Say Indonesia and you’ll surely think of the famous island paradise of Bali, but this small volcanic island is just one part of what is a rather mind-bogglingly big country.
Measured from east to west, the Indonesian archipelago covers a distance similar to New York to Los Angeles—and with over 17,000 islands, Indonesia is a whole world waiting to be explored.
If your itinerary takes you around different parts of the country, you’ll find that the languages, culinary traditions, and religions can shift dramatically. Indonesia has a surprising variety: you might hear the morning call to prayer in Yogjakarta but wake up to church bells on Flores or enjoy the twinkling waters around the laid back Gillis before meeting orangutans deep in wild Sumatra.
But with so many options, how do you decide where to go in Indonesia? We thought it might help to share our recommended destinations, as well as some tips on how to best combine Bali with other islands in Indonesia.
By the way, we have a range of pre-made Indonesia holidays which already include some of the best sights and islands—you can pick any of these and leave all the planning to our travel specialists! You can also customise your own holiday by hand-picking from our many bite-size trips.
The main islands of Indonesia
At Rickshaw, we offer trips to Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok as well as to the wonderfully less-visited Flores. This essentially includes the whole southern range of Indonesia’s major islands, each of which has a uniquely different flavour.
We also offer trips to Borneo, though these are to the Malaysian side of Borneo. There are few roads on the largely untamed Indonesian side, whereas the jungles and wildlife are reached more easily from Malaysia.
Best for: wild jungles, volcanic lakes, orangutans
Sumatra is the island nearest to Malaysia and Singapore. It is one of Indonesia’s less visited islands, though it also holds some of the most rewarding experiences. With untamed jungles and more than 10 national parks, you’ll have many chances to spot different species of monkeys, tropical birds, and other exotic animals. In Bukit Lawang, you can even meet semi-wild orangutans.
Along the shores of the volcanic lakes of Mininjau and Toba you’ll find an inviting and laidback atmosphere. Tourism still has a roads-less-travelled feel on Sumatra, making it a perfect itinerary addition for any intrepid explorer.