Indonesia’s numbers astound: more than 17,000 islands, of which 8000 are occupied, and more than 300 languages are spoken. It’s a beguiling country offering myriad adventures.
Beaches & Volcanoes
Looking over Indonesia you’ll see landscape, as diverse as those living upon it. Sulawesi’s the beautiful coastline white-sand beaches and diving experiences. Sumatra is contoured by a legion of volcanoes looking over the distance, some of them capable of erupting at any time.
This ever-intriguing, ever-intoxicating land offers some of the last great adventures on earth. Sitting in the open door of a train whizzing across Java, idling away time on a ferry bound for Kalimantan, hanging on to the back of a scooter on Flores, rounding the mystifying corner of an ancient West Timor village or simply trekking through wilderness you’re sure no one has seen before – you’ll enjoy endless exploration of the infinite diversityof Indonesia’s 17,000-odd islands.
Need to Know
Budget: Less than 500,000Rp
- Simple rooms less than 200,000Rp
- Cheap street meals under 20,000Rp
- Travel like a local through much of Indonesia outside of major cities and tourist areas
- Double rooms with air-con and wi-fi US$30–$80
- Cheap flights to shorten distances
- Guides plus meals in restaurants (where they exist)
Top End: More than 2,000,000Rp
- Guides plus meals in restaurants (where they exist)
- Use flights and cars with drivers to get around
- Book special tours for activities like diving and visit top restaurants on Bali
Banks 8am–2pm Monday to Thursday, 8am–noon Friday, 8am–11am Saturday. Government offices 8am–3pm Monday to thursday, 8am–noon Friday. Restaurants 8am–10pm Shops 9am or 10am–5pm, larger shops and tourist areas to 8pm; many closed Sunday
Arriving in Indonesia
Soekarno-Hatta International Airport
Jakarta is the primary entry point to Indonesia but most people merely change planes here before continuing on to their final destination. If staying in Jakarta, you can reach your hotel by taxi, pre-arranged ride or bus.
Ngurah Rai International Airport
Bali is the only airport with significant international service apart from Jakarta. Prepaid 24-hour taxis are available to all parts of Bali. It’s 60,000Rp for Kuta, 90,000Rp to Seminyak and 250,000Rp for Ubud.
Transport in Indonesia takes many forms.
Boat Slow and fast boats link the many islands but beware of rogue operators with dodgy safety standards.
Bus Travel almost everywhere cheaply and slowly on buses of all sizes
Car Rent a small 4WD for US$30 a day, get a car and driver from US$60 a day.
Motorbike Rent one for as little as 60,000Rp a day
Gjek Get a cheap ride on the back of a motorbike. Used everywhere.
Taxi In cities and tourist areas; fairly cheap but only use Blue Bird taxis to avoid scams.
Travel with Children
Want a great way to improve your Indonesia trip? Bring the kids! Parents say that they see more because children are so quickly whisked into everyday life across this child-loving archipelago. Natural barriers break right down as locals open their arms – and lives – to children.
Indonesia for Kids
Travel outside cities requires patience, hardiness and experience – for both parents and kids. Most Indonesians adore children, especially ones touring their country; however, children may find the constant attention overwhelming. As one expat mum who has travelled with her family across Indonesia told us: ‘It’s actually easier with kids. People are more helpful than when you’re alone as an adult. They want to make things easier for you.’ You will need to learn your child’s age and sex in Bahasa Indonesia – bulau (month), tahun (year), laki-laki (boy) and perempuan (girl). You should also make polite enquiries about the other person’s children, present or absent.
Planning & Practicalities
Kid-friendly facilities are generally limited to Bali, which caters well to holidaying families. Elsewhere you will find Indonesia very hit or miss in terms of specifically catering to children, even as it warmly welcomes
them. What you bring from home and what you source in Indonesia largely depends on where you’re going and what you’ll need. As always, you can get most things you might need on Bali (or to a certain extent Lombok, Jakarta and Yogyakarta) but there is the trade-off of tracking down what you need and simply adding it to your luggage. For very young children, the dilemma is to bring either a backpack carrier or a pram/stroller. If you can, bring both. Prams are tough going on uneven or nonexistent footpaths, but are worthwhile in south Bali and other developed areas.
Indonesia’s 17,000-odd islands are dominated by a few large ones. Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi are diverse places that have swathes of untouched lands. Kalimantan and Papua are part of even larger islands and offer plenty of opportunity for serious adventure and exploration. Java remains the heart of the country historically, culturally and economically. Nusa Tenggara and Maluku comprise hundreds of islands, from ever-more-popular Lombok to the relative isolation of the Banda Islands. Although small in size, Bali figures large for visitors, drawing half of Indonesia’s tourists. As always, your biggest consideration will be managing the time on your visa.
Javanese culture fuses animist, Buddhist and Hindu influences with both mystic traditions and orthodox Islamic practices. Monuments, mosques and temples that reflect this spiritual complexity exist alongside a spectacular tropical landscape spiked with smoking volcanoes.
The rich culture of Bali is matched by its myriad attractions for visitors: excellent dining and nightlife, hundreds of good places to stay, famous beaches, epic surfing, alluring shopping and a gracious welcome.
Whether you’re here for waves, or to dive deep underwater or into ancient cultures, Nusa Tenggara offers gifts unmatched. From Lombok to Timor via Flores you will be tempted, blessed, satiated and leave hungry for more.
Empires rose and fell to control the precious spices of these diverse, beautiful islands. Push past their present-day isolation to discover brilliant coral gardens, jungle-swaddled volcanoes, mouldering colonial mansions and a history as rich as it is troubled.
Sumatra is one big, steamy, jungle-covered adventure where you can go from surfing some of the world’s best waves and snorkelling amid pristine reefs to trekking through dense rainforest in search of orangutans or ascending active volcanoes.
Cut by countless rivers, Borneo’s legendary rainforest attracts wildlife enthusiasts and hardened trekkers. Dayak longhouses preserve the rich communal culture of a forgotten era, while the underwater paradise of the Derawan Archipelago draws in-theknow divers.
Wind your way through this crazy-shaped island of elaborate funeral ceremonies, trails through terraced rice fields and tarsier-filled jungles to coasts of abundant corals, thriving underwater fauna and cultures that revolve around the sea.