Backpacking in Indonesia

Backpacking in Indonesia can be an incredible adventure due to its diverse landscapes, rich culture, and affordability. Here are some tips and information to help you plan your backpacking trip to Indonesia:

Backpacking in Indonesia

Visa Requirements:

  • Check the visa requirements for your nationality before traveling to Indonesia. Many nationalities can enter Indonesia for 30 days without a visa, while others may need to apply for a tourist visa in advance.

Best Time to Visit:

  • Indonesia has a tropical climate, so it’s important to plan your trip based on the weather. The dry season, from May to September, is the best time to visit as it offers sunny and pleasant weather in most parts of the country. The best time to go backpacking in Indonesia depends on the specific regions you plan to visit, as the country’s climate varies due to its size and diverse geography. However, in general, the dry season is the most favorable time for backpacking and traveling throughout Indonesia. Here’s a breakdown of the best time to visit different parts of the country:
  • Bali and Lombok:
    • The best time to visit Bali and Lombok is during the dry season, which typically lasts from May to September. During this period, you can expect sunny and pleasant weather, making it ideal for outdoor activities, beach lounging, and exploring the islands.
  • Java and Sumatra:
    • Java and Sumatra also experience the dry season from May to September. This is an excellent time to explore cultural attractions like Borobudur Temple in Java or trekking to the volcanoes like Mount Bromo.
  • Komodo Island:
    • The dry season is the best time to visit Komodo Island (part of the Lesser Sunda Islands) as well. The months between May and September offer the best conditions for diving and visiting Komodo dragons.
  • Raja Ampat and Papua:
    • For those planning to explore the remote and stunning region of Raja Ampat in Papua, the dry season from October to April is the best time to visit. This is when the weather is most favorable for diving and snorkeling.
  • Sulawesi:
    • Sulawesi experiences a similar climate pattern to the rest of Indonesia. The dry season from May to September is ideal for exploring places like Tana Toraja with its unique culture and landscapes.
  • Maluku and West Papua:
    • The Maluku Islands and West Papua experience a more consistent climate throughout the year. However, the dry season from April to October is still considered the best time to visit these regions.
  • Baliem Valley (Papua):
    • If you plan to trek in the Baliem Valley of Papua, the dry season from May to September is the most suitable time for hiking and cultural experiences.
  • It’s important to note that while the dry season is generally the best time to visit, it’s also the peak tourist season in Indonesia. Accommodation and popular attractions may be more crowded, and prices may be higher. If you prefer fewer crowds and lower prices, consider visiting during the shoulder season, which can vary depending on the region.
  • Always check the local weather conditions and any potential regional variations before planning your trip, as Indonesia’s climate can vary from year to year.


  • Indonesia is an archipelago with thousands of islands, but some of the most popular backpacking destinations include Bali, Lombok, Java, Sumatra, and the Gili Islands. Each offers a unique experience, from stunning beaches to volcanoes and cultural attractions.
  • Indonesia offers a vast array of incredible destinations for backpackers, each with its own unique charm and attractions. Here are some popular backpacking destinations in Indonesia to consider:
  • Bali: Bali is one of Indonesia’s most famous destinations. It’s known for its stunning beaches, lush rice terraces, vibrant nightlife in areas like Kuta and Seminyak, and cultural experiences in Ubud. Explore ancient temples, enjoy water sports, and savor delicious Balinese cuisine.
  • Lombok: Lombok is Bali’s neighbor and offers a quieter, more laid-back atmosphere. It’s famous for the challenging Mount Rinjani trek, beautiful beaches like Kuta and Tanjung Aan, and the nearby Gili Islands, known for their snorkeling and diving opportunities.
  • Java: Java is the most populous island in Indonesia and boasts cultural treasures like the Borobudur and Prambanan temples near Yogyakarta. Don’t miss exploring Jakarta, Bandung, and the scenic Dieng Plateau. You can also hike to the top of Mount Bromo for sunrise views.
  • Sumatra: Sumatra is famous for its diverse wildlife, including orangutans in Bukit Lawang and elephants in Way Kambas National Park. Visit Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world, and explore the unique Batak culture.
  • Komodo Island: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the famous Komodo dragons. Go trekking to see these incredible reptiles and enjoy excellent snorkeling and diving in the surrounding waters.
  • Raja Ampat: Located in West Papua, Raja Ampat is a paradise for divers and nature enthusiasts. It’s known for its incredibly rich marine biodiversity, crystal-clear waters, and stunning limestone formations.
  • Sulawesi: Sulawesi offers unique cultural experiences, especially in places like Tana Toraja, where you can witness elaborate funeral ceremonies and traditional architecture. Dive in Bunaken Marine Park for fantastic underwater encounters.
  • Maluku Islands: The Maluku Islands, also known as the Spice Islands, offer beautiful beaches, historical sites, and a tranquil atmosphere. Ambon and Banda Neira are popular destinations within this region.
  • Flores: Explore the beautiful island of Flores, known for its vibrant culture and the famous Komodo dragons in Komodo National Park. Don’t miss the mesmerizing Kelimutu crater lakes.
  • Papua: Papua is a remote and less-visited region known for its unique tribal cultures, such as the Dani and Asmat. The Baliem Valley is a popular trekking destination for experiencing indigenous cultures.
  • Nusa Islands: Just off Bali’s coast, the Nusa Islands (Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, and Nusa Penida) offer a more peaceful escape with stunning cliffs, beaches, and excellent snorkeling and diving spots.
  • Sumba: Sumba is known for its distinct culture, traditional villages, and stunning landscapes. Explore its megalithic tombs, attend the Pasola ritual, and relax on its beautiful beaches.
  • Remember to research each destination thoroughly, consider your interests and budget, and plan your backpacking route accordingly. Indonesia is a diverse and beautiful country with something to offer every type of traveler.


  • Indonesia is known for being a budget-friendly destination for backpackers. Accommodation, food, and transportation are generally affordable. Street food and local restaurants are great options for inexpensive meals.
  • Backpacking in Indonesia can be done on a relatively modest budget, making it an attractive destination for travelers looking to explore while keeping costs down. Your daily expenses will vary depending on your travel style, the regions you visit, and the activities you engage in. Here’s a breakdown of estimated daily expenses for budget backpackers in Indonesia:
  • Accommodation:
    • Budget Hostels and Guesthouses: $10 – $30 per night
    • Homestays or small family-run guesthouses: $20 – $40 per night
    • Camping or beach huts in some areas: $5 – $20 per night
  • Food:
    • Street food and local eateries: $1 – $5 per meal
    • Small restaurants and warungs: $5 – $10 per meal
    • Western-style restaurants: $10 – $20 per meal
  • Transportation:
    • Local buses or minibusses (bemos): $1 – $5 per ride
    • Motorcycle or bicycle rentals: $5 – $10 per day
    • Domestic flights between islands: Varies but can be affordable if booked in advance
    • Ride-sharing apps like Gojek and Grab: Affordable for short trips within cities
  • Activities:
    • Entrance fees to tourist attractions: $1 – $10 or more, depending on the site
    • Trekking or guided tours: Prices vary widely, but budget options are available
    • Water sports and diving: Costs depend on location and activity; negotiate for group discounts
  • Miscellaneous:
    • Sim cards with data: $5 – $15 for a local sim card with internet access
    • Bottled water and snacks: $1 – $5 per day
    • Travel insurance: Costs vary; it’s advisable to have comprehensive coverage
  • Total Daily Budget:
    • On the lower end of the scale, a budget backpacker can get by on approximately $20 – $30 per day. This includes staying in budget accommodations, eating local food, and using public transportation.
    • If you opt for more comfort or engage in costly activities, your daily budget could range from $30 to $50 or more.
  • Remember that prices can vary widely depending on the region in Indonesia. Bali and popular tourist destinations tend to be more expensive, while less-visited areas can be very budget-friendly. Additionally, bargaining is common in markets and for some services, so don’t hesitate to negotiate for a better price when appropriate.
  • It’s essential to have some flexibility in your budget for unexpected expenses or splurges on activities you’re passionate about. Overall, Indonesia offers excellent value for budget-conscious backpackers, and you can have a fulfilling and memorable experience without breaking the bank.


  • Getting around Indonesia can be done through a combination of buses, ferries, and domestic flights. The public transportation system may not always be reliable, so be prepared for delays and consider using ridesharing apps like Gojek or Grab in some cities.
  • Transportation in Indonesia can vary significantly depending on the region you’re visiting. The country is known for its diverse landscapes and islands, and as a backpacker, you’ll likely need to use various modes of transportation to get around. Here are some common transportation options for backpacking in Indonesia:
  • Buses:
    • Local Buses (Bemos): These are small minibusses or vans that operate within cities and towns. They are inexpensive but can be crowded and uncomfortable.
    • Intercity Buses: You can find both budget and more comfortable intercity buses that connect major cities and towns. Prices vary depending on the distance and the level of comfort.
  • Motorcycles and Scooters:
    • Renting a motorcycle or scooter is a popular and affordable way to explore many parts of Indonesia, especially in Bali and Lombok. Ensure you have the necessary license and follow safety precautions.
  • Trains:
    • Java and Sumatra have extensive train networks. Trains offer a more comfortable and scenic way to travel between major cities like Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, and Surabaya. Consider booking tickets in advance for popular routes.
  • Ferries and Boats:
    • Since Indonesia is an archipelago, ferries and boats are essential for island-hopping. You can take public ferries between islands, especially in the Lesser Sunda Islands and Maluku. There are also fast boats and ferries to tourist hotspots like the Gili Islands.
  • Domestic Flights:
    • Indonesia has a well-developed domestic flight network connecting major cities and islands. Airlines like Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, and AirAsia operate numerous routes. Booking flights in advance can often save you money.
  • Ride-Sharing Apps:
    • In major cities like Jakarta, Bali, and Surabaya, you can use ride-sharing apps like Gojek and Grab for convenient and relatively inexpensive transportation.
  • Ojek (Motorcycle Taxis):
    • Ojeks are motorcycle taxis commonly found in urban areas. They can be a quick and affordable way to navigate traffic in crowded cities.
  • Walking and Cycling:
    • In some places, especially smaller towns and rural areas, walking and cycling are excellent ways to explore at a leisurely pace.
  • Hitchhiking:
    • Other backpacking destinations in AsiaWhile hitchhiking is less common in Indonesia, it’s not unheard of in certain areas, and some travelers have had success with it. Exercise caution and use your judgment when considering this option.
  • Car Rentals:
    • Renting a car with a driver is an option for more comfortable and convenient travel, especially if you’re traveling in a group. Prices vary depending on the type of vehicle and the distance you want to cover.
  • Keep in mind that transportation infrastructure can vary between regions. In more remote or less-visited areas, options may be limited, and road conditions can be challenging. It’s essential to plan your transportation in advance, especially for longer journeys or during peak travel seasons. Additionally, consider local customs and safety precautions when using different modes of transportation in Indonesia.


  • Backpackers in Indonesia can find a wide range of accommodation options, from budget hostels to guesthouses and even homestays with local families. Booking platforms like and Agoda can help you find affordable places to stay.
  • Accommodation options for backpackers in Indonesia are diverse and cater to a range of budgets. Whether you prefer staying in budget hostels, guesthouses, homestays, or even camping, you’ll find suitable places to stay throughout the country. Here are some common types of accommodation for backpackers in Indonesia:
  • Hostels: Hostels are popular among budget travelers and backpackers. They offer dormitory-style rooms with shared bathrooms and common areas for socializing. Many hostels in Indonesia provide affordable rates and a communal atmosphere, making them a great choice for meeting fellow travelers.
  • Guesthouses: Guesthouses are small, family-run accommodations that can vary in price and quality. You’ll find guesthouses in most tourist areas, and they often offer private rooms with en-suite or shared bathrooms. These provide a more intimate and local experience compared to larger hotels.
  • Homestays: Homestays are an excellent way to immerse yourself in the local culture and lifestyle. You’ll stay with a local family, often in a traditional house, and have the opportunity to engage with the host family and learn about their customs and traditions.
  • Cottages and Bungalows: In beach destinations like Bali, Lombok, and the Gili Islands, you can find affordable cottages and bungalows near the shoreline. These offer a more secluded and serene atmosphere, perfect for relaxation.
  • Budget Hotels: In some places, especially larger cities and popular tourist areas, there are budget-friendly hotels that offer private rooms at reasonable prices. These may include basic amenities like air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and hot water.
  • Camping: In certain parts of Indonesia, such as national parks and trekking destinations, camping may be an option. Be sure to check local regulations and safety guidelines for camping in specific areas.
  • Treehouses and Unique Accommodations: Some places in Indonesia offer unique accommodations like treehouses, bamboo huts, or eco-friendly lodges. These can provide a memorable and immersive experience in nature.
  • Online Booking Platforms: Booking websites like, Agoda, Hostelworld, and Airbnb are helpful for finding and reserving accommodation in advance. You can filter options based on your budget and preferences.
  • Walk-ins: While booking ahead is advisable during peak seasons, you can often find affordable accommodations by walking around and inquiring directly at guesthouses and small hotels. This is particularly true in less touristy areas.
  • Reviews and Recommendations: Read online reviews, travel forums, and ask fellow travelers for recommendations on where to stay. This can help you find reputable and budget-friendly options.
  • Remember that accommodation prices can vary greatly depending on the location and the level of comfort you desire. While basic accommodations are more budget-friendly, you can also find mid-range and upscale options in popular tourist destinations if you’re willing to spend a bit more. Keep your travel itinerary in mind when choosing accommodation to ensure convenience and accessibility to your planned activities and destinations.


  • Indonesian cuisine is diverse and delicious. Don’t miss trying local dishes like Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Mie Goreng (fried noodles), Satay, and Rendang. Street food stalls offer tasty and affordable options.

Health and Safety:

  • Ensure you have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies. It’s also advisable to consult a travel clinic for vaccinations and medications like malaria prophylaxis, depending on your destination.

Respect Local Customs:

  • Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country, and it’s important to dress modestly, especially in more conservative areas. Always respect local customs and traditions, such as removing your shoes before entering someone’s home or a place of worship.
  • Respecting local customs and cultural sensitivities is essential when backpacking in Indonesia, as it helps you have a more enriching and positive travel experience while showing respect for the local communities you encounter. Here are some important cultural considerations and tips to keep in mind:
  • Dress Modestly: Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country, and it’s important to dress modestly, especially in rural and conservative areas. When visiting temples, mosques, and rural communities, cover your shoulders, knees, and cleavage. Wearing respectful clothing also shows appreciation for local customs.
  • Remove Your Shoes: It is customary to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home, as well as in many shops, restaurants, and religious sites. Look for signs or observe locals to see if this practice is in place.
  • Greetings and Politeness: Greet people with a friendly “Selamat” or “Selamat Pagi” (good morning), “Selamat Siang” (good afternoon), or “Selamat Sore” (good evening). Learn some basic Indonesian phrases like “Terima kasih” (thank you) and “Permisi” (excuse me) to show respect.
  • Public Displays of Affection: Public displays of affection, such as kissing and hugging, are considered inappropriate in many Indonesian cultures. It’s best to refrain from such gestures in public.
  • Respect for Elders: Show deference and respect to elders. When handing or receiving items, use both hands, and offer items to older individuals first.
  • Use the Right Hand: When giving or receiving something, eating, or shaking hands, always use your right hand. The left hand is considered less clean and is reserved for personal hygiene purposes.
  • Bargaining: Bargaining is common in markets and small shops. However, do it respectfully and with a smile. Keep in mind that many Indonesians rely on their income from sales, so try to find a fair middle ground.
  • Photography: Always ask for permission before taking photos of people, especially in rural areas and when photographing children. Some communities may have cultural beliefs against being photographed.
  • Respect Religious Customs: When visiting temples, mosques, or other religious sites, follow the dress code and rules. Cover your head, remove your shoes, and respect the silence and solemnity of these places.
  • Environmental Respect: Indonesia is home to diverse ecosystems and natural beauty. Dispose of your trash properly, avoid littering, and participate in eco-friendly practices like reef-safe sunscreen when snorkeling or diving.
  • Don’t Point with Your Feet: Pointing with your feet is considered disrespectful in Indonesian culture. Avoid pointing your feet at people, religious objects, or food.
  • Alcohol and Drugs: While alcohol is available in tourist areas, be aware of local customs and regulations regarding its consumption. Drug use is illegal and severely punished in Indonesia.
  • Personal Space: Indonesians may have different concepts of personal space. Be mindful of this and respect people’s comfort zones in crowded places.
  • Noise Levels: Keep noise levels down, especially during religious or cultural events and in the evenings. Noise disturbances can be seen as disrespectful.
  • By being respectful of local customs and showing genuine interest in Indonesian culture, you’ll not only have a more positive travel experience but also foster positive interactions with the local people you meet along the way. Indonesians are generally welcoming and appreciate travelers who make an effort to understand and respect their traditions and way of life.

Adventure Activities:

  • Indonesia offers a wide range of adventure activities, from surfing and diving to trekking and volcano hiking. Make sure you’re adequately prepared and have the necessary gear for your chosen activities.
  • Indonesia offers a wide range of adventure activities for backpackers and adventure enthusiasts due to its diverse landscapes, including volcanoes, jungles, beaches, and underwater wonders. Here are some thrilling adventure activities you can enjoy while backpacking in Indonesia:
  • Volcano Trekking:
    • Indonesia is home to numerous active volcanoes. Popular trekking destinations include Mount Bromo and Mount Ijen in East Java, Mount Rinjani in Lombok, and Mount Batur in Bali. These treks offer breathtaking sunrise views and unique landscapes when backpacking in Indonesia.
  • Diving and Snorkeling:
    • Indonesia is one of the world’s top dive destinations. Explore vibrant coral reefs and encounter diverse marine life in places like Raja Ampat, Komodo National Park, Bunaken Marine Park, and the Gili Islands.
  • Surfing:
    • Indonesia boasts some of the best surf breaks in the world. Bali, Lombok, and Sumatra are renowned for their surf spots catering to all levels, from beginners to experienced surfers. A vist when backpacking in Indonesia is a must.
  • White-Water Rafting:
    • Experience thrilling white-water rafting adventures in Bali, particularly on the Ayung and Telaga Waja rivers. The rapids offer a mix of excitement and beautiful jungle scenery.
  • Canyoning:
    • Canyoning is gaining popularity in places like Bali and North Sumatra. Descend through lush canyons, jump off waterfalls, and rappel down cliffs for an adrenaline-pumping adventure.
  • Trekking and Hiking:
    • Besides volcano treks, Indonesia offers various trekking opportunities in places like Tana Toraja in Sulawesi, the Baliem Valley in Papua, and jungle hikes in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra.
  • Biking and Cycling:
    • Explore the countryside and cultural sites on two wheels. Rent bicycles to explore Bali’s rice terraces or take a motorbike tour through Sumatra’s scenic landscapes.
  • Rock Climbing:
    • Rock climbing is available on various Indonesian islands, with popular destinations including Railay Beach in Bali and Bukittinggi in Sumatra. Climbing schools and guides are available for all levels.
  • Wildlife Encounters:
    • Go on wildlife safaris and spot orangutans in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, or explore the diverse bird and animal species in Tanjung Puting National Park in Borneo.
  • Paragliding:
    • Try paragliding to enjoy panoramic views of Bali’s coastline or other picturesque landscapes like Yogyakarta.
  • Kiteboarding and Windsurfing:
    • Bali and Lombok offer excellent conditions for kiteboarding and windsurfing. You can take lessons and rent equipment in various water sports hubs.
  • Tubing and River Kayaking:
    • Enjoy leisurely river tubing in Bali’s Ubud or paddle your way down rivers on a kayak, taking in the surrounding beauty.
  • Spelunking:
    • Explore cave systems like Goa Jomblang in Yogyakarta or the unique Goa Gong in Pacitan, Java.
  • Whale Shark and Manta Ray Watching:
    • Visit locations like Nusa Penida in Bali and Maumere in Flores for the opportunity to swim with majestic whale sharks and manta rays.
  • Before engaging in any adventure activity, ensure you have the necessary gear, take appropriate safety precautions, and, if required, hire experienced guides. Always consider your skill level and the local conditions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.


  • Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, but English is spoken in tourist areas. Learning a few basic Indonesian phrases can be helpful and appreciated by locals when backpacking in Indonesia.

Cultural Etiquette:

  • Be respectful of local customs and traditions. Ask for permission before taking photos of people and their property, especially in rural areas.

Indonesia is a beautiful and diverse country with much to offer for backpacking in Indonesia. Whether you’re exploring the temples of Bali, trekking in the jungles of Sumatra, or relaxing on the beaches of Lombok, you’re sure to have an unforgettable adventure in this stunning Southeast Asian destination.

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