Planning a trip to Indonesia and looking for some inspiration? You’ve come to the right place! The activities on list of the best things do in Indonesia can mostly be done on any one of dozens (or probably hundreds) of islands throughout the archipelago. I’ve been to Indonesia many times over the last decade and I reckon this post is a great place to start for people planning their first trip to Indonesia!
Climb a Volcano
There are heaps of volcanos scattered throughout Indonesia — it’s part of the Pacific Ring of Fire after all. Volcano hikes in Indonesia range from multi-day adventures to short walks to crater lakes.
Mount Batur, in Bali, is a good one to do. It’s a day walk (best done in time for sunrise) and the views are stunning. There are even monkeys at the top. You can get picked up at your accommodation, do the walk and be back in the relaxing confines of your villa (or dorm room — not so relaxing) by early afternoon.
An even easier one is Mount Kelimutu in Flores. It’s a short walk, with the views to effort ratio being particularly strong.
See Some Rice Terraces
I can’t remember seeing rice terraces (impressive ones at least) outside of Bali, but I’m sure they exist. The rice terraces in Bali are beautiful though – a definite highlight of a trip to Bali.
Hit the Beach
This feels obvious, but if you’re travelling around Indonesia you’ll definitely visit some beaches. Some are better than others however, with a lot of the beaches in cities and other built-up areas not being too flash.
If you’re seeking out beaches for a few days of relaxation, I highly recommend the Gili Islands. The beaches are stunning and there are heaps of cool places to eat and drink.
See Some Temples
Java is the place to go if you want to see some of the best old temples in Asia. Only a short drive from Jogjakarta (a fun city to explore), Prambanan (Hindu) and Borobudur (Buddhist) are must-visits for history fans, and there are plenty of other smaller temples scattered throughout Java.
Take a Ferry to the Outer Islands
Travelling Indonesia by ferry is quite an experience. It’s a fun, cheap way to get around and it’s a good chance to meet some locals and see some places you wouldn’t do otherwise. They do occasionally sink though, so watch out for that! The photo below is from Rote Island, one of the most remote places I’ve been in Indonesia.
Spot Some Wildlife
Indonesia is home to some cool wildlife, but you’ll often have to travel a long way to see it. Seeing Komodo Dragons was a great experience, and I’d love to see orangutans in Sumatra / Borneo one day.
An easy wildlife experience is the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali. An hour spent wandering around a forest full of playful monkeys would cheer up even the grumpiest traveller.
Try the Local Food
With Indonesia being such a massive place, there are countless dishes to try throughout the archipelago. My favourite food experience was in Jakarta– my hostel was right next to a group of street food stalls and I tried some good, local dishes. Bali is also awesome for food, as is Jogjakarta.
Relax / Party
Two key aspects of a trip to Indonesia for a lot of people are partying and relaxing. It’s all some people do, and it’s a great place for it. Bali / the Gili Islands are the obvious party destinations, and both are perfect places to chill out during the day after / before a long night of drinking. The night life in Jakarta is probably good too, although not quite as relaxing to hang out in the next day!
I was a very reluctant swimmer/ snorkeller when I first visited Indonesia. I was in some iconic snorkelling spots though, so I gave it a go and really enjoyed it. The Komodo Islands are great for snorkelling and diving, but there’s heaps of other places to go if you’re into that kind of thing.
One of the best things to do in Indonesia is an island-hopping trip. You can do them from heaps of different places and they take you to a few different islands where you can swim, snorkel, explore and relax. And eat delicious BBQ fish.
My favourite island-hopping experience was in the 17 Islands Marine Park in Flores. A few of us hired a boat / driver for the day and saw some of the best beaches I’ve seen anywhere in the world.
Places to Visit
My list of the things to do in Indonesia is full of things you can do all over Indonesia, so I thought I’d give you a few specific places to check out as well.
Lake Toba, the largest crater lake in the world, is the perfect place to visit if you want to relax somewhere for a week or two and really take it easy. It also helps that it’s one of the prettiest places in Indonesia!
Flores is a decent sized island that can be explored in a couple of weeks. There are heaps of volcanos to see as well as some stunning beaches. If you’re looking for an island that’s a bit more off the beaten path than Bali but that still has a good network of tourist towns and sights, Flores could be a good option.
All the way over in West Papua, Raja Ampat is off the radar for most tourists to Indonesia. It’s home to stunning islands and beaches and is known as one of Indonesia’s best diving spots.
If you’re going to hang out in a city for a few days it should probably be Jogjakarta. It’s the most interesting city in Indonesia in terms of sights (the big temples are nearby) and also the nicest city to walk around and “be” in. The seaside towns / suburbs of Bali are also good options for this.
Volcanic lakes and vents and old temples are what drew me to the Dieng Plateau. It was a bit of a mission to get to from Jogjakarta, but that was part of its charm. There’s heaps to explore around town– make sure to do a sunrise volcano hike too!
And that’s my list of the best things to do in Indonesia! Check out my other Indonesia posts for more travel inspiration!
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