The Best Ways to Explore Indonesia

Indonesia is a massive country with over 18,000 islands. While many would immediately think of Bali when planning a trip to the country, there’s more to Indonesia than this tourist island. Planning a trip to this Southeast Asian country can be challenging enough since choosing the islands to visit and how to get to these places can be daunting.

To make things easier, refer below for tips on the best ways to explore Indonesia.

#1 – Fly to Remote Islands

Gili Islands
Gili Islands

While Bali and Gili Islands are fun to visit, they are full of tourists and can get crowded. If you want to experience the local island life without the tourist crowd, consider flying to Indonesia’s remote islands. Indonesia has an extensive flight network, allowing you to travel fast to even the country’s secluded areas.

Consider taking a seaplane to reach the remote island of Bawah in Kiabu Village. The 300-hectare island is part of the Riau Archipelago Province and is home to several beaches and three lagoons with crystal-clear waters. As one of the remotest islands in Indonesia, Bawah is uninhabited, and only 70 tourists can enter. Thus, anyone who wishes to visit must have a permit.

Asu Island is another remote island that’s definitely worth visiting in Indonesia. To get here, fly to Nias Island and hire a car to take you to Sirombu before finally taking a boat to Asu. Getting to the island requires effort and time, but the incredibly stunning views will make it all worth it. The remote island boasts crystal-clear water with glorious stretches of fine white sands. It also has fascinating underwater life, making it a perfect spot for diving and snorkelling.

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#2 – Hop on a Cruise

Hop on a Cruise
Hop on a Cruise

One of the best ways to explore the 17,000 islands that makeup Indonesia is on a cruise. You can cruise along the azure waters around the coast or through the river network of Tanjung Puting National Park to search for orangutans. Cruising around Indonesia is a fun, efficient, and luxurious way to explore the country, including the remote islands.

One of the most popular cruises in Indonesia is a cruise around the Raja Ampat Islands. Lying northeast of Indonesia, Raja Ampat is an archipelago of over 1,500 small islets and part of the Coral Triangle, a protected conservation area with rich marine biodiversity. When you visit these islands, you’ll cross Wallace Line. It is renowned for its unique flora and fauna, different to the rest of Asia. Some fascinating marine life species you’ll encounter on your diving adventure include eels, cuttlefish, and manta rays.

Another popular cruise in Indonesia is the Komodo Islands cruise. It’s an adventure in one of Indonesia’s most fascinating places, the Komodo National Park. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the Komodo dragon, believed to be the largest lizard in the world. You will be trekking around the island with a guide and come face to face with these giant creatures.

#3 – Enjoy the Train Journeys

Enjoy the Train Journeys
Enjoy the Train Journeys

Being a Dutch colonial settlement for many years, Indonesia has a highly developed railway system that’s decent enough compared to Southeast Asian standards. Indonesia’s railway runs within its main islands of Sumatra and Java. If you have a flexible schedule and don’t mind the long journey, it’s worth trying out train travel in Indonesia.

The destinations in Java connected with the train lines are Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, and Banyuwangi. You can choose from three classes, economy, business, and executive. All provide a high level of comfort.

Enjoy the most panoramic views of the stunning countryside when travelling on a train in Indonesia. Java is one of the world’s most densely populated places, home to over a hundred million people. Your train journey in Java will take you away from the busy roads and villages and into the lush and quiet countryside, where you can appreciate the fertile volcanic soils and croplands that make Java a productive agricultural region.

Indeed, train travel is the best and most comfortable way to explore Java’s panorama of lush valleys, mountains, rivers, plains, and terraced rice fields.

#4 – Rent a Bike

Rent a Bike in Indonesia
Rent a Bike in Indonesia

If you’re fond of cycling, consider renting a bike to explore Indonesia. You can bike around the islands of Bali or Java, an incredible way to discover their diverse scenery. Every day promises a different adventure, from lush rainforest with raging waterfalls to volcanic lava fields and vast terraces of rice fields. This is also an excellent way to see Indonesia in July as you’ll discover plenty of interesting spots to stop off at along the way.

Bali is undoubtedly the best destination for a cycling holiday in Indonesia. The famous tourist island is home to stunning beaches, magical temples, and glorious areas of lush greenery that you can best admire on a bike.

If you want to enjoy the cool breeze of the sea as you ride your bike, consider cycling to Sanur Beach, one of the island’s best places to witness magical sunrises. When the weather is clear, cycle towards Mount Agung and Nusa Pineda from the Sanur. The path is about 4.2 kilometres, taking around an hour. If you feel like taking a break, stop at one of the cosy cafes serving mouth-watering snacks and refreshing drinks.

#5 – Experience a Becak

Becak in Indonesia
Becak in Indonesia

One of the best ways to experience the local culture is to try the local mode of transportation. So, on your visit to Indonesia, don’t miss the opportunity to try riding a becak, a three-wheeled manually-operated bicycle consisting of a passenger cart with two wheels, with the driver paddling the third wheel. This local transportation is like the king of the road since vehicles often give way to them

Seeing the becak running along the busy roads of Yogyakarta is fun, but you’ll have a more enjoyable experience if you take a ride. Being driven around the city in a becak is an experience you’ll enjoy, especially in heavy traffic. Thousands of becak runs along the bustling roads of the main cities of Java and Sumatra.

When riding a becak, be sure to negotiate the price beforehand. Agree with the driver for the cost of your journey. If you cannot get an agreeable price, go on to the next one. Be sure not to dangle your feet outside for safety, and keep your feet planted firmly on the step board.