Most people come to Flores just to see the Komodo dragons, stay in Labuan Bajo and call it a day but if you really want to experience Flores in the most authentic way possible, you will have to travel inland from east to west to understand why Flores is one of the most exciting destinations in Indonesia. Here are my 10 days backpacking guide and itinerary for Flores, how you can travel from east to west, and experience the best part of the island in one trip.
Flores Itinerary Map
Why Go to Flores
Flores is an amazing island full of stunning wildlife, diverse nature and really friendly people. The island can be reached easily via Denpasar which makes it a great destination after Bali. The island is known for its proximity to the famous Komodo Islands and the only place in the world where you can see a real living dragon. That said, there is so much more to Flores than the Komodo Islands.
For one, the island is almost entirely Roman Catholic Christians whereas most of Indonesia is Muslim and that comes with different traditions, ways of life and many different things to see. There is also the tri-colored volcanic lakes of Kelimutu, the traditional villages of Bajawa and the spider web rice field in Ruteng that will keep you occupied for weeks.
When to Go to Flores
The best time to go to Flores is from May to September where the weather is dry and more predictable which is essential if you want to have a great trip in Flores especially the Komodo Islands cruise and the mountain region of Flores. The temperature of cities at sea-level (Labuan Bajo, Ende, and Maumere) are pretty warm but when you head up to the mountains, the temperature will go down to a comfortable 20°C during the day and 16°C at night so prepare accordingly.
Where to Stay in Flores
Labuan Bajo - Dorme Tree - 8.88 USD/Night (Dorm) - New, clean, friendly owners and located near the airport but still within walking distance of the tourist street. Much more quieter than staying on the tourist street.
Ruteng - D-Rima Homestay - 14.00 USD/Night (Budget Double Room)
Bajawa - Cinnamon Guesthouse - 9.00 USD/Night (Standard Double Room) - Clean, modern with better facilities than other guesthouses around it.
Ende - Berlian Hotel - 19.00 USD/Night (Standard Double Room)
Moni - Mahoni Guesthouse - 24.00 USD/Night (Double Room with Hot Shower) - The only place around with a hot shower and you will want one when you are there.
Maumere - Pantai Paris Homestay - 8.00 USD/Night (Dorm), 22.00 USD/Night (Double room with sea view) - Right by the beach.
This place is quite cheap compare to all the other countries in the world. If you are planning a trip here, you can expect to pay around 25 - 45 USD per day per person and that should include accommodation and 3 meals.
Keep in mind that this is just a suggested daily budget based on my style of traveling, which is leaning more toward the budget side of things. If you want to stick to this budget, expect to sleep in dorms, eat out only a few times, and be comfortable using the cheapest and most convenient way of transportation, which often times involves walking.
WIFI is widely available in hotels and restaurants in the cities and are pretty fast except 2 places, Moni and around the Komodo Islands. If you want to stay connected in those 2 places, I would recommend you to get a local sim card from Telkomsel as I had that and there are services in both places. You can read more about data and sim cards in Indonesia here.
If you are looking for a travel insurance to go along with your trip to Flores, Indonesia, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for a travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure. They have a simple and flexible search system that allowed me to find the right insurance for the right amount of time at an affordable price in seconds. If you need a travel insurance, give WorldNomads.com a try.
How to Get to Flores
Traveling in Indonesia requires planning and if you are planning to visit Flores, the easiest and cheapest way is to fly to Denpasar, Bali and from there you can get a domestic flight to Labuan Bajo, the most eastern city of Flores and nearest to the Komodo National Park From there, you can begin your journey by land to Maumere and fly back to Bali from there.
You can also follow my itinerary in the opposite direction by flying from Bali to Maumere and travel by land through Flores and fly back to Bali from Labuan Bajo.
If you are looking for a flight to Bali and domestic flights to Flores, I would recommend you to compare prices either via Skyscanner or Momondo as these are the services that I found to be easiest to use and I always found the chepeast price from there.
How to Get Around Flores
For traveling around cities and towns, you can easily flag down any motorcycle (o-jek) and they will take you to places like the bus station for a cheap price. Cities in Flores are pretty small, so you can also walk.
For traveling to attractions nearby, I would recommend you either rent a motorbike for a day (70,000-120,000 IDR per day) and drive around yourself using Google Maps or you can hire a motorcycle + driver for a day and they will take you to places and an agreed price. It should cost you no more than 150,000 IDR. The key is to ask how much they want and negotiate down to a price that is reasonable to you.
For traveling from city to city, you can either take a local bus, a bemo (small van), an exclusive bus (Gunung Mas) or a shared taxi. The prices increase respectively from 60,000 IDR for buses to 100,000 IDR for a shared taxi. The Gunung Bus is the most comfortable option and you can book them through the hotel you are staying at.
For local buses, you can ask your guesthouse where the bus station is and go there with an o-jek early in the morning (8 AM - 9 AM) and catch the early bus. The bus leaves when it is full so it is difficult to predict when you will arrive but the earlier you get on the bus the more chance you will be arriving before dark.
10 Days Itinerary for Flores
Labuan Bajo (2 nights)
Labuan Bajo is a city located in the eastern part of Flores and the nearest to the Komodo National Park. This will be our first exciting destination. The city itself is nothing special with one crowded tourist street where all the travel agencies are and a few nice waterfalls around but that does not matter as our goal is to explore the Komodo National Parks and this is the best place to do so.
Spend the first day walking around the tourist street to find an agency that offers you a 2-days 1-night cruise around the Komodo Island for 800,000 IDR and no more. This should include snorkeling gear and all the meals on the boat. For the national park entrance fee, you will have to pay separately and it should be around 150,000 IDR.
For more information about which cruise to pick, how many days and what to consider, check out my complete guide on cruising around the Komodo Islands.
Komodo Islands (1 night)
Once you pick the cruise, they will pick you up the next day and you will be on a boat for the next 2 days, 1 night. You will be spending some time hiking around the Rinca Island and the Komodo Island to track down the Komodo Dragons on your first day. It will be a pretty slow first day but it was still very interesting to learn about this elusive animal, why they only live on these 2 islands and are they dangerous (yes).
You will end your first day with snorkeling at the Pink Beach which has the clearest water and the most colorful coral reefs I have ever seen, and watches the sun goes down from this island.
You will also have a chance to sleep on the deck under the stars which I think make the overnight cruise worth it.
The next day, you will be hiking to one of the most beautiful places in the world, the viewpoint of the Padar Island. This is one of the most photogenic places in the national park and it is best seen at sunrise when the light is at its best. You will be hiking up for 30 minutes before you are met with the stunning panoramic view of the Padar island.
There is no shade along the trail so this hike is best done in the morning when the sun is not too strong. Be sure to bring enough water as the temperature rises fast as the sun goes up. It is also less crowded in the morning before the day trippers arrive.
After the island, you will be dropped at the Manta Point, where you can swim with the Manta rays. It is one of the most magical moments to be able to witness these wonderful and intelligent animals in such an intimate manner.
You will spend a few hours at the Manta Point before you will be dropped off at the Kanawa island for snorkeling and rest until the end of the day and then they will drop you off at the port. Stay one night in Labuan Bajo and the next morning, prepare to go into the mountains of Flores starting with Ruteng.
Ruteng (2 nights)
Ruteng is a quiet small town located up in the hills of Flores. The town has its charm from being surrounded by the mountains to the amazing locals that are always curious about hearing where you are from. I would recommend you rent a scooter for a day and go explore the surrounding area. You can rent a brand new scooter from Kopi Mane Inspiration. They also have the best locally brewed coffee in town.
The spider web rice terrace is not something you will see every day even if you have been traveling in Southeast Asia so be sure to ride to a small village called "Lao", a few kilometers northwest from Ruteng and check it out. You can also go further and visit the Liang Bua or the Hobbit cave where they recently unearthed the skeletal remains of a small humanoid dubbed Homo floresiensis. The cave and the museum itself is not big but riding a motorbike through the beautiful rice fields around the area made it all worthwhile.
Be sure to spend the evening, walking around the town itself and enjoy the company of the locals that will approach you and practice their English with you.
Bajawa (2 nights)
Bajawa is well-known for its big traditional villages that scattered around the hills in the area. The most notable one is Beno, which is the biggest of its kind and contains a lot of reading material for you to learn about.
You can either rent your own motorbike or hire a driver to take you there as early as you can as the place gets flocked by tourists in the afternoon. I was there by 8:30 AM and there was no one around except me and a few other tourists. It got considerably crowded after 9:30 AM.
If you have another day here, you could also go for a hike up to the summit of the cone-shaped volcano that towers Bajawa, the Gunung Inerie. Climbing volcanoes are always tricky as when you take one step up, you go down 2 steps and this one is no different. You will have to be in good physical condition to attempt to reach the 2245m high summit. It will take you 3 hours up and 3 hours down and it is best that you start your hike as early as possible to maximize the chance of having a clear sky when you reach the top. Talk to the tourist information for the possibility of hiking the mountain when you are in Bajawa.
Ende (1 night)
Ende is a good place to stop for a night to break the trip down to a more manageable size. It is a big city in the western part of Flores and it has the main airport that people often fly into when they want to go to Kelimutu. Most people skip Ende but I found Ende to be quite interesting as it has no filters at all when it comes to seeing the how locals live their lives. I also had one of the best Nasi Ayam (chicken rice) here at the Sari Rasa restaurant owned by a very interesting and talkative man that will explain the menu and recommend what dish is best for you based on where you are from. The food is super delicious and you get to meet a very interesting local. Nothing gets better than that!
Moni - Kelimutu (1 night)
From Ende you can take a bus in the early morning to Moni and spend a relaxing day, walking around this small mountain town. Grab a nice coffee at the Mopi's Place, sit at the balcony and watch the rolling clouds passing through the green mountains of Flores. At night, be sure to come back to Mopi's Place again to enjoy the live music of a very talented local reggae band. Before you end the day, be sure to either rent a motorbike or hire a motorbike driver for a sunrise trip at the Kelimutu lakes.
The next morning, wake up at 4:30 AM, get on a motorbike and drive 30 minutes up the mountain to Kelimutu, the 3 tri-colored volcanic lakes, one of the most beautiful lakes you can see on Flores. The lakes are best experienced during sunrise on a clear day as you will be able to witness the colors shifting features of the lakes.
After the sunrise, spend a few more hours walking around 3 lakes and find a quiet spot to immerse yourself in this natural beauty.
For more information on how to get to Kelimutu and what to bring for the sunrise, be sure to check out my comprehensive guide on how to get to Kelimutu lakes for more detail.
Maumere (2 nights)
Photos by Sims8899
Last but not least, we visit the beach town of Maumere where you can relax by the Ahuwair or Waiterang beaches in a warm weather which is a welcome change from the cooler climate on the mountains of Flores. You can also dive here if you have the certificate and have a few more days to spare.
From Maumere, you can fly back to Labuan Bajo or directly to Bali and either end your Indonesia trip and continue your adventure to other islands in Indonesia and head over to Timor Leste and explore the newest country in Southeast Asia.
And there you have it, the backpacking itinerary for Flores, Indonesia. If you have a question regarding the itinerary, do not hesitate to ask me questions in the comments below.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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