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We (2 guys in our early 20s) are going to Indonesia for 31 days in July-August. We have no contacts that have been to or are from Indonesia, so all our planning is based on things we read online. I want to know if the times are realistic and if we are taking everything into account.

Our interests are mostly nature (and animals) and old sight (temples and such). We have never been to Asia before. Diving, snorkeling and such doesn't interest us as we are not swimmers.

We plan to spend around 1 week in Java. Moving around with train (hopefully nice views from train?) we wanted to go to Borobudur, Prambanan, Candi Sukuh and Mt. Bromo.

After that we would head to Bali (plane or train+ferry+bus) to visit Mt. Agung and maybe relax one day on the famous beaches.

Then we "jump" to Lombok to see the Rinjani volcano and Gili Islands.

After this we fly to Labuan Bajo, to go on some tour to Komodo Islands (should we also go to Rinca Island?). There is also some trekking there that we might consider.

Finally we wanted to go to Kalimantan, because we heard that the Tanjung Puting national Park is amazing.

Finally head back to Jakarta and fly home.

Is it realistic (or too much/little) for 31 days? Is it fine to not book anything beforehand? We wanted to take it as we go (in case we change plans underway). Or is it required to prebook some tours or hotels?

Any info or help would be greatly appreciated, seeing how neither of us have tried such a trip before.

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    Welcome to the site! Interesting trip, some really cool ideas. Some issues with it though - see our help center, we really do try and keep posts to one objectively answerable question. So if you have multiple questions, multiple posts. It's a bit of a pain, but it makes it infinitely more searchable (and answerable) for other users. In addition, asking subjective stuff like 'is it realistic' or 'is it fine' (unless very specific) is often closed as 'opinion based'. – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Apr 14 '15 at 7:47
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    In this case one could argue that someone who has done it before may say yes or no, but we find that some travellers say 1 week is enough for a country, while others spend six months and aren't satisfied, so it's very hard to be objective when it comes to that :/ – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Apr 14 '15 at 7:47
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    First of all,be aware that you probably have a 30 days visa. In fact, most country would call this a 29 days visa. You can extend it (once) if you go to the imigration office(about $20) or accept to pay some overstay (I think $15/day) – Madlozoz Apr 14 '15 at 10:39
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    Indonesian road travel can be hectic at holiday periods I'm told. (What I experienced was very laid back). Jakarta is a big city. Unless you want to see another big city you can probably save time by entering somewhere else. You can fly directly into Yogyakarta. Borobudur is utterly awesome (even if UNESCO built it). Prambanan would be superb if it was not for Borobadur which steals its thunder. But worth seeing. Borobadur dawn is probably worth seeing but you have to stay there extra $ of course) It is so awesome that f you can add mist, sunrise etc then its worth while. Yogyakarta is ... – Russell McMahon Apr 14 '15 at 19:22
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    ... delightful cheap warm busy friendly. A trip up Mt Merapi as far as they will let you go is worthwhile. If you can time it to coincide with an eruption so much the better - and worse. DO NOT stay in old concrete buildings - those that did not fall down in last N major quakes may do so next time. People die in such buildings still. | The Yogyakarta "Water Palace" is a wonder of the world. Derelict in part, badly maintained. View it with the eyes of what it was and it's awesome. Underground (literally) access now as then. Harem has gone . Pools and sultans magical viewing centre remain... – Russell McMahon Apr 14 '15 at 19:27
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Some initial observations ... your one week on Java, traveling by train and trying to visit four different locations, seems rather busy busy and won't give you lots of time at each locale to explore around.

The rest of the itinerary also has a lot going on for the time allotted, especially when you figure in the limited number of flights offered and how much of a day you will have to waste changing islands.

I would make a list of all the places you feel like visiting, then write down how much time it takes to get from one to the next, then see how little time you have left to actually do anything at each stop. Then starting eliminating the least interesting stops until you have a good mix of exploring and traveling.

People tend to try and pack in too many things when they start planning, then discover once they are there, that they should have spent more time in each spot.

As for booking in advance or after arrival, that depends on the activities you plan to do. Some things can be booked once you are there, some things have very few spots and need to be booked ahead. Once you get your stops sorted out better, then you can start asking about individual items. You may also find lots of feedback already online on this aspect in forums like Trip Advisor.

  • Thanks for the feedback. It is hard to know beforehand what is "too much" or "too little". It sounds like a good plan after places we want to visit the most – Marshall Apr 14 '15 at 8:59
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    I would say that planes in Indonesia are convenient (if not carbon friendly) but island hoping by boat is time consuming and quiet unpredictable (or expensive, depending what boat you take) – Madlozoz Apr 14 '15 at 11:04
  • @Marshall see why you probably want to avoid ferries in Indonesia travel.stackexchange.com/questions/37998/… – Adrien Be May 26 '15 at 15:06
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Disclaimer: Never been to Indonesia, but planning to go in August+September. There are some quite detailed questions I can't answer, but I think there is one rather big issue you should consider before thinking about the others:

The Islamic month of fasting, Ramadan is from June, 18th to July, 16th this year. Observant Muslims are not allowed to eat from sun rise to sun set. One of the most important Indonesian holidays, Lebaran or Eid al-Fitr, follows directly after Ramadan. It officially last for two days, but usually the government declares some more days around them to be general public holidays. A lot of people use this holiday to visit family & friends or to vacation themselves.

In a densely populated area like Java with not-quite-optimal transportation infrastructure this necessarily means high congestion on roads, over-booked public transport and higher accommodation prices. From what I have heard, public transportation is often booked out weeks in advance.

I heard of one additional annoyance: Observant Muslims have to pray more often and also earlier in the mornings during Ramadan. This means that you might hear the muezzin performing his call for prayer more often, very early in the morning (well before sun rise) and louder than during the rest of the year.

The religious laws are not enforced as strictly as in more conservative countries (except for possibly Aceh). This means that as a Westerner/non-Muslim you shouldn't have problems to get food during the day.

Note that since Indonesia is such a huge and diverse country, the issues I outlined might be a major problem in some areas (Aceh, the most conservative province; Java, since it's so densely populated) while they aren't affecting you much at all in others (Bali is mostly hinduistic).

So all in all, traveling around Java in July without booking in advance and being very flexible might not be a good idea. One idea is to turn your planned route around so that you'll be in Java after Lebaran.

For the rest of your questions, it mostly depends on what you want to do/how you want to travel.

Is it realistic (or too much/little) for 31 days? should we also go to Rinca Island?

Certainly not too little, for my feeling. Don't forget that distances are quite long (at least for me, being from tiny Austria ;) ) and you'll need time to get around. Personally, I'd condense the itinerary a bit: For both Rinca and Komodo island, the main attraction are the dragons. If there isn't a good reason to go to both of them, I'd rather spend a day more at one of them.

Is it fine to not book anything beforehand? We wanted to take it as we go (in case we change plans underway). Or is it required to prebook some tours or hotels?

I usually like to pre-book for a few corner stones of my itinerary and then fill in the gaps on the go; This way you get some flexibility and avoid having to spend too much time looking for transport and accommodation that could otherwise be spend exploring or on a nice beach.

  • We arrive on the 21. which is as far as I can see, the last day of the holidays. Interesting feedback. We might cut a few things then and look for some "corner stones" – Marshall Apr 14 '15 at 8:56
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    'From what I have heard, public transportation is often booked out weeks in advance.' This is a bit contrary to my experience, but all the public transport I've taken during my trip in Indonesia was either not bookable in advance (minibus), or booked on the spot or the night before (long distance busses, trains) without any issue. Of course it's probably different for planes. – drat Apr 14 '15 at 9:46
  • Around lebaran, tickets will be mostly sold out or triple in price. Not only in java, but most of indonesia. Everybody's going to see parents and family and then back again. I'd usually recommend hiring car & driver, but around lebaran you won't get one at a reasonable price. – Axel May 25 '15 at 23:00
  • @mort adding to your info regarding the Ramadan in Indonesia travel.stackexchange.com/questions/42874/… , so even after the Ramadan (following week) everything is super busy, you may want to rephrase your advice on being in Java after Ramadan :) – Adrien Be May 26 '15 at 15:08
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==Schedule==
Traveling in Java and Bali is pretty easy... by Indonesian standard. You could add the Gili and Lombok, Komodo will be very difficult. You definitly have to skip Borneo.

Plan B: land in Java,fly to Borneo. Stay one month there.

Plan to come back for your plane at least 2 days in advance. You never know.

==Nature==
Java (1000 pl/km2) and to some extend Bali, are MASSIVELY overcrowded islands. If you can see wild life there, it means you are in a severely endangered area and should not, ethically, be there.

However, there are wonderfull lanscapes in the Montains (Bali,Lombok and East Java). And temples, of course. Muslim Indonesian are (usually) very proud of their Indu heritage (or Boudist for Borobudur)

Orang Utan sighting in Borneo is often, but less obviously, objectionable. Try to avoid those who are "sure" to see Orang Utan as it is more likely tamed animals.

Traveling by boat in Kalimantan(Borneo) forest is something I deeply regret I haven't done. It must be marvelous. Even if it is difficult to find "honest" Orang Utan, you'll get the (remaining) trees crocodiles, python and so on.

== Traveling ==
I totally approve you traveling by trains, buses and boats. But after tasting the Indonesian roads, you'll need more than 1 day of rest.
By the way, road traveling in Java will provide little landscape, but you'll meet nice people.

You should also try to learn a bit of Indonesian before you arrive. It is fairly easy and definitely useful.
If not,train patience before departure. Unless you travel with a guide, you'll be very often stuck by puny details.

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    Note: I was in Borneo for 1.5 week, I could definitely have stayed longer, but still I found it "enough" to enjoy the place as I did get to see a lot in the jungle, & do loads of diving (7 days straight). I'd say it depends how much you want to see of each place you go to. I definitely have a lot left to see of Borneo, & I'm completely fine with it. I'm actually planing to go back very soon :) – Adrien Be May 26 '15 at 15:12

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