Everyone And Their Dog Has Been To Bali! But, What About Flores, Java And Sulawesi?

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Photo of Everyone And Their Dog Has Been To Bali! But, What About Flores, Java And Sulawesi? by Varun Suchday

What comes to mind when I say Indonesia? I'm guessing Bali, right? It is incredible that of the 16,000 islands that Indonesia has, we are only familiar with one. And not only that, that one island is Indonesia for us.

Indonesia is home to many wonders beyond Bali – feisty dragons, wild orangutans, active volcanoes, unreal crater lakes, dead men walking, and an underwater world teeming with life, among others.

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Photo of Java, Indonesia by Varun Suchday

The island of Java is home to 55% of Indonesia’s population, making it the most populous island in the world. Yet it has enough space to house active volcanoes, the world’s biggest Buddhist monument, the world’s largest acidic lake, and Southeast Asia’s largest city, Jakarta. Java has a wide array of places that boggles one’s mind.

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Photo of Everyone And Their Dog Has Been To Bali! But, What About Flores, Java And Sulawesi? by Varun Suchday

What to see and do here: Check off a bucket list entry by witnessing Mt. Bromo, an active volcano, puff up ash; marvel at the 9th-century Borobudur Temple, the world’s biggest Buddhist monument; visit the nearby Prambanan Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; believe in magic after seeing the electric blue flames light up the night sky at the Ijen Crater; search for the incredibly rare Javan Rhino in Ujung Kulon National Park.

How to get here: It is cheapest to fly from Chennai Airport to Surabaya Airport, round trip flights start from ₹16,400.

Daily budget: Expect to spend an approximate of ₹2,500 per day, which will include your intercity travel, attraction entrance fees, accommodation and food.

Best time to visit: April to October is the dry season with temperatures between 25 to 35 Celsius and low humidity, making it the best time to go.

Where to stay: Yez Yez Hostel (₹200 bed in dorm), Cristalit (₹900 double). For more options, check here.

Welcome to the domain of the dragons, home of the cold-blooded creatures from the days of the dinosaur. Komodo Dragons are the largest lizards in the world. They can reach a length of 10.3 feet (3.13 meters), weigh around 154 pounds (70 kg), and can run at speeds up to 13 mph (20 kph). They are only found on the islands of Komodo National Park. The dragons are beasts out of mythical books, with dinosaur scales, a flickering tongue sensing the surroundings, arrogant piercing eyes, the gait stamping authority and a deathly bite.

Top things to see and do: Take a Komodo Dragon day tour to spot the dragons in the wild; snorkel or scuba dive amidst manta rays, sharks and some of the world's best coral reefs; click Instagram-worthy photos at the Pink Beach; catch a surreal sunset from the Sunset Hill.

How to get here: Round-trip flights from Chennai to Labuan Bajo Airport cost about ₹28,000. You can save money by flying to Jakarta or Denpasar (Bali) and then taking a domestic flight to Labuan Bajo.

Daily budget: Expect to spend an approximate of ₹2,500 per day, which will include your intercity travel, attraction entrance fees, accommodation and food.

Best time to visit: April to November is the dry season with temperatures between 25 to 35 Celsius. July and August is the high season, which results in higher prices.

Where to stay: Labuan Bajo will be your base for exploring Komodo National Park. Harmony Backpacker (₹300 bed in dorm), Gardena Hotel (₹1200 double). For more, check here.

Somewhere in the heart of Flores island lies a mythical mountain with three lakes. Few thousand years ago, three volcanoes erupted emptying all their anger and lava, leaving behind three tranquil lakes. Strangely, each lake has a distinct colour. Flores was under Portuguese rule in the past which gives you a unique opportunity to witness Portuguese Indonesia. You can see the influence in language, Catholic churches and African descendants.

What to see and do: Catch a sunrise at the distinctly-colored (we use British spellings) Kelimutu Crater Lakes. The lakes are of spiritual importance to the locals as they believe the dead enter one of the three lakes based on their age and deeds; visit highland villages to witness the unique culture and houses of the highland tribes; trek to one of the inaccessible tribal villages up in the mountains; head to Blue Stone Beach composed entirely of unusual turquoise, blue and reddish stones.

How to get here: Ende (50km) and Maumere (100km) are the closest airports to Kelimutu. There are no direct flights to either from India. You can fly to Denpasar (Bali), Jakarta, Yogyakarta or Makassar and then get a domestic flight to either airport. From the airport, you can get a taxi to Kelimutu.

Daily Budget: Expect to spend an approximate of ₹2,000 per day, which will include your intercity travel, attraction entrance fees, accommodation and food.

Best time to visit: May to September is the dry season, with temperatures between 10 to 30 Celsius.

Where to stay: Antoneri Lodge (₹950 double), Mahoni Guesthouse (₹1700 double). For more, click here.

"Winter is coming and with it march the dead."

Tana Toraja region on Sulawesi island is one of the eeriest places on the planet. What is usually limited to horror movies and dark novels is an everyday affair here. Dead living in the house, pompous multi-day funeral celebrations, dead bodies redecorated, children buried in trees and caves. This island has it all.

Credit: Arian Zwegers

Photo of Everyone And Their Dog Has Been To Bali! But, What About Flores, Java And Sulawesi? by Varun Suchday

What to see and do here: Attend the famous Torajan multi-day burial ceremonies that involve traditional dances, music, local cuisine, slaughtering of buffaloes and pigs and a massive gathering of relatives; visit the tree graves where toddlers are buried; pay tribute to the dead buried in cliffs and caves; check out Ke’te’ Kesu’ boat-shaped houses and Bori megalithic stones.

How to get here: Round-trip flights from Hyderabad to Makassar airport cost about ₹25,000. Tana Toraja is an overnight bus ride away from Makassar airport. You can save money by flying to Jakarta or Denpasar (Bali) and then taking a domestic flight to Makassar.

Daily Budget: Expect to spend an approximate of ₹2,000 per day, which will include your intercity travel, attraction entrance fees, accommodation and food.

Best time to visit: June to August is the best time to visit if you want to see the famous Tana Toraja burial ceremonies. Otherwise, July to October is a good time to go with less rainfall and temperatures ranging between 20 to 35 Celsius.

Where to stay: Sulawesi Castle (₹800 double), Indo Sella Homestay (₹1400 double).

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