Looking for the best travel tips for Indonesia? In that case, “Selamat datang” to the Emerald Archipelago!
With its mesmerising landscapes, rich culture, and warm-hearted locals, Indonesia is a traveller’s dream come true. Whether you’re planning to surf the legendary waves of Bali, explore the ancient temples across the country, or immerse yourself in the lush jungles or bustling cities, this tropical paradise offers a kaleidoscope of experiences.
But before you pack your bags and set off on your Indonesian adventure, join us on a journey of discovery. In this blog, we’ll equip you with the essential tips, cultural insights, and insider secrets that will make your journey through Indonesia not just memorable, but truly extraordinary.
1. Plan the perfect itinerary before you go.
There’s something very romantic about letting the wind take you and saying yes to whatever crosses your path when you travel, but… Carefully crafted itineraries are even better! If you’re looking for inspiration, here’s our take on the 10 best things to do in Indonesia.
And if you want an itinerary that includes all of the very best things to do in Indonesia AND leaves you with plenty of free time to explore on your own terms too, click here to read more about our Best of Indonesia adventure.
2. Apply for your visa.
Visa rules can get complicated and are subject to fast-paced changes, so make sure you’re up to date with the latest requirements well in advance of your trip and apply for the right passes to travel. Find out whether you need a visa for Bali and Indonesia in our helpful guide here, and you can apply for your visa for Indonesia here.
Don’t forget to make sure your passport’s got at least 6 months’ validity on it too!
3. Pack mindfully (and don’t forget your mack!).
The contents of your suitcase will depend on the time of year you’re going (need help deciding when’s the best time to visit Indonesia? Read our handy blog here!).
Generally speaking though, you’re not going to need much cold weather gear, unless you’re doing something sensational, like trekking Mount Bromo, in which case, layers are your friend. Sturdy footwear and a pack-a-mack are a must too; you never know when those heavens will open!
4. Get decent insurance.
As is the case with all travel abroad, investing in comprehensive travel insurance is an absolute must. Indonesia’s diverse landscapes and adventurous opportunities are incredibly enticing, but they also come with their fair share of uncertainties.
Travel insurance provides a safety net by covering unexpected medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost luggage, and more. If you’re going to be doing exciting stuff like hiking volcanoes or exploring off-the-beaten-path locations, ensure your insurance explicitly includes adventure or extreme sports coverage too so you can explore Indonesia with peace of mind.
5. Get in the right headspace first.
Think “Indonesia” and you’re probably imagining Bali beaches and serene waterfall backdrops; you’ve probably got no problem preparing mentally for all those stunning scenes.
But the cities are a little different… For example, Jakarta buzzes with activity, so if you’re visiting the capital, make sure you head in ready for lots of people, lots of motorbikes – and lots of fun.
Our jam-packed Best of Indonesia itinerary includes everything from trekking jungles and volcanos to lazing on Bali beaches, and exploring Jakarta to temple hopping too. Find out more here.
6. Stay hydrated and keep slapping on the sunscreen.
Thanks to the equatorial heat and tropical climate, Indonesia can get super hot and humid, so make sure you’ve always got water on you and keep reminding yourself to drink plenty of it during the day. Set alarms if you have to!
Stick to bottled water and avoid tap wherever you can, no-one wants a dodgy tummy when they’re supposed to be having the time of their life. Indonesia’s delicious fruits are a natural source of hydration and can be seriously refreshing too – watermelon and papaya, anyone? Yes please!
Make sure you’re regularly applying sun cream too – it might get cloudy at times but those UV rays can still get to your skin and cause some nasty burns if you’re not careful. You don’t want to be the one with the bright red face in all the photos, do you?
7. Keep an eye on your stuff.
Indonesia is generally considered a safe destination in Southeast Asia, but it’s always wise to be prepared when planning your trip. To avoid snatch theft, where gangs of thieves on motorcycles often target tourist areas and grab bags from unsuspecting travellers, try never to carry all your valuables with you when you go out. Ask at your accommodation to put anything you don’t need in a safe before you head out.
Always take photocopies of your passport and keep the original in the hotel safe. It’s also advisable to wear a crossbody bag on your front, rather than holding it in your hand, to deter potential thieves too.
8. Respect local customs.
Indonesia’s predominantly a Muslim country, so dress modestly when visiting religious sites – you might not be allowed in if you don’t! When you wander through the sacred temples, remember that these ancient sites aren’t just tourist attractions; they’re the spiritual anchors of the Indonesian culture.
In the bustling markets, haggling is an art, but doing it with a spirit of appreciation for the craftsmanship and culture behind the goods will earn you both respect and a great bargain. Pepper your cultural curiosity wish a dash of respect, and you’ll find that this archipelago will welcome you with open arms and unforgettable experiences!
On our Bucket List adventure in Indonesia, you’ll have the hands-on help of a UK guide AND a local guide who knows the local customs inside out. Find out more here.
9. Learn some basic Bahasa Indonesia.
Lots of people in Indonesia speak English but learning a few basic phrases can go a long way, plus you’ll have more fun! As with all travel abroad, learning a bit of local language before your adventure in this particular tropical paradise will bring another dimension to your trip.
“Apa kabar?” (How are you?) might just save you from a fiery catastrophe. Greet locals with a cheerful “Selamat pagi!” (Good morning!), always say “Terima kasih” (Thank you), and bring out “Permisi” (Excuse me) as your backstage pass to laughter and connection!
Want to put your best Bahasa to the test? Tick Indonesia off your Bucket List on this incredible Best of Indonesia adventure – find out more about the itinerary and book here.
10. Try as much food as you can get your mitts on.
Indonesian cuisine offers a delightful array of flavours and dishes that reflect the country’s rich culinary diversity. From the fragrant simplicity of nasi goreng found at street food stalls to the deep, slow-cooked richness of rendang, there’s something for everyone.
The extensive use of sambal, a spicy chili paste, adds a delightful kick to lots of dishes, then there’s the much-loved satay, with its tender skewered meats, and so much more (click here to see our run-down of the best food in Indonesia – you HAVE to tick as many of these off as you can while you’re there!).
11. Visit Indonesia with a reputable tour guide.
With someone who knows what they’re doing guiding you, you won’t waste time or miss any of the best bits, especially when you’re in the thick of it in Jakarta! On our Bucket List Co trips to Indonesia, you’ll enjoy a full day-long tour of the capital with your expert local leader and a UK guide too.
Your guides will stick with you throughout the trip, hands-on enough to make sure you’re confident and have everything you need, and to show you all the best local hidden treasure – but without ever being overbearing. You’ll have plenty of time for independent exploration too.
It’s not just the lovely guides who make our Bucket List adventures so damn amazing though; it’s the incredible itineraries, the flexibility, the fact that you’re travelling with a fantastic group of likeminded folk – and the manageable monthly payment instalments don’t hurt either!
Click below to find out more about our Best of Indonesia adventure, then put these tips into practice!