Balinese beaches, Komodo dragons and thousands of island adventures
The Indonesian archipelago spreads over 5200km between the Asian mainland and Australia, all of it within the tropics, and comprises 17,000 islands. Its ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity is correspondingly great – more than 500 languages and dialects are spoken by its 246 million people, whose fascinating customs and lifestyles are a major attraction. The largely volcanic nature of the islands has created tall cloud-swept mountains swathed in the green of rice terraces or rainforest, dropping to blindingly bright beaches and vivid blue seas, the backdrop for Southeast Asia’s biggest wilderness areas and wildlife sanctuaries. All of this provides an endless resource for adventurous trekking, surfing, scuba diving, or just lounging by a pool in a five-star resort.
Travel across the archipelago is pretty unforgettable, in tiny fragile planes, rusty ferries and careering buses. Give yourself plenty of time to cover the large distances; if you only have a couple of weeks, you’ll have a better time if you restrict yourself to exploring a small area properly rather than hopping across 3000km to see your top ten sights. If you do have longer, try to plan a trip that doesn’t involve too much doubling back, consider an open-jaw international plane ticket, and try to intersperse lengthy journeys with a few days of relaxation in peaceful surroundings. Also, leave yourself some leeway – if you’re in a hurry with a vital plane to catch, something is bound to go wrong. Having said all this, the places which are hardest to reach are often well worth the effort, and some of the most rewarding experiences come when you least expect them. An enforced day’s malinger between transport in an apparently dull town might end with an invitation to watch an exorcism, or to examine a collection of ancestor skulls over coffee and cigarettes.
Planning your trip to Indonesia
Everything you need to plan where to go and what to do.
Travel offers; book through Rough Guides
Everything you need to know before you set off.
The Rough Guide to Bali & Lombok
An in-depth, easy-to-use guide filled with expert advice.
The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.
Bali travel tips: 10 things to know before you go
With its coral-speckled beaches, luscious green rice terraces and blissful azure seas, Bali has long been a haven for surfers, sun worshippers and yoga junkies …21 Sep 2016 • Henry Fry insert_drive_file Article
Discover Indonesia: our film of the week
Searching for that daily dose of travel inspiration? Look no further, but don’t be surprised if your feet start to itch for Indonesia. This archipelago nat…16 Dec 2015 • Colt St. George videocam Video
The other Bali: an alternative guide to the Island of Gods
Beyond the mystical sounds of gamelan and the intricate craft of batik, Bali boasts a world of subcultures often overlooked by visitors. The art makes bold stat…20 Nov 2015 • Colt St. George insert_drive_file Article
After Indonesia, where next?
Check out Nepal