The beauty of backpacking through Indonesia is that there’s something for everyone. For surf lovers, Lombok is paradise. For divers, sites like Wakatobi Islands and Bunaken Islands are a dream. For yoga enthusiasts, Ubud offers the ultimate zen experience. And for those who just want to relax on gorgeous beaches and enjoy the best nature has to offer, most destinations in Indonesia will deliver.
The types of activities and ventures you have to choose from are vast, and you want to be prepared for any and all you decide to take on during your travels. So when you’re trying to decide exactly what to pack for Indonesia, you want to be sure to pack smart.
Once you’ve covered all of your Indonesia packing essentials and checked off the list, you can relax and focus on the fun stuff – like having a trip of a lifetime.
The Ultimate Indonesia Packing List
How you pack for Indonesia will largely depend on what activities you have in mind. For relaxing in Bali, you can get pretty far with beach wear and backpacker standard uniform. On the other hand, other islands are more conservative and require a bit of modesty. Then, you need to factor in any kind of specialist, outdoor camping type gear you plan to use.
The Backpack and Luggage: Nomatic Travel Bag
Before you even take on the task of figuring out what to pack for Indonesia, you’ll need an amazing backpack to pack it all into. For all types of travelers and destinations, our number one recommendation is the Nomatic Travel Bag.
The Nomatic travel bag covers every detail to make backpacking travel the best experience. Because of its smart design, it manages to provide loads of packing space in a convenient, carry-on size package! Its handy built-in pockets make plenty of room for all the necessities on your what to pack for Indonesia checklist – you’ll find separate compartments for important items like shoes, water bottle, electronics, underwear and socks. As an added bonus, there’s also an RFID-safe and cord management pocket.
You have a choice between backpack or duffel bag carry, and extra carrying comfort for your back thanks to its innovative strap system and detachable sternum strap. And its black, waterproof material is every bit sleek and modern as it is durable and tough. There is a reason why most Broke Backpacker staff swear by this backpack.
Alternative Luggage: AER Travel Pack 2
Our number two selection for an epic travel backpack is the AER Travel Pack 2. Like the Nomatic Travel Bag, this AER backpack is fully featured, big enough to hold an extended weekend of clothing, and tough enough to last years of travel abuse.
I have taken the AER Travel Pack 2 on multiple trips and since then it has risen has in the ranks of my go-to travel backpacks.
Check out our AER Travel Pack 2 review to learn more.
A Suitcase: Nomatic Carry-On Pro
Backpacks not your thing? That’s ok. Our friends at Nomatic are back again with a great alternative to their badass Travel Bag; the Nomatic Carry-On Pro.
This suitcase is ultra-durable, sleek, and comes with a handy tech compartment for transporting your laptop and other electronic bits. Nomatic has been an industry leader when it comes to travel gear and that reputation is reflected in the quality build design and functionality of the Carry-On Pro suitcase. Top tip – there are often some bargain domestic flights within Indonesia which you can take full advantage off if you go Carry-on only.
Check out our Nomatic Carry-On Pro review to learn more about this epic suitcase.
The Camera: GoPro Hero9 Black
For most of us, our smartphones now feature cameras with stunning photo capabilities.
But… if you are an aspiring photographer who wants to take next-level photos and video beyond iPhone selfies, I recommend going with an action camera like the GoPro Hero9 Black.
It does deliver pro-quality video and gives you a bunch of a different angle options and shooting speeds to work with for photos (including a selfie-mode).
Think of a camera purchase like this as a long term investment that will have you capturing epic shots well beyond your time exploring here.
If you are looking for something cheaper for video specifically, check out these epic GoPro Alternatives.
What To Pack For Indonesia: Personal Gear
So what to wear in Indonesia? Our tip is to dress for the tropics no matter where are headed. However, do make sure to bring some long skirts or pants for when you visit conservative areas. Indonesia does also get rainy seasons so packing a bit of rain gear is also a god idea.
Let’s take a look at what to pack for Indonesia.
Good Shoes – Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero
Visitors to Indonesia have a tendency to underestimate the amount of walking that is part the trip. As well as beaches, Indonesia also offers bustling cities, amazing jungles and lush volcanoes all of which requires plenty of walking.
I admit that most shoes that are also good for hiking are not the most attractive pieces of footwear. But they are some of the most comfortable and deliver good ankle support for a long day of walking about town. They are also essential if you want to ride a scooter as they offer your feet protection in case you crash or make an emergency stop.
Check out the women’s Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero.
Good Rain Jacket – Arcteryx Beta AR
Did you know that the surface of the earth is over 70% covered in water? And you know how that water got there? Yep because it tends to here rain here on planet earth quite a lot! Indonesia does get rainy seasons and it is important to check before you fly whether you are going to hit one. The downpours can be intense so packing a good rain jacket is a must.
There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wing gear for it. Don’t let a bit (of a lot) of rain ruin your trip and make sure you are ready with some top notch rain gear.
This is our pick of the many rain jackets we have tried. It’s reliable & stylish and looks good worn out in the mountains or in city bars.
As an archipelago nation, Indonesia is not short of beaches and the chances are you that you will be spending a lot of time on them! Therefore, if you are wondering what to bring to Indonesia then start with swimwear!
Even if you are headed to the Bali interior (Ubud for example) then there are endless infinity pools and hot tubs waiting for you not to mention some natural waterfalls.
Travel First Aid Kit
You don’t need to tote around half a pharmacy, but a well-stocked first aid kit should be in all our backpacks. Stuff happens on the road and it’s inconvenient and embarrassing when you can’t manage small situations like a cut finger or hangover migraine.
You can tuck this lifesaver away in a forgotten pocket – and it’ll be there when you need it.
Tip: Add a few bits and pieces to the first aid kit after you purchase it, like extra headache medicine, any personal meds you need (like allergy pills), whatever you take to calm your stomach and a few more plasters.
Travel Insurance From World Nomads
Ok, you can’t pack travel insurance in your backpack, but you can take out a cheap policy to insure yourself against theft, flight cancellations, accidents, etc.
Whilst Indonesia isn’t a particularly dangerous place, things can go wrong. Luggage gets lost, tropical disease strikes and in Bali, scooter smashes are all too common.
We use either World Nomads or SafetyWing. You’ll be happy you did if the time comes to use it.
Sun God Sunglasses
A reliable pair of sunglasses is undoubtedly one of your Indonesia packing essentials. Our favorites are SunGod Sunglasses because they deliver on quality and style.
They’re built tough with triple-layer scratch-resistant lenses and trademarked Adventure-proof Frame Material. You can also customize them with your choice of lense and frame colors to reflect your own style. Plus they’re covered by SunGod’s lifetime guarantee of free repair. Check our in-depth review here.
Suncream: Thinksport Safe SPF 50+
By now, all of us are as pasty as the driven snow from sheltering in place for the last six months. Am I right? This means we are even more vulnerable than usual to the sun’s fierce rays. Packing sunscreen for Indonesia may seem like a no brainer, but you would be amazed how many sun-burned cocktail-toting people you see wandering around.
Thinksport Safe SPF 50+ sunscreen gives folks strong sun protection in a non-oily formula that’s free of gluten, paraben, phthalates and biologically harmful chemicals.
Another backpacker/traveler favorite for staying organized is a hanging toiletry bag. It’s extremely helpful to have all of your accessories neatly gathered in one bag that you can hang for easy accessibility, especially when counter space isn’t plentiful or even available. A well-organized bag is worth having whether you’re tree whilst camping or a hook in the wall – it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.
Historically, I have been the guy who has my stuff all over the bathroom, so getting one of these things really changed the toiletry game for me. Plus they are not too expensive either. A no-brainer essential.
Sandals: OluKai ‘Ohana Flip-Flops
Circling back to the footwear question, now we are going to talk about sandals. Whilst good shoes are important for hikes, city tours and riding scooters, a good pair of flip-flops are still a good idea for what to pack for Bali.
Your packing for Indonesia can easily accommodate a few pairs of light shoes and sandals and give your feet some well-deserved cushion and fresh air. These Olukai flip flops are ultra-comfortable, well-made, and come in a variety of colors.
Check out the women’s OluKai ‘Ohana Flip-Flops.
Your Passport or Other Government ID
You will need your passport when you enter Indonesia and will also need it when moving between islands and if your board an internal, domestic flight.
If you forget your ID you will not be allowed entrance into an untold number of establishments including bars, clubs, casinos, and other venues of responsible adult entertainment.
Money Belt – By Active Roots
Whilst Indonesia is not particularly dangerous, crime can still happen and tourists are sometimes targeted.
Therefore it is always a good idea to use a money belt to hide your cash just in case something does go wrong.
A Hat – Patagonia Fitz Roy Trucker
As you should know by now, the sun in Indonesia is strong and you will undoubtedly be spending a lot of time outside. Having a hat on your Indonesia packing list is a good way to ensure your face is protected from the sun throughout the day.
Patagonia makes great hats. I have probably bought three or four of these over the last five years. Simple. Practical. Comfortable. That is what you are after.
A Good Daypack for Hiking – Osprey Daylite Plus
If you intend on doing any hiking, day trips or scooting around the country then you will need a daypack. They are great for carrying water, hat’s and gloves and for packing sandwiches for lunch. We love Osprey products and this daypack is our personal pick.
The Osprey Daylite Plus has a mesh-covered panel to keep your back cool and fresh by minimizing contact with the back of the pack itself and allowing air to get between you and the pack.
Check out our full review of the Osprey Daylite plus for more details.
Additionally, you can attach it to other Osprey packs in case you want to add more capacity and carry just one piece of luggage… but the reviews on this feature are mixed.
Waterbottle – Hydroflask Vacuum Bottle 32 oz.
Packing a reusable water bottle is probably the best thing you can personally do to combat single-use plastic bottle use whilst traveling. There is simply zero need to buy plastic water bottles. Whilst drinking tap water in Bali isn’t advisable, there are plenty of water filters you can fill up from.
We love the Hydroflask Vacum Bottle for its quality and because it keeps cold water cold for many hours and vice versa for hot beverages. This bottle is the ideal water bottle to get not just for your Indonesia trip but for daily use. Please don’t be that person buying plastic water bottles. We are all judging you…especially mother earth.
If you go with the Hydroflask, you’ll probably never need to buy another waterbottle again.
Sleeping Bag – Nemo Disco 15
At some point in your trip to Indonesia, you will probably go camping or at the very least will spend a night at a hostel with insufficient bedding, or with dirty bedding that you would rather not lay in. Therefore bringing a sleeping bag is often a great investment.
There are a LOT of sleeping bags on the market today and we have tried a lot of them. The quality and standards varies and not always in correlation with the price – pricey does not always mean better. The Nemo Disco 15 is a great all rounder sleeping bag packing in warmth, durability and a reasonable price tag.
The Basic Stuff To Pack For Indonesia
On top of the essential items listed above, here is an additional suggested checklist of what to pack bring to Indonesia:
- 1-2 pairs of comfortable pants/jeans
- 1-2 pairs of shorts (summer/late spring)
- A few pairs of socks
- (Sexy) underwear x 2/3
- Ladies: a few dresses, pants, outfits, or desired lady apparel for a night on the town. Whatever makes you comfy!
- Dudes: A few collard shirts or something half-way decent for a night on the town. Whatever makes you comfy!
- Smartphone with a good camera for photos if you are not bringing an actual camera
- Portable power bank for charging your phone on the go
- Phone charger
- Amazon Kindle for reading by your infinity pool
- Copy of your passport just in case
- Cash (not too much, there are ATM machines everywhere
- Packable Towel
Final Thoughts on What to Pack for Indonesia
And there you have it! Your complete Indonesia survival guide with our top-21 needs list, a breakdown of typical weather conditions by season and how to best pack for them, what not to pack and the best travel backpack for Indonesia!
Just focus on packing smart and light; don’t weigh yourself down with the extras. The beauty of budget-style backpacking is that it’s about the adventure, so stay focused on packing functionally and staying safe. All the other things will work themselves itself out. So, gear up and get excited because your Indonesian adventure awaits!
Also – don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
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