Hedonesia - 3 week low-cost luxury vacation in Indonesia

By Federico F · Sep 22, 2016

Rome, Italy
Bali, Indonesia
Main mode of transport
Aeroplane (Emirates), boat, scooter
Cost per person
Mainly Airbnbs in Bali, liveaboard boat, branded hotels in Bangkok

Federico in Bali

Best Bits

The sailing and scuba diving in the Komodo Archipelago from our private liveaboard charter.

The experience on the liveaboard boat itself - the pampering, being taken to places without any other boats, the privacy, the luxury of the boat, the food and the dive set up. http://thematahariku.com/en/

The time we spent in Ubud – pure relaxation with daily massages, amazing food and tranquility away from the crowds in Bali.

Worst Bits

Traffic in Bali has become atrocious, otherwise everything was amazing.

Trip Dates and Comments on Timing

We began our trip at the end of August and came home early September. We timed it so that our vacation coincided with dry season in Bali and smaller crowds. We got the timing right because the bulk of the European tourists who travel in August were gone by then and the weather was perfect for a tropical beach holiday. During the entire trip it only rained once.

Federico’s Experience

We flew from Rome to Bangkok with Alitalia.

We spent 1 night in Lebua Hotel to help mitigate the effect of jet lag and to break up the trip – we chose the Lebua because it’s a great place for a drink on the Sirocco rooftop with beautiful views of the city. Also, Lebua together with Shangri-La Hotel offer my 2 favourite hotel breakfasts in the world!

After a night in Bangkok we went to Singapore to visit friends for 4 days and to explore examples of contemporary architecture around the city. Singapore isn’t a must see destination so other travellers might want to skip it, our main motivation for stopping was to spend time with our friends.

We then flew from Singapore to Bali (Ubud) for 3 nights and rented a beautiful villa on Airbnb which was set in the jungle but only 5 minutes away from Ubud by scooter. I would have liked to have stayed here for 2 more nights because the villa was so incredible and the experience so relaxing. The interior design and space of the villa felt like an airy art gallery loft in New York. The views were beautiful with windows all around, overlooking the jungle. Every morning a chef arrived to our kitchen to make us breakfast.

I would highly recommend this airbnb while visiting Ubud: https://www.airbnb.it/rooms/184039?sug=50

Federico in Bali

Federico in Bali

Federico in Bali

Federico in Bali

Ubud is a place that really became famous for the film Eat, Pray, Love. It has become a popular destination for the “average” traveller, but our experience was still very relaxing, authentic and without a feeling of overcrowding or tour groups. There are amazing restaurants with very reasonable prices in Ubud. There are also many massage and wellness centres set in incredibly beautiful, natural settings that you would never imagine exist, right in the centre. The prices are very cheap - I got a massage daily. Ubud is also great for yoga, visiting temples and walking through the surrounding rice farms. Don’t look for nightlife or a party culture in Ubud.

We then flew from Denpasar airport to Labuan Bajo to begin the sailing portion of our trip. The boat charters leave in the morning, so we had one night on land in Labuan Bajo. The highlight was an amazing sunset dinner on the beach that night at an exclusive resort called Plataran.

The next morning the boat crew picked us up at our hotel and we headed out on the water. We spent 4 nights on the boat and it was an amazing experience. We were a group of 5 friends and we had hired the boat for ourselves. Our friendly, English-speaking crew were skilled hosts - the right amount of pampering and catering onboard with excellent technical support and knowledge of diving: they wanted to make sure we had the best experience possible and a big part of that for me was the diving experience. They knew the area intimately and took us to secluded bays without any other boats. I saw everything from sharks to manta rays to turtles. I also saw the most beautiful hard and soft coral of any previous dive trip.

Federico in Bali

On one afternoon our boat docked for us to have a sunset walk up a hill which gave us a spectacular view of the bay where we had stopped to anchor for the night.

Federico in Bali

On another day the crew organised an afternoon lunch on a tiny, picturesque island that we had all to ourselves, complete with beach umbrellas!

Federico in Bali

We also chose to spend a half day at the Komodo park to see komodo dragons.

The food onboard was the best we had during the entire vacation. The chef even baked homemade bread on the boat!!! At the time of our trip, the boat cost about 400 euros / person / day and we were a group of 5.

Federico in Bali

Federico in Bali

After 4 nights on the boat we flew from Labuan Bajo back to Bali and rented another villa through Airbnb in Kuta Utara (between Canggu and Seminyak) for 5 nights https://www.airbnb.it/rooms/12180103?sug=50 . We spent about 750 euros for 5 nights and had an amazing 3 bedroom villa with a beautiful pool, daily cleaning services, and any number of “concierge” services we could think of. A couple of the concierge services that we indulged in were hiring a private chef to cook for us one evening, as well as massages at the villa. It was all very relaxing and luxurious without paying too much.

With regard to the location, we like the area of Kuta Utara because it is still close to the hub of the shopping and nightlife in Seminyak, but it is much calmer and more private. We like to have access to those things when we want them, but we don’t like to be in the thick of it day in and day out.

Federico in Bali

Federico in Bali

One of the activity highlights while staying at this villa was taking a short ride on the scooters to see the stunning Tanah Lot temple.

Federico in Bali

After Bali we flew to Bangkok again and spent 3 nights at the Amara hotel to decompress and get ready for the trip home. We paid extra to have a club room at the Amara hotel which was worth it. It gave us access to things like included high quality meals, drinks and lounges. It meant that we didn’t really need to leave the hotel. Amara is still a large hotel, but it has a more boutique feel than the big ones like Lebua and Shangri-La.

Federico in Bali

Main Activities

Diving, sailing, relaxing, culture, massage, beach, eating, drinking

Food and Drink Highlights

There were two places in Ubud that were mind blowing –

  1. The Fair Warung Bale - the food was incredible, mostly the tuna filet and it was very very cheap. We spent about $6 / person. When you eat there you’re also supporting local hospitals which is a nice way to give back. http://www.fairfuturefoundation.org/fair-warung-bale/
  2. The Sayan House – it was more expensive than The Fair Warung but still very reasonable. The view from the restaurant is incredible and the food absolutely amazing. The experience was like a Michelin restaurant without the price. The food was Indonesian and Japanese fusion. http://www.thesayanhouse.com

In Seminyak we ate good sushi at the Sushi House, but mostly enjoyed our private chef’s dinner in the villa.

In Labuan Bajo I recommend the beachside restaurant for sunsets and good food http://plataran.com/komodo

Bars I would recommend in Seminyak/Bali: Potato Head, El Cabron, W, Single Fin

Single Fin is in the southern tip of Bali in the dramatic Uluwatu cliffs, near the famous monkey temple. It has many different terraces overlooking the ocean which is the perfect setting to watch the sunset. It’s upscale, hip and trendy, attracting “cool” people. We were blown away by the reasonable prices. Here’s a brief story to illustrate: It was completely packed when we arrived and we weren’t able to find a table, however we spotted a private section close to the ocean with couches that were marked ‘reserved’. We asked if we could sit there anyway. The staff said no, and then as we turned to walk away, he said “well you can sit here, but you have to spend at least $200”. We thought that he must mean $200 each, but he didn’t and it meant that for an entire afternoon, each of us would need to spend about $40 / person on food and drink. We had a steady flow of both, yet it was actually hard to spend! The prices were so cheap, the food was incredible and the setting was stunning. I highly recommend it.

Federico in Bali

Essential Packing for this Trip

We packed really light and mostly brought beachwear - almost beach bum attire! It’s a good idea to bring a light sweater or layer for night time when you are returning from the beach on the scooter. We didn’t really need to be elegant at any point on this trip which made it easier for us to pack light.

Pack your camera (I use a G7 Lumix which is very light and shoots 4K videos), your GoPro for diving and your own mask and snorkel.

Federico’s Top Tips for other Travellers…

Withdrawing cash in Bali is not always straightforward – not all ATMs work or they only allow you to withdraw small amounts at a time. It’s best to bring your own currency and exchange it at the airport as soon as you land. We found that the airport had better exchange rates than in Bali itself.

Traffic is horrendous, especially to and from Denpasar airport. Leave plenty of time for logistics. It takes much longer than you expect to move 20km.

As soon as you land in Bali get a local sim card at the airport in order to have data and to be able to send SMS – with all of the winding roads, Bali isn’t easy to navigate on your own and we would have been lost without Google maps.

We had each of our villas organise scooters for us on arrival to the villa. This was hassle free for us and meant we could get out and explore right away. We rode scooters everywhere, we’re Italian!! It can be daunting if you don’t have experience on a scooter, but it’s fine if you go carefully.

Get a 4-hand massage in Seminyak at Jari Menari. It was the best massage I have ever had. http://jarimenari.com

Airbnb was a perfect solution for our group in Bali. We stayed in some incredible villas at very reasonable, sometimes cheap, prices - I would say that 4 people is enough to make Airbnb more economical than a hotel, but 6 people is ideal.

We flew with Air Asia for the short flights – it’s worth it to pay extra to choose your seats in the first row. You get the extra legroom and priority boarding as well as first off the flight.

Balangan is a great beach down from Uluwatu. It’s not as busy as other beaches and is filled with local food huts where the Balinese go to eat. The food was excellent and cheap.

Federico in Bali

About The Traveller

Gender & Age Range
Male, 36 - 40

I’m from
Rome, Italy

Film Producer

My favourite trip as of late

Travelling Style
Plan everything in advance.

It’s a dealbreaker when
Having too many tourists around or traveling abroad just to arrive to my destination and find it full of people from my own country.

Continent I know the best
Europe and North America

First Last Name

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I’m from Perth, Western Australia

My favourite trip as of late is New Zealand, solo travel in lots of nature for a soul-refresher.

My travelling style is to Book the first night, then wing it from there!

It’s a dealbreaker when I’m stuck around large groups of package tourists.

Continent I know best is Asia.

See profile

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