Indonesia Itinerary Guide and Sights to See

Festival in Bali by Ruben Hutabarat via unsplash
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Indonesia Itinerary Guide

From old Dutch towns to spectacular monuments, one can never run dry of things to do in Indonesia. This country is seemingly an endless stream of grand mosques, aged landmarks, and religious sights.

While there are several travel companies that offer a Java tour, you can certainly do it yourself! Treat this as your all-in-one route guidance for Indonesia! This guide will take you from East to West Java all the way to Bali.

Borobudur - Indonesia Itinerary Guide
Borobudur – Indonesia Itinerary Guide

Jakarta

Flying into Jakarta is a breeze. Being the capital city, there are countless flights available that will take you into this concrete jungle. It has certainly gained a reputation over the years for being the restless metropolitan city. Everywhere you set your eyes on, there will be something fascinating in store for you.

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If you’re thinking about what to do in the city, there are a plethora of options depending on your personal preferences. One trademark you should never miss is the MONAS, the National Monument of Indonesia. Found in the Merdeka Square, this 433 ft. architectural landmark is a signifier of the country’s independence. One can enter the building to see some of the speckled relics of the country.

The lights of the National Monument at nighttime
The lights of the National Monument at nighttime

Moving outwards to the southern part of Merdeka Square, one will find the Taman Medan Merdeka Selatan. This area is a feast of markets, food stalls, and affordable souvenirs!

Kerak telor vendor in Taman Medan
Kerak telor vendor in Taman Medan

Before jumping to the next city, you should also check out Kota Tua. This well-preserved downtown area is full of museums, colorful bikes, and mouthwatering restaurants that will surely take you back in time.

Bandung

Just three hours away from Jakarta by train, you will reach Bandung. It is also possible to reach it by bus, which will give you a cheaper and shorter travel. However, because of the elevated location of the city, it certainly is worth it to sit through the train ride!

Spectacular views taken from the train ride going to Bandung
Spectacular views taken from the train ride going to Bandung

This city is positively one of the lesser touristy areas on the Java island. This is not to say that it has nothing to offer. Bandung is home to some of the most beautiful and pristine Dutch architectural buildings that have stood the test of time. Because of its elevation, the city is constantly embraced by a cooling wind, making it a perfectly walkable city.

enroute to Bandung
enroute to Bandung

Once you’re in Bandung, you can walk through the famous Braga Street. This stretch of beauty is full of quirky antique stores, restaurants that appear as though they have not yet left the 1920s, and pop-up artists that will tickle your senses.

Braga Street in daylight
Braga Street in daylight

Come at nighttime and the area becomes even livelier with well-dressed Indonesians hopping from one neon bar to another. You’ll have to tolerate the heavy traffic that flows into this street, but the experience will surely be worth the try.

Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta is a long and dragging eight hours away from Bandung by train. From the centrality of its location to the innumerable temples, this city never fails to be included in travel guides for Indonesia. Surely, this is for a good reason!

Once you’re out of the station, you will be met by hip artistry that has somehow merged itself with the city’s crevices. The lights of Yogyakarta met by its interesting vibe definitely take traveling to a different level.

A view from one of the temples in the Prambanan Compound
A view from one of the temples in the Prambanan Compound

One of the sites that’s never missed on Yogyakarta’s travel guides is the famed Borobudur Temple. This regal and massive temple contains nine stacks of platforms that are filled with Buddhist artifacts.

Inarguably, one of the best ways to experience Borobudur would be through a sunrise tour. You might be nudged to leave your hotel at three in the morning, but the remarkable sights will definitely leave you wanting to go back for more! You have to experience it truly to appreciate its exquisiteness.

Photos from the Borobudur sunrise tour
Photos from the Borobudur sunrise tour

Taking things up a notch, the Hindu temple compound called Prambanan can also be added to the itinerary. All the way from the 19th century, the impressive detailing of the temples are all combined narratives from Hindu texts. Touching the crevices of the temples gives you a surreal feeling that shoots to the soul.

Surabaya

Pack your bags and prepare for a six-hour train ride. From central Java, this will take you to the very tip of East Java, to the second-largest city in the country. Surabaya is a port town that is conveniently located at the corner of the massive island. This has given the city a distinguishable look: modern architecture that is grazed with canals and old Dutch sights.

Grand and dainty detailing against white walls and brick roofs as a trademark in the Old Town
Grand and dainty detailing against white walls and brick roofs as a trademark in the Old Town

At the very center of the city, the Tugu Pahlawan or Heroes Monument is cleverly situated. This is a sight that is begging to be given attention to. Built to commemorate the lives of Indonesians who had passed away during the Battle of Surabaya of 1945, the monument is encapsulated by columns and greenery, making it a serene escape among all the busyness of the area.

A sight of the Heroes Monument close to dusk
A sight of the Heroes Monument close to dusk

Extend your trip a little bit more to stroll through the landscapes of Surabaya’s own Old Town. You will walk through glimmering landmarks and interesting architectural viewpoints. Imagine Kota Tua of Jakarta—but with even larger buildings and intricate sidewalks!

Bali

A trip to Indonesia will certainly not be complete without Bali. Surely, the reputation of this holiday island is not without reason.

Beach in Bali
Beach in Bali

There are numerous ways to get to Bali from Surabaya. It can be either as short as a one-hour plane ride or as long as almost an entire day’s worth of hopping from a train, a bus, to a ferry (and another bus). Whatever your traveling preferences are, getting from the tip of East Java to Bali is doable.
There are different areas in Bali one can stay in. Each of these areas definitely has their own take on what vacation means to you. Staying in Ubud will give you a more secluded and relaxing atmosphere. Kuta will be your perfect destination for meeting new people. Seminyak will take you to a more upscale destination.

Festival in Bali by Ruben Hutabarat via unsplash
Festival in Bali by Ruben Hutabarat via unsplash

If you are seeking immersion into the Balinese culture, the temples will definitely be your guiding lights. One of the most popular ones is the Tirta Empul Temple in Bali. This lush water temple has a bathing complex that is intended to cleanse and purify your soul.

People participating in the bathing ritual in Tirta Empul Temple
People participating in the bathing ritual in Tirta Empul Temple

Bali is also known for its heavy traffic and busy streets where you have to squeeze yourself into crowds to get out of areas. If you want to hit the beach without breaking a sweat, Sanur Beach can definitely be your spot. A seaside area that spans eight kilometers along the southeast of Bali, this area definitely attracts a calmer crowd.

There are numerous shops and restaurants that offer the “dine by the beach” experience. You can take off your shoes, cover them with fine sand, and enjoy the breeze from the beach—all while fine dining.

Itinerary Notes

Do you still have a bit of stretch room in your schedule? You can take a quick day trip to Bromo Volcano in East Java. This active volcano is a popular tourist attraction because of its natural beauty and interesting appeal. There are numerous sunrise trips that are offered wherever you go in Java island. If you’re planning to do it independently, you can simply take a train to Probolinggo and find your way up the volcano with the help of locals. Of course, do your research beforehand before attempting this.

Are you still unsatisfied with your current itinerary? You can add in Surakarta or Solo from Central Java. Known as the historical royal capital of the country, there are remnants of the most fine-looking residences and heirlooms hiding in the city.

All of these cities definitely prove how diverse and intricate the make-up of Indonesia is. The merging together of all the cultural landmarks and historical viewpoints has definitely created some of the most interesting sights you will ever lay your eyes on. Book your flight to Jakarta now and start backpacking across Java island!

Searching for best hotels and affordable flights? Check out our complete list of affordable hotels and resorts via Agoda or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

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