First 5 Impressions of Indonesia

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Without a doubt, Indonesia is one of our favorite travel destinations in Asia. This country, which consists of 17,000 islands, took our breath away and left us speechless for a long time. We were both impressed by Indonesian cultural and linguistic diversity, open-minded local communities, a great amount of local stunning temples and cloud-swept mountains.

Let me share our 5 impressions when visiting Indonesia for the first time:

#1 Rain, Rain Go Away.

We were unlucky to visit Indonesia during the rain season (February). Once we arrived in Jakarta, we could not believe how flooded the city was. All streets were blocked and there was a heavy traffic jam. It took us few hours to transport from the airport to the city center.

Travel tip

In Indonesia, the dry season starts in April and lasts until October. This is definitely the best time to travel around. From November and January is fine to travel as well. It’s quieter than in the high season and the rain is generally limited to a couple of hours at the end of the day.

#2 Simple, But Rich In Flavour Cuisine.

Less means more and Indonesia follows this rule. In most of local restaurants we were offered very simple, but amazingly delicious meals packed with fresh vegetables, seafood, homemade sauces, noodles or rice. There was no mess on the plate. Everything was served separately and we truly appreciated the natural and rich flavor of meals. As for the price, we were positively surprised how cheap it was for us to dine out in Bali. We were spending around $8 a day each on the food.

What you can eat for less than $8 a day in Bali:

Breakfast

Indonesian noodle soup with chunks of pork and chopped veggies (IDR7.000/$0.62), a cup of black tea (IDR2.000/$0.18) with a small bowl of tropical fruits (IDR4.000/$0.35).

Lunch

Spicy chicken served with rice and veggies (IDR15.000/$1.32) with a glass of ice tea (IDR3.000/$0.26).

Dinner

Grilled pork meat with a bowl of rice and grilled sweetcorn (IDR20.000/$1.76).

Snacks

Local pancake called Martabak (IDR7.000/$0.62).

 3. Temples, Temples, Everywhere Temples.

When in Bali, we quickly understood why the island is commonly known as the “Island of a thousand temples”. After two days of temple hopping, we came to a conclusion that you can’t get to see all of them, but we did out best to at least explore most of them. Our favourite one was Tanah Lot and Ulun Banu where it took us 7 hours on a scooter to get there (why so long? Don’t ask, there is a history behind it I’m going to share with you soon). Each temple seemed to be unique and there is no way you can get bored of them.

4. Smiley Faces Around.

It’s incredible how positive Indonesian people are. They seem to be happy all the time. They pray and smile every day. We felt like they welcomed us with open arms and treated like members of their family. People seemed to be humble and extremely religious, always helped us out and gave us some great travel recommendations. In terms of haggling, we did not feel this pressure at all. We paid local prices without bargaining. It was a great feeling I must admit…

5. People Speak Different Languages.

The official language of Indonesia is a modified form of Malay called Bahasa Indonesia, but English and Dutch are also spoken alongside Javanese and Sundanese. We were surprised to find out that several hundred different tribal languages are spoken in addition to these tongues. Moreover, many members of Indonesia’s vibrant Muslim population have at least some knowledge of Arabic! It was a great language experience for me to pick up some different dialects when traveling around.

Indonesia kept surprising us with new things each day, from food to new customs and. We really regret not spending more time there to fully experience what it has to offer to its visitors.

Have you been to Indonesia? If so, what was your First Impression?

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Agness Walewinder
Agness Walewinder
Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"
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113 thoughts on “First 5 Impressions of Indonesia”

  1. Doreen Pendgracs

    Your post makes me really want to visit Indonesia. Great food at cheap prices. No haggling, smiling people and beautiful scenery. Sound wonderful. I will be sure to visit in the dry season.

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Yes, the food was great. I am a big fan of Indonesian cuisine right now. It’s one of my favorite right after the Thai one.

  2. Happy to hear you Indonesia made a positive impression on you. Bali is definitely beautiful though sadly I have been tricked a few times over there. You definitely should be back someday and come visit me!

    1. Agness Walewinder

      I has, it really has! After the Philippines we were a bit tired and disappointed, but Indonesia made us blissfully happy and satisfied!

    2. Agness Walewinder

      By the way, I really regret not seeing you, but maybe next time. I bet it was not my last visit in the Land of Temples and Smiley Faces! :D

  3. Love the new slideshow feature! Those temples are absolutely gorgeous! Sightseeing in the rain is no fun, but it always makes me enjoy the sunny days so much more!

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Have you noticed that? I really like the slideshow feature and I’m planning on using it a lot now :)!! I agree, travelling in a heavy rain isn’t fun, but when we moved to Bali it was sunny and lovely!

      1. The slideshow caught my eye while reading. It is a terrific feature you are using to display your pictures. Were you sore from riding that scooter for 7 hours? I can’t imagine.

  4. Christine |GrrrlTraveler

    Love the photos! I can’t believe you had food so cheap! Maybe it was cause I was shopping for mostly vegetarian, which led me to the more touristy Ubudian places. I thought restaurants and food prices were expensive.. closer to U.S. prices. But local street food looked like it would be inexpensive. Glad you could finally eat again!

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Yes, me either. The prices were just unbeatable! There were also supermarkets for foreigners with Western food and they were way too expensive!

  5. I’ve never been to Indonesia, but I would love to go! It’s so rare to hear that a country is full of smiling faces, how lovely.

    1. Agness Walewinder

      These smiles are the greatest thing you can experience in Indonesia. They can make your day and keep you so positive.

  6. I’ve been curious if Bali is friendly to backpackers, I’ve gotten a view of that it was for perhaps a wealthier crowd? I would love to go, do you think a motorbike is the best way to travel there?

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Yes, Bali is friendly to backpackers as long as you follow some simple rules:
      1) Stay away from busy city center.
      2) Dine out at local places.
      3) Avoid shopping in supermarkets with Western food.
      4) Rent a motorbike and go for a ride.
      5) Do couchsurfing or stay in hostels in Kuta.

      Yes, motorbike is definitely the best idea! It’s cheap and you can feel so independent.

  7. We leave for Indonesia in about 2 weeks, and I have to say I’m most excited about the food, culture and diving. Ok, maybe mostly the food. :) Anything we should definitely not miss?

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Hi Katie,

      Great news! It all depends on where you are going to. Don’t miss any temples when in Bali and you should definitely try some Satay. These tasty meat skewers cook up over coals so hot they need fans to waft the smoke away. if you need more tips, e-mail me :).

      have fun and safe travels!

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Thank you! Yes, I have actually seen a lot of couples with babies! :) You will not feel alone there, that’s for sure.

  8. Suzette Barnett

    Hiya! When I arrived to Bali, I went straight to Ubud as recommended by several friends. Honestly, it was nothing like I had expected. I found some incredible hidden gems and had so much fun I ended up extending my stay. Took a batik art class, cooking class, morning walks and market bargaining (!), soaked up all the spa treatments I could, and my hotel catered to my every need including getting me to every temple I could explore and nightly traditional Balinese shows. It was pretty great :)
    Suzette – Trysomethingfun.com

  9. Tim | UrbanDuniya

    LOVED Indonesia! It was like a divergent India for me!! I went to Flores, and while I agree with Steph @20YearsHence about Flores being poor value for money, I still really enjoyed my (relatively pricey) time there! And yeah, the food was awesome! A lot of people complain about Indonesian food being plain compared with other countries, but I loved the fresh fish and rice dishes! Thanks for sharing, it brought so many memories back :)

  10. Sounds lovely (with the exception of the rain)! Can’t believe just how cheap the food is. If my maths is right that’s less than $6 a day, including snacks and drinks as well – that’s unreal!

  11. Cathy Sweeney

    These are great insights into Indonesia. The food looks amazing (especially the Indonesian pancake – yum) and so affordable! That along with beautiful temples, interesting languages, and friendly people makes for a place I’d like to visit.

  12. Hi,
    very nice post about this lovely country! I’m alway amazed by their people and culture! I love Bali! I’m living not so far from Indonesia ( Vietnam ) but i have a very strong impression about the tour, one of my best !

  13. We’ve never been to Indonesia but it is on my list of places to visit. It looks amazing! I can’t wait to hear the story about traveling by scooter to the temple. It is also awesome that the food was so cheap there and it looks delicious!

  14. Contented Traveller

    We have been to Indonesia quite a few times and not just Bali, and I agree with all of the things you have said. Maybe number 6 could be dogs. They seem to be everywhere and I must admit I am a bit nervous of them. Lovely post on a great country.

  15. I remember doing a school project on Indonesia in fifth grade, I’ve wanted to visit ever since! Of course if I didn’t already long to visit, your photos would definitely convince me (I love that shot of the coffee and flowers on a rustic table!) Can’t wait to hear more about temple hopping!

    1. Agness Walewinder

      I’m glad the post brings back such great memories from your school. I really hope you can make it there and experience what we have! :)x

  16. Me and my boyfriend had the same thing in Indonesia to when we arrived: flooded Jakarta en kids playing in the puddles. And we really thought we wouldn’t make it back to the hotel with the bus. So the beginning was a bit stressful but when we left Jakarta it was way better.

    The people indeed are so so friendly (except sometimes the bus people and scammers). We once had a really hard time with a scammer who said he was the money collector from the bus and that we owed him money before the bus left. Luckily we did our research before we did the trip and we knew that this could happen so we gave him nothing. But it was a really extreme stressful situation and not so nice.

    The food is amazing to and Java is beautiful. We didn’t like Bali that much because it was already to touristic for us.

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