Lombok or Gili Islands?

Q:
I am planning a side trip after Bali and was wondering whether I should go to Lombok or head straight to Gili Islands? I would like to do some diving and enjoy beautiful beaches.
– Plang

A:
Gili Islands are technically a part of Lombok, but that said there are boats serving to Gili Islands from Bali directly and there are different boats connecting Bali to Lombok. If you are looking for remote islands with less tourist, no motor vehicles though more sparse in terms of tourist attractions then Gili Islands are for you, check out which Gili Islands to go too if you are wondering (yet another question!). Else if you want to have more choices, there are actually many things to do in Lombok itself, besides just diving and beaches. Both places will give you many options on diving and beautiful beaches.

Also, if you are heading to Gili Islands, check out yet another question – Which Gili Islands is for you?

Either way, head on to our Lombok and Gili Islands Travel Guide to learn more. Enjoying both of them is possible!

Avatar

Author: Pearl

Living in Jakarta for more than 20 years now, she still have not manage to cover the tip of Indonesia’s diverse destinations, people and even food! Pearl loves shopping as much as enjoying luxury but she knows all these have to be done sensibly and on a budget. Therefore you may find the best scoop and offers in Jakarta and beyond with her.

Where is the Best Place to Stay in Bali

Q: We (a couple with an infant) are planning to travel to Bali for 7 nights. We wish to do all/most of the places that you have recommended in Top 10 Must Visit Places in Bali.

Where (area, any hotel/resort/b&b) should we stay? We can either stay at one place or may be two places (3+4 nights).

Answer:
I would suggest looking around staying in these few areas that are quite in the middle of everything and where all the actions are. There are a variety of choices depending on your preferences, from vibrant Kuta to cultured Ubud to relaxing Sanur.

Take a pick at some of our recommendations below and you are good to go!

UMA by COMO at Ubud, Bali

UMA by COMO at Ubud, Bali

Stay in Ubud for culture, nature, arts and markets

Ubud has plenty of places that tourists will enjoy staying at. There’s the Como Shambhala Estate, which is a health retreat deep in the rainforest. There’s the Hanging Gardens Ubud, which has a spectacular view and private pool villas. The Purist Villas & Spa is another popular place to stay in Ubud, as it’s a stylish boutique villa complete with meal and spa facilities. A popular boutique hotel is Uma by COMO, which is located on the hillside in Ubud.

W Hotel at Seminyak, Bali

W Hotel at Seminyak, Bali

Stay in Seminyak for luxury resorts and villas

Seminyak is perfect for those, who are prepared to spend whatever it takes just to enjoy themselves and make their visit to Seminyak memorable. In other words, you get what you paid for in Seminyak. There are great hotels and villas, which provide discounts or special deals during off-season when there are not that many tourists. The famous places to stay in Seminyak are W Retreat & Spa Bali, The Oberoi Hotel Bali and Amadea Resort & Villas Seminyak Bali. Sometimes renting for long term is cheaper than paying by the. The North Seminyak Home is one of the popular places for long term rental in Seminyak. As for the mid-range budget stay in Seminyak, you will find the popular Dash Hotel Seminyak.

Stay in Kutafor nightlife, fun and surfing

Kuta is the central party spot in Bali. Since it’s considered the most developed area in Bali, places to stay are everywhere. The Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel is quite a popular place to stay in Kuta, despite its price, which is justified as it’s a 5-star hotel. There’s also the Bali Bungalo Hotel and Febris’s Hotel and Spa, which are highly recommended by frequent visitors of this area. Suji Bungalow and Gemini Star Hotel are affordable places to stay for low-budget tourists.

Holiday Inn at Kuta, Bali

Holiday Inn at Kuta, Bali

Stay in Sanur for a relaxing beach resorts

Sanur is well-known for its beaches. Due to the heavy flow of tourists in Sanur, there are plenty of places to stay during your visit. Some of luxurious hotels with kids club, pools, suites and interconnecting rooms are Sanur Paradise Plaza Suites and Peneeda View Beach Hotel. If you are looking something a little more moderate, there are the Besakih Beach Hotel and Griya Santrian Resort. While Kirana Homestay and Tari Bed and Breakfast are some of the finest budget hotels in Sanur.

Sanur Paradise Plaza, Bali

Sanur Paradise Plaza, Bali

The above are just the main popular ones that I suggested. Check out our Top 10 Best Places to Stay in South and Central Bali to find even more choices.

Related articles:
Best Budget Hotels in Bali
Best Luxury Hotels in Bali
Best Honeymoon Villas and Resorts in Bali
Best Accommodations in Bali

2 weeks or 15 days Itinerary in Sumatra

Planning to take a trip to Sumatra for about 2 weeks (15 days)? Don’t worry as we are here to help you sort it out. As Sumatra is not a well-trodden tourist trail in Indonesia, in opposed to Java or Bali, it may be a little difficult to plan out your days here.

In this itinerary you will cover some of the top 10 must-visit places in Sumatra in the northern part of Sumatra. The attractions are such as the buzzing city of Medan, the Karo highlands of rice fields at Berastagi, the largest volcanic lake in the world Lake Toba, the conservation area with treks to seek out the Sumatra Orang-Utan at Bukit Lawang, the less congested Sumatran city Banda Aceh and diving off the volcanic island Pulau Weh.

The plan is to fly into Medan and then leave flying out of Banda Aceh to save on the land travel in Sumatra, which may take a while due to road conditions.

Sumatra Travel Map

Sumatra Travel Map

Sumatra Travel Map

Week 1 Itinerary

First fly into Medan, one of the major city in Sumatra and known to the locals as a culinary hub. You will spend your first week here and its surrounding.

Day 1 and 2 – Medan

May not be the favourite of many tourists but Medan does hold some charm with its colonial Tjong A Fie Mansion, grand Mosque and old palace. It also packs a punch in the food department, like its famous Soto Kesawan.

Tjong A Fie Mansion in Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia

Tjong A Fie Mansion in Medan, Sumatra. Photo by Pratyeka, via Wikimedia Commons

Day 3 and 4 – Berastagi

Heading here with 2 hours ride up to the Karo highlands, you will find yourself relaxing to the cooling atmosphere. There is the Gunung Sibayak mountain to hike and the Sipiso-sipiso waterfall to marvel at.

Gunung Sipiso-piso Waterfall at Berastagi, Sumatra, Indonesia

Sipiso-piso Waterfall at Berastagi. Photo by Ronald Tagra

Day 5 and 6 – Lake Toba

This famous lake of Sumatra beckons us to come and just sit down and idle our time away. It is the largest volcanic lake in the world and a wonder to reckon with. Besides chilling by the lake, the Tuk-tuk village is also worth to check out for its rich Batak culture.

Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia

Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by Holmes Nainggolan

For a detailed itinerary on this first week, check out our 1 week / 7 days in Sumatra itinerary.

Week 2 Itinerary

On the second week, we proceed onwards to the north of Sumatra.

Day 7 and 8 – Bukit Lawang

Head on to Bukit Lawang from Medan, you may hire a car or taxi to get here for the quickest option or there are several buses plying this route. The ride will take about 3 hours. Many come here specifically for Orangutan trekking, which is quite an experience itself.

Mother and Baby Orangutan @ Bukit Lawang

Mother and Baby Orangutan. Photo by Arian Zweger

Day 9 and 10 – Banda Aceh

Buses also run from Bukit Lawang to Banda Aceh, so head onwards here to northern Sumatra trip. At this fairly less chaotic city of Sumatra in comparison to Medan, one can find many things to do in Banda Aceh, such as the beautiful mosque, historical sites, musuems and coffee shops for the famous Aceh’s coffee beans.

Masjid Mosque Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Aceh great mosque. Photo by Vidi Agiorno

Day 11, 12 and 13 – Pulau Weh

Take a ferry out of Banda Aceh to Sabang, to get to Pulau Weh, with fast ferry with only 45 minutes and slow ferry/boat for 2 hours. As one of the best diving site in Indonesia with 20 diving spots, Pulau Weh is worth to take a trip out to. Off the beaten track from Sumatra and one of Indonesia’s beautiful islands, this jungle island house many rare species from the land to the sea.

Sabang, Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia

Sabang, Pulau Weh. Photo by Franc López

Day 14 – Banda Aceh

Get back on land to Banda Aceh and fly out at the airport here onwards to other places in Indonesia or elsewhere. There are frequent flights to Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur from Banda Aceh.

If you have some more time, do consider adding more days in Pulau Weh or Lake Toba for relaxation, as they are one of the favourite gems of travelers in Sumatra. As you can see, there are more than Sumatra that meets the eye, with 2 weeks we are only barely scratching the surface of northern part of it. But with that, we have covered a lot of the best of what Sumatra can offer and it’s good enough as a tasting tour of Sumatra.

Related articles:
Sumatra 7 days (1 week) Itinerary
Sumatra Travel Guide

Avatar

Author: Pearl

Living in Jakarta for more than 20 years now, she still have not manage to cover the tip of Indonesia’s diverse destinations, people and even food! Pearl loves shopping as much as enjoying luxury but she knows all these have to be done sensibly and on a budget. Therefore you may find the best scoop and offers in Jakarta and beyond with her.

Overnight bus from Medan to Banda Aceh in Sumatra

I would be traveling to Sumatra and will be flying into Medan. I would want to visit Pulau Weh, off Banda Aceh and wonder how I can get from Medan to Banda Aceh without flying. Is there an overnight bus? How long is the ride if there is?
– Gretta

You can take about 12 hours bus from Medan to Banda Aceh, road is quite good in Indonesian standard. Major bus companies like PMTOH, Pelangi, Kurnia and Pusaka serves this route and their offices can be found at Jalan Gajah Mada in Medan. Prices range from 110,000 Rp to 200,000 Rp.

Night buses depart 7PM or 9PM, these are Patas Bus and the ticket is cost around 130 000 Rp and you will reach Banda Aceh in the morning around 7am/8am. Else there are 2 hourly bus throughout the day between 7am to 6pm price at around 100 000 Rp.

Though many travelers agree that sometimes it is worth to buy a flight from Medan to Banda Aceh to save time and the price difference is not that much.

Avatar

Author: Pearl

Living in Jakarta for more than 20 years now, she still have not manage to cover the tip of Indonesia’s diverse destinations, people and even food! Pearl loves shopping as much as enjoying luxury but she knows all these have to be done sensibly and on a budget. Therefore you may find the best scoop and offers in Jakarta and beyond with her.