One does not simply travel to Indonesia once. Trust me, I have been to Indonesia 5 times and have yet to see them all. Indonesia is so diverse that you can experience almost everything you look for in a trip in this country alone. From hiking volcanos to swimming with manta rays, there are sure to be plenty of things to do for everyone. Not to mention, traveling in Indonesia is dirt cheap, which is perfect for backpackers or adventurers to spend one month traveling around.
If you have one month of holiday, and are looking for a place to go, read on and see why Indonesia is perfect for your next destination.
Indonesia Itinerary Map
Why Go to Indonesia
Indonesia is one of the most diverse countries in Southeast Asia with over 17,000 islands, most of which have their own culture, beliefs and different ways of life. There are so many things to do in Indonesia that one does not simply travel to Indonesia once. They have it all in Indonesia, the Islamic and Hindu architectures of Java and Bali, the beautiful beaches of Gili and Flores, and the stunning volcanoes all over the country. If you have a month of holiday and you are looking for a unique adventure that will allow you to experience it all in one go from beaches to mountains, you can't go wrong with Indonesia.
When to Go to Indonesia
The best time to go to Indonesia is from May to September which is during the dry season where the weather is a bit more predictable and you are likely to have clear blue sky when you are traveling which is ideal for mountains and beaches. It is also recommended to travel during this time if you want to dive as the sea tend to be calmer than off-season.
Where to Stay in Indonesia
Jakarta - Wonderloft Hostel - 9.11 USD/Night (Dorm)
Yogyakarta - Laura's Backpacker 523 - 6.66 USD/Night (Dorm)
Mount Bromo, Cemoro Lawang - Bromo Otix Guest House - 12 USD/Night (Double Room)
Banyuwangi - Mango Tree Guest House - 4 USD/Night (Single Room with shared bathroom)
Ubud - Gangga Blessta Home Stay - 15 USD/Night (Double Room)
Gili Trawangan (optional) - Panda Cottage - 10.52 USD/Night (Dorm), 24.54 USD/Nught (Double Room)
Gili Meno (optional) - The Rabbit Tree Hostel - 5.96 USD/Night (Dorm), 13.32 USD/Night (Twin Room)
Sengigi - La Casa - 12 USD/Night (Double Room)
Senaru (Before Mt Rinjani Trek, often included in a tour) - Senaru Lodge - 24 USD/Night (Double Room with Mountain View)
Labuan Bajo - Dorme Tree - 8.88 USD/Night (Dorm) - New, clean, friendly owners and located near the airport but still within walking distance of the tourist street. Much more quieter than staying on the tourist street.
Ruteng - D-Rima Homestay - 14.00 USD/Night (Budget Double Room)
Bajawa - Cinnamon Guesthouse - 9.00 USD/Night (Standard Double Room) - Clean, modern with better facilities than other guesthouses around it.
Ende - Berlian Hotel - 19.00 USD/Night (Standard Double Room)
Moni - Mahoni Guesthouse - 24.00 USD/Night (Double Room with Hot Shower) - The only place around with a hot shower and you will want one when you are there.
Maumere - Pantai Paris Homestay - 8.00 USD/Night (Dorm), 22.00 USD/Night (Double room with sea view) - Right by the beach.
Denpasar, Bali - The Manggar Indonesia Hotel - 19.00 USD/Night (Superior Double Room).
This place is quite cheap compare to all the other countries in the world. If you are planning a trip here, you can expect to pay around 25 - 45 USD per day per person and that should include accommodation and 3 meals.
Keep in mind that this is just a suggested daily budget based on my style of traveling, which is leaning more toward the budget side of things. If you want to stick to this budget, expect to sleep in dorms, eat out only a few times, and be comfortable using the cheapest and most convenient way of transportation, which often times involves walking.
The availability of WIFI will depend on which region you are traveling in. I had no trouble traveling around Bali and Lombok relying only on WIFI but for places like the mountainous region Java and Flores, I would recommend you get a local SIM card. I personally used the one from Telkomsel called SIMpati and I had no problem with it in 99% of the places mentioned in the itinerary (being on a cruise is another story). If you are interested to get a sim card, you can read more about data and sim cards in Indonesia here.
If you are looking for a travel insurance to go along with your trip to Indonesia, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for a travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure. They have a simple and flexible search system that allowed me to find the right insurance for the right amount of time at an affordable price in seconds. If you need a travel insurance, give WorldNomads.com a try.
How to Get to Indonesia
For this itinerary, it is best that you fly into Jakarta and then you can travel by land through Java all the way to Flores. I personally use either Skyscanner or Momondo to find the cheapest flight for the fastest route to travel so make sure you check them out and get a flight from where you live to Indonesia
How to Get Around Indonesia
Even though, Indonesia consisted of many islands, due to the influx of tourists in recent years, moving around the country has become considerably easier for us and there are many options for us to choose from.
For short distances, you can rent your own motorbike for a day and travel at your own pace or you can hire an o-jek (motorbike + driver) for a day and they will drive around for you. For further distance but still, within the city range, you can use Grab which should be widely available on Java, Bali, and Lombok. You can also get a metered Blue Bird Taxi or regular taxi but for the latter, be sure to negotiate, hard.
Now, for a long distance travel, your options will depend on which region you are in as they vary from place to place. There are trains, buses, bemos (minibus) and ferries.
How to Get Around on Java
For traveling in Java, I would recommend taking a train as it is reliable, fast, comfortable and affordable. With my itinerary, you can take the train from Jakarta and reach all the destinations I listed all the way to Banyuwangi so no need to rough it out on buses. You can now book a train ticket online as well through Tiket.com making it one of the best way to travel around Java.
For more information on trains, be sure to check out Seat61 guide on traveling by train in Indonesia.
How to Get Around on Bali
Bali is the odd one out from the rest with little to no public transportation available for tourists. You either have to get a Grab taxi or hire a driver to drive you around for a day either through your hotel or from tour agencies scattered in many of the tourist streets.
I never enjoy traveling around Bali because of its horrible traffic, narrow roads and the crazy number of tourists on the island so I would recommend you stick to one area, say Ubud, take a Grab to your hotel and either rent a scooter for a day or get a grab to Ubud city center and explore the area on foot. If you don't mind spending more, you can organize a taxi driver for a day through the hotel.
Be warned: Bali is notorious for its aggressive taxi mafia and you must be very discrete when you are calling a Grab. I had an incident in Ubud city center where the taxi drivers attacked my Grab driver and chased him away. They followed me when they asked me if I wanted a taxi and I said no, with my phone up walking around trying to find my grab driver, they tracked me down and when my driver arrived, they surrounded my Grab and prevented us from entering the car and eventually chased our driver away. You are fine to use Grab outside of the city center but when you are in the city center, be very discrete.
Tips: Sit inside somewhere, say a restaurant or a cafe and call your Grab. When a driver accepted your request, text them and organize a pickup location and you then can approach the car and take it without alerting the taxi mafia.
How to Get Around on Lombok
Buses are the cheapest way to travel around Lombok as they are easily flagged and not as crowded as on Java. For shorter distances, you can rent a scooter and drive around to all the attractions in the area. Grab and Blue Bird taxis are also available on the island.
How to Get Around on Flores
For Flores, the transportation options are pretty straightforward with buses as the main way to travel around the island. Gunung Mas is the most comfortable and can be booked through your guesthouses or hotels in advanced. Bemos (minibuses) are also an option, as well as a shared taxi where you will be sharing a Toyota Kijang with a handful of locals, splitting the cost.
For short distances, you can rent a scooter to drive around to attractions nearby or if you are not keen on driving yourself, hire an o-jek for a day.
One Month Itinerary for Indonesia
Jakarta, Java (1 night)
You will likely begin your journey in Jakarta which is one giant city that is crowded yet charming but since we have only a month, I would recommend you stay one night to overcome the jetlag and be familiarize with the culture before getting an early morning train to Yogyakarta, the next day. It should take around 7 hours so the earlier train you take, the better. For more information on this train, check out the train timetable, price and route on Seat 61.
If you have more time, you can spend an extra night in the capital city and visit the the Istiqlal Mosque, the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, the Kota Tua market in the evening and the Old Harbour at night.
See More: 24 Hours Guide to Jakarta, Indonesia.
Yogyakarta, Java (2 nights)
Yogyakarta is known for its cultural heritage and I would recommend you stay for at least 2 nights here to really feel the city's vibe. When you arrive at the Lempuyangan train station, drop your bags at your hostel and go to the Malioboro tourist street to get yourself a rental scooter for tomorrow. Make sure to familiarize with the scooter before you rent it. The price should be no more than 50,000 IDR per day.
The next day, wake up as early as possible and ride your scooter to Borobudur complex for an amazing morning stroll around the temple. Borobudur is possibly one of the most well-known landmarks in Yogyakarta and it gets really crowded during the day so the earlier you go the better.
With a scooter, you can also go around the city to places like Prambanan temples, the largest Hindu compound in Southeast Asia, the Chicken Church viewpoint and the Parangtritis beach. Be sure to come back to the Malioboro street and find a good local restaurant to indulge yourself in. Chicken Satay is a must try here.
See More: A Guide on Things to Do in Yogyakarta.
Surabaya, Java (1 night)
From Yogyakarta, you can take an early morning train to Surabaya which should take you around 5 hours and spend a night here to organize your transportation to Mount Bromo the next day. You can either organize a taxi to drive you up through the guesthouses in Surabaya or you can do it independently.
To do it independently, you have to start early again and take a train to Probolinggo which should take you no more than 2 hours. When you arrive, take an o-jek to the bus station where you can then continue on your journey to Cemoro Lawang, a town located right on the caldera of Mount Bromo, either via a bus or a motorbike (1 hour).
Mount Bromo - Cemoro Lawang, Java (1 night)
From Surabaya, you should arrive in Cemoro Lawang before dark so you can spend some time walking around town, finding a way to get to the crater tomorrow morning. Your guesthouses should be able to organize a sunrise trip for you. It should cost you no more than 80,000 IDR for a sunrise trip. Also, the Cemara Indah Hotel has one of the best views of Mount Bromo so be sure to drop by there and check them out.
The view of Mount Bromo at sunrise is probably one of the best views you can get on Java and even though people say it is crowded during sunrise, I can guarantee you, it is worth it. You can go a little bit off the trail and you should have no problem finding a quiet place to watch as the sun rises behind the crater. There is just nothing quite like it. If you have got yourself a shared jeep at sunrise, they should come and pick you up at 3:30 AM and they should take you to the sunrise spot, down to the crater and back.
After the sunrise, the jeep should take you down to the barren land near Mount Batok and you can walk around there. Be sure to spend a few hours here and walk all the way up the crater and around it to really grasp the scale of the volcano. You can also choose to walk back to Cemoro Lawang if you don't want to take a jeep back.
See More: My Java Island, Indonesia Trip Report.
Banyuwangi - Kawah Ijen, Java (1 night)
After you are done with Mount Bromo, take a bus down to Probolinggo and from there, get a minibus to Banyuwangi (4 hours and should cost you around 25,000 IDR), a great base for another hiking journey ahead of you to witness the blue flame of Kawa Ijen. The last bus from Probolinggo is at 7 PM so be sure to get down from Bromo before then.
When you are in Banyuwangi, you can organize a sunrise hiking trip with your guesthouse to take you to Kawa Ijen at night (400,000 - 600,000 IDR) where you will be able to hike up and witness the famous blue flame of the Ijen crater lake. The blue flame disappears at 5 AM and the hike starts from Pos Paltuding where you will be walking around 1.5 hours, so calculate your time carefully, otherwise, you can enjoy the sunrise here as well.
Ubud, Bali (3 nights)
From Kawah Ijen, if you are with a tour, they should drop you back at Banyuwangi town and from there you can take a ferry to Gilmanuk (leaves every 30 minutes) and from Gilmanuk, take an executive bus to Mengwi bus terminal and from there, call a Grab or get a taxi to drop you off at your guesthouse in Ubud.
Personally, I think Bali is too crowded and the best of Indonesia is yet to come so I wouldn't recommend spending too long here. There are better beaches on Lombok and Flores with fewer people. That said, the architecture in Bali is just breathtaking and it is the only reason why I would recommend you to stop in Bali.
Ubud is a great place to see the stunning Balinese architecture with places like the Water Palace, Tirta Empul complex (where people bath off their sins in freshwater pools) and the Goa Gajah (Elephant cave) that are worth visiting.
You can also go for a little walk in the rice field at the Tegalalang rice terrace. If you want to avoid the crowds, be at the Tegalalang rice field at 7 AM and you will have the whole place to yourself.
Gili Islands (2 nights)
After spending 2 days in Ubud, you have 3 options for your next destination, the Gili Islands. If you are on a tight budget, Gili Trawangan is the most budget-friendly, but if you prefer a quieter and peaceful experience, you can choose either Gili Meno or Gili Air. No matter which one you choose, you will have to go to Padang Bai Port to get a ferry across to any of these islands. Be sure to ask for the boat schedule at your guesthouse because it changes depending on the weather forecast.
The Gilis are small islands off the coast of Lombok and it is the perfect place to relax by the beach, go for a snorkeling trip with sea turtles or simply walk around the island. This is what I mean. Why stay in the crowded Bali beaches where you can find plenty of pretty yet empty beaches elsewhere.
Senggigi, Lombok (2 nights)
After you spend a day on one of the Gili islands, you can hop on a boat to Senggigi, rent a scooter and drive along the coastal road of Northwest Lombok.
The beauty of riding a scooter is that you can stop and take a photo any time and with a road like this, you just have to stop and take it all in. Be sure to head over to one of the many awesome beaches near Senggigi with your scooters such as the Setangi beach, the Kerandangan beach and one of my favorite, the Pandanan beach.
I spent almost half a day at the Pandanan beach, just relaxing in a small shack by a white sand beach overlooking the Gili islands, and I had the beach all to myself.
Mount Rinjani, Lombok (3 nights)
After a relaxing day at the beach, it is time to explore the mountains of Lombok and one of the most prominent one on the island is Mount Rinjani. Standing tall, 3,726 m above sea level, towering over the entire island, Mount Rinjani is a mountain built for adventurers. If you are into hiking, I would recommend you to go for it. The view from up there is just mind-blowing. It's a volcano on an island inside a volcano on another island after all.
There are several ways you can trek Mount Rinjani but the best option is to go with the 4 days 3 nights trip that will allow you to summit the volcano on the second day, and then continue on to the lake, through the crater and up towards the ridge on the other side, at a much more manageable pace. If you go with the tour, usually the accommodation on the night before you start is included in the price so no need to book anything.
Keep in mind that Mount Rinjani is a volcano and that comes with all the nasty terrain such as sand-like slopes and uneven grounds that make it difficult to climb, so make sure you are in good physical condition before attempting.
See More: How to Climb Mount Rinjani.
Komodo Islands Cruise, Lombok to Flores (4 nights)
After Mount Rinjani, you can ask the tour company to drop you off at Senggigi and you can walk along the tourist street and ask a travel agency to find a "Liveaboard" cruise to Labuan Bajo, Flores.
The cruise will go through the Komodo National Park and will drop you off at Labuan Bajo in Flores. It should take around 4 days, 3 nights and you will be able to see all the highlights of the Komodo National Park such as the Komodo dragons on Komodo and Rinca island, the Padar island at sunrise, swimming with manta rays at Manta Point, all in one go.
If you are not so keen on traveling for 4 days on the boat, there is another option for you. There is a cheap flight that goes back to Bali from Lombok early in the morning and from Bali, you can take another flight on the same day to Labuan Bajo.
From Labuan Bajo, you have more options with the addition of 1-day speedboat trip and a 2-days, 1-night Liveaboard cruise which will take you to all the highlights mentioned before but faster and at a much cheaper price.
You can find more detail here in my backpacking guide to Komodo Islands.
Labuan Bajo, Flores (1 night)
If you take a Liveaboard cruise from Lombok, you should arrive in Labuan Bajo in 4 days in the evening so you will have to spend one night here. Before you go to bed, be sure to ask your hostel to book a Gunung Mas bus for you to go to Ruteng the next morning.
See More: A 10 Days Backpacking Itinerary for Flores.
Ruteng, Flores (2 nights)
Ruteng is a quiet small town located up in the hills of Flores. There are a few things you can do here such as the Spiderweb rice field and the Hobbit cave where they unearthed the real-life hobbit remains (Homo floresiensis), but you will need to rent a scooter for day, which you can do at Kopi Mani Inspiration cafe
You will be surprised at how friendly the people are here compared to Bali and Lombok. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that Flores get much fewer tourists than those places and I found the experience to be more authentic and in general a better part of Indonesian tourism.
Bajawa, Flores (2 nights)
After spending your time in Ruteng, you can get an early morning bus to Bajawa, another small town in Flores, best known for its traditional villages. Beno is the most notable traditional villages as it is the largest and comes with helpful explanation boards on the history of the inhibited people and their unique culture. To get to Beno, you either have to rent your own scooter again or you can ask your guesthouse to organize an o-jek to drive you around.
If you have more time, you can also go for a hike up the Gunung Inerie, a 2,245m high cone-shaped volcano that towers the entire area.
Ende, Flores (1 night)
After Bajawa, you can take a bus to Ende which should take around 5 hours and you will spend a night here. There's not much to do in Ende but if you want to try the best Nasi Ayam (chicken rice) of your life, be sure to drop by Sari Rasa restaurant. The owner is one colorful individual and he will gladly explain the menu to you.
Kelimutu - Moni, Flores (1 night)
Here comes the highlight of East Flores, Kelimutu or the tri-colored volcano lakes that shifted its different colors throughout the day. One is blue, the other is green and the last is black, and came from the same volcano. The lake is best seen after sunrise, so be sure to stick around until the sunlight hits the lake so that you can see how vivid the colors are.
In order to get to Kelimutu, you will have to take an early morning bus to Moni from Ende and from there, organize a sunrise trip with your guesthouse for the next morning. You can either rent your own scooter and drive up the mountain at 4 AM by yourself or hire an o-jek to drive you up and down the mountain.
See More: A Guide on How to Get to Kelimutu.
Maumere, Flores (2 nights)
Last but not least, you can take a bus from Moni down to Maumere, a coastal town with nice beaches and cool scuba diving sites for you to indulge yourself in before heading back home. You will appreciate the change in climate from the mountain breeze of Ruteng, Bajawa, and Moni to the warm tropical climate of Maumere. It is the perfect place to end a perfect trip like this. Spend a day and relax on the sunny beach and the next day, you can fly back to Bali from here.
Denpasar, Bali (1 night)
Depending on where you are flying back to, you might need to stay one night in Bali and it would be wise to stay near the airport. I would personally recommend the Manggar Indonesia Hotel as it is located right by the airport within walking distance, it's cheap, has a pool and just perfect for a last relaxing evening in Indonesia.
That is it for a one month trip to Indonesia. It's quite an itinerary, isn't it? Are you planning a trip to Indonesia? If you need any help, feel free to let me know in the comments below.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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