Indonesia Art & Culture (16 days)

Borobudur Temple, Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia.

(Departures September – March)
The Indonesian archipelago has been an important trade region since at least the 7th century, when world travelers brought culture, art, religious beliefs and cuisine to the islands. Today, you too, can experience days gone by on this tour. Explore Buddhist monasteries with their many bas relief panels along with Hindu “UNESCO Heritage Site” temples. See the “mountain of fire” volcano and the Sultan’s palace and garden. Take a train ride through the Java countryside to glimpse emerald-sloped mountains, tropical rain forests, terraces of rice fields and rural villages.Indonesia Art & Culture combines ancient history with nature’s beauty.
Photo courtesy of Gate 1 Travel

Day 1, Sunday – Depart the USA
Depart the USA for the city of Solo, also known as Surakarta, the heart of Central Java province in Indonesia. Your overnight flight includes meals, drinks, and in-flight entertainment for the journey

Day 2, Monday – En route

Day 3, Tuesday – Arrive in Solo, Indonesia
We connect in Singapore for our flight to Indonesia. After our morning arrival in Solo, we transfer to our hotel in Yogyakarta, where you can rest after your journey.

Yogyakarta is the cultural soul of Java, where a distinct and lively arts scene thrives. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a cocktail party and welcome dinner at the hotel.

Overnight: Royal Ambarrukmo, Yogyakarta
Meals: Dinner

Day 4, Wednesday – Explore Buddhist Temples/Visit Jumoyo Village
After breakfast, we visit the massive Buddhist Borobudur Monument, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ninth-century stepped marvel takes the shape of a sacred mandala when viewed from above. We’ll admire some of its 2,672 bas relief panels and more than 500 Buddha statues.

After lunch at a local restaurant, we make a brief stop at Pawon Temple and Mendut Monastery. Curiously, all three of the temples we see today were built on one straight line. Though their significance is not known for certain, every spring during the full moon, the devout walk from Mendut to Pawon, then on to Borobudur.

Later, we visit the village of Jumoyo to view the “mountain of fire,” the Merapi volcano, active since the 16th century. Some villagers believe it houses a palace that is home to rulers of the spirit kingdom.

Overnight: Royal Ambarrukmo, Yogyakarta
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5, Thursday – Discover Prambanan Temple, Plaosan Village, Sultan’s Palace, and Bird Market
Begin today at a breathtaking site: the ninth-century Prambanan Temple. This spectacular complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known for its tall-spired majesty. Dedicated to the three expressions of God: Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Sustainer), and Shiva (Destroyer), it’s easy to understand why it is so grand!

We depart this spell-binding place by a pony-drawn carriage, which delivers us to Plaosan, a traditional village. We’ll learn how women here make unique crackers and tofu, and witness the cultivation of chilis and peanuts, two of Java’s staples.

Continue to the Sultan’s palace – or kraton – a gilded splendor of Javanese royalty. After lunch, there’ll be time to stroll the grounds of the Taman Sari Water Castle, the sultan’s former garden. After, we’ll explore the largest bird market in the city and learn how local batik is crafted and painted.

Overnight: Royal Ambarrukmo, Yogyakarta
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6, Friday – Train Journey to Jombang/Tour Javanese Countryside
This morning, we ride by train to Jombang. It’s a thrilling four-hour journey that gives us glimpses of everyday life in the city and the lush countryside.

After lunch in Jombang, we continue overland to Malang. Our route shows you the Indonesia you’ve dreamed of – emerald-sloped mountains, tropical rain forests, terraces of rice fields, rural villages, and pristine rivers. Along the way, we’ll stop to view a cascading waterfall in one of the villages.

Overnight: Hotel Tugu, Malang
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7, Saturday – Sunrise at Mt. Bromo/Explore Sea of Sand
We get a very early start to the day, but you’ll be glad we did! At 1:30 a.m., we depart for the village of Tosari. Here, we board 4×4 vehicles to ascend Mt. Pananjakan, reaching the summit in time for a spectacular sunrise that illuminates the surrounding volcanoes – the magnificent, conical Mt. Bromo among them. Legend says that Bromo was once the site of human sacrifice. Today, villagers offer fruit, rice, and vegetables to satisfy the mountain’s deities.

Later, we proceed to the Sea of Sand, the vast and eerie table upon which Bromo sits. We return to our hotel in time for lunch and a free afternoon.

Overnight: Hotel Tugu, Malang
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8, Sunday – Visit Taman Safari/Fly to Bali
After breakfast, we stop at Taman Safari, the largest safari park in Asia. Most of the 2,500 animals here are from Asia and Africa, including Bengal tigers, giraffes, cheetahs, and komodo dragons.

After lunch on your own, we fly to Denpasar, the capital of the island-province of Bali, world-renowned for its soothing beaches, deep spirituality, and long tradition of arts. Our base is Ubud, the cultural center of it all, nestled amidst terraced rice paddies, Hindu temples swathed in jungle, and burbling rivers.

Overnight: Bebek Tepi Sawah Villas, Ubud
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9, Monday – Explore Jatiluwih/Discover Ulun Danu/Enjoy Dinner with Balinese Family
We start our morning at a local school, learning about the curriculum and chatting with children and teachers. Then, continue to Jatiluwih, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where terraced steps climb verdant hillsides as far as you can see. This is traditional Balinese life, one that revolves around nasi, or rice. We’ll enjoy a stroll through the fields with a rice farmer for a personal account of living in this green paradise.

After lunch, we head into the mountains to visit Ulun Danu temple on scenic Bratan Lake. Offerings made here to the water goddess Dewi Danu are believed to benefit the entire watershed fed by this lake. Back in Ubud this evening, we join a family in their home and experience Balinese friendliness firsthand.

Overnight: Bebek Tepi Sawah Villas, Ubud
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10, Tuesday – Visit Artisan Village/Enjoy Cooking Class and Talk on Balinese Customs
After breakfast, we visit the artisan village of Mas, known for its intricate wood carvings. Much of the work done here is praised for its artful blend of man and nature. Later, we browse the colorful local market, whose stalls brim with fabric, wooden idols, paintings, batik, sarongs, and all manner of Bali’s delights.

We’ll end our morning with a cooking class, learning to make a local dish and, of course, enjoying it for lunch!

Back at the hotel, we learn about local customs and festivals from an expert. You’ll see that the Balinese joy for living shines through in its diverse performing arts culture.

Overnight: Bebek Tepi Sawah Villas, Ubud
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 11, Wednesday – Journey to Kintamani/Transfer to Sanur
Begin today with a Barong dance performance, which features a benevolent lion-like creature. Then, we venture to Kintamani, on the western edge of a caldera, for breathtaking views of volcanic Mount Batur and its crater lake.

After lunch, proceed to Sanur, once an old fishing village. We’re welcomed to this oceanside community by a Balinese-style dinner.

Overnight: Sudamala Suites & Villas, Sanur
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12, Thursday – Explore Denpasar/Visit Tanah Lot for Sunset Dinner
After a free morning, we head to Denpasar for lunch at a local restaurant. Afterward, there’ll be time to explore the towering Badjra Sandi Monument, said to symbolize the soul and spirit of the Balinese people. Then, we’ll see the impressive Werdhi Budaya Arts Center, a compound of performance venues and showplace for Balinese arts.

Continue to Tanah Lot, uniquely perched on a rock formation overlooking the Indian Ocean. Our dinner venue affords us a view of the dramatic sunset.

Overnight: Sudamala Suites & Villas, Sanur
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13, Friday – Day at Leisure
Today is free for you to explore on your own, or simply relax by the pool or with a spa treatment at the hotel.

Overnight: Sudamala Suites & Villas, Sanur
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 14, Saturday – Fly to Singapore
After breakfast, fly to Singapore, the cosmopolitan city-state at the tip of Malaysia. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. Later this evening, experience all the drama and enchantment of a tropical jungle at Night Safari Tour. Travel in an open tram through varied terrain that is a home to more than 1,000 animals and later enjoy a guided night-time trail walk to see the animals close-up.

Overnight: Berjaya Duxton Hotel, Singapore
Meals: Breakfast

Day 15, Sunday – Explore Singapore
We begin today with a lively market visit, with all manner of crafts and produce. If it’s in season, we’ll even try locally grown durian, the “king of fruits” throughout Southeast Asia despite that many find its odor unpleasant. We’ll also see the palm-lined Parliament House, the modern Supreme Court building, City Hall, the statue of the city’s founder, Stamford Raffles, and the luxury hotel named for him.

This evening, we gather for a memorable farewell dinner.

Overnight: Berjaya Duxton Hotel, Singapore
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 16, Monday – Depart for the USA
Transfer to the airport for your flight homebound.

Meals: Breakfast

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