When to go:
April–October are the sunniest and driest months. January/February are the wettest.
From about £2500 per person for a two-week trip. £3500 is more comfortable.
"An Outcast of the Islands" by Joseph Conrad
Flip flops. You’ll rarely change out of them.
Did you know?
Indonesia's national motto is 'Unity in Diversity'.
Spanning an eighth of the circumference of the planet, Indonesia is one of the world’s most diverse countries. From the stunning sunrise over Borobudur, a UNESCO world heritage site, to the extraordinary sea life off the coast of the islands to the east of Bali, the archipelago has an amazing richness on offer.
The sights exceed superlatives, but what I loved most was wandering around some of the less visited areas, for example Malang, in East Java. There I indulged in one of my favourite pastimes, watching the world go by in, of all places, a pet shop. I was only browsing but the owner was so accommodating that we were soon nattering like old friends, despite not speaking a word the other’s language.
Some of the more historically inaccessible regions have now opened up to the discerning traveller, meaning that it is now possible to explore even more of Indonesia in comfort. I’ve always found the highlight of any trip here is in the friendliness of the people, complementing the sights and sounds of this faraway land.
For the pure pleasure seekers, Indonesia has fantastic beaches, wonderful surfing and diving and, of course, fabulously luxurious hotels. However, every second hotel now brands itself in the five-star bracket, so it’s difficult to know what to trust and online research can be a minefield. Speak to us and we’ll give you our objective view.
These are just a few of the activities we’ve arranged for our clients in the past. One of them could be the defining reason for your whole holiday, or simply an afternoon diversion.
Shopping, markets and food
– In Bali you’ll find streets and streets of shops and stalls selling clothing and beautiful homeware. Often you’ll find that you need to pay for excess baggage to bring it all back. We have some great personal shoppers if you’re after anything specific or if you find the choice overwhelming. After exhausting your feet you can rest assured that there are loads of amazing eateries serving great Indonesian as well as other world cuisines.
– Bali’s beaches can be delightful but you need to know where to look as many of them are busy or not just particularly pretty. Beyond Bali, in general, there are more spectacular beaches and although they often require another flight to reach, it’s well worth the effort.
– There are some fascinating and intact cultural traditions all over the country, from the funeral celebrations of Sulawesi to the tribal villages of Papua. Bali is obviously the most touristy of the islands but even here you can still witness traditional festivals and village life if you know where to look.
Trekking and hiking
– What Indonesia lacks in mountain ranges it more than makes up for in volcanoes. Visiting these can be a great interjection between two lazy beach stops or, if you have the time, we can arrange more adventurous journeys, for example through eastern Java along its chain of imposing volcanoes.
- Getting there
– Flying into Bali takes about 16 hours in total with flights via Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur among others. There are no direct flights from London.
– Getting around generally involves internal flights, car journeys and the occasional boat. Some journeys are more reliable than others and for some routes a private charter is recommended.
– Generally Indonesia’s climate is most pleasant and dry from April-September but March and October should still be lovely; other times of year are still warm, but carry a greater risk of rain. However, you’d be unlucky to be rained out.
Visa/ entry requirements
– Visas can be obtained ahead of travel or on arrival.
Events (festivals, wildlife migrations)
– It’s such a huge country combining so many different religions, tribes and cultures that it’s impossible to begin to list the options here. If you want to experience a festival of some sort during your trip, talk to us about seasons and we’ll advise the best way of doing it.
- Cultural Nuts
– Head to Borobudur if your idea of a cultural fix is UNESCO world heritage temple complexes .There are others but these are certainly the most impressive and accessible. If you can stretch, stay at Amanjiwo, a hotel built in the monument’s mirror image and an extraordinary structure in itself.
– Bali has fantastic hotels, great restaurants and a really laid-back atmosphere, fantastic for a few nights at the beginning or the end of a honeymoon just to sleep and get over the excitement of the revelries. But what we find works really well is to make a Bali sandwich with the filling being one of the neighbouring islands – Lombok, Java, Sulawesi, Sumba or Sumbawa, to name but a few. These places will give you the exoticism of Indonesia and a taste of adventure, while also ensuring you are comfortable and also not moving around too much.
– If hiking up volcanoes is not really adventurous enough, you could ride horses along a vast and empty stretch of beach or partake in local village festivals on remote islands. If that doesn’t quite fit the bill, take a private cruise out to the Malaccas, the Spice Islands, or to Papua or even create your own route.
- Young and Old Families
– Indonesia has some fantastic diversions for families, particularly those interested in watersports or outdoor activities like rafting, biking, hiking and so on. Many islands outside of Java and Bali are malarial and this needs to be taken into consideration, however even sticking to these places you’re not going to be short of things to do.
- Big Parties
– There are scores of stunning villas all over Indonesia, perfect for private parties, but centred mainly on Bali and Lombok. We are fussy about details like staffing and location – so you don’t need to be. Great parties can be arranged in-house but we also have some great contacts in bars, restaurants and other hotels if you want a change of scenery.
– Indonesia is a series of ports, and its cuisine has absorbed many others to become something of an Asian melting pot. Food is reliably safe but it’s also very diverse and differs from one island to the next. On Bali you’ll find superb restaurants serving food from all over the world (and generally staffed by people from those countries themselves) .