Introduction: Indonesia Eight-Day Itinerary

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Indonesia might induce a fit of analysis paralysis in even the most experienced traveler - after all, the archipelago has over 17,000 islands - but the beginning Indonesia traveler can get the most out of their visit by limiting their trip to the two neighboring islands of Java and Bali.
Java is one of the most densely populated islands in Southeast Asia, and its long heritage of indigenous Javanese culture makes the place a must-see for any traveler visiting the region.
Our itinerary's Java leg will include stays in Jakarta (Indonesia's bustling, engorged capital) and Yogyakarta (a center for Javanese culture), before jetting over to Bali, just over the Bali Strait.
Our Bali leg will involve a day in South Bali, before taking a short drive up to Central Bali and Ubud, where you can experience the indigenous Balinese culture at its proudest and most refined.
Ready to go? Not so fast. Before undertaking any trip to Indonesia, you should review the following travel basics:
  • Indonesia Travel Information: all about Indonesia's visa requirements, currency, and safety situation.
  • Weather in Indonesia: details on Indonesia's weather, with information on recommended clothing and links to local weather conditions.
  • Money and Money Changers in Bali: learn about the local currency, how to change dollars and pounds to the Indonesian rupiah (IDR), and where to have your foreign currency exchanged while on the island of Bali.
  • Drug Laws in Bali and the Rest of Indonesia: drug possession and trafficking in Bali and the rest of Indonesia can get you in deep trouble; find out more by reading this article.

    On your first day, you'll fly into the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta. Nicknamed the "Big Durian", the sprawling megalopolis covers over 290 square miles in the western part of Java. You'll touch down at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
    • Compare prices on flights from Los Angeles to Soekarno-Hatta
    • Compare prices on flights from San Francisco to Soekarno-Hatta
    • Compare prices on flights from New York to Soekarno-Hatta
    Once you've checked into your hotel, either in Central Jakarta or in North Jakarta (budget travelers will love the cheap and plentiful budget hotels in Jakarta), your tour of the "Big Durian" can begin.
    Jakarta's reputation as a polluted, traffic-choked city has unfortunately preceded it, but nobody should miss it: Jakarta is an interesting study in Indonesia's modern history, as it used to be the center of the Dutch colonial presence in the "East Indies", as Indonesia was called at the time, and entered the postwar years under the sway of the charismatic but ultimately doomed President Sukarno. The Dutch colonizers and the strongman that replaced them shaped Jakarta's most popular landmarks.
    Start with a visit to Fatahillah Square in the north of the city, the crumbling former Dutch colonial capital. The vast square used to be a venue for public executions, while the former statehouse behind it is now a museum dedicated to Indonesia's colonial history.
    Move south to Central Jakarta, and you travel in time from the 19th to the 20th century, where Indonesia's first president Sukarno solidified his place in Indonesia's history with several notable buildings.
    The Monas (short for "national monument" in Indonesian; pictured above) towers over Central Jakarta, the navel of a plaza that is itself surrounded by government buildings and the Presidential Palace. Book a tour to the very top of the Monas to get a bird's eye view of Central Jakarta.
    Just a short distance away, you can visit Istiqlal Mosque - the biggest mosque in Southeast Asia, its size very appropriate for the biggest Islamic nation in the region.
    Finish your day with a visit to a Padang restaurant, where you can try a vast range of Indonesian dishes served on little plates, along with all the rice you can eat.

    Start your day fashionably late with a mid-morning visit to Jalan Surabaya Antique Market, where you can look over a treasure trove of Indonesian antiques, old shadow puppets, salvaged ship parts, used luggage, and vinyl LPs. You'll easily spend two hours here, ending your spree just in time for a mid-day meal.
    Take your lunch at Dapoer, a Peranakan Indonesian restaurant off a leafy park in South Jakarta, then visit a couple more Jakarta tourist spots:

    The sprawling Taman Mini theme park (tel: +62 21 840 9210, tries to condense Indonesia's many provinces down to a few signature attractions, giving visitors a piecemeal tour of the entire archipelago through the collection of museums on the premises, and the different traditional houses from all over the country with each one showcasing exhibits from the house's province of origin.
    Finish your visit by taking the cable car takes you above a large lake that shows a miniature map of the Indonesian archipelago.
    Alternatively, you can visit the Ragunan Zoo (tel: +62 21 780 5280), a 135-hectare zoo in Pasar Minggu that shelters almost 300 species and the world's biggest primate center. Don't miss the daily orangutan tour to get a close-up look at these surprisingly human-like ape cousins of ours.
    The evening of the second day might be a good time to prepare your trip to the next destination in our itinerary: Yogyakarta. You can fly from Soekarno-Hatta Airport to Yogyakarta (Compare prices on flights from Soekarno-Hatta Airport to Adisucipto Airport in Yogyakarta), or take the train from Gambir Station to Yogyakarta (Visit to read their excellent run-down on travel by train between the two cities).

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