Travel to Indonesia’s tropical islands, where sacred ruins rise out of jungles, monkeys frolic in temples, and artists are still revered. Although Java and Bali are neighbors in the archipelago nation of Indonesia, they each have their own religions, histories, and traditions. Java is the country’s political and cultural heart, with a devout Muslim society and lingering reminders of the Buddhist kings and Dutch colonists who shaped its history. Bali is its artistic soul, with a spiritual Hindu population and landscapes that have inspired painters and performers for centuries.
Join O.A.T. on these isles to unravel the mysteries of ancient kingdoms at ornately carved ruins. Experience the serenity of holy water temples. Meet villagers in their homes and farms to learn about their daily lives. And surround yourself with the natural beauty of terraced hills, blossoming orchids, and pristine coastlines.
6 nights from only $1195
Before your Java & Bali: Indonesia's Mystical Islands adventure, see two sides of Northern Vietnam with O.A.T. First, feel the cosmopolitan rhythm of Hanoi, the modern capital anchored by a tree-ringed lake. We’ll explore the winding streets of the Old Quarter, admire the classic Vietnamese architecture of the Temple of Literature, and witness handcraft traditions that have been passed down through generations. Then we experience the region by water, as we spend two nights cruising the calm, emerald waters of Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A water puppet show on our final night in Hanoi serves as the finale to our explorations.View Extension Itinerary
Due to different air carriers and varied flight schedules, some flights depart very early in the morning. Travelers departing very early are advised to arrive at gateway cities the night before their flight.
Arrive in Jakarta on the island of Java, Indonesia. Your O.A.T. Trip Leader will greet you at the airport and escort you on the hour-long drive to your hotel. Here, you'll be joined by travelers who took the pre-trip extension to Northern Vietnam: Hanoi & Halong Bay. This evening is yours to rest or venture out into the city.
After breakfast, we enjoy a tour of Jakarta, the capital and largest city of Indonesia. Originally a trading port of the Kingdom of Sunda in the fourth century, Jakarta caught the attention of the Dutch and became their colonial capital, known as Batavia, during the 17th and 18th centuries. When Indonesia declared its independence in 1945, Jakarta re-emerged as the symbol of both the nation's freedom and its diverse cultural heritage.
We begin our explorations in a morning market, where locals come to buy and sell vegetables and fruit. As we wander amid the bustling stalls, you'll get to see a slice of everyday life in Jakarta. From here, we'll visit a mosque. Indonesia is home to the world's largest population of Muslims, and during our visit we'll meet with an imam (Muslim scholar). We'll also talk with local men and women in a nearby community.
We'll then travel by bajai (three-wheeled scooters) to Fatahillah Square. Once the former administrative and commercial heart of Dutch colonial Indonesia, the cobblestone square still retains vestiges of its past grandeur. We'll pause for lunch at the beautiful Café Batavia, set a in a 200-year old building with colonial-era décor. After lunch, we’ll take a walking tour of Fatahillah Square and drive through the modern city center.
Back at the hotel, enjoy some free time. This evening, we’ll gather for cocktails in the hotel lounge before heading to our Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.
We depart this morning for our flight to Yogyakarta (pronounced “Jokjakarta” and nicknamed Yogya or “Jogja”).
Located in the valley below Mount Merapi, Yogya is the epicenter of Javanese arts, where wooden and silver handcrafts and dance and music performances all abound. It also displays some classic examples of the island’s architecture and design, defined by low-rise buildings with tall, pyramid-shaped roofs.
When we arrive, we’ll have lunch at a local restaurant before setting out for Kasongan Village. We'll switch to cyclo-rickshaws for a short ride into the village, and continue with a walking tour. During our time here, we'll get a glimpse of everyday Javanese life and see how locals earn a living making crafts like pottery.
We’ll depart Kasongan and make our way to our hotel. After checking in, we’ll get our first glimpse of the city on a brief orientation walk. Next, we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
After breakfast, we visit Sambisari, a Hindu temple constructed in the ninth century. Until its accidental discovery in 1966, Sambisari remained hidden under layers of rock and sand from Mount Merapi's 1906 volcanic eruption.
From here, we head to the nearby plains to witness the ninth-century Prambanan Temple complex. Built by the Sanjaya Dynasty, a Hindu group thought to be political rivals to the Buddhist Sailendra rulers in the area, Prambanan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia. Many of its 240 structures collapsed during a major earthquake in the 16th century, and they were largely forgotten by the outside world until British statesman Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles stumbled upon the site in 1811. Still in various states of repair, they retain an aura of being lost in time, awaiting discovery.
We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before returning to our hotel for some free time.
This evening we'll get to experience everyday life as we join a Javanese family for dinner in their home.
After breakfast, we set out for a hike around Kaliadem, located on the slopes of Mount Merapi. Our trek will lead us through lush vegetation that has regrown in the wake of Mount Merapi’s devastating eruption in 2010. About 360,000 people were forced to evacuate Merapi during the volcanic eruption.
From here, we refuel with lunch at a local restaurant. Next, we meet with local veterans, who served their country to gain independence from the Dutch after World War II.
We’ll return to the hotel for some free time, and dinner will be on your own. Tonight, we gather to see a special performance at the Ramayana ballet, a grand and graceful spectacle that tells the iconic story of a Prince Rama and his wife Sita. Professional dancers and gamelan musicians perform this legendary tale of good versus evil. This entertaining evening offers a glimpse into Javanese culture at its best.
This morning we set out early for the colossal Borobudur Temple, which UNESCO calls “one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world.”
Borobudur is the Saliendra's masterpiece, a massive pyramid that rises up from the green plains like the neighboring volcanoes. From its 150,000-square-foot base, we have a chance to climb up the six tiers to the top. Moving from bottom to top, note how the volcanic-rock carvings progress from depictions of the world of desire, to the world of forms, and reaching the pinnacle in the world of formlessness—the realm of nirvana in Buddhist ideology. The top level is dotted with 72 small latticework stupas, each with a statue of Buddha inside, which we can see through the grates.
We leave Borobudur and travel by horse-drawn carriage to a rural village, where we'll take a walking tour to explore the community.
We'll enjoy lunch at a nearby restaurant before heading back to our hotel. Enjoy free time this afternoon and dinner on your own tonight.
We say farewell to Java this morning and fly to the tropical paradise of Bali. A Hindu enclave that stands alone in the middle of the rest of the largely Muslim Indonesia, Bali has fostered a deeply spiritual culture with arts, customs, and social rules unlike any place on Earth. In fact, Balinese Hinduism is a unique mélange of different cultural influences, including traditional Hinduism, brought to the island by a Javanese princess and priests in the 16th century; Buddhism, the island's state religion in the seventh century; and indigenous animist and ancestor-deifying religions. Throughout our time here, we'll see how spirituality factors into nearly every aspect of Balinese life.
Upon arrival in Denpasar, we begin our transfer to Ubud, Bali's artistic heart. We'll have lunch at a local restaurant, and then set out for the nearby village of Blahbatuh to visit the Sudi Dancing School. Here, we'll meet students who will teach us some of the moves of traditional Legong dancing. Note the precise footwork and finger movements and the ornate costumes of the dancers. Afterward, we'll be treated to a special performance accompanied by a live band.
We depart for our hotel, check in, and enjoy some free time. This evening we take an orientation walk and have dinner together at a restaurant in Ubud.
Following breakfast, we set out for the Kintamani Volcano area to visit the village of Trunyan, crossing Lake Batur by motorboat to get there. Trunyan is home to the Bali Aga ethnic group, known for their ancestral rituals. Contrary to Balinese tradition, the people of Trunyan do not practice cremation, but display their dead in open graves, concealed by bamboo lattices and remarkably preserved by the roots of the fragrant taru menyan tree.
We take a walking tour around the village and its environs, enjoying striking views of Kintamani and Lake Batur.
We make our return trip across the lake and pause for lunch nearby. Next, we visit a coffee plantation to learn about the cultivation process of kopi luwak, or civet coffee, often called the world's most expensive coffee.
Later this afternoon, we’ll take a light hike up Tjampihan Hill—a favorite spot among locals—taking in the fresh air and surrounding tropical vegetation.
Enjoy dinner tonight on your own.
Enjoy a morning at leisure and lunch on your own. Perhaps you’ll spend your free time exploring Ubud’s vibrant art scene. In the 1920s, Ubud grew from a sleepy but charming village into a nucleus for the arts. The scenic rice fields, hills, and streams surrounding the town enticed European painters like Walter Spies and Rudolf Bonnet to settle there. They brought with them an influx of arts funding—which in turn, drew local painters, carvers, woodworkers, and performers.
This afternoon, we'll explore the sacred Monkey Forest of Ubud, a sanctuary where hundreds of Balinese monkeys gather in giant nutmeg trees and at a small temple.
Tonight, we'll travel by motorcoach to the workshop of a puppet master, who will treat us to a short Balinese puppet show performance. Tonight, we'll dine at Café Wayan, the noted bakery and restaurant featured in Elizabeth Gilbert's popular memoir Eat, Pray, Love.
This morning we depart Ubud and head north to Ulun Danu Bratan.
Balinese Hinduism is sometimes known as the “religion of the holy water” for the important role that water plays in rituals and livelihoods. Keep this in mind as we approach Ulun Danu Bratan, which appears to float over the placid waters of Lake Bratan. Dedicated to the goddess of the lake, Dewi Danu, its 17th-century pagodas actually rest on small islands.
After a peaceful morning, we eat lunch at a local restaurant and continue on to Gitgit Waterfall, following a trail of paved steps through the forest to get there. This waterfall is about 35 meters and surrounded by lush tropical trees.
We then transfer to our hotel in Lovina, a laid-back coastal town on Bali's northern shore. Lined with black, volcanic-sand beaches and fishing villages, northern Bali maintains a quieter pace than its neighbors to the south. You'll have some free time before we gather again for a brief ride to the main road for an orientation walk. Dinner will follow at a Lovina restaurant.
Today we have a rare opportunity to experience A Day in the Life of the rural hills outside of Lovina, heading first to a local market in the bustling morning hours. While the southern half of the island specializes in rice production, citrus fruit orchards and cocoa and sugar plantations thrive here in the north, and we're likely to find their produce on display in the simple stands here.
From the market, we travel by minivan to the farming community of Tiga Wasa to visit the Tiga Wasa Village School (when school is in session), supported in part by Grand Circle Foundation, where we meet students and their teacher and perhaps witness a typical lesson.
Next, we see another side of everyday life when we visit with a local family of bamboo weavers, witnessing their craft in action. we'll also spend time with a family that makes palm sugar. Following that, we'll join the village chief and the villagers for a community lunch; we'll dine on a traditional Balinese meal, seasoned with regional herbs and spices, and we can ask questions about their cultural practices, livelihoods, and any other points of curiosity.
In the late afternoon, we return to the hotel for leisure time to wander through Lovina or unwind with a drink and views of the Java Sea. Dinner is on your own.
After breakfast, we depart for Sanur. Bali's volcanic soil and tropical climate bless the islanders with year-round crops, and we have a chance to learn about one of them this morning when we visit beautiful rice terraces. Alternately brilliant green and flooded with reflective waters, these rows of paddies have become a symbol of rural Bali—and for good reason. The irrigation system used to feed them, known as subak, is woven into the landscape, as well as the culture of the island, feeding into many religious practices. The entire subak landscape is protected by UNESCO World Heritage.
From here, we stop for lunch and then continue our drive to Sanur, a coastal town overlooking the Indian Ocean. Upon arrival late this afternoon, we'll settle into our hotel. After an orientation walk, we'll enjoy free time before gathering again for dinner at a local restaurant.
This morning, we visit a nearby temple, where we’ll tap into the deep-rooted spirituality that governs everyday life in Bali with a purification ceremony. We'll cleanse ourselves by dipping into a pool of water surrounded by fountains, each one promising good will. Later, we'll gather in a temple for a prayer session assisted by a priest.
We'll have lunch at a local restaurant today. This evening, enjoy time at leisure and dinner on your own.
In the morning, we ride southwest to Pura Luhur Uluwatu, or Temple above the Headstone. With origins that date back to the tenth century, it's one of the most striking examples of a Balinese sea temple, perched on a cliff 330 feet above the water. Two types of creatures greet visitors here: statues of the elephant-headed Hindu god, Ganesha, and a resident colony of mischievous macaque monkeys. We have time to explore the ancient structure and take in the dramatic seascapes along its promenade before departing.
We return to the hotel in the afternoon. Lunch is on your own, and the remainder of the day is yours to explore Sanur. Tonight, our small group comes together for a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.
After breakfast and some free time in the morning, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Los Angeles via Taipei. We’ll spend the night in Los Angeles and make our return flight home the following day. Lunch and dinner are on your own. Please note: Travelers who have purchased their own airfare and have made their own travel arrangements back to the U.S. will not stay overnight in Los Angeles.
Travelers on the post-trip extension to Komodo Island & Beyond: Land of Dragons will fly to Labuan Bajo this morning.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before returning to the airport for your flight back to your home city. Please note: Today’s itinerary applies only to travelers who have purchased air with O.A.T.
5 nights from only $1595
The first Dutch sailors to see the fearsome 10-foot lizards on Komodo Island were so awestruck that they dubbed the creatures “dragons.” But these sharp-toothed beasts are not merely the stuff of legend—in Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands, they are part of the fabric of life. You’ll have a chance to discover them on their namesake isle and on smaller Rinca Island. And you’ll get to know the people who share this archipelago, meeting people in their villages, witnessing their traditional arts, and exploring the dramatic landscapes they call home, from mountain caves to a pink-sand beach.View Extension Itinerary