The ultimate solo travel guide to Indonesia: Everything you need to know

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It’s little wonder Indonesia is so popular for solo travel, with a staggering amount of scenery and adventure on hand. Stretching over 3,000 miles west to east across the Equator, the country has an abundance of natural beauty, with over 17,000 islands, volcanoes, rainforests and a plethora of sandy beaches that carve out homes for some of the rarest and most endangered species in the world. 

So what is there to see? From the largest island of New Guinea, to the beaches of Bali, the temples of Yogyakarta in Java, to Komodo National Park, there’s an epic trail of sand, sights and wildlife to encounter. There’s a national park with volcanic craters on East Java (Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park), orangutans in North Sumatra (Gunung Leuser National Park) and Borneo (Tanjung Puting National Park), and you’ll find rice paddies and limestone peaks in Torajaland in southern Sulawesi. The island of Flores in Nusa Tenggara is known for its multi-colored crater lakes, while Raja Ampat provides the best diving in the country.

But, with so many islands to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. Flash Pack’s 12-day Spiritual Bali adventure takes care of those decisions by zooming in on Bali and the neighboring Gili Islands. It’s a chance to slow down, embrace meditation, island-hop and snorkel a shipwreck. Traveling with a group of other solo travelers also offers the perfect balance of independence, while sharing experiences and removing the stress of arranging a trip. Here’s all you need to know about a solo trip to Indonesia.

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Indonesia travel facts

Part of the Malay archipelago, the largest in the world, Indonesia is transcontinental, spanning southeastern Asia and some of western Oceania. Over 100 species of endangered animals live in the country, including the Sumatran tiger and rhinoceros, orangutan and the Komodo dragon. Despite taking up just 1% of the Earth’s land area, rainforests are home to 10% of the world’s known plant species and 12% of all mammal species. It’s also home to the world’s tallest island peak (Puncak Jaya) and the largest volcanic lake (Lake Toba). A collection of national parks, rainforest and temples make up the nine Unesco World Heritage Sites in Indonesia, including the Cultural Landscape of Bali, Komodo National Park and the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra.

Is Indonesia good for solo travel?

Indonesia is considered to be safe for solo travel. Locals are warm and welcoming, and you’re likely to see lots of other solo travelers (as well as groups) that can add a level of familiarity to new places. There’s so much to explore, as well as the option to unwind on glorious beaches. 

Of all the islands, Bali is great for solo travel. Its laid back vibe, affordable accommodation and easy access make it hassle-free, not to mention the burgeoning cafe and restaurant scene, especially good for plant-based foodies. If you’re thinking of tying in some remote working, you’ll also find a hub of digital nomads in Canggu. For wildlife lovers, Borneo and North Sumatra have orangutan sanctuaries and vast national parks, great for visiting on a group tour.

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Best places to visit in Indonesia

On your typical solo trip to Indonesia, the most visited place is undoubtedly Bali, and with good reason. It’s practically set up for solo travelers with sun, surf, yoga and adventure all readily available. Elsewhere in Indonesia, neighboring Lombok is a good tag on, while the capital Jakarta has an exceptional food scene, a number of insightful museums and vibrant clubs. 

Meanwhile, the archipelago of Raja Ampat is made up of hundreds of jungle-covered islands with lagoons, caves and beaches. And for wildlife, head to Borneo or Sumatra to see orangutans and tigers. Don’t fancy it on your own? Taking a group tour with Flash Pack also encompasses time away from the busier spots, with ventures into the wilderness of the west and some of the surrounding islands.

Where to stay as a solo traveler in Indonesia

What are hotels like for solo travel in Indonesia? You can find small-scale properties throughout the country: think cosy guest houses amidst rice paddies or tickling the lapping waters on one of the many island shorelines. In Bali, Ubud offers easy access to the island’s lush interior, while Canggu in the south is popular with digital nomads. 

Across the rest of the archipelago, you can find thatched villas, pavilions and eco resorts, many with outstanding views and spectacular surroundings. On a group solo trip to Indonesia with Flash Pack, you’ll typically share a room with another like-minded solo traveler, meaning you swerve the single supplement. Still want your own private room? That’s no problem, either.

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How to get to Indonesia

Indonesia has two main international hubs: Soekarno–Hatta International Airport in the capital Jakarta on the northwest coast of Java, and Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar in the southern part of the island. As the country is made up of many islands, ferries are a great option for hopping from one to the other on your solo travels in Indonesia. You can also reach larger ports, such as Belawan and Dumai in Sumatra from Malaysia or Singapore.

How to get around Indonesia

With an abundance of islands, domestic flights and ferries are the best option for hopping between them. Flights operate between the likes of Bali, Sumatra, Papua and Sulawesi. But if you have more time on your hands during a solo trip to Indonesia, taking a boat between spots can be a beautiful experience, as well as providing an opportunity to reach smaller islands, such as the Gilis and Komodo National Park. The train system in Java is reliable and comfortable, as well as in parts of Sumatra. On busier islands, such as Bali, renting a car or moped is often the best option for getting around.

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Best time to visit Indonesia

July and August are the peak months for travelers heading to Indonesia, the warm weather coinciding with summer vacations. Traveling any time between April and October is ideal, with the shoulder months either side of the peak providing calmer climes that are still pleasant for island-hopping and beach trips. The weather is also still typically warm (27°C – 34°C in the northern and central islands). Wet season is from November to March which can get in the way of more active plans, although temples do tend to be quieter during these months.

Indonesia travel itineraries

For solo travel, Bali is ideal. The surrounding waters are the richest in the world for coral and marine life. On land, the scenery is peaceful, with sites and daily life centred around a deep-rooted spirituality. Because of this, it’s the perfect destination to take life at a slower pace, which is exactly what a group solo trip with Flash Pack offers. 

On the 12-day Spiritual Bali adventure, you’ll meet over a meal with a local family in the remote village of Pinge in the island’s south, visit the floating temple of Pura Ulun Danu and hike to the Banyu Wana Amertha waterfall. You’ll also immerse yourself in spiritual bathing in Ubud, trek up the sacred mountain of Mount Batur and fill your days with local dishes, all before finishing your adventure on the small-but-perfectly-formed Gili Islands.

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What to pack for solo travel in Indonesia

There’s a whole range of landscapes here, including sandy beaches, mountains, rainforests and volcanoes, so bringing comfortable and practical shoes is imperative for the packing list. The country is laid back and warm, so opt more for light, loose-fitting clothes that will serve for comfort on your solo trip to Indonesia. Prepare to regularly apply sunscreen (this is the hottest spot in the Pacific Ring of Fire) and have mosquito spray at the ready. Otherwise, pack the essentials for a beach and/or adventure break, depending on what activities you plan to do.

Solo travel advice for Indonesia

Don’t try to pack too much in. There are so many islands that, if you try to see too many, your time will be eaten up by traveling between them. Once you’ve decided how active – or inactive – you want your trip to be, choose a couple of spots to focus on, allowing plenty of time to soak up your surroundings. Indonesia really is spectacular and best enjoyed at a slower pace.

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Is it safe to travel solo in Indonesia

As one of the most popular destinations in Asia, thousands of visitors experience solo travel in Indonesia every year, with most trips being trouble-free. However, do check out the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK), the Department of State Travel Advisories (US) or your country’s local government guidelines for the latest advice before traveling. 

Once there, follow local advice and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Typically, Indonesia is safe, but as with any destination, do your research before you travel. For extra peace of mind, consider joining a group of other like-minded travelers on a solo group trip.

Ready for your next adventure? Try group solo travel to Indonesia with Flash Pack – designed exclusively for people in their 30s and 40s, seeking the independence of solo travel within the safety of a group.

A cool 98% of Flashpackers arrive solo to join our group adventures. So, you’ll be in good company – whether a first time solo traveler or a seasoned pro looking for like-minded new friends.

Images: Flash Pack

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