If you are planning a trip to Indonesia, you are already doing something right. Indonesia is one of my favorite countries I’ve ever visited. The people are warm and kind, the food is great, and it’s safe and easy to get around. On top of that, the natural sights are incredible. From beaches, to mountains to incredible wildlife, Indonesia is a traveler’s dream! My 3 week Indonesia itinerary is a perfect introduction to this country for first-timers, or repeat travelers who haven’t dived into Java, Bali or Komodo National Park just yet!
Indonesia Itinerary Overview:
- Days 1-2: Bandung and Kawah Putih (White Lake)
- Days 3-5: Batukaras and Green Canyon
- Days 6-9: Yogyakarta
- Day 10: Surabaya
- Days 11-13: Surabaya to Bali tour via Madakaripura Waterfall, Mount Bromo and Mount Ijen
- Days 14-16: Bali (Nusa Dua)
- Day 17: Labuan Bajo
- Days 18-20: Komodo National Park
- Day 21: Depart
Indonesia Itinerary Day-by-Day:
Days 1-2: Bandung and Kawah Putih (White Lake)
I recommend flying into Bandung, Java. While Jakarta is more of a hub than Bandung, Indonesia’s capital city doesn’t offer much to visitors. You can fly internationally into Bandung just as easily!
Bandung is a good glimpse into contemporary city life in Indonesia. Locals also consider it a great place for shopping.
There isn’t much to do within the city itself, but there are some great day tour options you can do in the surrounding area. This is what makes a visit to Bandung worthwhile.
I highly recommend visiting Kawah Putih, also called the White Lake. It’s got a spooky, otherworldly vibe that makes it unlike any other place I’ve visited. You can book a tour online or arrange a driver with your hotel. We booked this tour on Klook for insert cost.
Read more: Volcanoes in Java
Another popular option is visiting the volcanic crater of Tangkuban Perahu. We opted not to visit this place because we’d heard the hawkers selling souvenirs are overwhelming and ruin the experience a bit. That said, if you’re in Bandung for a few days, you could visit this one as well as Kawah Putih.
For accommodation, I highly recommend the Four Points Sheraton (from $70 USD/night). It’s in a beautiful old white building, the breakfast is fantastic and there’s a nice rooftop restaurant with views over the city.
Days 3-5: Batukaras and Green Canyon
From Bandung, you can hire a private or shared van transfer to Batukaras, a small fishing and surfing village about 45 minutes outside of the beach resort city of Pangandaran. A shared van will cost about $15 to $30 USD per person.
You could choose to stay in Pangandaran, but the vibe at Batukaras is worth going a little bit out of the way for. There’s a good backpacker and surfer scene near the beach, with some accommodation options catering to surfers there as well.
We stayed a 15 minute walk from the beach, along the Green River at this Airbnb. The rooms are comfortable and the host is nice and ready to help with anything you need.
You may have noticed we stay in a lot of Airbnbs. We find they are often the best value for money, and most have kitchens and laundry facilities which makes our backpacking hearts so happy. Click here to save $40 on Airbnb accommodation on your next trip.
Regardless of where you stay, you can ask your host to arrange a body rafting trip through the Green Canyon (about $30 USD/person). This activity is adventurous and a lot of fun, requiring a bit of swimming, climbing and hiking through the canyon. It’s not for the faint-hearted, however. I recommend checking out my guide to what to expect body rafting in the Green Canyon to see if it’s right for you.
Watch: Body Rafting Green Canyon
Read more: What to Expect Body Rafting Green River
More docile boat tours to the canyon are also available.
You can arrange a van transfer to Yogyakarta from Batukaras for about $30. Your accommodation should be able to help with this.
Days 6-9: Yogyakarta
Yogyakarta is one of Indonesia’s most popular destinations, thanks to the impressive temple complexes of Borobudur (Buddhist) and Prambanan (Hindu).
Borobudur, an ancient Buddhist temple complex, is Indonesia’s biggest tourist attraction. Construction started in 825 AD, but it wasn’t until the 1800s that the complex drew international attention, or even domestic attention for that matter. For the better part of a millennium, the complex was more or less abandoned. A $25 million USD restoration project later, 2.5 million tourists now visit annually.
To enjoy the visit, most people recommend coming as part of a sunrise tour. This gives visitors access to the complex before it officially opens. In particular, we found that lingering around after the sunrise crowds leave but before the day time groups arrive is well worth it to have a bit of solitude.
Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple compound in Southeast Asia. Built around 900 AD, it has some strong Angkor Wat vibes thanks to its similar shape and Buddhist-Hindu mixed architecture. Our guide led us around and explained the motifs and stories behind the carved images and statues.
You could space out your explorations in this area over a few days, but you can also easily visit both of the temples on the same day. I recommend booking a guided tour so that you have someone who can teach you about the history and cultural importance behind the temples.
We booked this tour using our Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Tim and I both have the Chase Ultimate Rewards Sapphire Reserve Card. It has a larger annual fee ($450 per year), but it comes with $300 cash back on travel purchases and access to airport lounges around the world (which typically range from $20-50 per visit without a pass). If you apply and are approved, you can earn 50,000 bonus points. That is the equivalent of about ten tours of Borobudur and Prambanan Temples. Note: I will also receive a small commission in points if you apply and are approved. Learn more here.
There are buses and trains that connect Yogyakarta to Surabaya, but it’s much more comfortable to take a private van for about $30.
Day 10: Surabaya
Take it easy in Surabaya. I’ve included this large city in my Indonesia itinerary since it’s a logical departure point for trips through East Java (described below).
If you do choose to spend more than a stopover night here, The Crazy Tourist has some ideas for how you could spend your time.
Days 11-13: Surabaya to Bali tour via Madakaripura Waterfall, Mount Bromo and Mount Ijen
From Surabaya, I recommend hiring a driver or booking a tour through East Java to Bali.
Highlights to check out:
- Madakaripura Waterfall – Java’s tallest waterfall and the second tallest in Indonesia. Expect to get wet on the short hike!
- Mount Bromo – Weather permitting, the sunrise over Mount Bromo and its neighbors will be one of the best you’ve ever seen
- Mount Ijen – And sunrise here well be too. It’s an early morning, but well worth it. Expect the hike to be steep and challenging.
If you haven’t already, you can read more about these iconic Java volcanoes here.
There are many tour companies online that offer this itinerary all the way to Bali, but not all are reputable. We booked with Discover Your Indonesia and had a great experience. We spent $580 USD for two people and it included our driver, entrance fees, guides, hotels, ferry to Bali and drive from Bali ferry terminal to our hotel.
Days 14-16: Bali (Nusa Dua)
In my Indonesia itinerary, I’ve only included a few days in Bali as a relaxation stop before heading to the Komodo National Park and surrounding islands. That said, if you have more time, you can easily spend weeks in Bali staying in different areas. This itinerary from Bon Traveler is a great resource if you will be spending a few weeks in Bali. Additionally, I highly recommend my collaboration post with Worldering Around on the best places to stay throughout the island.
Located in southeastern Bali, Nusa Dua is known for its idyllic beaches and swanky resorts. Soft white sandy shores extend the length of the peninsula, and the warm ocean waters are perfectly inviting. There are a handful of restaurants and shops around, but mostly it’s the kind of place where you stay on the beach and unwind. With limited nightlife, it’s a relaxing and quiet area to stay. Since it is very spread out, Nusa Dua not great for walking around, further encouraging you to just stay put at your resort.
Nusa Dua is a popular wedding and honeymoon destination, thanks to the many luxury resorts dotted along the beach. Given that most of the accommodations are high-end, expect to spend a little bit more when shopping or dining in this area.
Nusa Dua is only about a half hour drive from the Denpasar Airport. However, if you’re looking for someplace centrally located on Bali to easily access all of the main attractions from one base, Nusa Dua is not a good option. Instead, Nusa Dua is where you should go to unwind and stay in one place for a few days, especially if you are traveling as part of a couple and want a romantic getaway.
We redeemed Hilton Honors points to stay at the Conrad Bali luxury resort. There are several on-site restaurants and bars offering breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, cocktail hour and dinner. Additionally, there are multiple pool options, including an adult-only pool by the spa. Guests have access to the indoor thermal pools and saunas, and the spa offers a myriad of massage options, including traditional Balinese treatments. Rooms are priced from $400 USD/night.
With a short time in Bali, you can still check out some of the highlights. We hired a driver for about $40 USD (not including entrance fees and lunch, which in total were about $20 more total throughout the day) from baligoldentour.com for a one day tour from Nusa Dua and were able to see and visit the following:
- Barong and Rangda dance performance (one of Bali’s UNESCO-designated dances)
- Batuan Hindu temple
- Tegalalang Rice Terraces (note that these are not the UNESCO-designated ones. These are on the side of the highway and very crowded. If I could do it again I would have gone to Jutiluwih terraces a bit further way).
- Mount Batur volcano views
- Luwak coffee plantation (this is Bali’s notorious “poop coffee” that is made from coffee beans digested by the luwak cat. Our verdict – tastes like normal coffee).
- Uluwatu Temple and Kecek Fire Dancing (another of Bali’s UNESCO-designated dances)
Day 17: Labuan Bajo
From Bali, fly to Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores. This is decent town to spend a few days in, with some day trips into the countryside villages available for those who want to explore. The main draw, however, is its proximity to Komodo National Park.
Days 18-20: Komodo National Park
While you can do day trips into the park from Labuan Bajo, I highly recommend doing a 3-day liveaboard tour. There are a number of tour operators offering similar itineraries with a range of accommodation levels. We booked with Discover Your Indonesia again since they were reliable for our Java tour and had a fantastic time.
Highlights of a trip through Komodo National Park include:
- Padar Island views
- Rinca Island and seeing Komodo Dragons
- Flying foxes at sunset
- Snorkeling among sea turtles, rays and vibrant coral
Read more: Exploring Komodo National Park
Day 21: Depart
After returning to Labuan Bajo, catch your flight on to your next destination!
Even with three weeks in Indonesia, you just scratch the surface of everything this country offers to travelers. We absolutely loved it, and if you follow this Indonesia itinerary for your first trip, I think you will too. We’re already planning our return to explore even more of the many islands!
Have you been to Indonesia? Where else would you recommend for travelers? Tell me in the comments!
Read More: Our Adventures Through Indonesia