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Expat Exchange - Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Indonesia (Plus, Itineraries) 2024
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Bali, Indonesia

Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Indonesia (Plus, Itineraries)

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Mondly by Pearson
Mondly by Pearson

Summary: If you're thinking about relocating to Indonesia but haven't decided on a particular city or town yet, taking a discovery trip to explore several sought-after expat locales can offer valuable perspectives. Check out these recommended destinations for your exploratory journey in Indonesia.

Embarking on a Look-See trip to Indonesia is a crucial step for anyone considering relocation. This exploratory journey offers a firsthand experience of the diverse cultures, climates, and communities across the archipelago. It allows potential expats to assess the suitability of various locales for their lifestyle, work, and family needs. By visiting different cities and towns, one can gauge the local infrastructure, amenities, and expatriate communities, making an informed decision about where to settle down.

Recommended Itineraries

For a 10-day trip, focus on the major expat hubs: start in Jakarta for 2 days, then Yogyakarta for 2 days, followed by Bali for 3 days, and finally, Batam for the remaining 3 days. A 20-day trip allows for a deeper exploration: begin with Jakarta (3 days), Bandung (2 days), Yogyakarta (3 days), Surabaya (2 days), Bali (5 days), and conclude with Lombok (5 days). These itineraries balance urban experiences with cultural immersion and natural beauty, providing a comprehensive overview of expat-friendly destinations in Indonesia.


Jakarta, Indonesia's bustling capital, is a melting pot of cultures and a major economic hub. With a population exceeding 10 million, it offers a vibrant urban lifestyle with a wide range of international schools, shopping centers, and healthcare facilities. Expats and digital nomads are drawn to its dynamic business environment and diverse entertainment options. The cost of living can be high, especially in central areas, but the city caters to a range of budgets with its varied accommodation options.

Travel Tip: While in Jakarta, visit the iconic National Monument (Monas) and enjoy authentic Indonesian cuisine at the popular restaurant, Sate Khas Senayan.


Yogyakarta, often referred to as the cultural heart of Java, is known for its rich history and proximity to the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Borobudur and Prambanan. The city has a more relaxed pace of life compared to Jakarta and is home to a thriving arts scene. Expats appreciate the lower cost of living, the warm hospitality of the locals, and the strong sense of community. Yogyakarta's universities also make it an educational center, attracting students and academics from around the world.

Travel Tip: Don't miss the chance to witness the sunrise over Borobudur Temple, one of the most majestic Buddhist monuments in the world.


Bali is Indonesia's most famous island, renowned for its stunning beaches, spiritual culture, and expat-friendly towns like Ubud, Canggu, and Seminyak. With a population that varies greatly from town to town, Bali offers a tropical lifestyle that appeals to retirees, digital nomads, and expats seeking a balance between work and leisure. The cost of living is higher than in other parts of Indonesia, but the quality of life and natural beauty are unmatched. Bali's international airport also provides excellent connectivity for those who travel frequently.

Travel Tip: Experience the culinary delights of Bali at Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka in Ubud, famous for its traditional Balinese roast pork.


Bandung, the capital of West Java, is known for its cooler climate, Dutch colonial architecture, and vibrant youth culture, thanks to its numerous universities. The city is smaller than Jakarta but offers a good mix of urban amenities and natural attractions, with a lower cost of living. Expats enjoy the laid-back atmosphere, the creative scene, and the proximity to tea plantations and volcanic mountains for weekend getaways.

Travel Tip: Explore the geological wonders of Kawah Putih, a striking crater lake located south of Bandung, and savor local dishes at the atmospheric Kampung Daun Culture Gallery & Café.


Surabaya, the capital of East Java, is Indonesia's second-largest city and a significant business center. It offers a more authentic Indonesian experience with fewer tourists than Bali or Jakarta. The cost of living is reasonable, and the city has a growing expat community, attracted by its economic opportunities and cultural heritage. Surabaya is also a gateway to Mount Bromo and the Ijen Crater, appealing to nature lovers and adventure seekers.

Travel Tip: Visit the House of Sampoerna museum to learn about Indonesia's tobacco history and enjoy a meal at the historic Zangrandi Ice Cream Palace.


Lombok, an island east of Bali, is becoming increasingly popular among expats looking for a quieter alternative to its bustling neighbor. The island features pristine beaches, the majestic Mount Rinjani, and a growing number of developments catering to foreigners. The cost of living is lower than in Bali, and the expat community, while smaller, is tight-knit. Areas like Senggigi, Kuta, and the Gili Islands are particularly attractive to those seeking a laid-back island lifestyle.

Travel Tip: Embark on a trek to the Rinjani volcano for breathtaking views and unwind at Asmara Restaurant & Lounge in Senggigi for a taste of international and local cuisine.


Batam, located just across the strait from Singapore, is a free trade zone with a rapidly growing economy. It's a favorite among expats for its affordable living costs, modern amenities, and proximity to Singapore, making it ideal for business travelers. The island offers a variety of residential options, from high-rise apartments to waterfront communities. Batam's lifestyle is a blend of urban convenience and leisurely island living, with golf courses, shopping malls, and beaches.

Travel Tip: Enjoy a round of golf at the internationally acclaimed Tering Bay Golf & Country Club and savor seafood at the renowned Sei Enam Seafood Restaurant.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

Mondly by Pearson
Mondly by Pearson

Mondly by Pearson
Mondly by Pearson

Bali, Indonesia

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