How was your travel experience in Indonesia

Vacation in Indonesia? 10 travel bloggers reveal their best tips!

Indonesia offers fantastic beaches, impressive landscapes, fascinating underwater worlds and cultural diversity - but which of the 17,500 islands should you start on? Ten travel bloggers reveal what you have to see in Indonesia.

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In January I asked about the most beautiful beaches in Southeast Asia. After Indonesia was well represented there, the idea came to me to ask the travel bloggers for the best tips for Indonesia newcomers. The result is interesting suggestions and ideas that will certainly help you plan your trip.

So, let's go:

Travel blogger tips for your vacation in Indonesia

The following blogs answered my questions about Indonesia:

  • Anecdotal
  • Bravebird
  • Home is where your bag is
  • Indojunkie
  • Life is a trip
  • Rapunzel wants out
  • Shave the whales
  • around the world trip
  • Globetrotter
  • World travel forum

The questions

1.) Why is Indonesia an interesting travel destination?

2.) Regardless of whether it is an insider tip or well-trodden paths - what do you absolutely have to see?

3.) Every trip also includes culinary discoveries. Which dish do you have to try in Indonesia?

Clemens Sehi from Anekdotique

1.) The enormous size, the particularly loving people and the very own feeling of the country. It's hard to compare Indonesia to other destinations in Southeast Asia. Yes, it even smells very special in Indonesia.
Of course, most of them are drawn to Bali - myself five times in just seven years. Nevertheless, you should try to think outside the box. Because you will find regions, e.g. on Lombok, that are always different in a pleasantly surprising way. Huge temple complexes, remote monkey forests, lonely beaches and many, many courteous people who are just happy that you prefer them and their region to Kuta, Seminyak or Denpasar await you. And you won't forget the grateful, honest smile on their faces anytime soon.

2.) The Gili Islands off Lombok. Although it hurts my soul every time I see current photos of the small islets and of course immediately recognize their touristic progress (I was there in 2003). But they don't seem to have lost all of their former charm - and of the pleasant feeling that comes over you to be away from any civilization. So let's go there before you can find them in every travel guide!

3.) If I can only name one thing: Nasi Goreng, a typical, rather mild rice dish with which you really can't go wrong. Apart from that: everything that comes with peanut sauce!


Ute Kranz by Bravebird

1.) I only know a tiny fraction of the thousands of Indonesian islands, but the so far intensely visited islands of Bali and Java were simply fantastic. The mixture of a rich nature with great beaches and rainforests, incredibly friendly people, fantastic diving areas, fascinating temples and last but not least the exciting variety of culture make a vacation in Indonesia unforgettable!

2.) Particularly beautiful places are mostly trodden today, hence my four highlights: On Java the huge temple complex Borobodur near Yogyakarta, the crater Ijen and the volcano Mount Bromo. In Bali, I couldn't get enough of the Tanah Lot water temple.

3.) I love the local food stalls. Here you can try, for example, Babi Guling (suckling pig), Bebek Betut (Bali duck) and satay skewers. But vegetarians also get their money's worth here with a wide range of rice, curry and vegetable dishes.


All tips for your trip to Indonesia

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To the Indonesia blog

Marcel Gorgolewski from Home is where your bag is

1.) The country is just so incredibly diverse that there is something for everyone, be it the landscape or the people and cultures. You can see the most beautiful dream beaches on one island and wonderfully dive, snorkel etc., on the next you can go on a volcano tour and then see breathtaking rice fields or waterfalls on the next. Often all of this is even possible on just one island. As a backpacker with a low budget, you can travel well through the country, or live in fantastic accommodations with a little more budget. It is also a great travel destination for families with children, as the Indonesians are very family-oriented.

2.) I'm a huge Lombok fan and think it's a shame that the island is often only reduced to the 3 Gilis. It has so much more to offer and is just gorgeous, especially the south of the island. That's why I would like to give my insider tips on this as well: Grab a motorcycle and explore the surrounding beaches and bays from Kuta (not the one in Bali!). It's really worth it!

Those who love the Gili flair should perhaps take a look at the other Gili Islands around Lombok. There are a lot more of them, especially in the southwest. These are hardly (if not at all) developed for tourism and not so easy to reach, but maybe that's the attraction for some who need a bit of rest from the stress of travel.

If you really want to stay in Senggigi in the west of Lombok: Rent a motorcycle and drive the coastal road north to Pemenang / Bangsal. On the hills you have wonderful views of the beaches and bays, the 3 Gili Islands and even Mount Agung in Bali. The beaches that you will find along the way are also worth a visit: Nipah, Pandanan or Malimbu Beach. If you want to go further, you get another quiet beach with hardly any tourists at Sire Beach.

3.) I don't think much needs to be said about the well-known classics like Nasi Goreng and Saté Ayam (Chicken Sate). You should definitely try the Gorengan stuff (fried food), for example bakwan, tempeh, cassava or tofu (if you like it spicy: best eat it with whole green chilies or with sambal). These are not main courses, but rather snacks for in between, but delicious!

Mie Goreng or Nasi Campur (rice mixed with various side dishes) always work. Like many Indo dishes, the Nasi Campur is a little different from region to region - sometimes from city to city. I especially liked the Balinese Nasi Campur. If you like fish, you should eat Ikan Bakar, i.e. grilled fish - with, of course, fiery sambal. Or Pecel Lele, deep fried catfish. Phew, there are just so many delicious dishes and the list could get on forever.

Tip: Always eat nicely with your hands, that's what you do in Indonesia and it's just normal there (never use your left hand!). The Indonesians will look astonished and be happy when they see a foreigner eating like this.

Home is where your bag is

Melissa Schumacher from Indojunkie

1.) Because of the incredible diversity of over 17,500 islands. Because of the abundance of bright colors, the strong smells, the many religions and customs and the people and their stories. Because of the “Take it easy” attitude on site. Because of the incredibly beautiful underwater world and the incredible diversity of nature. And of course because of the world-class conditions for surfing and diving, Indonesia is more than just an interesting travel destination.

2.) Indonesia has much more to offer than tourist strongholds like Bali. My favorite corners so far are Flores and Sulawesi. I fell in love with the island of Flores on a scooter ride across Flores in 2012. Everyone should write this scooter ride on their bucket list for Indonesia. And at the beginning of this year the spark jumped on the orchid-shaped island of Sulawesi. The island simply cast a spell on me and that's why we're now writing a book and filming a documentary about this spot in Indonesia. The Togian Islands in Sulawesi are a magical place. A mixture of Robinson Crueso feeling, diving and sea nomad culture.

3.) Indonesia's cuisine is relatively simple. But there are also a few pearls of dishes here. I really like the Gado-Gado dish, a vegetable mix with peanut sauce. Plus, I can't get enough of Jagung Goreng, which is just fried corn pancakes. In addition, every traveler should try Nasi Campur, which is a kind of Indonesian buffet in which you choose your own ingredients (egg, meat, vegetables, sauces) and then eat them together with rice.


Marco book from Life is a Trip

1.) The enormous size and the fact that the country is spread over 17,500 islands makes Indonesia incredibly diverse. There are all major world religions, countless different ethnic groups and therefore also very many different people, languages, customs and foods. But the country itself really has everything to offer, from mountains to interesting cities and beaches. I found this combination of versatility irresistible!

2.) I feel like I've only scratched the surface so far. But in my opinion Ubud is a must in Bali, no matter how tired it may sound. It's just wonderful. I think the Gilis are just about to cross their zenith, so probably only worth visiting for a few more years. Otherwise I especially liked Java with its own culture. In addition to Yogyakarta, I would particularly like to recommend Solo. The visit to the Gunung Bromo volcano was ambivalent for me, maybe you should rather climb the Gunung Rinjani as an alternative.

3.) For me, the food is a big part of the travel experience, I really try everything! But to be honest: I was rather slightly disappointed with the Indonesian food, it lacks the sophistication of Thailand and Vietnam and is mostly just spicy and fatty. But a well-done Nasi Goreng is clear. And the small fried fish in hot sauce were delicious too. Quite often I would just buy something from street stalls that was wrapped in leaves. With the best will in the world, I can't say what it was, but some of it was pretty good.

Life is a trip

Sarah Althaus von Rapunzel wants to get out

1.) With over 17,500 islands, Indonesia is a super-large country that offers an incredible amount. Each island is completely different from the previous one. Not only do they differ in the landscape, everyday life is also different on each island. There are huge cities, beautiful beaches, tremendous natural spectacles, undiscovered diving areas and peoples who live like 100 years ago. Not only is the language different on each island, there is also a great diversity of culture, beliefs and religion. When traveling to Indonesia, you have to be clear beforehand what exactly you want to see and where you want to go. It's not just that there are so many different islands, the distances shouldn't be underestimated either. Although some of the islands look so small on the map: The distances are large and often only slowly covered with simple public transport.

2.) No matter which island you visit, there are volcanoes to discover! I'm a huge fan of volcanoes and you can visit a lot in Indonesia. For some you can drive to the crater by car, to reach others, a multi-day trek is necessary. So it has something for everyone. They are fascinating either way. A visit to the Ijen volcano on Java is super spectacular - including a sulfur lake and blue fire. My Java tip: Visit the Dieng Plateau, despite the long journey. It is a bit off the beaten track and offers sensational views, temples and of course: volcanoes.

3.) I am a big peanut fan and therefore in good hands in Indonesia. I like saté best of all, which are meat skewers that are dipped in peanut sauce. I also really like gado-gado, a kind of salad. Cooked vegetables, egg and rice crackers are mixed and served with a peanut sauce. That might sound a bit strange, but it's super delicious. To stick with the peanut sauce: Nasi Pecel is also one of my favorites. It's not dissimilar to gado-gado, but is served with rice. Gado Gado and Nasi Pecel are Javanese specialties.

Rapunzel wants out

Caroline Lohrmann from Shave the whales

1.) Indonesia is interesting because of its diversity, orangutans in Sumatra's jungle, the Moni volcanic lakes on Flores, the funeral festivals on Sulawesi. All things that the masses of tourists have not yet reached and that blow you away when you are there because you have never really heard of them.

2.) Actually, I wanted to skip Bali on my Indonesia trip because it is so touristy. I am very happy to have gone there. Bali has this kind of magic that even the biggest horde of package tourists can't break. Despite eat-pray-love tourism, Ubud was my highlight. I immediately noticed the attention to detail with which the offerings are made here every morning. Everyone on this island seems to be artistically talented, everything is full of craft shops. The accommodations look like small temples, they have gardens and everything is wonderfully quiet. No taps, no firecrackers at 5 in the morning, no main street right outside the door. The Balinese know something about tourism. Bali was my island of rest to recover from the rest of the madness of Indonesia.

3.) As a vegetarian, I was not at all enthusiastic about Indonesian food. First I learned the Indonesian word for “without meat and chicken”, but chicken was almost always mixed in somewhere. I ate Nasi Goreng but wouldn't eat it again if I didn't have to.

Shave the whales

Fränzi Zürcher and Simon Zryd from um die WeltReise

1.) 17,500 islands. Most of them are undiscovered and hardly developed for tourism. There's something for everyone. Indonesia is not always easy to travel to like Thailand, but it is worth it. It offers grandiose volcanoes, fantastic beaches from Bali to Kalimantan. It has temples, mythical cultures, an indescribable underwater world, friendly people and is safe. The backpacker's heart doesn't need anything else.

2.) A highlight of our trip was Wolotopo on our first Indonesia tour in 2005. To get to the remote village, you walk from the city of Ende, in the south of Flores, several kilometers along a pitch-black beach. When you arrive in the village, the village chief will invite you to tea and try to engage you in a conversation. If you don't understand, he'll probably ask if you have any children.

The visit is especially worthwhile because of the way there. Although it can be done by moped or tuk-tuk, we would prefer the walking path to see more of the landscape.

3.) We are not great gourmets, so probably not the best place to go. In addition to the freshly prepared fish, our favorite dishes are Vegetable Curry. A kind of vegetable curry soup (you see, we have no idea about cooking and food) with all kinds of vegetables in it and of course served with rice. Hot and tasty.

around the world trip

Ivana Drobek from Globetrotter

1.) Indonesia is just incredibly diverse. It starts with the cultures and religions that shape life very much and ends with the most varied of landscapes. In addition, the friendly and nice people, the beach is never particularly far, there is simply something for every taste. For example, you can climb volcanoes on Java, snorkel in Bali or hike through rice fields or attend archaic rituals among the Toraja people on Sulawesi. You can visit the largest Buddhist temple or pyramids, listen to the gamelan orchestra, watch Balinese beauties dance, explore markets and taste exotic fruits. Islam is just as present as Hinduism and traditional rituals are often only covered with a thin layer of Islam or Christianity. Indonesia is the largest Muslim country, but as a woman you can travel pretty unmolested. Of course you should conform to the mores, but it is nowhere near as strict as in Arab countries. In my opinion, it is a great destination for backpacking beginners, because the infrastructure makes traveling easy. Everyone can find their dream island in Indonesia, because with more than 17,500 there are enough of them. Go there and see for yourself!

2.) Phew, that's difficult, but my two tips would be Ubud on Bali and Tana Toraja on Sulawesi. Ubud, because it's a vibrant, inspiring place that you tend to hang around in longer than planned. You can go on nice excursions from here, but also really relax, go out in the evening or watch a barong performance, the place is simply relaxed. Tana Toraja is the fascinating heartland of Sulawesi.There you can experience the Toraja cult of the dead up close, enjoy beautiful landscapes and look at the Tau-Taus (ancestral figures) at dizzying heights in the rock walls. I found the island incredibly beautiful and exciting, very different from Java or Bali, very special.

3.) I can be satisfied relatively quickly. Good tasty grilled fish on the coast, pineapple, rambutan and mangoes in between, and I'm happy. The classics are nasi goreng (fried rice), which can also be very tasty depending on how it is prepared, and saté ayam, i.e. chicken skewers with peanut sauce. With coconut water fresh from the nut and baked pineapple or banana with honey as dessert, simply delicious.


Oliver Zwahlen from World Travel Forum

1.) Indonesia impresses with its incredible diversity. There is simply everything: from beautiful beaches to daring volcanic landscapes; from the ultra-touristy Kuta (Bali) to peoples on West Papua who have not yet seen whites. You will find strictly Muslim areas, but also Christian or Hindu islands and regions. But what is the same everywhere: The people all over the country are super friendly and incredibly open. I felt so welcome in a few countries.

2.) For me, Sulawesi was the absolute highlight of the trip to Indonesia. I especially liked Kadidiri, part of the Togean Islands. The small island has neither electricity nor running water. Internet is also out of the question. And yet there is everything there that you need to really relax after a hard year at work. With the fascinating underworld, the island is also a paradise for diving and snorkeling. The island is a bit off the banana pancake trail and is therefore comparatively seldom visited. Wrongly.

3.) Due to the size and diversity in the country, the regional cuisine also differs greatly. In Sulawesi I especially enjoyed the incredibly delicious fish, which landed on my plate every day in a different preparation method and which the owners of my homestay always caught fresh due to the lack of a freezer. After almost a month in the Muslim parts of the country, I tasted great in Bali Baba Guling, the Indonesian version of a suckling pig.

World travel forum

Book trips and tours in Indonesia

You can book tours and other activities in Indonesia through travel agencies or hotels. The organizers are also slowly beginning to present their tours on the Internet and make them bookable. In addition to extensive information about the tour, you can also find reviews by other travelers on the relevant portals. A selection:

The best travel credit card for Indonesia

You can save a lot of money on your travels with the right credit card. Here you can find out which cards you can use to withdraw cash free of charge worldwide and pay in local currency at no additional cost. And who is currently the only provider who reimburses you for third-party fees at the machine, for example in Thailand or Vietnam.

Here is the credit card comparison

Travel blogger surveys on other countries:

What are your tips for Indonesia?

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About the author

Stefan has been traveling to the countries of Southeast Asia since 2006 and often spends several months there. In 2013 he founded Fascination Southeast Asia and has since written several eBooks and books on the subject (including the insider travel guide “555 Tips for Bangkok”). Between his travels he lives and works in Düsseldorf.

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