for in-depth destination knowledge and high-touch assistance
From Central Java to Bali overland
the essential route of the Indonesian experience
Day one : Solo Arrival
Upon disembarking at Adi Sumarmo International Airport, you purchase “visa on arrival” at USD 25 per person. This allows a stay of 30 days in the country to Swiss citizens and those of most other countries. Indonesian regulations also stipulate that a visitor’s passport should have at least six months remaining validity from the day of arrival and a minimum of two empty pages for immigration stamps. After you purchase the visa you proceed to an immigration desk to get your entry stamp.
Once you have retrieved your luggage you will meet our tour guide at the main exit where he will be holding a sign with your name. After offering his welcome greetings, he will transfer you to Roemahkoe Residence and check you in for a three night stay. (Roehmahkoe is Indonesian for “my home” and it will not fail to feel that way.) http://www.roemahkoe.com/ . The evening is yours in order to recover from the long flights.
Day two : Solo City
Javanese culture is the product of a long and complicated history and a mix of many different influences. The great oriental religions have all left an indelible mark on the island of Java and the central region has been its cultural heartland for more than a thousand years. Solo, or Surakarta, as it is known formally and officially, is the 'twin' sister to the provincial capital Yogyakarta and used to be an autonomous kingdom. The city has half a million inhabitants but it is the least westernized on the island and has preserved much of its Javanese character.
During the morning we will take you to the most important historical sites. Solo is home to two separate royal enclaves, the Kasunanan Kingdom and the Mangkunegaran Principality. The Kasunanan Keraton was the palace of the Pakubuwono Kings and its oldest part dates back to 1675. Historically, the Kingdom was the true heir to the Mataram Sultanate which ruled the whole of Java from the 16th century to the late 17th century. The Mangkunegaran Palace built for a renegade ‘junior’ line of the royal family in the 18th century is a splendid building with an extensive collection of classical Javanese art.
Nearby we also show you the ancient Tri Windu market, which is as vibrant today as it was in the past. In Bawean we visit a Batik home industry to see the process of traditional batik making from start to finish. In the late afternoon we take you on a becak (rickshaw-pedicab) ride, an entertaining way of seeing the oldest part of town and we end up at the Ngarsopuro night market where you will be able to experience a great variety of the traditional dishes that Solo is famous for.
Day three : The temples of Sukuh and Cetoh
On this day we drive 35 kilometers to the east up the slopes of Mount Lawu to visit two temples that are relatively little known but absolutely unique among the Javanese classical monuments. These temples are very different from the more well-known monuments such as Borobudur and Prambanan. They were not discovered until 1815, perhaps because of their remote and isolated location high above sea level. The temples were built in the 15th century during the declining years of Majapahit Empire. This was the last significant era of temple construction in Java before the island's courts were converted to Islam in the 16th century.
Candi Sukuh is the only plainly erotic temple in Java. It has a pyramidal shape similar in style to the Mayan temples of Central America but it is adorned with meticulously carved life-sized figures. Elaborate stone carvings of Hindu phallic symbols indicate that the Sukuh temple obviously was a sacred place for the worship of nature spirits and the observance of a fertility cult.
To reach the second Hindu temple, Candi Cetoh we pass through beautiful tea plantations. Since it is even higher on the mountain, the Cetoh temple is rarely visited yet is one of the most beautiful and mysterious temples in the country. Its carvings are similar to Sukuh temple but the architectural layout is different.
When we return to Solo, the remainder of the day is free at your leisure.
Day four : Solo - Borobudur
During our last morning in the city that so carefully cultivates its heritage we pay a visit to the Academy of Arts located at the Kentingan campus to witness a classical dance practice. We return to our hotel for lunch.
After lunch we start the scenic drive through the heartland of central Java from Solo to the town of Mungkid, the location of the Borobudur temple. We take the road that runs by the village of Selo, in between the two majestic volcanoes Merapi and Merbabu.
When we reach the Borobudur area we check you in for two nights at the Plataran Hotel, http://www.plataran.com/borobudur/
Day five : Borobudur, Mendut and Pawon.
Today we wake up early (at approximately 5:30 AM) to witness the sun rise on the world famous Borobudur temple. Without a doubt this is the best time of the day to explore this massive Buddhist Temple- the largest in the world- and discover its magic.
It was the Sailendra dynasty that embraced Mahayana Buddhism in the early 9th century and the temple took almost 100 years to be completed. Based on an ancient text it was supposedly inaugurated in 824. Borobudur is a massive pyramid that rises up from the green plains like the neighboring volcanoes. From its 150,000-square-foot base, we have to climb up six tiers to the top. The top level is dotted with 72 small, latticework stupas, each with a statue of Buddha inside, visible through the grates.
After Borobudur we proceed with a visit to nearby Mendut temple. Older than Borobudur, built around AD 800, it is located less than two miles from Borobudur and an impressive archaeological site in its own right. Here, we see carvings that depict scenes from Buddhist literature along with Indian morality parables on the exterior, and a rare Buddha statue seated in the European style (on a chair) inside.
We finish with a visit to the Pawon Temple. From the perspective of the architecture, this temple is a combination of both ancient Javanese Hindu and Indian architecture but the location of Pawon is right on the axis line connecting the Borobudur and Mendut and it is clear there was a spiritual relationship between the three sacred places.
After a morning of monumental impressions it will be lovely to return to the comfort of the Plataran. The rest of the day is free at your leisure.
Day six : Borobudur - Yogyakarta
In the morning we drive to Yogyakarta via Kali Adem on the slope of Mount Merapi, approximately 6 kilometers from the summit. This is probably the best place where you can see the volcano from a close range. We also make a stop at the Ullen Sentalu museum in the Kaliurang area.
Lunch will be at the home of Pak Suryadi, a Javanese philanthropist who dedicates his times to the preservation of Javanese culture, teaching kids to play gamelan, puppets carving and performance. We visit him in his Javanese “Joglo” and he will proudly share his knowledge of Javanese culture. You will experience everyday life joining a Javanese family for lunch in their private home.
In the afternoon we take you to the Prambanan temple complex, that most remarkable example of Hindu temple architecture. We go around the temple grounds by horse carriage and visit the principal towers with their elaborate Ramayana bas-reliefs.
We have dinner and spend the night at di Omah Hotel.
Day seven : Yogyakarta - Blitar
After breakfast we leave for a long drive of about 300 kilometers crossing from Central into East Java and our destination for the day is a sleepy town on the South coast, Blitar. The main claim to fame of this quiet and charming town is as the birth and burial place of Indonesia's founding father, Sukarno. Like so many other cities in Indonesia Blitar is “under the volcano”. The very active Kelud, considered as one of the most dangerous volcanoes of Java because of its frequent eruptions is located just over 20 kilometers north of town. However a most definite tribute to the town is the hotel where we will check you in for the night and where they serve you a splendid meal. http://www.tuguhotels.com/blitar/
Day eight : Blitar - Malang
Leaving Blitar on the road heading north towards Sumberingin we first visit Candi Penataran, the largest ancient Hindu temple in the East Java region. It dates from the early Majapahit period and texts clearly indicate that it was of considerable importance. It is a large complex with 3 courtyards and in many ways strongly recalls a modern day Balinese temple. There are a number of interesting relics including a substantial wall relief depicting the Ramayana. Our destination today is the city of Malang.
Malang is the second largest city in East Java with a rapidly growing population of about 1.2 million. It is a city of great historical significance. The oldest existing record of Malang as a regency is from the 8th century when it was the seat of government of several early kings. Malang Regency is located between two groups of mountains with Mount Semeru, the highest mountain on Java, and Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park to the east. During colonial days Malang was very popular with the Dutch due to its cool climate and attractive rural surroundings.
Having made the acquaintance with the offspring in Blitar you will look forward to get to know the original Tugu in Malang: http://www.tuguhotels.com/malang/tugumalang1-surrounding.html
Day nine : Malang - Bromo
When we check out from Tugu we drive through the scenic countryside of Malang Regency to the foot of the Bromo volcano and check into Java Banana.
Mount Bromo is an active volcano and the best known attraction of the Tengger Semeru National Park. The site is noted for its spectacular sunrises, and the majestic views on the Semeru volcano behind it. To get there you cross the Sea of Sands
Day ten : Bromo - Ijen
We wake up early because it takes an hour to where the Bromo crater rises up in the middle of the Sea of Sands but it is possible to cross this lunar landscape on horseback and when we finally reach the crater we still have to go up a flight of 245 steps to reach the rim (2,329 m). The sight from the top of the Bromo into the crater, in combination with the view on Tengger will create an indelible memory. Tengger is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes and regularly belches out a huge cloud of steam and smoke…
From Bromo we drive to Probolinggo. We pass by the train station to check if the local train is on time. Travelling by train in Java is a wonderful opportunity to meet local people and a great way to enjoy the landscapes. We hope that you will be able to experience this and of course the guide will join to for the ride from Probolinggo to Banyuwangi. The driver and luggage will meet you at the station in Banyuwangi. Then we drive inland to the village of Licin in the foothills of the Ijen Highlands. We check you into the Ijen Resort and Villas: http://www.ijendiscovery.com/
Day eleven : Mount Ijen - Bali
After an early breakfast at the hotel, we take you in a 4WDrive through rural villages, coffee and clove plantations into the rainforest that covers the slopes of the larger Ijen craters. Through the giant ferns and the colossal trees we may spot some of the plentiful wildlife. When we reach the Park Rangers station at ‘Paal Tuding’ we start our hike up to the crater edge. It is only about a three kilometers distance from there to the lake, but the path goes up rather steeply. In just three kilometers we have to go up 518 meters which is an average inclination of 17%! The first two kilometers are the heaviest but the reward of the effort is more than worth it: literally a breath taking view. We encounter many workers trudging up and down the mountain carrying sacks of sulfur. After reaching the crater the intrepid and agile may wish to climb down to the lake but the air is filled with sulfur dioxide; the smell is pungent and at times breathing may be difficult. (An early morning departure to Ijen is advisable for a number of reasons. The light is better for taking pictures and by noon the crater maybe in the clouds already.)
We return the same way we came and when you return to the hotel there is time to freshen up. After we check out we directly proceed to the harbor of Banyuwangi to board the ferry for the half hour crossing of the Bali Straight. When we land in Gilimanuk we drive down the West Coast to Canggu. You will feel like coming home when we check you in for two nights at Tugu! : http://www.tuguhotels.com/bali/
Day twelve : Canggu Beach
After all the travels and hikes to the volcanoes you will be ready to spend a leisurely day on the beach in Canggu. Canggu is known for a couple of surf breaks but the beach is pleasantly quiet.
Day thirteen : Canggu - Ubud
Tourism is now the largest single industry in terms of income and Bali's economy has grown much faster than the rest of Indonesia but the vast majority of the visitors lodge on the largely urbanized southern tip of the island. However traditional Bali has a remarkably resilient culture which is still fully alive and as soon as one goes north from the capital of Denpasar one immediately finds incredible magic and beauty everywhere. The island is blessed with exuberant flora and fauna, exceptional beauty, underpinned by a culture that venerates nature
In the morning we go inland and our first highlight of the day is the Taman ayun temple in Mengwi. This very pleasing temple was built in 1634 by the King of Mengwi as his family temple. The terraced courtyards of the temple are set in very well maintained grounds, surrounded by man-made waterways and entered over a bridge. Then we proceed to Penelokan for a coffee break. From here we go on a wonderful cycling tour downhill to Ubud. You will find that to experience the serene tranquility of the Bali countryside and discover the stunning beauty of its nature to the fullest it is really necessary to step out of the car and proceed on your own power. Without the noise of engine and air-conditioners you suddenly do hear the birdsong and smell the scents of the real world and everything is much more beautiful. We make frequent stops to visit local villages and mingle with the local people. Our destination is Ubud where we check in and have lunch at Wapa di Uma.
Day fourteen : Ubud
Although over the past two decades the town has developed into a major tourist center where green rice terraces have given way to bookshops, cafes and boutique shops, Ubud and the surrounding villages remain the undisputed cultural heartland of Bali and the growth has not ruined the splendid natural setting. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful and what makes Ubud so unique is the fact that over the years this spectacular natural beauty has been recorded in large collections of timeless art, such as can be found in the Agung Rai Museum of Art.
This fourteenth day will be a memorable one. In the morning we attend the cooking class at Wapa di Ume. In the evening we visit the ARMA cultural centre and enjoy a dinner with a dance performance at Laka Leke restaurant. No visit to Ubud is complete without witnessing a traditional dance performance. Balinese dances are colourful re-enactments of classic Hindu legends and in Balinese culture dance is truly a sacred art.
Day fifteen : Ubud - departure.
Your last morning is free at your leisure. In the afternoon we transfer you to Ngurah Rai Bali International Airport for your return flight to Europe.