A Backpacker's Tale


Imagine if you mastered everything you needed before backpacking Indonesia. Well, since you landed here you are on the right path (Give yourself a hearty pat on the back). 

By the time you get to the bottom of this post, you will have in-depth insights that will significantly improve your travels in Indonesia.

A lot of travelers get intimidated by the sheer size of the country, I mean there are over 17,000 islands in Indonesia. 17,000 I.S.l.A.N.D.S! Over 300 different spoken languages and hundreds of different cultures, from the small water tribes like the Bajo to the Javanese people who make up a majority of the population. There are a lot of awesome experiences withlocals in Indonesia. 

Are you starting to see why people find backpacking Indonesia daunting? It makes my head spin just thinking about it!

After reading the last, excellently written paragraph (*cough) you might be asking yourself. Where do I start? Is backpacking Indonesia even possible?

Yes! And by the bottom of this page, all your stress and worries will fade.

I’ve spent around 5 months traveling in Indonesia. Much of that time I’ve explored the tourist hotspots but I’ve also spent a good amount of time venturing off the beaten path. 

Being such a massive country it is impossible to cover it all in one blog post, and anyone claiming to do so is trying to sell you something.

 But this guide to Indonesia will go over everything a traveler needs to know. 

We will go in detail on cost and budgets, the best places to go, awesome things to see and do, what to expect, apps, safety, packing, helpful phrases, and much more!

So what are you waiting for, become a guru of traveling Indonesia?

What to Expect When
Traveling Indonesia

The first word that comes to mind when I think of Indonesia is diversity, and no two cultures or islands feel exactly alike. 

Actually, some islands feel like they are a completely different country. Yet the welcoming people, stunning scenery, legendary beaches, and delicious food remain consistent across the entire country.

It is an exhilarating country, and while Bali is awesome, there is much, much more to Indonesia that what many tourists actually see.

For travelers who love wandering off the tourist trail, you’ll fit right at home in Indonesia! There are over 2,000 inhabited islands across the country. And, good news for you, most of them are far from the well-beaten tourist trail. 

This leaves plenty of room to blaze your own trail and create your own adventures miles away from the throngs of other travelers. (P.S. If you find anywhere awesome shoot me a message!)

Wildlife in Indonesia is awesome. Watching an imposing Komodo Dragon patrol the beach will make your jaw drop, while simultaneously making you fight an urge to run back to the boat and hide. 

And seeing Orangutans swinging from trees like they are overweight ginger pole vaulters will leave you speechless. The wildlife of Indonesia is one of the major highlights of the country and it has made for some of my most memorable moments.

The wild array of wildlife, landscape, and cultures make Indonesia an unforgettable place!

3 Ultimate
Backpacking Indonesia Itineraries

So now that you have a good idea of how much money a trip to Indonesia will cost the next obvious thing is where should you go? 

In a little bit we will go over each destination in detail, but for the moment lets take a look at some sample itineraries.    

10-14 days Indonesia Itinerary

If you have 10 -14 days to explore Indonesia then sticking around Bali will give you the most bang for your buck.

Kuta – (2 days at the start / 2 days in the end): With only a couple weeks I would start and end the trip in a little luxury so I would go for a nice beach resort in Kuta. (Canggu has a lot of options). Spend your time in Kuta learning to surf, partying, shopping, and more.

Ubud – (3 days): Next, I would head to Ubud for the natural scenery. After 2/3 days in Ubud doing things like sunrise at Mt. Batur, doing some yoga, visiting Ubud Palace, the art museum, and exploring the monkey forest.

Gili T or Lombok –  (2/3 days):  If you go to Gili T then I would focus my time on snorkeling, or diving. Lombok I would spend my time hiking seeing things like Lake Segara Anak and Mount Rinjani.

3 Weeks to 1 Month Indonesia Itinerary

If I had three weeks to explore Indonesia then I recommend starting in Java and working your way over to Bali and flying home from there.

Jakarta – (3/4 days) Jakarta is a typically Southeast Asian city so I would only plan on spending on 1 day in the city and then use the other two for day trips to places like Thousand Island.

Tanjung Putting – (3/4 days) Next I would head deep into the jungles of Borneo to spy on the “humans of the forest” (Orangutans) via boat. Boat trips range from 2 to 3 days. So this really depends on how much you want to monkey around. ( I make no apologies for the pun).  

Bali – (7-8 days) Ah yes, Bali. I would spend a week in exploring Bali having adventures like surfing, yoga, sightseeing temples, and more. Then I would use Bail as a home base for the rest of this Indonesia Itinerary. )

Komodo National Park – (3/4 days)  Komodo is much more than just the layer for dragons. The national park is full of jaw-dropping views, remote islands, pink beaches and more. It is one of my favorite spots in the entire country. Here you can snorkel or learn to scuba (manta point is awesome), get the newest photo fab at the top of Padar Island, or try your luck surrounded by Komodo Dragons.

Gili T- (2/3 days) Towards the end of the trip I would plan a few relaxing day on Gili T.

Wakatobi –  (3 days) If you want to venture out off the main tourist spots then head to Wakatobi and Hoga island for deserted beaches, scuba diving, and water tribes.


Cost of Traveling
THrough Indonesia

In some ways, Indonesia is cheaper than backpacking other countries in Southeast Asia, yet some things cost a little more. For example accommodation, food, and sightseeing are extremely cheap when compared to countries like Thailand. But on the other hand, you’ll spend more money flying between the different islands than you would busing around other nearby countries.

For example, on my last trip to Indonesia (which lasted about a month) I took over ten flights, between different islands. However, if you are on a super tight budget your best bet is to stick to the main islands like Java, Bali, and Sumatra. 

This will help lower your budget by limiting the number of flights. 

You can easily sightsee around these islands by motorbike, bus, or tour.

Personally, I would suggest budgeting a little extra to give myself wiggle room to wander from the tourist track. The way I see it is that the cheaper price on all the other travel essentials helps balance out the cost of the flights

Recommended Budget for Travelers

Indonesia has a lot of options and prices vary drastically. You can stay in a hostel dorm for as little as 4-5 USD a night or rent a luxury villa on the beach that will set you back over $100. 

I prefer saving money and staying in hostels rather than splurge at resorts and hotels are some of the cheapest in Southeast Asia. 

Food is another area that is cheap! You can get awesome meals for as little as 3-5 USD.

Indonesia Daily Budget Breakdown

Living Large$100+$35$25$33+$199+

Budget for Adventures

Indonesia is a land of fun and exciting adventures. From real life dragons to beautiful jungle hikes. From sweeping vistas to underwater worlds there are an countless adventures waiting for you in Indonesia. 

Cost of Adventures in Indonesia

1 Day Komodo Island Tour: $150

3 Dives in Komodo National Park : $112

1 Day Trip Mount Bromo Sunrise Tour: $88

Bukit Lawang (Orangutan Boat and Trek): : $61-$300

Wakatobi Scuba Diving: $120-$190

Bali Surf Camp : $220



Best Time of the Year to
Visit Indonesia

Indonesia has two dominant seasons; dry, and you guessed it… wet. One perk is that the temperature always sits between 70-90 degrees year round! Far from cold, and never too hot.

Dry Season (May – October): The sun is always shining and without any rain, it feels hotter than the thermostat reads.

Wet Season (October – April): I love rainy seasons because they cool everything down, and the storm clouds do a nice job of blocking out that harsh Southeast Asian sun. When you mention a wet season most people picture a nonstop monsoon for months on end. However, most days it only rains a few hours. 

But occasionally, there are massive downpours that will last for days. If your traveling in the rainy season then make sure you come equipped with the right travel gear.

Peak Tourist Season: The summer months are the biggest tourist season for Indonesia. This means slightly higher prices (starting in May) and larger crowds.

Off Season: Surprise, surprise the wet season is the low tourist season in Indonesia. However, it is my personal favorite time to visit, and not just because the prices are low and I am cheap. There are fewer crowds, and even though I’m also a tourist, less waiting in line and smaller crowds are always a plus. Of course, if you venture away from the hotspots you can escape the crowds all year round.

Where to GO When
Visiting Indonesia

Indonesia has everything a backpacker could want! 

From remote islands to islands ruled by dragons, you can find anything  and everything in Indonesia. 

But with so many islands to choose from where should you go? 

Let’s look at some of the best places to visit when backpacking Indonesia. 

Indonesia Travel Tips Placeholder
Indonesia Travel Tips



Obviously, Bali has to come first. Right!? Bali is the most popular destination in Indonesia. Backpackers, expats, and nomads flock here to do their own “Eat, Pray, Love” thing, drink on the cheap, surf, learn yoga or mix and match some combination of all of them. And we know with great popularity comes great commercialism.

Don’t get me wrong, Bali is definitely worth visiting

Just make sure to leave your beach bungalow or that bar with the $0.50 drinks and spend some time exploring other things this world-renowned island has to offer. 

There are ancient temples, small local fishing villages, rice fields, and other nearby islands to explore.

Outside of the tourist cities, like Kuta, Bali still retains a lot of its local charm and you shouldn’t miss it.

Plus Bali is perfect for surfers. (Check out this Bali surfing guide)

Where to...


Kuta: Pudak Sari Unizou Hostel ($15)Poppies Restaurant ($)Uluwatu Temple
Ubud: Puri Garden Hotel & Hostel ($17)Room 4 Dessert ($)Monkey Forest
Canggu: The Tipsy Gypsy Hostel ($11)The Local ($)Mount Batur

Gili Trawangan

Just a hop, skip, and ferry ride away from Bali lies this tiny island. Now, when I say tiny I mean it. You can bicycle around this island in around an hour. There aren’t even paved roads! Gili Trawangan (Better known as Gili T) has made its name off of scuba/free diving, snorkeling, and partying. 

The bad thing about Gili T is everyone tries to sell you drugs. Even walking down the dirt lane, that doubles as the main road around the island, locals whisper “weed”, “Cocaine”, “Meth”

Drugs are extremely illegal (some even carry the death penalty) and you never know what they have been cut with. My advice is to pass on grass.

Where to...

Beach Bum ($8)Pearl Beach Lounge ($)Diving and Snorkeling
My Mate’s Palace ($13)Night Market ($)Bike Around the Island
White Coconut Cottage ($37)Diversia Restaurant ($)Turtle sanctuary on Gili Meno



Chances are you’ve never heard of Wakatobi unless you’re a scuba diving junkie.

This beautiful island doesn’t get much attention for western tourist. I didn’t know about it until I was almost there, but I quickly fell in love with Wakatobi. 

But their loss is our gain!

This is a perfect island getaway that has all the creature comforts without being touristy.

The locals love visitors, and there are cool things to do like Bajo villages (People who live on the water), sailing, hiking, snorkeling, and relaxing on the pristine and untouched beaches.

A great day trip is Hoga island which is a little more remote and just as beautiful.

Where to...

Wasabinua ($25)Wasabinua Resto & Coffee ($)Hoga Island
Patuno Hotel ($40)WarKop Sombu Dive ($)Bajau Village
Wisma Maharani ($13)Kopi Paste Coffeeshop ($)Scuba Diving


I haven’t seen as much of Jakarta as I should, but from what I’ve seen there isn’t anything that sets it apart from other Southeast Asian capitals.

 I’m adding it here because there is a good chance that when flying to Indo you will either land in Jakarta or Bali. 

Jakarta is worth spending a couple of days for the food, temples, monuments, and shopping. But chances are this isn’t the reason you spent 20 hours on a plane flying to Indonesia.

There are some good day trips to places like Thousands Island and Bogor. Overall, Jakarta is worth visiting, but don’t dedicate too much of your time to this city, there are better places to visit in Indonesia.

Where to...

Wonderloft Hostel ($7)Historia ($)Thousand Island
Six Degrees ($8)Le Quartier ($)Taman Mini Indonesia Indah
Capsule Hotel Jakarta – Old Batavia ($7)Mie Chino Pasar Santa ($)Bogor


Lombok has risen in popularity in the last few years. Sitting right next to Gili T, this massive island is a haven for those seeking to escape the party crowd that runs amuck on the other islands.  

I always imagine that Lombok is what Bali was like before the massive wave of tourism hit. 

The whole island still has a lot of its local charm. Lombok is a haven for nature lovers and surfers. The major site on Lombok is the stunning Mount Rinjani, this active volcano is one of the best sites in the entire country.

Where to...

Pipes Hostel ($9)Plecing Kangkung ($)Tiu Kelep Waterfall
Botchan Hostel ($9)Sate Rembiga ($)Gili Air
Bidara Cottage ($18)Ashtari Lounge ($)Mount Rinjani



This Balinese town retains a lot more of its culture than Kuta. It is popular for its landscape, yoga schools, and holy sites. Over the years, Ubud has gotten the reputation as a hippie hotspot, and to a degree that’s true. 

But Ubud is also an awesome home base for motorbike trips and outdoor adventures.

Where to...

Pondok Permata Homestay ($18)LUXE Barbeque & Grill ($)Ubud Palace
PADI Backpackers House ($7)Balinese Home Cooking ($)Monkey Forest Road
Cahyatika House & Spa ($50)Warung Pondok Madu ($)Yoga Lessons


Kuta, the closest city from the airport in Bali, is known for its surf spots, alleyway markets, and shopping.

If none of that piques your interest then you will want to pass through Kuta as quickly as possible.

However, if it sounds like your idea of a good time then Kuta is an absolute blast.

Start the night at Sky Garden which has an all you can eat buffet and all you can drink beer for a couple of hours every night, next stumble to Alley Cats for some Vodka red bulls, and a few hours later use your new found Vodka red bull energy to rush back to Sky Garden for a free hour to cocktails!

Where to...

Kuta-M-Boutique Hostel Legian ($8)Crumb & Coaster ($)Kuta Beach
Puri Rama Hostel ($7)Warung Indonesia ($)Sky Garden
Cara Cara ($19)Johnny Tacos ($)Uluwatu temple


Yogyakarta is famed for all the great things to do around the city. The three biggest attractions are the epic volcano of Mt. Merapi and the incredible temples of Borobudur and Prambanan

This Javanese city carries an air of tradition and it is a great place to shop for authentic souvenirs. 

The locals make excellent hand made crafts and leather goods and throughout the city, you can explore the historic palace, bathhouse, and fort.

Where to...

OtU By OstiC House ($8)Abhayagiri Restaurant ($)Mt. Merapi
Nextdoor Homestay ($15)Gubug Makan Mang Engking Soragan Castle ($)Borobudur
Bhumi Hostel ($5)Bakmi Jowo Mbah Gito ($)Prambanan

Indonesia -
Best Things to do

I’ve months traveling Indonesia, having epic experiences, and I’ve still only done a fraction of the things that the country has to offer.   The country is so diverse and also so many various and thrilling adventures that the country warrants years of travel. 

Sadly, most of us don’t have years to wander Indonesia ( I mean, there is a whole lot of world out there to see, right?)

But here is a list of some of the best things to do when backpacking Indonesia.

Face A Dragon


Komodo National Park is full of lush jungles, and beaches, but it is also home to one of the most intimidating creatures I’ve ever seen, the Komodo Dragon. These dragons don’t look too frightening while laying down staying cool in the dirt (which seems to be how they spend most of their time).

But when you see one patrolling the beach, its massive torso swinging side to side with every step, its alert eyes taking in everything while projecting an air of confidence, that practically borders arrogance, and the poisonous droll hanging from its mouth. Well, then it is an entirely different story.

Wild Komodo Dragons are an intense experience that ONLY Indonesia can provide. The creatures hold a certain amount of beauty in their own lizardy, I will destroy you, way and you don’t need to stress too much as you will always have a guide to protect you from death by dragon.  

Komodo is one of the coolest outdoor adventures you can have in Indonesia.


Scuba diving pros and wannabes listen up!

Raja Ampat Islands are a must when backpacking Indonesia. Unbelievably scenic, these islands are home to crystal clear water and epic underwater wildlife. The diving in Raja Ampat is some of the best in the entire country (which means it is some of the best in the entire world)

There are liveaboard for divers, or if you are just looking for a relaxing beach holiday there are some great resorts as well.


Orangutan Watching in Tanjung Putting

While Komodo is awesome, I think my favorite wildlife adventure is Orangutan watching in Bukit Lawang. This animal sanctuary located on the humongous island of Sumatra (Or Borneo if you prefer) can only be reached by overnight boat. 

Wild to the region these massive “humans of the forest” are as playful as they are beautiful, and this is one journey worth the time and effort. 

The park rangers, whose primary job is to protect the Orangutan, set out food at certain spots so you are practically guaranteed a good look at my fellow ginger friends.

While they sit and eat enough bananas to wipe bananas splits off the Baskin Robbins menu forever,  you’ll be able to snap some photos and bask in awe at these incredible creatures.

Orangutan Adventures

Boat to Bukit Lawang

If I sold you on the Orangutan sanctuary above then you have zero choices but embark on this voyage. The 2-day boat ride ( 1 day there and 1 day back) to get to Bukit Lawang is an adventure in itself. 

The jungle envelopes you as the boat slowly churns down the narrow river channels. From the deck you’ll see hundreds of monkeys running through the trees, my favorite is the beer belly Proboscis Monkeys and small gators on the water’s edge, or are they crocodiles (I always get those two mixed up)

At night you sleep under mosquito netting while the steady rocking of the boat slowly lures you to sleep. 

This boat trip is fun, exciting, and shows off some parts of Indonesia you can’t see any other way.

Visit a Bajo Tribe Floating Village

While there are a number of these villages throughout Indonesia I’ve only visited the Bajo people, off the coast of Wakatobi. As boated towards the village hundreds of flying fish skimmed above the water in an unforgettable display. There are also Dolphins that live around the area. 

The Bajo are people who live on tall houses built on stilts in the water.

 At low tide, they walk out to collect sea urchins and other sea creatures for food or trading. The people are poor, yet happy, welcoming, but not used to foreigners, and it is one of the most photogenic places I’ve been in all Indonesia.

Borobudur Temple

Let’s cut to the chase, Indonesia has  ALOT of temples. Although no temple in the country compares to Borobudur.

This three-tier temple dates back over 1,000 years and is one of the greatest/biggest Buddhist monuments in the world.

This UNESCO site draws everyone from instagramers to historians.

And is worth visiting, even if you’re “templed out”.

Tickets & Tour

Uluwatu Temple

Dozens of playful monkeys roam around these temple grounds (watch out they steal shit).

The major attraction is the sunset Kecak Dance which is a vibrant Balinese Hindu dance/storytelling of the Monkey King. It is a scenic temple sitting on the coastal cliffs of Bali that takes on an amber glow at sunset. 

This area is also popular among surfers and there are some great surf spots along the coast.

UluWatu Dance

Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, or known among the locals as Mandala Suci Wenara Wana, is a nature reserve that is filled with wild long-tailed monkeys.

Deep in the thick forest of this sanctuary is the Hindu temple of Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal, or better known as the Great Temple of Death ( insert ominous noise here). Thick jungle and a death temple! Is anyone else getting an Indiana Jones vibe?

Other creatures, besides monkeys, live in this forest sanctuary.

There are over 80 different species of birds, lizards, and other small forest creatures call this place home.

Monkey AROund on These Tours


Bunaken is a good spot for those looking to explore the scenery and nature of Indo!

It is an incredible island with a stunning marine park. Adventure junkies will fall in love with the world-class diving, snorkeling, and sightseeing.

Explore Bunaken

Mount Batur

If you’ve ever looked at a postcard of Indonesia then there is a good chance you’ve already seen Mount Batur.

This is the most iconic site in the country. And with good reason. The views of this active volcano are epic! The best time to head here is at sunrise.

Batur Awesome Sunrise TOur



I’m not going to lie. I wish I could keep this island a secret, and have it all to myself. But sharing is caring, and what can I say, I love you guys!  Without a doubt, Padar is the most incredible spot in Indonesia that I have visited. This little island lies in Komodo National Park, yes there are dragons on Padar.

To say Padar is beautiful is an understatement. The island looks like you stepped into Jurassic Park.  

The crowning jewel of the island is the viewpoint that takes in half the island, and surrounding ocean.

There isn’t a lot to do on Padar other than taking in the beauty, a couple of short hikes, and photography. But it is 100% worth the visit!

Tours that Go to Padar

Yoga in Ubud

Udud is to free spirits what skydiving is to the adrenaline junkie.

This hippie hangout is famed for its yoga and laid back lifestyle.

One good thing about Ubud is that it takes you away from the beach resorts of Kuta and into the lush green landscape of Bali. It is known for arts, culture, spas, and yoga. If you want to lay back and chill then Udud is your place!

Surfing in Bali

Bali has become a surfer’s paradise in Indonesia. Even if you are not a pro surfer it is a great place to learn and hone your skills. ( I caught my first wave on Kuta Beach).

Boards are cheap and easy to rent, and the waves tend to have a nice break.  

There are tons of spots all around the island that continue to draw thousands of surfers to Bali each year.

Popular Adventures in Bali

Snorkel in Gili T

Gili T is known for diving and freediving. However, I passed on both because I couldn’t stop snorkeling. It was that epic. There are a variety of fish, and if you are lucky sea turtles.

Much of this marine life is right off the beach so even if you’re not a strong swimmer you can have a good time.

Scuba Dive

Whenever I write about Southeast Asia I spend a lot of time telling people to Scuba dive. Maybe because it’s such a serene and life-changing adventure. 

Perhaps it is because it is extremely affordable. Or maybe it is because this region has some of the best diving in the entire world. And Indonesia has the top diving spots of all Southeast Asia.  If you are looking for a new adventure, I can’t think of anything better than learning scuba diving in Indo.

Liberty Wreck

This wreck dive is the most popular dive spot on Bali. The remains are covered in coral and lots of reef fish inhabit the area. The wreck starts at 5 meters under the water so it is also a good place for snorkeling

Divers can go down 30 meters to check out other areas of the sunken ship.

Enjoy some Luxury

There is nothing wrong with indulging in a little luxury in Indonesia. I mean, we all deserve a couple days away from loud hostel dorm rooms, so whenever you can splurge without blowing your bank account to rubble take advantage of it.

Imagine your staying at a luxury resort, every morning you head to your private pool for breakfast and a mimosa as you take in the sweeping view of the surrounding jungle.

While I wouldn’t do this too often our you will blow your backpacking Indonesia budget, but every once in a while treat yourself.

Lake Toba

Welcome to the largest volcanic lake in the world! This is a great place to escape the chaos and have a few fun and relaxing adventures. There are nearby are ancient villages, hot springs, and road trips that make excellent day trips.

Lake Sidihoni

This lake is part of Lake Toba, but a little trickier to get too. However, the work is worth it as this is one of only a handful of places in the world where you can explore a lake inside a lake (Yes, you read that right).

Pink Beach of Komodo


The pink beach isn’t the best place I’ve been to Indonesia. The day I visited it only had a slight reddish tint. However, I might have just visited on a bad day. Microscopic organisms share this beach with throngs of tourist. Our tiny friends emit a red pigment that gives the entire beach a pink hue. 2

Even though the beach wasn’t as red as my ginger curls, the water has great visibility and the curious schools of fish make this a great spot for snorkeling! And the timeless views encapsulate the unparalleled beauty nature.


Bogor offers an escape from the bustling city streets of Jakarta. The markets and stores are less hectic. Riverside walks, cycling, gushing waterfalls, and rock climbing replaces the loud noises of crowds and traffic jams. 

These lush botanical gardens host hundreds of species of orchids as well as other plant life.

Blue Flames at Sulfuric Lake Ijen

Located on the island of Java, this otherworldly lake contains some of the highest concentrations of sulfur gases and molten sulfur of any lake in the world. These flammable gases come into contact with oxygen they burst into deep blue flames.

Ulun Danu Beratan

This iconic temple located high in the mountains showcases the beauty of Bali at its finest.

Sitting on a small plateau this towering temple overlooks the scenic Lake Beratna. No trip backpacking Indonesia is complete without visiting Bali, and no trip to Bali is complete without seeing at Ulun Danu Beratan