Think of Indonesia and most likely one of the top places to come to mind is Bali. It’s a popular destination especially for Singaporeans as many flights go there and it is relatively easy and cheap for a weekend getaway. I’ve been to Bali 5 times in the last 4 years!
But the Indonesian archipelago is made up of more than 17,000 islands – there’s so much more to Indonesia than just Bali. I had the chance to visit East Nusa Tenggara, home to the islands of Flores and Komodo, thanks to the folks from Skyscanner and I definitely have a new favourite spot to revisit! Here’s why you should make Flores your next holiday destination:
PRISTINE ISLANDS GALORE
Why get stuck in a jam with the rush hour crowd in Denpasar when you can have your pick of wild and mostly uninhabited islands around Flores to explore? There are numerous small green and brown islands in this archipelago to choose from if you want to go wild, but of note is Padar Island just over an hour’s ride by boat from Labuan Bajo where you can hike up to this amazing view of three different coloured beaches.
UNCROWDED MULTI-COLOURED BEACHES
Skip the touts and hordes of Kuta and Seminyak for the quiet, clean and serene beaches of Flores and Komodo. Pick from white sandy beaches like Koka Beach, a hidden cove between Ende and Maumere (read about what you have to see in this part of Flores), or watch the sun go down as you stroll across black sand in Labuan Bajo’s Atlantis Beach Club. You can even find yourself on a beautiful Pink Beach in Komodo, a rare phenomenon thanks to the presence of red coral bits in the water.
REAL LIFE DRAGONS
You’ll mostly be dodging thieving monkeys in Ubud and Uluwatu, but Flores is the main base for you to get to Komodo National Park, home to the incredibly rare Komodo Dragons and a must-visit for those looking to tick the boxes on a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a new natural seven world wonder. You can get up close and personal with these lofty lizards on either Komodo or Rinca Island.
WONDROUS VOLCANIC ACTIVITY
Mount Batur in Bali makes for a great sunrise view, but head to Kelimutu National Park in central Flores and watch the dawn light up 3 distinctly coloured lakes that change hue any given day. The tri-coloured lakes are a short 30-minute hike up some stone stairs, a small price to pay for an enchanting vista of rolling clouds over this unusual natural phenomenon.
AMAZING SCUBA DIVING
I’ve logged over 100 dives to date but I have to say that the 3 dive sites we visited are definitely some of the best ones I’ve done. Thanks to The Blonde Abroad who shot, edited and shared this amazing video clip of our dive adventure. You can also view it on instagram here.
I really wish I had my camera with me – luckily @theblondeabroad was all equipped and made this AMAZING video of our Komodo dive adventure. Seriously some of the best diving, coral reefs and fish diversity i’ve ever seen! Definitely want to return for an LOB in future… We may not have seen any Mantas at Manta Point, but the experience at Pink Beach, Manta Point and Batu Bolong was absolutely top notch. Look out for me waving in the video! #skyscannerindonesia #wonderfulindonesia #divingkomodo
AWESOME? NOW HOW DO I GET THERE?
There are 3 airport options in Flores to fly to:
- Labuan Bajo – west Flores, close to Komodo National Park. I flew in here from Bali, and while it’s a small airport, it’s really modern looking and spiffy
- Ende – close to Kelimutu National Park
- Maumere – slightly closer to Koka Beach and Sikka Weaving Community
While there are no direct flights to Flores from Singapore, the closest option (Labuan Bajo on the west coast of Flores) is just an hour away by plane from Bali, which in turn is a short 3 hours flight from Singapore. Bali’s proximity makes it the more logical destination to maximise a long weekend, but consider that flying to Labuan Bajo might take about the same time for you to get from Denpasar to Ubud or Uluwatu by car during peak hour traffic.
Skyscanner helps you sort through the various flights to get to your chosen destination – sort by price or flight duration to see what works best for your dates or budget. I also like to use the month calendar view to see when the cheapest flights are in a given month.
The only airline that has Singapore to Labuan Bajo (LBJ) connections is Garuda Indonesia – you can connect via Jakarta (CGK):
- SIN>>CGK : 0725-0815
- CGK>>LBJ : 1035-1400
- LBJ>>CGK : 1440-1550
- CGK>>SIN : 1815-2105
You can also connect via Bali (Denpasar or DPS), but the connecting flight timings don’t match up well (see below) – you’ll need to overnight in DPS, which is not ideal for the time strapped. The cost of the Garuda flights also tends to be more expensive than the budget options listed below.
- SIN>>DPS : 1115-1440 / 1700-1950
- DPS>>SIN : 0710-1000 / 1545-1825
- DPS>>LBJ : 0730-0905 / 1050-1225
- LBJ>>DPS : 1255-1420 / 1600-1730
Search instead for separate Singapore-Bali and Bali-Labuan Bajo flights. Singapore-Bali is a very popular route and turns up a plethora of cheap options and good timings for those who want to maximise their time. For Bali-Labuan Bajo you’ll have 3 additional options which are all Indonesian budget airlines:
- Kal Star : DPS>>LBJ 1000-1050 / LBJ>>DPS 1100-1155
- NAM Air : DPS>>LBJ 1340-1435 / LBJ>>DPS 1505-1555
- Wings Air : DPS>>LBJ 0800-0840, 1250-1410, 1355-1515 / LBJ>>DPS 0840-1000, 0935-1055, 1600-1720
Below is my suggested plan for a long weekend (4D3N) where you don’t do a red eye or stay overnight, and you’ll reach Labuan Bajo in the afternoon so you can settle in and enjoy the evening. Play around with the departure times in the Skyscanner filters to get something that works best for yourself.
- SIN>>DPS : Air Asia 0915-1200 – you’re not up too early, and you have time to make your connection
- DPS>>LBJ : NAM Air 1340-1435 or Wings Air 1355-1515 – if you are worried about flight delays, shift up the timetable accordingly
- LBJ>>DPS : Wings Air 1600-1720 – to maximise your time in Labuan Bajo, this is the latest flight out of the town
- DPS>>SIN : Tiger Air 1845-2130 or KLM 2130-2359 – the Tiger connection is a tad tight, but your next budget option is Jetstar at 2245 and you’ll arrive home in the wee hours which might be shitty if you have to work the next day
Information is correct as of Oct 2016 and based on my search. It may be updated without notice, do let me know if there are any major changes!
I have more detailed posts on each location to help you with your trip planning:
- How to plan a long weekend exploring Komodo and Labuan Bajo
- What to expect from the Komodo Dragons
- Scuba Diving in Komodo National Park
- Things to see in Maumere – Kelimutu, Koka Beach, Sikka Village, Mother of Nations Statue
- Kelimutu Crater Lakes
WHERE TO STAY?
We stayed in some amazing places thanks to Skyscanner! Definitely tops in ambience and comfort – more details in the individual posts on Labuan Bajo and Maumere.
NEED MORE INSPIRATION?
I travelled with a great group of travel bloggers on this trip – half of us went to Flores and the Komodo Islands, while the others uncovered the secrets of Bali and Yogyakarta. Check out #skyscannerindonesia on your favourite social media platform to see our full collection of shots from these two trips trip. For more Flores tips, check out the links to Team Komodo:
- Escape Journal – Kimi aka babe who is willing to sacrifice her picture perfect pastel aesthetic if it means staying warm, and her partner Thomas aka Spiderman who is least likely to save anyone else from creepy crawlies
- Honmaga [JAPANESE] – Hitomi is one half a pair of travel blogging twins whose secret to eternal youth we suspect is linked to her Japanese blood and diet
- Lostpacker [BAHASA INDO] – reuniting with Sutiknyo aka Bolang who i met in South Sumatra earlier in the year – he’s always got his video camera ready
- MalaysiaAsia – David the wise one and avid bird watcher and nature lover who’s logged something like a gazillion dives to his name
- MyLifesAMovie – Alyssa and her gopro and her signature wanderlusty back shots
- The Blonde Abroad – Kiersten who’s always game for spa days and has all the gear for fabulous dive videos or drone footage
- Thrilling Travel – sweet Ami my apparel ad partner (what are the odds we ended up in the exact same colours!) and fellow massage lover
- Voyages et vagabondages [FRENCH] – Lucie is fellow backpacker who despairs over our horrible Le Francais pronounciations and is always ready for a good hike
- We Are Explorers – Henry the adventurous one with the English accent and my frequent seat buddy (No dragon dick tattoos ever)
Big thanks also to Skyscanner for organising and sponsoring this experience, in particular the amazing trio TMM for keeping us all healthy and whole in Flores, as well as the rest of TeamSkyscanner who came down to Bali… I really enjoyed this trip and am looking forward to seeing all these travellers again sometime, somewhere in the world!