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Backpacking in Indonesia

If you like island hopping, adventure and nature, you should pack your backpack and go on a backpacker trip through Indonesia. One of the last adventures on the planet awaits you. You’ll encounter vibrant modern cities as well as godforsaken islands where you can play Robinson Crusoe. Experience a country that includes 17,000 islands and many different cultures. Despite the wilderness, you’ll enjoy a relatively good tourist infrastructure and have little to fear from language barriers. Although, here and there you have to get by with your hands and feet.

Traveling Indonesia with a backpacker backpack means doing without and enduring heat and humidity. Although you can travel the country all year round, it can get hot and humid at different times of the year. Especially in March. But there are always places in the mountains or on the right sides of the sea that offer cooling.

Backpacking in Indonesien - vulkan bromo

Backpacking in Indonesia – Vulcan Bromo

It is important not to check off Indonesia, but to discover it consciously. Bali is not the ultimate, but the Mallorca of the Australians. Better you take a look at one of the other 16999 islands, even if on these mostly the Islamic religion prevails, while in Bali it is the Hindu one. The highlight of backpacking through Indonesia is that you will often encounter a completely different culture and language only a few kilometres away.

But wherever you are. It usually doesn’t cost you much to travel through the country. For an overnight stay in a normal backpacker accommodation you pay between 5 and 10 Euro. The food is delicious, nutritious and cheap. Nasi Goreng in the original tastes even better than in Germany and is cheaper at the nearest street stand.

However, there are some things to keep in mind during your trip. There is the thing with the money. The further away you are from the shot, the fewer ATM machines there are. So take enough cash with you. But not too much either. Girls should dress accordingly in the Islamic dominated regions to avoid provoking trouble.

What is there to see and experience on a trip through Indonesia?

You have to go to Sumatra. On the wild and rugged island still live the last Sumatra tigers. Borneo offers an absolute nature adventure above and under water. Deepest jungle, gigantic untamed rivers, densely wooded mountain ridges, the home of the orangutan and diving adventures on the dream beaches are only a part of the adventure offer on Borneo. On Java you get to know the lively business culture of the Indonesians. Take a detour to Sulawesi (Celebes) and enjoy the bizarre and spectacular landscapes. You should experience the mighty Komodo dragon live on the island of the same name. Island hopping can be done on the Little Sunda Islands and you’ll experience a wacky nightlife on Bali.

Backpacking in Indonesien - Kultur und Menschen

Backpacking in Indonesia – Culture and Natives

Culture in Indonesia

Nearly 240 million people live in Indonesia, more than half of them on the island of Java. Just under 10 million in the capital Jakarta alone. This means that on many other islands only few or no people live. Of the 17,508 islands, only 6,044 are inhabited. In the Indonesian part of Borneo live just between 10 and 100 inhabitants/km² on Java there are over 1000. On many you will not only encounter one culture, but several.

Be prepared for a cultural firework while exploring the country, because 360 different peoples, of which most are of Malay origin, populate the island world. Chinese, Filipinos, Malay, even Jews and Christians, Dutch and Portuguese have left their mark. However, 88% of Indonesians are Muslims. However, they belong to a large extent to the moderate tendencies. 23 million Indonesians are Christians. It is sad that 27% of the population is considered poor. On the island of Java alone, 1.7 million street children are counted.

Backpacker Route in Indonesia

Is it possible to visit Indonesia in two or three weeks? Certainly not, as each island is an adventure in its own right, which takes much more than just a few days to discover. Nevertheless, here are some destinations that are located right across the archipelago.

Route 1: The classic (15-20 days)

  • 2 days Jakarta
  • 2 days Bandung – in the cooler altitudes of Java
  • 2 days Banjarmasin in Kalimantan
  • 2 days Manado diving in Sulawesi
  • 3 days Sumatra Riau Islands and Bangka-Belitung and the Sumatra Tiger
  • 3 days in Kalimantan (Borneo), explore the third largest island in the world. Home of the Orang Utans.
  • Experience 3 days Java with Yogyakarta, Borobudur and Prambanan.
  • 3 days Bali, the tourist stronghold with its unique cultural mix, the fantastic beaches, the wacky nightlife and the multifaceted dive sites.
  • 3 days Sulawesi (Celebes) experience the culture of the Toraja.
  • 3 days Get to know Nusa Tenggara with its many ethnic groups and Komodo dragons.
  • 3 days Maluku (Moluccas) – untouched natural landscapes.
  • 3 days Papua (Irian Jaya) – untouched natural landscapes.

Route 2: Backpacker Intensive China Trip (up to 40 days and more)

  • 2 days Jakarta
  • 2 days Bandung – in the cooler altitudes of Java
  • 2 days Banjarmasin in Kalimantan
  • 2 days Manado diving in Sulawesi
  • 3 days Sumatra Riau Islands and Bangka-Belitung and the Sumatra Tiger
  • 3 days in Kalimantan (Borneo), explore the third largest island in the world. Home of the Orang Utans.
  • Experience 3 days (+x days) Java with Yogyakarta, Borobudur and Prambanan.
  • 3 days Bali, the tourist stronghold with its unique cultural mix, the fantastic beaches, the wacky nightlife and the multifaceted dive sites.
  • 3 days Sulawesi (Celebes) experience the culture of the Toraja.
  • 3 days Get to know Nusa Tenggara with its many ethnic groups and Komodo dragons.
  • 3 days Maluku (Moluccas) – untouched natural landscapes.
  • 3 days Papua (Irian Jaya) – untouched natural landscapes.
  • 2 days trekking in Baliem Valley on Papua New Guinea
  • 2 days to visit the fantastic temples in Borobudur.
  • 2-3 days Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park with a spectacular volcanic landscape.
  • 3 days diving in Bunaken
  • 3 days of tigers, elephants and much more in the Kerinci Seblat National Park.
  • 2 days observing Komodo goods in Komodo National Park.
  • 2 days in the mountains of Tana Toraja on Sulawesi.

Travel times in Indonesia

You can bake your food all year round in Indonesia. Even if the monsoon time is approaching. Don’t let them fill your sacks there. It’s raining, that’s for sure, but it also has its charm. Besides, it’s always warm. Unless you go to the mountains. But it gets really cold there only in the highest peaks. Two weather phenomena are important for your backpacker tour. The northern monsoon that rises between November and March and the southern monsoon that appears from May to September.

But you can’t really define it, because Indonesia stretches over a huge area. In some regions of Indonesia it always rains, in others again only little, or stop at the monsoon times. Jakarta is regarded as the driest region and yet it pisses there more than in Europe. The sun shines almost everywhere in the country constantly, even in the rainy season up to five hours a day. It gets humid and hot at the sea and in the interior. And you hardly notice differences in temperature as a European.

Backpacker Budget in Indonesia

Travelling in Indonesia is anything but expensive. This even applies to the tourist Kuta on Bali. Nevertheless differences are already to be determined. While you should calculate your daily backpacker expenses in Indonesia with low claims on about 20 to 25 euros, you must calculate in Bali as a budget traveler with 25-30 euros per day. But then there is nothing in it. Included is a simple accommodation, the food, and the travel costs. On the islands Flores, Lombok or Java it is often enough with 15-20 Euro per day. Let’s have a look at some prices in Indonesia for backpacking.

A hostel bed costs on average between 6 and 9 euros. In Jakarta you pay just 5 Euro for the taxi from the airport to the city. With some providers even less. The public bus will take you to the city centre for just one euro. Basically, three kilometres of taxi will cost you 0.7 euros. The price for the bus cannot even be expressed correctly in cents. Just calculate for free. Also in Kuta you don’t lay down much more.

If you want to surf, which is one of the main attractions on different islands, then the rental fee of 2-4 Euro costs you the board. A course of about 20 Euro. You don’t have to go to the most expensive surf school on the site. All costs for the food – say once three times a day – amount to the equivalent of 6 – 8 Euro. Of course you can push the price up. If you go to a good restaurant, you will logically pay more. Even the hotel room prices are bearable. If you want to treat yourself to something, you can easily find a hotel room for 20 to 30 Euros. The price is for 2, so it’s worth it.

Domestic flight prices in Indonesia

If you want to visit several islands in Indonesia in the shortest time possible, you should fly. There are a lot of local and cheap Airlins in all regions of the country. Check out the seasonal prices on the websites of Lion Air, Indonesia Air Asia, Mandala Air or Adam Air. But keep in mind that you have to pay an airport tax. The prices vary depending on the airport. Island hopping with the airplane can cost far under 70 euros. Depending on the season. But make sure in your further travel planning that the airlines don’t have the word “punctuality” right at the top of their service list.


Indonesia and water are two things that belong together. 17,000 islands, you can sail a lot there. Best of all with the company PELNI. It is considered to be the biggest company that looks around you on the website and calculates the prices. The company will take you to every island. Some ferries are gigantic. The turn can last days and weeks. The problem is that the boats get hopelessly overloaded. But this is nothing unusual in Asia.

There are different classes. It’s worth it to put on something more for longer trips, because then you have your rest: 1 class costs about 30 euros and you enjoy your own bathroom, TV and only 2 beds. That goes down to the 4th class in the Dorm. Chickens, dogs and everything else you can bring with you, you have as bed neighbours.

Train travel in Indonesia

The Dutch once built the PT Kereta Api railway, which runs on Java and Sumatra. Of course, the best railway network can be found in Java, the most densely populated island. Again, there are several classes that you can book. You can find the prices on the website.

Buses in Indonesia

You can also take the regular buses to cover longer distances when backpacking in Indonesia, but it is worth considering the “Scheduled Bus Tours” with small minivans. Everything goes faster, is better organized but a bit more expensive. The vans drive on better roads and last less. And the world doesn’t cost that either. Besides, your luggage is safer.

Backpacker accommodations in Indonesia

Traveling in Indonesia is also so inexpensive because the accommodations are quite inexpensive. With the hot climate even a roof, a mosquito net and a hammock is enough. You could sleep practically free of charge. But you shouldn’t. Better you rent a bed or room in a lodge. Your luggage will be safer there, too. Or you live privately in Homestays. This is inexpensive and you support private households. You always have your private guide with you. Make sure you are accommodated in so-called compounds. These are small facilities in which small houses with several rooms have been built around a patio.

But with the prices, it is like everywhere such a thing. If the season is announced in Kuta, then the prices rise. This also applies to various other destinations with attractive tourism offers in Indonesia. Especially in the diving areas a dosshouse costs fast times scarcely 10 euro. However, such a high season only lasts from June to September in some regions. It is always worthwhile to go a little away from the beach into the interior, as long as one is short of cash.

Otherwise it’s better to put down the 3 Euro more and enjoy the view on the water. In the Plattenbau in Germany you can’t experience that. As everywhere in the world, the prices depend on the comfort but above all also on the region. On islands like Bali or the Gilis you will pay much more not only for the overnight stay, but also for the cost of living. Calculate in Kuta on Bali around 10 Euro. On Flores you only need half the money for a backpacking adventure in Indonesia.

Average overnight prices in different Indonesian cities for a bed in a hostel.

  • Kuta 8-10 Euro
  • Jakarta 11 Euro
  • Ubud 5 Euro
  • Gili Trawangan 8-10 Euro
  • Yogyakarta 4 Euro
  • Sanur 3-4 Euro
  • Seminyak 8-10 Euro
  • Denpasar 6 Euro
  • Padang Bai 6 Euro

Camping in Indonesia

Camping in itself is not a hit now, because there are no suitable places. Of course camping in Indonesia has its charm, though. Because where else can you camp far away from civilization with orang-utans, Sumatran tigers, fat cobras or the Comoran monitors? No one will stop you from pitching a tent somewhere in the bush, but be aware of the dangers. Pay attention to the clues to the point at the entrance to the national parks. And also make sure that you always choose a safe place. Rivers and streams rise quickly after heavy rains and turn into torrential streams.

Backpacker Trips, Tips & Highlights in Indonesia

On your backpacker trip through Indonesia you will get to know a great cultural and geographical diversity. There are critters that you can’t see anywhere else. And by far not only the beaches are horny, despite the 17.000 islands that make up Indonesia. Let’s have a look at what you should have seen. Sure,

Bali, that’s where you have to go. Surfing, beach and partying. But you can also experience the Buddhist culture there. You should also have seen the Komodo dragon on Sulawesi. If you can, then hit the bush of Sumatra and look around for the last tigers there. The same goes for the Orang Utans. Your backpacker trip should also take you to the island of Java, where Borobodur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, is located. Conquer the crater lake of the Rinjani volcano and penetrate the untouched jungle of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. You should also take a look at the sea temple Tana Loth while backpacking through Indonesia.

Backpacking in Indonesien - Vulkana

Backpacking in Indonesia – Vulcan

Backpacker Highlights in Indonesia

The best thing you can do is Jalan-Jalan backpacking in Indonesia. That means nothing more than just wandering around. You can do that by bus, train, boat, plane, on foot or with a rented scooter. Oh yes, a Becak (“BEH-chuck”) Tricycle is another variation. Try the traditional health drinks like Wedang Serbat or Ronde and smoke Kretek and drink the Kopi (coffee). You don’t have to pay attention to etiquette when eating.

Put everything into your throat – with your fingers. You should surf on the Mentawai Islands off Sumatra. From Padang you can get there quickly. Also in the south of Lombok you can dive and dive there. Let yourself be pampered from head to toe in an Indonesian spa. Immerse yourself in the lively, sometimes chaotic local markets and learn to shop in Indonesian. Learning the official Indonesian language should be quite easy, by the way.

Backpacker insider tips in Indonesia

You can get to know little or a lot of Indonesia on a short trip. However, if you try to get to know as much as possible in the shortest time possible on your backpacker trip through the huge island kingdom, you won’t get to know anything at all in the end. Better you concentrate with 14 days or three weeks backpacking through Indonesia on a few destinations, but then you do it right.

A bit bizarre is Trunyan Village in Bangli, on Bali, where you can see the skulls of the deceased ancestors. The journey is not exactly cheap and easy. Get to know the two cultures of the Toraja and Bugis tribes on Sulawesi. You will be thrilled by the simple yet beautiful architecture. In addition, the locals inspire with great woodcarvings. An extraordinary landscape full of huge stones awaits you in Tadulako, in the middle of Sulawesi, in Palu, to be exact.

Only the very few backpackers get lost here. Of the 17,000 islands, well over 10,000 are uninhabited. So there is enough space to get away from the “world” for a few weeks. Simply study the map material a little more exactly, hire a fisherman with a boat and off you go. The world belongs to the brave.

Food & Drinks in Indonesien

As diverse as the island world in Indonesia is, so multi-faceted is the culture and thus also the food culture. Now there are not necessarily typical regional dishes like in many other countries. The climate is too one-sided for that. Most Indonesian dishes you get on your backpacker trip almost everywhere. Try the mostly very cheap delicacies in the small restaurants (warungs), on the lively nightmarkets (pasar malam) or in the countless cookshops everywhere in almost every street.

Food in Indonesia

Rice and noodles form the basis for most Indonesian dishes. The international export hit, which you also get on every island, is the well known Nasi Goreng /Mie Goreng. You can order the dish with seafood, meat or vegetarian, depending on your choice. The soy sauce fried rice (Nasi) or noodles (Mie) is the backpacker survival food for the narrow purse. Another cheap and tasty hit is the Nasi Campur – also available in vegetarian form.

The mixed rice comes around the clock on the table. Attention! The sauces served are palate shredding. Real vegetarians will be thrilled by the soybean tofu Tempe Goreng. In the sweet black soy sauce or also very spicy you taste particularly good. Sate Ayam are also delicious. These are grilled cock skewers with peanut sauce. Also try the countless soups such as bakso or Rawon, which is a real specialty in Java. Also the vegetable soup Sayur asam with Tamarind has it in itself. cap cay is a Chinese speciality and with gado-gado it concerns vegetables in peanut sauce.

Of course there are also the well-known fast food chains, but you have to be a bit perverse if you want to sit in one of these temples and spend a lot of money on scrap with this rich offer of nutritious, fresh and tasty dishes. The fresh fruit varieties that are partly thrown after her are cool. Mangos Papayas or Guava are everywhere. In Indonesia it is not unusual to eat by hand.

Local Markt

Local Market

Drinking in Indonesia

You have to try the fresh fruit juices. The Avocado juice is something very special, but it is also a calorie bomb. Tehbotol Sosro is Indonesia’s answer to Coca-Cola. Try the countless health and herbal juices. Whether you feel better, however, is not guaranteed. With galian singset you fight overweight. With beras kencur you fight exhaustion and coughing. Do you have it in your liver… from drinking maybe …. Then ask for temulawak.

Tasty traditional drinks are Wedang Serbat from ginger, sugar, cardamom, tamarindo of the Ronde. Also Wedang Sekoteng tastes good. Bajigur is prepared on the basis of coffee but has coconut milk in it.

Backpacker Visa and vaccinations in Indonesia

Entry requirements for German citizens: If you are entering Indonesia, you should have the necessary documents. All documents must be valid for at least six months.

Entry is possible for German citizens with the following travel documents:

  • Passport: Yes
  • Provisional passport: Yes, visa must be applied for before entry.
  • Identity card: No
  • Temporary identity card: No
  • Children’s passport: Yes

Still valid child ID according to old: Yes, with photo; it is better to avoid possible problems.
Children’s entries in a parent’s passport are no longer valid since 26.06.2012. Every child needs his or her own identity document.


You must apply for a visa before entering Indonesia.

Medical advice and vaccinations

In Indonesia there is everything that wheezes and flies and pecks So be careful! It’s best to do all the normal vaccinations first. Then you should protect yourself against all kinds of mosquitoes. Besides Malaria, Chikungunya Fever, Dengue Fever, Japanese Encephalitis but also HIV and some more are known. Only those who protect themselves may escape the health problems.

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