Things are about to change.
In January, we are planning on relocating from London to Asia (location, still unconfirmed), continuing our international expat adventure. We are giving up the ease of European travel after three years, for a destination a little more exotic, a little more intense, and a lot more challenging.
While basic things like communicating and a concept of personal space will be vastly different in Asia compared to London, the most exciting aspect of our new locale will be the chance to explore a region of the world that we have barely scratched the surface.
We can’t wait.
To prepare, I have decided to put together a few bucket list travel destinations that we can’t wait to explore. Personally, I have always wanted to visit Indonesia, a nation composed of over 17,000 islands and therefore nearly endless adventures, so it tops my bucket list for Asia.
From massive, pulsating cities to serene, remote tropical retreats, Indonesia has a little something for everyone. So as not to overwhelm me or you, here are my top 3 picks for Indonesia, which are really just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.
Jakarta is a city packed with over 20 million people, in a sort of mildly controlled chaos. Crazy traffic jams, pollution, and poverty are the major downsides of Indonesia’s capital city. But there seems to be a lot to enjoy in Jakarta.
There is fantastic shopping at the over 100 shopping malls in the city. Massive, glass-enclosed retail structures, they also house fantastic food courts and are part of the local culture. Jakarta is also home to some of the most diverse food culture in Indonesia, from street food stalls hawking nasi lemak, to Michelin-star level fine dining.
Then, there is the nightlife, which has become a major draw for Jakarta. Lots of nightclubs, bars, and late night fun can be had, with places packed with local Indonesians and tourists from around Asia.
Insider tip: We are already scoping out our fave hotel in Jakarta here.
Bali is on most traveler’s radar, but there is more to Bali than just the packed beaches and overcrowded nightclubs. Not too far away from the tourist hub of Kuta in the south, there is Canggu, with great surfing and a more laid back vibe. So even if you are looking for late night fun, a quiet retreat during the day isn’t too far away.
The island of Bali is quite large and offers a lot of options for visitors. By heading inland, away from the beaches and the crowds, you can dive into Bali’s impressive mountains and the cultural center of Central Bali, highlighted by the city of Ubud.
The east side of the island is home to fantastic diving spots, and is the jumping off point to reach the nearby Gili Islands, a true tropical paradise, with beautiful stretches of beach and fantastic snorkeling. You can also detour to the north of Bali, for peace, quiet, and legendary black sand beaches.
Komodo Island is one of the three main islands that make up the Komodo National Park. Obviously, the main attraction of the Komodo National Park is the pre-historic looking Komodo Dragon, the world’s largest lizard, reaching up to 3 meters in length and 70km in weight. That’s a seriously large lizard. They are also poisonous, which just adds to the adventure.
The island also has amazing beaches and tons of other wildlife, including monkeys, wild pigs, horses, and if you stay the night, flying foxes, which are fruit bats with massive wingspans. Luckily, there are organized tours of Komodo Island and the other surrounding islands, a great way to see the natural wonders of the islands.
Komodo National Park is difficult to reach, which honestly makes it more appealing to me. It is only accessible by ferry, which departs about twice a week, so there are no tour buses full of tourists unloading at this park!
Insider tip: We found a fun looking tour around the national park, for groups of up to 5. Now the pressure’s on for us to find a few friends to join us.
Indonesia seems to me to be one of those places where you can travel for a lifetime and just never be done. I love the idea of getting far off the beaten path in a national park, but also having tons of beaches at my fingertips.