Travel resources

Here I share my favorite and useful travel resources that I use before or during my trips and while I’m living in Indonesia.

Travel resources guides

  • TripAdvisor– before adding any “to see/do/stay” object to my travel plan I check here what other travelers say about those places.
  • Wiki voyage – the free, worldwide travel guide. Valuable that every traveler can edit the newest information from their trips.
  • My travel stories, the advice in Asia – check reviews, tips as well.

Travel resources accommodation

  • Airbnb – 1st place which I check. I can know better local people & sometimes it’s cheaper than stay in hostels ;) Check my tips for using Airbnb.
  • Agoda – I find here the most selection for low-budget accommodation in Asia.
  • Booking – is one of those resources that I can find low-budget accommodation outside of Asia.
  • Couchsurfing – one of the most popular platforms to search for local hosts. But it’s not just free accommodation during your trip – it’s sharing and giving as well.

Cheap flights

  • eDreams – you can find really good deals.
  • Skyscanner – I love that I can choose “to” destination “flexible”. It helps me to find the cheapest destination from Europe to Asia (no matter Thailand, Malaysia or other, from there to go to Indonesia simpler).
  • Momondo – If my travel dates are flexible it’s great to see all the prices in the chart by dates and choose the cheapest date to fly.
  • Nusatrip – here I find sometimes the cheapest flights inside Asia.
  • Tiket – one of the websites that you can find well cheapest flight tickets inside Asia. As well you can buy train tickets, rent a car, book a hotel in Indonesia.
  • Traveloka –  here you can find flights, hotels, train tickets, and much more.

Travel resources communities

  • Thorn Tree – many travel advice from local travelers and not only. I like that people most of the time give exhaustive answers to questions.
  • Couchsurfing – people not only host you but share their experiences, advice. Often organize meetings with travelers and local people.
  • FB groups – you can find many travel groups by different regions, traveling types and etc.

Travel resources programs

  • Darmasiswa scholarship – possibility to study Indonesian culture, live here for 6-12 months. I was selected for this program.
  • Internship in Indonesia – another possibility to stay in Indonesia and share your academic and cultural knowledge with Indonesian students.
  • Work away – voluntary program around the world and many possibilities for Asia as well. I already have several projects in my mind that would like to attend.
  • GoAbroad – providing the most comprehensive international education and alternative travel resource. You can find a study, internship, volunteering programs, and more.

Travel resources traveling

  • Easy book – largest booking website in SE Asia: bus, train, car, ferry, and local tours in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and more. Often suggest discounts for online tickets.
  • Klook – car with a driver’s rental, pick up/drop off from the airport, and much more. All around Southeast Asia and other countries. The prices are really good.
  • 12go Asia – boat and other transportations tickets around Southeast Asia.
  • Tiket – train tickets, car rentals in Indonesia. Easier to buy Indonesian train tickets here.
  • Go-jek – works like Uber in Indonesia. You can book not only a ride but as well as food delivery and much more.
  • Grab – similar to Go-jek but works not only in Indonesia but as well in other Southeast countries.
  • Blue Bird taxi – official taxi in Indonesia that you can order in Jakarta, Bali, Bandung, Banten, Batam, Lombok, Manado, Medan, Padang, Pekanbaru, Palembang, Semarang, Solo, Surabaya, and Yogyakarta. Very easy to use their app “MyBlueBird”.

Travel resources - health tips

Travel resources links

Travel resources

  • InterNations – making life easier for ex-pats.
  • Expats blog – uniting expat bloggers site, with expats latest blog posts, blog reviews, expat interviews & contests.
  • Culture plate – connects people who love cooking & hosting dinners with people who love eating authentic home-cooked meals.
  • WhatssApp – an app that uses most Asian people. It’s more popular than call or text SMS

“Must” and “maybe” souvenirs from Vietnam

No matter you like to travel with a small bag or big luggage, most probably you still buy some “touchable memories” (souvenirs) from visited places? Some of us have a collection of fridge magnets, others bring whatever they like or something specific only from that country. Personally, I like to bring something small and practical, which can be used in daily life. For example, carved tray for a cup from a specific village, candlestick from specific that place materials and etc. (depends on what I’m missing at that moment at home).

Here are the lists of MUST and MAYBE (as well specific ones) souvenirs from Vietnam that you can consider to bring back home. It’s based on my personal suggestions from what I saw in the streets and what recommended my Vietnamese friends.

MUST souvenirs from Vietnam

SILK

Even if you can buy it in Thailand, Malaysia as well (like those countries “unique” souvenirs) but if you are in Vietnam you should think to buy a scarf, silk painting (which is quite unique, an iconic art form in Vietnam) or even suit the clothes from silk (tailor can suite it during ~15 hours).
Silk in Vietnam is made on traditional handlooms. You can find beautiful patterns, different colors, and sizes. Even if you can buy silk anywhere in Vietnam but one of the best places is Hoi An city, silk village Van Phuc (near Hanoi). The price will be better, more options, and quicker service (sewing). Prices begin at about $ 3.00/per meter for 90 cm wide material.

Silk shop - souvenirs from Vietnam
The tailor’s place in Hoi An city

LACQUER WARE

Is special in its style of using resin from the son tree. It’s said that high-quality lacquer products go through 20 stages of development and can be used to craft dishes, bowls, vases, and more in beautiful colors and intricate designs. Very special is lacquer paintings – sơn mài. Prices begin at $ 1.00 for a small dish, $ 3.00 for a large dish and etc.

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VIETNAMESE EMBROIDERY

An art passed down from ages, embroiders in Vietnam make use of Chinese techniques mostly. Become a master in this art can take 8-10 years. If you are visiting Sa Pa – you can buy really exclusive embroidered clothes, scarfs, small bags and etc. from different villages. You can see how it’s made straight in your eyes in the evening market in the main square. A good pair of pillowcases or a set of bed linen, both on a white cotton base, should cost around $ 6.00.

Sa Pa market - souvenirs from Vietnam
Women from Sa Pa region preparing for the night market, where they will sell their works

DO PAPER postcards, notebooks

“Do” paper is made from the bark of the Do tree, a wild plant commonly found around local riverbanks. It was popular for many years before the modern paper came. Now Do paper is only used to make Hanoi’s ethnic greetings cards, watercolor, folk paintings, and bamboo-bound notebooks. Do paper cards with embroidered squares, hemp covered notebooks cost more or less $ 2.00, bamboo bound notebooks are from $ 1.50. Better to search in book stores.

Do paper - souvenirs from Vietnam
You can see those drawings in hotels as well like it’s very famous painters works.

GUOC MOC (wooden clogs)

Are traditional footwear for males and females in Vietnam. Before females were wearing these with the traditional Ao Dai dress. Now it’s not so traditional wear, but you can still buy these in stores. I saw some such clogs in Bangkok as well but it looked like brought from Vietnam.

AO DAI dress

Recognized as national wear for females in Vietnam. It’s a tight-fitted long dress worn over long pants. The Ao Dai costs about $32.00 for a plain finished product. If you want a more detailed or custom made Ao Dai, you can buy some fabric and have a tailor make it for about $70.00.

SNAKE WINE

There’s not too much “wine” – the snake is infused in grain alcohol – but you get an exotic view. The bottle cost ~ $20.00.

BOOK “Que Huong my homeland Vietnam” by Nguyen Manh Dan

It’s a book of photographs of Vietnam by Vietnamese photographers and you will find their Vietnamese songs, poetry written in English, Vietnamese. Unfortunately how hard I was trying to find it in Hanoi book street (even with a local person) – didn’t manage. If you will be lucky to find it, I think you will be very happy to have it.

MAYBE souvenirs from Vietnam

If you like to travel to Asia or plan a new trip there, I suggest considering maybe not to buy in Vietnam souvenirs which I’m mentioning below. You can find them in other Asian countries as well (in some countries even cheaper).

CERAMIC

You can easily find ceramic vases, lacquer vases, and more such variety in a plethora of sizes, shapes, and colors. A good quality plate costs ~ $2.00. Can be an idea to buy a small teacup set. But ceramic you can bring from any other country as well: Indonesia (for example in Yogyakarta there is area Kasongan, where most crafts are from ceramic), Thailand and etc.

Ceramic souvenirs from Vietnam
Tea cup set

BAMBOO AND WOODEN PRODUCTS

You can buy beautifully carved bamboo hats or salad bowls, trays, baskets, and more such items made out of bamboo and wood. Apart from being cheaper alternatives, they are also eco-friendly. It’s a costs from $13.00 to $45.00. But the same you can buy in any other Asian country where bamboo is growing, for example in Thailand it will be cheaper.

CONICAL HATS

Referred to as leaf hat or non la, these are a symbol of Vietnam and can be seen on drums as old as 3000 years. The same can be used as an umbrella during rains and sun protector during summers. Such hats but with different names you can buy anywhere where are rice paddies: Indonesia, Thailand and etc.

Conical hat
Conical hat used in Vietnamese daily life

RICE

How not to buy a small package of rice from rice country? Brown, white, different shape, mixed and etc. The price will be ridiculous and straight from the rice paddies. But the same you can buy in any other “rice” country.

TEA

Good quality tea can be bought in specialist shops in large cities. Kilo of top-quality tea can cost ~ $8.00, if lightly flavored ~$5.00, without flavoring ~$2.00. But in each other country, you can buy tea as well: Japan, Indonesia, China and etc.

COFFEE

Even if Vietnamese coffee quite famous for its preparation and taste (strong, instead of sugar they put condensing milk) but you can enjoy it in the coffee shops in Vietnam. To buy it like a souvenir you can but then need to buy special tools to prepare it in the right way. Good quality “Trung Nguyen” coffee 1-kilo Robusta beans costs ~ $4.00, Arabica will be more expensive.
But as well in Indonesia, you can buy coffee, even more, a popular one, the most expensive in the world “Kopi Luwak”.

HANDMADE WOVEN PRODUCTS

For example in Vietnam scarf costs ~$2.00. A garment, such as a woven, embroidered, or appliqued jacket can cost ~ $15.00. But handmade woven products you can buy in any other Asian country (for example Indonesia, Lombok island).

JEWELRY, PEARLS

Other popular souvenirs from Vietnam. Most jewelers are made of local gemstones. But the same things you can buy in Indonesia as well, where gemstones really popular and one of the places for pearls can be in Lombok island near the port to Gili Meno, Air or Trawangan islands.

CLOTHES

If you want to buy Asian style pans or other clothes, before buying them check if it’s really made in Vietnam. I had an experience when bought pans in Vietnam and in Indonesia met a girl with the same pattern dress what she bought in Thailand. The conclusion that all things made in China. By the way in Thailand clothes are much cheaper than in Vietnam.

Clothes from Vietnam and Thailand
I bought pans in Vietnam, girl bought dress in Thailand. But both of them made in China.

Specific souvenirs from Vietnam for specific interests

  • WAR SOUVENIRS – you can buy coins, zippers, and other old things that remain war time in Vietnam.
  • MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS – here you can buy a bamboo flute and miniature bamboo xylophone.
  • INSTANT NOODLES – like I live in Indonesia where instant noodles are eaten everywhere. I wanted to bring my friends in Indonesia to try Vietnamese instant noodles. It’s really different from Indonesian ones or those that you can buy in Europe.
  • FAKE THINGS – some people like to buy famous brands fake copies. Here you can find whatever you want.
  • CARVED WOODEN STAMPS – you can optionally require craftsmen to carve the characters that you liked or a meaningful icon. If you are not too picky, just select the template and change some details or even purchase the stamps which have been carved already here. It can be a great souvenir for friends with their name letter. It’s not so practical but fun.
  • VIETNAMESE JACKET – nowhere else I saw such jacket – mostly it used driving on a motorbike but can be used in daily life as well. Can be quite unique gift (you can choose different colors, materials).

Of course, you can buy as well other souvenirs from Vietnam: magnets, stamps, postcards, traditional music CD. But buy them not in touristic places, go to bookshops and smaller shops out of touristic areas.

Here some tips on how to buy souvenirs from Vietnam and the 10 best shopping places in Hanoi:

What to buy in Vietnam
Pin it for later!

 

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

  • Found some other souvenirs from Vietnam that are worth buying? Share with us
  • What kind of souvenirs do you like to bring from your travels?
  • Is Vietnam on your bucket list? What you would like to see, do or try there?

 

 

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How to travel from Yogyakarta to Bali in economical way

In general traveling in Indonesia or other Asian countries is quite cheap. Just one “small” detail – you need to have time. Like some destinations are quite far from each other (even if in the map looks closer) and the cheapest way of traveling is by land.

One of the most popular destinations in Indonesia – Bali island. But people try to travel around and not stay only in Bali. Most common that travelers fly to Jakarta, then through Java island (visiting Yogyakarta, Mount Bromo and Ijen) reach Bali. There people stay longer or go to other islands (Lombok, Komodo, Gilis and etc.).

The economical way to go from Yogyakarta to Bali is take “economi” train (yes, they have other train types as well – Executive (Eksecutif), Business (Bisnis)). The cheapest way would be hitch-hiking, but not all people likes it and most of travelers have limited time for holidays.

Technically you can’t get from Yogyakarta to Bali only by train because it’s 2 separate islands (Yogyakarta is in Java island). With train from Java you can reach only Java island port. From there you still need to use ferry to get to Bali harbor and use other transport (bus, taxi, car, motorbike) to get to any city in Bali island.

How to get to Bali
All train stops from Yogyakarta to Bali

So, how to travel from Yogyakarta to Bali in economical way?

  1. Take “economi” train from Yogyakarta Lempuyangan railway station. It leaves every day in early morning. Journey takes 13-15 hours. Cost 1 way/per person  100 000 Rp (~7,5 USD).
  2. From Banyuwangi Baru railway station go straight to Ketapang port (it’s ~10 min. by foot from train station).
  3. Take a ferry from Ketapang port to Bali Gilimanuk harbor. Ferries goes 24 hours. It takes ~40 min. (can be less or more, depends on the “traffic” in the sea). Cost 1 way/per person  7 500 Rp (~0,55 USD).
  4. From Bali Gilimanuk harbor catch other transportation to go to needed Bali city. For that you have couple options:
  • In the ferry look around if there are any cars with 1-2 people or motorbikes with 1 person. Go to ask those people if they could bring you to any city in Bali (depends on their own destinations, but most probably they will go to Denpasar, Ubud or Kuta). As well you can see buses – go to talk with a driver if  there are any free seat for you (but for this they will ask extra money. Amount depends on the driver, so you can try to negotiate with him).
  • If you feel too shy/uncomfortable to speak with local people – you can try to catch a bus in Bali harbor, just nobody knows exact night bus timings. Maybe you will need to wait 1 hour maybe till the morning. The bus stop is on the right side after you will exit harbor (but most of the time drivers already try to catch travelers in harbor and invite them to follow). But it’s not so nice to stay in empty harbor. There are few “warungs” (“street cafes”) which works all night long but sometimes people there a bit strange and you can feel uncomfortable there. Usually bus takes to Denpasar 3-5 hours (depends on bus type, one stopping in each corner to collect people, other – go straight to Denpasar). Price from Bali Gilimanuk harbor to Denpasar cost 1 way/per person  30 000-50 000 Rp (~2,16-3,60 USD) depends how good you are in bargain :) But at night price can be a bit higher.

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Pros for traveling from Yogyakarta to Bali by train
  • It’s the cheapest way (not counting hitchhiking) to get to Bali.
  • You can see beautiful nature and local people daily life views through the window on the way from Yogyakarta to Bali.
  • You don’t need to worry about oversize backpack, there are no limitations for stuff that you take with you.
  • If you are friendly, curious person, during the trip you can speak with local people and know them better. They will spend all 13 hours with you, so would love to chat as well.
  • There are power sockets, so if you have laptop with you – can “kill” your time with watching movies or do other things.
  • On the way to Bali, you can stop in Probolinggo and visit Bromo, Ijen. Later can continue your trip to Bali by bus.
Cons for traveling from Yogyakarta to Bali by train
  • “Economi” train stops in almost every train station. As well they called “polite trains” – “economi” train stops and always allow the “faster” trains to pass by. Also there are stops, where train stop for longer time (for example in Surabaya stop for 30 min.). So, this train not the best for those whose stay in Indonesia short.
  • If you want to buy cheapest economic train ticket (especially during local holidays, weekends) you should do it at least 1 week in advance. Before/during/after Ramadhan even couple weeks before. Like many Indonesians will go back to visit their families and it’s the cheapest way for them to do that. Yes, you can try your luck by buying ticket in the train station day before or couple hours before departure, but it’s very rare be so lucky :).
  • If you don’t like to get a lot of attention – traveling by economic train – not for you. Most of the local people who is traveling by train rare see foreigners, so they are very curious. They can stare at you all the time, try to talk with you. And if you will be “lucky” – kids will stuck around you and will make pictures of you. In other hand it can be pros as well – you have possibility 13 hours to know Indonesian people better, “kill” your time.
  • Most of the seats are made for 2 or 3 people, but there is no separation. So if you can’t stand that all journey somebody will touch you – don’t choose travel by such train.
  • If you are too sensitive for kids scream, noises, different food smells – as well don‘t choose this train. Mostly people in the train feels and behave like at home.
  • The train will delay all the time. So even if official trip duration is 13 hours. It can delay till ~2 hours.
Tips for traveling from Yogyakarta to Bali by train (ferry and bus)
  • In economic train is working air-condition (or can be fans), so even if outside will be hot, inside will be colder. Take something to cover yourself.
  • There are simple squat toilets but no toilet paper so have it with you.
  • In the train there is café and time to time guys are coming with some snacks, food, hot drinks – but don’t expect anything luxury :D. Better to buy water, snacks before the trip – will be cheaper and can eat when you want without waiting for the sellers.
  • There are power sockets, so during the trip you can charge your equipment, but don’t forget that other will do the same. Don’t leave your charger all trip long :).
  • Come to the train at least 40 min. before departure. Then you will have chance to put your bags above your head. Later all places will be fully complete with local people stuffs (ant they will have a lot off them :)).
  • Have small bag with you, where you will have all needed things for journey. Like every time go up and take something from big bag will be not comfortable.
  • Keep eye on your stuff during the stops. Even if people not allowed to enter train station are without showing the ticket, still some sellers from outside get inside the train.
  • In Banyuwangi train station, many taxi drivers will suggest to take you to the port. But it’s no need – it’s so near. Except if you have a lot of stuff and don’t want take them by yourself.
  • Before getting inside the bus be sure to which bus station they will arrive. Sometimes different buses goes to different stations in Denpasar.
  • If you have chance, don’t sit in the end of the bus, it’s a place for people who is going short distances. Of course you can sit there, just won’t be comfortable when around you will put many boxes, other travelers stuffs, people will ask you to move and etc.
How to by train ticket from Yogyakarta to Bali
  • You can buy straight in Yogyakarta Lempuyangan railway station (need to have your ID).
  • You can buy in “Indomaret” supermarket. You just need to have your ID, tell for the cashier where, when you want to go. She/he will print the check with your trip details. Usually for this service they charge extra 7 5000 Rp but as well most of the time they make some advertising, like “buy ticket – get free drink” or no charge fee and etc. (every time it’s different offer). But this check is only reservation – at least 1 hour before departure you should come to train station and change this check to the real ticket.
  • You can buy ticket online in Indonesian railway website (only in Indonesian language, but navigation quite easy and main words you can find in google translator :)). Here, after reservation, you should buy ticket during 24 hours (you can do it “Indomaret”, “Alfamart” and other supermarkets (it the end of reservation will be shown the the list) or show reservation letter in train station, you will get it to your email).
  • You can buy ticket online in private agency Tiket. There is everything written in English so much easier to buy. But they can charge small fee for service. As well in this website you can book hotel, rent a car. Sometimes I find there cheap flights inside Indonesia.

If you will decide to travel to other places in Indonesia by train, here is more information about other train routes.

How I traveled from Yogyakarta to Bali by train?

How to travel from Yogyakarta to Bali in economical way

I traveled by train twice. First time, we decided not to go straight to the ferry but stay overnight in the hostel that we found in the train station area. We went to Bali next morning. Second time – I went straight to Bali harbor where my friend pick me up with motorbike. But believe me it was very tiring and long journey. We reach Sanur only at 6 am (took ~5 hours go by motorbike).

If you will decide to stay overnight in Banyuwangi as well. We stayed in simple place. Nothing fancy, rooms are small, without proper windows. One type rooms have shared bathroom (cost 75 000 Rp), others – private (price 100 000 Rp) per night. In this place they don’t make any reservation. Who comes first get a bed. It’s clean place but made just for overnight stay. In the morning you can order coffee, breakfast for additional money.

I met one traveler who told that he stays in other place for 45 000 Rp but I don’t know exactly where that place is, as well at night I didn’t want to search for it :). But here you can see other places to stay.

Hostel in Ketapang port, where we stayed.

If you want to make your trip more memorable and you have extra time, I suggest on the way to Bali stop in Bromo and Ijien volcanoes. It will be things that for sure you won’t forget. Just check Lili’s practical guide to Kawah Ijen and enjoy your journey!

 

What is your experience traveling by trains in Asia? Would you recommend it for other travelers?


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