Your Indonesia bucket list starts here.
I’ve assembled a bunch of awesome travel bloggers to share their ultimate places to visit in this incredible country. I’ve visited a couple of times, but I’ve only done the tried and true Australian pilgrimage to Bali and have spent time in Seminyak, Legian and Ubud. Thankfully, the bloggers I’ve assembled here have far more experience in Indonesia than I do, which is why they’re the perfect crew to create an Ultimate Indonesia bucket list.
Ubud is the sort of place that strikes a chord in the hearts of those searching for themselves and a greater sense of peace. Take a trip to the spiritual heart of Bali and make the most of your visit, be it solo or with a friend. Immerse yourself in the lush emerald landscape and stay in one of the many lodges overlooking the forest and local rivers – it’ll make the trip to sunrise forest yoga just a little bit easier. If you’re feeling adventurous after your morning yoga, let it be known that the afternoon is a perfect time to take a trip through Ubud’s sacred monkey forest. Or if you’re feeling something with a bird’s eye view, travel the Campuhan Ridge Walk and stop for a meal of superfoods at Sari Organic. Either way, you can grab a refreshing beverage at Cafe Pomegranate nearby.
Post lunch, one of the many puras (temples) is a wonderful place to stop and admire the cultural history of Ubud. These architectural gems are nestled in the Balinese landscape. The main temple often hosts dance performances at night, which is a lovely way to end a perfect day in this spiritually seductive paradise.
Contributed by Sophia from Road Goat
We have made two separate trips to Indonesia and have covered a number of the different islands and spots. Each one has intrigued us more than the last. The last time we visited, we were looking for the perfect place to spend a babymoon in Asia. We finally decided on an island called Nusa Penida that lies just off the coast of mainland Bali. Nusa Penida is one of the most gorgeous places that I have been to in the country. With awe inspiring views, limestone cliffs and secret beaches this island is paradise.
The biggest irony is that not a lot of people stay on the island. Most people choose to visit it on day trips which is rather sad because the island has a lot to offer. I guess many people are short on time and that is where the problem lies. We spent four days on the island and kept wishing that we had more!
The food on the island was another interesting find. There were a lot of joints that served western cuisine and vegan food wasn’t hard to come by. Which was great because I loved those big huge smoothie bowls! If you wanted local food, you could always visit the markets where the vendors set up shop.
We really wanted for nothing and enjoyed our time on Nusa Penida immensely.
Contributed by Penny from GlobeTrove
I was a bit wary about heading to Bali, as my first experience was in Sumatra a few years back and there was no tourism here at all. Munduk in North Bali is perfect if you want to escape the tourists and explore some lesser-known places in Bali. The waterfalls here were my favourite part of my entire trip to Bali. I had been to some waterfalls in other areas of Bali that were packed with people, but in Munduk, at some times, we were the only ones at certain waterfalls. All the waterfalls near Munduk are absolutely incredible. My favourite was Munduk waterfall and Git Git as well as Aling Aling waterfall.
Munduk waterfall actually comprises of three waterfalls, and it takes around 2 hours to see them all but you don’t need a guide. There is also Sekumpul waterfall, which is stunning, but a bit more popular, so will be busier than the other two I mentioned. Other than waterfalls, Munduk also has some amazing temples. The Tamblingan lake temple is one of the most beautiful here. I also had the opportunity to stay at the Munduk Moding Plantation hotel, one of the best hotels I have ever stayed at. If you want to treat yourself after hiking all of those waterfalls, definitely stay here and watch the sunrise from the infinity pool.
Contributed by Hanna from Solar Powered Blonde
Mount Bromo is one of the most special places on Earth – even though it looks nothing like Earth at all, more like what we all imagine the surface of Mars to be like. This epic volcano sits amongst the beautiful Sea of Sand, forming an incredibly unique vista. At 2329m in height, Mount Bromo is one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, constantly billowing out smoke and gases. Despite this, with local advice its safe to ascend right up to the crater and explore the other-worldly surroundings.
Mount Bromo provides something that little bit different to any Indonesia trip. Located in East Java, it’s possible to visit this moonscape as part of a two-day excursion from Bali, or on your route between Yogyakarta and Bali. There’s no denying that it can feel a little far to go, with a ten hour each way journey from Bali, but it’s truly worth every second of it, getting properly off the beaten track. The ideal time to visit is for sunrise, promising those bright orange colours across the surrounding mountains, so ensure to stay locally in Probollingo the night before you plan to visit.
Contributed by Annie from Off Goes Annie
Nungnung Waterfall, Bali
If you are a waterfall-lover, then you surely cannot miss the waterfalls in Indonesia. In the popular island of Bali, there are some of the most amazing OMG waterfalls I’ve ever seen in my life. My favorite was the Nungnung waterfall. Located about an hour away from the busy city of Ubud, Nungnung waterfall is still a hidden gem.
If you go to Tibumana waterfall or Tegenungan waterfall you will be absolutely swarmed by tourists. But at Nungnung waterfall, you will be at peace with nature. Just you and maybe a few tourists, in a lush environment, tucked away. The only downside to this is that it is not so easily accessible. There are usually no tours to this place because there aren’t enough people interested. So you end up hiring someone on a motorbike to drive you or drive a motorbike yourself. But don’t let this deter you, this is the ultimate waterfall experience you could ever wish for and should definitely be on your Indonesia bucket list!
Contributed by Sean from Living Out Lau
Nusa Lembongan, Bali
The tropical paradise of Nusa Lembongan is located less than a 45-minute boat ride from Bali and is the perfect island to escape the crowds! From beach hopping to snorkeling with giant Manta Rays, watching the strong waves at the Devil’s Tear or kayaking through mangroves, there is no shortage of things to do in Nusa Lembongan! You can also head over to Nusa Ceningan, which is only separated by a suspension bridge, to witness some of the most unique cliffsides views!
The best way to explore the island and discover some hidden gems is by hopping on a motorbike, which gives you the ultimate freedom to explore at your own pace. It’s very easy to visit the top attractions in just one day since Nusa Lembongan is only about eight square kilometers. And to top it off, there is a wide range of hotels available that can fit into anyone’s budget. So, what are you waiting for!?
Contributed by Stephanie from Lets Venture Out
Bali must be one of the most popular destinations on earth. No wonder so many people visit its gorgeous beaches and luscious green rice paddies every year. But there are also some hidden gems on this beautiful Indonesian island not many people know about. So, if you need a break from the hustle of bustle of Kuta or Ubud, Sidemen in East Bali is a great place to explore. Surrounded by agricultural land and green rice fields as far as the eyes can see, this authentic village is a great place to relax and learn more about the Balinese culture as well as explore the attractions of East Bali.
You can hike the rice fields, drop by the local weaving plants that are unique to this area, visit the colorful traditional markets and local temples, take a day trip to the beaches and temples of East Bali or just relax and enjoy the views of the rice fields with Mount Agung towering above them from afar. There are many accommodation options in Sidemen, from simple hostels to lovely hotels with infinity pools. For us, it was the combination of the nearby attractions, the authentic vibes and the hospitality of the local villagers that won us over. Sidemen is a true paradise, one of the most beautiful places in Bali Indonesia that is still relatively unknown.
Contributed by Maya & Sari from Chasing Lenscapes
Prambanan Temple, or Candi Prambanan, is a Hindu temple compound located a short drive from the city of Yogyakarta in central Java, Indonesia. Built during the 9th century, it is impressively the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia and one of the largest in Southeast Asia. When viewed from a distance, Prambanan is awe-inspiring with its distinctive tall, pointed towers and soaring 47-metre high central spire. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is just incredible for both its sheer size and detail, with the whole complex simply oozing peace and calm.
Made up of three large temples which are encircled by the remains of around 240 smaller, temple structures, it is when viewed up close that its past splendour is revealed. Each temple is decorated with intricate statues and bas-reliefs carved into the stone which depict tales from the epic Ramayana mythology. Aim to visit at the end of the day so that you can watch a spectacular open-air performance of the Ramayana Ballet with the towering Prambanan spires as a dramatic backdrop.
Contributed by Marie from A Life Without Borders
Mount Ijen and its blue flames is one of the ultimate experiences any adventure junkie needs to tackle in Indonesia. Where else can you climb into an active volcano before dawn that is filled with blue burning sulfur gas while wearing a gas mask?
Otherwise, let’s find out some of the details to get you started planning this portion of your Indonesian trip. Mount Ijen is located on the eastern side of Java with tours departing from Banyuwangi. You can also hike Mount Ijen without a tour provided you arrange transportation in advance. Both options will typically provide a gas mask to protect against health hazards caused by a high concentration of sulfur.
The start of your hike begins in the early morning with only a headlamp to guide you. It is only when you reach Mount Ijen’s rim that you need to put on your gas mask, but you will already begin to smell “bad eggs”. As you are descending into the volcano, locals are mining and carrying dozens of kilos of sulfur out of the volcano.
The most impressive images of the blue fire are when it is still dark so you need to hike fast on the way there. There is more time and light to take in the scenery on the way back. Some miners sell carved sulfur as souvenirs along the way so you can always remember your epic adventure.
Contributed by Erik from DIY Travel HQ
Borobudur in Central Java is the world’s largest Buddhist temple and is a magical place to visit. Awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1991,this incredible temple dates from the 8th and 9th centuries.
The sheer scale and intricacy of the monument is staggering. The temple consists of nine platforms leading up to an enormous stupa at the top, which is surrounded by 72 smaller stupas. Each of these contains a hidden statue of Buddha that you can spy through the perforations. There are 400 further Buddha statues around the temple. Even the temple walls are intricately decorated, with 2,672 relief panels to admire.
The most spectacular time to visit Borobudur is at sunrise, when you can watch the stupas emerge out of the darkness around you. For this you need to arrive at Borobudur by about 5am and you will be given a torch to help lead the way in the dark. Despite the early hour, don’t expect to have the temple complex to yourself – there will likely be hundreds of other people there for the experience! It is still totally worth visiting at this time of day though for the sense of wonder that comes as the sky changes colour above you.
Contributed by Marianne from Mum On The Move
Gili Trawangan is part of the archipelago commonly known as the Gili Islands, near the coast of north-west Lombok. Being the largest of the 3 Gili Islands, Gili Trawangan is also the most popular and is often visited by those who are visiting Bali. This island is most famous for its vibrant party scene and stunning sunsets.
Once you arrive on the island, you will quickly realise one of the Gili trios quaintest of charms. There are no vehicles on Gili Trawangan, with the locals and tourists instead using bicycles and horses to get around. When you arrived in on the ferry you will see lines of horse and carriages waiting to take tourists to their accommodation. Unfortunately, these horses are not treated fairly and are very overworked. Instead of hitching a painful lift, we would recommend you walk or rent a bicycle to get around the island to save the horses from exhaustion.
Being an island, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to water-based activities on Gili Trawangan. The most popular being snorkelling and scuba-diving in the gorgeous, blue waters. Scattered all around the islands, there are underwater statues and turtles just waiting to be found. If the sea is your kind of thing, we highly recommend you join a trip or rent a snorkel, mask and flippers and get out there!
In the evening, once that golden sun has vanished over the horizon, the bars and restaurants on the island come to life. Gili Trawangan is known as the party island as there is plenty of live music to choose from. Take a walk along the buzzing streets of Gili T and become lost in the electric atmosphere that envelopes the island.
Contributed by Gemma from Highlands2Hammocks
The 17 Islands National Park, Flores
If you are looking to go off the beaten path in Indonesia, the 17 Islandes in Flores are a great place to start. Despite the name, this recognised national park boasts 20 remote islands, each a tiny slice of paradise.
The highlight of the national park is the pristine beaches that adorn each island. Golden sand, azure waters, and dreamy views are sure to leave you mesmerised. Furthermore, coral and marine life are bountiful, making it the perfect spot for snorkelling.
Unlike the neighbouring Gili or Nusa Islands, you won’t find many tourists at the 17 Islands National Park. The park is a little tricky to get to, and consequently, many visitors erroneously miss it off their Flores itinerary.
To explore the National Park, you must first book a boat tour from the tiny fishing village of Riung. The beauty being that you’re likely to be the only group on the boat. This allows you to explore the islands at your own pace and fully immerse in the breathtaking surroundings.
Contributed by Charlotte from Our Taste For Life
The Togean Islands is an archipelago of 56 islands in the Gulf of Tomini, off the coast of Central Sulawesi, in Indonesia. This off the beaten track piece of paradise with crystal clear water, white beaches and lush jungle, is not easy to get to, traveling by a combination of ferries and speed boat taxis for a day or two. Kadidiri is an excellent choice as a base for Scuba diving the Togean islands with some dive schools and nice little hotels.
Diving on the surrounding reefs is excellent with beautiful coral reefs in crystal clear water, the water temperature can be as high as 31C! Inhabited by rich marine life you can see clown fish, lionfish, moray eels, turtles and more explore the beautiful dive sites. Penetrating the wreck of a B24 Bomber plane that crash landed during WWII for an awesome adventurous dive. For a unique cultural experience visit the Bajuau settlement, Pulao Papan where the “sea gypsies” of South East Asia live on the ocean. Visit one of the worlds rare jellyfish lakes, where jellyfish lost the ability to sting over millions of years of geographic isolation and you can swim with millions these beautiful creatures without getting harmed.
Contributed by Campbell and Alya from Stingy Nomads
The Gili Islands are a popular location to spend a couple days to get away from the crowds of Bali. Out of the three Gili Islands, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air, Gili Air is labeled as the quietest, and best for honeymooners. In reality, Gili Air has something for everyone including late-night raves, amazing sunset views on the beach, great snorkeling and diving, and a mushroom-shaped pool at a social backpacker’s hostel.
Experience the laid-back routine of life on Gili Air. Eat at one of the local eateries, or warungs, in the middle of the island for $1-2 USD per meal. Go for a swim, snorkel, or stand-up paddle board to spend some time in the warm waters. Hang out in a cabana and sip on coconut water or read by the side of the hotel pool. Try a buffet meal or oven-fired pizza with wine while watching the sunset on the west side of Gili Air.
In the evenings, check out the nightlife, where you can hang out with backpackers, locals, and honeymooners alike! No matter what your purpose of traveling to Indonesia, Gili Air is bound to have something that you will enjoy. Relax, party, be active, and make many new friends on this small paradise island!
Contributed by Erika from Erika’s Travelventures
Jakarta, as the capital of Indonesia, gets a bad rap for its horrific traffic and regular strikes that paralyze the city. That said, this massive capital, which is to be found on the northwest coast of Java is a historic mix of cultures and worth a moment of your time. You’ll find Malay, Chinese, Araba, Indian, European and Javanese influences here, in the language, cuisines and architectures.
There are Dutch influences in the old town, Kota Tua, Chinese influences in Glodock’s China Town, and the old port of Sunda Kelapa is a fascinating place to visit too. From spotting the enormous Monas Tower from all parts of the city to exploring the entire country of Indonesia at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, a theme park that miniaturizes the country – it will give you a flavour for where else in the country you want to visit. There are 17,000 islands and 26 provinces in Indonesia, so it might be tough to get around them all in reality, this is your chance!
Jakarta is also the place to get a sense of the history of Indonesia, and the Museum Nasional is the best location to do that. The building itself is stunning and the historic walk through Indonesia past and present will give you a great sense for what to expect in the country. While you’re visiting museums, we seriously recommend Museum Bank Indonesia. You don’t have to have an interest in financial affairs to get something out of a trip here. It’s like stepping back in time, as though the bank just closed its doors yesterday, the mannequins are spooky, the vaults scary and the retained architecture is stunning.
Jakarta is a great introduction to Indonesia, her cuisines, architecture and culture, just prepare yourself for the traffic!
Contributed by Sarah from A Social Nomad
Tanah Lot Temple
An ancient Hindu shrine perched on an outcrop, Tanah Lot Temple is one of the most impressive temples and one of the must see attractions in Bali. At low tide, you can get pretty close and personal (although visiting inside the temple is not permitted). Nevertheless, Tanah Lot looks amazing regardless of the time of the day you visit.
The rock on which the temple was built is mostly artificial. This is due to erosion and the risk of the temple falling into the water. The temple is located in Beraban village and the alley leading to it is flanked with some of the most amazing artisanal shops. I recommend you take your time to browse the merchandise and if need be, you can even haggle – the vendors will expect you to.
Then walk around and explore the shores, play with the waves, and take the most surreal selfies. If you happen to visit in the evening, budget enough time so you can enjoy the sunset.
Contributed by Laura from Travelers Universe
Pura Gunung Kawi
Carved into the steep sheer rock face of the lush Pakerisan River valley, Pura Gunung Kawi is one of the oldest and most enigmatic sites in Bali. Believed to have been built in the 11th century, this temple complex serves as a memorial to members of the Balinese Royalty of the time.
There are numerous temples sites situated all over the island, but this collection of historic shrines carved into the cliffs is a fascinating sight offering a glimpse into Balinese culture like none of these other sites do and is certainly worth the time and effort required to visit. Gunung Kawi lies about 18 kilometres north of Ubud, and can easily be reached by scooter. Alternatively, it is possible to get there by taxi or minivan.
Contributed by Rai from A Rai of Light
Getting to this island of the Flores-Komodo archipelago is already a challenge. From the main air hubs of Jakarta or Kuta-Bali, it is necessary to take another plane to Labuan Bajo and from there a boat that takes you to Pulau Padar (usually part of a day or half-day tour that includes other nearby islands). Otherwise, and especially for diving enthusiasts, there is another very valid option: touring the area on a liveaboard boat on a trip from Bali or Lombok that usually lasts between 4 days and 1 week.
For me, Pulau Padar (along with, perhaps, Raja Ampat) is one of the most ‘ultimate’ destinations that Indonesia offers. It has everything: exceptional landscapes, adventure (uploading where the photo is usually taken is not an easy task), and many other things that I will not reveal so as not to ruin the experience.
If you have this country in your plans, be sure to keep an eye on my article about everything Indonesia taught me, which is full of tips to enjoy fully what Indonesia has to offer. You are welcome!
Contributed by Inmar from A World To Travel
Well, I hope that has quenched your thirst to learn more about the ultimate Indonesia bucket list. I’m so glad to have assembled such an awesome group of bloggers to share their thoughts and tips with you all and I hope this post has inspired you to pay a visit to this beautiful country.
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