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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 including 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 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 city bresak or Lombok beach extensions or our 1-week Flores and Komodo mini-tour. 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.
Includes: Flights: Medan to Yogyakarta. Meals: B x 17, L x 6, D x 9

Indonesia

Itinerary

Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.

Wild orangutan

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, 

Sumatra to Bali, Rafflesia

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, 

Sumatra, Sipiso-piso Waterfall

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, 

Indonesia tour Lake Toba

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, 

Sumatra, Lake Toba

Day 5 - Lake Toba

Day tour of Samosir Island to discover the cultural heritage of the local Batak people including a traditional village with its towering, thatched houses, the ancient ‘Stone Chairs’ of Ambarita, Simanindo Museum and a community weaving centre.

Overnight: Lake Toba Transport: Bike, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

Sumatra Tour, Berastagi

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, 

Indonesia, Java Overland, Locla market in Yogkyakarta

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, 

Indonesia, Java Overland. Rice threshing near Yogyakarta

Day 8 - Yogyakarta - village cycling tour and Borobudur

Head out of town to a nearby village for a leisurely cycle ride along country lanes past farms, orchards and scenic countryside. Along the way, we will have the opportunity to meet the locals and discover some of the villagers’ traditional cottage industries. Afternoon visit to the famous Borobudur Temple with a return to ‘Jogja’ city for an evening street food tour.

Overnight: Yogyakarta Transport: Bike, Walk,  Meals: B, D, 

Indonesia. Java Overland. Borobodur Temple, Java

Day 9 - Kotagede and sunset at Prambanan

Morning visit to Kotagede – the fascinating site of the 16th-century capital city – displaying a fusion of earlier Hindu and Muslim architectural styles. The ancient city is also the site of a colourful local market so, after a wander, we’ll return to our hotel for lunch and time to relax. Our afternoon programme takes us to another UNESCO site – the 10th-century Hindu temple Prambanan from where we walk through the historical park to catch sunset at the spectacular, but less-visited temple, Candi Sewu.

Overnight: Yogyakarta Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, 

Pasar Legi, Solo

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, 

Indonesia, Java Overland, landscape near Solo

Day 11 - By train to Malang

Head east across country, past scenic villages, paddy-fields and, of course, volcanoes on a train ride to the City of Malang in Eastern Java. (Note; post-COVID train schedules have been, to put it politely – erratic – so while it is our preferred means of travel, availability will vary from tour to tour according to dates.)

Overnight: Malang Transport: Train,  Meals: B, D, 

Indonesia. Java Overland. 'Rainbow Village', Malang

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, 

Indonesia. Java Overland. The Mount Bromo caldera

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, 

Indonesia, Java Overland. Margo Utomo Hillview Resort, Kalibaru

Day 14 - Train to Kalibaru in southeast Java

Transfer to Probolinggo Town to catch the train further east to the small country town of Kalibaru where we’ll stay in garden chalets at a beautifully situated, riverside eco-resort.

Overnight: Kalibaru Transport: Train,  Meals: B, D, 

Indonesia, Alas Purwo National Park

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, 

Indonesia. Java Overland. Pemeturan dusk, Bali

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, 

Indonesia, Java Overland. Bali, Kubuku Eco Lodge

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, 

Indonesia World Heritage

Day 18 - Pemuteran and on to Denpasar

Morning at leisure before a transfer across the island to Denpasar Airport for a return flight.

Transport: Minibus,  Meals: B, 

Print Itinerary

Details

The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.

All Points East

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
  • Explore Java's 1,000-year-old, UNESCO World Heritage-listed Borobudur and Prambanan
  • Discover 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

  • 3 May 24 3,450 GBP
  • 5 June 24 3,450 GBP
  • 5 July 24 3,450 GBP
  • 10 August 24 3,450 GBP
  • 7 September 24 3,450 GBP
  • 5 October 24 3,450 GBP
  • 2 November 23 3,450 GBP
  • 7 December 23 3,450 GBP
  • 28 January 25 3,500 GBP

Land Departures

  • 4 May 24 2,350 GBP
  • 8 June 24 2,350 GBP
  • 6 July 24 2,350 GBP
  • 11 August 24 2,350 GBP
  • 8 September 24 2,350 GBP
  • 6 October 24 2,350 GBP
  • 3 November 24 2,400 GBP
  • 8 December 24 2,400 GBP
  • 29 January 25 2,450 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

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

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 Cottage Lake Toba

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 Yogyakarta

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 Java

Bromo Terrace Hotel view

  • Delightfully low-key: simple, cosy and comfortable
  • Garden setting with a volcano backdrop!
  • Stunning views from their terrace bar & restaurant
Indonesia, Java Overland. Margo Utomo Hillview Resort, Kalibaru

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
Indonesia, Java Overland. Bali, Kubuku Eco Lodge

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: For most nationalities, 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. (See list here.) As usual, 6 months validity from the date of arrival is essential as is at least 1 empty page in your passport and you may be asked to show proof of departure from Indonesia.

Your standard entry point for this tour is Kualanamu International Airport, (Medan) and exit port is Ngurah Rai International Airport, (Denpasara, Bali).

Tipping: we recommend a kitty system for the smaller, daily tips such as hotel/restaurant staff and local guides and drivers. Amounts inevitably vary with group size but would generally be in the region of around $3-4 per person, per day. With regards to guides accompanying you for longer periods we’d recommend a separate tip of approximately $3-4 per person, per day though of course, this is always discretionary and performance-related. (Local currency or USD are fine.)

Meals: as usual breakfasts are generally hotel buffets with lunch and dinners based on local food. Many Indonesian dishes are internationally famous such as sate, nasi goring, rendang, gado gado etc but there’s much much, more with the already varied cuisine supplemented by plenty of regional specialities as well. Dishes are generally mildly spiced with sambal, the ubiquitous chilli sauce, served separately and there’s a wealth of vegan and vegetarian choices.

For certain, included, meals your tour-leader will order a selection of dishes, local-style, while 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: our selection consists of comfortable 3-4* options with en-suite bathrooms, air-con and, in most cases, pools with the emphasis on smaller heritage and/or eco-style choices.  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, including trekking, can be tailored for any fitness level or alternatives suggested. Be warned there are a couple of very early starts for sunrises on this one!

Further info: detailed descriptions and photos can be found on the corresponding Java page of our travel blog.

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