At 1,100 meters, Bajawa is much cooler than in the lowlands along the beach. Bring a sweater for the chilly nights. The attraction here is the traditional mangarai villages in the area surrounding the city.
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.
Located 260 km west Labuan Bajo, it will take around 7 hours by road to arrive to Bajawa.
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 (Rp200,000), which leaves at around 5:30 from the ferry jetty in Labuan Bajo - free hotel pick-up can be arranged. Expect a long (12 hours) and bumpy ride with little comfort. However, the incredible scenery and friendly passengers and passers-by compensate a lot.
Public buses stop at the junction from where bemos wait to take you the 2 km into town. Expect to be asked to pay Rp5,000 although less should suffice.
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 (Rp85,000) or charter a bemo for the day (Rp300,000) 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. Although clearly a tourist destination, the villages house regular people, doing everyday things. Some are weaving Ikat, others are simply tending to their livestock. All are very happy to be photographed, but of course ask first. a 5,000 Rp donation will be appreciated.
- 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 summit the volcano with a guide but this should not be taken lightly.
- Waterfalls. Ask for the waterfalls with the old sauna. The sauna is not there anymore, but the waterfall is still beautiful and with the sauna gone it is a peaceful place that you can have all to yourself. It's on the road to the village of Bena and Luba, and makes for a good stop
- 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 is also a staircase on the side of the waterfall that allows climbing up.
- Hot springs. 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.
- Natural Hot springs. This is not far from Bea village. 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. The entrance is free and there are no tourist facilities apart from a changing-room hut.
- 'Mini Kelimutu'. After an easy one hour hike up with some nice views, you get to see two small volcanic ponds which apparently change colors just like the Kelimutu lakes. This is in no way comparable to Kelimutu and can be disappointing in dry season. Rp10,000.
- Dito's. Reasonably priced restaurant near Edelweiss hotel. 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 4 rooms available, two types of room: hot and cold shower. Otherwise, the rooms are the same, with 1 double bed and 1 single bed.
Accommodation in Bajawa is scarce and overpriced, but since everyone passing through has to stay for the night, you have to suck it up. As of December 2016 you will find only 4 hotels with really bad reviews and around 10 B&Bs, some of them with better reviews than the hotels.
- Edelweiss. A large place with big and clean rooms annexed by a private bathroom with modern seat toilets. Three types: Ekonomi (cold shower), Standard (hot shower) and VIP (hot shower). The rooms in 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 Rp80,000. Rp150,000-250,000.
- Hotel Happy Happy, Jl Sudirman (southern approach to town), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-out: 10AM. A welcoming place with 6 sparkling clean rooms run by a Dutch couple. The price includes a nice breakfast with home made 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 of the main road. Very popular but overpriced. Motorbikes for Rp100,000, big water bottles for Rp10,000. Rp250,000-400,000.
- Wisata Bintang. Clean and well-run place with friendly staff. The deluxe rooms come with hot shower and TV (no English channels). The standard rooms are as overpriced as everywhere else in town. 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 humid. 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.
- Labuanbajo west island (100,000 Rp, 10 hours) or 7 hours by car, gateway to the islands of Komodo National Park
- Ende (50,000 Rp, 4 hours), ferry to Sumba island
- Moni (80,000 Rp, 6 hours), for the colorful crater lakes of Kelimutu, the main attraction in Flores