The Indonesian Odyssey Tour: Java, Bali & Gili Islands

A 10 day trip to Bali / Indonesia 
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Embark on a journey of epic proportions whisking you along rice paddies and volcanic craters, black sand beaches and historic palaces during your custom tailored Indonesia vacation. Witness the enrapturing blue flames sparking in the caldera of Mount Ijen and walk along temple footpaths in the company of watchful monkeys. Learn the secrets to the art of batik and wander along a private coffee plantation. Balinese dancers tell of folklore with elegant movement, and you watch the sun rise over the rolling peaks of Mount Bromo. Discover the wonders of Java and Bali during your luxurious Indonesian odyssey. 

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Rice terraces in Bali.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Yogyakarta, Kraton, Borobudur, Panon temple, Prambanan, Sukhu and Cetoh Temples, Solo, Surabaya, Ngadisari, Mount Bromo, Kalibaru, Lovina Beach, Lake Bratan, Mount Batur

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Yogyakarta – The Journey’s Beginnings

Yogyakarta possesses the heart of the island of Java, central to artistic heritage and Javanese language. Customs continue unadulterated, protected by the sultan, whose royal palace retains a deep connection to traditional life. Your flight lands at Adisutjipto International Airport. Your private transfer meets you at baggage claim and escorts you into the wealth of urban life in the center of the city. Malls and cafes mix with archeological attractions. You take the time to settle into your luxurious hotel erected during the colonial era. The interior décor fuses traditional Javanese style with classical European comforts, along with an elegant swimming pool that feels like a private spa and resort.

Your guide meets you in the hotel lobby and takes you to a batik workshop to learn the traditional art. The workshop fills with the aroma of wood shavings and paint. The colors from drying textiles bring rainbow hues to the forefront of the workspace. Your instructor explains the art of producing colored designs by applying wax to the textiles before dying them, leaving parts of the cloth untouched. After a quick demonstration, your instructor hands you some fabric. The cloth is soft in your hands, and the wax is firm but pliable. You find a basic traditional pattern of swirling circles bordered by straight lines, allowing you to create a stunning combination of vibrant colors bursting from the different shapes.

What’s Included: airport transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 2: Yogyakarta – Out Amongst the City

In the morning, the aroma of fresh rambutan overtakes the rich scent of freshly brewed Javanese coffee. The exotic fruit reminds you of your tropical location. After breakfast, your local guide meets you at the hotel eager to take you on a private tour of the city’s historical and cultural splendor beginning with the sultan’s palace known as Kraton. The compound was erected in the 18th century, complete with grand chambers set inside a series of surrounding walls. The complex houses up to 25,000 people, containing a marketplace, shops, mosques, and a bustling silver industry. Street vendors sell pineapple and oranges along the outer ring with the innermost group of structures housing the current sultan.

Your guide points out the European flourishes along the interior. However, the exterior design remains a stunning example of opulent Javanese architecture. The connection to heritage is palpable in the city, especially at the heart of the palace complex where elderly statesmen wear traditional Javanese dress. Two sacred banyan trees grow in the northern square, dating back to the days of feudal Java when petitioners in white robes would sit in the trees’ shade hoping to catch the eye of the passing king. You continue to Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, displaying thousands of impressive stone carvings.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 3: Solo – Shrines and Temples of the past

In the morning, you sip a refreshing cup of Javanese coffee, enjoying the rich flavors of the roasted beans grown and cultivated on an Indonesian island. The accompanying aroma of fresh pineapple creates a surprisingly harmonious combination. Your private transfer meets you in the hotel lobby after the meal and leads you to the 9th century Hindu temples at Prambanan. The UNESCO World Heritage Site contains shrines dedicated to the Hindu Trinity, known as Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The temple compound is located less than 10 miles outside of Yogyakarta and was erected as Bandung Bondowoso’s proof of love for Princess Loro Jonggrang. A mystical ambiance sweeps through the stone figures, emanating from the textured towers looming above the grounds.

The temples contain both Shaivite and Buddhist architectural and spiritual elements due to the marriage of two dynasties. You make your way to the Shiva temple to view the outstanding examples of Hindu art. The tower reaches a height of 130 feet tall and houses a collection of statues dedicated to Shiva and Durga, an invincible divinity. The sporadic trees add context to the immense height of the numerous shrines. The three main structures contain bas-reliefs telling the narrative of the epic Bhagavata Purana and Ramayana, carved along the inner balustrades. After exploring the wonders of the temple grounds, you venture to Solo, the cultural sister of Yogyakarta, to tour the stunning collection of classical artwork on display in the 18th-century Mangkunegaraan Palace.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 4: Mount Bromo – Along the Scenic Rail

In the morning, the sunlight glints off the pristine elegance of the central kraton. Traditional markets open with colorful exotic fruits shining against mounds of rice. Students from around the world linger in the cafes and sip strong black coffee cultivated in the nearby countryside. After breakfast, you have a private transfer to the train station where you board a first class car for the scenic ride east to Surabaya. The relaxing ride travels along the winding railway, highlighting the emerald and jade hues of the rice paddy fields and tropical forest. Hummingbird trees grow beneath the jungle canopy cast by dark red meranti trees.

White petals stand out along the lower leaves, growing from white orchid trees, which can reach a height of nearly 10 feet tall. The glimpse of the Java rainforest calls to you, radiant with verdant leaves and dense trees, and 650 bird species. Your guide meets you at the Surabaya station and leads you the remainder of the way to the village of Ngadisari, which stands on the foothills of Mount Bromo. Fern trees spread across the slopes. The crisp, cool air replaces the tropical moisture of Solo. Rice fields spread across the lowlands, with distinctly segmented borders. Sporadic homes rise out of the tall grass beneath the lingering trees. The herbaceous scent of the landscape blends with the cooler mountain air beneath the active volcanic peak of Mount Bromo.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 5: Kalibaru – The Thrills of the Countryside

In the morning, wrap your hands around a hot mug of a freshly brewed cup of coffee, allowing the richness from the drink and the warmth of the cup to ease you into dawn. Your guide meets you before sunrise, eager to lead you to the top of Mount Bromo before the sun begins to rise. You step onto a four-wheel-drive jeep ready to ascend the steep slopes. In the darkness, the wind carries a sharp bite. In the absence of a nearby city, the stars sweep across the sky, adding another layer of charm to the secluded region.

You reach the top of Mount Penanjakan, the highest viewpoint in the area at an altitude of nearly 9,100 feet above sea level. The sunlight peeks over the distant horizon, spreading layers of color above the rolling ridges. Beneath you swells a sea of mist. Burnt auburn and red melts into a fading yellow until the clear blue sky returns. The mist below the mountaintops dissipates, revealing radiant greenery. The sun continues to rise into the air as you mount a horse to travel along the less than two-mile distance between Mount Penanjakan and Mount Bromo.

The conical volcanic peak grows as you venture closer. The verdant slopes become rugged hills, paved with loose dirt resembling the landscape of the moon. The peak reaches 7,639 feet above sea level. The arid landscape makes the peaks rising out of the sand resemble Egyptian pyramids with steam puffing out of the fumaroles. Riding on horseback makes you feel like an adventurer in search of the next thrill located inside the caldera of Indonesia’s most active volcano.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 6: Ijen – In the Company of Coffee

In the morning, you wake up in the village of Kalibaru, located on a small hill overlooking the rainforest. The refreshing climate and elevated position make the surrounding landscape perfect for growing cloves and coffee. Outside of your accommodation, you find the air hinted with sweet and enticing spice. After breakfast, you venture to a local coffee plantation to learn about the cultivation of one of Java’s most prized exports. Along the road to the plantation, your guide points out rubber trees and livestock, farmers tending to the rice paddies and villagers returning home carrying buckets of fresh water.

Once on the plantation, your guide leads you along the sloped hills to see the actual coffee plants thriving in the cooler tropical temperatures. The beans resemble berries growing beneath the verdant leaves. They look nothing like the grainy bean you expected to find. The aroma is slightly sweet, and the texture of the crop is a bit waxy between your fingers. At the residence, locals wet and peel the berries, taking away the outer skin before placing the red fruits in drying racks.

Only after desiccation do the beans resemble the coffee you know. Your guide explains that they must first roast the beans to help release the natural flavors of the plant, an important step in any coffee production. At the end of the tour, you find the scent of freshly brewed coffee overtaking the herbaceous aroma of the surrounding trees. You take a small sip of the hot coffee searching for the flavors your guide suggested, such as caramel and cinnamon, natural flavors taken from the soil and uniquely enriching each crop.   

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 7: Lovina – Stunning Mountaintops to Refreshing Coastline 

You wake once again before sunrise, setting out on a guided tour from the base camp at Mount Ijen. The crisp, cold air brushes against your cheeks but your excitement overtakes the elements. Your guide leads you along the trail, stopping sporadically to ensure the flashlights are leading you in the right direction. The adventure is thrilling, lit with meandering headlands, flashlights, and the abundance of starlight twinkling in what remains of the night sky. You use a bamboo staff to help with the steeper sections of the hike, reaching the rim of the caldera after two miles. The rugged rocks rise along the slopes if the caldera’s interior. You traverse the path, holding tightly to the handrails.

The night begins to glow with an ethereal electric blue. The radiance actually stems from flames burning at the base of the caldera. The distinctive color shining beneath the night sky is unlike anything you have ever seen before. The sun rises over the crater and offers a stretch of light to the indigo waters of the lake, which reaches a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. You exit the crater and the view changes from the unique blue flames and glowing water to the verdant hillsides leading you down the mountainside. Your private transfer escorts you to the coastline at which you board a ferry for the welcoming and relaxing Balinese shores at Lovina Beach.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 8: Ubud – On the Temple Edge

In the morning, the sunlight glints off the narrow black sand beaches bordering the smooth stretch of verdant trees bordering the coastline. The tranquil ambiance provides a perfect chance to embrace the colorful combination of the land and sea. The water is warm and inviting. The sand is soft and comfortable beneath the tropical sunlight. Your private transfer meets you at the hotel after breakfast, ready to take you on full-day tailored Bali tours through the central mountains and along the volcanic rim of Mount Batur before reaching the cultural center of Ubud. The road up the mountainside contains thrilling hairpin turns offering views to the emerald terraced rice paddies overtaking the lower hills.

Coconut palms soar into the sky providing scattered shade below. On the edges of the nearby slopes of Mount Agung, you reach the largest and holiest of the Hindu temples in Bali, known as Pura Besakih. The temple sits atop the mountainside at 3,280 feet above sea level. The complex contains 23 separate structures erected over six tiers. Stone dvarapala, guards often taking the shape of demons, flank the stairways, which ascend through the split gate to reach the courtyard of the main temple. The central shrine is dedicated to the holy trinity of Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu. Flower offerings provide ample color to the stone figures, along with smooth, dyed cloth wrapped around the holy figures.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 9: Ubud – Around the Soul

Fields of green reach the stunning dense forest on the outskirts of Ubud. Pink and white flowers blossom along the frangipani trees. The scent of freshly brewed coffee emanates from the central cafes, and the natural aroma of coconut drifts down from the palm trees. A vibrant rainbow of colors fills the Ubud Art Market. Paintings of traditional ceremonies and the surrounding landscape stand beside handmade beaded jewelry and hand-carved statues. At the heart of town stands the 19th-century Ubud Royal Palace, a landmark of Ubud that connotes regal charm inside Balinese architecture. The grounds also house the dramatic dance performances for which the city is known.

Water lilies bloom on the pond in front of the rising tiered tower of the Taman Saraswati Temple.  Carvings honor the goddess of wisdom and art. At the edge of town, you find the Monkey Forest, a reserve in which three Hindu temples hide beneath the towering trees. Hundreds of macaque monkeys linger along the footpaths and roost in the branches. The lush walkways open to the stone dragon bridge beneath the sounds of rustling leaves and chattering troops. The forest encompasses 30 acres, in which you discover Pura Beji, a temple decorated with dramatic detailed carvings bursting from the walls.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 10: Ubud – The Journey’s Tail End

In the morning, the citrus aroma of pomelo fills the dining room at breakfast. Glints of light fill the windows of Studio Perak, a silversmith workshop outside the center of town. Master tinkerers teach visitors and locals alike the art of crafting the shimmering metal into beautiful works, from necklaces to bracelets using traditional techniques passed down through the generations. The splendor of the city ranges from majestic jewelry to the captivating countryside. When you are ready, your private transfer meets you in the hotel lobby and escorts you to Ngurah Rai International Airport with plenty of time to check-in for your flight home. 

What’s Included: breakfast, airport transfer 

Price

Starting Price 

$1,995
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.