Planning a vacation to Bali and Lombok can be a little bit confusing. There are so many trendy cafes, yoga studios and swanky hotels-turned-nightclubs to contend with – and that’s before you even start to look outside Ubud. To help cut through the noise, and point you in the right direction, we sat down with one of our expert local leaders to find out what they’d recommend.
Hailing from Lombok Island, Andy has been leading small group adventures for Intrepid since 2017. His love for the great outdoors means he’s regularly traipsing across the country either rafting, biking or hiking, and seeing what lies outside the main city hubs.
Here are Andy’s top tips on what to see and do during your holiday to Bali and Lombok.
1. Hike to Lempuyang Temple on Bali
With its lush valley location, Lempuyang Temple offers some of the best views in Bali. The temple, which happens to be one of the six holiest places of workshop in Bali, is a photographer’s paradise, thanks to the striking Heavenly Gates framing Mt Agung in the distance. While many travellers get dropped off by bus at the top of the temple, Andy says he prefers to do something a bit different.
‘We climb about 1,700 steps through rainforests to arrive at the main temple at the top. It makes the arrival more interesting, and you get a better understanding of where the temple is placed.’
Along the way you’ll have the chance to spot long-tailed macaque monkeys and learn about local mythology. If you’re lucky, you might be greeted by a Hindu priest and invited into the temple’s inner sanctum for a private tour when you get to the top.
2. Cycle through rice terraces in Jatiluwih
As a cycling aficionado, it’s no surprise that cycling makes Andy’s list of top things to do in Bali. He regularly leads Intrepid’s cycling tours on the island and loves to get in the saddle to explore.
‘I like to cycle around the Jatiluwih rice terrace. It’s known as one of the best rice terraces in Bali, and since 2012 has been designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Cycling through this area, keeping to the small roads, gives you a great way to see village life and local people working in the field.’
Because the Jatiluwih rice terrace plays such an important role in the social lives and cultural of the local Balinese, UNESCO chose to give the site a Cultural recognition rather than recognising it just for its beautiful location.
3. Camp at the summit of Mt Rinjani
The full-day trek to Mt Rinjani is one of the more challenging activities on Lombok, but it’s also the most rewarding. At 3,726 metres (12,224 feet), it’s the second highest volcano in Indonesia, and the path to the summit takes you through shaded forests and open grasslands.
‘The view from the summit is spectacular. You can see all the way to Lombok Island and, because we camp here overnight, you can watch a special sunset above the clouds while enjoying a cup of tea or coffee.’
You can also get up early the next morning to catch the sunrise before beginning the descent back down to Senaru. Andy says that sometimes he likes to stop with his group at waterfalls on the way back for a refreshing shower.
4. Eat local dishes at Tetebatu Village on Lombok Island.
If you wound back the clock on Ubud by about 20 years, you’d end up with something that looks a lot like Tetebatu village on Lombok Island, a place that hasn’t yet been touched by the excesses of over-tourism. As a native of Lombok himself, Andy says visiting the village gives visitors a real insight into local culture.
‘We stop in at Masbagik Village, where a lot of traditional pottery is produced. Here you can see the pottery being made and then we visit a local restaurant where you can try some specialty foods from Lombok Island.’
Andy says weddings are traditionally held on Sundays on Lombok, and it’s not unusual for his group to be pulled into the wedding festivities while visiting the villages!
5. Bliss out on Gili Air
If you want to bliss out among white sand beaches and clear waters, Andy says there’s nowhere else to be than Gili island.
‘Gili Air is only around 5 kilometres (3 miles) around and there are no cars or motorcycles on the island. The local people only use horse carts or bicycles to get around. The beaches are perfect for snorkelling, diving, stand up paddle boarding and more. The best bit is at the end of the day, when you can catch the sunset while enjoying a cocktail on the beach.’
Back on land there’s plenty of other activities to enjoy too, like yoga or a cooking class specialising in Indonesian cuisine.
If you’re dreaming of a tropical escape, Intrepid Travel has a whole range of small group adventures in Bali. Click here to check them out.
Feature photo by Damien Raggatt.