Bali has become a major destination in Asia, ideal for a romantic trip for couples or backpackers looking for unforgettable experiences. The beautiful beaches during the day turn into wild parties at night, the island offers many water activities at reasonable prices, hostels are plentiful and the food is very cheap. The center of the island abounds in rice paddy fields and other natural wonders, at its heart lies Ubud, epicurean hub for backpackers in search of nature, relaxation and fun, thanks to its many delicious restaurants and unique art pieces boutiques.
Java adds a little more adventure and authenticity to the journey, and offers a completely different experience, especially since it has a Muslim population while Bali is Hindu.
Combining Java and Bali is quite possible in two weeks but it is obviously necessary to make choices. Overall, we are very satisfied with our itinerary, so I detail it here if you want to get inspired! We started with hiking in Java then we relaxed in Bali
7 DAYS IN JAVA
Day 1: Arrive in Jakarta in the late morning and visit the Indonesian capital quickly. If there is one thing we would change in our route, it’s this: we should have arrived directly in Yogyakarta rather than Jakarta, to get one more day of travel. We just did not know it was possible. Jakarta is a huge city that has not much interest for backpackers. It is possible to arrive in Yogyakarta with the low-cost airline AirAsia from Singapore (going through Singapore can be a cheaper option you might want to check, rather than a direct flight to Indonesia).
Day 2: Early morning departure by train to Yogyakarta (7 am train, € 10). There are 5 trains a day, at 7 am, 7:30, 8:15, 9:05 or 4:20 p.m. Times and prices here. If your budget allows and if you did not arrive in Yogyakarta directly, rather choose an internal flight (1 hour, € 40) to save time. Night in Yogyakarta.
Day 3: Day in Yogyakarta to explore the city by walking, the Sultan Palace, wander through its bustling streets and tour the Batik painting shops.
Day 4: We rented a scooter and left early in the morning to Borobudur and Prambanan temples. Attention, the sooner the better to avoid being on the scooter in the hottest hours, as it is really unbearable! The ride is really long to Borobudur, on a crowded and polluted road, so I would advise to choose another means of transport. Prambanan is closer and there are buses that go there. Visit the two temples in one day is possible but quite intense, if you have more time and want to do it at your ease, prefer two days.
Day 5: Bus to Mount Bromo. We took a shuttle offered by our guesthouse (Venezia Garden), which takes 12 hours to reach its destination through really tough roads! Ask if there are flights with local companies… We’ve been dropped in the evening in a hotel included in the tour.
Day 6: Wake up at dawn for the “Sunrise Tour” to see the sunrise at Mount Bromo. It is true that it is beautiful but there are so many people that the experience is a bit wasted. Again, wear very warm clothes because it is mountain and it is seriously cold. Honestly, despite our wool sweater, our jacket and woolen hat we had to rent, it was cold! In the afternoon, we headed straight for the lake Kawa Ijen, via a shuttle because it is very difficult to do without a tour (when in a hurry).
Day 7: Hike the Kawah Ijen, a unique experience not to be missed, a real highlight of our trip to Indonesia. Kawah Ijen is not far from Bali, you can on the same day take the ferry to Bali. We took the one at Gilimanuk Bali (30 minutes) to reach Permuteran, a beach north of Bali. Night in Permuteran.
8 DAYS in BALI and Gili ISLANDS
Day 8: Permuteran is the nearest beach from the island Palau Menjangan, which is one of the best diving spots in Bali and one of the less visited because it is located north of the island. Our guesthouse, Arjuna Homestay, run by a French, was also a dive center. After the dive, we tried to take a bus to Lovina Beach, but impossible to catch one (they are very rare, especially late in the day, in all Bali!)… So we had to take a taxi. Overnight in Lovina Beach, one of the northern beaches, friendly because not too touristy, but there is not much to do there.
Day 9: Head to Ubud, the only way we found was to take a taxi. We asked for a stop in the middle of the way, to see a viewpoint on the lakes Buyan, Tamblingan or Beratan (one of them, they are close to each other). Then enjoy Ubud and relax
Day 10 and 11: Full day in Ubud. Enjoy everything the city has to offer: shows, restaurants, Balinese massage, Monkey Forest etc. The second day, rent a scooter to stroll around in the rice fields of Ubud and go to the rice terrace Jatiluwih, and the Tirta Empul temple.
Day 12: Ferry to the Gili Islands. Late afternoon and night in Gili Trawangan. Enjoy the beach, the “backpackers in flip-flops” atmosphere and the cool bars.
Day 13: Beach, snorkeling, shopping, enjoy a cocktail, watch the sunset in Gili Trawangan. You can also plan a trip to one of the other Gili islands, which are much more quiet.
Day 14: We had planned to go to Amed Beach for snorkeling or diving, but finally we stayed a little more in Gili Trawangan. In the evening, we returned by ferry to Kuta – the hub of party animals in Bali.
Day 15: A little lazy, we took an organized tour to see the Uluwatu, the Tanah Lot temple and have dinner at Jimparan Bay. Last festive evening in Kuta.
Day 16: Taxi to Denpasar for our return flight.
If you do not have 16 days, I would suggest finding a way to get more quickly to Yogyakarta to save one day. You can stay one day less in Gili, or skip the Mount Bromo or the visit of the temples in Bali Tanah Lot and Uluwatu (both superb but touristy).