Indonesia Travel Guide: What to Prepare and Where to Go 

Jay Pagkatotohan

Jay Pagkatotohan

Last updated February 02, 2024

Bali may be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear about Indonesia, but there’s more to this country than one province. With more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia has plenty of sights for you to enjoy and cultures to appreciate. 

Planning to visit this country? Preparation is key, given the archipelago’s massive size and sheer number of experiences to offer. This Indonesia travel guide covers everything you need to know, from travel requirements to destination recommendations. 

Read on to learn more.

Indonesia Travel Guidelines: Requirements, Budget, and More 

Sure, drafting your Indonesia travel itinerary is exciting. But before you reach that point, you need to learn how to plan a trip to Indonesia—namely, know the requirements and figure out your budget. 

Check out the following: 

❓ Does Indonesia Require a Tourist Visa? 

Can Filipinos travel to Indonesia without a travel visa? Definitely!

The Philippines is part of Indonesia’s list of countries allowed for visa-free short visits. With this privilege, you can visit the country visa-free for 30 days. However, remember that the given duration is not extendable.[1] 

What documents do I need to travel to Indonesia? Just bring the following on the day of your flight: 

  • Passport with at least six months of validity
  • Round-trip flight tickets
  • Proof of accommodation (hotel or Airbnb booking)
  • Supporting documents that may be asked from you: proof of employment like a Certificate of Employment and proof of financial capacity like a bank statement or certificate

Read more: Traveling Abroad? Here’s a List of Visa-Free Countries for Filipinos

❓ Does Indonesia Still Have COVID-19-Related Rules? 

Indonesia travel rules regarding COVID-19 have been lifted. International visitors are no longer required to present proof of COVID-19 vaccinations. Moreover, the government doesn’t require a PCR test or quarantine for unvaccinated travelers. 

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❓ When is the Best Time to Travel to Indonesia? 

As mentioned, Indonesia is a big archipelago. With its over 17,000 islands, you have a lot of places to explore any time of the year.

While Indonesia is a tropical country, it does have its fair share of rainy days. So the best time to visit the country will depend on your travel plans. 

For instance, if you’re planning to sunbathe, hike, or bike, the dry season is a no-brainer. But if you want quiet and introspective temple hopping, the rainy season may make a good choice since there are fewer tourists. 

Seasoned travelers recommend the months between April and October (with some saying September should be the limit). During this period, the days are warm and sunny, perfect for beach-hopping and countryside trips. 

On the other hand, the November-March period sees rain showers here and there. Therefore, crowds are thinner and prices are cheaper. 

Consider the festivals and holidays as well. For instance, many businesses don’t operate during Ramadan. Check these details before your visit so you can plan your Indonesia travel itinerary accordingly. 

❓ How to Get to Indonesia

indonesia travel guide - how to get to indonesia

Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and Air Asia operate flights from Manila to key Indonesian cities, such as Jakarta and Denpasar (Bali). Likewise, Cathay Pacific offers those routes. 

If you want variety, check out the flights offered by Scoot. Scoot operates flights from Manila to Jakarta, Denpasar, Yogyakarta, Lombok, and Surabaya. 

Read more: Be a Wiser Traveler: Learn the Air Passenger Bill of Rights

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❓ How to Get Around Indonesia

Whether you’re visiting tourist spots in Indonesia or moving from one town to the other, you can take the following modes of transportation:

  • Plane – Since Indonesia is one of the largest countries in the world, flying to explore different islands and key cities is a practical choice. The likes of Garuda Air, Air Asia, and Garuda Air operate domestic routes. 
  • Bus – For long-distance trips, buses are a practical choice since they’re affordable. 
  • Tax – Metered taxis allow you to explore urban areas in comfort. They’re also affordable. 
  • Ride-hailing service – Operators like Grab and Gojek allow you to book your ride. 
  • Train – If you’re in Jakarta, ride the Jakarta MRT, which can connect you to shopping malls, hotels, and some tourist attractions. Key cities on Java Island, such as Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung, are connected by railway. Just last year, Indonesia launched Southeast Asia’s first high-speed railway stretching from Jakarta to Bandung.[2]
  • Ferry or boat – Water vessels can move you between islands. It’s also possible to ride a speedboat in some areas, especially in Bali. 

❓ How to Communicate in Indonesia

Bahasa Indonesia is Indonesia’s official and national language. It's basically a variety of Malay, an Austronesian language spoken in other Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore. On top of that, Indonesians speak their own ethnic language. 

Note that English is not widely spoken. But with Indonesia’s bustling tourism industry, a lot of people can communicate in basic English, especially in Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya, Bandung, and Yogyakarta. 

Read more: Your Handy Guide: Philippines to Malaysia Travel Requirements for 2023

❓ How Much Does a Trip to Indonesia Cost? 

Your budget will depend on your destination in Indonesia. Regardless, it’ll be relatively cheap. 

For instance, those traveling to Bali for four days may have to shell out somewhere between ₱12,000 to ₱15,000—or cheaper if you decide to cut corners. 

The same budget may apply to Jakarta. But if you’re planning to stay longer, an Indonesia one-week trip should cost around ₱20,000 or more.  

Excluded from the said budgets are your flights and pasalubong. You can still reduce your expenses by scoring seat sales. 

Indonesia’s official currency is called the rupiah (Rp). As of this writing, Rp1 is equivalent to ₱0.0036.

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Top 10 Famous Tourist Spots in Indonesia for Your Travel Itinerary 

We know you’re excited to draft your Indonesia travel itinerary. Here are some of the most-visited destinations in the archipelago: 

📍 Bali 

indonesia travel guide - bali

  • Location: Lesser Sunda Islands, East of Java Island
  • How to get there: Book a flight bound for Denpasar. 

Any Indonesia travel guide will always include Bali in their list of must-visit destinations. The province is known for its relaxing beaches, beautiful islands, and stunning temples.  

Among the most popular attractions here include the following: 

  • Kuta Beach – Close to Denpasar Airport, this beach is always packed with tourists. Surfing, sunbathing, playing sports, and shopping are popular activities here.
  • Nusa Islands – Visit three beautiful islands—namely Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, and Nusa Penida. The latter is popular for its T-Rex-shaped headland. 
  • Lempuyang Temple Complex – One of Bali’s most recognizable landmarks, this temple complex gives you a splendid view of Mount Agung. Tour packages usually are usually priced at Rp150,000 or a little over ₱500.
  • Seminyak – If you’re looking to cover beach activities, dining, and shopping in one day, Seminyak is the place to be. It has a slew of fancy boutiques and restaurants perfect for discerning travelers. 

Read more: Bali, Indonesia Travel Guide: Get to Know This Paradise Down South

📍 Jakarta 

  • Location: Northwest Java 
  • How to get there: Book a flight bound for Jakarta 

Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, has a colorful history. Known as Sunda Kelapa in the fourth century, this is one of the oldest cities in Southeast Asia that’s been continually inhabited. It’s also Indonesia’s cultural center. 

If you’re visiting Jakarta, here are some of the places you shouldn’t miss: 

  • Merdeka Square and The National Monument – Measuring 75 hectares, Merdeka Square is one of the largest squares in the world. At its center is the National Monument which you can climb for a fee of Rp15,000 or around ₱50. 
  • Thousand Islands – Within the city territory lies a collection of islands with relaxing beach resorts. Tour packages to Thousand Islands usually cost around Rp1,575,890 or around ₱5,600. 
  • Istiqlal Mosque – Hailed as the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, Istiqlal Mosque can accommodate 200,000 people. 
  • Ancol Dreamland – Got kids in tow? Take them to this theme park and let them enjoy roller coasters, water rides, and an aquarium. 

📍 Bandung 

indonesia travel guide - bandung

  • Location: West Java Province
  • How to get there: From Jakarta’s Gambir Train Station, ride a train bound for Bandung. 

Known as the City of Flowers, Bandung is one of the best Indonesia travel spots. It’s a two- to three-hour drive away from Jakarta, making it an ideal day tour. Since it’s cool and pleasant all year round, Bandung is also a great escape from Jakarta’s heat and humidity. 

Geology enthusiasts will have a good time at Tangkuban Perahu, an active volcano just right outside the city. The Bandung countryside boasts various tea fields, which you can visit for free. 

There’s also a floating market in Lembang that allows you to dine and take in the mountainous scenery. Entrance to this attraction costs around Rp29,000 or around ₱105. 

Read more: Going Abroad? Try These Hacks to Save Money on Food While Traveling

📍 Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park

  • Location: East Java Province 
  • How to get there: From Jakarta’s Gambir Station or Pasar Senen Station, ride a train bound for Malang Station. 

Those fascinated with volcanoes will be in awe when they visit Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. Covering an area of 800 square kilometers, the national park is a massive volcanic region in East Java Province.

With its size, there are certainly lots of things to do within the national park. If you want to take things easy, ride a jeep or a motorbike to explore the five-hectare Tengger Sand Sea. Feeling adventurous? You may hike to the top of Mount Bromo or Mount Semeru. 

📍 Lombok 

indonesia travel guide - lombok

  • Location: West Nusa Tenggara Province 
  • How to get there: From Bali, take a 30-minute plane ride bound for Lombok. A flight from Jakarta takes 1.5 hours. 

Lombok is one of the best Indonesia tourist spots for beach lovers. It’s a good alternative to the bustling province of Bali since it’s quieter and more peaceful. 

Those looking for a unique beach should head over to Pink Beach where the sand is rosy pink. If you’re after white sand, Tanjung Aan Beach is for you. 

Lombok has a wealth of spots perfect for surfing and snorkeling. Come nighttime, you can enjoy parties by the beach on some islands. 

📍 Yogyakarta 

indonesia travel guide - yogyakarta

  • Location: Special Region of Yogyakarta, South-Central Java
  • How to get there: From Jakarta’s Gambir Station or Pasar Senen Station, take a train bound for Yogyakarta Station or Lempuyangan Station. 

Yogyakarta is a vibrant city on Java Island known for its cultural treasures and natural wonders. It will also thrill art appreciators for its artisan-related activities. 

Cambodia’s Siem Reap has Angkor Wat, but Yogyakarta has Borobudur and Prambanan. These temples are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with the latter being the second-largest Hindu temple in Southeast Asia. 

Shopaholics will surely have the time of their lives at Malioboro Street, a street lined with shops, restaurants, and hotels. Artsy travelers, on the other hand, may want to join a batik-making class or a silversmith workshop.

Read more: Go on a Temple Run: Travel Requirements and Places to Go in Cambodia

📍 Labuan Bajo

indonesia travel guide - labuan bajo

  • Location: East Nusa Tenggara Province
  • How to get there: From Bali, take a 45- to 60-minute flight bound for Labuan Bajo. 

Labuan Bajo is a must-have in every Indonesia travel itinerary. Located in East Indonesia, this fishing village is a place where you can live your small-town life dreams. Activities within the coastal town include island hopping, snorkeling, and diving. 

Explore the beautiful marine world by visiting popular diving spots, such as Manta Point, Tatawa Besar, and Sebayur Kecil, among others. If you simply want to chill, visit one of the charming coffee shops around town. 

Catch the majestic sunset at one of Labuan Bajo’s viewing points. These include Sylvia Hill, Bukit Cinta, and Paradise Bar, which is located on the top of a cliff. 

📍 Komodo National Park 

  • Location: Between East Nusa Tenggara and West Nusa Tenggara, Lesser Sunda Islands
  • How to get there: From Bali, take a flight bound for Labuan Bajo. From there, book a boat tour. 

Another location that must be in every Indonesia travel guide is the exotic Komodo National Park. You can reach this natural attraction via Labuan Bajo. 

As the name suggests, Komodo National Park is home to Komodo Dragons, the largest lizards on Earth.[3] These giant reptiles live on the park’s five islands: Komodo, Gili Montang, Rinca, Gili Dasami, and Rinca. 

With its 29 islands, Komodo National Park boasts diverse flora and fauna. Its marine biodiversity is among the richest in the world. 

Given the reputation of its marine biodiversity, the park has numerous diving sites. There is also a collection of pink beaches complemented by crystal-clear waters. 

A breathtaking view awaits you on Padar Island. Hike one of its hills and once you reach the summit, you’ll be treated to a panoramic view of the island and its beaches. 

📍 Tanjung Puting National Park

indonesia travel guide - tanjung puting

  • Location: West Kotawaringin Regency, Kalimantan
  • How to get there: From Jakarta, take a flight bound for Pangkalan Bun. 

Located in Borneo Island, Tanjung Puting National Park is a sprawling haven of greenery. With a size of more than 4,000 square kilometers, it boasts different types of forests, a few of which are home to orangutans, proboscis monkeys, gibbons, bearded pigs, dwarf kingfishers, and more. 

You can enter Tanjung Puting National Park via river cruise. With this mode of exploration, you’ll be boarding and temporarily living in a klotok, a two-story boat. Tour packages let tourists immerse themselves in wildlife for up to five days and four nights. 

Read more: Being Your Own Tour Operator: Guide to DIY Travel Planning

📍 Lake Toba 

  • Location: Balige, North Sumatra Province 
  • How to get there: From Jakarta, take a flight bound for Silangit Airport. From there, take public transportation bound for Ajibata Harbor. From Ajibata Harbor, ride a boat going to Samosir Island. 

In the far west of Indonesia lies the massive island of Sumatra. This region is home to rich flora and fauna, including Sumatran tigers, Sumatran elephants, rafflesias, and pines.

Among the best places to visit on the island is Lake Toba, which occupies the caldera of a supervolcano. It’s Indonesia’s largest lake and the world’s largest volcanic lake. But its volcanic past is covered by peaceful greenery and diverse wildlife.  

Visiting Lake Toba won’t be complete without a restful stay at Samosir Island. This island, which is almost as big as Singapore, lies at the center of the lake. Here you can go on a gastronomic adventure, bike around, shop ‘til you drop, or immerse yourself in the local culture. 

Related: Vietnam Travel Guide: Enjoy Your Visit With These Recommendations

Dos and Don’ts in Indonesia 

indonesia travel guide - dos and don'ts

Indonesia travel tips should include dos and don’ts while you’re in the country. Remembering these things will ensure your comfort, keep you from committing social blunders, and offending the locals. 

Take note of the following: 

👍 Dos in Indonesia

  • Dress modestly. Keep this rule in mind if you’re planning to visit temples and mosques. Forgot to bring appropriate clothes? Wear the sarong that will be provided for you at your destination. 
  • Wear light and comfortable clothing. This is especially true when you’re visiting the beaches. Indonesia is a tropical country, so expect the heat. 
  • Use sunscreen. As mentioned, Indonesia is hot. Protect your skin from the sun by using sunscreen. 
  • Remove your footwear. This is a must-do whenever you’re stepping inside someone’s home or a holy place. Some establishments, such as shops and restaurants, even impose this rule. Pro tip: wear flip-flops. They’re comfy and easy to take off. 
  • Always bring cash. Credit cards are accepted in many malls, shops, and restaurants in Indonesia. But if you’re going off the beaten path, cash can get you snacks from a local mom-and-pop shop or make tipping easy. 
  • Follow the wildlife protocols. When visiting national and wildlife parks, follow the rules religiously. Maintain cleanliness and don’t touch the animals or certain plants.  
  • Try the local cuisine. Don’t miss out on the exciting and flavorful dishes of the archipelago. Trying local fares is one way to discover and appreciate the archipelago’s multitude of cultures. 
  • Learn local phrases. Indonesians in touristy areas can speak and understand basic English. But it doesn’t hurt to learn a few local phrases. Making an effort shows that you respect and appreciate Indonesian culture. 
  • Get a portable Wi-Fi device or tourist SIM card. You’ll be out and about most of the time, so stay online with an internet device. 

👎 Don'ts in Indonesia

  • Don’t bring or do drugs. Possession of drugs in Indonesia is a serious offense. It’s even punishable by death. 
  • Avoid drinking tap water since it’s not potable. 
  • Don’t start conversations about the country’s government or military force. Government-related topics are usually sensitive. 
  • Don’t make inappropriate remarks related to religion and ethnicity. Always respect the people you meet in the country, whether they’re Indonesians or not. 
  • Avoid using your left hand when handing or accepting things. Indonesians believe that the left hand is reserved for dirty work (e.g. cleaning the toilet). 

How to Stay Safe While Traveling in Indonesia

indonesia travel guide - how to stay safe

Is Indonesia safe if you’re traveling alone? Is Indonesia safe for solo female travelers? What are the safest places to travel to in Indonesia?

You’ll be glad to know that the country, especially popular areas like Jakarta or Bali, is generally safe for travelers. But that’s not an excuse to drop your guard. 

Protect yourself with these Indonesia travel tips regarding safety and security: 

  • Some unregistered tour guides offer affordable packages. Avoid them as much as possible. Tour with a properly accredited guide instead. 
  • Tourist spots are full of pickpockets, so always keep an eye on your belongings. Use a zipper bag. Always divide your cash and keep it in separate places (some in your bag and some in your pocket). 
  • Ride an accredited taxi instead of those on the street. This will help you avoid scams. 
  • Lock your passport in the hotel safe. Just take a picture of it on your phone or bring a scanned copy when going out. 
  • Check the waters and waves before swimming. If you’re with your guide, follow their instructions to a T. The same rule applies to hiking and trekking. 
  • Don’t go out alone at night. Make it a point to finish all your sightseeing during the day. 
  • Always update your family members about your whereabouts and activities. 

Read more: Welcome to the Land of the Free: Thailand Travel Requirements in 2023

Final Thoughts 

Saying that Indonesia is magnificent is an understatement. It has a lot of things to offer to all kinds of travelers. 

It’s relatively affordable, the food is great, and the people are warm—all of these make for a memorable trip! May your trip be fun and hassle-free with the help of this Indonesia travel guide. 

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Jay is a marketing communications professional who specializes in short-form and long-form content. He has written ads for TV, radio, print, and digital. He has also produced corporate blogs, magazine features, white papers, product listings, reviews, and press releases for clients here and abroad. When he’s not writing, Jay plays the piano or takes pictures for his visual diary. Follow Jay on LinkedIn.


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