Brainstorm holiday destinations until you find something that everyone in the group loves. Book plane tickets for everyone. Plan down your vacation down to the smallest detail to make sure the activities make everyone happy. Compromise on places to eat and forget about getting a moment for yourself. Traveling with friends may have its perks, but there comes a time in every traveler’s journey when you have to book a solo ticket and experience a new, more personal dimension of travel. And Indonesia is the perfect destination to be on your own.
Going to this exotic archipelago all by yourself may sound scary, especially if you’ve never traveled solo before, but Indonesia actually happens to be one of the friendliest countries in the world for independent travelers. Whether you go to the bustling capital of Jakarta, the rural Nusa islands or one of the many spiritual Bali retreats, traveling solo to Indonesia can offer an intense and eye-opening experience.
A lesson in independence and joy of discovery
Why choose Indonesia for your first solo vacation and not the “traditional” locations, such as a European capital or domestic destination? Because solo travel should be a rite of passage, a revelatory “Eat, Pray, Love” experience (part of Elizabeth Gilbert’s life-changing experience actually took place in Ubud!). When traveling solo, not only do you discover your confidence and independence, but learn as much about yourself as you do about the destination.
Indonesia is a large archipelago of islands that cater to every type of traveler. Whether you want to reconnect with yourself in a yoga retreat, get lost in the vibrant streets of Jakarta, watch the sunset from a remote beach, or go on a surfing adventure, Indonesia has something for everyone.
Indonesia is best explored slowly and spontaneously. Forget deadline and crossing attractions off your list. Let is surprise you, awaken your inner explorer, and discover how to travel mindfully. These are a few locations where you can get started:
More than just a luxury honeymoon destination, Bali is the natural home for quiet, introvert travelers. Although opportunities for socializing don’t lack in any way, Bali has a kind of comfortable peace about it, so if you want to take a break on this vacation, you’ll be able to. If you don’t feel ready to explore Bali on your own, then book a spot in a spiritual retreat. There are hundreds to choose from and you can take part in various yoga and meditation programs. But if you want something that’s even more isolated than Bali, take a ferry to the nearby Nusa Islands, which are just 30 minutes away. Full of hidden gems, pristine beaches, and wild mangroves, Nusa will transport you to a different time and place. Ubud is also a great destination in Bali and, after the success of Eat, Pray, Love, the locals have become very used to getting a lot of solo travelers.
Jakarta is Indonesia’s capital and one of the most vibrant destinations in the country. If you want your vacation to be full of energy and pleasant surprises, it’s definitely the place to see. Some say that Jakarta isn’t safe for solo travelers, but this is nothing more than a myth. The capital is actually very friendly to independent foreign travelers, including women, and as long as you respect the basic rules of conduct, you’ll be just fine. The capital offers an irresistible blend of upscale and rural experiences. From the luxury hotels in central Jakarta to the colorful roadside food stands on Surabaya Street Market, Jakarta is a city of contrasts.
Few places in the world are as tourist-friendly as the small town of Bukit Lawang in Northern Sumatra. Located on the bank of the Landak River, Bukit Lawang is a fantastic place if you want to practice eco-tourism and discover a small corner of heaven. In the forest surrounding the town, you’ll find a reservation of wild orangutans, which you can observe in their natural habitat. The region of Northern Sumatra hasn’t been affected by mass travel, and the locals go above and beyond to make every tourist feel at home. Don’t be surprised if they remember your name immediately and help you out with recommendations!
Like most countries in Southeast Asia, Indonesia is very friendly to solo travelers and you won’t have any problem getting around. But, keeping in mind that the local culture will be unfamiliar, it’s important to take a few safety precautions and keep your wits about you:
- Indonesia is a deeply religious country. Most islands, such as Lombok, Sumbawa, and Java are Muslim, Bali has Buddhist and Hindu influences, while Sumatra and Flores are Christian. Be respectful of local culture and make sure you have appropriate outfits for visiting temples.
- Uber is a great way to get around in Indonesia, but scooters are also popular. If you want to rent a scooter, test the brakes first.
- If you want to enjoy a drink on your vacation (and you probably do!), stick to beer and drinks you personally see the bartender open. Avoid local spirits, because they’re usually made from rubbing alcohol.
- Surfing in Indonesia is fun, but even if you’re a pro, but the waves can get very high because of the strong currents. Take your surfboard with you, but use caution.
- Indonesia is one of the countries that gets the most solo travelers and many people come here specifically to meet others. The locals are very friendly and you can always strike a conversation with fellow surfers or even random people in cafes, but avoid walking alone at night in suspicious areas. Before your trip, you may want to join a Facebook group for meeting new people or ask for local insights from your retreat.
Don’t panic if you don’t feel at ease in Indonesia from the moment you land. If this is your first solo trip, it’s normal to feel a bit overwhelmed by the foreign culture, but the locals are very friendly and you’ll see that even getting a bit lost can become a fascinating experience.