Indonesia is a vast archipelago of islands with a great diversity of landscapes: virgin rain forests in Kalimantan, Sumatra and Papua, fertile rice terraces on Java and Bali, savannah grasslands on the Nusa islands and snow capped peaks overlooking the Papua jungle. In fact there are 18,000 islands with miles of tropical beaches and many different cultures to explore. Indonesia is a tropical paradise, a land of fascinating architecture, magnificent beaches, exceptional marine life, unique wildlife, lush green landscapes, active volcanoes and the simplicity of village life.
Paddy fields, Bali
Toraja Rock Graves, Sulawesi
Washing the Elephants in Sumatra
Mount Bromo, Java
Kelimutu three coloured lakes, Flores
Mount Bromo, Java
Lady weaving, Lombok
Toraja Funeral, Sulawesi
Turtle off Komodo
Elephants in Sumatra
You will find suggested tour itineraries on our website which cover the most popular sights of Indonesia. These are for guidance only as we offer you the freedom to create your own tour, allowing you to explore places that are not found on conventional itineraries or to alter the travel pace. We will help you build your itinerary to suit your own personal interests, budget and schedule with the help of our experience. Indonesia’s main airport, at Jakarta on Java, offers excellent connectivity with the rest of the world with flights from London via Dubai, Hong Kong , Singapore or Malaysia and from LAX via Tokyo or Hong Kong. Our personal of Indonesia will ensure that every aspect of your trip is perfectly planned.
When to Visit:While there is significant regional variation, in most of the country (including Java and Bali) the dry season is April to October, while the wet season is November to March.
Climate and Weather:Upon arrival and disembarking from the plane, you’ll immediately notice the sudden rush of warm, wet air. Indonesia is a warm place. It has no spring, summer, autumn, or winter, just two seasons: rainy and dry, both of which are relative (it still rains during the dry season, it just rains less). In the highlands temperatures will naturally be cooler, and there are even snow-covered peaks in Papua, whose mountains can soar above 5000m. Bring a jacket along if planning to visit, for example, Mount Bromo on Java or Tana Toraja in Sulawesi.
What to Wear: By and large, Indonesia is a conservative country and modest dress is advisable. On the beaches of Bali and Lombok, the locals are used to foreigners in bikinis, but elsewhere women are advised to keep legs and necklines covered and to match the locals when bathing. (Covering your hair is unnecessary, although doing so may be appreciated in Aceh).
Photography: It is courteous to ask permission before taking photographs of local people, and if possible to show or share the picture with them, as this gesture will be greatly appreciated. There are important restrictions that apply to photography regarding Buddhist imagery. When visiting religious sites, you cannot pose in front of or beside any statues and murals, and should always be respectful. Flash photography is generally not allowed at heritage and religious sites as it can damage old murals.
Health Advice: Since Sri Lanka is warm and sunny throughout the year, it is important to protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen (factor 15 and above), a lightweight hat and sunglasses, and to drink plenty of bottled water to avoid dehydration. During evenings, don’t forget to spray mosquito repellant or wear long sleeved clothes to prevent bites. Please make sure that you drink and clean your teeth with bottled water only. Check with your own GP or vaccination centre at least a month before travel, to find out which inoculations you require – these usually include tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis A and polio. In the event of serious illness, your hotel will advise you on reputable local doctor or private hospital. Pack body-salt replenishment powder and Imodium which is useful for diarrhea.
The air quality in major cities, especially Jakarta and Surabaya, is poor, and the seasonal haze (June-October) from forest fires on Borneo and Sumatra can also cause respiratory problems. If you have asthma, bring your medicine and breather.
Local customs and etiquette: It is wise to read up about local customs and attitudes before you travel to ensure your trip is trouble free. Here are a few important points:
80-88% of the population of Indonesia state their religion as being Islam (Sunni) making it numerically by far the largest religion in the nation and Indonesia the largest Muslim-majority country in the world. Nevertheless, Indonesia officially remains a secular state. Although religious orthodoxies do vary across the Indonesia archipelago the strict observance of Islamic dress codes apparent in some countries is generally absent.
- Alcohol is widely available in most areas, especially in upscale restaurants and bars. Public displays of drunkenness, however, are strongly frowned upon and in the larger cities are likely to make you a victim of crime or get you arrested by police. The legal drinking age is 21.In staunchly Islamic areas such as Aceh alcohol is banned and those caught with alcohol can be caned.
- Tipping is accepted for taxi drivers, hotels and restaurants. A rule of thumb is to tip 10% of the total amount due to show your appreciation for services rendered.
- Many Indonesians are heavy smokers but recently a ban on smoking has been instituted for public places in Jakarta
- There are still a substantial amount of citizens practising black arts and witchcraft and it is always best to be polite and not interfere with local customs and folk beliefs.
- One general tip for getting by in Indonesia is that saving face is extremely important in Indonesian culture. If you should get into a dispute with a vendor, government official etc, forget trying to argue or ‘win’. Better results will be gained by remaining polite and humble at all times.
- Capital: Jakarta
- Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
- Population: 250 million
- Language: Indonesian (official) and countless regional languages.
- Religion: Muslim 88%, Protestant 5%, Roman Catholic 3%, Hindu 2%, Buddhist 1%, other 1%
Java is an island of great natural beauty, despite the now high population. With volcanoes, rice-fields and traditional villages,much of the landscape is still rural. In west Java, there is superlative wild scenery, some of which is protected by national parks. Central Java has a fantastic landscape of dramatic volcanoes, some still active. The capital, Jakata, is a hugh and rapidly growing city. However, there is stiil a lot worth exploring, especially in the atmospheric old town (Koya). From the hundreds of wooden Buginese ships in the harbour to many wonderful museums and many examples of Dutch colonial buildings. In central Java is the Jogjakarta, best known as a city of culture and the arts. You can explore the narrow streets to see craftsmen producing exquisite batik and silverware. About two hours drive from Jogjakarta is the world’s largest buddhist temple, Borobudur. This is truly one of the wonders of the world (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site), an artificial mountain made of 60,000 cubic metres of stone. It was built between 778 and 850 but abandoned soon after completion and then buried by volcanic ash before being rediscovered in the 19th century. One of the highlights of all Indonesia is Mount Bromo, a huge active volcano marooned with its extinct neighbour Batok in a sea of ash and lava. Bromo is surrounded by villages of the Tengger people who farm potatoes, cabbages and leeks and still retain their Hindu faith that dominated Java until the 16th century.
Kalimantan is the name given to the two thirds of the island of Borneo that is Indonesian. Kalimantan is home to over 200 tribes collectively known at the Dayak people who traditionally hunted by blow pipes and lived in communal long houses. Probably the best way to see the natural beauty of Kalimantan is to take a river trip up one of the many large rivers through the rain forest. In fact there are tours which allow you to travel, eat ans sleep on a riverboat, waking to the sounds of the rainforest. You are able to visit traditional villages, spot a great variety of wild life including crocodiles, otter, sun-bears, gibbons and proboscis monkeys. You can also visit an Orangutan orphanage where these animals are rehabilitated for life back in the jungle.
Sulawesi is a strangly shaped island with four extended limbs. However, the main attractions are the extraordinary culture of the Torajan people, the well-organised diving of the Bunaken Marine National Park in the north and the Wakatobi islands in the south. In the south you can experience the boat-building villages and the hunter-gather tribes in the centre. The island also has mountain ranges, volcanoes, fantastic beaches,, waterfalls, and thick forests sheltering a unique ecosystem. The Land of the Toraja is one of Indonesia’s most popular destinations and involves a drive through panoramic mountain scenery. The traditional homes of the Toraja people have upturned roofs and look like upside down boats. They are adorned with buffalo skulls from past ceremonies and are beautifully carved and painted. The Toraga have extremely elaborate funeral ceremonies, which, if you are lucky, you can join in. the dead remain at home for weeks, or even years, before the funerals, complete with animal sacrifice, can take place. The dead are then buried in caves, or even trees, together with wooden effigies of what the looked like in life.
Bali has epitomised tropical paradise for decades with massive volcanoes, rice terraces tumbling down the hillsides, hindu temples, ancient dance rituals, glorious beaches and wonderful places to stay. Although the island now contains many modern resorts, it is still possible to experience the extensive natural beauty of Bali.
The southern part of the island is still the most visited and most extensively developed for tourism. Central Bali is mostly known as the artistic and cultural capital of Bali, especially in Ubud and the mountains and lakes around Bedugul. Several of Bali’s most notable archeological sites are also to be found here as well as two important temples. With a prevalence of artistic, cultural, historical and scenic attractions, Central Bali appeals most those looking for break from the sun, sand and partying in South Bali or to those who are seeking a more thorough understanding of this complex island.
Northern Bali is much quieter, far removed from the hectic pace that can be so apparent in South Bali. The area is known for its black sand beaches and good snorkelling.
East Bali is a large region with natural habitats ranging from lush forests and black sand beaches to barren gravel plains and an active volcano. Mount Agung, Bali’s highest volcano, dominates the landscape of East Bali and often seen in photographs as the backdrop to the extensive terraced paddy fields. This region also hosts Bali’s holiest Hindu temples, Pura Besakih, on the slopes of Mount Agung.
Western Bali is the least populated and least visited region of the island. It is dominated by the West Bali National Park and a huge area of protected reserve, much of which is completely uninhabited. Both the north and south coasts of this region offer quiet beaches but of a very different nature. Those in the north fringe calm seas which are excellent for diving and snorkelling. The southern beaches are wilder and include a number of renowned surfing spots.
Nusa Tenggara Islands
These islands east of Bali are drier and less fertile. They also received less attention from the Dutch colonists and as a result, they offer a stunning cultural inheritance amongst the mountains. Off the coasts of Flores and Komodo there are fine coral reefs.
On Rinca island and Komodo you can find the Komodo Dragon, the worlds largest lizard, upto 3m long and over 130Kg and equipped with huge claws and teeth. These dragons hunt deer, wild boar and ponies. On Flores, you can visit the three crater lakes of Keli Mutu. Each is a different colour; two are pale and can be yellow, while, blue or green. The third is dark red or green, or even black.
Sumatra is the fifth-largest island in the world and accounts for a quarter of Indonesia’s landmass. It contains dense forests, extensive mangrove swamps, massive volcanoes, fascinating cultures, wonderful wildlife and cosmopolitan cities. Sumatra is famous for its wildlife such as the orangutan, elephant, rhinoceros, tiger and crocodile. These can be found in the national park forests containing huge trees over 30m tall and covered with vines and epiphytes.
The beautiful Lake Toba is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, formed by a massive volcanic eruption 74,000 years ago. To the west is Nias island with its sandy beaches, dramatic gorges and fast flowing rivers. Stone staircases rise up to fortified villages with massive longhouses and impressive megaliths.
As always, our tours are all completely bespoke and private. This allows you to spend time seeing the places that really interest you and at your own pace. Of course we will be happy to guide you in your choice of location and accommodation. The tours below are examples of some of the most popular itineraries to help you get started. However, they can be altered, shortened, extended or added to as you require. Our aim is to devise the best holiday for your needs.
Click on itinerary title to go to separate detailed itinerary page.
Indonesia Discovery Tour (14 nights / 15 days)A great introduction to beautiful and fascinating Indonesia, this private tour starts with a riverboat cruise through the forests of Borneo to see the wildlife including Orangutans. It continues to one of the largest buddhist temples in the world before witnessing the extraordinary customs of the Toraja people in Sulawesi. This tour also takes you to the beautiful islands of Bali and Flores before returning to Jakarta to fly home.