Two Weeks in Indonesia

A Soul-Soothing Rainforest Escape

Indonesia is a country that remains surprisingly little known. Virtually everyone has heard of Bali, but few people realize that there are 17,507 other islands, which make up an archipelago 3,275 miles wide. (For context, it is 2,446 miles from New York to Los Angeles.) Indonesia is the world’s fourth-most-populous nation, with about 261 million inhabitants. And its biodiversity is second only to that of Brazil's. In the far east of the country, in the Papua province, there are still animist tribal groups, such as the Yali people, whose way of life has changed little since the Stone Age. In contrast, the country’s capital, Jakarta, is a vast sprawl of concrete high-rise buildings. 

Despite having some of the world’s best scuba diving — in the exquisite Raja Ampat Islands — and exotic wildlife that includes the Komodo dragon and numerous birds of paradise, most of Indonesia receives few tourists. The country has a limited number of upscale hotels, and much of the archipelago is still best explored by boat. Wherever you go, one of the most consistent pleasures of a visit is the food. Indonesian cuisine is complex, vibrant and almost infinitely varied.

This itinerary combines relaxation, adventure and cultural interest. After a period of recuperation in Bali, you will head to the remote island of Sumba for an extended stay at a remarkable new hideaway. There, you can surf, fish, ride and hike, as well as lounge by the pool. On your return to Bali, you will transfer to one of the world’s leading spa resorts. The journey concludes in Java, where you will have the opportunity to visit one of the world’s great cultural monuments: the Buddhist temple complex of Borobudur.

For Andrew Harper’s full account from Indonesia, see the June 2018 Hideaway Report

Itinerary Highlights

Our itineraries are for your inspiration. Please contact a travel advisor to customize this itinerary to fit your needs.

  • Stay in private villas at Indonesia’s leading spa resorts
  • Experience a “spa safari” in a pavilion overlooking the Indian Ocean
  • Explore multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites, including holy temples and sculptured rice terraces
  • Learn about Indonesian and Javanese cuisine through high-end dining experiences
  • Participate in guided hikes to waterfalls, volcanoes and national parks
  • Paddleboard along the Wanukaka River 
  • Visit Ubud, Bali’s cultural capital

Trip Overview

Day 1 : Arrive in Bali
Check into your resort to recuperate
Day 2 : Relax in Bali
Find your own private beach
Day 3 : Explore the Bukit Peninsula
Golf in the morning and visit a temple in the afternoon
Day 4 : Fly to Sumba
Settle into your own private villa
Day 5 : Relax in Sumba
After a spa safari, fish for wahoo in the Indian Ocean
Day 6 : At Leisure with Locals
Horseback ride on the coast
Day 7 : Explore Sumba
Take a guided hike and cultural tour
Day 8 : Return to Bali
Check into a resort north of Ubud
Day 9 : Spa Day
Luxuriate at one of the world's top spa resorts
Day 10 : Explore Bali
Visit temples, volcanoes and rice terraces on the way to Ubud
Day 11 : Fly to Jakarta
Relax in a rainforest resort
Day 12 : Explore Java
After a history lesson, discover Javanese cuisine
Day 13 : Indonesian Adventure
Hike before one final spa treatment
Day 14 : Return home
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Day 1 : Arrive in Bali

After your long flight to Denpasar via Singapore, transfer to the Alila Villas Uluwatu for three nights. The resort is situated on the southern Bukit Peninsula, which is connected to the main landmass of Bali by a narrow isthmus. At its southern edge, the land falls abruptly into the Indian Ocean in a series of 300-foot-plus cliffs. 

Poolside relaxation in Bali
Poolside relaxation in Bali - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

The 65 villas are set in a serene and wooded environment with spectacular sea views, an ideal place in which to recuperate. Each is a self-contained world with a pool, private walled garden and relaxation pavilion. In the evening, duly refreshed, have dinner at The Warung, the resort’s excellent Indonesian restaurant.

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Alila Villas Uluwatu

This serene and stylish resort is dramatically perched on a hillside along Bali’s southern coastline where the land falls precipitously into the Indian Ocean.

Day 2 : Relax in Bali

After breakfast, and depending on the height of the tide and your degree of physical fitness, walk down the 600 steps to the resort’s idyllic private beach, which is protected by a fringing reef. Alternatively, you may prefer to relax beside the property’s spectacular 165-foot horizon pool.

The pool at Alila Villas Uluwatu
The pool at Alila Villas Uluwatu - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

After a light lunch, spend the afternoon in the superlative Spa Alila, which offers a variety of Asian treatments and therapies. Yoga and meditation classes are offered.

Details at the Spa Alila at Alila Villa Uluwatu
Details at the Spa Alila at Alila Villa Uluwatu - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

This evening, enjoy a cocktail in the extraordinary Sunset Cabana, which is cantilevered over the edge of the cliff. Afterward, have dinner outside on the terrace at CIRE, which serves delicious international as well as pan-Asian cuisine.

<em>CIRE</em> restaurant
CIRE restaurant - Alila Hotels and Resorts

Day 3 : Explore the Bukit Peninsula

Much of the Bukit Peninsula is arid and sandy, ideal terrain for golf course construction. Golf enthusiasts may wish to play a round within sight of the Indian Ocean, an excursion that can be arranged by the concierge.


Uluwatu Temple
Uluwatu Temple - Aleksandar Todorovic/istock/Getty Image Plus

Although most of Bali’s cultural monuments are in the north of the island, the Uluwatu Temple, overlooking the sea on the Bukit Peninsula, is regarded as one of the Sad Kahyangan Jagad, or the six holiest places of worship on Bali. The temple was built chiefly in the 11th century atop a 250-foot cliff. A traditional dance performance, based on the Indian epic poem, the Ramayana, is performed daily at 6 p.m. The temple is approximately a 20-minute drive from the resort. 

Day 4 : Fly to Sumba

This morning, transfer to Ngurah Rai airport, on the outskirts of Bali’s capital city. The flight by regional jet to Tambolaka on the remote island of Sumba takes 55 minutes. Passengers seated on the left-hand side of the plane will see the islands of Lombok and Sumbawa slide past. The transfer to Nihi Sumba, in one of the resort’s air-conditioned vehicles, lasts about two hours. The road is bumpy in places, but it passes through an unspoiled landscape of mysterious forested hills.

Nihi Sumba is set on a 550-acre wooded estate that slopes down to the sea. It was originally a simple surfing resort, but in 2012 it was acquired by New York billionaire entrepreneur J. Christopher Burch, who has since invested a reported $30 million to build 27 villas with 38 rooms.

The pool on the beach at Nihi Sumba
The pool on the beach at Nihi Sumba - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

Having settled into your spectacular accommodations, each of which comes with a private garden and pool, head down to the Nio Beach Club for a light lunch of grilled fish or meat, or perhaps a wood-fired pizza. Afterward, you may wish to stroll along the mile and a half of tide-swept sand. 

In the evening, have dinner at Ombak, the resort’s main restaurant, which has a large deck overlooking the ocean. The menu offers a mix of exceptional Indonesian and international dishes.

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Nihi Sumba

Set in a remote area of southwest Sumba, this sophisticated and distinctive resort created by billionaire investor J. Christopher Burch is a two-hour drive along a winding road from the airport at Tambolaka.

Day 5 : Relax in Sumba

Leave the hotel at about 7 a.m. for a “spa safari.” This begins with a guided three-hour hike through villages and paddy fields to the resort’s separate NihiOka spa complex. On arrival, have a light breakfast in an elevated pavilion, overlooking the crashing surf. Then head to your private spa pavilion for a range of pre-selected treatments. Later, you may wish to swim in the ocean and spend time lounging beside a horizon pool before being driven back to Nihi Sumba in a 4-wheel-drive vehicle.

The view of the spa pavilion from the beach at Nihi Sumba
The view of the spa pavilion from the beach at Nihi Sumba - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

In the late afternoon, try your hand at sportfishing aboard one of the property’s two boats. There is no commercial fishing in Sumba, and the waters near the resort are full of wahoo and Spanish mackerel. 

Day 6 : At Leisure with Locals

Rise early and walk across to Nihi Sumba’s large and impressive equestrian complex — horses are an extremely important part of Sumbanese culture — and head out for a ride through local villages to a nearby beach for a gallop through the waves.


Horses on the beach of Sumba Island
Horses on the beach of Sumba Island - RibeirodosSantos/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

In the afternoon, take a relaxing trip by paddleboard down the tranquil Wanukaka River through unspoiled villages.

Day 7 : Explore Sumba

On your last full day at Nihi Sumba, take a guided hike to one of the local waterfalls. The “Blue Waterfall” excursion includes a 90-minute walk through a national park, to a spectacular lagoon surrounded by cliffs up to 900 feet high.


Lagoon at Nihi Sumba
Lagoon at Nihi Sumba - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

In the afternoon, either go on a guided cultural excursion or, alternatively, visit the headquarters of the Sumba Foundation, partly subsidized by Burch, which aids local schools and health clinics, and organizes malaria-eradication programs. 

Day 8 : Return to Bali

After breakfast, transfer to Tambolaka, and from there fly back to Bali. A driver will be waiting to take you to COMO Shambhala Estate, an exquisite spa retreat set at the edge of the spectacular Ayung River Gorge, located a 20-minute drive to the north of Ubud, Bali’s cultural capital. Although much of Bali has been affected by tourism, the area surrounding the resort is unspoiled, and the property is within easy reach of the island’s most impressive sculptured rice terraces.


COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali
COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali - COMO Shambhala Estate

In the afternoon, relax in your sumptuous suite and enjoy your private pool, soothed by a soundtrack of rushing rapids far below. Later, have dinner at Kudus House, an exquisite 150-year-old wooden Javanese residence that features a menu of regional dishes.

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COMO Shambhala Estate

This lavish health and wellness retreat overlooking the most spectacular section of the Ayung River Gorge is located just 20 minutes north of Ubud, the island’s cultural capital.

Day 9 : Spa Day

COMO Shambhala is one of the world’s leading spa resorts, so after breakfast head to the hydrotherapy spa to consult the resident nutritionist, physiotherapist and Ayurvedic doctor. 

Gardens at COMO Shambhala
Gardens at COMO Shambhala - Martin Morrell

After an indulgent day of treatments and massages, have dinner at glow, the property’s organic restaurant, with a menu of spa cuisine.

Day 10 : Explore Bali

Today, set out early with a private driver and guide for a full-day cultural excursion to visit some of Bali’s most important temples, all of which are adorned with intricate carving and decoration. The north of the island is dominated by volcanoes, the highest of which, Mount Agung, rises to nearly 9,500 feet. You will also be taken to see the spectacular Jatiluwih rice terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Temple near Mount Agung in Bali
Temple near Mount Agung in Bali - istock/Getty Images

Later in the afternoon, visit Ubud, a town famous for galleries displaying the work of Bali’s leading artists. In the evening, have a rustic dinner in a restaurant recommended by the concierge.

Day 11 : Fly to Jakarta

From Denpasar, fly to Jakarta and onto the central Javanese city of Yogyakarta. A driver will be waiting to transfer you to Amanjiwo for a three-night stay. The resort enjoys an exceptional setting, backed by the Menoreh Hills with a view of distant volcanoes. Enveloped by rainforest, it is set within a natural amphitheater. 


Pool at Amanjiwo in Yogyakarta
Pool at Amanjiwo in Yogyakarta - Courtesy of Aman

Relax for a while in your suite, which comes with a four-pillar bed, a sunken tub and a private garden with a thatched-roof pavilion. Later, take a dip in the magnificent 130-foot swimming pool, with a backdrop of rice paddies and banyan trees. After a tiring day of travel, opt for a private Indonesian barbecue served in the privacy of your suite.

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Amanjiwo

Tucked in the lush heartland of Central Java, this serene and elegant resort looks out to majestic Borobudur (the largest Buddhist monument in the world).

Day 12 : Explore Java

This morning, one of the resort’s guides will take you to see nearby Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist monument and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its six platforms are decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 lifesize Buddha statues. Afterward, visit some of the venerable Hindu temples on the Dieng Plateau, dating from the seventh and eighth centuries, plus the ancient Hindu complex of Prambanan.

A Buddha statue at the complex of Borobudur
A Buddha statue at the complex of Borobudur - istock/Getty Images

In the evening, try the resort’s signature soursop martini and then enjoy dinner in the colonnaded restaurant, with views over rice fields to Borobudur. The menu features Javanese and Indonesian dishes with most of the ingredients coming from the resort’s garden or nearby farms.

Day 13 : Indonesian Adventure

On your last day in Indonesia, go on a guided trek through the memorable landscape. If you are fit, you can ascend the steep flanks of Mount Merapi. The walk to Selogriyo, an eighth-century Hindu temple, high on the slopes of Mount Sumbing, passes through some of Java’s most sensational rice paddies. Alternatively, venture into lush Menoreh Hills, to visit local villages and clove plantations. 

Back at the resort, spend two or three hours in the spa, to experience traditional Javanese healing and beauty rituals. Then, as it is your final evening, indulge in a private Indonesian feast, served in a gracious Javanese home close to Borobudur.

Rotunda at Amanjiwo in Yogyakarta
Rotunda at Amanjiwo in Yogyakarta - Courtesy of Aman

Day 14 : Return home

Return to Yogyakarta and from there fly back to Jakarta and then onto Singapore and home from there.

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