Indonesia Travel Guide

Welcome to Indonesia

The deceptively large archipelago of Indonesia contains over 17,000 islands and is the world’s fourth most populous country.

Unsurprisingly, Indonesia is a country made up of countless natural wonders and incredible travel opportunities.  From the orangutans in Borneo and Komodo dragons on Komodo island, to the culture and cuisine of Java and Sumatra, to the untouched landscapes and colourful coral reefs of Raja Ampat.  

Indonesia is filled with underrated and under-travelled destinations, yet the popular island of Bali is a great place to experience a bit of everything the country has to offer, without spending months travelling.

Keep reading our Indonesia travel guide to find out everything you need to know before visiting Indonesia.

Indonesia Travel Guides

There’s just too much to cover in one article, so check out our comprehensive travel guides below to find out the best things to do, where to stay, and the most popular places to eat throughout Indonesia.

If you’re wondering where to go in Indonesia, this is a great place to start!

Things to Do in Indonesia

Indonesia isn’t the kind of place you sum up with the ‘5 best things to do in Indonesia’.  Truthfully, there’s thousands of places to see and things to do.  Bali accounts for 0.3% of Indonesia’s total land area, and there’s enough here to keep you busy for months.

That said, the best things to do in Indonesia aren’t on the island of Bali.  They’re a bit harder to reach, but so much more rewarding.

1. Komodo Island Tour in Flores

 

Ever wanted to see komodo dragons?  Swim with manta rays?  Live like a pirate on a boat?  Capture the perfect sunrise?  Visit Komodo & Rinca islands.

Book a tour on a liveaboard boat and live on the waters as you wake up each day to explore the islands.  

Getting here might sound daunting, but it’s really not too bad.  You can fly direct or book a boat ride from Bali or Lombok.  You’ll also want to explore the off-the-beaten-track island of Flores itself.  Spend a night or two staying in the village of Wae Rebo (a UNESCO site) while you’re there to round out your trip.

2. Nusa Penida in Bali

 

Okay, of course you’re going to visit Bali.  It’s an awesome place to relax, and it’s stunning in its own right.  But to get the best views, you’re going to have to get off the island.  A short boat ride to Nusa Penida is easy and can be booked from from anywhere in Bali, whether you’re in Munduk or Canggu.

One look on Instagram and you’ll recognise the famous Kelingking Beach – shaped like a T-Rex.  We spent a day exploring the western side of the island – this is what most people do and we’d recommend it for budget- and  time-constrained travellers.

If you have the time, spend a few nights on the island and thoroughly explore both sides.  Stay after the crowds for sunset at Kelingking Beach and your photos will be extraordinary.

3. Borobudur & Prambanan Temple in Yogyakarta

 

Indonesia isn’t just gram-worthy photo spots.  It’s a culture with an incredibly rich history.  The special region of Yogyakarta is the best place to learn and experience a bit more about it.  

Bali is almost entirely Hindu and has a starkly different history to the rest of the country.  The island of Java has been ruled by numerous empires over the centuries, and as a result, there have been times when both Buddhism and Hinduism were the predominant religions.  Today the country is mainly Muslim.

Borobudur is the single largest Buddhist temple in the world.  It’s unbelievable something you have to do in Indonesia.  Bear in mind, entrance is owned by a hotel, so entry fees are extortionate.  It’s not right, but in the end it’s worth paying.

Borobudur isn’t the only UNESCO world heritage site in Yogya, Prambanan is impressive in its own right as well, so make sure to check out this 9th Century Hindu temple as well.  

4. Orangutans in Borneo

 

Have you heard of orangutans?  Of course, everyone has.  But did you know that there are only two places left in the world where Orangutans can be found in the wild?  Borneo and Sumatra.

Borneo is your best bet – there are more orangutans here and better tourist infrastructure.  It’s just a matter of time before orangutans can no longer be found in the wild (thanks to deforestation), so now’s the time to do it.

Please do your research to find a good tour company and avoid the typical tourist traps.  

5. Raja Ampat in West Papua

 

Google it.  You’ll understand why you have to go there.  It’s not easy to get to Raja Ampat.  You’ll need to take two flights from Bali and a ferry, or one flight and a ferry from Jakarta.  Then a speedboat between the islands.

The journey is a nightmare but worth it.

Indonesia Travel Tips

Things to know before travelling to Indonesia to make sure you’re prepared for an unforgettable trip.

Currency: Indonesian Rupiah

Electricity Socket: 230V AC electricity, plug type C and F

Capital: Jakarta

Population: 268 million

Indonesia Visa: Most visitors to Indonesia are exempt from requiring a visa for 30 days.  If you plan to stay longer, purchase a 30 day visa on arrival when you arrive that can be extended to 60 days.  Alternatively, ‘visa runs’ can be made easily to Singapore or Malaysia.

Safety: Safety in Indonesia varies depending on region and area.  Bali is relatively safe, with petty theft common – similar to most touristic locations in the world.  Credit card fraud and bag snatching are prevalent in Bali and Lombok.  Certain areas and islands should be avoided, including Papua, West Papua, and parts of Sumatra.

Spoken Language: 80% of Indonesians speak Bahasa Indonesian.  In Java, many speak Javanese.  In Bali and Lombok, Balinese is commonly spoken.  Most people working in tourism, specifically in Bali and Lombok, will speak basic English.

Religion: The main religion in Bali is Hinduism.  Outside of Bali, the main religion is Islam, with 88% of Indonesians identifying themselves as Muslim.  Christianity is the second largest religion. 

Banks & ATMs: Indonesia has a lot of reputable banks.  Some include BRI, Mandiri, BCA, BNI, and CIMB Niaga.  Avoid using foreign bank ATMs like HCBC or ANZ as they tend to have higher fees or malfunction.  Use a Transferwise Mastercard to minimize your fees when travelling.

Sim Cards: Telkomsel offers the best coverage in Indonesia.  If you are on a budget, avoid buying your sim card at the airport.  Shop around in the major hubs to find a reasonable price as extorting tourists is common in Bali.  Don’t pay over 200k IDR.

Water: Tap water is not safe to drink in Indonesia.  Many hotels and hostels offer free drinking water.  Otherwise, bottled water is available in streetside shops all over Bali and Indonesia.

Food:  There are heaps of restaurants in Canggu and the other popular spots around Bali serving delicious Western food.  For local food, look out for Warungs which are more common outside of Bali.

Travel Tips

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