I write this post from the seat of a foot massage chair; my connecting flight at Surabaya on the island of Java, Indonesia has been delayed for almost three hours because of bad weather. The airport is small with only one coffee shop, and a strange duty-free section selling dried foods and spices, but like most places in Asia, there’s somewhere to get a massage…
I’m doing a whistle-stop tour of Java and Bali, and while the stormy season might be causing some trouble, I’m loving this beautiful country. And with all my last minute travel plans, I researched the weather when I arrived and found out it was the beginning of rainy season. But, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that travelling during wet season actually comes with a few benefits…
Here are a few things I’ve learnt about travelling around Indonesia during the rainy season:
1. It is still incredibly beautiful:
You can wake up to mist-covered volcano tops in the morning, but end the day with striking clear skylines for sunset. While the sun still shines throughout the majority of the day, it’s likely you’ll see some afternoon rain. The skies become a dramatic shade of silvery grey and anthrax that sit low in the sky and cool down the scorching temperatures for a little while. When the heavens are done, the clouds part and the sun returns.
2. The locals are prepared:
Local women will carry umbrellas of the most beautiful colours – between the grey skies, women and children with their traditional hand-printed batik skirts and silk hijabs make for the most colourful backdrops
3. Renting an umbrella costs about 50p:
Yup, this rainy season accessory can put you back the grand price of 50p to start exploring the Prambanan Temple. Don’t bother haggling, you’ll love this thing to pieces when the heavens open and you’ll even offer to buy it from vendor. True story: the vendor turned down the offer and said he’ll make more money renting it today than to sell it to me.
4. Expect delays:
The weather can disrupt travel significantly, so if you have internal flights planned, or long bus journeys try to have as much flexibility as possible. Don’t stress, grab an amazing Indonesian coffee and enjoy the people watching. Or, do what I do and opt for an hour-long reflexology massage!
5. You will save money:
Unless you’re travelling to Indonesia just for the beaches and topping up a tan, there’s really is no reason why you can’t travel during the rainy season. There is plenty to see and do across Indonesia that doesn’t require dry weather. Internal flights off-season are cheaper – last minute flights booked from Jakarta to Yogyakarta cost about £25. Accommodation will also be cheaper, but an on-the-spot taxi to get you out of a downpour might cost a bit more. Depends on how willing you are to get soaked!
6. Pack for the weather:
Even with very little preparation ahead of this trip, I managed to bring the right gear! Java is far more conservative than neighbouring island Bali, so be prepared to have shoulders and knees covered at all times. This meant that I opted for maxi-skirts and elephant pants for most days. I would tie a knot in my maxi shirt when the weather turned to avoid having the hem trail in puddles, and opted for my trusty Converse to avoid muddy toes too! I also brought a light wind-breaker coat for the more adventurous activities like the night hike on the Ijen Crater.
7. Expect voluminous hair:
I recently went for a considerable hair chop (I cut of 8 inches off for charity – please see The Little Princess Trust if you would like to do something similar!) and it was the first time travelling with a messy ‘lob’. Humidity during the wet season is obviously going to be very high, and boy was my hair voluminous. I had some sea-salt spray that I would put in overnight that would keep it tame for the morning, but as soon as the rain came, my hair expanded. Let’s just say I had an involuntary ‘electric shock’ look for a lot of the trip!
8. Some activities might be suspended:
Ideally, don’t book any activities like hikes, surf lessons or snorkelling trips too far in advance. The bad weather could suspend the activity for safety reasons (no one wants to be snorkelling in a storm!) and you may not be refunded. Keep an eye on the weather and book on short notice if you can.
So with a little preparation you can still have a great trip to Indonesia in the wet season – just be open to the idea getting a little bit wet sometimes! Have you ever travelled during the rainy season? Share your top tips for travelling through Indonesia or Asia in the wet season in the comments below!