6 Useful Things To Know About Traveling With Kids In Indonesia
As someone who spent part of their childhood in the country of Indonesia, I'm always keen on traveling with kids in Indonesia since they were born. As a family, we've visited Indonesia several times, including a six-month stay in 2019-2020.
Like some of you, I was a bit apprehensive of what my kids would think of Indonesia. But after living there for six months, my kids loved it. Despite the occasional melt downs, battles with mosquitoes, and struggles with jet lag, a trip with kids in Indonesia can be an enjoyable experience for the family.
Here are some of things you should know to have an amazing trip to Indonesia.
This post was updated on August 3, 2022.
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Traveling with kids in Indonesia
Indonesia may not seem like the typical family vacation destination. Many families are quite reluctant to take their kids to a developing country. There are safety concerns, health concerns, and a general fear of the unknown.
While these are legitimate concerns, I find that Indonesia is actually an excellent place to take kids. We've done things like hiking to see orangutans in Sumatra and learning about Indonesian culture on a Bali day tour. There are so many things that families can take in on a visit to Indonesia.
For some Indonesia facts and ideas on what you can do with your kids in Indonesia, this Indonesia guide book is a great resource to start with: Lonely Planet Indonesia Travel Guide
For first time travelers to Indonesia, though, there are a few things to keep in mind to make your visit a bit easier and less stressful. Below is a list of six useful things to know about traveling with kids in Indonesia.
Need help budgeting for your family trip to Indonesia? Take a look at my budget tips for traveling to Indonesia with kids.
1. Consider transportation options for families with kids in Indonesia
Taxis are a great way for families to get from place to place. However, there are plenty of other ways to get around with kids in Indonesia. In the city of Yogyakarta, for example, the becak (Indonesia's version of a pedicab) is a popular transportation option. And in the big city of Jakarta, bajais (motorized auto rickshaws) play a similar role of taking people around the city for short distances.
In many cities, Gojek and Grab (ride sharing options similar to Uber and Lyft) make traveling around fairly simple. Public transportation options can be hard to navigate, but they do exist. The MRT in Jakarta makes crossing the city much faster. And in smaller cities, especially in Bali, renting a scooter can be a good option if you're comfortable driving one.
This thinking outside of the box when it comes to transportation also extends to longer distances. Rather than dealing with a plane, a fun (and cheap) way to travel through Indonesia is by train. For less than $100, families can buy four Executive class tickets for train travel between Yogyakarta and Jakarta.
2. Homestays are a great way to experience Indonesia as a family
Homestays are Indonesia's version of a bed and breakfast. They're usually owned and managed by a family. But they're a perfect and inexpensive accommodation option for families traveling on a budget.
Homestays typically offer a variety of lodging options for families. They typically serve a home cooked breakfast every morning, and sometimes tea options in the afternoon. It's always nice to have a comfy place to spend down time before dinner.
Some homestays also offer pools. We also stayed at an amazing homestay in Ubud on the island of Bali. Every morning, we had our pick of smoothie bowls, omelets, or pancakes topped with exotic fruit. And there was a nice pool to swim in. We truly felt like we were living in luxury for a fraction of the cost!
If you're looking to book a budget-friendly lodging option with your kids in Indonesia, consider a homestay.
Want to know what you can do with a family in Bali? Take a look at my Bali itinerary for some fun ideas!
Ready for a change? Take the first step to living a life of full time travel.
3. Indonesia is safe for families to travel
In general, Indonesia is a safe place. The country enjoys general political stability, and most of the crime that occurs is petty crime (like pickpocketing) in tourist-heavy areas.
However, there are some considerations to keep in mind for some families. While Indonesian citizens hold many rights, those rights are limited for groups like the LGBTQ community. In Indonesia, being gay is considered a criminal offense, so LGBTQ families will need to keep that in mind.
And for families with toddlers there are still some dangers that abound for little kids in Indonesia. When walking in the street, make sure your kids are safely on the side of the road, as motorcycles tend to zoom wherever they see fit. In public areas, keep your kids close by so they don't get lost. And be wary of letting them touch animals in case they may have rabies.
With that said, don't be afraid to let your kids do a bit of exploration and experimentation. The fun part about travel is being able to do things that you may not necessarily get to do back home. And most places in Indonesia are safe for travelers.
4. There are many islands beyond Bali to visit with kids in Indonesia
We love going off the beaten path, and Indonesia is the perfect country to do that. The country of Indonesia has over 17 000 islands, with a population of over 273 million people. About 6,000 of those islands are inhabited. And within those inhabited islands, there are over 1,300 distinct ethnic groups.
What this means for families visiting with kids in Indonesia, is that you'll have plenty of opportunities to learn about the many cultures that make up the country of Indonesia. Most travelers to Indonesia only come to Bali. But there is actually so much more to explore in Indonesia if you're willing to be open to adventures. Don't limit yourself to exploring just one tiny island!
Throughout our travels in Indonesia, we've explored jungles in Sumatra and hiked hills in Flores. And we've also visiting many places in between. Here's a sample of the islands we've visited in Indonesia. Take a look at each page to see how diverse Indonesian culture and life truly is:
Want to make your travel experiences with kids in Indonesia more educational? Here are my top tips to incorporate learning into your travel activities.
5. Take it slow and leave room for down time
Indonesia is a hot place, so it's important to make sure your kids in Indonesia don't get overheated or overtired. Many of the tours offered in the tourist areas are geared towards adults. They tend to pack many activities into one day. This may get too exhausting for little ones!
When doing tours with kids, it's best to choose a half day one. This gives your kids part of the day to explore, and part of the day to rest. Better yet, try exploring places on your own so that you can go at your own pace.
Also, you should know that Indonesian cities don't often have a lot of park options for families. But they do have malls with air conditioning! Consider spending an afternoon at a mall and getting to know local modern Indonesian culture.
Here are some ideas for things to do with kids in Indonesia in various cities around the country:
Yogyakarta: 20 Best Things To Do In Yogyakarta With Kids
6. Indonesians love having families travel with their kids in Indonesia
One thing to know about traveling with kids in Indonesia is that Indonesians love kids. Whether you're walking around touristy areas like Kuta, or eating at a random restaurant, people may come up to your kids and play with them.
For parents who are used to the conservativeness of American culture, this may seem a little off-putting at first. However, there is definitely a positive aspect to all this adoration towards little kids. You'll find that compared to the United States, people are more forgiving of the melt downs and tantrums that inevitably occur during travel.
Before your trip, take some time to learn some basic Indonesian phrases. That will help you connect with Indonesian families better. These phrasebooks are great resources:
Read my responsible travel tips to learn how to travel responsibly with your kids in Indonesia.
Bonus tip: Sample the variety of cuisine with your kids in Indonesia
Food in Indonesia is a social affair! And the country's cuisine is influenced by many cultures, including China, India, Malaysia, and the Netherlands. When you're visiting with your kids in Indonesia, don't be afraid to sample some of this cuisine.
Here is a quick list of Indonesian dishes to try while you're there:
- Nasi Goreng - fried rice, often topped with a fried egg
- Bakmi Goreng - fried noodles, often topped with a fried egg
- Satay ayam - grilled chicken skewers with peanut sauce
- Bakso - beef meatballs in soup with noodles
- Martabak telur - street food dish of fried egg pancake stuffed with meat
- Martabak manis - street food dish of sweet pancake stuffed with chocolate
- Ikan Goreng/Ikan Bakar - fried (goreng) or grilled (bakar) fish
- Gado-Gado - lightly braised vegetables served with peanut sauce
- Ketoprak - stir-fried vegetables served with peanut sauce
- Tahu/Tempe Goreng - fried tofu (tahu) or tempeh (tempe)
Indonesians enjoy using hot sauce (sambal) with their meals. But you can always ask whoever is preparing your dish to not use sambal. Additionally, Indonesians love to use a sweet soy sauce called kecap manis as a topping to their rice. This can be something fun for your kids to try.
Making your experience with kids in Indonesia a memorable one
It's interesting to look back and see how our kids enjoyed Indonesia. Our six month stay in Indonesia left an indelible mark in their memories. But even for families who can only do short trip, a vacation like that will certainly be influential in the lives of your kids. Traveling with kids in Indonesia is truly a wonderful bonding experience.
Essentially, that is why we travel - to experience the world together as a family. All the months of planning and saving money for this trip have been worth it. I wouldn't trade that time spent with my family for anything.
If you're planning to visit Indonesia for a family vacation, use my family vacation planning checklist to help you prepare for your trip:
But if you're planning to visit Indonesia as part of a more bigger trip around the world, my family gap year guide will certainly be a valuable tool for you:
Need help thinking through how to budget for a family trip? My Travel Budget Worksheet is just the tool you need! Click here to receive your free copy by signing up for my newsletter.
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