Indonesia, where to begin? With over 17,000 islands making up the nation, there is so much to do and see that you could easily end up spending your entire gap year in Indonesia. Low prices, reasonable transport links, low crime rates and the vast expanse of islands mean that you can spend your gap year in Indonesia at either end of the extreme: partying with visitors just like you, or immersing yourself in local culture on the more remote islands.
You can’t justify a gap year in Indonesia without visiting Bali. This extremely popular island is world renowned for tourists, backpackers, and a fantastic nightlife and party scene. The capital Jakarta, whilst rather industrial, is also worth a stopover for its vibrant nightlife. If you fancy somewhere a bit quieter, but still chic, the nearby Gili Islands are rumoured to be the latest up and coming hotspot. Tropical, with white sandy beaches and an endless turquoise sea, it will truly feel like paradise.
For a good fix of nature, a trip to a national park is essential. The Komodo National Park comprises Komodo Island as well as Rinca and other nearby islands, and is ideal for hiking, trekking, and a bit of dragon spotting. Bonda Islands have breath-taking scenery, including incredible coral gardens, and a fascinating history. More than a thousand islands make up Raja Ampat, and as you explore their lush jungles, pristine beaches and secret azure lagoons, you’ll be more than glad you decided to spend some of your gap year in Indonesia.
Working in Indonesia
Unemployment is reasonably high in Indonesia, and the government is rather ungenerous with working visas for foreigners. Unless you are a professional coming to teach others your skills, the only work likely to be available to you is teaching English, and even that is limited. Volunteering offers much more scope, and there is a variety of opportunities available teaching English, helping in orphanages, or with wildlife.
Where to head to next really depends which part of the islands you’re on when you finish your gap year in Indonesia. Overland you can get to Malaysia, Timor-Leste or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, Papua New Guinea. Brunei is also just a short trek through Malaysia on one of the islands, while to the northwest Singapore is practically swimming distance. The Philippines are close to the northeast, while the rest of South East Asia stretches above. Australia is also easily and relatively inexpensively accessible from Jakarta or Bali airports. Are you sure you’re ready to leave Indonesia though? After all, there are 17,000 islands…