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The best time to visit Indonesia for maximum adventure – Lonely Planet Travel News

Jul 25, 2022 • 8 min read
With 17,500 islands to choose from, there's always somewhere to go in Indonesia at any time of year © Marc Dozier / Getty Images
The best times to visit Indonesia
Jul 25, 2022 • 8 min read
In the good old days, Indonesia had only two uncomplicated seasons: wet and dry. But then climate change teamed up with El Nino and La Niña to turn the weather upside down.
These days, with the unpredictable weather conditions, it can be a little trickier to say exactly where to go for perfect weather, but the answer to the question "when should I go to Indonesia?" is always the same – it’s always a good time to visit Indonesia.
Of course, there are more factors in play than just the weather. Many travelers are more interested in the best time to catch a perfect wave, climb a volcano, or hang out with orangutans and whale sharks. And for some, it's all about beach parties and colorful festivals or avoiding the crowds.
There’s a lot to consider, but don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Whether you're here for the surf or the sand, the jungles or fabulous festivals, here’s our guide on the best times to visit Indonesia.
Peak season in Indonesia falls during the sweet spot of July and August when perfect sunny weather coincides with the European summer holidays and the Australian winter, bringing a surge of tourism across the archipelago. If you don’t mind the crowds, it’s a lively time to visit. Bali and Lombok are especially pumping, with packed beaches and bars. This is also the prime time for trekking, surfing, diving and outdoor wilderness adventures in most areas, with the exception of West Papua and Maluku, which see heavy rains in July and August.
But with all the fun comes the downside of crowded surf breaks, crammed tourist attractions, swarming trails and nightmarish traffic, not to mention soaring room rates and airfares. To avoid paying the highest rates, you’ll need to pre-book months in advance. The Christmas holidays are another time when you can expect tourism and prices to ramp up, but there's more rain and humidity. 
With its winning combo of superb weather, reduced tourist numbers and lower prices, the shoulder season periods at either end of the peak season are our favorite times to visit Indonesia. Though you may get some rain (especially towards March and November), you’re more likely to see nothing but glorious sunshine.
Everything seems to click at this time. The waves are pumping, orangutans are out feeding in the jungles of Sumatra and Kalimantan and divers head out in search of big-name visitors such as whale sharks and mola mola (sunfish), which gather from June to September. The shoulder seasons are also great times for scaling Indonesia’s volcanoes, bringing optional trekking conditions without the throngs of tourists.
So what are the downsides of shoulder season? Well, occasionally you’ll get some smoke haze pollution from farmers burning off fields and areas of cleared forest in Sumatra and Kalimantan from September to November. If you have any respiratory issues, this is something you'll need to take into consideration.
Ah, the wet season – two words tourists never want to hear, especially those hoping for sun, surf and sand. However, while Indonesia is undeniably humid at this time, and your hair is likely to get a little frizzy, the rainy season doesn’t mean it’s going to bucket down for the entirety of your trip. Instead, expect short, intense downpours, before the blue skies reappear and the sun starts shining again like it never happened.
During the wet months, tourist numbers plummet, which brings a more relaxed vibe and discounts across the board. Traveling off-season is a great time to immerse yourself in local culture and visit temples across Java and Bali without the usual crush of tourists. It’s not a good time if you’re planning on hiking, with most volcanoes off-limits from December to March. Orangutans and other wildlife can also be harder to spot in the rainy months.
If you’re seeking somewhere less rainy, West Papua and Maluku have their dry season at this time of year. If you’re into hiking to remote villages or diving the unparalleled reefs of Raja Ampat, these are the best months to visit. Not only is the ocean calm but visibility is crystal clear, offering perfect conditions for exploring this spectacular underwater world.
For many tourists, Indonesia means Bali, and there are definitely optimum times to visit this legendary holiday island. Things are just about perfect at either end of the peak tourist season, from May to June and throughout September. Not only can you enjoy sublime beach weather, legendary waves, stunning volcano treks, thundering waterfalls, yoga retreats and fascinating Hindu culture, but you’ll also get to experience it all without the jostling crowds. As an added plus, you won't have to worry about booking months in advance, and you can save money compared to peak season prices.
If you’re after a chilled-out holiday and enjoy getting a good deal, then a rainy season trip to Indonesia is well worth considering. Sure, you’ll get some downpours from December to February – some of them heavy – but that doesn’t mean it’s going to rain around the clock. Instead, expect a few hours of rain, often in the afternoon, before the blue skies reappear and you can be back by the pool, cocktail in hand. However, if you’ve got your heart set on trekking, diving, surfing and wildlife encounters, it's best to schedule your trip during the busier, drier months from April to October.
The monsoon season brings sporadic downpours in between spells of sunshine, while Maluku and Papua enjoy drier conditions that are ideal for those seeking pristine beaches and world-class diving.
Key events: Gerebeg (Yogyakarta)
The rainy season continues across most of Indonesia, as low season rewards travelers who brave the downpours with discounts and a more relaxed atmosphere.
Key events: Cap Go Meh (nationwide), Pasola (Sumba)
March is a mixed bag weather-wise, but as things start to dry out, you can balance beach days with inland exploration. Indonesia’s fertile landscapes appear particularly resplendent after the rains. If you head to Bali, be ready for Nyepi, the Day of Silence, when all activity on the island ceases.
Key events: Nyepi (Bali)
Blue skies return as more tourists jet in for diving, volcano trekking and surfing. Things get busier, but it's still much quieter than the summertime peak.
Key events: Bali Spirit Festival (Bali), Ramadan (dates move annually – runs April to May in 2022, and March to April in 2023)
May is an excellent time to visit Indonesia as the dry season brings consistent weather across Bali and Java. It’s a good time to spot orangutans foraging for fruits in the forests of Sumatra and Kalimantan.
Key events: Waisak (Bali), Java Jazz Festival (Jakarta), Idul Fitri/Lebaran (variable dates – falls in May in 2022 and April in 2023)
Idyllic weather makes this possibly the best time to visit the main islands. Just outside the peak holiday season, June sees less crowded beaches and quieter temples and trekking routes. It's also a good month for wildlife encounters.
Key events: Danau Sentani festival (Papua), Danau Toba Festival (Sumatra)
With great weather and optimum conditions for outdoor activities, the peak season brings in school holiday crowds from Europe and Australia, so book accommodation and activities well in advance.
Key events: Tana Toraja Funeral Festivals (Tana Toraja), Erau Festival (Kalimantan), Muharram (variable dates – falls in July in 2022 and 2023)
The height of peak tourist season attracts even more folk seeking sun, sand and surf, as Bali’s beaches and bars reach full capacity, as do Java’s blockbuster attractions.
Key Events: Independence Day, Bidar Races (Sumatra), Baliem Valley Festival (West Papua)
With peak season drawing to an end, things become decidedly more relaxed in September, but the weather and surf remain as enticing as ever.
Key events: Pagerwesi (Bali)
Weather conditions become more variable in October. Expect the occasional tropical downpour in between long spells of sunny weather – it’s still a good time to visit and avoid the crowds.
Key events: Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (Bali)
The weather is a lottery in November as the rainy season gets closer in western Indonesia. This is still a relaxed time to visit, albeit with fewer waves, muddier trails and poorer visibility for diving.
Key events: Sekaten (Yogyakarta)
Marking the beginning of Indonesia’s rainy season, December sees things slow right down in Indonesia until Christmas, when tourist numbers spike for the festive holidays and New Year's Eve. It's prime time for diving in areas such as Maluku's Banda Islands.
Key events: Galungan (Bali)
This article was first published April 2021 and updated July 2022
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