What to pack for Indonesia
Headed to Indonesia for the first time and not sure what to pack? This Bali packing list has you covered! I’ve listed all the things I brought and wish I had packed for my trip to Indonesia, so you can learn from my lessons. This is a list of what to bring backpacking, as I strongly suggest you bring a backpack instead of a suitcase – unless you only plan to stay in one location! In this post you’ll find what to pack for Bali for your Bali backpacking, which can also be used as an Indonesia packing list.
Looking for more tips on Indonesia? Don’t miss these posts:
- What to do in Ubud, Bali
- The one week Bali itinerary
- The no-BS guide to Uluwatu
- Why you should visit Kuta, Lombok
- The Nusa Lembongan Guide
- The no-BS guide to Uluwatu: go here instead of Kuta
- Where to stay in Canggu, Bali
- Amazing things to do on Gili Air
- Adventure alert: How to trek Mt Rinjani
- The best beaches in Kuta, Lombok
- Why you should never go dolphin watching in Lovina, Bali
- The best surf camp in Kuta, Lombok
- Why I hated my visit to Seminyak
- I survived the boat ride to Gili Air, and I hope you do, too!
- What to do in Gili T
Essentials for traveling to Indonesia
- A good backpacking backpack that comes with a day pack: Indonesia was my first trip traveling with a backpack, and I’m so glad we chose to travel that way instead of bringing a suitcase. If you plan on traveling at all within Indonesia, and especially if you expect you might take any boats, I very strongly recommend you bring a backpack. Why? Because often the ferries don’t pull up to a dock but just out several meters from the beach, meaning you need to trek through the water to and from the boat. That’s not too easy to do with a suitcase! A backpack will also naturally limit how much you pack, and trust me, you’re not going to need too many clothes since it is so hot there. I use the Osprey Farpoint 55, which comes with a day pack that can be detached from the bag, making it easy to carry around for a day, or simply zip back into the backpack to carry everything at once. This is the perfect bag for Bali backpacking. I was able to load up 4 weeks worth of packing in here, so the Osprey Farpoint 55 is definitely suitable for longer trips as well. A backpack like this is a must have on your Indonesia packing list. Check out this post if you’re looking for more tips on the best backpacks for travel.
- Mosquito repellant with DEET: If you visit Indonesia, you’re going to need to bring mosquito repellant with DEET in it. Without mosquito repellant, I’d be bitten nearly everywhere if we were out during dusk, and I was always kicking myself when I forgot to put it on. Do yourself a favor and bring more insect repellant than you think you’re going to need, it is always useful! Mosquito repellant is one of the most essential items to bring with you to Indonesia.
- Sunscreen: Indonesia is HOT, and the sun is intense! Protect yourself by lathering up everyday with sunscreen to protect against the sun’s harmful rays – you don’t want to be an Indonesian lobster! Honestly, I would recommend bringing the highest SPF possible. Be sure to bring a sunscreen that is water-resistant, cause boy, you’re going to be sweaty!
- Baby Wipes: When you think of packing for Indonesia, baby wipes might not immediately come to mind, but trust me, these will come in handy when you’re feeling extra sticky and you’re not near a shower!
- Hand Sanitizer: While we’re on the topic of staying clean and fresh, don’t forget to pack hand sanitizer for your trip to Indonesia. I don’t think I need to explain all the situations where it will be handy to have it 🙂
- Bars of shampoo and conditioner: Bottles of shampoo and conditioner are heavy to lug around, not to mention bad for the environment. How about trying shampoo and conditioner bars instead? They are much lighter to carry with you, and typically last 60-90 washes! J.R. Liggett’s shampoo bars use all natural ingredients and are biodegradable. Bar shampoo has become one of my backpacking essentials and an essential for my Indonesia packing list.
- Tampons: Ladies, if you think there is any chance you’ll get your period in Indonesia, bring your own tampons. Tampons can be hard to find, especially when you are out of city centers or main tourist areas, like the Gili Islands or Nusa Lembongan. Not only are they hard to find, but they’re expensive to buy once you’ve found them and not many come in a pack. Be prepared and bring your own, be sure to add these to your Indonesia packing list.
- Motion sickness bracelet: One of the best ways to explore Indonesia is to travel by boat to other islands, especially from Bali to the Gilis, but you should be prepared for a rocky journey. A motion sickness bracelet is one of the items you should bring with you to Indonesia if there is any slight possibility of hopping aboard a boat.
- A roll of toilet paper, or packs of travel tissues: Just in case you find some toilets without toilet paper… that can definitely happen in Indonesia 😉 so keep these in your day pack
- A large, light scarf: When you pack for Indonesia don’t forget to bring a scarf which can double (triple? quadruple?) as a cover up when you visit temple, a sarong, a beach towel, and various other uses.
- PacSafe portable safe:This is an item I’m actually about to try out for my upcoming trip, but I wish we had it when we visited Indonesia. The PacSafe portable safes are great for storing your valuables while you travel and are convenient to bring with you if you visit a beach and need to tie up your valuables somewhere nearby. The PacSafe bags are lined with stainless steel wire which makes them very difficult to cut through, as well as a long wire cable that allows you to lock it to anything heavy and stationary. The PacSafe has become one of my must-haves for my Indonesia packing list.
- GoPro: A GoPro really is one of the easiest ways to capture your trip, they are super light, are high quality, and you can drop them without worrying! The GoPro HERO5 Black is perfect for getting footage of your adventure in any environment.
- GoPro accessories: You wouldn’t want to bring your GoPro while you go snorkeling on Nusa Lembongan, only to drop it in the ocean, never to be seen again. One of the best purchases we made and the best things we brought to Indonesia was our GoPro accessory kit, complete with a floating hand grip so your GoPro won’t sink to the bottom of the ocean. If you don’t have these accessories for your GoPro yet, do yourself a favor and get them ASAP.
- Lonely Planet Indonesia: Whenever I travel, buying the accompanying Lonely Planet for wherever I’m going is a prerequisite! They say planning your trip is half the fun, and I always get a kick out of planning with my Lonely Planet. It also comes in handy when you’re in a place and need some fresh inspiration for what to do there.
- Malaria Pills: Bringing malaria pills with you to Indonesia really depends on where in Indonesia you are going. If you are visiting only Bali, you won’t need malaria pills at all – though don’t quote me on that and definitely check with your doctor first. We brought malaria pills for Lombok, but didn’t need them since we ended up only staying by the coast line. If you think you might do some deep jungle trekking, definitely visit your doctor first to see if you should bring malaria pills to Indonesia – these might be a must for your Indonesia packing list.
- SteriPen: Like the rest of South East Asia, the tap water is unfortunately not safe to drink in Indonesia, so most people buy bottle after bottle of water to stay hydrated, wasting more plastic and your money. The SteriPen is a UV water purifier which can clean up to 8,000 liters of water, making that SEA tap water safe to drink. This is handy for wherever you go, and is great to have for all your trips.
What not to bring to Indonesia
- Don’t bring too much make up: trust me, you’re not going to wear it when you are there. It is way to hot and humid to wear a face full of make up, so going natural is best. Mascara and eyeliner are of course easy to wear in the heat.
- Don’t overpack: It is hot in Indonesia, which means you’ll likely be wearing very light clothes or a swimsuit every day. I ended up not wearing half of what I brought, so go easy on yourself and pack light.
- Don’t bother with anything dressy: That includes high heels. Sure, if you really want to, you can bring dress clothes, heels, etc, but you likely will not wear any of it – so take those items off of your Indonesia packing list.
Did this post help you decide what to pack for Indonesia? Let me know in the comments below!
Disclosure: some of the links on this Indonesia packing list are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click-through and make a purchase.
Gabby is a native (Northern) Californian who spent the majority of her 20’s living the expat life in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, exploring Europe and beyond. 27 countries later, she’s relocated back to her home base in California where she explores her passions for the travel and the outdoors.