Destinations Magazine

An Unforgettable Road Trip: The Highlights of East Indonesia

By Nico @atravellersday

My last road trip from Yogyakarta to Flores was an epic adventure and was easily the equal of my first road trip around Australia. Unfortunately by the time I finished, my backside had a new appreciation of cushions and there were be a few near death experiences on the road that I needed to talk to a psychiatrist about (overtaking a lorry when my back tire burst being pretty high up on that list).

Despite the many strange looks that I got from people who thought that I was crazy for even attempting to drive that far on a bike, the journey on the road was pretty uneventful. However, there were plenty of incredible sites that I’d suggest checking out if you ever attempt a similar adventure.

Ijen crater mine

The view of Ijen from the bottom of the crater. Those clouds of smoke that look like steam is sulfur.

Ijen miners working

Full baskets can weigh up to 70kg. It’s small wonder most miners have back problems.

Ijen is a humbling place full of contradictions. The site is at once a tourist attraction and a working mine. Tourists hike up the volcano next to miners who risk their health to earn just $5 a day carrying baskets weighing 50kg or more. I’d definitely recommend visiting the volcano and – if you have something to cover your face with – entering the mine.

funeral ubud

One of the priests at the ceremony. The main Photo is the funeral tower.

ubud funerals

Thousands of people attended the funeral.

The royal funeral in Ubud reminded me of some kind of Mardi Gras. A real celebration of life, which is an interesting contrast to the traditional funerals you get in the West.

Indonesian Ferries

You’ll have to take a lot of ferries if you’re planning an Indonesian road trip.

Lovina and the North of Bali

There’s a slower pace of life in the North of Bali

The North of Bali has a lot to offer. Definitely check out the incredible open air natural springs though. There’s something very Indiana Jones about showering under a snake.

It's the surfing and not the mining that attracts tourists to Kuta, Lombok.

It’s the surfing and not the mining that attracts tourists to Kuta, Lombok.

Despite the changes happening in Lombok, traditional crafts are still popular.

Despite the changes happening in Lombok, traditional crafts are still popular.

I’ve now visited Lombok twice and I’ve realised that for good and bad the island is going through a major development rush. The bad points include the illegal gold mining and the housing boom. On the plus side, the beaches are still beautiful and you can actually drive everywhere by bike, which was impossible four years ago.

Gili Islands off the coast of Lombok

It can be a rough sea crossing to get to the Gili’s, but it’s worth it.

If you are looking for a party, but you don’t want to hit up Kuta, the Gili Islands are your best bet. Watch out for the ride across though, the currents strong and the waves can get pretty nasty.

exploring Kanawa island at sunset

Sunset over Kanawa Island

Sumbawa is beautiful, hot and compared to Lombok, almost empty. This means lots of beautiful beaches, very little traffic, but very little rubbish collection. Still, I did get to stay in my own private island.

View of the sunset at Labuhan Bajo

I’ve saved the best till last… The sunsets at Labuhan Bajo are simply breath taking. The sight of the sunset over the bay – while drinking a cold beer – is pretty incredible.


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