Use Bali as a gateway to the path less travelled and discover untouched islands and dreamy beaches with our top places to visit in Indonesia.
Bali’s back, baby, and it’s time to get your tropical-island fix: cocktails, white sands, swaying palms and azure seas. With a quarantine-free Visa on Arrival procedure available to 60 countries and no need to test before departure, it’s easier than ever to take your dream Bali trip. But why stop there? Indonesia boasts more than 17,000 islands waiting to be discovered – treat yourself to a stay on one of our top five best places to visit in Indonesia, just a hop, skip and jump away from Bali.
Ready to dive in? Check out our handpicked Indonesia escapes.
Bali’s ‘little sister’ has a big personality. Just a 40-minute boat ride away from Bali, Nusa Lembongan was once a surfer haunt, but over the years it has become so much more.
The heavenly shores are now complemented by thriving dining and nightlife, and a choice of accommodation that ranges from a simple shack on the beach to opulent villas with private plunge pools and out-of-this-world views. Set your own pace: beach-hop by scooter for days of surfing and snorkelling, or settle into the good life with spa treatments, decadent dining and cocktails with superb sunset views.
Never heard of Flores? You’ve probably heard of its most famous resident, the Komodo dragon. But the incredible Komodo National Park is just one drawcard of what may be one of the most fascinating places to visit in Indonesia, where jagged hills hide white-sand coves, kaleidoscopic crater lakes, hot springs, and otherworldly caves. Long a secret of divers and trekkers, the island has opened up over the last five years and in main town, Labuan Bajo, you’ll find high-end accommodation, delicious seafood and a modest restaurant and nightlife scene.
The Trans-Flores Highway, which runs the length of the island, is one of the world’s great road trips, and leads you to fascinating traditional villages in the east of the island. Discover it yourself with a one-hour flight from Denpasar Airport.
Want to step back in time to a pristine, less-developed Bali? Just a two-hour speedboat trip or a 30-minute flight away lie tranquil Lombok’s uncrowded beaches and lush, forested hills. This is your chance to discover hidden gems and enjoy private beach time, worlds away from Bali’s busy streets. Kuta is a surfer’s paradise, while sleepy Senggigi is a family-friendly destination with incredible sunset views of Mt Agung.
Though many come here to relax, the island also offers epic treks, including the chance to climb Mt Rinjani, Indonesia’s second-highest volcano. Surfers will appreciate the chance to hang ten during Lombok’s surfing season from May to August.
Just off the coast of Lombok, these three tiny, pearlescent beaches adrift in a turquoise sea are the very picture of paradise. With no vehicles allowed on the islands, nothing disturbs the tranquillity but the jingle of the locals’ picturesque horse-drawn carts.
Gili Trawangan, the biggest of the islands, has a buzzing nightlife and restaurant scene and attracts a younger crowd. To disconnect totally, head to Gili Meno, the least developed of the islands, with fantastic snorkelling opportunities. Here, visit Jason deCaires Taylor’s underwater statue Nest and spot sea turtles. Gili Air is best for honeymooners and families, with more action than Gili Meno but with a laidback vibe.
Luxury resorts and stilt villages, thick jungle and amazing temples: it’s worth heading north to visit beautiful Bintan, nestled just under Singapore. With such stunning scenery you may be tempted to take up permanent residence in your sun lounger, but the island boasts attractions beyond its array of magnificent beaches. Head to Treasure Bay Bintan, a luxury resort featuring a water park for endless family fun, while the dazzling 60-hectare saltwater lagoon is the perfect spot to enjoy a late afternoon cocktail.
With fishing as the island’s main industry, there’s plenty of fresh seafood to enjoy, and the adventurous can even try gongong, a local snail and a specialty. Those seeking a cultural experience can explore Panglong Village, where Bintan’s seafaring Orang Laut community lives in traditional stilted houses, or visit the 500 Lohan Temple, showcasing 500 life-size arhat statues.
The island is a five-hour flight from Bali, or a less than an hour’s journey from Singapore by high-speed catamaran.
Want more Indonesia island inspiration? Read Where to Eat, Drink, Stay & Play in Lombok.