Indonesia Tour | Sumatra to Bali
A highly varied and truly memorable odyssey by train, boat, road and air through the Indonesian Archipelago
18-day Sumatra, Java and Bali Tour
Our 18-day Indonesia tour explores some of the highlights of this vast continent-sized nation and takes in a few of the best-known of the sprawling archipelago’s estimated 13,000 islands.
We’ve deliberately avoided trying to include too much on our island odyssey; to keep the tour to a reasonable length, as well as not wasting time and money on numerous domestic flights and lengthy, weather-dependent boat journeys – and have concentrated on certain areas, particularly rich in World Heritage sites and offering a wider range of destinations, landscapes and activities.
Our starting point is North Sumatra’s capital Medan from where we’ll travel into Gunung Leuser National Park – part of the UNESCO-listed Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra – before heading through the highlands to awe-inspiring Lake Toba and a 2-day stay on Samosir Island. A local flight from Medan whisks us to Yogyakarta and the second section of our tour, discovering the dramatic volcanic landscapes, thousand-year-old temples and colourful local markets of Central and East Java.
Among many highlights are sunrise and sunset visits to World Heritage Borobudur and Prambanan and dawn at the summit of magnificent Mount Bromo. From here a short ferry ride takes us to tranquil Pemuteran in Bali’s remote northeastern corner before completing our tour at Denpasar International Airport. Along the way, we’ll stay in eco-lodges and low-key, family-run resorts; sample the sumptuous local cuisine and meet plenty of the particularly friendly inhabitants.
Jungles and wildlife plus ancient history and contemporary culture of street life and local markets along with some of Southeast Asia’s most spectacular landscapes make our Indonesia tour a varied and fascinating discovery of a still, relatively little-known country.
For those with the time and inclination you can, of course, add on any other sites, islands or destinations in the region such as our Jakarta or Bali/Lombok beach extensions or even a detour to visit Komodo’s iconic dragons. Conversely, if time is short check out our 12-day Java Overland tour taking you from Yogyakarta in Central Java, by road, rail and boat to Bali’s Denpasar.
Please note; since airfares are fluctuating wildly at present, as well as varying considerably from period to period, our ‘with flight’ prices, below, are approximate only.
Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.
Day 1 - Arrival in Medan and into the interior
Our tour begins at Medan International Airport in North Sumatra. From here we’ll transfer into the jungle interior and the small, riverside village of Bukit Lawang in World Heritage Gunung Leuser National Park for a welcome, local-style dinner and overnight in a comfortable eco-lodge.
Overnight: Bukit Lawang Transport: Minibus, Meals: D,
Day 2 - Gunung Leuser National Park - jungle hike
A rainforest hike in fabulous Gunung Leuser provides the opportunity to discover the park’s amazing tropical flora and fauna including the region’s most famous residents, Sumatran orangutans as well as, blooming permitting, the famous giant Rafflesia flowers.
Overnight: Bukit Lawang Transport: Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 3 - Berastagi - south into the hills
South to the picturesque town of Berastagi, a former Dutch hill-station and today renowned for tropical fruits such as durian, rambutan, and snake fruit as well as being home to the Batak minority. Our visit (not surprisingly) takes in a Batak village with their spectacular, traditional longhouses as well as mountain orchards.
Overnight: Berastagi Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 4 - The Tanah Karo Highlands and on to Lake Toba
Through the Tanah Karo Highlands with a stop at Sipiso-piso, Sumatra’s highest waterfall and on to Lake Toba, a spectacular crater lake formed by a huge volcanic eruption some 70,000 years ago. We’ll stay on the lake itself, on Samosir Island, while our visits include Dokan village to discover the traditional, towering thatched houses of the Karo minority.
Overnight: Lake Toba Transport: Minibus, Boat, Meals: B, L,
Day 5 - Lake Toba
Morning tour of Samosir Island including the ancient ‘Stone Chairs’ of Ambarita, the Simanindo Museum to discover the area’s cultural heritage, and King Tomok’s Tomb with the afternoon at leisure to explore the scenic island at your own pace – on foot or by bicycle.
Overnight: Lake Toba Transport: Bike, Walk, Meals: B,
Day 6 - Morning on the island and return to Medan
The morning is at leisure to explore further the scenic island at your own pace – on foot or by bicycle – before a ferry ride across the lake and a return drive to Medan for our night’s accommodation close to the city’s old colonial district.
Overnight: Medan Transport: Minibus, Boat, Meals: B, D,
Day 7 - Off to Java with a flight to Yogyakarta
Short drive to Medan Airport for a flight to Yogyakarta on Java Island. Arrival and transfer to our well-located eco-hotel, with time at leisure to explore the area before a Javanese-style, welcome dinner. (Precise programme depends upon flight schedules at the time.)
Overnight: Yogyakarta Transport: Minibus, Plane, Meals: B, D,
Day 8 - Yogyakarta - countryisde and village cycling tour
Optional early visit to the colourful local market, before heading out of town to a nearby village for a leisurely cycle ride through the farms, orchards and countryside. We will have the opportunity to meet the locals and discover some of the village’s cottage industries. Afternoon walking tour of the colourful, riverside district, followed by an evening street food tour.
Overnight: Yogyakarta Transport: Bike, Walk, Meals: B, D,
Day 9 - Sunrise at Borobudur and sunset at Prambanan
Early morning departure for sunrise at the fabulous UNESCO World Heritage, 9th-century Buddhist temple of Borobudur. Return to our hotel for late breakfast and time to relax – check out the pool or spa, or stroll around Yogyakarta’s leafy lanes before an afternoon visit to catch sunset at another UNESCO site – the 10th-century Hindu temple, Prambanan.
Overnight: Yogyakarta Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B,
Day 10 - East to Solo and a city walking tour
Departure for a short drive to nearby Solo City. Morning walking tour of Solo including the bustling and very friendly market, Pasar Legi, the town’s fascinating flea market and the City’s famous old Sultan’s Palace. In the afternoon we’ll do a walking tour of Laweyan – a charming labyrinth of narrow lanes and old houses that form Solo’s traditional batik-making quarter.
Overnight: Solo Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 12 - Malang; the 'Rainbow Village'
Explore the fantastic ‘Rainbow Village’. This crumbling, labyrinth-style quarter was formerly earmarked for demolition before local students teamed up with a paint company to create one of the best urban renewal schemes we’ve come across. We’ll also have time to take in some of the City’s celebrated Dutch-period architecture, before a drive to Bromo National Park.
Overnight: Bromo Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, D,
Day 13 - Bromo - up a volcano before breakfast!
Early morning jeep drive into the national park for sunrise views of awe-inspiring Bromo Volcano, plus a hike through the caldera itself. Return to our charming, little family-run chalet-style resort for breakfast and relaxation time with an optional afternoon hike to one of the park’s nearby waterfalls.
Overnight: Bromo Transport: Walk, Meals: B,
Day 15 - Jeep, boat and on foot in Alas Purwo National Park
Day tour by jeep to the nearby Alas Purwo National Park, located on a remote peninsula in the far southeastern corner of Java. On the itinerary are wildlife spotting, a picturesque beach, a boat trip through the mangrove swamps and a visit to a turtle sanctuary.
Overnight: Kalibaru Meals: B, L, D,
Day 16 - Pemuteran - catch the ferry to Bali
A drive to nearby Ketapang for a short ferry ride across the Straits to the island of Bali where we’ll transfer to our charming, low-key eco-resort in the small fishing port of Pemuteran in the secluded northwestern corner of the island.
Overnight: Pemuteran Transport: Minibus, Boat, Meals: B,
Day 17 - Pemuteran - day at leisure
Day at leisure. Options include relaxing by the pool or at the spa, or for the more energetic, a snorkelling trip on some nearby islands, a hike through the lush surrounding countryside or even trying your hand at an Indonesian cookery class.
Overnight: Pemuteran Transport: Walk, Meals: B, D,
The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.
Visa Info & Notes
Just a few of the many highlights
A bit of everything on this Sumatra to Bali tour with nature and wildlife, towering volcanoes, World Heritage ancient temples and the vibrant street life, local markets and of course street food of Yogyakarta and Solo.
- Look out for wild orangutans on a jungle hike in World Heritage Gunung Leuser National Park
- Sunrise and sunset at Java's 1,000-year-old Borobudur and Prambanan
- Explore the delightful old towns of Yogyakarta, Solo and Malang
- Stay at waterfront resort on spectacular Lake Toba's Samosir Island
- Take a jeep to the summit of Mt Bromo and hike through an active caldera
- 2-day stay at a charming eco-resort in Bali's secluded Pemuteran
Air Departures (UK) *From
- 1 May 23 3,450 GBP
- 13 May 23 3,500 GBP
- 14 June 23 3,500 GBP
- 15 July 23 3,450 GBP
- 12 August 23 3,850 GBP
- 16 September 23 3,450 GBP
- 14 October 23 3,450 GBP
- 18 November 23 3,395 GBP
- 16 December 23 3,795 GBP
- 13 January 24 3,500 GBP
- 10 February 24 3,500 GBP
- 2 May 23 2,350 GBP
- 14 May 23 2,400 GBP
- 15 June 23 2,400 GBP
- 16 July 23 2,350 GBP
- 13 August 23 2,350 GBP
- 17 September 23 2,350 GBP
- 15 October 23 2,350 GBP
- 19 November 23 2,295 GBP
- 17 December 23 2,295 GBP
- 14 January 24 2,400 GBP
- 11 February 24 2,400 GBP
Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed
*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Medan, North Sumatra
*Land departure dates correspond to the FIRST day of the itinerary.
We choose our hotels based on a combination of location, comfort and convenience. Here is a *selection of the types of hotel/rooms you can expect to stay at on this tour...
Bukit Lawang Eco Lodge view
- Tropical garden setting overlooking the Leuser River
- On the edge of UNESCO-listed Gunung Leuser National Park
- Aortion of profits go to the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation
Sinabung Hills Berastagi view
- Located close to the old Dutch hill-station of Berastagi
- Well-appointed with in-house restaurant and bar
- Set in extensive lush parklands with large pool
Tabo Cottages Lake Toba view
- Fabulous lakeside location on Lake Toba's Samosir Island
- Delightful, lush tropical garden setting
- Well-appointed with pool, bar/restaurant and in-house bakery
Greenhost Boutique Hotel Yogyakarta view
- Quiet location yet close to cafes, bars and restaurants
- Super friendly, helpful and efficient staff members
- Tons of plants plus a rooptop, hydroponic veg garden!
Bromo Terrace Hotel view
- Delightfully low-key: simple, cosy and comfortable
- Garden setting with a volcano backdrop!
- Stunning views from their terrace bar & restaurant
Margo Utomo Hillview Resort Kalibaru view
- Stunning setting with pool, river and jungle backdrop
- Chalets set in a lush tropical garden
- More friendly staff and great restaurant and bar area
Kubuku Eco Lodge Pemuteran view
- Charming low-key garden setting with mountain views
- Snorkelling, spa, cookery, hiking are a few of the options
- Wonderful staff, great cafe/restaurant - all-round top spot!
*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.
Visa Info & Notes
Visas:A 30-day visa on arrival is issued on arrival at any international airport such as Medan, Yogyakarta or Jakarta. The cost is 500,000 rupiah, which looks like a lot of zeros but $35 (approx. depending on exchange rates) also does the trick.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of your departure from Indonesia and should have at least 2 blank pages remaining. (You may also be required to show proof of onward travel such as return air tickets.)
Tipping: we recommend a kitty system for the smaller, daily tips such as hotel/restaurant staff and local drivers. Amounts inevitably vary with group size but would generally be somewhere in the region of $2-3 per person per day. With regards guides accompanying you for longer periods we’d recommend a separate tip of approximately $5 per person, per day though of course, this is always discretionary and performance-related. (Local currency or USD are fine.)
Meals: breakfasts are either buffets – or a la carte in smaller hotels – with lunch and dinners based on local food. Lunches on the road are typically simpler dishes while your tour-leader will generally order more elaborate-style dinners consisting of a selection of local fare.
Dishes are only mildly spicy and both vegetarians and vegans are very easily catered for. For any other likes and dislikes please remind your tour-leader at the start of the tour. A number of meals are not included, which allows you to ‘do your own thing’ or take a break if you’re feeling ‘riced out’.
Accommodation: all choices fall into the comfortable 3-4* range, with an emphasis where possible on the smaller, ‘boutique-style’, and are en-suite and usually air-conditioned with pools. We have posted a selection of sample accommodation on the lefthand hotel tab but please note that as we try and avoid the larger hotels, availability, in high season particularly, means we use several options in each destination.
Activities: note that no activities are compulsory and that any offered can be tailored for various fitness levels or alternatives suggested.
Further info: detailed descriptions and photos can be found on the corresponding page of our travel blog.
Holidays should never end, stay a little longer. These extensions go well with this tour...
This tour doesn't have any extensions associated with it. If you wish to stay a little longer chat to our booking staff about onward accommodation and/or activities.
Here is what out guest have to say about their experience on this tour...
Erica and Stuart
" Another well-organised tour with knowledgeable guides. Both Lily, Sumatra and Ari, Java and Bali were excellent. Highlights included seeing so many orangutans up close in Sumatra, the clear skies above Mount Bromo, walking across the caldera, and Prambanan Temple. A lot of travelling, but a lot to see. "October 2022