Exploring Indonesia is something that few people experience, but many people dream of. One of the most stunning, culturally diverse parts of the world, Indonesia comprises of an incredible 17,000 islands, and if it isn’t already on your bucket list, we’re sure you will be planning a trip by the end of this article!
There are so many reasons to visit Indonesia, from the culture to the people, the animals to the plants, the artwork to the food – it is really like nowhere else on earth. In just a short space of time, you will be able to experience such a vast variety of things, all in one place. Visit beaches and volcanoes. See a Komodo dragon in the flesh. Surf in stunning waters. Visit a sacred temple. Visiting Indonesia is like cramming in 100 countries!
When is the best time to go?
The thing to remember is that the entire archipelago is tropical and as such, temperatures are usually between 21˚C and 33˚C at sea level. November to April is known as the wet season (January and February are absolute washouts!) in most of the country, except in northern Sumatra where the opposite is true. Between mid-June and mid-September and between Christmas and New Year are the most popular times tourism wise which of course makes everything super busy and expensive.
Where to go?
There is no way we could cover all 17,000 islands, so here are a few of the most popular ones to see that we would recommend. Each island has its own personality so decide what it is you want to get from your trip and go from there.
Probably one of the most tourist-driven islands, Bali is still absolutely stunning. Enjoy some time at the beach but remember that in Bali it is all about the water! Go diving or snorkeling and explore the wreck of the USS Liberty near Amed. For some spiritual enlightenment, head to Ubud where you can explore ancient temples and do real yoga in a breathtaking setting. Head inland for a more realistic view of Bali and check out sacred volcanoes, walks through rice fields, waterfalls, and hot springs. The transport in Bali is accessible, and so it is easy to get around, although beware that during the busiest times in August, traffic is notoriously bad!
Would you believe that there are more people living on the island of Java than there are in the entirety of Japan! Of course, this does mean that Java is pretty gridlocked a lot of the time, but it is worth it to see the volcanic islands of Krakatoa or spot an endangered rhino in the Ujung Kulon national park. The landscapes of Java are absolutely stunning, and it is home to courtly ritual, dance, volcanoes, Borobudur, a Buddhist temple, and shadow puppets – basically, you can drench yourself in culture in Java. Try to use the trains where possible to avoid the traffic and if you visit between November and March expect lots of rain! Eid or Idul Fitri is an absolute no-go for visiting Java as it will be overrun with Indonesians heading home for the holiday.
Lombok and the Gilis
Incredible white sand isles, free of powered vehicles and unbelievably clear waters, Lombok and the Gilis are a must visit! Enjoy surfing or free diving, or spend three days doing the climb of Gunung Rinjani, if you are an experienced climber. You can jump on a fast boat from Bali to bring you to the trio of isles and on Lombok, get around on a horse-cart (although there are tourist shuttles but these are much more fun!).
When it comes to exploring Indonesia, the question isn’t if but when! Now all you have to decide is which of the 17,000 islands you’re going to visit first!