and if you’re lucky, hot water. If the Western toilet does not flush with a handle properly, use a scooper and water from the nearby tank to flush it. As for a mini-vocabulary lesson, please note the following:

Men = Pria or Laki-Laki

Women = Wanita or Perempuan

Bathroom/Restroom = Kamar Kecil (pronounced “ka-mar ke-chill) or WC (pronounced “way-say”)

Bathroom that’s usually in a house and you can take a bath/shower in it = Kamar Mandi (pronounced “ka-mar maan-dee”)


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gracewaruntu
Umang Island - west java 4 stars
A simple and exotic bungalow is the most attractive scenery we will see, beside the clear blue ocean which make us want to swim instantly. Me and my family spent 2 night and 3 days there and we experienced the most wonderful time since there's only 3 bungalow that is occupied, we felt like it was private island. The sky was very clear and the wind not so windy but the water...oh...made me even love it more. For sure if you want to have some cozy and quiet moments this is the right place to go, the ocean was clean, calm and the place is very peacefull.The services were also good, they were very friendly,helpful and profesional, too. Especially for the honeymooners this is the right place to go, no body will able to find you there......

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JennyPenny
Mosques in Indonesia 3 stars
Mosques in Indonesia are special Islamic places for religious, cultural, informational, daily, and even political activities. The architectural designs and sizes of mosques range from simple to complex, “traditional” to “modern,” and small to very large. Some are recently built, while others have been around a long time. There are thousands of mosques across the archipelago. Muslims will know proper mosque etiquette, but in case you are a non-Muslim visitor, here are some tips that I learned from my own travels:

(1) Where possible, ask a Muslim friend or local to accompany you to a mosque. He/she can “coach” you on the in’s and out’s of the place, various customs, and the significance or meaning of particular traditions. I have found that Indonesian Muslims are generally very friendly and willing to help new visitors out.
(2) Dress conservatively (i.e., cover all parts of your body). Women should cover their hair with a scarf. I purchased some beautiful scarves at local markets at inexpensive prices, so if you don’t have one, head to a market or even department store.
(3) Remove your shoes before entering the mosque, especially near and on the carpeted areas.
(4) If you are unsure of something, you can either ask or mimic others.
(5) Avoid speaking too loudly in a mosque. As an American with an unintentional “loud” voice, I had to keep this in mind quite a bit.
(6) Do not disturb someone who is in the process of praying. For example, do not speak to them, walk in front of them, or startle them in some manner.
(7) If you bring a camera, politely ask the Imam (religious leader) or manager and/or the person you would like a picture of BEFORE taking any pictures. Avoid flash where possible or loud gadgets.
(8) Some mosques will not let foreign visitors stay during prayers. Don’t be offended if you are asked to leave.
(9) Avoid bringing or having food and drinks at a mosque. If something is offered to you, however, graciously accept part of it.
(10) There are no benches or chairs in mosques for the most part. When sitting, sit with your legs crossed, not stretched out and pointing towards anyone or anything, especially at the qibla or “kiblah” in Indonesian (direction of Mecca).


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AndreaLJC
Overnight long distance buses 3 stars
If you are planning on getting an overnight long distance bus in Indonesia that has air-con then make sure you bring plenty of jumpers, jackets, blankets and socks!!  At first the cool air is really nice but after the first few hours your toes start to go blue! Most of the air-con doesn't switch off wither and a lot of it leaks so not only do you freeze but you get soaked as well!  I have had to sit with all the warm clothes I have and a rain mac on plenty of times!  Even with three of four jumpers its still cold and I have even revered to buying a blanket when the bus makes a stop off!  Seriously it feels like minus 5 degrees so go prepared!

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JennyPenny
Taxi Tips in Indonesia 3 stars
Most large cities in Indonesia have taxis. If you choose to take this form of transportation to get from Point A to Point B, I have a few tips. In general, I recommend riding in Blue Bird or Silver Bird taxis if you are in Jakarta. Be careful as there are fakes. These brand names will be printed on the taxis clearly on the windshields and you can special order them. As for more specific advice, first, ask the taxi driver to use a meter whenever possible. You will need to make this request *before* you get into the taxi. If the driver offers a flat rate, you can bargain until you get an acceptable price, but this generally requires that you know a bit about the travel distance and appropriate fares. Second, make sure that you have your bags and luggage with you. If you put items in the trunk, watch as the trunk lid goes down before you get seated. Third, you can sit in the front passenger seat or in the backseats. The driver may be more likely to chat if you sit in the front. Fourth, pay the driver after you remove your belongings from the taxi. Hold your items or keep them close to you to avoid theft by others moving pass or around you. Fifth, rounding up to the next thousand rupiah is common practice when paying the bill. You can tip a few thousand rupiah if you feel like you were provided good service. Sixth, feel free to ask the driver for a business card or his cell phone/handphone number in case you want to hire him in particular in the future. Seventh, try to make trips during daylight hours. If you ride a taxi in the evening, definitely use a reputable taxi company and travel with other people where possible. Eighth, beware of taxi scams or thefts by drivers. The latter problem can involve more than one partner in crime. Ninth, exit the vehicle on the opposite side of traffic so as to avoid accidents. Tenth, not all taxi drivers will be fluent in English, so it helps to speak slowly, try a bit of Indonesian, and write down on paper your destination and directions if you have them to show them.

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