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Composed of over 17,000 islands and stretching out over 1.9 million square kilometers, Indonesia is a tricky place to plan a trip to. The archipelago nation has just about everything you could possibly want in a trip – cities, beaches, nature, temples, mountains – the list goes on and on. We’re here to help you sort it out and figure out where to go in Indonesia in 2018.
With so many islands to choose from, we’re going to start out in the most populous one – Java.
Often humorously referred to as the “Big Durian,” the Indonesian capital is a bit like the infamous fruit. Sure, it may stink a bit and seem weird at first, but eventually you come to love it. There are plenty of reasons to visit Jakarta, including the vibrant Old City area and the thriving art and music scenes.
Flights into the capital tend to be cheaper than other destinations on Java, so go ahead and spend a few days here before moving on. See the “Streets, Beats & Eats” of Jakarta in this short video and start planning your trip:
Yogyakarta goes by many names. Some call it Jogjakarta, while others prefer to simply call it Jogja. Since the city is home to more than 100 higher education institutes, it also has a very appropriate nickname – the City of Students.
There’s so much to see and do here that you could easily stay a week or more. You can visit the Sultan’s Palace and Water Castle, see a wayang kulit (shadow puppet) show, and eat the city’s famous gudeg (jackfruit stew). From here, it’s also easy to visit the impressive Prambanan and Borobudur temples on day trips.
If you’re planning a beach vacation to Bali, forget the overcrowded tourist trap of Kuta/Legian and head up the coast a bit to Canggu. Here you can find long stretches of beach minus the pushy touts and hordes of tourists that plague Kuta. There are also plenty of tasty waves for the carving here.
Those who aren’t that into surfing won’t be bored here, though. There are lots of yoga studios, gyms, coworking spaces, cafes, restaurants, and bars to occupy your time. Check out the ‘Gu in this short video and see what it’s all about:
Most tourists in Bali spend their entire trip on the beaches in the south and in Ubud. Those who venture a little further afield will be rewarded with a much more relaxing trip. Take a trip up the island’s east coast and visit the chilled out towns of Candidasa and Amed.
With a few days between these two areas, you can take part in some world-class scuba diving, visit the stunning Virgin Beach, and explore Bali’s beautiful water palaces at Tirta Gangga and Taman Ujung. It’s also not that far from Pura Besakih, Bali’s mother temple.
Don’t worry – I would never tell you to go to Kuta, Bali. There’s actually another Kuta one island over on Lombok, and it’s way, way better.
Kuta, Lombok is the perfect place to base yourself for a few days to explore the surrounding beaches. Just rent a motorbike and a surfboard and you’re good to go! It’s hard to believe you’re just a 30-minute flight from the crowded madness of Bali. In Lombok, a traffic jam is when a herd of water buffalo crosses the street! See some highlights from a bit of beach hopping in this video:
The island of Flores is a fascinating place to explore. Most tourists simply fly into Labuan Bajo to visit Komodo National Park and then head back to Bali. Those who are willing to dedicate a bit more time and effort to this lesser-known island will be pleased with the results.
With 10 days or so and a hired driver, you can see sunrise at Mt. Kelimutu, visit traditional villages outside Bajawa, see the Hobbit Cave and spider-web rice fields outside of Ruteng, and so much more. Just take a look at this video to see what you can do when traveling across Flores:
These are just a few of my favorite places that I’ve been in Indonesia that I would personally recommend you to visit. There’s so much more to see in this vast nation that I just can’t wait to get back. Next time, I’m hoping to visit Sumatra to see the orangutans, dive in Pulau Weh, and relax at Lake Toba. Or perhaps I’ll head to Sulawesi to witness the elaborate funerals that the Torajan people have. Then again, maybe I’ll just make my way to Papua for some serious off-the-beaten-path trekking. The options are endless when it comes to traveling in Indonesia! Now I just have one question for you…