This is an exciting 14 – night cultural and adventure itinerary of Java and Bali. Tour Yogyakarta; see Borobudur at sunrise; cycle to the temple complex of Plaosan and to the Hindu temple complex of Prambanan; see Mount Bromo and its surroundings at sunrise; go canyoning, canoeing and trekking; take a food tour; visit villages; stay in beautiful properties and much more. This itinerary is great for people who like to be active on their vacation.
Upon landing at Yogyakarta Airport, you will be transferred directly to your hotel for check in.
After breakfast, start your day with a visit to the Kraton, the Sultan’s Palace of Yogyakarta by cycle rickshaw, commonly known as “Becak”. The innermost group of buildings (where the sultan still resides) were built in 1755. As you pass through the Palace, be sure to note the ornate reception halls as well as the museum like room containing the desk at which the ninth sultan planned the overthrow of the Dutch colonialists and the ornate ‘his’ and ‘her’ entrances that are decorated with huge male and female dragons.
Located within the grounds of the Kraton, the Taman Sari Water Castle was designed in the mid-18th century as a royal pleasure park for the first Sultanate of Yogyakarta and his entourage/harem. It is said that the sultan would sit in the tower overlooking the now restored central bathing complex watching the goings on below while being entertained by his wives.
Afterwards, drive by car to the outskirts of Yogyakarta and visit a traditional Kris-Maker. Listed by UNESCO as a “Masterpiece of Intangible Heritage of Humanity”, the Kris is an asymmetrical dagger with distinctive blade patterning achieved through alternating laminations of iron, which can take up to one month to forge a single piece. Kris have been produced in many regions of Indonesia for centuries, but nowhere is the Kris so embedded in a mutually connected whole of ritual prescriptions and acts, ceremonies, mythical backgrounds and epic poetry as in Central Java. Kris are used for display, as talismans with magical powers, weapons, sanctified heirloom, as an accessory for ceremonial dress, an indicator of social status or a symbol of heroism. Kris-Makers do more than forge the weapon. They carry out old rituals which could infuse the blade with mystical powers. For this reason, Kris are considered almost alive because they may be vessels of spirits, either good or evil.
Setting out before sunrise, head approximately 40km out of Yogyakarta to the stunning temple complex at Borobudur, one of South East Asia’s most impressive sites and the largest single Buddhist monument in the world. Receiving UNESCO World Heritage status in 1991, the monument consists of six square terraces topped by three circular ones. Two million stone blocks were required to build the temple and with at least 2,500 relief panels and more than 500 Buddha statues, it is exquisite beyond comparison.
Ample time will be dedicated to exploring this incredible Buddhist structure before heading to the village of Kaliopak, where you can see the art of producing and painting buffalo hides. The craftsmen in this village also specialize in making shadow puppets. Recognised by UNESCO and often referred to as Wayang, this traditional art form is normally learnt at a very early age and passed down from generation to generation.
Afterwards, cycle through verdant rice paddy fields to the Buddhist temple complex at Plaosan. Surrounded by lush countryside, this little visited site has more than 150 buildings, including numerous stupas and shrines and is a delight to explore.
Visit the 9th century Hindu temple compound of Prambanan. This impressive collection of temples is dedicated to the Trimurti, a concept of Hinduism where Brahma is the Creator, Vishnu is the Preserver and Shiva is the Destroyer which is often referred to as the ‘Great Trinity’ or ‘Hindu Triad’.
Identifiable by its towering and pointed architectural design, Prambanan was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1991 and is the largest, as well the finest, Hindu temple complex in the country.
Enjoy lunch in the village and then return by car to Yogyakarta.
Raise early in the morning to check out from the hotel, be collected and transferred to Yogyakarta train station. You will have about eight hours of a scenic train journey to Malang.
Upon arrival in Malang, visit Jodipan Village next to the train station, which until 2016 was a slum area on the verge of eviction. The living conditions in the village were so inhumane that the local government had decided to give up the whole village and relocate all residents. It was at that time when a group of students from Malang University suggested to give Jodipan a new look with a splash of color in hope to attract tourists. A collaboration was formed with a local paint distributor who donated 3 tons of paint. Local artists and painters were gathered and together with the village residents and Indonesian Air Force troops they started to transform previously atrocious corners into beautiful backdrops for gorgeous pictures.
Kampung Warna-Warni, “colorful hometown” as the village is nick-named today, is divided into two parts separated by the Brantas River. While initially only the houses along the south bank were painted, in 2017 also the opposite side was completed and is known as “Kampung Tridi”, as it specializes in epic 3D-paintings. Both parts of the village have been connected with a new pedestrian bridge crossing the river and feature brightly colored walls, artistic touches and decorations like colored umbrellas, masks, hats or traditional Javanese Wayang Shadow Puppets showcased next to present-day characters known from animated Hollywood movies. This multicolored change also painted a sense of hope and optimism to the villagers as the environment changed and economy started to grow.
Upon arrival at the village, you will be welcomed by the “Rukun Warga”, the head of the village, who will be happy to provide you with insights about this unusual transformation while you enjoy tea or coffee with snacks in one of the local cafes overlooking the colorful village. You will stroll through the narrow winding roads and reach the artist’s studio of Jodipan, where you will have the opportunity to sit with the artists and learn how to produce a simple artwork like a painted stone with an animated movie character or depending on your skills, a nice a bowl with a complete 3D symbol or even scenery.
Take your time to explore every angle of Kampung Warna-Warni, where visual gems keep showing up in the most unassuming and unpretentious spots, like the simple walls of a typical home. Once you leave, you will not only carry a self – made piece of art home with you, but also extensive memories of the friendly people in this flashy village, which has successfully proven that even without any big funding, the standard of living can be significantly improved just by a strong local community with some creative minds.
Afterwards take an approximately 2.5 hour journey to the Bromo area where you will check into the hotel.
Suggested train schedule: Mutiara Selatan (Executive Class) 5.46am – 1:30pm
With its huge crater and almost mystical-like scenery in all directions, Mount Bromo and its surrounds are stunning beyond question. Sunrise is the most magical time to view the entire Bromo landscape but this does involve a very early morning start at 3am as you travel by private 4WD jeep from Plataran Bromo to the rim of Mount Penanjakan in time for dawn. From here at 2,770 meters above sea level, you will enjoy unobstructed ethereal views over the active Bromo crater and the Tengger massif with the towering Mount Semeru as backdrop, at 3,676 meters Java’s highest mountain and one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia with small eruptions happening approximately every 20 minutes.
After (hopefully) witnessing a spectacular sunrise, you will return to your jeep and descend the steep slopes back down to the bottom of the Tengger Caldera and then cross the Lautan Pasir (Sea of Sand) until you reach a verdant savannah, a truly idyllic setting for an al fresco breakfast.
A picnic blanket laid out on the grass awaits you to enjoy a delicious breakfast while you take in nature’s epic beauty and the magical landscape of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park.
After breakfast, drive back to Mt. Bromo itself. A short walk through the sea of sand passing the Pura Luhur Poten Hindu temple will bring you to the base of Mt. Bromo. The final climb of approximately 250 steps to the rim of the crater is definitely worth the effort and will reward you with yet more incredible vistas of the active crater.
Return to your hotel and enjoy a full breakfast buffet if you are still hungry followed by some rest and relaxation before immersing in the daily routine of Bromo farmers in their fields surrounding the Plataran Bromo area.
Tucked away in the shadow of the rolling Bromo hillsides, these plantations grow a rich variety of organic produce, from potatoes and chili peppers, to apples, cabbages and herbs. Get your hands dirty and work alongside friendly village farmers, with whom you will experience the satisfaction and natural balance that comes from a day in the fields. Learn how to grow vegetables using age old techniques and materials, then taste the fruits of your labor with authentic traditional snacks while relaxing in their hut afterwards.
Enjoy your last breakfast in Bromo, before your driver will pick you up to transfer you to Pasuruan Train Station to board the train to Banyuwangi. Arriving at Banyuwangi Train Station after a five-hour train ride, you will be guided to transfer to the resort in Ijen where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure.
Suggested train schedule: Mutiara Timur (Executive Class): 11:04am – 3:10pm.
Wake before sunrise and head out by 4WD vehicle on the exciting journey to Ijen Crater. Part of the Ijen Plateau, a dramatic region of volcanic activity, the scenery is incredibly diverse as you proceed past rural villages and plantations and drive through tropical rainforest, all in a relatively short space of time. As you pass through Bondowoso and then Wonosari, the road begins to deteriorate and then ends altogether at the village of Jampit.
From the Park Ranger’s post here at Jampit, it is a 90-minute hike on foot to the actual crater lake. The views from the top are extraordinary and the lake itself is a wonderful aqua blue color. Evidence of volcanic activity is everywhere and it is interesting to observe the local miners as they descend into the crater and re-emerge sometime later with baskets full of yellow crystalline sulphur deposits, sometime transporting up to 80kg at a time.
After ample time to appreciate the setting, it is time to retrace the journey and return to your hotel in time for breakfast and get ready to check out. You will be driven to Ketapang harbor to board the ferry that takes you to Bali Island.
Upon arrival at Gilimanuk harbor in Bali, you will be greeted and transferred by private air-conditioned vehicle to your hotel in the hilly area of Munduk.
The day begins with an early morning drive to the Catur Valley in north Bali. Located 1,200 meters above sea level in the central highlands, the region is an area renowned for its scenic beauty and gushing waterfalls and the perfect destination for water rappelling and canyoning.
Shiva Canyon is one of the most-wanted canyoning experiences in Bali and a 30-minute trek through the jungle will bring you to the starting point of your canyoning adventure. Refreshments upon arrival are followed by careful preparation and a full safety briefing from a certified instructor from the International Canyoning Organisation for professionals (ICOpro) as well as a short meditation session inside Shiva Cave, where local healers and priests come to meditate for many months.
You will learn how to perform slides, jumps and rappels as the adventure takes you through rivers as well as over and down four spectacular looking waterfalls. It is a challenging but rewarding experience for the more adventurous. Halfway through the descent, you will discover the “Eden Garden” for a break while you admire the 50m-high Shiva Waterfall. At the end of your adventure, a quick walk will bring you back to the base camp where you can have a hot shower and a refreshing lunch before you will be transferred back to your hotel.
Note: This is recommended for people between the ages of 16 and 50 years old. A small amount of swimming will also be required.
After breakfast, prepare for an early check out from your hotel before continuing with a drive north to Bedugul Regency (district), part of the island’s central highlands region renowned for its stunning beauty and three caldera lakes (Beratan, Buyan and Tamblingan). The first stop is the iconic Ulun Danu Temple. This important Hindu Shivaite water temple is located on a small jut of land within the calm waters of Lake Beratan. If the water level is high (normally only during the rainy season), it gives the illusion that this 17th century temple is ‘floating’ on the lake.
After your visit, head in the direction of Lake Tamblingan and begin a gentle trek down through the tropical rainforest that surrounds this attractive pool of water. Admire the flora and fauna and take in the clean, mountain air as you hike through a region that has remained at one with nature for many centuries. Reaching the shore of the lake after approximately one hour, you will continue your journey by boat, as you are rowed across its waters in a traditional dug – out canoe. Here you will rendezvous with your driver to Central Bali to a small town of Mengwi.
Long associated with the Balinese Royal Family, Mengwi is home to the superb temple complex at Taman Ayun. Translating as ‘beautiful garden’ Taman Ayun is considered by many to be one of the island’s most attractive temples and is still used today by people from all over Bali for special ceremonies and events.
Later after your visit to Taman Ayun, drive directly to your hotel in the Ubud area for check in.
The oversized tires of a Fat Bike provide an impressive traction and allow the exploration of areas where normal bikes are hard to ride. Being 2-3 times wider than regular mountain bike tires, Fat Bike tires add extra grip on the ground and prevent the wheels from sinking into soft surfaces. Perfect for riding on sand, mud or over rocks, these bikes offer enhanced safety and at the same time are so much fun to ride.
You will be picked up from your hotel after breakfast and transferred to the village of Kintamani, from where a steep narrow road leads down into the Batur caldera to the starting point of your volcano ride.
After a short introduction and safety briefing, you will hop on your Fat Bike and begin the ride (approx. 1.5 hours) through the Batur UNESCO Global Geopark, which includes two volcanic calderas and presents a complete volcanic landscape with caldera walls, cones and craters, geothermal phenomena like fumaroles or hot springs as well as a lake. The highlights are the frozen lava fields, formed by lava and pyroclastic flows of the most recent larger eruptions in 1804 and 1968. Enjoy the bizarre scenery of the black lava formations while you navigate your bike through the lava fields.
Transfer by car back to Kintamani for a refreshing lunch along with wonderful panoramic views of the caldera as well as 180 degree vistas of Lake Batur, Mount Abang and Mount Agung to the east. On a clear day, the imposing Mount Batukaru and Mangu Peak, part of Bali’s Western Mountain range, can also be seen.
Invigorated by your meal, another ride (approx. 1.5 hours) on the Fat Bike awaits you with a smooth rolling downhill on a soft sandy terrain back towards South Bali to reach the finishing point of your volcano ride, where the car will be ready to drive you back to your hotel.
Today your walk passes through the river valley of Tukad Wos, offering fine views of the stratovolcanic mountain, Gunung Agung, and glimpses of small village communities and rice fields along the way. Prior to commencing the trek, you will receive a brief orientation of the very beautiful Gunung Lebah (small hill) Temple. The temple, a subak temple (dedicated to the regulation of the water used in the rice paddies) was constructed in the 8th century and started the development of the settlement later to become Ubud. From the temple, you’ll follow the path north, walking up onto the ridge between the two rivers, the Cerik and the Wos.
Continue north along the Campuhan ridge, arguably one of the best trekking routes around Ubud. This area has been considered a holy place for centuries. Enjoy the peaceful scenery while you walk between the tall green grasses. It’s truly a majestic walk. The trek also visits one of the Balinese compounds situated in the area, where you can learn about traditional house building and interact freely with the inhabitants. Your guide will assist you in this exchange.
Step once more outside the village to enjoy the rice paddy views and farming activities of the villagers until you arrive at a local resort situated on the edge of the Wos River and the end point for today’s trek. Here you will enjoy a sumptuous set menu lunch on the resort’s open-air terrace, overlooking riverside greenery that remains untouched by the hands of time.
Afterwards, move on to Ubud Monkey Forest. A lush nature reserve and temple complex on the outskirts of Ubud. The forest is home to more than one hundred species of trees, a number of interesting temples and hundreds of crab-eating macaque monkeys. Here you can spend a while observing their characteristics and mannerisms.
The local royal family still resides in the palace but you are free to wander around the majority of the compound, discovering the ornate architecture and learning about the Asta Kosala Kosali tradition of house building, a method not dissimilar to the ancient art of Feng Shui. This will be followed by free time to explore the numerous shops and boutiques that are plentiful in the center of town.
In the morning, enjoy your breakfast and get ready to check out from your hotel. Today you will have the great opportunity to meet and interact with Balinese people and experience some of their daily life. There will be plenty of photo opportunities as you pass scenic vistas and interesting villages en route to Suak Gulianng, a traditional farming village and compound in the center of the island. The local houses in the village compounds are architecturally unique when compared with other regions of Indonesia. Based on the Asta Kosala Kosali tradition of house building, the method is not dissimilar to the ancient art of Feng Shui.
Begin your local encounter by light refreshments in the Balinese compound. Seasonal tropical fruits will be served as well as soft drinks, mineral water, coffee, tea and Balinese cookies.
Invigorated by your meal, dedicate your time to exploring the local vicinity. Take a stroll through local farms, witness the rural life of the Balinese people or learn more about the complexities of rice growing from planting and harvesting through to the best methods of cooking it. Acquire knowledge of the simple but effective irrigation system known locally as Subak or just sit back and take it all in while enjoying fresh coconut water, one of nature’s most delicious drinks. Lunch will be served right in the middle of the rice field with the soft background of traditional Rindik music played on bamboo instruments.
Next visit Pura Kehan, an 11th century temple complex, near the town of Bangli that is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful on the island. Thirty-eight steps lead to the Kori Agung (stone capped gateway) and an attractive courtyard that is guarded by a mythical dragon. Legend has it that inside the dragon there is a magic stone that glowed red when the location of the temple was finally decided many hundreds of years ago.
Proceed to Penglipuran, a well – ordered village, surrounded by plantations and bamboo forests. At Bali Aga village, the local community still adhere to the strict rules and regulations (known as the Adat) that were laid down by their ancestors many centuries ago. Tradition and time honored ways are still very important here and you will have time to explore this enthralling settlement before moving onto Kintamani, the best spot, weather permitting, for views of Mount Batur, an active volcano which sits alongside Lake Batur. Scanning the horizon from left to right, you will observe that Kintamani sits on the caldera rim of a huge volcano, and Mount Batur, directly in front of you, is merely a ‘small’ mountain that has been created by thousands of years of volcanic activity.
You will be picked up in the morning from your hotel and transferred to Denpasar, where you will meet your food expert, the chef of one of Bali’s best and most authentic group of restaurants. He will guide you through each individual dish that you will taste.
Your street food tour portrays his philosophy of introducing local culinary delights to a wider audience since he has been developing relationships with local street vendors. Discover the local eateries known as Warungs as well as the famed market in the Heritage area of Denpasar. Begin with tasting the local’s most favorite meal, Suckling Pig or “Babi Guling”. The pig is stuffed and infused with a spicy concoction involving turmeric, coriander seeds, lemongrass, black pepper and garlic, then spit-roasted for several hours and usually consumed as a late morning meal.
Afterwards, a drive will bring you to an authentic Balinese house, where you will receive a warm welcome by a Balinese family. A typical Balinese house is not created as a single building, but rather a collection of numerous structures within a walled enclosure, each with a special function such as an open pavilion to receive guests, bedrooms, a family shrine, living areas and kitchen.
Next you will have the opportunity to taste Indonesian rice cakes and tofu, a mix of “Tipat” or “Ketupat” (boiled rice wrapped in coconut leaves) and Tahu (tofu soya milk cheese) served with sweet spicy peanut sauce and bean sprouts.
Continue with a traditional market tour at the Badung Market and taste the typical Indonesian cake “Jajanan Pasar”. Badung Market or Pasar Badung is the largest market in Bali and functions as the main source for fresh produce. Fruit and vegetable producers from around Bali bring their goods here. The original market was opened in 1984 and has recently been completely renewed following a large fire in 2015.
Invigorated after these few dishes, explore Denpasar city by foot. Walk along two of the most vibrant streets, where you visit a local community, the realm of the fruit sellers.
Continue the walk to have a coffee break at the legendary “Bhineka Djaja”, the oldest coffee shop in town, a silent witness of this heritage area. Established in 1935, it has been managed by three generations of the Tjahjadi family and is a pioneer of the commercialization of Bali coffee, which now has recognition among coffee lovers worldwide.
It’s time for your main course for lunch, which will be served in a small local Warung famous for its Balinese “Nasi Campur”, a popular dish of a scoop of rice, accompanied by small portions of a number of other dishes, which includes meats, vegetables, peanuts, eggs and fried-shrimp crackers.
Across the street, you will find a famous Beef and Pork Satay Eatery that is very popular amongst locals. This is where you will enjoy your last bite during this memorable street food tour. Following a quick bite, you will observe the making of “Rujak Bali”, a traditional fruit salad dish commonly found in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Other than referring to this fruit salad dish, the term rujak also means “mixture” or “eclectic mix” in colloquial Malay. Available everywhere across Indonesia, there are vast variations across the country. The most popular is rujak, which is mixed sliced fruit and vegetables served with spicy palm sugar dressing. Unlike common fruit salads, rujak is described as a tangy and spicy fruit salad. This is due to its sweet, spicy dressing made from ground chili pepper, palm sugar and peanuts.
Afterwards you will be transferred back to your hotel in Seminyak.
After breakfast, spend your day at leisure or simply enjoy your day at the hotel.
Today is your last day in Bali. After breakfast, it is time to say goodbye and transfer to Denpasar Airport to catch your flight to the next destination.