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Ubud

Bali, Indonesia, Asia

A visit to Ubud isn’t complete without going to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary south of the village which is inhabited by cheeky mo...

string(3191) "A visit to Ubud isn’t complete without going to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary south of the village which is inhabited by cheeky monkeys waiting for visitors with peanuts.Located in the lush slopes leading up towards the central mountains, Ubud is the cultural centre of Bali. A sanctuary for artisans, this quiet Balinese village is 60 minutes by car from Ngurah Rai International Airport. Ubud has a peaceful atmosphere and is a haven from busy Denpasar and Kuta.Complementing the ancient temples and palaces is the unspoiled countryside that offers picturesque rice paddies, rivers and gorgeous scenery.There are many wonderful walks in every direction from Ubud, through the rice terraces, villages, jungle gorges and grassy hilltops. Organised walks cover a variety of themes including birdwatching and exploration of historic and cultural sites.Ubud’s beautiful surroundings and gracious way of life have drawn artists from all over the globe in recent decades, some of whom have even adopted Ubud as their home.The main gallery areas are Jalan Raya, running from the Peliatan crossroads in the east all the way up to Sayan in the west; the main street through Peliatan; Pengosekan Village; Batuan Village; Penestanan Village; and the town of Mas, where the big-name woodcarvers have palatial galleries with impressive facades and enormous signs.Ubud is also known for its selection of Batik fabrics, carvings, jewellery and paintings.Ubud also has several art museums. To gain a true appreciation of Balinese art, visit Museum Neka which features mostly modern works by Balinese, Indonesian and Western artists who have worked in Bali, and also take time to see Museum Puri Lukisan—Ubud’s “Palace of Art”. Founded around 40 years ago by a group of artists and patrons from the Ubud royal palaces, it is set in a peaceful garden with fountains, statues and pools.The main crossroads in front of the Puri Saren palace is the ‘navel’ of Ubud— its cultural and historical focal point. Away from the main streets, Ubud is a quiet place featuring small lanes lined with homestays, warungs and Balinese compounds extending north and south from the main road.A visit to Ubud isn’t complete without going to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary south of the village which is inhabited by cheeky monkeys waiting for visitors with peanuts. The interesting Pura Dalem Agung (Temple of the Dead) is also located in the forest and features amazing ancient trees and sculptures.Ubud features a range of accommodations including luxury properties with great spa settings and facilities, wonderful health retreats and spectacular views.There are cultural shows on nearly every night and organised tours can be easily arranged to visit other parts of Bali. Its central location makes it easy to get from Ubud to the mountains, beaches and major towns.The main street is also lined with restaurants and cafés with a wide range of delicious foods to cater for all tastes.Although visitors often outnumber residents during peak periods, Ubud retains its charming, unhurried atmosphere and distinctive way of life of a small rural community."
Java

Indonesia, Asia

Java is Indonesia’s political and economic heart. It is home to the nation’s capital, Jakarta, and is proud of its well-preser...

string(2387) "Java is Indonesia’s political and economic heart. It is home to the nation’s capital, Jakarta, and is proud of its well-preserved cultural traditions. It is blessed with mesmerising natural beauty, abundant wildlife and fascinating monuments of human civilisation.Home to over 140 million people and the most populated island on the planet, Java has everything travellers could want. Its natural beauty is breathtaking with ever changing scenery that stretches from rice paddies to the sandy shores of beautiful beaches. It has active volcanoes and dense rainforests that contrast sharply to its cities.While Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia, Central Java is considered its historic heartland. Among many places of interest is Yogyakarta, one of Indonesia’s most liveable and lovable cities, with street art, galleries, coffee shops and cultural attractions everywhere you look. It’s also a perfect base for Indonesia’s most important archaeological sites, Borobudur and Prambanan. Borobudur is one of the world’s most impressive temples and was built in about 800AD in the form of a stepped pyramid. Reaching 35 metres at its highest point, it features nearly 1500 carved story panels and 504 statues of Buddha. The vast structure was abandoned and lay hidden under foliage and volcanic ash for centuries before being rediscovered in the 1800s and is now a World Heritage Site.About 90 kilometres north of Jepara in the central region, the dazzling offshore archipelago of Karimunjawa, a marine national park, consists of 27 coral-fringed islands, only five of which are inhabited. The white-sand beaches are sublime, swimming is wonderful and the pace of life as relaxed as a destination defined by coconut palms and turquoise seas should be.In the east, Surabaya is a a gateway city for Mount Bromo and Bali. Mount Bromo is a part of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. While it may be small when measured against other volcanoes in Indonesia, the magnificent Mount Bromo will not disappoint with its spectacular views and dramatic landscapes.Travel within Java can be laborious and particularly so in the west though the rail network is quite reliable and efficient. However, it is well worth the effort to see the sights and gain an understanding of the fascinating local culture that is wonderfully expressed through art, music and dance."
Lombok

Indonesia, Asia

With its pristine white-sandy beaches, the magnificent Mt Rinjani volcano, and spectacular marine life to discover, the island of ...

string(4120) "With its pristine white-sandy beaches, the magnificent Mt Rinjani volcano, and spectacular marine life to discover, the island of Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara has no shortage of attractions both in, and out of the water.Lombok is located to the east of Bali and is geographically the same size. A wide range of destinations is guaranteed to suit even the most discerning visitors. Whether you wish to surf the massive breaks on the south coast, challenge yourself with a trek up steep volcanic peaks, or hire a bike and cycle through lush, abundant rice paddies, you won’t be disappointed with the spectacular natural beauty of Lombok.The island enjoys a tropical climate with warm and humid weather all year round with a temperature range of 21°C to 32°C. The wet season starts from November through to May and the dry season starts from May through to October.The island has a population of about 3.1 million and the local inhabitants are called Sasaks who comprise 70 percent of the population. The remainder consists of other predominant ethnic groups such as Balinese, Chinese, Arabian, and Javanese. Bahasa Indonesia is the national language but English is widely spoken.Lombok has three distinct districts with three main cities. Mataram, the centre of commerce and the capital city, is in the west, Praya is in the centre and Selong is located to the east of the island.Popular tourist resort area, Senggigi, is a township that is positioned on a sweeping bay providing magnificent views of a rich, fiery red sunset over neighbouring Bali. Visitors to Lombok also flock to one of the three Gili islands- Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. These picturesque tropical islands are just a short 40-minute boat ride from Senggigi.The majority of the population is Muslim with most worshipping in the mosques on Fridays, their holy day. If you are planning on travelling around the island and visiting small villages, be respectful and considerate of the Islamic beliefs and wear or knee length shorts, a shirt with sleeves or a sarong. If you happen to visit during Ramadan, which is the Muslim month of fasting from sunrise to sunset avoid eating, drinking or smoking in public places during this month-long fast.Lombok has a reputation for amazing, woven textiles. Songkets (hand-woven textiles) and ikats (intricate dyed fabric) can be used, amongst other things, as sarongs, wall hangings, or tablecloths. The design woven is unique to each weaver and it is passed down through the generations. There is a traditional handweaving village in Puyung in central Lombok where visitors can try on a traditional Sasak costume, and the village of Sukarare is a must visit for kain ikat or handwoven textiles. Lombok is also known for its magnificent South Sea cultured pearls, and its pottery has gained in popularity and is now shipped all over the world. There are many other traditional handicrafts that make perfect gifts or souvenirs including wooden masks, baskets made out of ketak grass and wooden boxes decorated with shells. Visit the village of Banyumulek where arguably, some of the best pottery is produced.Public transport in Lombok comes in the form of buses and bemos (a small minibus). The main bus terminal is Mandalika at Bertais. Hiring a car or motorcycle is a convenient way to explore the island. Hotels and travel agencies offer the most competitive rates for car and motorcycle hire.To get to Lombok, you can travel by air, ferry or fast boat. There are daily flights between Denpasar, Bali and the capital of Lombok, Mataram. The public ferry travels between Padang Bai (Bali) and Lembar (Lombok) multiple times a day, and the trip takes roughly two and a half hours. Both motorbikes and cars can be taken on the ferry.Ferries also travel between Labuhan Lombok and Poto Tano on Sumbawa several times a day, and this trip takes one and a half hours. However, if you are prone to seasickness, the trip can be rough. Another option is by fast boat Blue Water Safaris run express boats from Bali to Lombok, the Gili islands and Lebongan Island."
Indonesia

Asia

The size of Indonesia is over whelming and offers visitors a very individual experience.Whether you are shopping, visiting temples...

string(9606) "The size of Indonesia is over whelming and offers visitors a very individual experience.Whether you are shopping, visiting temples, enjoying the beaches and resorts in Bali, or venturing further to discover remote villages or the jungles of Borneo an Papua, visitors are sure to be amazed by Indonesia’s diversity.Capital and major centres As the nation’s centre of government, business and industry, the capital Jakarta is a modern society that reflects recent decades of remarkable economic growth. The mega city has a population of 10 million and is surrounded by the metropolitan area, Jabotabek, with a population of around 28 million.The island of Bali, a tropical paradise and tourism hot spot, lies off the eastern tip of Java. A rich culture, beautiful landscapes, coastline and rural villages keep visitors returning in droves. The islands of Lombok, Sumba, Flores and others form a chain all the way to the easternmost province, Papua.Sumatra, the world’s sixth largest island, is located to the west of Jakarta. The equator divides it in two just north of Bukit Tinggi. The scenery in Sumatra is amazing, offering incredible mountains, rivers and almost 100 volcanoes, 15 of which are active.Kalimantan, the southern two-thirds of the island of Borneo, was once, and still is for the most part, a vast, jungle-covered wilderness. Boats and ferries are the main modes of transport, and the native Dayak tribe is a main attraction. The highland region of Sulawesi offers national parks, and a festive culture that includes the famed funeral festivals of Tana Toraja on the south western peninsula. Further east still, in the islands of Maluku previously known as the Moluccas, lie the fabled Spice Islands. Many of these areas are just a two-hour flight from Jakarta, and an extensive and convenient network of air services connects the major cities and towns.The people The fourth most populous nation in the world, Indonesia’s estimated 257 million people speak more than 500 different languages and dialects, and range from city dwellers to sea gypsies. Sixty percent of the people inhabit a mere seven percent of Indonesia’s land area on the island of Java, while most of the archipelago remains unexplored.Nature Indonesia has one of the world’s richest natural environments, offering an incredible diversity of animal and plant life. While a number of species of fauna are familiar to both Asia and Australia, there are many indigenous species in Indonesia such as the orangutan apes of Sumatra and Kalimantan, the giant Komodo dragons, the only ones of their kind in the world still roaming free, the one-horned rhinoceros of Java, the wild banteng oxen, tigers, and many other species now protected in wildlife reserves.East of Komodo is the island of flowers, Flores, where Komodo dragons can be found along the west coast, the only other place apart from Komodo. Also on Flores is Kelimutu with three coloured lakes in the caldera of the volcano. These lakes change colour depending on the oxidation state of the water and go from bright red through to green and blue.Papua, once part of the Australian landmass, has kangaroos, marsupial mice, bandicoots, ring-tailed possums, crocodiles and frilled neck lizards. Indonesia has 400 volcanoes and a spectrum of landscapes from lush green mountain slopes to warm sandy beaches; from rice fields to rain forests and mountains topped year round with snow.The sights The most visited islands tend to be Sumatra, Java and Bali, and there is a great diversity of landscapes and cultures in these regions alone. There are also many temples from the Buddhist and Hindu dynasties such as those in Borobudur, Prambanan and the Dieng Plateau, the palaces of the sultans in Surakarta and Yogyakarta, the Maimoon Palace of the Sultanate of Deli in Medan, and the Hall of Justice in Bali. There are remote villages, the ruins of ancient fortresses and museums, mosques and churches.Where to stay Accommodation in Indonesia ranges from deluxe hotels and resorts through to simple economy hotels, ‘wisma’ (guesthouses) and ‘losmen’ (rooms to let). Deluxe hotels complete with convention facilities can be found in places such as Medan, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Jakarta, Bali and Makassar, while Jakarta offers a good mix of elegant five-star hotels and quality three- and four-star establishments.In Bali, accommodation is available in all price categories, in the mountains or along the beach. In Bandung in West Java two old hotels have been restored to their original art deco style. Most hotels in major towns have air-conditioned rooms, but budget hotels are very basic.Getting around Indonesia has a huge variety of local transport, with public minibuses found in cities and villages. Many towns have bemos, three wheeled pick-ups with two rows of seats down the side, while the bajaj is found only in Jakarta. Becaks, or bicycle rickshaws, operate mainly in the suburbs of Jakarta and Surabaya, and are increasingly being banned from the central areas of major cities.In Bali, Yogyakarta and many other centres you can hire self drive cars, bicycles or motorbikes. Taxis are available in Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Solo, Semarang, Medan and Bali. Fares are generally low, and most taxis use their meters. If you choose not to use the meter make sure to agree on a price with the driver before you set out for the destination.Food and entertainment As with the cuisine throughout Asia, Indonesian food is largely based on rice. Nasi goreng, fried rice with an egg on top, is one of the most popular dishes. Seafood, including fish, lobster, oysters, prawns, shrimp, squid and crab feature prominently in the Indonesian diet and the cuisine is bold, rich in flavour and heavily spiced. Coconut is also very common and is produced for its cooking oil as well as its milk and white flesh that are used as ingredients in many dishes. A rumah makan, ‘house to eat’, is generally the cheaper equivalent of a restaurant.Markets are a good food source, especially night markets. Jakarta and Bali have a wide range of excellent restaurants offering all types of cuisine from ethnic Indonesian to Chinese, Japanese, and also Western and European fare. There’s entertainment in Bali almost every day with exhibitions of Balinese dancing either in villages or at hotels.Entry requirements All visitors need a valid passport/travel document with minimum validity of six months beyond the period of intended stay. Free visa entry on arrival for 30 days is now available for Australians.Activities Beach resorts offer sailing, surfing, scuba diving and windsurfing. Many areas are legendary for good diving, snorkelling and surfing. Of the 60-plus golf courses in Indonesia, Bali offers three of international standard, including the Greg Norman-designed Bali Nirwana Golf Course.The more adventurous climber can tackle Mt Bromo in Java or Mt Agung in Bali for a day climb, or try more strenuous climbs such as Gunung Rinjani, the volcano that dominates Lombok. Traditional spectator sports include bull races, bull fights, rowing and unique ram fights, all held during festivals.Silat, a martial art, is regularly performed as a dance or an exercise and is similar to karate. Camp Leaky, in the jungles of Tanjung Puting National Park in Kalimantan, is the site of Dr Birute Galdikas’ study of wild orangutans and is the longest continual study by one principal investigator of any wild animal, enabling visitors to witness the rehabilitation of these amazing primates.On the island of Sulawesi is the impressive Lore Lindu National Park, home to over 200 species of bird, the cuscus, tarsiers, anoa (a rare dwarf buffalo) and babirusa (an animal resembling both a pig and a hippopotamus). The park has been largely untouched by tourism and offers many different treks. Within the park are ancient stone megaliths, waterfalls, hot springs and the large lake of Danau Lindu. Sea walking is a new and popular activity that allows anyone to walk at a depth of three metres along the ocean floor without carrying heavy oxygen tanks. The Sea Walker helmets permit close observation of the myriad fish and sea life Indonesia offers.Shopping While Indonesian cities have air-conditioned shopping centres, supermarkets and department stores with fixed prices, bargaining is customary in smaller shops and particularly in the markets. The wax-and-dye art of batik is one of the country’s best-known crafts, and silverwork, wayang puppets and leatherwork are all found in Java. Wood carvings, leather goods, paintings, clothing, bone work,bronze castings and stone statues are all available in Bali.Beautiful furniture and homewares are for sale or made to order in Kuta, and from a number of warehouses between Seminyak and Ubud. Sumba blankets, the song-kets of Sumatra, the silks of South Sulawesi and the jumpuntan (tiedyed) items of Palembang can all be found in Jakarta.Climate It is hot throughout the year with daily temperatures from 26°C to 33°C with the wet season from October to April. Wear informal, light cotton clothing. In the highlands a sweater may be required. Discreet clothing should be worn at festivals, ceremonies and villages. A sarong or sash may be required for temple visits.Currency The rupiah is the currency unit of Indonesia. Most major foreign currencies can be easily changed in city banks, bureaux de change and large hotels. Credit cards are accepted in major hotels and restaurants."
Pacific Cook Islands Rarotonga 001 Rarotonga

Cook Islands, Pacific

Surrounded by a clear, turquoise blue lagoon, Rarotonga is 32 kilometres in circumference.The lagoon often extends more than a...

string(3032) "Surrounded by a clear, turquoise blue lagoon, Rarotonga is 32 kilometres in circumference.The lagoon often extends more than a hundred metres to the reef and then slopes steeply to deep water.The reef fronts the shore to the north of the island, making the lagoon there unsuitable for swimming and watersports, but to the southeast, particularly around Muri, the lagoon is at its widest and deepest. This part of the island is the most popular with tourists for swimming, snorkelling and boating. Agricultural terraces, flats, and swamps surround the central mountain area.Rarotonga is the main island of the Cook Islands and caters to almost 90 percent of the country’s tourist accommodation and offers many activities. The population is approximately 13,000, mostly indigenous Cook Islands Maori and almost half living around Avarua on the north coast. The Maori ancestors landed on the Cook Islands in their magnificent, giant double-hulled canoes that are still proudly part of the traditional way of life. They were guided by their knowledge of the stars and the famous power of Polynesian navigation.Rarotonga is a small volcanic island with a landmass of only 26 square miles. It is dotted with pretty villages, a friendly atmosphere, lovely mountain views and hiking trails. It has a reputation for excellent snorkelling off the beaches that line most of the coast. Rarotonga enjoys a climate that is warm and sunny all year round. There is more rain and higher humidity between the summer months of December to March. The high season for tourism is during Christmas when New Zealanders and Australians visit during their summer school holidays.Tradition and a cultural heritage are trademarks of the island. Music is an integral part of the culture and part of the islander’s daily routine.Stunning chants and hymns emanate from the churches and local string bands use a combination of electronic and traditional ukuleles made from coconut shells to entertain. Visitors will often be invited to join with the hip-swaying dancers when the music begins. Fishing, paddling, sailing, stand up paddle boarding, snorkelling and swimming are just some of the activities that abound in this tropical paradise. If you feel like more adventure, take a trip into the hinterland and experience the unique flora and fauna of the lush rainforests. Take time to listen to the legends of ancient wars and love affairs that stretch far back into an almost forgotten time.Getting around Rarotonga is easy. With no traffic lights to be seen, relax and meander on a bus around the island. Buses uniquely travel both clockwise and anticlockwise on the road that circles the island and obliging drivers will pick-up and drop-off at will. Scooters are also a popular mode of transport.While nurturing its culture and tradition with sensitivity and pride, Rarotonga is also very much part of the present and offers everything today’s visitors expect. Experience Rarotonga and you will not be disappointed."
Palau

Micronesia, Pacific

This pristine paradise is a dream destination.Like giant green mushrooms scattered across a tranquil turquoise lagoon, the lim...

string(2610) "This pristine paradise is a dream destination.Like giant green mushrooms scattered across a tranquil turquoise lagoon, the limestone Rock Islands of Palau seen from the air are one of the most exquisite creations of nature found in the world. The spectacular Rock Islands Southern Lagoon was inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2012. But that’s just the beginning. From sunburnt volcanic savannahs to forests concealing endemic plant and bird life, to coral atolls and reefs teeming with marine life, the Republic of Palau is truly Nature at her most majestic.Within this archipelago is a marine diversity higher than most of Micronesia. Sharks thrive in waters that in 2009 became the world’s first shark sanctuary, setting an example that has been followed by many other island destinations. Palau’s rare dugong, known locally as the mesekiu, as well as endangered species such as the hawksbill turtle, or the chambered nautilus, a deep water shell species that inhabits only a few Pacific islands, can be found here.Not only does Palau protect its marine life, it puts new species on the lists. Trapped in an enclosed body of water, the mastigias of Jellyfish Lake have completely lost their sting because they have not had to repel predators. Instead, they spend their days in privileged leisure, pulsating gently from one side of the marine lake to the other while catching the sun’s rays and farming their own food supply of algae. Snorkelling surrounded by them is fascinating and surreal. Discovered in one of Palau’s deep underwater caves, a prehistoric eel was named Protoanguilla Palau as recently as 2011. Rainbow-filled walls and channels on the fringe reef provide homes for at least 1450 species of reef fish and 400 species of reef-building hard corals, as well as 150 species of soft corals, gorgonians, and sea pens. Some of the famous residents and visitors include manta rays, black or red snappers, napoleon wrasse, bumphead parrot fish and pelagic species including the colossal whaleshark, marlins, and tornados of schooling barracudas. Outside of the reef are sports fishing opportunities beyond your wildest dreams and fully equipped charters to bring back the proverbial “big one”.A democratic country that still abides by its culture and traditional leadership, Palauan villages were, and still are, traditionally organised around matrilineal clans. Men and women had defined roles. A council of chiefs governs the villages, while a parallel council of women holds an advisory role in the control of land, money and the selection of chiefs."

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