DAY 01 JAKARTA CITY TOUR
On your first day, you’ll fly into the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta. Nicknamed the “Big Durian”, the sprawling megalopolis covers over 290 square miles in the western part of Java. You’ll touch down at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
Jakarta’s reputation as a polluted, traffic-choked city has unfortunately preceded it, but nobody should miss it: Jakarta is an interesting study in Indonesia’s modern history, as it used to be the center of the Dutch colonial presence in the “East Indies”, as Indonesia was called at the time, and entered the postwar years under the sway of the charismatic President Sukarno. The Dutch colonizers and the strongman that replaced them shaped Jakarta’s most popular landmarks.
Start with a visit to Fatahillah Square in the north of the city, the crumbling former Dutch colonial capital. The vast square used to be a venue for public executions, while the former statehouse behind it is now a museum dedicated to Indonesia’s colonial history.
Move south to Central Jakarta, and you travel in time from the 19th to the 20th century, where Indonesia’s first president Sukarno solidified his place in Indonesia’s history with several notable buildings.
The Monas towers over Central Jakarta, the navel of a plaza that is itself surrounded by government buildings and the Presidential Palace. Book a tour to the very top of the Monas to get a bird’s eye view of Central Jakarta.
Just a short distance away, you can visit Istiqlal Mosque – the biggest mosque in Southeast Asia, its size very appropriate for the biggest Islamic nation in the region.
DAY 02 JAKARTA PARK TOUR
Start your day fashionably late with a mid-morning visit to Jalan Surabaya Antique Market, where you can look over a treasure trove of Indonesian antiques, old shadow puppets, salvaged ship parts, used luggage, and vinyl LPs. You’ll easily spend two hours here, ending your spree just in time for a mid-day meal.
Take your lunch at Dapoer, a Peranakan Indonesian restaurant off a leafy park in South Jakarta, then visit a couple more Jakarta tourist spots:
The sprawling Taman Mini theme park (tel: +62 21 840 9210, www.tamanmini.com) tries to condense Indonesia’s many provinces down to a few signature attractions, giving visitors a piecemeal tour of the entire archipelago through the collection of museums on the premises, and the different traditional houses from all over the country with each one showcasing exhibits from the house’s province of origin.
Finish your visit by taking the cable car takes you above a large lake that shows a miniature map of the Indonesian archipelago.
Alternatively, you can visit the Ragunan Zoo (tel: +62 21 780 5280), a 135-hectare zoo in Pasar Minggu that shelters almost 300 species and the world’s biggest primate center. Don’t miss the daily orangutan tour to get a close-up look at these surprisingly human-like ape cousins of ours.
The evening of the second day might be a good time to prepare your trip to the next destination in our itinerary: Yogyakarta. You can fly from Soekarno-Hatta Airport to Yogyakarta (Compare prices on flights from Soekarno-Hatta Airport to Adisucipto Airport in Yogyakarta), or take the train from Gambir Station to Yogyakarta.
DAY 03 KRATON AT YOGYAKARTA
First things first: you’ll want to visit the very center of Yogyakarta, the Kraton: this expansive palace compound is the home of Indonesia’s only ruling Sultan, Hamengkubuwono IX.
Yogyakarta’s social, cultural, and spiritual life revolves around the Sultan and his palace: daily Javanese entertainments take place at the palace’s Bangsal Sri Manganti pavilion, and the massive Alun-Alun Utara field north of the main residential area of the palace hosts the yearly pasar malam (night market) that accompanies the Sekaten, a week-long celebration of the Prophet Muhammad’s birth.
Exploring the Kraton will take about two hours to complete; afterwards you can explore the museums and tourist attractions around the Kraton, which are all accessible via becak (Yogyakarta’s rickshaws) from the palace gates.
Start with a lunch of gudeg at Sentra Gudeg Wijilan, a clump of eateries located east of Alun-Alun Utara along Jalan Wijilan. Gudeg is Yogyakarta’s signature dish: a jackfruit-based savory preparation served hot with rice, crispy beef skin, and hard-boiled egg.
Afterwards, explore the other attractions nearby: the Museum Kereta, which collects the Sultan’s 23 ornate carriages; the Taman Sari, a former swimming and bathing complex built for the Sultan’s use; and Masjid Gede Kauman, Yogyakarta’s Westminster Abbey equivalent, immediately across the Alun-Alun Utara.
DAY 04 BOROBUDUR and PRAMBANAN TEMPLES
Early in the morning, we will to take you to the massive Buddhist mandala known as Borobudur, more than an hour’s drive from Yogyakarta. The walkways leading up to the top levels are decorated with 2,672 relief panels that tell stories from the Buddha’s life and traditional Buddhist parables.
After you return from Borobudur, spend the noontime hours chasing the shade and pursuing retail therapy in Yogyakarta: buying silver at Kota Gede or watch batik being made in many workshops across the city, prior to buying your favorite swatches.
Not far from Yogyakarta’s city borders, we will visit Candi Prambanan, an ancient Hindu temple complex that keeps coming back from the dead. Several earthquakes have shaken the temple complex apart, but the local government keeps putting the pieces back together.
DAY 05 SOUTH BALI
Fly in early from Yogyakarta to Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport to get a head start on the Bali leg of our Indonesia itinerary. For your first night, we will stay in South Bali, the tourism epicenter of the island.
for your first day, we will take you to the following spots:
Visit the world’s biggest statue of Vishnu (as yet unfinished) at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park;
Go shopping at one of South Bali’s many shopping centers;
Drive all the way to Pura Luhur Uluwatu and watch the area’s kecak and fire dance;
On the way back from Uluwatu, stop by Jimbaran, Bali to dine right on the beach
DAY 06 CENTRAL BALI
Early in the morning, take the hour-and-a-half drive up from South Bali to Ubud in Central Bali, where Bali’s magnificent culture lives a charmed life.
In the day, we will check out the many art galleries & museums in Ubud, and see why Ubud’s reputation as an art and culture hub is so richly deserved.
The Museum Puri Lukisan presents modern 20th century artwork produced by native Balinese, while the Blanco Renaissance Museum showcases artwork created by an expatriate artist whose creative juices ran wild as he settled into Ubud.
Before 12 noon strikes, queue up at the Warung Ibu Oka to secure a table early; this open-air restaurant serves babi guling, or Balinese roast pig, for an extremely small number of diners every day. The restaurant is only open for lunch, and closes as soon as the last pig is chopped up and served.
From Warung Ibu Oka, walk down Jalan Monkey Forest to do an afternoon tour of Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forest at the very end of the road, at the bottom of the slope. The forest and temples within will take about an hour or two to see in full.
Afterwards, trudge back up to the Ubud town center to watch a traditional dance performance at Ubud Palace; the performances in town re-enact classic Hindu legends, performed by dancers in colorful, traditional costumes.
Ubud’s many spas and meditation centers perform all types of Eastern and Western wellness techniques, from massage to reiki healing to acupuncture to herbal medicine.
Your last day in Ubud is also a great time to sample Ubud’s shopping scene: beginning from the Ubud Art Market across the street from the royal palace (pictured above), you can explore the many boutiques, shops, and stalls radiating from the center of Ubud to the periphery. Jalan Monkey Forest in particular has plenty of interesting upscale shopping finds.
DAY 08 BACK TO THE SOUTH OF BALI
For your return engagement to South Bali, go to the eastern part and stay in Tanjung Benoa, the aquasports center of the island. The beach off Tanjung Benoa is no good for surfing, but it’s encouraged a more laid-back tourist scene compared to more hectic Kuta on the other side of the island. Spend the morning learning a new aquasport, then tuck in at one of the restaurants in Tanjung Benoa before enjoying a spa break at the Thalasso Bali Spa.
In the evening, catch the Devdan performance at the Bali Nusa Dua Theatre, to see Indonesia’s rich dance heritage condensed into a single, spectacular two-hour show: an excellent way to end your long week in Indonesia.
END OF SERVICES
– Transportation by private car with air conditioner and fully licensed driver
– English speaking guide – inclusive of his/her expenses
– Hotel/accommodation during the tour
– Daily breakfast at hotel
– Meals during the tour (Lunch at local restaurant)
– Entrance, parking & toll fees
– Mineral water during tour