Indonesia Travel Guide

Colourful and exotic, the vast archipelago of Indonesia encompasses more than 17,000 islands spread across 3,000 miles (5,000km) of ocean in Southeast Asia, including popular tourist destinations such as Bali, Sumatra and Java, as well as roughly 6,000 other relatively unknown but inhabited islands.

The mysterious islands of Indonesia each hold their own charms: the resorts of Bail offer nightclubs and beaches; the sprawling metropolis of Jakarta is a melting pot of Indonesian language, food, and architecture; the jungles of Sumatra are home to elephants, tigers, orangutans and other wild creatures; and the palaces and monuments of Yogyakarta offer a glimpse into an ancient civilisation.

Ongoing unrest in Indonesia has had a negative impact on tourism in recent years, but many adventurous travellers still dream of a holiday in the country.

Best time to visit Indonesia

Although the weather is pleasant for most of the year, the best time to visit Indonesia is in the dry season, between May and September. Monsoons can make more remote areas all but inaccessible in the wet months, but tourist hotspots such as Bali, Java and Sumatra are always enjoyable. The least ideal time to visit Indonesia is the period immediately following Ramadan, when the resorts are crowded and prices are high.

What to see in Indonesia

-Visit Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world.

-Get a feel for traditional Indonesian architecture at Indonesia Miniature Park.

-Hike to the colour-changing lakes of Mount Kelimutu on Flores.

-See the fierce stone carvings in Batubulan.

What to do in Indonesia

-Swim with dolphins off the coast of Lovina.

-Party in the busy nightclubs of Bali.

-Go whitewater rafting in Sidemen Valley.

-Spot long-tailed Macaques in the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal.

Getting to Indonesia

There are no direct cheap flights to Indonesia from the UK or the US, but connecting flights are available to Bali, landing at Denpasar International Airport.


Map of the Invisible World by Tash Aw, Twilight in Jakarta by Mochtar Lubis, and A House in Bali by Colin McPhee.


Langgam Jawa and Balinese Gamelan.


Eat, Pray, Love (2010) and The Year of Living Dangerously (1982).


Brem bali (Balinese rice wine).


Nasi goreng (fried rice).

What to buy

Batik or songket fabric.

What to pack

Travellers should be sure to pack layers for a holiday in Indonesia: the cities and jungles can be swelteringly hot, while higher elevations will require a warm coat in the cooler months.

What's on in Indonesia

Get a taste of local arts and culture at the Bali Arts Festival, held each June and July. Bau Nyale is a summer seaworm festival with a surprisingly romantic origin. The Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival brings together artists from around the world each March.

Did you know?

-Indonesia is one of the world's largest producers of nutmeg.

-Of the more than 17,000 Indonesian islands only about 6,000 are inhabited by people.

-There are more than 300 ethnic groups in Indonesia.

A final word

A combination of sunny beaches, dense jungle, colourful traditions and rich history combine in Indonesia to form an ideal holiday destination.