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The Indonesian Hopper (with Korean Air Miles)

Korean Air re-did their award chart and is a transfer of Chase Ultimate Rewards. But mostly due to fuel surcharges, it’s not really a program I’ve paid attention to that much. However, I was doing a post researching Korean Air’s program and they actually have some cool things I’ll talk about soon. However I got completely derailed when I saw the pricing for Indonesia.

Here’s the deal, and 5 reasons it’s amazing.

1) Korean Air awards are only in roundtrips and normally charge 40,000 miles for trips within Southeast Asia. However, I noticed that if you fly on the SkyTeam partner Garuda within Indonesia it’s 20,000 miles roundtrip.

 

2) Indonesia is stinkin’ huge. It’s the largest country in SE Asia and the 4th most populated country in the world with 28,000 islands! Ridiculous to charge 35k for a tiny flight from KL to Singapore and then 20k for Jakarta to West Papua. And the price of tickets from Jakarta (the Capital) to east Indonesia (without stopovers) are often $1,000+.

3) They allow a stopover and open-jaw on roundtrips.

4) It’s super hard to get to East Indonesia otherwise. Garuda is one of the only airlines that flies to most areas in Indonesia east of Bali.

5) Easy(ish) adventure. Despite Indonesia being one of the most populated countries, it is probably the least discovered country in the world. So much land untouched. We still consistently discover animals in Papua completely new to people.

Bonus: 6) Garuda has no fuel surcharges. Garuda is one of the few SkyTeam partners to have no fuel surcharges. Thus, you’ll only be paying VAT, which should be about ~100.

I can’t stress enough the value and awesomeness of this ticket. I wish I didn’t post the Lufthansa Trans-Pacific Hopper as it pales in comparison to this ticket in every way possible. This ticket is much more straight forward and a better value.

Again, $1,000 tickets, but that’s the value for a regular roundtrip. Let’s say we fit in two destinations, that greatly increases the value given how expensive oneways are in east Indonesia. And I’m thinking you could squeeze 3 or 4 destinations out of this ticket not including the starting point (which could be Bali).

This really is an adventure, although the only person I know that’s sane enough to possibly convince to do this trip with us is Stefan from Rapid Travel Chai. He has the best points for going to “places less traveled”. And let me put it how I imagine Stefan would put it…

You can go to Phuket:

Or you can go to Raja Ampat (and snorkel off beach):

Please, just try to find me a picture of a crowded Raja Ampat. But also, it’s suppose to be the best snorkeling/diving in the world. I’m told that you can see more types of fish in one dive in East Indonesia that even exist in the Caribbean.

Generally the reason not to go to these places is because it’s difficult or expensive. And this changes the price of a relatively short ticket from $1,000 to 20,000 miles for at least 2 destinations. And for ease, I’ll try to exemplify some routes that take you to beautiful places without travel. I know that some of the most beautiful places, especially in Kalimantan (Borneo), aren’t actually anywhere near the airport. But there are some great examples of easier travels.

Use 20,000 miles and fly from Bali to some of the most beautiful and rarely discovered islands on earth and kick it there. An adventure right off the plane. This is real travel in the works right here. Even just looking at some of the cities, it reminds me of the beauty and bizarreness of Bali multiplied by ten, and minus all of the tourists.

 

 

Getting to the Actual Flying

Where to start

Basically, I’m trying to pick a place I can get to cheaply to start that is in Indonesia. The cheapest way of doing this is starting in western Indonesia. I would fly in with a real alliance (OneWorld and Star Alliance) via AA, United or something to avoid fuel surcharges on the longhaul to Southeast Asia. You can basically fly into Bali, or Jakarta (or Surabaya if you’re interested). It’s very limited but that’s why we’re doing this.

The other more epic option is to start in Sumatra. Air Asia has a few super cheap destinations that overlap with Garuda. In Sumatra you have Banda Aceh, Medan, Pekanbaru, Padang. All of these have flights from Kuala Lumpur and Medan has a route from Bangkok on AirAsia, and one flight from KL to Balikpapan (Borneo).

The one route from East Indonesia that could be incredibly relevant is UPG. As we’ll discuss soon, you can fly from Makassar to KL for $55, which will be helpful and worth it if you want a stop in Makassar.

Now the ticket you book has to return to the same airport you fly out of. Assuming we don’t start in Sumatra and start in Bali or something, you’d fly out of Bali, do Sulawasi and West Papua and then return to Bali.

However, one may be able to just get off the plane and skip the last leg to Bali or Jakarta. The problem is, why would you want to get off the plane in West Papua and not be able to get back to Bali? Well you wouldn’t. But you could start in Jakarta and end in Bali via this method. Or perhaps, start in Bali and end in Lombok via this method, then take the ferry back to Bali (and enjoy the SPG Category 1 Sheraton in Lombok for 2,000 – 3,000 points).

Again, it’s 20,000 miles on Garuda and within Indonesia, you get 1 stopover as well as the destination. Because these flights within Indonesia often stop at multiple islands, finding a destination to stop at on the way is incredibly easy. A flight from a western city in Indonesia to a city in east Indonesia for example, will likely have options to layover in a city along the way, and you can make that city a stopover. And a stopover is as long as you want.

And just for clarification, an open-jaw is when you fly into one airport and out of another. In other words, it’s a gap in a ticket where the airline isn’t responsible for your transport.

Routes

While I am using the slightly dated map on their site, I made sure routes were valid by actually searching for bookable flights. And it gave me the following routes naturally. Why are the routes so generous? It’s just how you route a flight? How many people are actually flying to West Papua? Not a lot, so they combine it with other low-demand flights.

The West Papua Hopper

Here’s an example of one found on Kayak.Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 1.16.39 PM

A number of flights showed an option for “3 stops” on the way to Jayapura including Sorong (which will be important later). There are a few options to and from Jayapura. For example, you can fly back one of two ways:

  • Jayapura – Biak/Tembagapura – Makassar – Bali
  • Jayapura – Manokwari – Sorong – Makassar – Bali

Same routes work both ways. Thus you could do something that looks like this:

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 1.45.30 PM

Biak/Tembagapura means that you could do either/ or. Can’t say I’m an expert on towns in the middle of mountains in the middle of West Papua, but apparently it is a town solely because there is a enormous mine there. Which, a mining town doesn’t appeal to me, but I basically know nothing about it. But I’m more inclined to research a stop in Biak, not that you have to stop in either.

You wouldn’t actually have to fly the route above. Starting Bali and making the destination Jayapura, you get one stopover. If I were to choose one stop on this route I’d make a stopover in Sorong.

Now we’ve got Bali, Sorong, Jayapura. Although you could do it a number of ways, you could do Jakarta, Makassar, Sorong as your route. (And the problem of course is that it would get even more confusing if I just listed every single route possible, and hopefully the concept is taught).

Why Sorong?

Another small detour away from the details of miles to say that it should be on everyone’s bucket list to see Raja Ampat. I asked my Balienese friend, if he could travel anywhere, where would he go and the first thing he said was that he lived in such a beautiful place that he doesn’t have to travel. But then he quickly changed his mind and said that his one dream has been Raja Ampat. That doesn’t mean much, but I mean, it’s paradise for even those who live in paradise.

I’ll go over the Raja Ampat details in a minute, but the point is that this should probably be your destination or stopover. Just make sure you include it.

Increasing the stops

If you’re willing to pay another $100 and see another destination in West Papua you can open-jaw. Now with Korean Air miles it is important to know that you can not open-jaw on the stopover (much like Lufthansa miles and United miles routing rules). This means that the only place that you can open-jaw from is the furthest destination. In the example above, you can clearly see that Jayapura (DJJ) is the furthest point. You can open-jaw here and you can open-jaw to any of the other destinations you can get to (make sure you look that up first).

For example, you could pay for a Garuda flight or use another SkyTeam mileage program to fill in the gap. You could open-jaw in this case any of the two destinations in West Papua, which are: Jayapura, Biak, Sorong, Manokwari. Check the flights between the two or if there is a ferry. I’m really doubting the roads are existent or reliable in many cases.

The example I’ll use is to fly into Jayapura and out of Biak for $136 on that date.

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 4.27.37 PM

Now we’re looking at Bali – Sorong (Stopover) – Jayapura (Destination and openjaw) / Biak – Makassar (layover) – Bali

One more trick

Now, if you’re willing to pay another $55 you can fly Air Asia from Makassar to Kuala Lumpur. Then, you just get off the plane there. Now, we’re looking at:

Bali – Sorong (Stopover) – Jayapura (Destination and openjaw) / Biak – Makassar

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 4.37.50 PM

 

The Ternate or Ambon “Hopper”

If you’re skipping Sorong/Raja Ampat it’s probably to see Ternate or Ambon, so we’ll focus on one of those as our “destination”. Although there isn’t a ton of info on either, at all, there are some amazing beaches, diving and snorkeling to explore nearby.

I’ll try to quickly show how I would route each.

It’s a little more basic as the only natural connection for getting to either of these two islands is via Makassar. There are some routings through Java, like Jogyakarta, but I’m focusing on east Indonesia. This means that Makassar is really our only stopover. Therefore, it’s either Bali or Jakarta to Makassar (stopover) and then to Ternate or Ambon.

 

Open-jaw trick?

There aren’t any great options unless you take a ferry from Ternate to Ambon, which is actually doable, although I may not be smart enough to figure out the website or contact them/use a travel agent. The good news is that you could go through a travel agency and book for as little as $16, and double for first class. The bad news is that it’s 16 hours going from Ambon to Ternate, and longer going the other way. Wowza.

Let’s say you do it.

Now we’ve got Bali/Jakarta to Makassar (stopover) and then to Ambon and return from Ternate.

I guess you can open-jaw to anywhere as long as you can figure out how to get there… which isn’t as easy on islands.

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 5.39.19 PM

Trick it again?

Geez, well, you could try making your stopover in Borneo, especially starting in Jakarta. I noticed that there is a flight from Balikpapan to Makassar. They will likely let you start in Bali, although it won’t naturally route you through Balikpapan, but if it’s your stopover, it should/may let you.

So let’s say you do a stopover in Balikpapan and then do Ternate. On the way back you could get off in Makassar.

However, on Kayak I can’t actually book a ticket from Balikpapan to Ambon, but can to Ternate. So you can’t go into Ambon and open-jaw to fly out of Ternate.

 

Do it anywhere?

You can do it from anywhere in Suluwasi, not just to Ambon or Ternate. So instead of those two, you could do the exact same routes to Manado, Gorontalo, Palu, Kendari.

 

The Borneo Hopper

Perhaps it’s a little less valuable than flights to east Indonesia, but you could do the same thing to a couple places in Borneo, Tarakan and Berau. Very similar to the last hopper but we must start in Bali.

Start in Bali, stopover in Makassar, layover in Balikpapan and then onto Tarakan or Berau.

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 5.48.24 PM

I’d say you can open-jaw from Tarakan and Berau since it’s “not that far away”, but that could be terrible advice in Kalimantan, a place with almost surely terrible roads.

Either way you can do the same route and reverse and get out of the plane in Balikpapan, if that’s your thing.

 

Raja Ampat

According to this post, you can get flights to Sorong on Susi Air for less than $20, which is awesome. I’ve yet to research the full costs of getting around Raja Ampat and hotels. I’ve not much idea of what to expect, but I do know nicer/ish hotels can be quite expensive and there aren’t points hotels.

The thing to do in Raja Ampat (besides boat) is Dive. I would have fun free-driving and snorkeling.

Contact numbers for bookings:

  • Susi Air Sorong: +628114806709, +628114806710
  • Susi Air Manokwari: +628112123932, +628114806705

Email:

  • info@susiair.com

 

Seating and Business Class

Garuda-737-800

Believe it or not, they fly 737-800 on all these routes, in case you were expecting tiny puddle jumpers. It’s true you’re going island to island, but Indonesia is bigger and wider than you would expect. 12 seats in business class and 144 in economy.

Now the discount with Korean Miles when flying on the SkyTeam partner Garuda within Indonesia- the discount is 20,000 miles in economy or 30,000 miles in Business class.

Is business class worth the extra 10,000 miles?

Just looking at Kayak for Jakarta to Jayapura, which is the longest route (if you don’t stop in Borneo and you don’t start in Sumatra), it would be at least 6 hours of flying each direction. From Bali it’s an hour less. So is 10,000 miles worth Business Class on really short segments for a cumulative 10+ hours? Up to you, but it can’t be justified by business class food. Flights are short, probably come with food, and I’d almost rather pay the $1 for a decent meal in town before the flight.

Conclusion

If it were me, I would start from Sumatra or Bali and not Jakarta. Bali would be the easy choice as we spend a bit of time there anyways, and Sumatra would require another Air Asia flight.

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 6.03.03 PM

Starting from Sumatra is the same process just not starting from Jakarta.

Now that is an awesome route. Seeing northern Sumatra is a super cheap flight from KL. Then a stopover in Sorong. Then destination in Biak. Open-jaw so you fly out of Jayapura. Then just get off the plane in Makassar or possibly Balikpapan instead of returning all the way to Sumatra (as required for booking).

But my case for why this is an amazing route isn’t just that it sells for $1,000 and it’s only 20,000 miles. It’s partly because this is the cheapest way to see even one of the West Papua islands, and I figured out how to squeeze at least another stop out of it for no extra cost. And then another destination for as little as $50.

Also, the bonus for the Chase Ink Plus is now 70,000 points! With this one card, you would have enough points to do US to Bali with a stopover in Europe with United miles. That would cost 40,000 United miles (which is also a 1:1 transfer of Chase Ultimate Rewards). Then you could do 20,000 miles to Korean Air and do this route. You would see multiple islands in east Indonesia, wherever you start (Bali, KL, wherever), and a stopover with United on the way nearly anywhere.

This is truly a once in a life thing. Doing this would set you apart. Doing this would make you my hero. Doing this would allow you to see parts of the earth that barely any non-natives have gotten to see.

So when are we doing it Stefan? I’m getting the Ink Plus and will save 40,000 (for the two of us). :-p

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52 Comments

  1. I’d join you guys :)

    Reply
    • I’ve actually thought of trying to open up trips to do with a larger group… however, this would be about the hardest one to coordinate lol

      But on the other hand, we could just say “we’re starting in Bali” on a certain date. Some people could just meet in Bali, and we can post the rest of the trips’ dates and if people manage, the more the merrier 😀

      Reply
  2. This would be too much even for me…
    I will do Yap with a hopper option using LH or NH award first for sure.

    Reply
    • This would be too much for me too, but when somethings on your bucket list… ya gotta do the work. I guess.

      Reply
  3. Are you taking sign ups? 😀

    Reply
    • lol, if we do it, I’ll post dates.
      Although we should do some kind of hopper trip with open signups. That would be awesome.

      Reply
  4. Did the Garuda hopper back in ’06. Amazing stuff all the way!

    Reply
    • do tell

      Reply
    • Yea, for real. Have any pics up somewhere? A FT trip report? Future comment trip report? lol

      There is like sooo little info out right now for east indonesia.

      Reply
  5. This looks fantastic! Don’t forget that Kupang is also a short trip from the border with Timor L’Est, so you could open-jaw into there at the end and then return overland or with a paid flight.

    Reply
    • What do you mean… fly into Kupang and then out of what?

      Reply
  6. can use a revenue ticket to sin and ferry to batam.

    Reply
    • I didn’t even think of that but that’s probably the easiest non Bali/Java/Jakarta route out. The ferry is super short right?

      Reply
  7. airasia has an indonesia subsidary, i think, wonder how it can fit into the picture.

    Reply
    • I believe I posted all the routes that overlap with AirAsia and Garuda already… unless I missed something.

      Reply
  8. @alan, I would certainly spend time at the Airasia website if doing something like this. It won’t have all the destinations Garuda has by any means, but if the ones you are interested in are available, they do have some very well priced options.
    I’m planning a trip to the region next summer, so a post like this adds nicely to the options I’m looking at.

    Reply
    • Glad to hear other people are sane enough to travel here as well. 😀

      Reply
  9. hit kanawa island (1 hr boat ride from LBJ airport) for some CHOICE snorkelling/freediving. btw i took your Amed suggestion and am loving it here…been eating at Hoky daily and staying across the street at Kadek.

    Reply
    • Wow, everything for kanawa in google images is insanely beautiful.

      No way, that’s crazy. Tell Made Joro (Hoky owner) that I said hi. Tell him I recommended you go there or something. 😀

      Reply
  10. @travelisfree
    did someone say freediving? in west papua? ..im packing my snorkle

    Reply
    • My friends in Amed (Bali) who taught us how to freedive do a trip to Raja Ampat every year and their pictures look amazing. Now I have to do it too. 😀

      Reply
  11. This is amazing! Absolutely great timing! I just booked a 90k biz class ticket on US Air from the Caribbean to Indonesia using Cathay to get to Jakarta via Hong Kong from NYC for two weeks in the beginning of July 2015. Exploring remote Indonesia is absolutely what I have been thinking about and I will probably be booking one of these tickets! So, if anyone wants to join me next July…

    Reply
    • im down!

      Reply
    • i’m down too!

      Reply
    • I usually don’t plan more than a week ahead. :-p
      But at the very least, post your route (if/when you book), even if only to brag.

      Reply
  12. Why do you say a trip like this is a once in a life thing? It would be difficult to thoroughly see all of those destinations in one trip to Indonesia.

    One observation I realized about your routing maps (and you noticed, too) is that the destinations you mentioned are mostly on the coast. What are the best ways to get to the mountainous areas and the inland parts of Kalimantan and Papua?

    Reply
    • I don’t think many people on earth have been to any of east Indonesia, and definitely not multiple islands.

      I think getting around depends on the area. There are tours from most cities. And there are roads in many area, just not very good and therefore it can take forever depending on where you’re going. I imagine many places have taxis or drivers who will take you around all day for $35 at most.

      Reply
  13. I love this trip and you’ve now given me an idea of a possibility of where to dump all these Sky Team pesos I’ll be earning on the cheapo RTW trip (US-Central Europe-Japan) trip I’ll be doing next year.

    I would definitely do this trip but I don’t plan to be in the region until early 2016. I also think Rapid Travel Chai is impressive “for a travel blogger”. I know quite a few others (including myself) who have been to much more offbeat places and without anywhere near the luxury. One thing I like about your blog since you guys mix it up with hotels and hostels. And you keep listing articles like these for how to get to all these less-traveled to places for cheap! Please keep making these articles!

    Reply
    • I COULD go in December, but I seriously doubt I’ll go then. I’m scared of being away from internet for more than a day. lol

      Rapid Travel is the real deal.

      Reply
  14. Wow, Raja Ampat is stunning! This is making me rethink my Bali trip upcoming!

    A great post Drew.

    Reply
    • I just spent a few on youtube with “raja ampat” and wow. I mean…. wow. It’s insane.

      Although, I’m not knocking bali!
      Thanks

      Reply
    • Hey Drew,
      I am interested in trying this… my question is do we book it through Korean Airline or Garuda? and can it be booked online?

      Reply
  15. Interesting post, but your photos are deceiving. Your most prominent (and prettiest) photos are NOT of anyplace in Indonesia – top photo is Palau (you can rename it “Raja Ampat Island” if you want, but that doesn’t change it – it’s Palau) – this is a famous photo. And there’s no island named “Raja Ampat” – it’s a REGION. Im pretty sure the other photo you purport to be taken at the nonexistent “Raja Ampat island” is also Palau. I’ve been to Raja Ampat several times, it appears you have not. You might want to actually visit the place before you start giving out expert advice.

    Why on earth would you say something like “I don’t think many people on earth have been to any of east Indonesia, and definitely not multiple islands.”? What nonsense. While it’s certainly true that most of “East Indonesia” is sparsely populated, there are towns, villages, and – yes, even cities. You don’t sound very credible when you claim few people have been there – there are a lot of people living there, and plenty of people travel there all the time. Yeah, it takes some effort and time to get there, but it’s not like going to the moon, which you appear to suggest. So much of ignorance on display here…

    Yes, these are out-of-the-way places for most Americans (who don’t tend to travel beyond Las Vegas and Disney World – and it shows), but they are hardly uninhabited, never-visited. Lots of people go there all the time – ask any well traveled European scuba diver, Pakistani oil industry worker (you know they have lots of oil wells there?), Chinese trader, or Japanese businessman.

    Finally, while it’s certainly true that there are some beautiful places out there, there are also some really skanky towns that you are not going to want to post photos of (Sorong, for example, known to many who are forced to pass through as “So Wrong”; my 12 hours there passed painfully slowly). I bet the circles-and-arrows kids will wish they had gone to Orlando if they follow some of your advice.

    Reply
  16. @Drew – this is awesome and I am game, but I need one more thing. I need both Moluku (TTE or AMQ) and Irian Jaya (West Papua) on my ticket, if you can get that, I’ll meet you in Sumatra! Medan is a good place to start with a quick Air Asia flight from KL.

    Some notes:

    – Important to note how unreliable other Indonesia airlines are. Lion Air cancels flights at will, last trip they canceled my Borneo flights a week before travel and it was a pain to get the money back. Sriwijaya seems a bit better. Others are hit or miss.

    – The weather can be atrocious for flying so ideal to have some buffer, even though I won’t follow that advice.

    – And many of the flights to Molukus and Irian Jaya are are weird times so some may want business class to try to get some sleep. Not me, as you note, it is a bunch of short hops so little chance of good rest.

    -Makassar is a great stop option for Sulawesi. Pick up a little flight to Tana Toraja (TTN) for the hanging coffins and countryside. Got my worst food poisoning ever there and still recommend it.

    -@Stephen – 400km overland to East Timor would be a massive trip given the terrible roads. Even trips within tiny East Timor are an ordeal. And Garuda does not fly out of Dili, to Indonesia there is only the Sriwijaya flight to Denpasar (Bali).

    – @Brandon – Kalimantan’s (Indonesian Borneo) airports do huge the coast and as noted by Drew, many of the best attractions are difficult to reach from any airport. Forget airports, there are few roads in central Kalimantan, most transport is via waterway. When Lion Air canceled out my BPN trip in January I switched to Sriwijaya and to PNK which was fine as a town, but anything of the big attractions would have taken several days by boat.

    – @Dizzy thanks for the half-compliment. It is deserved in that I am about 2 years behind on blogging about my trips. I have lately put in some quick hits on business trips but the leisure ones are stacking up. I am so far behind I am thinking of ways to catch up. On my own I go for $30 mom and pop guests houses, though for the Boarding Area audience I will at times visit more luxury places for a walk-through though not staying. And then there are ones that I don’t blog about, I finished my last two ‘stans this year and a bonus Kurdistan. Maybe we will run into each other on the road. :)

    @David – save your anger for people who talk about Las Vegas and Disney World. This article is incredibly useful for travelers interested in Indonesia. You can quibble about things like the picture mix up with Palau, but this is a great aid on regions few write in English on.

    Reply
  17. Ok, I’ve been trying to study this for 24 hours and my head hurts. My wife and I will be there for two weeks over New Years for the first time. Struggling to get all this sorted and in my best scenario it doesn’t look like it’d be best to hit all these in that time frame. We used to try and hit like 10 destinations in that time and realized we had pretty pictures but little experience so i’m trying to slow down our travels for more in depth experience. Thoughts on maximizing your first time in Indo with 2 weeks?

    Reply
  18. http://www.holidaycity.com/batamresortferries/

    batam is a weekend destination for singaporeans, lot of touristy stuff etc. i saw the HI in pointbreak before! it is a cheaper to position there because there are often MR fare to SIN.

    Reply
  19. You really don’t think many people in this world have been to any place in the eastern part of Indonesia and that not many have also gone to multiple islands? Well, I am afraid I have to agree with you on this note. I have travelled to a number of places especially in Asia and Europe but I have never been to Indonesia. I had a friend from Indonesia and he said their country offers a wide range of adventure and attractions. Yes, I was planning to visit the country once but I was really hesitant because of some personal reasons. I believe you really had a good time. So might as well, I will give this east Indonesia tour a shot sometime next year.

    Reply
  20. Thanks for this – incredibly useful. I’ve stopped planning ahead as much as possible but I may make an exception in order to implement this in January.

    Reply
  21. Well, crap. Too late. But next time…!

    Thanks so much for your Amed tip. We loved Jemeluk, Japanese Wreck, Liberty. Really, thanks!

    Reply
  22. Great info as usual, Drew! I’ve always steered away from Korean miles as it seems very convoluted to actually book something and tend more to Flying Blue as a Garuda partner. Stefan is not the only one who is game for this kind of trip, I actually did an extensive trip to West Papua in March 2013. Although I focused on birds, even in Raja Ampat! The details are on my blog using Papua as a search term. Even “normal” people (meaning non-birders) enjoy seeing wild birds of paradise!

    Reply
  23. Glad that my country is mentioned in the frequent flyer miles redemption thing. All the best for those who wish to visit Papua. I’ve lived in Jayapura and Timika (Tembagapura) myself (never been to Sorong and Raja Ampat) and been living in Bali. If anyone has extra 20k miles, feel free to count me in! :)

    Reply
  24. Incredible post as usual, Drew. Please do post if you’re planning to do this trip, I’m totally up for it!

    Reply
  25. Do these awards have to be booked over the phone with Korean? I wasn’t able to search for a few of the cities (like SOQ) and their online system only allows up to two flights.

    This is awesome! Thanks.

    Reply
  26. @Drew Macomber
    doesnt korean only allow 2 connections per direction though? wouldnt that undermine the hopper?
    still.. raja alone would be worth it.

    Reply
  27. I’m looking to plan an Island Hopper in January. I’m flying JFK – Tokyo and will have a month there. So i want to book another award to Fiji, maybe Bali (or maybe Indonesia) is there an option to get to bali as a starting point then return to Tokyo? I’ve been looking at star alliance options with United and having problem finding space to bali and fiji without like 6 connections to get there.

    So maybe I should look at Indonesia and Fiji, is that even possible to do a round trip and see both places? No availability on UA.com in January or Feb from Tokyo to Auckland which would help getting to Fiji.

    Reply
  28. Drew, great post. I love these hopper posts. Super useful for me as I gear up for a big old world trip this summer. My wife and I will be in SE asia for 3-5 months and a lot of these locations are on our list. That will be after a 2-3 month stint in Africa (which will include the Seychelles and Madagascar hopefully). Maybe we will see you along the way!

    Reply
  29. Hey,
    thank you SO much for uploading this! And thank you for the work you put into it.
    I am seriously considering doing the trip this summer, as I am doing my master thesis research in Makassar/Ujung Pandang.
    However, my google-skills don’t seem to be good enough: How do I actually book this?
    All the best and THANK you once again!!
    Sophie

    Reply
  30. Thanks for your great website – it really is one of the best out there.

    Just want to point out an observation on the cash prices:

    When I put in the itinerary into Kayak, (Bali – Sorong (Stopover) – Jayapura (Destination and openjaw) / Biak – Makassar) it does indeed give a price of around $1000.

    However, I found that when I searched for these flights separately in Skyscanner, they come to a total of around $320
    Bali – Sorong: $161
    Sorong – Jayapura: $62
    Biak – Makassar: $106

    Given that the flights cost $320, maybe it is not worth spending 20000 points?

    Reply
  31. Do these awards have to be booked over the phone with Korean? I do not think this question was answered. Jane

    Reply
  32. Just… FYI: The 20k Indonesia pricing is for direct (read: non-stop) flights only. I tried booking a one-stop flight and it priced at the 40k level. It’s a small catch that has big implications.

    Reply
    • Hi LX, what miles are you redeeming? Are you using Skymiles on Korean Air website?

      Reply
    • Korean Air miles via their call center. Can’t seem to book partner awards online.

      Reply

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We have spent the majority of our marriage traveling full time, living out of hotels.   All the while, we list our expenses publicly, budgeting $25,000 a year for our nomadic life while still staying in mostly 4 or 5 star hotels across ~20 countries a year.
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