This post has been submitted by Marie, founder of Miles of Happiness. She lived in Indonesia for a year and absolutely loves the country, so the details below are the words from an (ex) long-term traveler in Indo.
Sumbawa, Nusa Tenggara
Sumbawa is an island in the middle of the Lesser Sunda Islands chain, between Lombok and Flores.
If you want to escape the crowds and enjoy the serenity of a remote destination, this is your place. In Sumbawa, most of the locals don’t speak English, some don’t speak Bahasa Indonesia either –they have their own dialect. You wanted to feel lost in the wild? Be my guest!
It’s all volcanic ridges, terraced rice fields, jungled peninsulas, sheltered bays and incredible waves. In fact, lots of travelers come to Sumbawa to surf. But even though you don’t surf, you’ll enjoy perfect white sandy beaches for yourself, gorgeous sunset on the sea and stunning scenery all around. The best way to discover the island is to rent a scooter. As the territory is very wide, you can plan a few weeks road trip there.
It’s a whole different kind of place than anything you’ll see in travel guides.
Ubud is located among rice paddies and steep ravines in the central foothills of Bali. It’s the heart of Bali.
With time, it certainly became very touristic, but it still has unique spiritual vibes. From hundreds of lovely temples with the permanent odor of incense, the monkey forest, the wide rice terraces and the craft shops, to the traditional Balinese dance shows, this town is artful, creative and serene in the meantime. There is always something happening. If it’s not a live indie concert, it’s an artist hand-painting the landscape on an easel…
This destination is hard to leave. It’s one of those places where you feel so good that days become weeks, and weeks become months.
Gili Islands, Lombok, Nusa Tenggara
It’s not only in the movies. The perfect relaxing island does exist in real life. Actually, there are even three of them. They’re called the Gili Islands, and belong to Lombok, Nusa Tenggara.
Picture three tiny islands, fringed by white-sand beaches and coconut palms, sitting in a turquoise sea. The Gilis are a heaven. I specially enjoyed my stay there after my four days trek in Rinjani: cocktails, snorkeling, sunbathing, massages, a bike ride, swimming with the turtles… What else?!
That’s also the destination if you’re having a nervous breakdown at home.
If most cities of Java I visited were a mess, Yogiakarta was the exception. A beautiful surprise.
Yogiakarta is the cultural capital if Java, home of its artistic and intellectual heritage. I’ve been from discoveries to discoveries during my trip there: batik art school, traditional markets, night parade of tuktuk decorated with neon lights (!), awesome rooftop bars, magnificent Sultan palace… It’s colorful and very lively, with very friendly people.
It’s also an ideal base to explore nearby attractions, including the most important archaeological sites of Indonesia, Borobudur and Prambanan. They are both absolutely breathtaking sites, respectively at sunrise and sunset.
In South Java, I’ve seen the beach that has been in my imagination a long time! The one I saw when I tried to picture Indonesia. Bamboo bar, ‘handmade’ wooden bridges, palm trees on the beach, tiny fishing boats, reggae concert at sunset, bed & breakfast hippie style, couples riding tandems, surfers with dreadlocks…
Pangandaran is the place to meet locals with a few Bintangs, to surf or just relax, and, the most important: to take it eaaasy.
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