You explored intricately sculpted temples, hiked a towering volcano, and wandered the rice paddies of Bali, yet you feel there is much more awaiting you, and you are absolutely right! If you find yourself wondering where to go after Bali, don’t look any further as we compiled the ultimate list of activities and destinations to tickle your curiosity and blow your mind. Indonesia, an archipelago consisting of a staggering 17,000 islands, straddles the equator and spans a distance of 3000 miles, and is just as expansive in diversity of culture and breathtaking ecosystems, so dive in!
Where to go after Bali? – #1 Gili Islands
Just a short boat trip off of Bali lies three glistening islands, ringed by coral reefs and turquoise seas. Getting to the islands is easy, particularly with a service like Scoot Fast Cruises, which will take you from Sanur in just over 4 hours. The trio are a serene group, where noisy scooters are replaced by bicycles and charming horse-drawn carts.
Each island has a different character; Trawangan or Gili T is the most popular and cosmopolitan with a vibrant party scene, Gili Air offers a perfect balance between buzz and peace, while Gili Meno is a desert paradise. Regardless of which island you choose, there are an array of exciting and novel activities to indulge in!
For a psychedelic experience try the UV night dive. By shining blue or near UV lights on corals and fish that contain proteins absorbing the blue light and remitting that light in a different wavelength or color, the underwater world appears in a rainbow of florescence. Expect to see fluo pink scorpion fish, yellow shrimps and moray eels, orange crabs, and coral of greens, pinks, and yellows!
An equally unusual way to experience the sea is by way of Subwing underwater exploration. Glide effortlessly through a majestic realm of fish, coral, and turtles.
Of course there is the classic Snorkeling from Gili Trawangan, where you will enjoy an epic four hours of underwater discovery around the islands through diverse worlds of marine life in a glass bottomed boat.
If you prefer to soar as well as swim, embark on an Aqua flying experience, a new sport that is taking the world by storm and allows you to fly like a superhero and swim like a dolphin in the same breath!
After all of that hard work, reward yourself with a Romantic dinner on Gili Trawangan beach, with your choice of ocean front dining or a private cabana. Enjoy gourmet food, such as lobster, seared fish, or rosette calamari, or grilled beef Cabernet Sauvignon jus, and bottle of wine in romantic scenery.
Honeymooners should also have a look at this listing of the 19 best romantic dinners in Bali!
If you need a break from the sun and are feeling artistic try mask carving. Learn about unique forms of cultural and spiritual expression and bring home your own creation!
Where to go after Bali? – #2 Lombok
When planning where to go after Bali, many travellers choose its largely undeveloped neighbour Lombok, an island with a low profile, picturesque and remote beaches, and stellar surfing. Delve into the ruggedness and visit a Pink beach and hidden islands by Landrover. You will travel by way of a 4WD, off the beaten track and through the jungle, to reach a truly pink beach which results from the effect of red coral fragments merging with white sand. Next you’ll hop aboard a fisherman’s boat, experience village life, and enjoy an exclusive trip to secret and hidden beaches in East Lombok.
Mount Rinjani, Indonesia’s second largest volcano, is hard to miss and breathtakingly beautiful. Waterfalls flow down it’s crevassed slopes and at the summit you are greeted with hot springs and a stunning crater lake. When considering where to go after Bali, Mount Rinjani trekking is a must.
On this personally guided three day trip, your adventure will begin with a steady climb through a dense, tropical forest rich in flora, bird life and a variety of vibrant butterflies. You may see deer, wild orchids, the long- tailed grey macaque monkey kera, and, if you are lucky, the rare black ebony leaf monkey, known locally as lutung. Your guide will share village stories and local legends during rest stops along the way. At the peak, you are rewarded with sweeping views from the crater rim.
Lombok densely forested interior is full of treasures, and one way to experience them is on a trip to a hidden waterfall. Trek through rice fields and banana plantations to reach the cascading and cleansing waters of Benang Stokel and Benang Klambu, nestled at the base of Mt. Rinjani and far off the tourist track.
Where to go after Bali? – #3 – Yogyakarta
The cultural capital of Java, Yogyakarta is known for all night shadow puppet performances, concerts, art exhibitions, and of course the Ramayana ballet with dancers and pyrotechnics. A perfect evening activity is a Traditional dinner and Ramayana, a ballet performance in the center of Yogyakarta. Live Gamelan music and a welcome dance will accompany your dinner, from which you can walk directly to the theater for the ballet.
Some of the most magical places to visit beyond Bali are Borobudur and Prambanan Temples, both of which have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Your day will begin with a mystical sunrise at Borobudur, an 8th century Buddhist stupa and temple complex of startling beauty and size, magnified by the glory of an active volcano in the background. Next you will visit Prambanan, a 9th century Hindu temple, full of legends and mystery, and characterised by tall and pointed architecture.
Another awe-inspiring adventure is Jomblang incredible caving. Jomblang is 50 meters wide with verticals up to 80 meters! Vertical and horizontal caves offer amazing exploration opportunities, with rests in between to enjoy the scenery and a tasty Indonesian lunch.
Looking for more information about Yogyakarta? Find here 10 Reasons why Yogyakarta is a must-visit destination of Indonesia!
Where to go after Bali? – #4 Ijen & Bromo Volcanoes
An expedition to Mount Bromo on horseback offers not only stunning views of the volcanic crater, but also an immersion in the unique culture of Java, its fascinating history, historical remains, and welcoming people. You will stop at a fascinating market en route, before taking a jeep along less traveled roads with incredible views of the terraced cultivation on the outer slopes of the caldera. After a steep drive down the ‘Sea of Sand’, guided horses will take you up the steps to the cone and crater. On a four hour night trek to Mount Ijen, you will see the legendary blue flames of sulfer mining, only visible at night. Although a challenging hike, you will be rewarded with a stunning panorama and views of the majestic turquoise sulfur lake of Kawah Ijen, 2148 meters above sea level.
Where to go after Bali? – #5 Sulawesi
Known for dramatic smoking cones and caldera lakes, the volcanoes of Sulawesi seem even more monumental because they rise up from almost sea level. A charming way to experience the majesty of Sulawesi is to visit Malino, a former weekend retreat of Dutch Colonialists, and an area of refreshing mountain air, verdant rice fields, and traditional tea farming.
Famous for its passion fruit orchards and pine forests, the area is both picturesque and seeped in history. Included in the tour is a visit to Takapala waterfall and the museum in Ballalompoa, which houses the royal heirlooms of the Gowa Kingdom, which dates back to 1300.
Exhilarating but gentle, soft trekking through Toraja Land weaves through verdantly green rice fields and bamboo forests to witness Torajan villagers going about their daily lives. From a Palawa traditional village, trek up Batutumonga, a spectacular area on the slopes of Sesean Mountain. At 1300 meters above sea level, you will enjoy a dramatic panorama with views over Rantepao.
If history fascinates you, why not try a 2 day Makassar Heritage City Tour. From the colonial Fort Rotterdam to a traditional fish market, and the glistening gold shops on SombaOpu Street, you will be enchanted by Makassar’s history and way of life. This tour is a journey in time with plenty of photographic opportunities, including the iconic traditional Buginese sailing boats.
Where to go after Bali? – #6 Flores
East of Bali lies the spectacular Flores island, one of the few places aside from Komodo itself where one can see the Komodo dragon. A chain of volcanoes stretches the length of the island, which is home to pristine waterfalls, prehistoric heritage sites, and traditional villages. Along its shores dwells some of the world’s most exotic marine life. Flores is a popular jump-off point to experience the exceptional diving around Komodo and a rewarding way to visit is to join a multi-day cruise of this remarkable area.
Inland, you may embark on a 2-day adventure to Wae Rebo Tribal Village and Cinca Rami waterfall. On this tour you will trek from Denge village and spend a night in a traditional Manggaraian house, and visit a special waterfall on the way back. Flores is certainly considered an exotic part of Indonesian on a road ‘less travelled’.
Options for exploration beyond Bali are truly endless, but with this selection under your belt, you are bound to be amazed and return with stories and photographs to last a lifetime!
Article written by Joia