Five Things First Time Travellers To Indonesia Should Know
- Indonesia boasts the world's largest Muslim population. While it is still liberal compared to other Islamic countries, you can't wear beachwear everywhere. If you're planning on visiting places of worship, you'll need to follow a dress code and cover-up.
- The Indonesian Rupiah is one of the lowest valued currencies in the world. If you're paying with a credit card, you need to make sure you count the 0s in front of your bill. Otherwise, you could end up paying IDR 200,000 instead of IDR 20,000 for your drinks at the bar.
- The national language is Bahasa Indonesia. There are over 700 indigenous languages spoken across the country. As a result, you won't find many people speaking English unless you're in the tourist hotspots like Bali.
- Be cautious of the animals. While Indonesia is home to many adorable creatures, most of them carry the risk of disease. Bali's stray dogs are in bad shape and usually have rabies. The monkeys are also notorious for their thieving ways and becoming aggressive if you don't give them food.
- Bring a reusable bottle of water. Due to Indonesia's heat and humidity, you need to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated. However, since the country has become a tourist hot spot, over three million plastic bottles are discarded on its beaches each month. Help keep Indonesia clean by filling up your bottle at various water filters around town.
Best Time To Visit Indonesia
The best time to visit Indonesia is during its dry season. From April to October, the days are hot with minimal rainfall.
While the good weather does attract tourists, you can still visit Indonesia during this time without having to cough up for higher room rates. The shoulder season (May, June and September) has warm temperatures and minimal rain without the crowds.
If you're planning your visit between July and August, expect room rates to spike by as much as 50%. Prices spike again over Christmas and New Year, so book your flights and accommodation well in advance.
The least popular time to visit Indonesia is during its wet season. From October to April, the frequent downpours keep the tourist crowds at bay.
But while it does rain a lot in Bali, Java and Lombok during this time, it's dry season for the islands of Maluku and Papua. Head here if you're a scuba diver for some of the best visibility and marine life sightings.
While the weather isn't perfect, you can travel around the country without having to book your accommodation in advance. Just be sure to plan a couple of backup activities in case the rain keeps you indoors.
Jakarta is the capital city of Indonesia and home to more than 9 million people. Most are from the country's 17,000 islands, bringing with them their own set of beliefs, cultures and tradition.
The result is a wonderful blend of diversity. Foodies will love exploring the stalls that line Jakarta's streets and discovering all the different ways to eat chicken.
The city's other highlights include the Monas Tower, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, and Istiqlal Mosque.
Yogyakarta is one of the most popular tourist destinations. Each year, it attracts thousands of visitors who come to marvel at the nearby temples of Borobudur and Prambanan.
Make sure you stop at the Yogyakarta Palace. Once the stomping grounds for Java's sultans, it's now a museum full of opulent treasures and pleasure gardens.
Bandung is the second largest city in Indonesia. Home to swaying palm trees and volcanic peaks, it's fondly called the Paris of Java.
It's famous around the country for its food as well as the cheap fabrics on sale at the markets. Make sure you go to the tea plantations and visit one of its most beautiful attractions, Kawah Putih, a turquoise sulphur lake.
Top Attractions in Indonesia
Borobudur is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most significant landmarks in Indonesia. Built in the 8th century, the ancient temple was forgotten about for hundreds of years until it was rediscovered in the 1800s.
Located near the old Javanese city of Yogyakarta, it's one of Java's most popular attractions. Wander past the ancient pagodas, massive stupas and intricate murals depicting old Buddhist tales.
If you can, plan your visit around sunrise for a torchlight climb to the temple. The crowds will be minimal, and it doesn't get any better than watching the whole complex become bathed in sunlight.
Looking for the ultimate island getaway? Head to the Gili Islands!
Located off the coast of Lombok, the islands are renowned around the world for their beautiful beaches, nightlife and excellent dive sites.
Over the years, Gili has become a popular destination for backpackers and luxury travellers, making it an affordable option no matter the size of your budget.
Spend your days exploring its coral reefs teeming with marine life or relax on the pristine beaches with a cocktail in hand. The islands also boast a turtle sanctuary where you can watch hundreds of newborns make their way to the ocean.
Other activities include taking a yoga class, bar hopping or exploring the coastline while aboard a kayak.
Komodo National Park
Made up of five main islands, Komodo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to one of the world's most mythical creatures.
The Komodo Dragons are carnivorous monitor lizards that grow up to 3 metres in length. The reptiles roam freely over the islands, but they are also fierce and deadly animals. If you want to see them, it's best to hire a guide as attacks on humans are not uncommon.
The park is also a top scuba diving destination. Its waters are some of the richest and most diverse in the world. Other activities include visiting the small villages on the islands and canoeing past the lush vegetation.
Mount Bromo is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Sitting on Indonesia's famous Ring of Fire, it attracts hundreds of visitors each year despite its violent history.
For the adventurous, the volcano offers some of the best panoramic views, especially when standing over the caldera at sunrise.
Located inside Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, you can also hike to Mount Semeru, the highest peak in Java. It's also one of the country's most fascinating cultural destinations. The park is home to an ethnic group called the Tengger, who can trace their ancestry back to the ancient Majapahit empire.
Jatiluwih Rice Fields
The Jatiluwih Rice Fields are located in the middle of Bali near Gunung Batukaru. While they are famous for their natural beauty, getting here is not easy.
There are no tours or buses, and you'll need to hire a car if you want to visit this UNESCO Cultural Landscape.
But its remoteness is what sets it apart from other attractions. You won't have the hordes of people from Kuta Beach, and it's a chance to experience the real Bali.
If you have the time, make an effort to spend a few days here and explore the region to its fullest.
Major International Airports in Indonesia
- Soekarno–Hatta International Airport
- Ngurah Rai International Airport
- Juanda International Airport
- Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport
- Kualanamu International Airport