Hello there this is Dan from WorldDatingGuides here to compare the five most visited cities in Indonesia. We will break down the positives and negatives of each city. And talk about what each can bring to the table on a vacation.
Traveling in Indonesia can be a lot of fun. But this is not one of the more visited countries in Southeast Asia. And before we get into the city comparisons we want to share some important travel tips so you’re ready for what you’re about to walk into.
Welcome to my Indonesia and Bali travel guide!
General Indonesian Travel Advice
We aren’t really sure why more people don’t travel to Indonesia, but just because others don’t, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. The country has a lot to offer but there are certain things you need to know before you visit.
One thing that often gets brought up is this is a Muslim country. Yes, you often hear the call for prayer and girls will be walking around in hijabs. But other than that you barely notice it.
The people are very friendly, violence and safety are the same non-issue as all over Asia. In fact, you’re far more likely to get into some sort of altercation in the US or Europe then here.
However, the country does kind of shut down over Ramadan in May and June, that would be the worst time of year to plan your trip. Not only because much of the nightlife will be closed. But so will some restaurants, activities, and it will be harder to meet any Indonesian people because they will be busy with the holiday.
Another thing of note is the visa. I am not going to break down the details for citizens of all countries, but most reading this can get 1 month on arrival and can extend for another month before they have to make a visa run. If you do plan to extend, you have to pay a fee (around $35) on arrival, if you don’t do that you won’t be able to extend. You pay this fee before going through immigration, once you go through there is no way to get it so ask where to go right as you walk into the airport.
It must be pointed out the extension process is a huge pain in the neck and will take 3 days to accomplish. Our advice would be to visit for one month or less the first time, and then if you really like it look into the longer extension options like the 6 month social visa.
When you first arrive in the country you will notice all of the motorbikes on the roads, and many of the drivers have on green jackets. They are drivers for GoJek or Grab, basically the Uber of Indonesia.
You should definitely download one of those apps as they also have cars. And GoJek will deliver food from most restaurants in the country. Considering how bad the traffic is here, paying a dollar or two to get your food delivered is more than worth it. And the motorbikes can get you around town quickly.
Now let’s talk about Jakarta:
Jakarta Travel Guide
Jakarta is one of the biggest cities on the planet and you feel it on arrival. The traffic is terrible as there’s very little public transportation, and what’s available is barely worth using.
Jakarta is your typical concrete jungle, but it does have some of the best nightlife in the country. Most tourists will stay in South or Central Jakarta, and some travel guides will tell you the North is unsafe but that isn’t true.
This is Asia, and you be safe anywhere. The South is a bit nicer though, and you find higher end malls and more places to party. The Sudirman Central Business District (SCBD) would probably be the best area to stay, anywhere from Kota Kasablanka in the South up to Plaza Indonesia will have you very centrally located.
One hotel that I am especially fond of is JW Marriott Hotel that’s located right in the nightlife hotspot of Mega Kuningan. A more budget friendly option is Liberty Hotel, located next to the Grand Indonesia shopping mall.
Now for the question if traveling to Jakarta is worth it? The positives are the great nightlife and the many good upscale options for dining, hotels and condos.
However, it’s your typical overcrowded concrete jungle with limited options for tourism. You pay more here and waste more time doing what you want to do.
Next, let’s jump to our Bali travel guide:
Bali Travel Guide
Next on our list is Bali, and this world famous island gets tons of tourism and has a lot to offer. Kuta is where you find the best nightlife, and outside of Jakarta this is the only other city on the list that actually does have good nightlife.
There are some great clubs here, and people come from all over the world to party in them. You also find good western food options, and all sorts of nature excursions are available.
If you want to visit the beach, then Bali should absolutely be on your agenda. The downsides are similar to other touristy beach towns: higher prices than are standard around the country. And people who come here to try to make money off tourism.
But if you’re on a short trip, paying a few dollars over the market rate isn’t anything you even notice.
Take The Train To Bandung
If you’re already in Jakarta and feel like getting out for a bit, then take the 3 hour train ride to Bandung. This mountain city has a much cooler climate which is rare for Indonesia.
Outside of the climate, what other things does the city offer? Too be honest not that much. There’s limited nightlife and not a whole lot of touristy stuff to do here.
However, if you’re a nature lover and want to explore the mountains then you enjoy it. Traffic isn’t too bad here. However on weekends when people from Jakarta visit there’s a noticeable difference.
Overall the short train ride makes it worth visiting. But don’t plan too much time here.
Temples In Jogja
Yogyakarta, called Jogja by the locals, is a smaller town of roughly half a million. But it gets its fair share of tourism because of a couple of temples in the area. Prambanan Temple is right there in the city. Borobudur is the bigger and better temple about an hour or two outside of town.
Mount Merapi is an active volcano a couple hours away that erupted a few times recently, and you can also find a beach a couple hours away. Prawirotaman is the touristy area where you can find all sorts of budget hotels. And if you plan to party, it’s better to get a hotel on Jalan Magelang near Jogja City Mall.
Not Much To Do In Surabaya
The second biggest city in Indonesia is Surabaya, but it doesn’t get all that much tourism because, frankly, there isn’t much to do here. It’s a concrete jungle similar to Jakarta. Only on a much smaller scale.
There’s some nightlife, but not near as much as you would expect for a city with close to 3 million residents. If you want to find a centrally located place to stay, then get a hotel near Tunjungan Plaza. A huge mall with lots of good places to eat and nightclub as well.
While this may not be a great city for a quick trip, if any digital nomads are looking for a place to live cheaply it does have something unique to offer. Pakuwon Mall is huge and you can rent a studio apartment directly on top of it for around $300 a month.
Take the elevator down and you can enter the mall from the apartment lobby. The mall itself is a bit outside of the city center, but it has pretty much everything you need and you can’t argue with that price.
Should You Travel To Indonesia?
Now that you know about five different cities in Indonesia to visit you can make a more informed opinion on where you want to go. While the country has very friendly people it doesn’t offer a ton as far as tourism goes.
Many reading this probably will just want to go relax on the beach all day and party in the Bali nightlife after dark. That definitely isn’t a bad plan, but the country offers more than that.
The good news is once you are here, you can fly from city to city for next to nothing and see each place on your own. If you like it, stay for a while. If not then go ahead and book a flight to your next destination.
Just remember to try and avoid Ramadan. And download the GoJek App. If all you care about is partying then stick to Bali and Jakarta.
If you want to enjoy the outdoors go with Bali, Jogja or Bandung. For the temples, culture and history Jogja is probably best. Surabaya should not be forgotten, but there also really isn’t any one main reason to go there either.
Hopefully you enjoyed my Indonesia and Bali travel guide, and will have a great time if you visit any of these cities in Indonesia.
And finally, if you would like to meet an Indonesian girl on your vacation, I recommend you check out Indonesian Cupid.