Planning Your Trip to Indonesia
It might come as a shock to many, but Indonesia is the largest country in Southeast Asia by total land size. You could spend an entire year here and barely scratch the surface of its more than 17,000 islands. A more manageable timeframe, however, is around 10 days. If you want to spend all that time enjoying the famed resorts of Bali, that is certainly an option. But you could also strike out on adventures around remote archipelagos or discover unique cultures, like on a highlights tour of Java.
With two weeks to spare, you can expand your horizons and cruise around beautiful islands most tourists have never heard of. Or embark on multi-day treks and visit ancient temples from East Java to Bali. Fourteen days is also a great amount of time to enjoy an unforgettable honeymoon or venture deep into the jungles of Sumatra to spend time with wild orangutans.
In seven days, you can explore one or two different parts of Indonesia. Perhaps visit the islands of Flores and Komodo to spot some dragons, snorkel the coral reefs near North Sulawesi Island, or discover the cultural wonders of Borneo and Java. Even if you only have five days to spare, that's still long enough for boat rides around Bali, tours of Java, or a beach getaway in Lombok and Komodo.
Indonesia in 5 Days
With only five days in Indonesia, it's best to stick to a single highlight locale like Bali or Java, which should also leave time for a sailing tour to nearby islands.
This island adventure is an excellent example of how to get the most out of a couple of locales in a short time. With Bali as your base, you'll zip around on a motorbike and see highlights like Pura Goa Giri Putri Cave, an underground temple. Then hop on a sailboat near Nusa Penida, a small isle known for its dramatic sea cliffs, unique rock formations, and crescent beaches. You'll explore the coast and snorkel amid tropical fish and manta rays here. Finish the trip on Bali's beaches and enjoy a bit of nightlife.
If you'd rather focus on history and culture, consider a highlights tour of Java. This island is the country's economic center, but this trip is all about the awe-inspiring religious sites. It starts in the city of Yogyakarta with a tour of the 200 shrines at the 9th-century sacred temple of Prambanan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not to be outdone, you'll then visit Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world. After touring the markets and palaces of the nearby city of Surakarta, spend your last day trekking up the slopes of Mount Lawu in Java's highlands.
Or experience the highlights of Bali on a classic tour. It starts in the upland town of Ubud, the artistic center of the country. Here you'll tour Ubud Palace, get cultured at the Agung Rai Museum of Art, and hang out with the devious primate residents at Ubud Monkey Forest. Then soar through the jungle on zip-lines and rope swings, followed by a day trip to Nusa Lembongan Island to snorkel around the coral reefs. The trip winds down in the resort area of Seminyak, on Bali's southern coast. Enjoy fresh seafood, visit 15th-century sea temples, go surfing, or horseback riding on the beach.
Check out this article for more five-day itineraries.
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Indonesia in 7 Days
Seven days allows more flexibility in that you can embark on additional excursions, spend time on more than one island, or enjoy off-the-beaten-path adventures in Indonesia's less-visited provinces and islands.
Rugged individualists thirsting for off-the-beaten-path adventure should head to Flores and the Komodo Archipelago. The trip starts on Flores, in eastern Indonesia, where you'll board a boat to explore hidden sea caves. Stretch your legs with inland hikes to waterfalls in limestone river canyons, then hike near rice fields to an indigenous village where you'll overnight with a host family. A boat will be your home for the remainder of the trip as you sail around the Savu Sea, snorkel coral reefs, and go on nature walks around Komodo to spot exotic animals, including the famous dragon.
This North Sulawesi itinerary is another experience that's off the tourist trail. Meet your guide in Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi Province, and then head out on six days of adventure. Embark on sunrise hikes up to the lip of volcano craters, brave the rapids on a rafting trip down the Nimanga River, visit a wildlife rescue center in the unspoiled Tangkoko National Park, and overnight in wooden cabins on the little-inhabited Bunaken Island. Located in Bunaken National Marine Park, it's a great place to snorkel, take a kayak ride, or stroll the beaches between villages.
A venture to Borneo and Java combines nature tours and culture to deliver the trip of a lifetime. It begins in the capital of Jakarta to experience its melting pot of international cultures, sample delicious street food, and stroll the historic center of Kota Tua. Then it's off to Borneo, an island in the Malay Archipelago, where you'll snake along the Sekonyer River to Tanjung Puting National Park. Beyond spotting wild animals like monkeys and bush pigs, you'll spend time with the area's famous orangutans on a visit to a rehabilitation center. Then it's off to Java to tour the 26,900-sq-foot (2,500-m) Borobudur Temple.
Check out this article for more week-long itineraries.
Indonesia in 10 Days
With 10 days at your disposal, you can dive deep into the cultural heritage of Bali and Java or spend that time on the water as you sail around island archipelagos.
See the real Bali on a trip to Ubud, where you'll take a cooking class and learn to prepare traditional Indonesian cuisine. Hike along terraced rice paddies to a village where you'll be hosted by a Balinese family who will teach you how to tend rice fields. Then venture deep into the highland coffee farms of Munduk for a canoe ride on Tamblingan Lake. Follow that with a stop at Brahma Vihara Arama, the largest Buddhist monastery on the island. Snorkeling the coral reef at Menjangan Island precedes a trip to the 131-foot (40-m) Les Waterfall, and finally, you'll take a drive along Bali's scenic east coast.
You can't do better than sailing around Rajat Ampat to truly get away from it all. Located in West Papua, in far eastern Indonesia, this archipelago consists of hundreds of islands, which you'll get to explore on a 30-foot schooner. The highlights of this 10-day ocean adventure include watching the sunrise over secluded bays, snorkeling around coral atolls, visiting emerald-green karst mountains, and swimming in hidden lagoons. Rounding out the experience are jungle hikes, spotting manta rays and reef sharks, and enjoying a traditional meal in a Papuan village.
If you'd prefer to spend your time in one region, this best-of-Java trip is the perfect option. Start with exploring the savannas and mangrove forests of Baluran National Park to spot exotic animals like leopards and rhinos. Awake early the next couple of days for hikes up volcanoes to enjoy the sunrise over crater lakes, plus visit the incredible network of waterfalls at Tumpak Sewu, which plunge 393 feet (120 m) into a jungle lagoon. In the last couple of days, you'll visit temples and agricultural villages around Yogyakarta to meet local farmers and learn to make traditional batik fabrics.
Check out this article for more 10-day itineraries.
Indonesia in 2 Weeks
Two weeks is a great schedule to enjoy a romantic honeymoon in Indonesia, take the family trip of a lifetime, or embark on a long-distance trekking adventure.
This honeymoon in Bali is the perfect option for active newlyweds. It begins in the seaside town of Sanur, home to charming boutiques, great restaurants, and indulgent spas. After a couple of days relaxing, drive into the highlands to visit Hindu temples at Beratan Lake. Snorkeling around corals at Menjangan Island and bathing in Banjar Hot Springs are also unforgettable experiences, as is a hike through the jungle to romantic waterfalls. Continue the road trip to Ubud, and after a sunrise hike up an active volcano, you'll take a boat to the tiny Gili Islands to swim with sea turtles and unwind on white-sand beaches.
If you've long since tied the knot, then a family trip to Indonesia is another great vacation idea. The itinerary begins at Tanah Lot, an island off the coast of Bali, home to an ancient Hindu pilgrimage temple. Then head north into the mountains of Munduk. Here, take a canoe ride on Beratan, hike to waterfalls, and soak in hot springs. Kids and adults will love visiting the Monkey Forest in Ubud, whitewater rafting on the Ayung River, and touring the tropical gardens of a reptile and bird sanctuary. A speed boat will then whisk you off to the Gili Islands for snorkeling, and the trip finishes on Sanur's beaches.
Alternatively, hit the trails on a trek from East Java to Bali. Take it easy the first night with a leisurely dinner in Sanur, then fly to Yogyakarta and visit landmarks like the Sultan Palace and Prambanan Temple, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. Head east along tea plantations and hop a train to the caldera of Bromo Volcano. Hike up the crater rim and then head over to East Java for a tour of the coffee/rubber plantations of Kaliklatak. A sunrise walk leads to the top of Kawah Ljen Volcano, famous for its blue lava. Round out the trip with island excursions and hiking across lava fields up to the summit of Batur Volcano.
Check out this article for more two-week itineraries.
More Great Indonesia Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Indonesia? Check out these other Indonesia itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.