Indonesia: With over 13,000 islands, Indonesia has something unique to offer everyone. From the cool white sands and raucous volcanoes of Bali to the vibrant capital city of Jakarta to the untouched lands of Sumatra, you can always find something different here. Indonesia is home to a vast array of indigenous animals, too (including the Komodo dragon!). With extremely inexpensive local food and reasonably-priced accommodation, it’s no wonder Indonesia is a popular destination among so many travelers. I hope you use this guide to plan an excellent trip there (though one visit is certainly not enough!). Be sure to visit some of the lesser known areas in the country and just not stick to Bali and Lombok! Indonesia is really diverse!
Trip Planning: The planning stage of your trip can be instrumental in its success and an enjoyable part of the experience itself. You have a world of options...and plenty to consider.
Entry and Exit formalities: Visitors must hold a passport valid for at least six months & beyond at the time of entering the country. Some nationalities can obtain visa on arrival and for nationalities who requires visa please refer to the Indonesian consulate website:
Transportation: Figuring out how to get around is one of your biggest pre-trip decisions. Get our holiday expert best advice on deciding between your options.Based on your trip itinerary, our experts will help you choose wisely. You'll also find a wealth of practical travel tips.
Money: Use your money wisely. Know the best time to use cash or card — and how to avoid unnecessary fees either way — as well as tipping etiquette.
Phones and Technology: Phones and other smart devices can be huge time-savers...or expensive distractions. Get our tips for making the best use of technology during your trip, and for calling home with or without your own phone.
Packing Light: On your trip you'll meet two kinds of travelers: those who pack light and those who wish they had.
Sleeping and Eating: Your hotel and restaurant choices can be a matter-of-face chore…or they can provide rich opportunities to connect with locals and their culture.
Health & Hygiene: Take comfort: Doctors, hospitals, launderettes, and bathrooms aren’t that different. Dealing with them can even be part of the fun of travel.
Sightseeing & Activities: Once you're on the ground, the real fun begins…but it pays to have a thoughtful plan. Our experts will help you get oriented to your surroundings, use your sightseeing hours wisely, and find your way off the beaten path.
Things to see & do:
Relax in Bali – Bali is probably the most famous of Indonesia’s islands and for good reason. Although often crowded with travelers, there is no escaping the fact that this place is beautiful. Try some surfing at Bingin Beach or visit the Pura Besakih, the Mother Temple, which is a truly stunning building. Bali is more expensive than the rest of Indonesia. Make sure you see some traditional Balinese dancing in Ubud.
Dive in the Gili Islands – For a true sense of an island paradise, head to the Gili Islands. You won’t find any cars on these islands; bike travel or horse and cart are the ways to see all that Gili has to offer. You’ll find excellent scuba and snorkel facilities, as well as nightlife, on the party island of Gili Trawangan.
See Komodo dragons – The subject of more nature documentaries than pretty much any other lizard, the Komodo dragon is a force to be reckoned with. They are fierce creatures. Komodo National Park is a UNESCO site and is the only place to see the world’s largest lizard in the wild.
Jakarta – Indonesia’s capital is a large, bustling city with a population of over 10 million. For a moment of calm, people-watch from one of the cafes overlooking Fatahillah Square in the Old Batavia, the Dutch quarter, where you can take in the historic architecture. In terms of nightlife and eateries, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Jakarta.
Watch the sunrise at Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park – One of the most popular tourist attractions on Java is Mount Bromo and its National Park. You’ll not want to miss out on getting a snap of the smoldering Bromo volcano as it lies surrounded by the almost lunar landscape of the Sea of Sand. If you’re there in mid-August, you’ll be just in time to see Upacara Kasodo, the monthly ritual which the Tenggerese take part in. Get up early to catch one of the most memorable sunrises of your life.
Explore Hindi Prambanan – This is the crowning glory of Hindu temples and was built in the 10th century. At 150ft, the main temple is actually taller than Borobudur. This is an architecturally impressive site, so chances are you’ll spend more time taking pictures than you will take admiring the ancient statues. Don’t forget to put down the camera and enjoy the view with your own eyes.
Amaze yourself in Borobudur – Borobudur is a huge Buddhist temple complex dating from the 9th century, making it older than Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. Like Prambanan, Borobudur has also been afforded World Heritage status with UNESCO. I personally love this site. As you walk up to the top, you can see reliefs meant to highlight Buddhist teachings. It is said you can’t move on to the top until you discovered the meaning of each relief.
Snorkel or dive in Bunaken – The Bunaken National Marine park is where you’ll want to go if diving or snorkeling is your thing. These deep waters offer fantastic visibility and world’s most biodiverse marine life. Keep an eye out for tuna, sharks, rays, turtles, and sea snakes.
Have a spa day – When you are in a place like this, it only seems right to treat your body to some probably much needed, deep pampering treatments. Getting a massage is basically a given, but why not do it on a beach. Body wraps, facials, manicures, and pedicures are nice bonus.
Broaden your taste buds – With such a mass amount of islands composing Indonesia, there is a huge number of different cuisines to try. Don’t get stuck eating the same thing over and over again. Javanese, Sundanese, Padang, and Balinese food are just a few different preparations.
Visit Yogyakarta – Known as Yogya for short, this city is considered to be the main tourist city of Java. There is an interesting blend of old customs with modern living here and a certain artistic and intellectual presence hangs in the air.
Shop in Denpasar – This is the capital of Bali and essentially the central spot of development and financial growth on the island for the past two decades. It is heavily populated and there are a number of shops to see as well as an arts center and the Museum Negeri Propinsi Bali.
See the orangutans in Sumatra – A mysterious and very human creature, the orangutan finds its habitat on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. A visit to see these primates is a moving experience. And, given the rapid deforestation and fires in the area, you probably want to do this sooner rather than later as these animals are gravely endangered.
Explore village life in Kalibaru – Kalibaru is a small village on the southeastern side of Java. It’s quiet, secluded, and a great place to tour a local cacao plantation or one of the many other types of plantations in the area on your way to or from Bali.
Find tranquility in the Bogor Botanical Gardens – 65km outside of hectic Jakarta, lie the Bogor Botanical Gardens. With over 200 acres of land and 15,000 species of plants and trees, the gardens are a lovely spot in which to lose yourself for a couple of hours.