Backpacking is a great way to delve into a country and experience it like a true local. Indonesia is a country that is well suited to backpacking but since it has numerous islands and stops that are necessary to visit, you need to make sure that you have a well-planned itinerary that covers the basics. This backpacking route will make sure that you see the best of Indonesia in a month.
Your first stop should be Jakarta, which is the capital of Indonesia, on the island Java. You can stop here to experience heritage and culture by visiting local museums and interacting with the inhabitants of the city. Since Jakarta does not have many tourists, the locals will be more than happy to assist and guide you. You can even visit nightclubs that are open 24 hours a day. You do not want to stop here for more than a couple of days and you will head east from here.
Your next stop should be Dieng Plateau which is 2,000 metres above sea level which provides a relief from the hot bustle of the city. This plateau has an amazing landscape and has hot springs, lakes, and temples that you can enjoy. You can start from the main town of Wonosobo in the plateau and then organise a trip around the plateau at very cheap rates.
Yogyakarta, or Jogja as addressed by locals, is the capital when of Java when it comes to culture. Since it attracts tourists, it has a busy district that caters to all their needs. Kraton Complex is a palace that you should certainly visit and make sure that you do not miss out on the temples of Prambanan and Borobudur.
While on your way to the island of Bali, you can make a stop in Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park. It has many active volcanoes and Bromo and Semeru are two that you can experience close-hand. If you are lucky, you might even witness an eruption. You can choose to camp in the park but due to temperatures dropping at night, it would be advisable to look for accommodation in surrounding villages like Wonokitri or Cemoro Lawang.
You will then go from Java to the island of Bali. You can catch a ferry from Banyuwangi to Gilmanuk in Bali. You do not have to stop in Gilmanuk since there is not much to do here so it would be better if you took a bus to another place.
Bali is popular for its south beaches and some people stay in those resorts for the entire trip. Kuta beach is immensely popular among most tourists. You can spend the day relaxing at the beach or can even give surfing a try. However, if you want to experience something closer to traditional Indonesia, you can take a trip to fishing villages or to a slightly more slow-paced beach town. You can even snorkel or dive on Nusa Lembongan which is very close to Bali but slightly off-coast. You should head to the central area of Bali if you want to experience customs of the locals. You will also find many shops, temples, and museums that you can visit in the surrounding villages and towns.
From here, you can take a fast boat to the Gili Islands. If you do not want to go to the Gilis, you can take a boat directly to Lombok. If you are looking for islands that are laid back and do not get a steady flow of tourists, you would want to stop at Trawangan. This is one of the main islands among the Gilis and since no police is present here, it attracts a lot of tourists who want to party without any restrictions. Meno is great if you want to spend some time on a desert island. Air is similar to Meno but has a greater local resident population.
From here, you can head on to Senaru which is a village located at the edge of a national park – the Mount Rinjani National Park – and is great for budget accommodation. You can delve into the culture of Lombok and you can even hike up Mount Rinjai, which is one of the highest volcanoes in Indonesia.
South Lombok should be your final destination on the island of Lombok. This is relatively more peaceful compared to Bali and is great for relaxing for a couple of days. You can dive and surf on the beached in South Lombok. You may find it hard to get budget accommodation since this is not an area that backpackers frequent.
Once you have seen the island of Lombok, you can then travel to the island of Flores. This can be a little difficult because a remote island, Sumbawa, lies in the way and does not get a lot of visitors. If you take a ferry from Lombok to Flores, you can stop at the Komodo National Park. Spotting Komodo dragons is an essential when it comes to backpacking through Indonesia. These reptiles can swim well, jump high, and move very fast. They can be a threat to humans so it would be ideal if you got a guide to show you around. This park has three islands and has various animals that you can experience in their natural habitat, such as horses, monkeys, deer, wild horses, and snakes. You can also experience marine life by kayaking or snorkelling. Labuan Bajo is a town near the park where you can find budget accommodation.
If you wish to skip the national park, you can take a ferry to Sumbawa, travel across the island and from the port of Sape, you can take a ferry to Labuan Bajo, Flores. However, these are not very regular so make sure that you are equipped with all the information before you decide to take this route.
The biggest city in Flores is Ende which has many great stories. You can look at the caves, lakes, and hot water pools which have various stories to tell. If you take interest in myths and cultural beliefs, you will find this area fascinating. Mount Kelimutu is a must-visit and it has a crater lake which changes colour frequently. It is most likely because of volcanic activity but no one has a clear explanation for this phenomenon.
From Ende, you can head to Maumere. If you like water sports or like to indulge in local cuisine, you can stay here for a couple of days but you would not want to stay here for very long because there is not much else to do here. This is the last stop in your backpacking trip across the islands of Indonesia. This route covers the basic stops in Indonesia but you can always add more to your trip according to your interests and the time that you have for your backpacking trip.
From Maumere on Flores, you can take a flight to Denpasar in Bali and you can head home from there. You can also take a flight to other parts of Asia if you wish to continue backpacking across South East Asia.