Indonesia is the most underestimated country found in the ever-popular backpackers paradise of South East Asia. The enormous array of activities and spine tingling moments are limitless and scattered throughout its multiple islands of varying personalities.
Over 2 months, many unbelievable moments were spent between 5 islands. It was difficult to cut the list down to 10, but here’s the best:
Table of Contents
1. Komodo Island Tour, Labuan Bajo
Easily the number one highlight on this trip. If you ever visit Indonesia, travelling to Flores and taking a Komodo Island tour is a MUST, hands down. A true adventure spent in the stunning scenery that surrounds Labuan Bajo. The opportunity to be inches away from wildlife such as the komodo dragon, manta rays, dolphins, stingrays and all the breadth of aquatic life that comes with a coral reef.
Granted, being that its outside the regular tourist route, it’s a bit out of the way and the cost can add up. The price of the tour will depend on its duration and your haggling skills. I managed to grab one at £60, which became the best £60 I’ve ever spent. The price included swimming with a manta ray, along with endless snorkelling opportunities (exceeding the bar set by the Great Barrier Reef). It also included walking on a pink beach and visiting Padar island (well…it cost “extra”). Komodo national park’s entrance fee was NOT included. Several life-long memories on ONE tour, well worth it.
2. Ubud Monkey Sanctuary, Bali
Outside the madness of Kuta you’ll find the natural paradise of Ubud and its main attraction; the Ubud monkey sanctuary. Another must do, particularly when you’re very likely to find yourself in Bali. It’s an excellent opportunity to get up close and personal with monkeys of all ages and of course, the mandatory photo.
Although quite a tense and frankly terrifying experience, an experience it was nonetheless. It represents how a “zoo” should feel; the animals arnt contained. Frankly you could see all the monkeys you wanted by sitting outside the entrance where they’ll freely roam. Can be quite sketchy at times when you get the odd aggressive one or like in my case, be bitten. Yet another positive animal experience however.
3. Tui Kelep Waterfalls, Lombok
Waterfalls will be easy to find throughout this beautiful nation, but not much will be able to compete with the one’s at Tiu Kelep. Their monstrous power, its spectacular location, and the authentic trekking adventure that comes with it. They’re both nestled deep in the jungles at the base of Mount Rinjani, resulting in a trek knee high through raging river water as thunder rattles through the jungle, thick forest, and the odd man-made oddity of a bridge or dam. It’s the entire adventure that comes with it. And of course, there’s being able to bathe in the basin beneath the godly waterfall.
The cost comes in getting there, as it’s in the middle of nowhere. Companies are likely to take you from Senggigi, but will probably end up being more expensive than the price of admission.
4. Mount Rinjani, Lombok
Another big stand out on the list. Although there are several possible volcanoes to choose from, few will beat the multilayered beauty of this one. A few pros would be; 2nd highest volcano in the country, a volcano within a volcano and the turquoise crater. If the view doesn’t do it for you, perhaps camping around a campfire on the craters edge as you watch the sun fall over the Gili Islands might do it for you.
A tour arranged from Sanur should cost around £60, arranging it from Senggigi will result you in being overcharged another £60. The price will include a group of porters and guides that provide everything you need, from all the camping equipment, to food and water.
Side-note, during rainy season it’s illegal to climb the volcano, presumably due to the greater risk. However, this won’t stop tour companies from happily taking you up, by detouring the entire group around the waiting police officers at the gate by macheting down a path through the jungle.
5. Gili Trawangen
This oasis from Indonesia’s strict governmental hand has something for everyone, provides a sanctuary for some, a hell for others. If you’re looking for a chilled-out laid back palm tree’s and deck chairs, then you can find it. If you’re to forget the entire experience in a haze of mushrooms and ecstacy, you could do that to. In-between the madness you’ll find turtles, paradise beaches, World War 2 structures and the most chilled out atmosphere you’ll find in the country.
You can get there easily and relatively cheaply from any point in Bali or Lombok with such a high traveller demand. However expect the leave the cheap Indonesian prices behind, as island life inflated the prices.
6. Ubud Rice Terraces, Bali
Rice terraces are a common site throughout Indonesia and much of Asia, but not many compare to the magnitude and incredible designs that the Ubud rice terraces provide. Its really a site to behold, as each terrace is stacked neatly atop the other along the deep gully. You’re able to walk around the entire area, and due to the time of year, it was all to myself.
Also being given a free local tea & coffee sampling along the edges of the hills with the rice terraces in the distance behind me was an incredibly nice touch. Particularly that it was free!
The outskirts of the terraces provide its own unique experience, with helpful (and some not so) locals, free local tea & coffee sampling, and getting to meet the very civet that makes the world famous kopi luak.
7. Uluwatu and Tanah Lot Temples, Bali
Temples are one thing you won’t be short of in your time in Indonesia, but these are a few of the best. Both are incredibly picturesque, and are situated on/IN the oceans edge providing a spectacular view. Uluwatu temple requires you to wear a sarong in order to enter, where Tanah Lot will only be accessible depending on the sea’s tide.
Conveniently places a short distance from each other, both are easy accessible on a day-trip, preferably on a rented scooter! Both have relatively inexpensive admission fees.
8. The Water Palace, Lombok
A lesser known attraction, providing a tourist free haven. Situated in the centre of Lombok close to the hectic town of Mataram, its easily accessible from anywhere on the island by scooter. Difficult to find, its hidden down a discrete unrecognisable gateway, this former summer house of the king is a beautiful hidden gem.
9. Curug Cikondang Waterfall, Cianjur
Abseiling down a waterfall in the middle of the rainforest and tea plantations, doesn’t get more badass than that. This one will be very difficult to stumble across. All other participants were Indonesians, the whole activity were majourity done by locals, and a sight of a foreigner was a novelty.
This increased rarity made the experience all the more special as we ate local food with our bare hands from atop palm leaves on the waterfalls edge before I hung myself over with only the safety of a rope.
10. Senggigi, Lombok
Senggigi is the touristy spot of Lombok, however doesn’t have the chaos of Bali and a considerably less tourists. For now, Senggigi still remains a discrete peaceful paradise, providing all the comforts for the travels needs without destroying what makes the area so beautiful in the first place.
This will be the base of operation in your time in Lombok, with every tour on offer as well as transport to and from all the highlights across Indonesia.
A Welsh university drop-out on a mission to travel the world for as little money as possible. My adventures have taken me through over 30 countries across Europe, Asia and Oceania, and the list keeps on growing! From classic backpacking to working and volunteering, I have found all sorts of ways to maintain a life on the road.