Top 10 Things To Do on the Gili Islands

The stunning Gili Islands are a group of islands that are located off the coast of Lombok. They are perfect for anyone looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Bali. The Gili Islands consist of three main islands, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Each of them has a different atmosphere and range of activities depending on your preferences.

You need to keep in mind that whichever island you choose, you will not find a lot of ‘tourist attractions’ like temples, museums, or monuments to visit. The whole point of coming to the Gili Islands is to enjoy a slice of island living. While you may still find some interesting activities here, you should also be aware that this is one of the most laid back holiday destinations in Indonesia.

Gili Islands, Indonesia

Birdeye’s view of the islands. Photo by yeowatzup

Here are our recommendations of top 10 things to do on the Gili Islands.

Go diving

The Gili Islands have some of the best dive spots in the country as the conditions here are clear and calm. Most people choose to dive off the coast from Gili Trawangan as this island has the best variety of dive shops and diving packages. Although not one of the top sites to dive in Indonesia, Gili Islands still offer quite a diving experience with some (harmless) sharks, rays, turtles and more.

Visit a turtle hatchery

Talking of turtles, Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno both serves as a turtle hatchery, where you can get up close with some of these cute creatures. The hatchery serves to protect the baby turtles and take care of them till they are old enough to be released again into the wild. You can visit here safely knowing that you are supporting a good cause. You may also give some donations at Gili Meno, to have a hands on experience releasing the turtes back into the sea.

Gili Islands, Indonesia

Releasing the turtles from the hatchery at Gili Meno. Photo by Charlie Sedanayasa

Cycle around the islands

One of the best activities around here are cycling, as there are no cars on any of the islands. Cycling is also one of the most enjoyable ways to explore the land. You can easily rent a bicycle here in any of the three islands and you can circumvent them in just a few hours.

Boats at Gili Trawangan beach, Lombok, Indonesia

Rental bicycle at a bungalow on Gili Air. Photo by Tanel Teemusk

Enjoy the viewpoint from Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan is known for its highest point which is aptly named ‘The Viewpoint’. It takes around half an hour to walk there from the central hub of the island but it is well worth it for the views over the sea and towards the other islands in this part of Indonesia like Lombok and Bali.

Sunrise at Gili Air, Lombok

Sunrise at Gili Air, Lombok. Photo by brian

Go snorkelling

Gili Trawangan has the monopoly on dive centres but if you are staying on Gili Air or Gili Meno, you can still enjoy the gorgeous azure seas. The best way to do this is to go snorkelling, which will allow you to spot turtles, colourful fish, and maybe even a baby shark for far less than the price of a diving excursion from Gili Trawangan.

Boats at Gili Trawangan beach, Lombok, Indonesia

Boats at Gili Trawangan beach, Lombok. Photo by yeowatzup

Take a boat tour

A boat tour can be arranged no matter which island you are on and it can be a great way to check out the other Gili Islands without actually staying overnight. Many operators on the islands offer boat trips and they range from a simple trip between the islands to a luxurious glass bottom boat tour of the surrounding seas. If you charter a boat to island hop, it can coast around IDR 300,000 depending on your haggling skills. But if you want to check out the other islands more cheaply, you can also get the local ferry for IDR 30,000.

-> Find places to stay on Gili Islands at Booking.com. Free cancellation. *

Eat some seafood

As the Gili Islands are surrounded by sea you can probably guess that the staple food here is seafood and fish. Every night the local restaurants here will display the day’s catch on the pavement. There are no better ways to enjoy the fresh seafood than having them simply grilled over coconut husks and served with steamed rice.

Grill seafood at Gili Trawangan Gili Islands, Indonesia

Grill seafood at Gili Trawangan. Photo by Marie

Visit the local night market

The local night market is located at Gili Trawangan and it is something not to be missed if you choose to stay on this island. Every evening a night market will be set up in the main square at around dusk. This is also one of the best places to grab some dinner on the island. Local stalls sell traditional bites like grilled satay and spicy corn on the cob. You can also go for simple fried noodle or rice dishes. The food here is typically less expensive than the restaurants or cafes on the island but it is equally if not more delicious.

 Night Food market at  Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

Night Food market at Gili Trawangan. Photo by Henrik Palm

Dance parties or live bands on Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan is known for being the ‘party island’ but don’t expect this to be anything like the nightlife scene in Kuta in Bali. Still, you will find a range of beach bars here that play music well into the night. Some venues even have special themed nights and dance parties. If you prefer a more relaxing evening, then head to Evolution Bar for live bands music.

 Live Band at Evolution Bar, Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

Live Band at Evolution Bar, Gili Trawangan. Photo by Reinardt Gilfillan

Go to an open air cinema

Across the different islands, there are a few places that offer open air movie nights, where you can sit on bean bags and enjoy a movie on a big screen under the stars. The most famous open air cinema takes place on the main beach on Gili Trawangan. But many other guesthouses and hotels on Gili T and the other islands have noted how popular this is and have set up their own open air cinemas too.

Bonus – Gili’s famous swing on the sea

Find the famous swing on the sea and get a beautiful picture with the romantic sunset as backdrop. This swing can be found on the west of Gili Trawangan at Ombak Sunset resort hotel *.

The swing at Gili Islands at Ombak Sunset, Indonesia

The swing at Gili Islands at Ombak Sunset resort hotel *. Photo by Dennis Keller

A trip to the Gili Islands can be a highlight of a visit to Indonesia for many travellers as it is covered with beautiful sights. They are also a nature lover’s dream thanks to its turquoise waters and white sands. Part of the charm of the islands is that they still retain a relaxed feel and a slower pace of life, therefore one of the best things to do here when you visit is to slow down and appreciate the chance to relax and unwind in one of the most beautiful spots in Southeast Asia.

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Top 10 Things To Do In Banda Aceh

Banda Aceh is one of the lesser visited provinces in Indonesia, although those who make the trip will be rewarded with interesting sights and things to do. Banda Aceh is easily accessible as you can fly in directly to the main airport here or you can travel to Medan in North Sumatra and then move on from there. The province was devastated by a tsunami in 2004 but has been rebuilt so that only a few reminders can still be found. This is also the only place in Indonesia to have Shariah law but visitors will find it remarkably laid back, at least on the surface, and while you should dress conservatively you will not be expected to cover up as the locals do.

Here are our top picks of what to do in Banda Aceh:

Mesjid (Masjid) Raya Baiturrahman

Mesjid Raya is the main mosque in Banda Aceh and was built in the 19th century by the Dutch. This mosque is an absolute must visit. The mosque is decorated with gorgeous domes and beautiful traditional Muslim Islamic motifs. It is very picturesque and is the favourite of many photographers at day or night. At night, it lits up beautifully with the strategic lightings. Note that if you visit you will have to dress conservatively and women will have to wear a headscarf.

Jalan Mohammad Jam
Opening hours: 7-11 am and 1.30-4 pm.

Admission is free although donations are encouraged.

Masjid Mosque Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Aceh great mosque. Photo by Vidi Agiorno

Tsunami Museum

The Tsunami Museum is one of the top attractions in Aceh and is designed as a powerful tribute to those who lost their lives when the waters raged into the province. Around 170,000 people are said to have died in the floods and the Tsunami Museum is filled with waterfalls that mimic some of the experience. You will also find videos and news reports of the tragedy and this is an exceptionally moving visit if you want to learn more about this difficult period of Aceh’s history.

Jalan Sultan Iskandar Muda, Banda Aceh.
Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 9-12 pm and 2-4.30 pm.
Friday 9-11.30 am and 2.30-4.30 pm.
Closed on Mondays.

Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Tsunami Museum. Photo by Dinokl, via Wikimedia Commons

PLTD Apung

Another reminder of the devastating tsunami can be found on a visit to PLTD Apung which is a large ship that would have once sailed in the waters around Aceh. When the tsunami hit it was carried inland and has been left there as a monument to those who lost their lives. You can actually climb aboard the ship and walk around and one of the best reasons to do this is to look out across Banda Aceh and take in the scenery.

Jalan Harapan, Banda Aceh.

Monday – Sunday 9 am – 12 pm and 2 – 5.30 pm.
Fridays 2 – 5 pm.

PLTD Apung ship, Banda Aceh, Indonesia

PLTD Apung ship. Photo by Andy Doyle from Dublin, Republic of Ireland, via Wikimedia Commons

Warung Kopi Solong

If you make it to Aceh then you absolutely mustn’t miss the chance to visit Warung Kopi Solong which is something of an institution in Banda Aceh. The region is known for its delicious coffee and this place has been serving up some of Aceh’s finest brews since 1974. If you are looking for a souvenir of your trip then you can also buy bags of the delicious and earthy grounds beans.

Jalan Teuku Iskandar
Opening hours: 9 am – 7 pm

-> Find the best Banda Aceh hotel deals at Booking.com *

Museum Negeri Banda Aceh

The Aceh Museum is well worth exploring if you want to learn more about the culture of this part of Indonesia. Inside you will find some collections with photographs and memorabilia like farming equipment, textiles, swords, and other traditional curios. The signature piece here, however, is a stuffed baby buffalo with two heads.

Jalan Sultan Alauddin Mahmudsyah
Opening hours: Tues – Sun 8 am – 12 pm and 2 -4.30 pm.
Fridays 8.30 -11.30 am and 2.30 – 4 pm.
Closed on Mondays.
Admission: IDR 10,000.

Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Museum Banda Aceh. Photo by Si Gam, via Wikimedia Commons

Rumah Aceh

Rumah Aceh is actually part of Museum Negeri Banda Aceh and sits in the grounds of the museum. Rumah Aceh features a house on stilts which shows you how people would have lived in the days of old. This is actually the most interesting attraction at the museum so make sure not to miss it.

Jalan Sultan Alauddin Mahmudsyah
Opening hours: Tues – Sun 8 – 12 pm and 2 – 4.30 pm. Fridays 8.30 am – 11.30 am and 2.30 pm – 4 pm. Closed on Mondays.

Admission: IDR 5,000.

Rumah Aceh Tenggara, Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Rumah Aceh Tenggara. Photo by Rilies via Wikimedia Commons

Kherkhof Cemetery and Museum

Another moving sight in Aceh is Kherkhof which is a large cemetery with Dutch and Indonesian graves. The soldiers interred here died while fighting against the Acehs and there are inscriptions of the names of those who died at the entrance of the cemetery. The area was destroyed in the tsunami and the grave stones ripped up by the waters but these have now been replaced with wooden crosses.

Jalan Teuku Umar
Opening hours: 8 am – 6 pm.

Kherkof Cemetery and Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Kherkof Cemetery and Museum. Photo by Rachmat04 via Wikimedia Commons

Gunongan

Gunongan is a pretty little attraction although you may not know what you are looking for at first. This is actually a monument built by Sultan Iskandar Muda for his wife as a reminder of her hometown of Pahang in Malaysia. It would have been used as a bathing place for the princess although now anyone can visit.

Jalan Teuku Umar
Opening hours 8 am – 6 pm.

Gunongan monument, Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Gunongan monument Banda Aceh. Photo by Si Gam, via Wikimedia Commons

Pasar Malam Rek

Pasar Malam Rek is definitely worth a look if you are in the area as this is the most famous of all the night markets in Banda Aceh. As darkness falls, the stalls start up, and you will find delicious treats such as freshly grilled satay, fried rice, and toothsome noodles.

Intersection of Jalan Ahmad Yani and Jalan Khairil Anwar.
Opening hours: 5 – 10 pm.

Pulau Weh

For many people, the main reason to come to Aceh is to visit Pulau Weh which is an island that can easily be reached from Banda Aceh. Pulau Weh is something of a hidden gem in the region and you can expect azure seas and some excellent snorkelling opportunities. This is one of the top tourist spots in Aceh both for foreign and domestic tourists although you are unlikely to find crowds whenever you choose to visit.

Pulau Weh, Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Pulau Weh Islands. Photo by Vanina W.

Boasting so many things to do and attractions, Banda Aceh is truly a delightful surprise of Sumatra. From here on there are many places to visit such as Medan, Lake Toba, Berastagi and Pulau Weh Island. So if you are ever in Sumatra, remember to add on this interesting city to your trip list.

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Top 5 Things to Do in Canggu, Bali

While backpackers looking to party flock to Kuta to spend a hazy night gouging themselves at Sky Garden, and yogis looking to eat, pray, love may find themselves physically and spiritually in Ubud, I found myself instead in a next upcoming hotspot of Bali – Canggu.

Full of cute cafes, fun bars, trendy shops, and decent surfing waves, Canggu is attracting a beautiful crowd looking to escape the cluster of neighboring Seminyak and Kuta. The town is much more mellow, dotted with lush, green rice patties, along cobblestone roads filled with surfers on scooters. It has a small town feel with all the luxurious amenities.

Scooters through Canggu Shortcut, Bali, Indonesia

Scooters through the “famous shortcut” in Canngu, Bali

Here’s our top 5 things to do in Canggu during your visit in Bali:

Eating heathy and local around Canggu

Good coffee and beautiful, bright nalu bowls (Bali’s answer to acai bowls!) are reason enough to make your way to Canggu. Like other places in Bali, there are plenty of affordable healthy eats – it’s probably one of the easiest places to be vegan throughout all of Asia. Some of my favorite haunts include Crate for nalu bowls, quinoa salads and peanut butter shakes from Peloton, a matcha green tea latte and sweet potato toast from Avocado Cafe, and poke bowls with large chunks of freshly caught tuna at Poke Poke. If you’re looking for something more local, there are plenty of Warungs (local food stalls) including my personal favorite, Warung Heboh where it’s buffet style and you pay by item rather than weight which means you can pile heaps on for a cheap and filling meal!

Coffee, desserts, avocado toast at Crate, smoothies, juices, salad at Peloton in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

From left: Coffee and desserts and avocado toast at Crate; Smoothies, juices and salad at Peloton in Canggu, Bali.

Party, drink and live band in Canggu

While Canggu’s nightlife may be a bit more subdued than in other parts of Bali, you can still have a great out and get up early to surf, depending on how many Bintang beers you’ve had the night before. One of my favorite places to drink has to be Pretty Poison in Canggu. Open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, there’s an emptied out swimming pool in the back where skaters show off their tricks to an adoring and attractive crowd sipping on their beers and cocktails. Other must visits include Old Mans, which turns into a party after dark, live rock band included on Friday nights, and Deus, a restaurant/bar/motorcycle shop with a big backyard that gets filled to the brim on Sundays as visitors sway to the live reggae band. There’s also free tacos and tattoos on Tuesday. For a fun day party, Finn’s Beach Club is a trendy and affordable alternative to the more popular Potato Head Beach Club, while the Lawn by Old Man’s Beach is a cheap and great place to curl up on a bean bag. and buy a beer while chatting with the friendly staff who occasionally break out their guitars to serenade lucky guests.

Live Band on Friday nights at Old Man's in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

Live Band on Friday nights at Old Man’s in Canggu, Bali

Chill with spa and massages at Canggu

If you’re still feeling stressed or just simply looking to pamper yourself, there are a few good places for massages, facials, and other spa treatments in Canggu. While prices may vary, Goldust is a popular spot that comes highly recommended. While it’s a bit pricier than other places in Canggu, the bit of extra cash you spend goes a long way in terms of luxury. Always #TreatYoSelf, especially when on holiday.

Goldust, best spa and massage in Canggu Bali, Indonesia

Goldust, best spa and massage in Canggu, Bali

Shopping at markets in Canggu

If you’re looking to take home something unique and fashionable from Bali, Canggu has a decent amount of boutiques and markets filled with trendy goodies. Old Man’s Market which occurs on the last Saturday of every month is a top hit with fashionistas. There’s also a Sunday market by People’s Café with clothes and jewelry made by local artists. And nothing is better than bringing home a bathing suit, the perfect souvenir to remember your wonderful time in Bali.

Jewelry shopping at Sunday's Market in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

Jewelry shopping at Sunday’s Market in Canggu, Bali

Surf at the trendiest spot in Canggu

Of course, no trip to Canggu would be complete without surfing. While Canggu is a becoming a trendy spot amongst beautiful sun seekers, it’s first and foremost a town for surfers. You can take a cheap lesson or rent boards in various sizes right by the beach. The best surf spot for beginners would be Old Man’s beach, while Echo Beach and Berawa are also nice for more seasoned riders. While it’s not exactly empty, the water isn’t as crowded as other neighboring areas.

Surfing babes and new friends at Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

Surfing and new friends at Canggu, Bali – what else do we need?

With its burgeoning popularity, new hot spots for eating, partying, drinking, shopping and massaging are likely to pop-up in this little slice of paradise. What’s your favorite places and things to do in Canggu? Do share with us!

-> Find the best hotel deals in Canggu *

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Top 6 Local Restaurants (Warungs) To Eat In Sanur, Bali

Sanur may not be on everyone’s hit-list to visit in Bali but when it comes to cuisine, it has one of the best local restaurants (warungs) around. While you can get toasted sandwiches and burgers aplenty here, if you scratch beneath the surface you will find a world of hidden culinary gems. Many of the best places to eat in Sanur are local restaurants call warungs, which can range from basic restaurants to more of a cafe type atmosphere, or even just a buffet style glass case with a few chairs and tables set up in front of it. Often the food at a warung is simple local fare so if you are looking to try some traditional Indonesian local cuisine then this is the place to find them.

Sari Bundo

Open 24 hours a day so you can satisfy a craving at any time of the day or night, Sari Bundo is a traditional Nasi Padang joint on Jalan Danau Poso that can be spotted a mile away thanks to its iconic stacked plates in the window. The food is traditionally from Padang in Sumatra so you will find favorites like beef rendang, a spicy beef dish, and sayur nangka or jackfruit curry. You can either just go up to the window and choose the dishes you want atop a plate of rice, or you can sit at a table and let them bring the food to you which can be quite the experience. Tiny dishes, sometimes up to twenty, will be placed in front of you along with a plate of white rice, and you can then choose which ones you want to pour over your plate. You only pay for the dishes you touch and you are absolutely not expected to eat everything in front of you!

Address and Telephone: Jalan Danau Poso 95, Sanur Kauh, Denpasar Selatan; +62 361-281389.

Warung Jawa Moro Seneng

Located directly next to Sari Bundo, and also open 24 hours a day, Warung Jawa is a hit amongst locals in the know thanks to its rock-bottom prices but heaps of local flavors. Warung Jawa serves Javanese style Nasi Campur or mixed rice and you can choose from local favorites like chicken curry, slices of omelet, and vegetable dishes, all piled high onto of a plate of rice. The food is served buffet style so just point to what you want and pay for the number of dishes you have selected. The food here is perfect washed down with a cooling glass of teh manis dingin (iced sweet tea) and this is definitely the place to come if you want some local food on a budget.

Address: Jalan Danau Poso No.78, Sanur Kauh, Denpasar Selatan.

Warung Jawa at Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

Warung Jawa at Sanur, Bali. Photo by Balifan

Warung Krishna

For some of the best Balinese food in Sanur head to Warung Krishna, a little out-of-the-way place on Jalan Kutat Lestari. It may be a little outside of the main tourist hub of Sanur but it is definitely worth it and you can expect Balinese staples like fish satay and lawar, a dish of mixed vegetables, shredded coconut and herbs. Service takes place at the buffet bar next to the tills in the restaurant, so just go and have a look and pick whatever you fancy. They also do a delicious sauce made from pickled chillies which are not to be missed, although be warned that this is a pretty spicy choice so it’s not for those who can’t take a little heat. To get here you need to cross over the bypass and then head down Jalan Tirta Nadi II and turn left onto Jalan Kutat Lestari.

Address and Telephone: Jalan Kutat Lestari No.04, Sanur Kauh, Denpasar Selatan; +62 361 281661.

Warung Krishna at Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

Warung Krishna at Sanur, Bali. Photo by Good Food Bali

Warung Dapur Sanur

Another place to eat along Jalan Danau Poso, but this time at the far end towards the bypass, is Warung Dapur Sanur, which is noted for its healthier take on Indonesian food. To that end, Warung Dapur Sanur serves a range of healthy choices such as brown or red rice instead of the usual starchy white, and then adds to this with a choice of nasi campur dishes like fried tempe or tempeh (compressed soybean cake) and both vegetarian and meat curry options. Aside from the toothsome Nasi Campur buffet bar at the front of the restaurant, you can also order Javanese and Manado dishes like bakso (meatball soup) and bubur Manado, a kind of rice porridge from Sulawesi.

Address: Jalan Danau Poso No.15, Sanur Kauh, Denpasar Selatan.

Warung Dapur at Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

Warung Dapur at Sanur, Bali. Photo by Balikutours

Warung Pantai Indah

If you like your dinner to come with a view then this is definitely the place to come. Warung Pantai Indah is a little beachfront cafe located on Pantai Indah and alongside selling the coldest beer on the beach (they claim), they also serve a range of Indonesian and Western dishes. One of the best choices here is the beef or chicken satay or meat on skewers, which comes served atop its own miniature grill over charcoal for a deliciously smoky flavor. They also do delicious curries infused with coconut milk, all with a gorgeous sea view. Drinks come in the form of the aforementioned cold beer or you can go for a freshly picked coconut opened in front of you. The entrance to the beach and Warung Pantai Indah is opposite Bali Deli on Jalan Tamblingan.

Address: Pantai Indah, Sanur Kauh, Denpasar Selatan.

Warung Blajong

Warung Blajong at Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

Warung Blajong at Sanur, Bali. Photo by Let’s makan

For another hit of Balinese cuisine, try Warung Blajong on Jalan Danau Poso. This restaurant is more upscale than the local warungs or cafes in the area but the food is fantastic and the prices reasonable. Come to Warung Blajong for local Balinese classic dishes like siap betutu or roasted chicken, as well as pepes (food wrapped in Banana leaves) such as be pasih (fish grilled in banana leaves). If you are new to Bali then this is a great place to come to try a range of Balinese food in a less hectic setting than a local warung and friendly staff are on hand if you need some help choosing what to order or want some of the dishes and cooking methods explained.

Address and Telephone: Jl. Danau Poso No.78, Sanur Kauh, Denpasar Selatan; +62 361 285613.

Sanur is indeed not the best-known stop in Bali for its food but all you need is a little local knowledge and a hunger for finding the best dishes around, and you will be pleasantly surprised. Even just a few days here will take you on a whistle-stop culinary tour of some of the best places to eat in Bali that include Sumatran, Javanese, Sulawesi and Balinese cuisines. Tuck in!

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