We’ve traveled to Indonesia many times but usually in a work or volunteer capacity. We wondered what places to see, transportation, and other travel tips for visiting all around Indonesia might look like if we asked the experts—Indonesian people! We are going to take these same tips to heart on our next travels to Indonesia. So here are the best pieces of advice from the people who know their country best:

Transportation – Getting Around

You may have heard about the popularity of ride apps Go-Jek, Grab, and to a lesser extent—Uber, in Indonesia. It used to be that your options for transportation around town were taxis and to jump on the back of an ojek, or motorbike taxi. Now, you can do the same but with the option of pre-payment through an app.

As far as safety, it’s best to be cautious when taking rides as a solo female traveler. During the day, there appears to be no issue taking a ride with one of these apps. Especially if you have some basic Bahasa Indonesia skills and a general idea of where you’re going. It’s best not to take them alone at night, according to Indonesian travelers.

Apparently, there are some places that do not appreciate the encroachment of these ride apps on their taxi business, and by riding with Go-Jek or Grab, you could be putting the driver in danger. Incidents of drivers being beaten or fined have been reported in airports such as Soekarno Hatta, Ngurah Rai, and Tanah Lot. I’m not sure that as a tourist, there is much you can do besides be aware of this and ask questions at the airport and your hotel about the atmosphere/feelings toward Go-Jek or Grab before requesting a ride.

Blue Bird Taxi – This taxi company is recommended by Indonesians and has a good reputation for honest service. You can hail one, call one, or download and use the app if you have an Indonesian SIM card/phone number. Be careful of fake Blue Bird Taxis. Check before you get in the car to make sure that the driver is wearing a uniform with the logo on it, and that he has a driver card with his name and credentials on it.

For airport transport, Traveloka operated by Golden Bird is recommended (booking in advance) as their prices are apparently much cheaper than the taxi line at the airport and you can avoid the hassle of calling a Go-Jek or Grab.

Domestic flights – Booking domestic flights in Indonesia is notorious difficult with foreign credit cards. You find a good deal online, but aren’t able to buy it and have to pay an agent to do it for you, thereby raising the price. A few other options you can try:

Traveloka (traveloka.com) or Nusatrip (nusatrip.com), are good search engines that seem to unfortunately quite often reject international credit card payments. However, you can try contacting your bank BEFORE making the purchase and contact Traveloka’s customer service to ask them not to block your credit card. It’s a pain in the ass but may be worth it for the much cheaper fares. Another option is to ask an Indonesian friend to use their card and pay them back in cash.

Skyscanner – Good ol Skyscanner seems to show many of the domestic flights and take you through engines such as Nusatrip to make the purchase. However, for some flights, they bring you to sites such as AirAsia or Cheapoair, etc… which definitely accept foreign credit cards.

Booking hotels in Indonesia

Indonesians seem to recommend Traveloka for booking hotels, if the payment will go through for you. It has good deals on not only hotels but also on entrance tickets to other popular tourist destinations.

Another good option is Agoda, which offers many hotel rooms for the price of hostels (and we all need a break from hostels sometimes).

Booking.com often has some of the best deals as well.

Buying SIM cards

You may have heard that the policy for foreigners buying Indonesian SIM cards changed in spring of 2018, and now foreigners can only buy 30-day SIMs and must register them at an official office with their passports.

A bit of hassle, but then 4G in your pocket all throughout your travels, soo…

Depending on where you land, it seems that you can save yourself much of the hassle by buying a SIM card at the airport, because the registration office is right there near the SIM card sales kiosks.

The drawback to this is that SIM cards will be more expensive at the airport… However, you can then download and start using Go-Jek or Grab right away and save yourself money on taxi fare…!

Taking your chances buying a SIM card outside of the airport is also no guarantee for a good price. It can be a challenge if you don’t speak much Bahasa and they may give you the tourist price anyway.

Take precautions when renting any sort of gear (snorkels/diving/surfing/motorbike, etc.)

Before renting any sort of gear or equipment, take the time to inspect it and take pictures of any damage – and point out the damage to the owner so you won’t be charged for it later.

If you have space in your bag and plan on spending a lot of time in a beach location, consider packing your own snorkel, mask, and fins. Not only is this much more hygienic, but it will save you many dollars in rental fees over the course of your trip.

What (not) to wear

After hearing Indonesians speak about modesty expectations (this is a religious country for the most part and has a Muslim majority), it’s shocking to see “what to wear” or “what to pack” articles about Indonesia that feature photos of girls in tiny booty shorts.

If you want to be a respectful tourist, listen to what local people are suggesting and do as they ask. This means covering up shoulders, cleavage, thighs, and stomachs in public. You’ll be treated better and have a more enjoyable experience.

If you know you’ll be visiting Raja Ampat, Indonesia, check out our post on What to Wear in Raja Ampat to Avoid Offending People.

Buy Insurance

It’s recommended to read the fine print carefully and to buy insurance that covers: travel delays, ferries, motorcycle injury, and any other activities you plan on doing (scuba diving?).

It may be cheaper to pay out of pocket if you have a non-life-threatening medical emergency, but if anything really serious happens and you need to be evacuated (or your body repatriated… sorry to mention this!), or if you have something stolen, good travel insurance will be crucial.

Places to see!

These are just a few brief starter suggestions for those looking up where to go in Indonesia! Indonesia is endlessly enormous and this list could be a book J

Bali: People will either love or hate Bali, as it’s always packed with tourists. Perhaps this is a good starting point for people who have never been to Indonesia.

  • Seminyak (area of Bali)- Good for: bars and clubs (Mexicola, La Favela); meeting other travelers
  • Canggu (area of Bali)- Good for: surfing; day drinking; renting a bike
  • Ubud (area of Bali)- Good for: chilling; scenery

In Bali:

  • Visit Tegenungan Waterfall
  • Hike Mt. Batour in the early hours and watch the sunrise from the top!
  • Visit the Monkey Forest
  • Rent a bike and visit the rice paddies

The Gili Islands: Here, you can visit beautiful beaches and meet other travelers in hostels. You can rent bicycles without worrying about traffic as there aren’t any cars on the islands. You can also enjoy paddle boarding, snorkeling, and incredible shipwreck diving!

Nusa Penida: Here, you can see beautiful scenery and go hiking along cliffs. So make sure to bring your hiking boots. Places to see include Diamond Atuh Beach, Broken Beach, Kelingking Beach, Banah and Saren Cliffs, and Peguyangan Waterfall

Komodo National Park: Visit Komodo National Park and see the Komodo dragons! There is also amazing diving and snorkeling.

Lombok: Hike a volcano, go surfing and hiking!

Surabaya: Go to Bromo National Park and hike the spectacular Mt. Bromo – sunset views!

Raja Ampat: (our favorite place in Indonesia) – Complicated to get to, but the most beautiful place to see!