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 unpredictable weather conditions, it can be a little trickier to say exactly where to go for perfect weather, but we think there's never a bad 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.

Little surf girl - young surfer learn to ride on surfboard with instructor at surfing school in Bali
Sun, sea and surf: Bali is brilliant in the high season © Denis Moskvinov / Shutterstock

The high season (July–August, Christmas & New Year's Eve) is the best time for great weather and beach parties

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. 

An orangutan hanging in a tree covering its mouth in the wilds of Indonesia
Visit during the shoulder season for the best chance to see some orangutans in Indonesia ©Bas Vermolen/Getty Images

The shoulder season (March–June & September–November) is the best time for natural encounters

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.

A man looking out from Gili Lawa in Komodo National Park
The dry months from July to August are great times to go trekking in Indonesia © Julius Budianto / Shutterstock

The low season (January–February) is the best time for bargain prices

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 into 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.

Silhouette of a woman relaxing in a hammock on a beach during sunset. 
Want to avoid the crowds in Bali? Visit in May, June or September ©anyaberkut/Getty Images

Let's zoom in – when’s the best time to visit Bali?

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.

Will traveling in the rainy season ruin my vacation?

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.

This article was first published April 2021 and updated November 2023

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