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2017 Java & Bali: Indonesia's Mystical Islands

17 Days from only $4095 including international airfare

Jakarta • Yogyakarta • Borobudur • Candidasa • Ubud • Lovina • Sanur

Courtesy Ian Cross
Balinese Rice Terraces

Get an up-close look at daily life in Bali’s verdant rice terraces.

Courtesy CNN
Sumatran Rhinos

Learn how the Sumatran Rhino is on the brink of extinction unless immediate action is taken.

©2015 The New York Times
Religion in the Rainforest

See how rural Indonesian villagers get around strict rules governing religion.

Courtesy CNN
Bali's best beach club

Learn how the beach lifestyle has seeped into every aspect of life on Bali.

Courtesy Kirsten Horne
Bali Starling

See how a Balinese veterinarian worked with local villagers to save a beautiful bird from extinction.

including international airfare
15 DAYS FROM $2795 Land Adventure Only
  • 3 nights from only $595
    Single Supplement: FREE
Extend Your Trip

Announcing 2017 departures of Java & Bali now with an enhanced itinerary!


The air routing for this trip is very demanding. Learn More »


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Itinerary Overview

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.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

  • 3 nights from only $595

    Break up your lengthy flight to Jakarta, Indonesia, with a 3-night Stopover in Hong Kong before your main adventure or before your pre-trip extension. An O.A.T. representative will meet you at the airport and assist with your included transfer into the city for three nights in a centrally-located hotel—the rest is up to you! Take advantage of this opportunity to relax, refresh, and explore the vibrant, sparkling skyline, mountainous nature reserves, and legendary varied cuisine of Hong Kong. Breakfasts and roundtrip airport transfer are also included. Single Supplement is FREE.

    Looking for ways to fill your free time in Hong Kong? Check out some of our suggestions.

    Learn More
  • 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
  • 4 nights from only $1895

    Discover exotic Borneo, traveling by riverboat to an Indonesian national park that is home to orangutans—a primate closely related to humans. Here we also have chances to observe many other kinds of wildlife, and to meet the charming people of this tropical island.

    View Extension Itinerary
Jakarta Sanur Expand All
  • 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 extensions to Northern Vietnam: Hanoi & Halong Bay or Borneo's Rain Forests & Orangutans. This evening is yours to rest or venture out into the city.

  • After breakfast, we explore 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 with a visit to the Istiqlal Mosque, the largest in Southeast Asia, and then stroll through a local market. Next, we 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 before returning to our hotel.

    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 have some time to sample daily life in the neighborhood around the hotel. Then 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.

  • 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 set out 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.

    After landing in Denpasar, we travel to a local restaurant for lunch. We visit a school of Balinese dance, where we'll try some steps and watch a performance. Then we continue to Candidasa, where we'll take an orientation walk before having dinner at a local restaurant.

  • This morning, we'll drive through the picturesque rural villages of Asak, Timbrah, and Bungaya, and then visit Budakeling, a community known for its blacksmiths. We continue along the southern slopes of Mount Agung to Sidemen, a mountain village where weavers make Balinese ikat textiles.

    After lunch at a local restaurant, we'll reach Tirta Gangga, a former summer residence of the Karang Asem royal family. The site was built around a sacred spring, which feeds four large pools dotted with stone statues, shrines, and pagodas. We'll return to Candidasa by late afternoon, and dinner is on your own this evening.

  • After breakfast, we check out of our Candidasa hotel and visit Kusamba, a coastal village known for its black sand beach. Then we travel to the Sudamala Purification Temple. A Hindu priest will conduct a purification ceremony using water from the temple’s holy spring. We are welcome to participate in this traditional rite, which is believed to provide spiritual cleansing. Afterwards, we have lunch at a local restaurant, and then continue to Ubud, our next destination and Bali’s artistic heart. We check in to our hotel and have some time to settle in, followed by an orientation walk with our Trip Leader. Then we set out for a gentle hike up Tjampuhan Hill, enjoying stunning views of the verdant surroundings. This evening, dinner is on your own.

  • After breakfast, 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. Then 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. After lunch, we travel to Bayung Gede, a mountain village with a unique practice: the placentas of newborn babies are placed inside coconuts and hung from bungkak trees, reflecting a traditional belief that these sources of fetal nourishment should not simply be discarded. We’ll walk around the village and visit the grove where the placentas are hung.

    We return to our hotel and you’ll have some free time before dinner. Tonight, we'll dine at Café Wayan, the noted bakery and restaurant featured in Elizabeth Gilbert's popular memoir Eat, Pray, Love.

  • Enjoy a morning at leisure and lunch on your own. Perhaps you’ll spend your free time exploring Ubud’s vibrant art scenes. 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. Dinner this evening is on your own.

  • After breakfast, we check out of our hotel and board Volkswagen convertibles—a Balinese vintage car favorite—for a scenic ride to the village of Jatiluwih, with a stop at a local market along the way. Each vehicle holds three passengers plus the driver. Jatiluwih’s rice fields have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site because they exemplify the traditional Balinese community irrigation system known as subak. We walk among the dikes and rice paddies to take a close look at whatever activity is taking place, from planting to harvesting, depending on the season.

    We continue in the convertibles through agricultural countryside to Ulun Danu Bratan, a 17th-century island temple that appears to float over Lake Bratan. Balinese Hinduism is sometimes known as the “religion of the holy water” for the important role that water plays in rituals and livelihoods, and this temple is dedicated to the goddess of the lake, Dewi Danu, with its pagodas actually resting on small islands.

    We’ll switch from the convertibles to our motorcoach to head for lunch at a local restaurant, then travel north to 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 the areas 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 afternoon, we return to the hotel and you’ll have some leisure time. Later, we’ll make a visit to Undiksha University (when in session) in the nearby town of Singaraja for a discussion with a professor and a walk around the campus with students. We return to the hotel afterwards, and 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 more about rice terrace farming as we stop in Blimbing Village en route. Alternately brilliant green and flooded with reflective waters, these rows of paddies are a symbol of rural Bali, and the subak irrigation system used to feed them is woven into the landscape and culture of the island, feeding into many religious practices.

    We have lunch at a local restaurant and then continue to Sanur, a coastal town on the Badung Strait. Upon arrival late this afternoon, we'll settle into our hotel. After an orientation walk, we'll have dinner at a local restaurant.

  • If you wish, you can rise early this morning to mingle with local people as they exercise in the park, and sample Balinese breakfast foods from street vendors. After breakfast at the hotel, 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.

    Travelers on the post-trip extension to Komodo Island & Beyond: Land of Dragons will fly from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo this morning.

    • Meals included:

    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.   

    Komodo Island & Beyond: Land of Dragons

    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

Click below to read our Travel Planning Guide on Java & Bali: Indonesia's Mystical Islands

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