Travel series: a travel guide to Indonesia

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel contests, tips, series, or news.

Today (January 18, 2019): Travel series: a travel guide to Indonesia.

My travel blog features a section that comprises a selection of destination & travel guides. You can find these travel guides in a menu under my blog’s header menu (indicated by the arrow in the screenshot below).

I hope these online travel guides – based on my own travel experiences – may help you to get the most out of your (luxury) trips. So far, I have published travel guides on the following destinations:

  • Maldives
  • Seychelles
  • Japan
  • Vietnam
  • Thailand
  • Greece
  • Turkey
  • Oman
  • Australia
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • West Canada & Rockies
  • Hawaii
  • Sri Lanka

Today, I am adding a new travel guide to my blog about Indonesia. From beach and wildlife-focused escapes to journeys into the spiritual, cultural and adventure-fueled unknown, Indonesia never fails to inspire. This magnificent Southeast Asian country comprises more than 17,000 islands scattered in the Pacific Ocean, with a landscape dominated by lush rainforests, steaming volcanoes and idyllic beaches. The sheer range of experiences that you can have in Indonesia is spellbinding and will live on as sweet memories long after your holiday in the island country.

Get the most out of your (luxury) trip to Indonesia with my travel guide. Find out more about:

  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there
  • Travel requirements
  • Getting around
  • Inspiration, highlights, & travel tips
  • Suggested itineraries
  • Recommended luxury hotels (+ reviews)


BEST TIME TO VISIT

Weather in Indonesia can be split into two seasons – wet and dry – with warm tropical temperatures averaging 28°C (82°F) during the day, throughout the year. In most regions, the dry season spans from May to September, with the rains falling between October and April.

  • The dry season – which lasts from May to September – is considered the best time to visit Indonesia, with plenty of sunshine and day temperatures in the high 70s°F to low 80s°F (26°C-29°C). Sporadic showers may occur in the dry season but are infrequent events. These months are the ideal time to travel if you are planning on sunbathing, diving, exploring cultural sites, or climbing one of Indonesia’s famous volcanoes.
  • The wet season occurs between October and April with frequent rainfall that comes in the form of intense tropical downpours that tend to last for a couple of hours. November, December and January see the most rainfall. The eastern parts of Indonesia (Lombok, Flores and the islands beyond) are more affected by the rainy season than the western parts (Java, Sumatra and Bali). During the peak of the wet season, muddy back roads can be a problem if you intend to explore more off the beaten track locations and rough seas can render some islands inaccessible to smaller boats.

There are some regional exceptions. For example, north Sulawesi experiences some rain in June & July. For a detailed month to month weather report of the different regions in Indonesia, check this excellent website.


HOW TO GET THERE

Most tourists will arrive in Indonesia via Soekarno–Hatta International Airport near Jakarta or one of the airfields that serve the areas of Bali, Lombok, Yogyakarta, and Surabaya.

  • Soekarno–Hatta International Airport (CGK) is the primary airport serving the capital Jakarta in West Java. Click here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Jakarta.
  • Adisutjipto International Airport (YOG) is the principal airport serving the Yogyakarta area in Central Java. Yogyakarta is the cultural heart of Indonesia and home to two of the countries most famous visited sites, the UNESCO protected temple compounds of Borobodur and Prambanan. Click here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Yogyakarta.
  • Juanda International Airport (JIA) serves the metropolitan area of Surabaya plus extended urban area in East Java. It’s the closest airport to one of Indonesia’s most famous attractions, Mount Bromo. Click here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Surabaya.
  • Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS) – officially known as I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport – is the main airport in Bali and the second busiest airport in Indonesia after Soekarno–Hatta International Airport. Click here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Bali.
  • Zainuddin Abdul Madjid International Airport (LOP) is the only airport on the island of Lombok. Click here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Lombok.

Before you buy a plane ticket, consider reading my tips & tricks for buying the cheapest plane ticket.


TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS

Requirements for entry into Indonesia differ from country to country, and are subject to change. Prior to departure, always check with your government and your nearest Indonesia embassy or consulate what documents you need for travel to Indonesia.

  • Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your entry into Indonesia.
  • Citizens of 140 countries (including the EU, UK, USA, Canada and Australia) do not need a visa for stays up to 30 days. All other nationalities must obtain a visa from one of the Indonesian diplomatic missions.

GETTING AROUND

Despite its larger size, it’s easy to travel around Indonesia since the country is well covered by public transport. However, it can be frustrating at the same time, due to frequent delays caused by weather and mechanical issues, so my advise is to keep your schedule as flexible as possible. Be aware that safety standards can vary widely when making use of public transport in Indonesia.

  • Air travel is the quickest and most convenient way of getting around Indonesia, and sometimes the only way to reach certain parts of the archipelago. Most routes are flown several times a day, although plane schedules – particularly on smaller airlines and to less-visited destinations – can be unreliable and infrequent. There are several domestic airlines in Indonesia, and the competition between carriers means that tickets are usually cheap, especially if you book in advance. Tickets can be booked online via the airlines’ websites:
    • Garuda Indonesia (Indonesia’s flag carrier, member of SkyTeam)
    • Air Asia
    • Lion Air
    • Batik Air
  • In Java, trains are considered one of the most comfortable, fastest and easiest ways to travel. In the east, the railway service connects with the ferry to Bali, and in the west with the ferry to Sumatra. Some of the most popular train journeys run between Jakarta and Yogyakarta, and Yogyakarta and Surabaya. Most trains can be booked online and offer three classes:
    • Executive (eksecutif) – air-con with mandatory reservations.
    • Business (bisnis) – no air-con but mandatory seat reservations.
    • Economy (ekonomi) – no air-con, crowded and unreserved.
  • While there are ferries between Indonesia’s main islands, flying is almost always the faster and more reliable way to cover distances of any note. Public ferries run regularly on the shorter crossings between neighboring islands, such as between Sumatra and Java, Java and Bali, and Bali and Lombok. Ferries from Java to Bali are particularly popular among tourists: the ferry departs Ketapang in east Java many times a day, 24 hours a day, to make the 30-minute crossing to Gilimanuk in western Bali and there’s no need to book in advance (you can just arrive at the ferry port and buy a ticket for the next crossing). Check with shipping companies, the harbor office, travel agents or hotels for current schedules and fares.
  • Coach and bus travel is an option when you are traveling in Indonesia on a budget. There are several categories of bus travel, such as long-distance buses, and short-distance minibuses (widely known by their Balinese tag, bemo). Long-distance coaches generally have air conditioning, reading lights, reclining seats, in-bus entertainment showing Indonesian films. It is, however, the most time-consuming means of getting around.
  • One of the best ways of getting around in Indonesia is by hiring a car and a driver. It gives you the freedom to explore the scenic beauty of the country. Having a driver takes away the stress of having to navigate the small roads or worrying about getting lost, and they can also help with any translations. Private transfers can be booked via most hotels.

INSPIRATION, HIGHLIGHTS, & TRAVEL TIPS

There are several good reasons why you should put Indonesia on your bucket list:

  • Visit Borobodur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple
  • Visit Prembanan, Indonesia’s most beautiful Hindu temple
  • Explore Borneo by river
  • Climb Mount Rinjani in Lombok
  • Track orang utans in Sumatra
  • Relax on the beaches of Bali
  • Stay at ultra-luxe resorts
  • Face the dragons in Komodo National Park
  • Watch the sunrise at Mount Bromo

The following, in-depth articles may also inspire you and help you plan your holiday to Indonesia:

  • Top 10 best things to see & do in Indonesia
  • Top 10 most fabulous luxury resorts in Indonesia
  • Top 10 best resorts in Bali
  • Top 10 best resorts in Ubud
  • Tips & tricks for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel
  • Tips & tricks for buying the cheapest plane ticket

SUGGESTED ITINERARIES 

It’s impossible to suggest one itinerary for Indonesia, but I hereby share with you a two-week schedule In Java and Bali based on my own travel experiences in Indonesia. Three weeks are recommended though if you have more time and want to travel at a more leisurely pace or add some other islands to your itinerary (e.g. Lombok, Sulawese, Sumatra or Borneo).

  • Days 1-4: make Yogyakarta your port of entry in Indonesia and explore the temple compounds of Borobodur and Prembanan (recommended hotel: Amanjiwo)
  • Days 5: take train to Surabaya (6 hours) followed by a 3 hour private car transfer to the Mount Bromo area, for a visit to the volcano the next morning (recommended hotel: Jiwa Jawa Bromo)
  • Dag 6: watch the sunrise over Mount Bromo and visit the caldera, followed by a 7 hour private car transfer to the Ijen area (recommended hotel: Jiwa Jawa Ijen).
  • Day 7-10: midnight visit to the Mount Jien to watch the Blue Fire, followed by a boat trip to Bali (30 min) and a private car transfer to the Ubud area (recommended hotel: Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve).
  • Days 11-15: transfer to the Uluwatu area in the south of Bali for a couple of days of relaxation in Bali’s most spectacular coastal area (recommended hotel: Six Senses Uluwatu).

For more ideas, I suggest the excellent Indonesia itineraries as provided by The Lonely Planet and Frommers.


RECOMMENDED LUXURY HOTELS (+ REVIEWS)

Consider visiting my top 10 lists if you are eager to know how I rank Indonesia’s top hotels, based on my own experience:

  • Top 10 most fabulous luxury resorts in Indonesia
  • Top 10 best resorts in Bali
  • Top 10 best resorts in Ubud

Below, you find my reviews of luxury hotels in Indonesia (with pros, cons, & tips to save money per hotel).

  • Review: Anantara Uluwatu, Bali (Indonesia)
  • Review: Bulgari Resort Bali (Indonesia)
  • BANYAN TREE UNGASAN Review: Banyan Tree Ungasan, Bali (Indonesia)
  • Review of Amankila, Bali’s best luxury hotel
  • Review of Amandari (Ubud, Bali)
  • Review: Amanjiwo, Borobudur (Java, Indonesia)
  • Review of Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve (Bali, Indonesia)
  • Review: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan (Ubud, Bali)
  • Review: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay (Indonesia)
  • Hotel review: Villa Sungai, Bali (Indonesia)
  • Hotel review: the Viceroy Bali (Indonesia)
  • Review: Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali’s most spectacular hotel
  • Hotel review: COMO Shambhala Bali (Indonesia)
  • Hotel review: Soori Bali (Indonesia)

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