Indonesia has about 8,000 inhabited islands, so you may wonder how it’s possible for the country to have even MORE adventures. Well, in Indonesia, anything is possible, even flyboarding 15 meters in the air. White water rafting, surfing, feeding orangutans, road trips through Bali, hiking through volcanoes, cliff jumping all await the heart of daredevils with their eyes set on adventure programs in Indonesia. See miles and miles of forests so green your eyes hurt, komodo dragons so large you might think you’re a knight, and volcanoes so active you’ll see flowing lava. This land of fire calls the bold, the audacious, the intrepid, the fearless...well, you get the picture.
Even though you can find adventures in Indonesia that are sure to get your heart racing almost anywhere, there are about three must-see destinations that you absolutely can’t skip if you’re truly seeking a true adrenaline rush.
Bali, the most well known out of all the islands, is home to tree covered volcanic mountains, picturesque rice paddies, white sand beaches, and pristine coral reefs. For those who find scuba diving too mainstream, Bali presents a new challenge: cave diving. In addition to scenic sites, Bali also houses several religious sites, like Uluwatu Temple, which is located on a cliffside. For those looking to take a mini break from all the adventure-filled activities and reflect on life, Bali is also well known for its yoga and meditation retreats. Namaste.
Even with all the throngs of people and the hustle and bustle, Jakarta houses a few spots filled with adventurous activities. If you need a break from the city, visit the nearby Thousand Islands and get your daily dose of thrill by parasailing over the ocean or snorkeling with the fishies. Not only can you be adventurous with the activities you choose, but in Jakarta, you can be adventurous with your tastebuds! Visit one of Jakarta’s many flavorful restaurants and try deep-fried dragonflies, bats, or cobra blood; maybe at least one of these would taste like chicken?
Medan is a gorgeous city that is the perfect mix of European and Islamic culture. Enjoy the thrill of hiking near gallons of rushing water by taking a spontaneous visit to Two Colors Sibolangit Waterfall or take a day trip out to Gunung Leuser National Park to chill with the elephants, orangutans, and some of the world’s most endangered species.
Adventure Travel in Indonesia
One of the most popular types of adventure travel in Indonesia is trekking. The most popular destination for trekking is through Kalimantan along Indonesia’s longest river, the Sungai Kapuas. There are multi and single day treks that vary in intensity, but no matter the background and experience, there is something for everyone. Trekking can also take travelers to different longhouse villages that not only provide the opportunity for a cross cultural experience, but in some cases, can include a meaningful volunteer experience as well.
Due to the fact that it has about 8,000 islands, Indonesia has some gnarly waves and spots for surfing. On almost every inhabited island, there is a beach where the waves are high and just calling your (and your surfboard’s) name. The locations where you can catch the sickest waves are Bali, Lombok, and Kuta, each with a bustling tourist population and lively nightlife. There are also surfing packages that will take travelers all across Indonesia to the raddest surfing spots, but will also include excursions like cooking classes and snorkeling; time to learn how to make all those crazy Indonesian recipes! Even if you’re just looking to learn how to surf, there are a great amount of surf schools throughout the country that will teach every level from beginner to advanced.
For those who want to do it all, there are road trips across Bali that include everything from white water rafting to backpacking to rainforest tours. These are often all inclusive trips and have a full itinerary planned out already. Whether it’s a trip to Pura Tirta Empul temple to pray with Holy Water or hiking up a semi-active volcano, a road trip is the way to go. This option can be a bit more expensive than other trips, but it involves minimal planning and an itinerary that’ll never leave your heart thumping at a steady pace.
Costs & Affordability
As one of the more touristy and popular countries to visit in Southeast Asia, Indonesia can present some pretty expensive challenges, especially if travelers choose to do everything through one organization. But with careful research and preparation, costs can be lowered and adventures in Indonesia will be more affordable.
The main cost of adventure travel in Indonesia will be the flights to and from each island you decide to travel to. Otherwise, the exchange rate is extremely favorable to the Euro and U.S. Dollar; one U.S. Dollar equals about 13,500 Indonesian Rupiahs. Most meals are incredibly cheap and cost less than 20,000 Rupiahs on the street. A regular hostel room will be about 200,000 Rupiahs while a room with air conditioning (which can be desperately needed) will be between $30 and $50.
Affordability will range around Indonesia, with the more touristy destinations like Jakarta, Bali, and Borneo being more expensive. To stay within a good budget, plan trips independently, stay in hostels or dorm rooms and simple rooms, and eat meals on the street rather than in restaurants with expats.
Accommodation & Visas
From boats and surfing houses to longhouses, accommodation in Indonesia can be anything but conventional. But the good news is, visas are fairly simple for most as long as they are obtained ahead of time or are properly prepared for.
Housing throughout Indonesia will vary from island to island and program to program. Those going on road trips will probably stay in everything from hotels to huts, while travelers going to surf camps will stay in something alongside the beach or maybe even in a tent. In Jakarta and other large cities, there are hostels for every price range and travelers may want to be a bit extravagant to get that coveted air conditioned room for about $30.
Visas are unfortunately one of the most complicated parts of adventure travel in Indonesia. Both 30 and 60 day visas can be obtained from a consulate or embassy prior to traveling to Indonesia. Since 30 days is a short time to see such a large place, we strongly recommend getting the 60 day visa PRIOR to arrival. Upon arrival in the country, you’re allowed a 30 day visa for $35, but travelers must bring exact change and cannot obtain a longer visa. For more information, make sure to check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
As perfect as trekking alongside elephants sounds, there are always some obstacles to overcome in any situation. In the end though, the pure, wild adventures in Indonesia will be worth any potential challenges.
The most prominent challenge that travelers run into during their adventures in Indonesia is staying within their budget. Planes from island to island can be expensive, cars can break down on Jakarta’s dirt mountain roads, and sometimes companies can charge more for extra gear with equipment heavy activities like scuba diving or para sailing. Just keep in mind that even the most carefully planned trips and budgets can go off the rails. If something is too expensive, use that as an opportunity to find a new adventure that fits in the budget. The beauty of Indonesia is that there is no shortage of opportunity. And who knows, it may even be better than what was originally planned.
Travelers can also have a hard time adjusting to the Indonesian climate. The warm weather and rainforests breed a lot of bugs, especially mosquitos. Fortunately, there is a lot of accommodation with not only mosquito nets, but an option to purchase air conditioning. And even when there isn’t, that’s all part of the adventure and story to be told back home, right?
Adventure travel in Indonesia is like seeking the Holy Grail and finally finding it. It’s an adventure of a lifetime and one that is quite unforgettable.