At 1,200 m (about 3,800 ft) above sea level, Bajawa is much cooler than the coastal lowlands. Bring a sweater for the chilly nights. Bajawa is the Center of Ngadha ethnic minority interesting local villages.
Bajawa is served by the small 1 Turelelo Soa Airport (BJW IATA). NAM Air and TransNusa operate flights to and from the provincial capital Kupang, while Wings Air operates flights to and from Labuan Bajo. Susi Air flies with small planes between Bajawa and Waingapu on the island of Sumba.
It will take about seven hours by road from Labuan Bajo, 260 km (160 mi) to the west; or four hours from Ruteng.
All buses from Labuan Bajo stop here for the night before leaving the next morning, but you might as well stay an extra day and make a tour of it. The cheapest option from Labuan Bajo appears to be the Gemini bus (Rp 200,000?), which leaves at around 05:30 from the ferry jetty – free hotel pick-up can be arranged. Expect a long and bumpy ride with little comfort. However, the incredible scenery and friendly passengers and passers-by compensate a lot. Gunung Mas offers the ride from LBJ for Rp 200,000, or Rp 110,000 from Ruteng in a quite luxury 12 to 15-seat busses (as of Nov 2018).
Public buses stop at the junction from where bemos wait to take you the 2 km into town. Expect to be asked to pay Rp10,000 although less should suffice.
You would need to hire a car or motorbike to explore Bajawa area. Your accommodation would be able to help you with these. A motorbike should be IDR 100,000 per day (as of Nov 2018).
There are many "tourist guides" in Bajawa. None of them are in any way trained, and their primary skills are speaking English and overcharging. The best you can do is stay clear of them and just hire a motorbike (IDR 100,000) or charter a bemo for the day (IDR 300,000) and see the villages at your own pace.
There is an official, and very helpful, tourist information service in the mayor's office. There are also many touts that have shops with "Tourist Information" signs printed on them. Don't be fooled by them: the real tourist information will not try to sell you anything.
- Traditional villages. The most famous villages are: Bena, Gurusina, and Tololela. Although clearly a tourist destination, the villages house regular people, doing everyday things. Some are weaving ikat, others are simply tending to their livestock. It is okay to be photograph the villagers, but of course ask first. Bring around IDR 1,000,000 if you would like to get woven cloth. There is no ATM nearby. IDR 20,000 - IDR25,000, depending on the village (as of Nov 2018)..
- Traditional fighting or dancing (not at the same time). This is not a show put on for tourists. However, it is a show. People from the villages gather to fight. The rules seem to be that there are no rules, and so it is difficult to determine a winner. A fight continues for as long as the audience is entertained and the fighters are willing to continue. Ask at your hotel if there is something scheduled. This traditional fight called "sagi" is similar to boxing. The game happens only once or twice in a year in So'a village.
- Inerie volcano. The Inerie volcano is an impressive volcano located close to Bajawa. There is a nice viewpoint from the radostation. It is possible to climb the volcano with a guide but this should not be taken lightly.
- Oggi Waterfalls. Based around Oggi village. It is possible to walk from the main road along the rice-fields till you get to the waterfall. There are also steps on the side of the waterfall that allows climbing up.
- 1 Malanage Hot Spring. After a long day of traditional culture, it feels nice to plummet into the hot springs. There are 2 pools (as in man-made pools) with hot springs, and one that flows into a river mixing the water to a comfortable warm temperature. There is an overpriced shop there, so it's better to stop along the way for some ice cold Bintang to enjoy in the pools. The place is poorly maintained, but the spring is still hot. Rp10,000.
- 2 Mangeruda Hot Spring. The hot volcanic water flows in a river and mixes with cold mountain water creating a natural hot spring. By careful positioning yourself in the river it is possible to regulate the temperature. There are no tourist facilities apart from a changing-room hut. Beverages to be purchased outside the entrance. IDR 14,000 (as of Nov 2018).
- 3 Wawomudha ("Mini Kelimutu"). After an easy one hour hike up with some nice views, you get to see two small volcanic ponds which apparently change color just like the Kelimutu lakes. This is in no way comparable to Kelimutu and can be disappointing in the dry season. Rp10,000.
- 4 Wolobobo viewpoint. 9 km away from town center, this viewpoint overlooks Mt Inerie and the surrounding mountainous area. You can see the crater from the previous eruption long ago. No food & beverage facility (or anything of that sort). IDR 10,000 (as of Nov 2018).
- Dito's (near Edelweiss Hotel). Reasonably priced restaurant. It has the usual suspects of Indonesian cuisine and some western food as well. The pork satay comes highly recommended.
- Lucas Restaurant, Jl Ahmad Yani No. 6 (near Korina Hotel), ☎ . Cosy place with decent food, a nice atmosphere and reasonable prices. Arak is available, although not of top quality. Also a hotel with four rooms available, choose between hot or cold shower. Otherwise, the rooms are the same, with one double and one single bed.
Just like Ruteng, Bajawa is also a great place to produce coffee. Never order instant coffee when you are here. Remember that by default here coffee is served with sugar, so please request in advance if you would like to have less or no sugar.
Also, just like the cold area Ruteng, arak is popular drink (also called moke here).
As of Mai 2018, acommodation in Bajawa is increasing, many new homestays are opening and others are under construction in the street behind the Edelweiss Hotel (Lorong Ditos): Marselino's Homestay, Queen's Homestay, Edelweiss Homestay (different from the hotel) and Kristian's Homestay at the end of the road offer pretty much the same services with free Wifi, breakfast included, tourist info, laundry service, and motorbike rental. Expect Rp150,000–250,000 for a double/twin room in such a homestay.
- 1 Edelweiss Hotel. A large place with big and clean room annexed by a private bathroom with modern seat toilets. Three types: Ekonomi (cold shower), Standard (hot shower) and VIP (hot shower). The rooms at the top are the newest and most expensive, but also the best value as they come with hot shower and a view. The price includes WiFi, towels, toilet tissue and a copious breakfast. Motorbikes for Rp100,000. Rp200,000–300,000.
- 2 Cinnamon Guesthouse, Jln. Ahmad Yani no.71 (in front of Edelweiss Hotel), ☎ . Opened in mid 2018, this accommodation offers clean rooms. Private rooms come with hot water. Water, tea, and coffee available all day. The staff / owner is able to recommend local sights, transportation, and accommodation in other cities. IDR 200,000 and up.
- 3 Hotel Happy Happy, Jl Sudirman (southern approach to town), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: 10AM. A welcoming place with six sparkling clean rooms run by a Dutch couple. The price includes a nice breakfast with homemade bread, a hot shower, fast WiFi/Internet, free water bottle refill, towel, toilet tissue. Views of the volcano from the back yard. Noisy due to traffic on the main road. Very popular but overpriced. Motorbikes for Rp100,000, big water bottles for Rp10,000. Rp250,000–400,000.
- Kristian Homestay. just opened in April 2018, the clean rooms don't have hot shower but a very thick and comfortable new mattresses in both twin beds. The price includes WiFi, towels, toilet tissue and a breakfast (e.g. fried noddle + fruit salad). Motorbikes for Rp100,000. Kristian is also very friendly and welcoming. Rp150,000–200,000.
- Wisata Bintang. Clean and well-run place with friendly staff. The deluxe rooms come with hot shower and TV (no English-language channels). The standard rooms are as overpriced. Rp200,000-350,000.
- Korina. More of the same low standard and high price. Now with molding walls. Rp150,000–300,000.
- Nusantara. A cheap place with windowless rooms, a little bit damp. Rp100,000-200,000.
There is a bus station near the market, but the buses will just as happily pick you up from your hotel at the same price. Be prepared to circle the town a few times picking up passengers (until full) before actually leaving for your destination.
- Ruteng Rp 110,000, four hours, cold area with plenty of rice field and Manggarai villages
- Labuanbajo — Rp120,000 to Rp200,000 and ten hours to the west by bus, or seven hours by car. Gateway to the islands of Komodo National Park
- Ende — Rp50,000 and four hours by bus, ferry to Sumba island
- Moni — four hours away, Rp80,000 by bus, for the colorful crater lakes of Kelimutu, the main attraction in Flores