Bali is one of the most magical places on earth and the most famous destination in Indonesia. It is nature at its best, with fantastic beaches and gorgeous mountain scenery, fabulous resorts, and friendly people offering you their brand of warm hospitality everywhere you turn.
It is called the Land of the Gods, where peace and serenity can be found even when you are just surrounded by lush and verdant fields, let alone its intricately-designed ancient temples. Aside from its awesome beaches, Bali’s allure is in its colourful ceremonies, its vibrant night life, its arts and crafts and its dances that are full of drama. Bali is an island where you can enjoy diving and surfing to your heart’s content and enjoy world-class amenities, yet at the same time be pleasantly surprised by its old world charm.
Indeed Bali offers many surprises and unique experiences, but beyond Bali, are places that are worth discovering as well. And you can see these wonderful places in Indonesia: Lombok, Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Labuan Bajo, when you book your flight with Garuda to Bali, you can add an Indonesian domestic flight for free. Check out the details of this exciting offer and book your flight today: http://bit.ly/1vOG4jP
Lombok is Bali’s next door neighbor, famous for its great beaches where you can swim, dive, surf, snorkel and more. This is a place where you can relax in comfort as the island is quiet, surrounded by lush mountains that are just perfect for hiking. A great place for people on their honeymoon, Lombok is like a second Bali, but is still unspoilt.
Volcano trekking is an activity that is being promoted in Lombok. In Mataram is Indonesia’s second-highest volcano, the active and majestic Mount Rinjani, which towers over Lombok at 3,726 metres. The volcano itself and its beautiful crater lake, the Segara Anak, are considered sacred and therefore protected, but many trekking routes have been in place for the convenience of visitors. Within the lake is another volcano, Mount Batu, which was formed by the series of eruptions of Mount Rinjani. Trekkers can expect to see wonderful rivers, forest denizens, breathtaking scenery and waterfalls along the trail.
The pristine white sand beaches in Lombok could be considered legendary. Kuta and the South Coast are truly one big beach-goers’ paradise. You cannot escape the call of the waves in Kuta. Mandalika Beach, named after Princess Mandalika is where the traditional Sea Worm Festival is held. Travellers who want to stay near calmer waters and soak up the sun for hours on end are likely to find good spots in Mawun Beach, Mawi and Selong Belanak. Just make sure that you put on plenty of sunscreen and protect your eyes from the blinding whiteness of the beach.
With the ever increasing tourism development in Bali and nearby islands, the beautiful Gili Islands, composed of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air now boast of superb accommodation facilities, with electricity, Internet cafes and mobile phone towers, allowing visitors to keep in touch. The Gili Islands still maintain its idyllic nature, and visitors can spend their days lazily. Going around is a great experience as well as the horse-drawn carriages called cidomos are the only means of inland transport. Island hopping is also a great way to spend the day.
In East Java is Surabaya, its administrative and commercial capital. The town is steeped in history, it is called the City of Heroes for the role it played in gaining Indonesian independence, as its people fought furiously and fearlessly during the Dutch and Japanese occupations.
According to the local legend, the name of the town originated from a myth, where Sura or shark and Baya or crocodile has a big fight on May 31, which is now the town’s anniversary. In reality this was the date when the Majapahit Kingdom’s Raden Wijaya’s army gained victory over the Mongol army of Kubilai Khan in 1923. Sura means coming from the sea, which described the Mongol army, while Baya means coming from a land, which was where the army of Raden Wijaya came from.
The quaint town is for the adventurous as there are several things to discover just as you turn a corner. One of the wonderful sights to see is Mount Bromo, an active volcano that is the biggest in East Java. Visit the Heroes’ Monument on Tembaan Street then check out the Submarine (Monkasel) Monument. Surabaya also has the biggest Chinatown in Indonesia called Kya-Kya, where you’ll find several hundred small shops, historic Dutch buildings and temples. From there you can go directly to the Arab Quarter and see one of the oldest temples in town, the Ampel Mosque where Sunan Ampel, who brought Islam to Java, is buried. One other very interesting temple is the Sanggar Agung Temple (Hong San Tang), a Chinese temple where you can see the 20-metre tall statue of Guan Yin at its ocean gate and the equally tall gold-covered Phra Phrom statue.
Yogyakarta and Surakarta, its twin city is the origin of civilisation in Java. This is the place were some of the most important archeological sites in Indonesia, Prambanan and Borobodur, are located. Yogyakarta up to this day continues to be home of several master craftsmen, master painters, thinkers and philosophers. The town is in perpetual standoff between age-old traditional lifestyle and modernity. Yogya, as it is fondly called, is a university town, where students of various ethnic backgrounds gather to gain knowledge and wisdom.
It is a place where you almost have never-ending attractions. There’s the majestic Buddhist temple of Borobudur, the Keraton or the Sultan’s Palace and craftsmen showcasing their silversmithing talents for incredible jewellery at Kotagede. Even if Yogya is a small town, you are not likely to get bored by the number of places to see and things to do here. Shopaholics will have a great time at Malioboro Road.
Natural charms include Mount Merapi and the pounding surf of the Indian Ocean. It is blessed with such a mild climate that you can enjoy traipsing around the town where about 70,000 handicraft industries are based. You will find glorious batik cloths, in traditional brown, white and indigo colors decorated with geometric patterns. Get the chance to hear some Gamelan music, watch a Wayang Kulit show or see a performance of Ramayana Wayang wong.
With Yogya being a university town, you can expect modern facilities to be available. There are malls, restaurants, hotels and other forms of accommodation, and plenty of cybercafés around the town for the convenience of locals and visitors.
4. Labuan Bajo
Another destination worth the trip outside of Bali is Labuan Bajo, which is composed of several small islands. It is a small fishing village but has various amenities catering to tourists. It is close to the home of the famous “Ora” or Komodo dragon, which attracts hordes of tourists, located at the small islands of Komodo and Rinca.
Entering the Komodo National Park is like wandering around Jurassic Park. Be wary of the Komodo dragon but do not fear as there are always park rangers to guide you. The area is one of the best spots for scuba diving with turtles, dolphins and manta rays. There are even opportunities to sight see some sharks and whales.
In Kanawa Islands, the water is shallow but you can still find thousands of fish of different species, reef sharks as well as turtles. If you want to swim and snorkel peacefully, visit the nearby Seraya Island or go to Kalong Island if you want to see flying fox bats at dusk.