(Updated December 19, 2019) Indonesia — long considered a haven for travelers from all over the world — is a great place to explore for first-time backpackers. With its endless wildlife, beautiful landscape, and tasty traditional meals, this string of tropical islands in Southeast Asia is not to be missed. Here are 7 tips to ensure you get the best out of the country when traveling as a vegan.
7 Tips for Travelling as a Vegan in Indonesia
1. Do Your Research Before You Go
Even if you’re normally the type of backpacker who likes to wing it, perhaps consider doing a little bit of prep before your trip to Indonesia. Whilst it’s great to do things on a whim, it doesn’t hurt to do a little bit of planning.
Bali — one of the most popular islands in Indonesia — is extremely vegan-friendly, with over 450 vegan-friendly restaurants listed on Happy Cow. Denpasar — the island’s capital city — is home to several plant-based businesses, including LN Fortunate Coffee, a vegan bakery and coffee franchise.
Ubud is one of the most vegan-friendly destinations in Indonesia — it’s home to more than 110 vegan-friendly restaurants. Jakarta in Java is also a good spot for vegan food, it’s home to locations of Loving Hut and Burgreens, a veggie Indonesian health food chain.
2. Learn Some Basic Key Phrases
If you’re going off the beaten path, or even if you’re sticking to more well-traveled areas, it’s sensible to learn some of the local lingo – particularly if you’re a vegan. It’s much easier to get your message across to a restaurant or cafe if you know some basic phrases. For example, “I don’t eat” in Bahasa, the national language of Indonesia, is “saya tidak makan.” Chicken is “ayam” and cheese is “keju.”
3. Don’t Be Street Food Shy
Street food may be the most vegan source of food you’ll find, and it’s cheap and tasty too. In places, such as Gili Trawangan — off the coast of Bali and Lombok — there are large night markets with many vegan options available. Noodles, rice, vegetables, tempeh, tofu, and many varieties of fruit are just some examples of the types of vegan-friendly foods on offer.
4. Pack Your Own Snacks and Home Comforts
Whilst it’s great to try the local cuisine as much as possible – if you find yourself in a place where vegan-friendly options are scarce, it’s always good to be prepared in advance so you don’t go hungry. Pack yourself a Vego bar, or five, as well as nuts, crackers or whatever else takes your fancy.
5. Consider Booking Through a Vegan Travel Agent
For less confident, or solo, vegan travelers, booking a trip with a vegan travel agent could save a lot of hassle and worry. Vegan travel agents, such as VegVoyages, specialize in taking away groups of like-minded people on ethical, green, cruelty-free, vegan trips. The organization runs trips to Bali, as well as other destinations in Asia. In this case, VegVoyages do all the research for you. So all you have to do is focus on filling up on all the delicious food your guide recommends, taking in the sights of Indonesia, and making new friends along the way.
6. Make Sure the Animal Attractions You Visit are Ethical Beforehand
Wherever you travel to, sometimes animals are exploited in the tourism industry. There’s nothing worse than the sinking feeling you get when you realize you’ve handed over some of your precious travel cash to a place that exploits animals, so do your research first. If you’re heading to Bali, the Bali Animal Welfare Association website is worth a scan. The association is helping to promote responsible tourism on the island and help travelers steer clear of cruel attractions such as Luwak coffee farms.
Find out more here.
7. Download an App to Help You on Your Way
When traveling across Indonesia, there can be many flights and/or bus journeys involved, this can be tiring and leave you eager to find somewhere quickly, to eat and relax, at the end of the journey. This is where an app can come in handy. Vegman and Happy Cow are examples of two apps that operate in Indonesia and will help you locate those vegan eats quickly. Simply type in the area, i.e., “Kuta” or “Seminyak”, and assess your vegan and veggie options.