Indonesia is a truly underrated land. Rich in culture and geographical wonders, this South-East Asian gem is a must-visit for those seeking beauty and wonder. Looking for Indonesian highlights not to be missed? You’ve landed on the right post. Planning a trip can be an intimidating task- especially when there is so much to see. Read this guide for the perfect 2-week itinerary for Indonesia to truly experience the best bits this country has to offer in half a month.
Table of contents: ()
- Best time to visit and enjoy ideal weather
- Let’s talk Visas
- Travel on a budget
- The beautiful culture and friendly locals
- Festivals and Culture
- Getting to Indonesia
- Getting Around (how to travel between Indonesian islands)
- Where to Stay in Indonesia
- Activities to try in Indonesia
- 2-week Itinerary Bali and Lombok
- Where to visit next?
Indonesia is home to over 17,000 beaches, volcanic mountains, friendly locals, unforgettable carnivals, ancient temples, and majestic waterfalls. Indonesia holds a special place in the heart of all those who dare to visit it. While I truly believe that even a couple of months fall short for experiencing the beauty of this country, I realize that not all of us can pack our bags and traipse across the world. For all those looking to experience the essence of this country, I have compiled an enviable itinerary that is sure to be remembered.
Best time to visit and enjoy ideal weather
Indonesia experiences two types of weather splitting the year-the Dry season and the Wet season. Each season has its own perks and drawbacks. The Dry season spans from May to September while the rain falls wash this tropical country leaving it lush, muddy, and wet between October through April. The best part is that Indonesia has a warm tropical climate with temperatures reaching an average of 28°C during the daytime, around the year.
If you are not a fan of water-sport activities and muddy roads and want to bask in the glorious warmth, visit during the dry season-but be warned, the country tends to get packed with tourists during the peak season.
Let’s talk Visas
A 30-day visa on arrival is available for over 169 countries in Indonesia. If you fall in love with the place and are craving to extend your stay, you will have to stand in a special queue at immigration customs for the ‘tourist visa’.
Contrary to the popular belief that Indonesian food is comprised of bland noodles and rice, the food here is truly underrated and deserves more recognition. Compared to other countries in the region, the food here offers a burst of all kinds of flavor. Local food will leave your mouth-watering with the generous flavors of coconut milk and spices. These are fused together to create a delectable cuisine.
Unsure of what to amaze your taste buds with, first? Try the dishes such as the Rendang; the absolutely wonderful mixture of spices cooked in coconut milk made with beef or other variations that originated from Padang, Sumatra. It has a spicy, scintillating taste that has earned it a spot in the list of CNN Travel’s “World’s Most Delicious Food”.
Travel on a budget
Indonesia guarantees a lifetime of memories for you, no matter how deep or shallow your pockets may be. After all, why should fun come at the cost of your annual savings? It is entirely possible to enjoy an action-packed two-week trip to Indonesia on a limited budget. The country is pretty reasonable and cheap when compared to other famous holiday destinations. I advise you to book hotels, air tickets and even tours months in advance to avail of early-bird discounts and offers.
The peak season is during the summer break (June/July) and New Years and that is when the flock of people head to this beautiful archipelago to enjoy their break. Air tickets, hotels, and various other prices tend to hike during the peak season in Indonesia, just like everywhere else in the world. Traveling at the start of the wet season from October to March will be cheaper and more suitable for those who can afford to take two weeks off from work and have flexible schedules (you lucky lot.) and don’t mind a wee bit of rain.
Furthermore, staying at hostels, eating local delicacies, and using public transport as you hunt for free entry passes and cheap activities will allow you to experience Indonesia at its best. Trust me, traveling to this exotic destination may seem incredibly pricey but it is simply not.
The currency is Indonesian ‘Rupiah (Rp)’ that amounts to almost 0.000072 USD and 0.000055 Pound sterling for a decent meal and a good day you will suffice in less than 500,000 Rp if you are on a tight budget (around 34 USD).
The beautiful culture and friendly locals
Indonesia has over 300 different languages, but one National language binds almost everyone: Bahasa Indonesia. Indonesia has the largest population of Muslims in any country in the world. Even so, some of the most stunning historic Buddist temples can be found in Indonesia. Yogyakarta, on the island of Java, is also a wonderful place to explore the huge Hindu temple complexes Borobudur and Prambanan.
Yogyakarta is also a cultural epicenter with electric concerts, incredible art exhibitions, and a taste of heritage displayed via shadow-puppet shows that go all night.
Bali, which is one of its most popular destinations, is the only Hindu-majority province with a great number of temples still in use.
Festivals and Culture
The Muslim month of Ramadan is an entire month of religious fasting and abstinence and I advise our travelers to wait until the end of Ramadan as most of the eateries and stores are closed down during this period. However, a good tip is to utilize this month to book hotels and transportation. The Balinese New Year – Nyepi is celebrated in March and is definitely worth witnessing.
Getting to Indonesia
Indonesia has some great, recently upgraded international airports that are sophisticated and full of world-class amenities. Almost all the major international airlines service Indonesia, although they might stop in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore first.
Indonesia’s main national airline is Garuda Indonesia that serves Jakarta and Bali via Asia, Amsterdam, and Australia, meanwhile, Air Asia is a cheaper alternative that serves numerous Indonesian destinations from Singapore, Bangkok, Australia, and Kuala Lumpur.
The busiest, most crowded airport in Indonesia is the Juanda Airport, Surabaya. It has remarkable architecture and facilities. The departure tax is included in the airfare.
Up to 8 more airports are ultra-modern and serve passengers traveling to Indonesia from all corners of the world. Indonesia has historically had some safety issues because of challenging flying conditions at times but, currently, all Indonesian airlines have worked their way back onto the EU Air Safety List.
Travel by Boat and Ferry
Cruise in the wonderful blue as you embark on a journey to Indonesia via sea. Belawan (Medan), Dumai, and Padang Sumatra are the main ports in the country while Ferries travel to Belawan and Padang via Malaysia.
Getting Around (and how to travel between Indonesian islands)
Home to countless islands, each offering something profound and distinctive, the next step after you reach is figuring out how to travel between the Indonesian Islands. The smartest and most enjoyable option? Travel via water, of course. Ferries rule the Indonesian waters and you can find regular ones that travel between the most famous islands such as Bali, Sumatra, Lombok, and Java.
Pelni is the largest ferry company and is state-run. It has passenger lines that run through all major ports while ASDP is another ferry line that runs about 180 ferry routes across the state. Tickets can be conveniently booked online.
Other popular options include air travel, rail, boats, and buses too. The domestic airlines such as Garuda, Lion Air, and Air Asia are good options for air travel between the islands.
Buses are a great source of urban travel but it is only Jakarta, for now, that offers a well-maintained bus service with affordable tickets. The network of roads and the quality are consistently improving in the country and but I would not suggest driving on smaller islands as they tend to get muddy and inconvenient. Remember, you will need a valid International Drivers permit if you are not from ASEAN member states. In Indonesia, you drive on the left side of the road while speed limits are usually up to 31 mph inter-city, 62 mph on highways, and 50 mph in rural areas.
Want to bike around the islands? Travelers can rent bikes from reputed vendors and helmets should be worn at all costs.
Railway networks are extensive in the country and PT Kereta Api is the Indonesian train operator offering business, executive, and economy class travel for travelers.
Where to Stay in Indonesia
Whether you crave luxury, budgeted options, or natural locations to truly experience Indonesian beauty, there are plenty of options to choose from.
For luxury accommodation head to the exotic island of Bali that quite rightly placed Indonesia on the map of holiday destinations. Trust-worthy, 5-star hotel chains such as Four Seasons Resort (Sayan) Amandari Bali, Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort and the COMO Shambala Estate are award-winning hotel chains and resorts that will pamper you and leave you coming back for more.
Looking for humble options? Head to bread and butter hotels such as Bread and Jam Hotel, Captain Goose, and Lokal Bali House. Renting a Kost or hostel in Indonesia is a suitable option and very easy to do-just pay upfront and enjoy. Airbnb is also a good option. Be sure to check host details before planning on staying at an Airbnb of your choice.
Lombok is Bali’s quieter and more serene neighbor. With pristine beaches and unspoiled beauty more and more tourists, as well as celebrities, are heading to this stunning island East of Bali for a more natural and raw experience. Government initiatives have rendered Lombok as the fastest growing tourist destination in Indonesia and you can rest assured that your trip to Indonesia will be even more enjoyable here. Lombok is home to paradise resorts that must not be missed. From The Oberoi, Puri Mas, Jeeva Klui to the living Asia Resort, there are plenty more 5-star options for those who do not compromise on comfort and opulence combined. Your money will certainly be well-spent as you gaze at gorgeous views and sip refreshing cocktails under the brilliant sun.
Want to save some money and not return home penniless? Try the best mid-range hotel in Lombok -the Karar Lombok Boutique Hotel and the Sikara Lombok Hotel for an even more affordable price point. Trendy Home in the Heart of Kuta is the best Airbnb for a home away from home feel while Ike’s Hostel is affordable and caters to all the basic needs.
Activities to try in Indonesia
What good is an itinerary if it doesn’t deliver some action-packed entertainment? Home of the adventurer-souls and global trotters, Indonesia does not hold back when it comes to activities to try and memories to take back home. Welcome to Indonesia-you will never want to return. I understand that daring to a plan a 2-week trip to such a diverse and versatile country like Indonesia can be a daunting task, but I am here to help you chalk out the best of the best activities that you cannot leave Indonesia without trying. These activities are not specific to just one region but instead celebrate Indonesia as a whole.
Diving and Snorkeling
Befriend the deep blue and change your life forever. The Coral Triangle is the perfect spot to dive in for it is an amalgam of waters around Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands in one area of the Pacific Ocean. Hop atop a liveaboard boat onwards to Raja Ampat Islands in the West Papua Province. Those who dare to dive here will be surprised to witness 75% of the coral species in the world here. Snorkel freely and witness unreal underwater beauty. Another recommended site for snorkeling is the underwater temple garden in Nusa Lembongan where you will witness the larger than life Buddha statues. It is truly fascinating.
Indonesia is deemed as heaven for surfers-and rightly so. The shoreline is home to crazy waves-from large barrels to beginner waves, you will find something for all types of surfers, so why hold back? From famous surf sports such as Medewi and Canggu in Bali to quieter, more peaceful, and isolated areas like Batu Karas and G-land in Java to Lombok and epic waves with cleaner shorelines-there is plenty to check out and enjoy in Indonesia when it comes to surfing. What are you waiting for? Get your surf on.
Ubud Monkey Forest
A famous part of Indonesia is the Ubud Monkey Forest that is home to grey macaques that wander the area with their long-tails and dominating presence. Ancient statues depicting Balinese art and stunning architecture is a treat to witness.
Hike to Mount Rinjani and Mount Batur
The mighty Mount Rinjani of Gunung Rinjani in Lombok has a height of 3,738 meters with a view at the top that is impossible to forget. I recommend hiking to Mount Batur and enjoy its beauty via booking a sunrise tour o truly appreciate its beauty. Explore the magnificence of an active volcano by hiking Mt Batur in Bali.
Book a sunrise tour that starts in the wee hours so that you can catch the sunrise from the summit. These hikes may seem daunting and frankly speaking, they are not for the faint-hearted. But once conquered it is worth all the sweat and fear for the view at the top is something right out of a fairytale. Nearly impossible to describe, it must be viewed in person.
2-week Itinerary Bali and Lombok
Day 1-3 Bali Denpasar
Land in Bali the iconic Indonesian Island that has managed to stay the focus of attention for years and years thanks to all that it has to offer. It is the tourist hub of Indonesia and it makes sense to embark on your two-week travel plan in Indonesia from here.
Let’s start off with the city that lies to the South – Denpasar, the capital of Bali. There is plenty to do in this bustling city and I recommend taking 3 days to fully explore it.
Day 1 and 2
Roam around the city market to taste distinctive fresh fruits and vegetables or marvel at the local handicrafts and buy a precious token for back home. History lovers will enjoy the Bali Museum to learn more about the city’s historic background. A must-visit is definitely the Bird Market and experience the quaint flitter flutter of a hundred exotic bird species and also pets in this quaint little market bustling with local flavors. I recommend visiting the city center to look at the Jaganatha temple too.
Explore the interesting bakery by the day and concert hall at night, the Amsterdam Modern Bakery Restaurant, to enjoy some baked goodies and music. It is now Party time. Head to Sky garden to let loose around 25 minutes away via a drive to Kuta to do so. Visit the Puputan square, the open urban modern space that also features the eerie suicidal stand of Rajas of Badung. You must head to Uluwatu that is perched on a cliff one hour south and has a very famous surfing spot. Marvelous temples await your arrival here. To the North an hour away, you must now head to Ubud, the Balinese wonder.
Day 4, 5 and 6 – Ubud
Ubud has plenty more to offer than just rice terraces. Modern buildings, luxurious spaces, posh cafes, and swanky restaurants or enjoy the thrilling water sport that is water rafting in the Ayung River, nestled in lush green tropical forests. The Ubud Art Market and the Sacred Monkey Forest sanctuary are must-visit spots.
Day 7, 8 and 9 – Mount Batur, Amed and Tulamben
This active Volcano site in Ubud is a 2 to 3-hour hike that will take you to the most gorgeous view from the top and a Crater Lake Batur. Gaze at the local villages from the top and book a sunrise tour to witness the sunrise on the horizon as it illuminates this volcanic site. You cannot climb the volcano without a tour guide.
Amed and Tulamben
Agung is the tallest mountain in Bali while Amed is a pretty fishing village with boats daintily dotting the shore. The Hot diving spot is Tulamben and is renowned for having some of the best diving sites in Bali.
Day 9-14 Lombok and Gili Islands
Day 9 and 10
Head to the calmer and less crowded neighbor of Bali the ever so gorgeous Lombok that is a hidden Indonesian Gem where a plethora of activities await your arrival. Spend your days here enjoying amazing waves for surfing, diving, water rafting, and the most thrilling sport of all – Paragliding.
Hike to the active volcano site that is Mount Rinjani and camp at the top to witness the view.
Day 11 and 12
I suggest that you truly enjoy the multitude of things to do on Lombok island, which is so different from Bali, Head to the ‘Tanjung Ringitt Eco Region’ in South-east. This stunning region is a well-preserved wonder that hosts pink-sand beaches and unique limestone cliffs that will leave you awe-struck with their sheer beauty.
Enjoying the process of culturing a South Sea pearl at a pearl farm on the north coast of Lombok.
Day 13 and 14
No trip to Lombok is complete without visiting the magical waterfalls of Sendang Gile. Also visit the “River of Gods’ is the goose-bump inducing name given to the Visit the holy temple of Suranadi. This beautiful temple is situated in the Suranadi Natural Park that hosts the dazzling Benang Kelambu Waterfall that will steal your breath away surrounded by lush green forests. It is a piece of paradise.
Where to visit next?
South East Asia is a gem that the world often neglects. Now that your 2-week itinerary to Indonesia draws to an end, why not start planning your next trip? Travel to Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, and Cambodia to witness another flavor of life, art, and culture that is distinctive to South East Asia