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.

Visit Indonesia: the terraced rice patties of Central Bali

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.

Visit Indonesia: the Jakarta skyline

Jakarta

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.

Visit Indonesia: the tropical beaches of the north

Bali

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.

Insider tip: Thanks to the sheer number of lodging options in Bali, we’ve bookmarked a couple articles where we’ll return when it’s time to plan.

Visit Indonesia:

Komodo Island

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.

Visit Indonesia: the mountains of Central Bali

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.

2017, here we come.

What is your favorite Asian country to explore in depth? More importantly, where do we go first when we land in the new year?

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  • November 15, 2016

    I moved to Shanghai 5 years ago, and I’m lucky enough to have visited a fair amount of countries in the Southeast Asia. I haven’t been to Indonesia yet, but I would totally recommend Vietnam, it’s my absolute favorite. The food is fantastic and relatively safe compared to other countries, I ate loads of street food but never got food poisoned. The people are very warm-hearted even in touristy contexts, and the landscapes are just breathtaking.

    I’ve recently been there with 2 of my girlfriends. We wanted to have a trip together before I got married! 🙂 I made a video with the highlights of our journey:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wphkzapPcKo

    Not trying to promote my content, this video is posted on my personal page and I don’t share it on my blog. But I thought it might be helpful for you guys so that you can get a first glance of such beautiful country!

    Whatever destination you pick, I’m sure you’re not going to be disappointed, especially if it is your first time in Asia! Relocation can be tough and frustrating at times, but the places you get see, the culture, the people you encounter on your trips are incredibly rewarding!

    All the best!
    Valentina
    Valentina recently posted…Wiesergut Design HotelMy Profile

    • November 15, 2016

      Thanks for the advice. Shanghai is actually our most likely destination, so any tips for a move would be appreciated! We’ve been to Asia before, but only once, on an extended 5-week trip five years ago. We agree on Vietnam, as it was our favorite destination, and would be happy eating noodles on the street any day! We’ll check out the video!

      • November 16, 2016

        I agree that Shanghai is a great option. I know of many friends who ended up living there for several years. I have some family who are still there, so it’s always nice when I go back. I think the part that I wouldn’t like about Shanghai is how sprawled out it can be. There’s tons of construction, and the pollution is bad but not as bad as Beijing.
        chewy recently posted…[Photo Journal] Autumn in Vienna: StadtparkMy Profile

  • November 16, 2016

    Indonesia is on my bucket list too! I think for sure I will be in Bali and the Gili islands in January. I want to get my diving certifications! Looking forward to hearing more about your plans.
    chewy recently posted…[Photo Journal] Autumn in Vienna: StadtparkMy Profile

  • January 17, 2017

    Indonesia country an attractive tourist destination there are many places to visit
    Ami Mulyadi recently posted…Paket Umroh Maret 2017 Penuhi Panggilan AllahMy Profile