November is right in the middle of the wet season and most of the islands get hit with rain and monsoon storms this time of year. However, the rain isn't consistent throughout the day. Most of the time, storms roll in out of the blue with great force in the late morning or early afternoon. It rains hard for several hours and then clears up almost instantly, returning right away to sunny skies. The temperatures remain hot throughout, averaging anywhere from 84*F to 98°F, depending on where you are in the country.
Crowds and Costs
If you're the kind of tourist who prefers smaller crowds—and you're willing to sacrifice some of the idyllic weather conditions to have them—November is actually an excellent time of the year to plan a vacation. Unlike the summertime, when the beaches are packed with people and it's hard to find room at the tourist attractions, visitors thin out significantly. On top of that, prices go down too. Hotels switch over to low-season rates and it's common to find deals on lodging, as well as airfare.
Where to Go
One of the best islands to visit in November is Bali because it's not as susceptible to the rainstorms as other parts of the country. It definitely still gets rain—don't expect dry skies—but compared to places like Lombok or Sumatra, it's not as hard hit. Another great things about focusing on Bali is that its infrastructure is stronger due to the high tourism numbers, so you won't find as many roads flooding, power lines going down, or other wet season issues that affect some of the other islands.
Java is another good option. Although it's a bit rainier than Bali, it too has good infrastructure, largely due to the capital city of Jakarta which is there. East Java receives less precipitation than the western side of the island so if you opt to head over, stick to places like Surabaya, Lumpur, and the surrounding areas.
If you're up for an adventure, the Moluccas Islands (also called the Spice Islands) can also make good November destinations. These lesser-visited islands have different rainy seasons than other parts of the country so they aren't as wet this time of year. They're considerably more remote, however, so keep in mind that you won't enjoy the same level of amenities. Wifi will be spottier and there won't be as much in the way of restaurants or nightlife. That said, if your goal is simply to unplug and enjoy nature, the region offers spectacular national parks with beautiful beaches and idyllic sunsets.
Nusa Tenggara, Lombok, and Flores get considerable amounts of rain in November so unless you have your heart set on a specific activity or tourist attraction, it's best to avoid them this time of year.
What to Do
Head to Bali where you can explore the central part of the country that has better wet season activities available. In Ubud, for example, hike, bike, or stroll through the rice paddies are lush and green in November, offering picturesque photo opportunities. While you're there, take a class at the Yoga Barn or visit the traditional silversmiths at the Celuk village just outside of town. And no visit to Ubud is complete without a trip to the famous Monkey Forest (Mandala Suci Wenara Wana). This natural park, which sits in the middle of town, is home to more than 1,000 Balinese long-tailed monkeys. The mischievous primates are accustomed to tourists and won't be afraid to jump on your shoulders and climb all over you as they beg for bananas and other treats.
From Ubud, make your way up to Bedugul where the stunning Ulun Danu Temple perches on the water of Baratan Lake. Sunrise at this scenic temple, which was built to honor the goddess of the lake, is actually best during the rainy season. If you're up for some adrenaline, the Bali Treetop Adventure Park is nearby, too. Or, if you're more in the mood for something tranquil, try wandering through the Bali Botanic Garden.
If you decide to head to Java, check out Surabaya. The large urban city has a vibrant food scene with delicious restaurants and top-notch nightlife. There's also great shopping malls, museums, mosques, and art galleries. Or, if you enjoy exploring temples, head over to Yogyakarta to experience the sacred Borobudur Temple complex or check out the Candi Prambanan complex near Borobudur.
Events in November
Hari Pahlawan (Hero's Day): This national public holiday, which falls on Nov. 10 every year, honors soldiers who fought in the 1945 Battle of Surabaya during the Indonesian National Revolution. The day of remembrance is recognized nationwide throughout the archipelago and many islands host parades and ceremonies.
Traveling to Indonesia in November? Check out this great itinerary
Highlights of Bali - 8 Days: This 8-day tour is a fantastic option for a November vacation because it focuses on Bali where the rain isn't as heavy and the infrastructure is stronger. The itinerary includes a visit to the Monkey Forest in Ubud, the Tanah Lot water temple, a cooking lesson, a tour of a volcanic caldera, and a bike ride through the countryside, among other highlights.