Indonesia is an archipelago, a chain of thousands of islands in the continent of Asia. Close to the equator and located in the infamous Ring of Fire, an area prone to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Many of the islands remain uninhabited and untouched, free from Instagram posers and Facebook wannabes. Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation and Bali, the nation’s most popular tourist destination in recent times, is Hindu dominated.
Best time to visit Indonesia
Due to its size and wealth of different islands, it’s always a good time to visit Indonesia. Of course, your budget will dictate your choice of which island or islands and what you’re looking for in a holiday. For the beach bum and island hopper, the islands of Bali, Lombok, Lembongan, Penida and the Gilis (Trawangan, Meno and Air) have the driest, hottest weather from May to September and the wettest weather from November to April. Cultural visitors who want to visit ancient temples and magnificent mosques on Java will find the weather most pleasant in the dry season, however the sun can be very intense on those ancient sites, so make sure you bring an umbrella which doubles up as a sun shade. Wet season also doesn’t mean it rains continuously. On a recent trip to Java in January, the wet season, meant some cloud, some sun and some rain! It is also a cheaper month with way less tourists, but that doesn’t mean way less traffic, Indonesia is infamous for!
What to see
Culture vulture, sun seeker or thrill seeker? What to see when you visit Indonesia? Well there is something for everyone. Mountains, Komodo dragons, sulphurous lakes, waterfalls, rice terraces, sleepy villages, pristine beaches and turtles, not so pristine beaches, temples, mosques, crowded cities and unique street food.
Many low cost airlines fly to and between the most populous islands. Air Asia, Jet Star Asia, Lion Air, Malindo Air and Garuda Indonesia offer competitive and hassle free routes. The big international names will fly you into Jakarta International or Denpasar. Emirates, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qatar, Turkish, Delta and American Airlines using various stopovers in the middle East or Asia.
The trains are another story. A good network, but the comfort has much to be desired. Japanese bullet trains they are not, but if you have a fear of flying, this is your next best option.
Everyone seems to drive, take a scooter, taxi or a public bus in Indonesia. Hardly anyone walks! Well, in Java, in particular. GoJek and Grab are very popular in Jakarta, Badung and Yogyakarta on Java, but no so well received on Bali, where the scamsters actively and illegally try to stop you hiring one. (See separate blog on how not to get ripped off at Bali Airport in Indonesia)