My girlfriend and I are planning to go to Indonesia in July for 2 weeks (actually 15 days)

We plan to go to the following places over 16 days:

  • Sumatra – Gunung Leuser National Park (Bukit Lawang) and Tangkahan (Wash Elephants) – 4 Days
  • Java – Yogyakarta, Borobudur, and Prambanan & Bromo – 5 Days
  • Bali – 6 Days

In this article, I want to talk about the planning process for the trip. I will then update it after the trip with more details.


Arrival in Indonesia

In the end, I used a combination of airlines miles and purchased a ticket on Turkish Airlines that cost roughly ~$1,300 from NYC.

The cheapest flight was actually into Kuala Lumpur. You can get a flight under $100 per person from Kuala Lumpur to Medan.

Sumatra – Tangkahan and Bukit Lawang

Bukit Lawang

From my research (as mentioned in previous post), the most common attractions are Bukit Lawang and Lake Toba.

Since we only had 4 days, I decided that it was best to skip Lake Toba. Lake Toba is a beautiful lake, but I had a similar experience in Guatemala.

From Medan Airport to Bukit Lawang, it is a 2-3 hour drive. At Bukit Lawang, which is in Gunung Leuser National Park, there is a feeding platform. The feedings are at 8:00 am and 3:00 pm. Multiple people indicated the 8:00 feeding is the best since there are less people.

You can go deeper within Gunung Leuser National Park on multi-day hikes from Bukit Lawang or hike from more remote locations. If you want to hike from more remote locations, you will need to add another day or 2 of driving time.

In Bukit Lawang, you can do 1-3 day hikes into the park. This will give you the chance to see “wild” Orangutans. There is also the ability to go tubing in the park.

This was a sample of tours that I identified for 4 days:


We decided to do 2 1-day hikes to avoid sleeping in the jungle. The goal is so see “wild” Orangutans that are not at the feeding platform. “Wild” is in quotes because the orangutans that you will see are likely rehabilitated.

We are doing the hikes with the Green Hill Guest House, which charges 1,000,000 IDR (~$87) for the 2 1-Day Hikes.  This is the same price for a 2 day hike with night in the Jungle.  While this seems expensive, they are reliable operator and hotel only cost $15 per night.


Outside of Bukit Lawang, the most common attraction is Tangkahan. Tangkahan is a couple hour drive from Bukit Lawang and gives you the option to wash and ride elephants for 1 hour. The cost is $60 dollars per person.

There is no elephant riding on Friday.

Lake Toba is more popular than Tangkahan, but you would likely need 5 days+ in Sumatra.

Transport – Bukit Lawang, Tangkahan, and Medan Airport

The cost of transport between Medan, Tangkahan, and Bukit Lawang:

Medan Airport to Bukit Lawang – 500,000 Rp ($45 USD)
Bukit Lawang to Tangkahan – 500,000 Rp ($45 USD)
Tangkahan to Medan Airport – 700,000 Rp ($60 USD)

Transport companies:

I found the cheapest rates from Green Hill Guest House in Bukit Lawang.

Lodging in Bukit Lawang and Tangkahan

I ended up selecting Green Hill Guest House based on its proximity to Gunung Leuser National Park (right outside the park) and good reviews in TripAdvisor.


In Tangkahan, we are going to stay at Mega Inn. (megainn_tangkahan@yahoo.com)

The article below lists the different hotels in Tangkahan.


We choose this hotel because they were very responsive. I wanted to stay at Green Lodge, but I couldn’t find an email. My guess is that you need to be part of a tour group or call them.

Java – Yogyakarta and Bromo

In Yogyakarta, there are a number of attractions. Besides the city, there is Borobudur, Prambanan, Mount Merapi, and Beaches.

To visit Bromo from Yogyakarta, you will need to take a 10+ hour bus/car ride, train, or fly.

Must See
Borobudur Temple (Biggest Buddist Temple in the World) – Sunrise is best; Early Sunrise Tour
Prambanan Temple – Close to Yogy (See at Sunset and Ballet in the Evening)
Sewu Temple (10-15 min from Prambanan)

Malioboro (Shopping) – located in Yogyakarta
Yogykarta Palace
Taman Sari (Sneak in – reserach further) – close to palace in downtown Yogykarta
Hike the Ruins of Mount Merapi (Volcano wiped out town in 2010)

Parangtritis Beaches (1.5 to 2 hours from Yogy)

Yogyakarta Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive from Jakarta and tour of Yogyakarta City
Day 2 – Yogyakarta City in the Morning, Prambanan Temple for Sunset, Sewu Temple, and Ballet
Day 3 – Borobudur Temple for Sunrise (Optional – Mount Merapi Tour)

Information about Borobudur

Borobudur is the biggest Buddist Temple in the World.

Most people recommend seeing a sunrise at Borobudur and a sunset at Prambanan.

To see the sunrise, you need to purchase tickets from Manohara Hotel, which is the closest hotel to Borobudur. If you stay at the hotel, they give you discounted entrance.

The price of the tickets is 360,000 IDR per person.


You can also purchase tickets for a group tour from Yogyakarta, but my preference is not be in a large group. Manohara Hotel costs about $65 per night.

Information about Prambanan Temple

Prambanan is a World Heritage Site and is a Hindu temple that was constructed in the 9th Century. It is located a little over 10 miles or 15 km from Yogyakarta.

Most people will recommend seeing Prambanan at sunset.

The other advantage of going at sunset is that you can see the Ballet at the temple.

You should check here to make sure the play is open.


Most people recommended getting First Class or Special Class seating. Special Class seating costs about $22 (250,000 IDR) per ticket and 1st class is about $15 per ticket (175,000 IDR).

You can also visit the Sewu Temple and Ratu Boko, which are located closely to Prambanan.

The cost of ticket at Prambanan Temple is 202,000 IDR or ~$20.

Transport in Yogykarta

You should not spend more than $50 for the day.

We are staying at the Ibis Styles Yogyakarta, and they used a travel agent that listed 350,000 IDR (~$30) for 6 hours or 450,000 IDR (~40) for 10 hours. If you want to see the sunrise in the morning at Borobudur, it will cost 450,000 IDR even if only 6 hours since you need to leave so early.

This is a link to a transportation company:

Driving/Flying/Train Information to Bromo (Surabaya) from Yogyakarta

These were the different options:

6:00AM – 7:10 am Lion Air (Wings Air) $80
8:45 AM – 9:55 am Lion Air (Wings Air) $80
3:00 pm – 4:10 pm Lion Air (Wings Air) $80
4:05 pm – 5:15 pm Lion Air (Wings Air) $80

You can also take a train.


This leaves at 7:15 and gets in at 12:00, leaves at 1:00 and gets in at 5:44, or leaves at 16:00 and gets in at 20:47.

The cost of a ticket is about $25. The train ride is supposedly pretty nice.

Bromo Itinerary

You will most likely be coming into Bromo via Surabaya if you take either a train or fly to Bromo.

The views at Mount Bromo are supposedly breathtaking.

Bromo is basically a half day to a full day activity. It is not a 3 day adventure. The main thing to see is the sunrise.

The biggest question is whether to join one of the many tours to see the sunrise or to do it yourself.

Multiple people have claimed that it is easy to hike yourself. They also suggest staying in the town of Cemara Lawang since it is closest to where the hike starts. The main downside of this town is that it is more expensive. Cafe Lava Hostel is the cheapest location and costs about $60 in July.

Tips from people that hiked themselves:

If you decide to go with a tour, the quote that I got from the following website is the following:


Cheaper Accommodation – $255 USD for 1 person; $135 per person for 2 people; $110 per person for 4 – 8 people
More Expensive Accommodation – $325 USD for 1 person; $175 per person for 2 people; $145 per person for 4 – 8 people

In short, it will cost $270 for 2 people to travel to Bromo with hotel.

To hike Bromo yourself, it will cost you about $100 for car to Bromo and back and $60 hotel (assuming Cafe Lava Hostel) for a total cost of $160. This does not include a guide, breakfast, or park entrance that are included in tour price.

To me, the main benefit is being able to go on your own itinerary.

This was an interesting article to take an alternative route to Bromo from Surabaya.


Info on Transportation to Bromo:


Bromo Itinerary

Day 1: Leave Yogyakarta at 7:00 am on train and arrive at 12:00. We will then hire car from aiport and have it take us to Bromo via the alternate route. We then hope to do a little hiking in Bromo.
Day 2: We will wake up early to hike to the sunrise point. We will hike around a little more than take car back to Surabaya for flight to Bali at 1:00 pm

Flights to Bali

12:00 – 1:50 AirAsia $40 USD

6:05 – 8:15 LionAir $42 USD
7:40 – 9:50 LionAir $42 USD
8:50 – 11:00 LionAir $42 USD
12:45 – 2:55 pm LionAir $42 USD
4:30 – 6:40 LionAir $42 USD
5:00 – 7:10 LionAir $42 USD
6:05 pm – 8:15 pm LionAir $42 USD

Other Locations Near Bromo

This is article taking about East Java.

The main other attractions in area are Ijen and Madakaripura Waterfalls.

Given our limited time, we decided to pass on these other places.


These were the main attractions/activities that I saw in Bali:

South Bali Tanah Lot Temple
South Bali Uluwatu Temple
South Bali Surfing
South Bali Snorkeling/Diving
Ubud Yoga in Ubud
Ubud Tegallang (near Ubud)
Ubud Monkey Forest
East Bali Hike Mount Agung or Mount Batur
East Bali Besakih Temple

We are giving ourselves 6 days in Bali, which should give us enough time to see all of these locations.

You can hire a driver in Bali for about $35 per day or 400,000 Rp.

Article on Tips and Transport:

One of my biggest questions was whether to stay in one place or 2 places over the week. We decided to stay in 2 places because there is supposedly a lot of traffic in Bali. 2 locations will make it easier to get around.

This article is great for explaining the benefits of the different towns:


We decided to stay in Seminyak and Ubud.