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Indonesia At a Glance

Being one of the most diverse countries we’ve ever been to, Indonesia is the epitome of a country which has a little bit of everything for everyone. From the lush rice fields and waterfalls of Bali to iconic temples and volcanoes in Java, to the incredible wildlife in the deep jungles of Sumatra, Indonesia is a country that is largely underrated. While the sandy shores of Bali are frequented by many, there is so much more to this incredible country that remains unexplored.

Indonesia Quick Information

Currency: Indonesian Rupiah

Electricity Socket: 230V AC electricity. Power outlets are usually two-pin round plugs. To avoid the hassle of having to buy new adapters for everywhere you go, we recommend picking up a Universal Travel Adaptor before you leave.

Visa: In Indonesia, 169 countries can now obtain a visa on arrival. This is valid for 30 days but cannot be renewed or extended. If you wish to stay in Indonesia for longer, you can pay for a tourist visa (there is a special line in the immigration customs for it). This gives you 30 days plus a chance to extend it for another 30 days through any immigration office. If you want to stay for longer, it is also possible to get a social visa which gives you around 6 months.

Safety: Although violent crime is fairly rare, there is a lot of petty theft, especially in touristy areas like Bali. With that being said, as long as you are sensible with your belongings (always put your bag strap across your body), never leaving your things unattended, you will be fine. ATM skimming is also pretty common so whatever you do, make sure you only go to ATM machines that are directly connected to a bank or to go to machines which have surveillance systems pointing at the machines at all times.

Based on our years of experience of traveling all over the world, we would never leave home without travel insurance. We recommend going with World Nomads.

Apart from petty theft, alcohol poisoning is another serious issue that Bali and the popular Gili Islands is facing. Due to heavy alcohol import tax, some local vendors opt to stretch out their supply with other chemicals so it’s best to stay away from the local arak and only buy drinks from reputable bars and restaurants. Chances are, if you find a beach bar offering ridiculously low cocktails, the local alcohol might be mixed with extenders. Indonesia also has a zero tolerance for drugs, with the death penalty being imposed on a few convicted criminals so never put yourself at risk by carrying packages for people or even going to parties where you know drugs would be present.

Language: Everywhere you go in Bali, you will easily be able to find people who speak English, especially in touristy areas like Canggu, Ubud, and Seminyak. However, the further you decide to go, the level of English lowers. With that being said, no matter where you go, the people who work in the tourism and hospitality industry always has a good understanding of the language. The local language is called Bahasa and is spoken and understood widely despite the fact that they have about 300 native dialects.

As mentioned, although English is widely spoken, it doesn’t hurt to learn a few words to help you out.

Good Morning: Selamat Pagi
Yes: La
No: Tidak
Thank you: Terimah Kasih
To eat: Makan
Spicy: Pedas
No Spicy: Tidak pedas
Vegetables only (for vegetarians): Sayur saja
Cool: Bagus

Festivals and Celebrations: When traveling around Indonesia, watch out for the end Ramadan (July) as a lot of stores and restaurants are closed during these periods. During this time, making bookings for both accommodation and transportation is recommended. Other big celebrations worth seeing are Nyepi, which is the Balinese New Year celebrated in March.

borobudur sunrise in indonesia

Indonesia Trip Planning

When is the best time to go to Indonesia you ask? Generally speaking, Indonesia has a hot tropical climate all year round. However, the monsoon season can be a real bummer. April to October makes up the Dry Season while November to March is usually rainy. However, as it is such a large country, it is best to check specifically for where you are planning to go. The best time to go in a nutshell is April to October as there is usually minimal rainfall.

Rough Budget

Traveling Indonesia can be done as cheap or as expensive as you want. Everywhere you go you will find cheap homestays as well as luxury villas for less than $50-$100 a night. Listed below are rough prices of basic costs for things in Indonesia. Generally speaking, a budget of $25-30 a day is pretty good. If you’re planning on doing loads of tours and activities during your time, consider stretching your budget up to $35 a day:

thailand accommodation budget

Accommodation

Budget: $6-10 (dorm) $15-25 (private)
Mid-Range: $30
Splurge: $60

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Food (Typical Meal For One)

Street food: $2-3 local warung meal
Restaurant: $5
Very nice restaurant: $15
1.5L Water: $0.37
Beer: $1.86 (big bottle)
Beer in a bar: $4 (big bottle)

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Transport

Motorbike Rental $4/day ; $44/month
Public Ferry: $5
Flights within Indonesia: $33-$50

What to Pack for Traveling Indonesia

What to Pack for Indonesia depends entirely on where you are going and what you are planning to do. If you are heading solely to Bali with the intention to soak up some sun and surf some waves, you won’t need to bring any outdoor or trekking gear. Similarly, if you’re heading to Java or Sumatra, a sarong to cover your shoulders in temples and light quick fry pieces of clothing is recommended. For a more detailed list, check out our Southeast Asia packing guide with has information on all the basic things to bring when traveling this region.

indonesia ricefields bali

Best Things to Do in Indonesia

As mentioned, Indonesia is a country that has a little bit of everything for everyone. Despite being frequented by millions and millions of tourists every day, there is still a large portion of Indonesia, mainly in Java and Sumatra that remains largely unexplored. Here are a few of the best places things to do in Indonesia.

Get Your Surf On

Home to some seriously epic waves, the Indonesian shoreline is considered as heaven for surfers. Offering everything from beginner waves to large barrels, there is no shortage of good waves in Indonesia. If you’re Bali bound, consider checking out our article on the best surf spots in Bali which features breaks in Canggu, Medewi, and the famous breaks in Uluwatu. Alternatively, if you hate crowded surf lineups, head to places in Java like Batu Karas and G-Land. Apart from that, Lombok, Mentawai islands, and Nias Island are all massive surf destinations which are worth checking out. We just spent a week exploring Lombok and loved every bit of it. Seriously epic waves with not so crowded lineups!

Get Healthy in Bali

One of the best things about Indonesia, Bali, in particular, has an overwhelming amount of healthy food choices. Everything from meditation retreats, yoga seminars, to super healthy organic restaurants and cafes. As I write this Indonesia travel guide, I am currently in Canggu Bali, relishing in the many restaurants and cafes that make it easy to eat healthily. On the other hand, once you’ve had your health kick fill, check out our guide on the most unusual things to do in Bali for some inspiration.

Eat, Pray, and Adventure in Ubud

Popularized by the famous film, Eat, Pray, and Love, Ubud has become a popular spot for travelers. Apart from doing the usual rice field and waterfall sightseeing, there are also heaps of adventurous things to do in Ubud. From whitewater rafting to mountain biking to Mt. Batur there are loads of options for those who like to stay active.

Related: Things to do in Ubud

Explore the Many Mountains and Volcanos

Java, Indonesia is home to some of the most beautiful mountains and volcanos imaginable. To date, one of our favorite travel experiences is seeing the sunrise over Mount Bromo. The way the sun slowly illuminated the valley was truly a magical experience. The fact that we did it without a tour made it even more special. Apart from Mount Bromo, seeing the blue flames in Kawah Ijen is another must-do while in Indonesia.

indonesia mount bromo

See the Cultural Wonders of Yogyakarta

If you’re looking to explore the cultural side of Indonesia, head on over to Yogyakarta to see the majestic Prambanan Hindu temples as well as to watch the sunrise by Borobudur which is the largest Buddhist temple built in the 9th century. Although we’ve seen lots of majestic sunrises while traveling Southeast Asia, the one in Borobudur easily makes it to our top 5! Check out our Yogyakarta photo diary for some travel inspiration and tips!

Explore the Exquisite Marine Life

If you’re an avid scuba diver, the diving in Indonesia is some of the best in the world! From the historical dive sites in Bali like the USAT Liberty Wreck in Tulamben to other sites in Tulamben and Nusa Penida and Lembongan. If you’ve never dived before and are considering learning, you can get certified in the Gili Islands or in the Komodo National Park.

In Indonesia, hands down, some of the best diving is in Komodo National Park and Raja Ampat. Every dive we did we saw sharks, tuna as large as tables, and other large pelagics. We honestly felt like a kid in a candy shop! If you are serious about your diving, there are also some liveaboard diving in Komodo as well as in a few long liveaboard diving trips in Raja Ampat where you get to go to a few unexplored dive spots.

Live like a King

One of the best things about traveling around Southeast Asia is the incredible value for money when it comes to accommodations. In Bali, believe it or not, you can rent out an entire villa for $100 or less! We’ve stayed in some pretty incredible places all over Indonesia for the same price as a Travelodge in the UK.

Based on our personal experience of living all over Bali, we’ve compiled a list of a few of the best villas:

 

Trekking in Sumatra

If you have time, another recommended activity is to go trekking in Sumatra to see the Orangutans. We did a four-day trek and got to see some pretty amazing wildlife along the way. At one point, we woke up in our makeshift campsite with one large Orangutan curiously staring at us from a nearby tree. It was definitely an incredible experience and something I would do again in a heartbeat. Apart from trekking to see the Orangutans, there are a few other things to do in Sumatra that we highly recommend like chilling out in Lake Toba, surfing in untouched reefs, and exploring the many beautiful sights near Berastagi.

Bask by the Beach

Last but not least, the beaches in Indonesia are world renowned, with many people flying in from different parts of the globe. From the beaches in Bali to the untouched islands in Raja Ampat or Aceh, there are heaps of awesome places to visit. If heading to Bali, you can check out our articles on the things to do in Canggu, things to do in Nusa Dua and things to do in Seminyak. Similarly, our things to do in the Gili Islands is a pretty popular post about one of our favorite places in Indonesia.

indonesia beach

What to Eat in Indonesia

Compared to other Southeast Asian countries, Indonesian food isn’t that well known. To help you figure out what to try during your visit to Indonesia, here’s a breakdown of a few must-try dishes in Indonesia.

Nasi Goreng: Nasi Goreng is your traditional fried rice made with kecap manis (a thick soy sauce) served with a fried egg, some crispy fish crackers, and a small side salad. Some places serve this with a few skewers of chicken satay or fried chicken.

Mie Goreng: This noodle dish is made up of thin yellow egg noodles stir-fried with a variety of vegetables. You can have it with chicken, pork or tofu-it’s really up to you. Similar to Nasi Goreng, you can get this dish almost everywhere from cheap warungs to big restaurants.

Gado-Gado: A salad made up of boiled potatoes, eggs, carrots, green beans, and tofu served with a hefty serving of peanut sauce. YUM!

Rendang: Rendang is a made from a mixture of coconut milk cooked in with lots of spices, giving it that rich and spicy flavor. It is often made with beef but you also have other variations such as chicken, mutton, or goat.

indonesia food

Places to Stay in Indonesia

In terms of finding accommodations, we’ve done all the hard work for you and have listed down a few of our top hostels and hotel recommendations in each area so be sure to check them out when planning your trip! We know that there are heaps of choices out there so we’ve tried to narrow down your search. Bali has loads of cheap villas and places to stay while Sumatra and Java are still rather basic in comparison.

Read our where to stay in Indonesia guides:

Complete Indonesia Guide


After both traveling and living in Indonesia, we created these travel guides to help people discover the best of what to do in this incredible country based on our personal recommendations. Featuring the best beaches to go to, the best treks to do, as well as sample itineraries, our Indonesia guidebook gives out a great overview of the best things to do during your trip.We know that planning a trip can be overwhelming which is why we laid everything out in a magazine-style book, making it both a fun and inspirational book to read. This guidebook is the ultimate resource to help you plan your trip to Indonesia and will save you tons of hours scouring through articles online.
View Complete Guide
 

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