Travel Guide: Komodo National Park & Labuan Bajo, Indonesia
Our trip to Indonesia flew by in the blink of an eye. I’m already reminiscing on life at sea and thinking about our next trip back to this corner of the globe. Today we’re sharing some tips on visiting Komodo National Park and Labuan Bajo!
So to get to Komodo National Park, you need to fly into LBJ (Labuan Bajo) Airport. Currently, this is a domestic airport in Indonesia and you can fly in easily from Bali (which is what we chose to do) or Jakarta.
There are quite a few domestic airlines within Indonesia you can fly with and the trip should be relatively cheap once you’re over there, but our recommendation would be to fly with Garuda Airlines. They’re touted as the most reliable and although they can be slightly more expensive than the other airlines, on-time flights are worth it in my opinion.
In 2020, the Indonesian government is planning on opening up LBJ to become an international airport, so it should be even easier to travel to this part of the country and get to Komodo National Park!
Within major cities like Bali and Jakarta, you can easily find a ride to get around town. If you don’t have an international license or aren’t comfortable riding a scooter (like us), you can also call rideshare vehicles for an inexpensive and convenient ride. Grab and Gojek are the go-to apps to use in those areas, but Uber is banned at the time.
When you get to Labuan Bajo, you’ll see that it’s a much smaller and rural town. The best way to get around is to call a taxi. Make sure you negotiate the price and tell the driver where you’re going ahead of time. If you are having trouble hailing a taxi, you can walk into any local business or to the multiple tourist stands in town and ask them to help you call a taxi.
Where to stay
Labuan Bajo’s main town area is really one street along the western coast of Flores island. Located just 10 minutes from the LBJ airport, you can find many hostels geared towards backpackers and travelers looking for a good deal in town.
We chose to stay a little out of town at one of the many resorts in the area. The great thing about hotel stays here is that they’re relatively inexpensive compared to hotels in the states. You can even get a luxury stay in Labuan Bajo for less than the average cost of a night’s stay in LA!
Puri Sari Beach Hotel
We stayed here for the first half of our trip and loved it. They have clean rooms, but try and book a villa if you can! The resort has a beautiful pool, complimentary breakfast, and is located just a few steps from a private beach. There is a schedule of provided free shuttles to town every hour or every 2 hours depending on the time of day, but the front desk can also call you a taxi at any time to get you to town for 50,000 IDR.
Bintang Flores Hotel
We considered this a step up from Puri Sari and stayed here after we returned from our liveaboard in Komodo National Park. It’s closer to town and also has complimentary breakfast every morning.
Another highly recommended hotel by locals is Golo Hilltop. Or, if you’re looking for a SUPER luxurious stay, you can snag a room at the Ayana Komodo Resort. Rooms usually start upwards of $200 USD.
Getting to Komodo National Park
If you didn’t book a trip in advance of arriving in town, there are tons of tour and expedition companies in Labuan Bajo’s town that will happily arrange transportation for you to Komodo. Labuan Bajo sits on the western edge of Flores island, and just west of Flores are Rinca and Komodo islands, both part of the national park.
Keep in mind you’ll have to pay national park fees when visiting, and it usually requires at least a full day to visit, see Komodo dragons, and enjoy your time in the park.
Things to do in Labuan Bajo
If you’re done exploring the national park, there are a few other key points of interest back in Flores.
This is a perfect spot for watching the sunset. I wouldn’t really consider it a hike, so much as a brief walk up a steep hill. You can ask any taxi in town to take you for around 200k IDR.
There are three main hills that you can climb up to get a view of Labuan Bajo, Komodo Island, and the ocean.
Make sure to wear sneakers, and don’t forget to come down before the sun is fully set. There are no lights on the rocky dirt path!
We sadly didn’t have a chance to visit this spot, but we were highly recommended it by a few locals. It’s a secret swimming hole tucked away just a short drive north of town. If you have a chance to go and take a dip, don’t miss out like we did!
Where to eat
Right in the main strip of town, you can get some home cooked Indonesian classics here.
Indonesian classics with an Asian fusion twist. It’s located on the third floor and overlooks the main street. Right underneath it on the 2nd floor is a cute little coffee shop for recharging your phone or passing some time.
Labuan Bajo Fish Market
Open from 3pm to 2am, the best time to go is around 5-6pm when the vendors have finished preparing their catches of the day. You must first purchase “tickets” to buy food with at the entrance of the market, as the vendors themselves do not accept cash. From there, pick out a piece of seafood and ask for it to be prepared however you’d like: grilled, fried, sauteed with some sauce… you name it!
We spent the rest of our time diving on a liveaboard off the coast of Labuan Bajo, but the few days we had left in the local town were filled with relaxation and good food. Stay tuned for our Indonesia recap vlog on YouTube!