Sep 12th, 2017, 11:27 PM

Island Hopping in South East Asia

By Elizabeth Nguyen Son
Padang Padang Beach, Bali, Indonesia
Image Credit: Flickr/whiz-ka
Three island destinations under three hours away from Singapore.

The deeper into winter we get, the more I dream about escaping to a tropical beach. Having grown up in Singapore, I was lucky enough to have summer year-round but that didn't stop me from traveling whenever I got the chance and more often than not, I ended up in Indonesia. There is much to love about Indonesian islands from the flavorful food to the warm and welcoming people. You can always find cheap flights to at least one of the three Indonesian islands below:



My little piece of paradise. 🏝

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Spiritually, this island speaks to me the most. I have been visiting Bali two-three times a year since I was a toddler because my dad also resonates with "Bali vibes". It has changed immensely since we first started going, and while many argue it isn't for the better, it does have its perks. Bali is significantly more developed than the other Indonesian islands, which makes it more versatile but also means there's a lot more you want to see but here's a super speedy rundown.

Nusa Dua is filled with fancy five start resorts and their private beaches. Then there's Ubud, which is an artist's heaven—lots of artisanal souvenirs and antiques are sold there and you are surrounded by scenic rice fields. There's Uluwatu, which is famous among surfers for Single Fin beach. You can find beautiful green scenery with cliffs and endless ocean views. My favourite thing to do in Uluwatu is to hang out at Nalu Bowls, with a deliciously refreshing açai bowl and watch surfers do their thing to the sound of the waves. There are so many bars and restaurants in Seminyak now that its a favorite tourist destination. Double Six beach is the place to be whether you're looking for a chilled-out beach shack that serves good food, fruity beverages, and some cheap cocktails or a classy rooftop bar. Mount Batur is a popular hiking trail for stunning sunsets. Lastly, for those who just want some peace and quiet, Lovina is known for its jaw-dropping dolphin sightings. It's out of the way, but boy is it worth it.

Watch ex-AUP student, Daniel Del Carmen's, video of his backpacking-experience earlier this summer!

Aside from the areas I mentioned, there are also plenty of different things to see on the island. You have a seemingly infinite list of waterfalls, a handful of hidden beaches, and really unique cultural experiences (although, I recently learned that "traditional Balinese dances" aren't actually authentic).



Just bout to take in the weekend🌴 #bintanlagoonresort #iloveblr #beach #paradise

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Easily accessed by ferry from Singapore, the best thing about this place is that it is absolutely deserted. I went with a friend of mine for a short weekend getaway and there were literally only two other people in sight at the beach we were at and we didn't even have a private-beach at our resort. The sand was silky soft and white and the sunsets were milky purples, pinks, and oranges. Siri Spangsdorf, a Danish student at Copenhagen Business School, lived in Singapore for four years and says that Bintan was the first place she visited from Singapore. "It's very nice if you just want to stay at your hotel and relax. It's a very resort-like place and I liked the proximity of the resorts to each other because if you were tired of the restaurant(s) at your own hotel, you could just go to the others close-by," she recalls. 

I spent three days in Bintan doing absolutely nothing but sleeping, getting a tremendous amount of sun, and snacking—I don't think I ate a single real meal all weekend—but I loved it. With plenty of spas to choose from, it is truly the place to disconnect and unwind. However, if that's not what you're into, there are temples and landmarks such as the Santa Maria Grotto, a small and quaint chapel. There are also simple water-sports such as canoeing and kayaking, and if you're not comfortable with that, there are also a handful of golf courses. While I wouldn't recommend going to Bintan if you need more excitement on your vacations, there are options out there.



b e a u t y 🐟

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For Juliette Descamps, a French law student, Lombok is a peaceful island that could represent what Bali was like thirty years ago (including the inherent Indonesian traffic). Descamps describes Lombok as a "paradisiac retreat where you can find friendly and approachable inhabitants, monkeys, cats, and dogs" but, acknowledging the seemingly inevitable, worries about the effects mass tourism might have in the calm haven. "Lombok is an incarnation of the savior-vivre within a community: support, solidarity, and mutual respect. These manners are constitutional to the people alongside the strong presence of hierarchy that is recognized and respected by all."

Lombok also has some picturesque hiking trails and waterfalls, as well as some beautiful mosques since it is an Islamic island. Snorkeling is also quite common as its a relatively calm island with a lot fewer tourists than some other Indonesian islands. You will most likely be in Senggigi as the rest of Lombok remains pretty sauvage. Nearby are the three Gili Islands, notably Gili Trawangan, which is another popular spot for snorkeling, turtle sanctuaries, and boat excursions. For some useful tips when planning a trip to Lombok, click here.

Are you day-dreaming about your next holiday in the sun yet? Time to start packing for South East Asia!