Your Perfect Week In Indonesia
Superlative spas, temple-studded hills, and beaches for days. Indonesia is the very definition of a tropical escape. But with 17,000 islands to explore, trip planning in this part of the world can be a little overwhelming. Lee Cobaj suggests a seven-day itinerary that combines beach hopping, rooftop drinking, and dragon spotting.
1 – Day One: Canggu, Bali
Start with a laid-back introduction to Bali’s tropical treasures by heading 40 minutes west of the international airport in Denpasar. Check into the Plataran Canggu Bali Resort & Spa, an intimate resort with palm-lined private pool villas in one of Bali’s most up-and-coming neighborhoods. Sizzling Seminyak might be just down the road, but life moves at a much slower pace here. Ease into the flow with a long, lazy lunch surrounded by sleepy rice paddies at the Deus Café, an outpost of the Australian lifestyle café Deus Ex Machina. Check out the rainbow-bright surfboards, customized skateboards and hipster sunglasses, before spending the rest of the afternoon soaking up the rays on one of Canggu’s six silvery beaches.
How to get there: Canggu is a 40-minute drive west of Bali’s capital, Denpasar
Where to stay: Plataran Canggu Bali Resort & Spa
2 – Day Two: Seminyak, Bali
Bali is long on creative talent, and you’ll find no shortage of fashion, art and jewelery boutiques in stylish Seminyak. Make tracks for the Oberoi shopping district, then head west along Jalan Raya Seminyak, stocking up on resort wear from By the Sea, butter-soft leather shoes and bags from Niluh Djelantik, and rich silk shawls and sarongs from local designer Bin House. Shop then flop in one of the sunken pods at the Double Six rooftop bar for IMAX-wide sunset views, top tunes and cocktails.
How to get there: Seminyak is a 15-minute drive from Canggu; free shuttles are provided by the Plataran Canggu Bali Resort & Spa
Where to stay: Plataran Canggu Bali Resort & Spa
3 – Day Three: Menjangan, Bali
For a change of scenery, head to majestic West Bali National Park, where vast emerald-green forests meet sparkling lagoons, grassy savannahs, giant volcanoes and white sand beaches. Trek into the woods for the chance to see monkeys, civets, deer, wild boar, Javanese buffalo and 160 species of exotic bird (don’t forget to bring plenty of water and insect repellent). Or head underwater to snorkel around Menjangan Island, famed for its luminous blue waters and exquisite coral formations; keep your eyes peeled for green turtles and pygmy seahorses. Plataran Menjangen is an eco-friendly villa escape within the park with an on-site PADI-certified dive center and tons of activities on tap.
How to get there: Menjangan is a three-hour coastal drive from Canggu
Where to stay: Plataran Menjangan
4 – Day Four: Ubud, Bali
From Menjangan circle down south to Ubud; the spiritual heart of Bali is a storybook village of theatrical stone temples, secret wellness retreats and a vibrant arts and crafts scene, all surrounded by rippling green rice paddies. You’ll need at least two days to savor its unique atmosphere. Start by trying a traditional Balinese spa treatment at the alfresco Nur Salon. With its own medicinal herb gardens, it’s been around for nearly four decades and offers everything from homemade hibiscus flower hair baths to skin-softening papaya scrubs to two-hour sandalwood-scented massages. And with treatments starting at just $15, you get a lot of bliss for your buck.
How to get there: Ubud is a three-hour drive inland from Menjangan
Where to stay: See our Ubud hotel picks
5 – Day Five: Ubud, Bali
Rise with the roosters for some early morning meditation. The Yoga Barn in the center of town attracts wellness enthusiasts from every corner of the globe to practice pranayama, power yoga and vinyasa flows, as well as more unusual therapies like ecstatic dance, sound medicine and nidra, a kind of conscious dream state. Later, undo all your good work with a plateful of sticky barbecue ribs and a few cold beers at Naughty Nuri’s, a lively roadside shack where Julia Roberts filmed scenes from Eat Pray Love.
6 – Day Six: Flores Island
A morning flight from Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar (less than an hour’s drive from Ubud) should see you arriving on the alluring island of Flores in time for lunch. Feast on just-caught white snapper and sea bass, and luscious big lobsters and crabs at one of the many ramshackle restaurants on the Labuan Bajo waterfront. Fueled up, head to the spectacular summit of Mount Kelimutu, where you’ll find an ethereal landscape punctuated by three deep volcanic lakes. They’re known as the tricolor lakes because one is bright turquoise, while the other two change color—sea green, navy, bronze, molten gold, mirror black—according to the release of dissolved minerals. Most visitors go at sunrise, but the effect at sundown is just as dramatic.
How to get there: Garuda Indonesia and Wings Abadi Airlines offer daily direct flights from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo on Flores Island. The flight time is around one hour 25 minutes.
Where to stay: Plataran Komodo Beach Resort
7 – Day Seven: Flores Island
There aren’t many Instagram posts that are going to beat a selfie with a dragon. The islands and reefs that surround Flores are home to the Komodo variety, as well as a wondrous array of marine life. Hop on a traditional wooden phinisi boat for a sail, snorkel and dive around this magical archipelago. The Plataran Komodo Beach Resort has its own phinisi, which offers daytrips to the nearby island of Finca, which is known for its healthy dragon population—giving you a better chance of spotting one.
By Carl Unger