Ahh, Indonesia, the country that captured our imagination and left our taste buds tingling in the short week we spent there. Starting in Bali, we were unprepared for the pure natural beauty that awaited us as we whisked our way around this paradise nation. We visited a whopping 5 places during our one week in Indonesia, so here’s our Indonesia 1 week itinerary to help us share with you how we did it and how to avoid making the same mistakes we did!
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One week in Indonesia;
Bali – Ubud
We started this adventure with a short flight from Sydney to Bali Denpasar where we were greeted by our driver, Suka (Organised through our awesome airbnb host for IDR 400,000). Suka was a fountain of knowledge as he drove us for an hour to our hotel, explaining where we were and what there is to do in each town.
We arrived late at night but even then I was overwhelmed by this country. The intricate statues on each intersection and the little street food stalls were worlds away from the nightlife of Sydney. We wound our way around through jungle roads, I couldn’t help notice the sense of community that oozed from the people on the streets. We reached Ubud close to midnight and were treated to a peek at a local ceremony at the street temple.
Suka explained that we were lucky to have been able to get through as the locals usually close the roads for these types of ceremonies. Locals walked around in traditional attire while hundreds of scooters lined the streets, it really was a nice unexpected welcome to Ubud. Embarrassingly, I can’t recall what the ceremony was for although I know Suka did tell us
Day 1 – A fruity salad breakfast with coconut pancakes, scrambled eggs and fresh watermelon juice served on our jungle view balcony…
Make your trip to Ubud even more amazing with these tours:
Day 1 – Ubud Monkey Forest
Have you really been to Ubud if you haven’t visited The Monkey Forest? Wanting to make the most of our first day, we rose with the sun to watch it rise over our jungle view. After breakfast, we took a stroll through town as we slowly made our way to one of Ubud’s biggest attractions. The walk should only have been 30 minutes but due to all the little curiosities along the way, it took us an hour. So definitely give yourself plenty of time to get there so you don’t have to rush past anything.
Reaching the main entrance to The Monkey Forest it was obvious this was much more of a tourist attraction than the photos have you believe. A huge car park already filling up with scooters and a big ticket booth gave it a ‘zoo’ kind of feel to begin with but once you’re inside it is far from that.
Stepping through the arch I was dubious about what we were about to experience, we’d heard of people being swarmed by Monkeys but was that really the case? I had thoughts of us going the whole morning and not seeing a single Monkey in this famous forest… I was wrong. Very wrong. It was amazing.
There are several paths you can take around The Monkey Forest, you really could spend all day here! Take your time, explore each little path and watch your bags! If they think you have something interesting, they’ll investigate it thoroughly.
While you’re in Bali, you might want to check out these famous instagram spots
Tips to make the most of your visit to the Monkey Forest:
Keep your phone/camera on a wrist strap
Look up! You’ll be surprised who’s watching you from above
Go against the crowds – we had some of the best Monkey interactions when they weren’t surrounded by lots of people
Take loose items such as sunglasses
Have food on you – not even hidden in your bag!
Approach the monkeys! They’re wild! Let them come to you and don’t pet them!
Make eye contact! Definitely not with the big males, they’ll treat it as a threat
Expect to be jumped all over straight away
The Monkey Forest kept us busy until lunchtime, so once we left the madness behind we headed in search of somewhere to eat. If you leave through a side exit you’ll walk straight out onto a busy side street and maybe even get to see a Monkey or two causing havoc in the shops. We chose to eat at D’Warung, a busy little restaurant that offered outdoor seating looking over their pond and water feature. It was a nice escape from the heat and their freshly squeezed mixed fruit juice was refreshing.
What better way to end your first day in Indonesia than with a Balinese Massage? After walking around town taking in the sights, sounds and smells we headed back to our hotel for our final Ubud treat. Bali is famous for its Spas and Balinese massages and having just left the Dairy Farm we were indeed ready for some pampering. We had looked around town to see what else was on offer, looking for an authentic yet relaxing experience; for what we wanted our hotel had the best package. There are definitely plenty of places to choose from so I don’t doubt you’ll find the perfect place for you.
We ended the day with a meal at Bebek Bengil, a traditional Balinese restaurant serving authentic Balinese food. The chicken Sata was delicious, served with rice and an egg it was plenty after a busy day. Dec had the chicken with the ‘local Balinese sauce’ which, although nice, if you’re not a fan of spicy food we suggest airing on the side of caution. Again served with rice and a small side salad it was plenty, but it was far spicier than we expected and we even had the chef watching out of his hatch to see how we would react to it.
If you plan on staying a little longer, here’s a guide on what else mainland Bali has to offer!
Day 2 – Nusa Lembongan + Yellow Bridge
Our second day and we were off to our second island. Nusa Lembongan is just a short ride away by fast boat. We had our next hotel organise the boat from Sanur – Nusa Lembongan as they managed to get us a better price that included car transfers from each hotel.
We paid IDR 670,000 with Glory 2 Express fast boat, they collected us at 9:30 am from our first hotel and after an interesting boat ride they dropped us off at our second hotel around lunchtime.
From door to door the journey took about 2 hours but the actual boat ride was only 30 minutes. I’m not a fan of boats but thankfully Glory 2 Express don’t cram everyone onto their boats. Glory 2 Express use fairly new boats, which is why our hotel recommended them.
Some of the others in the harbour were a bit, umm, questionable to say the least so I’m certainly glad of the choice we went with. It wasn’t too bumpy either, thanks to Sakur’s previous tips on getting the earlier boats as the water gets rougher later in the day.
From Nusa Lembongan Mushroom Bay, Glory 2 Express drove us to the other side of the island in a little open backed car. Our hotel was on the quieter side of Nusa Lembongan but this, in my opinion, wasn’t a bad thing. Being away from the majority of the tourists meant that we could enjoy the island in relative peace as well as having access to Nusa Ceningan without the need for a bike!
Once we’d checked into our next hotel (Poh Manis Lembongan – Linked below) and gathered some local tips on where to eat from their manager John, we headed down the little track towards the harbour and the famous Yellow Bridge. This side of Nusa Lembongan was surprisingly busy but with locals, not tourists, scooters coming and going, children playing in the streets. We found the people here extremely friendly too!
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If you’re looking for an Island Paradise, this is the place to be. Crossing the bridge into Nusa Ceningan you’re not short of bars and restaurants with waterside seating and steps leading down to the ocean, it’s an idyllic place to revive after a busy day travelling.
Coming in the afternoon means the low tide leaves behind crystal clear waters too, so it’s the most picturesque time to come. Also, If you wait until just before the sun goes down, you’ll even manage to get a picture of this iconic bridge without any people on it.
We spent the rest of the day wandering around the area taking it all in and stopping off at whichever bar took our fancy. Ending the evening in ‘The Sands’ where we enjoyed some more amazing food, the sweet and sour chicken was delicious and their home made burgers were big enough they had Dec regretting ordering extra chips.
Walking around these islands at night didn’t make us feel uncomfortable or unsafe, even when you reach the part where there are no lights. Guided just by torch light we really did feel like we were on a deserted paradise island, we never wanted to leave.
Day 3 – Nusa Penida
The day we had been waiting for was finally here!! Nusa Penida, our top bucket list item for this trip. With it’s growing fame thanks to Instagram and those classic views we knew we had to get here before it became a huge tourist trap.
Our amazing host John helped us organise getting to and from the Island as well as organising a driver to get us around Nusa Penida. Although now we realise we could have gotten a boat for a lot cheaper than what he arranged, having his help for the whole trip made it worth the price.
The whole day cost us IRD 1000,000, this included our return boat, a day with our own driver, entrance fees to the most popular spots and lunch so although it was more than we could have paid we feel it definitely wasn’t expensive and was 100% worth the money (AUD$94, for the day, for two of us…)
People say don’t get the public boats across to Nusa Penida, we say why? They aren’t the little wooden boats you see on the shore. The public boats act like buses, ferrying people to and from the surrounding areas and are the slightly bigger motorised boats.
It’s IRD 50,000 per person, per trip if you want to organise it yourself and we highly suggest using them! Sit amongst the locals as they nip across for their shopping and get a taste for their daily life. It’s about half an hour by the public boat as it stops off at Lombok first before docking in Nusa Penida.
If you have arranged a driver or Bike hire prior to arriving at the Island, be sure to know the name of your driver/company before you arrive as there are crowds of men waiting to rent you a scooter once you step off the boat.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by it but if you’re firm and know where you’re going they will leave you alone, our driver met us straight off the boat, greeted us by our names (also important) and guided us to where the car was parked. If you haven’t arranged anything, there’s plenty to choose from when you get here but make sure the bikes are safe.
Having our car and driver hire meant we could get chauffeured to 3 spots of our choosing around the island. We know that this limited what we could see but we didn’t feel confident enough to brave it on our own and get a bike, so this was our compromise. Be prepared for some very bumpy rides, the roads here are practically none excitant and the drivers don’t exactly slow down.
Our first stop was the famous Kelingking Beach or T-rex beach as it’s famously known. Kelingking Beach was our whole reason for visiting Nusa Penida having first found out about it from a blog post, since then we’ve increasingly seen photos popping up all over the social media’s but mostly Instagram. Due to its growing fame, I would advise getting here early, we arrived around 9 am and it was already quite busy however by the time we left at about 10 am, the steep steps down the ‘spine’ were very crowded.
Our guide knew all the best photo spots and helped us avoid any crowds, even helping us find the perfect place to fly the drone. It was everything we imagined and more! The locals have clearly clocked on to how popular it is becoming as there are now little shops popping up and buildings being developed nearby. If you can, buy some water off them. Help support the locals who’re home we are
One tip: Don’t wear flip-flops if you plan on walking down the iconic steps. They are steep and only made of rock and bamboo, I regretted wearing mine as soon as I saw them. Thankfully our guide helped us as much as he was able.
*Update – There has since been some major improvements to this famous spot. There are stronger fences, better steps and even ‘proper’ viewing platforms.
– Must do activities on Nusa Penida –
Angles Billabong/Broken Beach
Our next stop was Angles Billabong and Broken Beach. Surprisingly these were even more touristy than Kelingkings beach. Huge queues for the toilets and even a restaurant selling westernised food. I really wasn’t expecting it to be so busy, especially after the fairly peaceful morning we’d just had at the most famous landmark on the Island!
That being said, we hadn’t actually done much research on the rest of the Island so as our guide took us down to the shore we were excited at what we would find. The views were stunning! The water around the Nusa Islands is so clear, I couldn’t help but just stand and watch it. Even being surrounded by so many people, there was a sense of calm there.
Broken Beach was a popular spot for drone fans, so if you have one be aware of who’s around you and where their drones are. OH and be sure to have your swim stuff handy for Angles Billabong! If the waters are right you’ll be able to have a paddle in the tidal pools.
Top tip: Don’t try to fly your drone through the archway, we saw one guy lose his Mavic Air to the ocean when he attempted it and clipped the rocks. The arch isn’t as straight as it looks!
Our driver took us for some more photos before stopping off at a hidden cafe for some lunch. We didn’t actually know this was included until afterwards when we tried to pay, so it was a really nice surprise! The staff were dressed in traditional Indonesian clothes and as is the Indonesian way, they were also very friendly.
The final stop for the day was Crystal Bay, the perfect end to a perfect day. White sands and as the name suggests, crystal clear waters make this beach the perfect place to soak up some sun. On the left of the beach is an old abandoned set of steps, our driver eagerly coaxed us over to them before we had the chance to refuse and helped lift me up; the bottom few steps appearing to have been missing for quite a while.
Had it not have been for him insisting, I probably wouldn’t have climbed up but I’m glad I did! The views from the top were breathtaking, made better knowing that not many of the other beachgoers had spotted this stairway to viewpoint gold.
We got the boat back at 5pm after exploring some of the local shops by the shore. Another short boat ride saw us back at Nusa Lembongan in time for sunset from our balcony. If you’re ever in Nusa Lembongan and in need of a place to stay, we can’t recommend Poh Manis enough!
If you can’t get enough of inodnesias unique coast lines, Flores has a lot to offer too and is next on our Indonesia bucket list!!
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Day 3 continued – Nusa Penida/Lembongan
After an amazing Day at Nusa Penida, this one week in Indonesia was feeling like a dream. Ticking more off our bucket list than we realised, we were on a high and didn’t want to leave this tiny Island. We joined the locals again and caught the boat back to Nusa Lembongan (included in our booking), we still had the evening to explore what else this side of the Island had to offer and we weren’t going to waste it. After we watched the sunset again and took a lot of photos (yup…huge sad face here…) we headed back to where our taste buds tingle.
There are so many bars and restaurants across the bridge on Nusa Ceningan that we were spoilt for choice, so we opted to bar hop, trying the different cocktails and juices from each.
Our time on the Nusa trio came to an end way too quickly. Next time we’re going to give ourselves a good few days, Nusa Penida especially as it has a lot more to offer besides Kelingking beach.
So our top tip for these Islands is to stay as long as you can. We didn’t even touch the other side of Nusa Lembongan but that’s just an excuse to come back; if we even need one.
Day 4 – Gili Air
We originally thought we would have to leave Nusa Lembongan, head back to mainland Bali and catch a boat to the Gili three from there. We realised that wasn’t the case while still in Ubud and booked a space on the Blue Water Express fast ferry…
DO NOT book with Blue Water Express;
Their processing is very different from your usual online booking and their customer service is poor. Here’s what happened to us. We completed our booking and were told we’d hear back within 48 hours, no money to be taken until after confirmation. Simple and easy, we continued our trip but once we reached Nusa Lembongan – 3 days later – we realised we still hadn’t had a confirmation. We tried contacting them and their offices were always closed no matter what time we called so we emailed them.
Luckily John, the Airbnb Manager at Poh Manis, was able to organise us another direct boat (cheaper) with a different company. We booked that and tried one last time to call Blue Water Express, still no answer. In the end, we resorted to emailing them to cancel and explained that they’d failed to confirm 24 hours prior to our booking so we expected no money to be taken. Low and behold, less than 12 hours before we were due to board money was taken from our account and our booking was confirmed. We THEN got an email saying that due to our late cancellation we wouldn’t be receiving our refund. Ok so long story short we did get our money back, but we had to argue it and want you to avoid nearly losing out on your money too…
Anyway – rant over. Chalk it to experience.
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So John had helped us organise a different company, who was actually cheaper, and even gave us a lift down to the harbour so we didn’t have to carry all our bags. We had to catch a little boat from the main ‘harbour’ by Yellow Bridge and then join a bigger ferry that was waiting for us just off the coast. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the company but they have an office right near the bridge.
This company was so well organised, everyone was given a sticker and luggage tag saying where they were heading. These bigger slow boats go to several stops before reaching the Gili Islands so it was good to see some form of organisation. The boat was air-conditioned inside, the offered cheap snacks throughout the journey and even played a film, it wasn’t the quickest option but I’m confident it was the most comfortable.
Arriving at Gili Air
Gili Air is such a small Island, it’s only a 15-minute walk across the Island so we opted to walk to our next Air B+B, despite him offering to organise us a horse and cart. That’s the only mode of transport available on Gili Air, besides push bikes.
From the moment we stepped off the boat this Island spoke to us, with no cars or scooters in sight it was a huge change from the previous Islands. It felt peaceful but busy, though that could be due to it being more than half the size.
We wound our way through the little streets, watching the horses trot past with their carts carrying locals and tourists. For the number of horses on Gili Air, there was very little horse poop in the streets too! I still find it funny that this was one of the first things we noticed haha.
It’s possible that our Gili Air accommodation was the cutest place we’ve stayed in for the whole trip, with its thatched roof and big open ceiling we felt very close to nature. Especially when we found the biggest Gecko we’ve ever seen in our room the following morning! How cool is that!
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Once we were settled in we took a stroll around the Island to get our bearings, it might not be a massive place but it’s always good to have a rough idea where you are. There are so many places to eat along the beach here that we had a hard time choosing! Almost every place looked busy and they all smelt amazing so we suggest trying somewhere new each night, you’ll never be short of options.
These were our guests for our stay. Every night the Gecko sang to us, and every morning the kitten greeted us for breakfast.
Day 5 – Boat trip around Gili 3
This was my all-time favourite day trip of the whole week. Yes, Nusa Penida was stunning and really was a highlight, but our 5th day in Indonesia was a personal triumph for me and one I’ll never forget.
We’d heard about how amazing the snorkelling/diving opportunities are around the Gili Trio and if you follow us on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll know I’m obsessed with wildlife spotting. What you don’t know, is I’m also terrified of the ocean. Just getting boats can be a nerve-wracking experience for me so snorkelling isn’t something that I think about lightly. Read my more personal post about the whole day but let’s just say I did it and I’m hella proud of myself!
One of the very few photos we managed to save – Fish and Sea Urchins resting on an old stone anchor.
When you walk around Gili Air, you’ll notice that every other shack is offering some sort of snorkelling tour or diving experience. Feel free to ‘shop about’ for a company you feel comfortable with but just know, you don’t need to worry about being ripped off here as every company charges the same, it also wouldn’t surprise me if all the ‘small’ companies are umbrella’d from one big company.
We paid IRD$100,000 PP (That’s the equivalent to AUS$95, US£$70, £50) for the full day snorkelling, this included around 6 snorkelling spots and a stop on Gili Meno for lunch (this may vary for each company).
So what can you expect from your snorkelling stops?
You can almost guarantee to see Turtles at one or more drop off, the famous underwater statues as well as tonnes of brightly coloured fish. Unfortunately, the coral in this area is suffering from a similar bleaching spell to the Great Barrier Reef so a lot of it is white and void of its vibrant colouration but it’s still beautiful.
Declan swimming down to see the Turtles. We saw 4 on this trip.
Top tip: Be Careful in the shallower waters, there’s a lot of sea anemones and also stone fish; both of which you do not want to be standing on. Make use of the free flippers and watch where you’re putting your hands.
After an unforgettable day, we spent our final evening exploring further and taking photos around the Island. One of the bars on the seafront had a fire display so we stopped there for dinner. Deciding to celebrate our amazing trip almost coming to an end we stayed here for most of the evening drinking Blue Lagoons and soaking in this Islands magical atmosphere but as with all good things, it had to end.
Day 6 – Back to Bali, Ubud
We booked our boat back from Gili Air through our next, and final, Air B+B host. For IRD700,000 we got a boat from Gili Air to Padang Bay and a transfer from Padang Bay to Ubud. Now that was an experience and a half!
Up until this point we hadn’t experienced any sort of hassle from the taxi men or other street vendors. So what we were faced with getting off the boat at Pedang was truly overwhelming for me when really, it should have been expected.
As we approached the harbour we started to collect our belongings and make our way to the exit, when I saw outside the door my little heart dropped and I clutched Decs T-shirt as he approached the door.
What looked like hundreds of men, all crowded around the door, grabbing at tourists as they got off the boat, ‘helping’ them to land then waving fake tickets in their faces trying to convince people they were there to collect them. Shouting random hotel and place names in the hope that someone would be gullible enough to listen…
They’re persistent and clever so here are our tips on getting through the mad crowd without being scammed:
Grab your luggage as soon as you get off the boat, DO NOT let someone carry it for you.
Keep hold of your transfer ticket, DO NOT let anyone ‘have a closer look’. From experience, they’ll walk off with it so you have to follow them to their car.
Listen out for your name, your transfer will be calling you by your FULL NAME. That’s how you’ll know it’s the right one. They should also have a copy/the other half of your ticket
Know how long the journey should be and ask them to clarify BEFORE getting in the car/bus. One person told us our journey will take 3-4 HOURS! When it was actually only 1.5.
If in doubt, just keep walking. The boat offices are just passed the harbour and staff there will be able to help you, the transfer waited almost an hour to ensure it had everyone. Staff also helped ‘fight off’ some of the scammers.
We didn’t let this spoil what an amazing week in Indonesia we’d had though and by keeping our wits about us we made it to the coach relatively unscathed. 1.5 hours later we arrived at our next Air B+B to enjoy one final night, repack everything and finally relax before catching our flight early on day 7.
If you decide to stay in the area for longer, why not check out some of Bali’s beautiful waterfalls?
All in all our week in Indonesia was incredible, I really can’t say it enough. It was a holiday we’ll never forget and a destination that has rocketed to the top of our ‘to-do’ list after Australia. I never thought I’d be as surprised by a place like I was Indonesia. I can’t wait to indulge in their culture and beautiful scenery some more soon I hope!!
Have you been to Indonesia? Where was your favourite place! We’d love to know about it!
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