Travel News Indonesia’s Most Incredible Experiences

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Indonesia’s Most Incredible Experiences

Indonesia occupies thousands of islands and stretches as far, west to east, as the continental US. So why do so many guides about things to do in Indonesia focus only on the beaches of Bali and the temples of Yogyakarta?

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Travelers often seek out popular places to visit in Indonesia, like Yogyakarta for its rich culture and ancient temples, Bali to climb volcanoes and enjoy beautiful beaches and, of course, Komodo National Park to see the famed Komodo dragons and to dive or snorkel in the Coral Triangle. While these activities and destinations lure many travelers to book a flight to Indonesia, there are countless things to do in Indonesia beyond the obvious and most talked about experiences.

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Top Things to Do in Indonesia

See Endangered Orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra

The island of Borneo, which is known among Indonesians as Kalimantan, is one of the only places in the world where you can see wild orangutans. Search flights to Ketapang, a small airport near the entrance to the airport, and trek into Gunung Palung National Park for your chance to see one of these rare Great Apes. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to see one (they’re rare, and increasingly so), Kalimantan is still one of the best places to visit in Indonesia.

You can also see orangutans in Sumatra, albeit in a slightly less wild setting. Search flights to Medan and then, setting out from the town of Bukit Lawang, join a multi-day jungle trek with an English-speaking guide and go into the tropical rain forest. When it comes to what to do in Indonesia, searching for great apes is one of the most fulfilling choices.

Attend Festival Funerals in Sulawesi

The Torajans on the island of Sulawesi conduct elaborate funeral ceremonies that date back as far as the 9th century. After the deceased’s family is able to save enough money and gather all relatives (a process that can take months or years), the funeral rituals begin and last for days. Tana Toraja isn’t yet one of the top places to visit in Indonesia, but the more people discover about this strange ritual, the more of them will head to Sulawesi.

To experience this unique funeral culture, book a flight to Makassar, then take the long (but totally worthwhile) bus journey to Tana Toraja. Other Indonesia experiences on this part of the island include rice terrace trekking and water buffalo fights. Elsewhere in Sulawesi you can find some of Indonesia’s best scuba diving, which is one of the best things to do in Indonesia, no matter where in the country you’re traveling.

Explore Natural Wonders in Flores and Sumatra

Search flights to Mundo Maya airport on the island of Flores, where the three crater lakes of Mount Kelimutu will mesmerize you. They are all at the summit of the volcano and not only vary in color—like blue, green and red—but also change colors over time, independently of each other. Flores is one of the best places to visit in Indonesia, you just don’t know it yet.

Or, browse flights to Banda Aceh, in North Sumatra. There you’ll find Lake Toba, which is unique in two ways: it’s a lake inside a volcanic crater—and there’s also an island in the middle of it! The island, called Samosir Island, is pretty big—Singapore is only 34 square miles larger.

Try Exotic Coffee in Bali

“Java” is a synonym for “coffee”—who not have a cup of it in Indonesia? Ironically, one of the best places to visit in Indonesia for coffee is not Java island (where you find Jakarta) but Bali. Beyond classic beans, you can try the rare and most expensive coffee in the world, known as kopi luwak (colloquially, this is often called “poop coffee”). It’s made from coffee beans that the Asian palm civet eats and excretes. The civet’s digestive enzymes are said to improve the flavor profile of the beans, resulting in a rich, smooth cup of coffee.

Book a flight to Bali, where many of Indonesia’s most accessible coffee farms are located. Whether you take the plunge into kopi luwak or sample a more palatable blend, there are few more delicious places in the world to get caffeinated.

Is Indonesia Cheap or Expensive?

No matter which things to do in Indonesia you choose, you’ll find the country to be quite affordable. As of July 2019, 1 USD is equivalent to approximately 13,900 rupiah (IDR), the local currency. For 70,000 IDR (~5 USD) or less, you can buy a local meal with a beer, or rent a motorbike for a day or pay multiple entrance fees to a museum or historic site (the ancient Elephant Cave in Bali, for example, only charges 15,000 IDR per adult).

Budget accommodations can cost just a few dollars, while mid-range hotels are around $30-$50 per night. Luxury accommodations vary, but you can get a room at the five-star Shangri-La in Jakarta for around $200 USD (compare that to the Shangri-La in Paris, which costs more than $700 per night!).

How to Get Deals on Flights to Indonesia

Flights to Indonesia will be your biggest expense, but you can keep a few tips in mind to save money: 

  • Be flexible. If you can’t find the price you want when you search flights to Jakarta, consider flying to other places to visit in Indonesia, like Bali or Surabaya, instead.
  • Use Skyscanner tools like “Best Time to Book,” which employs cutting-edge technology and up-to-the-minute data to determine when is the best time to book your flight.
  • Be realistic. As of July 2019, the best price for flights from the US to Indonesia on Skyscanner is $417. Be aware of what the going rate is so you know what to look for.
  • Keep an open mind when it comes to airlines. Since no nonstop flights from the US to Indonesia exist, don’t be shy to fly airlines you might never have heard of, such as China Southern.

Alternatively, use Skyscanner’s Flight Search below to find flight deals to Indonesia. Simply type your city of origin into the “From” field, then enter “Indonesia” (or a specific Indonesian airport, if you have one in mind) into the “To” field. Then, click “Search Flights” to be taken to a real-time list of cheap flights to Indonesia.