I've partied in all the major cities in Indonesia (as well as in much smaller ones!) so I thought it could be useful to summarize everything I've learned in one article. Hopefully it will give you ideas for your next trip!

Without further ado, please find below the 12 best cities/regions for nightlife in Indonesia:

Jakarta is without any doubt the best city for partying in Indonesia. There are at least 20 decent nightclubs, more than 100 bars, and thousands of restaurants. The mindset is also quite liberal (at least in the upper class) and you'll find some wild venues like no other in the country (strip clubs, luxury massage parlors, etc). Since most of the clubbers are expats or wealthy Indonesians, you'll need to dress up and to spend quite a lot to have fun. If you are looking forward meeting beautiful women, Jakarta is fantastic too.

→ Most recommended venues: Jenja, Immigrant, Dragonfly, X2, Basque
→ Where to stay near the nightlife: Near Jalan Sudirman, near Sarinah or near Plaza Indonesia

South Bali
The South Bali region, from Kuta to Canggu and including Legian, Denpasar, Sanur and Seminyak, is a fun playground for party-goers. Each city has its own crowd: Young tourists in Kuta, regulars in Seminyak, expats in Canggu, Indonesians in Denpasar and older people in Sanur. It is a more laid-back and diverse than Jakarta, and naturally, it is mostly targeting foreigners.

→ Most recommended venues: Shishi (Kuta), La Favela (Seminyak), Vault (Canggu), Motel Mexicola (Seminyak)
→ Where to stay near the nightlife: Near Sky Garden (Kuta), near Double Six Beach (Legian) or near Jalan Oberoi (Seminyak)

Just 3 hours from Jakarta, Bandung is a major student town attracting Indonesians from all over the country. As such, it is home to a myriad of unpretentious bars and clubs, usually reasonably-priced and filled with enthusiast youngsters. People tend to party in groups there so bring friends with you and book a table. Girls from Bandung (Sundanese) are among the most beautiful in the country but they are not as free-spirited as the ones you'll meet in Jakarta.

→ Most recommended venues: Shelter, Sobbers, Southbank, Amnesia
→ Where to stay near the nightlife: Near Jalan Braga

Even though Surabaya is the second largest city in Indonesia, it still retains a provincial atmosphere. Foreigners are very rare, meaning you will get plenty of attention from girls. Compared to Bandung, the crowd is older and more wealthy. Clubs are often targeting groups of males, with sexy dancers shows and ladies that can be booked for companionship.

→ Most recommended venues: Top 10 Coyote, M-One, Foreplay
→ Where to stay near the nightlife: Near Surabaya Town Square or Near Tunjungan Plaza

Gili Trawangan
The tiny island of Gili Trawangan is less than a 2-hour boat ride from Bali. Every night, hundreds of Westerners in their 20s party in one of the beach cafés near the pier. Alcohol is cheap, probably because it is fake, and mushrooms/marijuana is easy to buy. It reminds me a lot of the nightlife in some Thai islands (Koh Phangan, Koh Phi Phi).

→ Most recommended venue: Jiggy Bar
→ Where to stay near the nightlife: Near Gili Trawangan Harbour

Yogyakarta is both a student and a tourist town. As such, it boasts a rather large selection of nightspots, most of which are within a short perimeter from Jalan Malioboro.

→ Most recommended venues: Liquid, Boshe, Terrace, Sakapatat, Tap House, Sugar
→ Where to stay near the nightlife: Near Malioboro Street

Nagoya (Batam)
Batam nightlife is an odd mix of drug-ridden discos, shady massage parlors and deserted hostess bars. It could be much better but it is in the hands of a local mafia who is unable to take advantage of the location just 45 minutes from Singapore.

→ Most recommended venues: F1 Club, Square, Kampung Bule
→ Where to stay near the nightlife: Four Points by Sheraton (USD 80 per night) or the Planet Holiday (USD 35 per night) 

Tangerang nightlife is still quiet and limited to a few fun clubs. However, its proximity with Jakarta makes it obvious that things will improve over the next few years. A destination to watch!

→ Most recommended venues: Enigma, Clique
→ Where to stay near the nightlife: Serpong

Malang is my favorite city in Indonesia! The climate is not too hot, the girls are cute, it is not too polluted (yet), and the car traffic is reasonable. The town is a smaller version of Bandung, with an important student community. Most of the nightlife consists of laid-back live music pubs and cafés, but you also have a couple of modern nightclubs.

→ Most recommended venues: MyPlace, Hugo's, Smooth
→ Where to stay near the nightlife: Near Alun-Alun Kota

As a city geared towards the oil industry, you can't expect the nightlife in Balikpapan to be particularly sophisticated: Most bars and clubs are intended to help men find company for the night and that's it. A few recent openings are worth more than just a short visit, though.

→ Most recommended venues: Embassy, D'Luv, Le Centro Club, Penthouse
→ Where to stay near the nightlife: Near E-Walk Mall (Check on Agoda)

Similar to Balikpapan, Samarinda is also a town that developed thanks to the mining/oil & gas industry. People have money to spend, and you will be surprised by how swanky some nightclubs are. Unfortunately, all of them are hostess bars so you won't meet a normal girl easily on a night out.

→ Most recommended venues: Deja VuMuseCrowners, Celcius 
→ Where to stay near the nightlife: Near Citra Niaga Mall (Check on Agoda)

Semarang is the 5th largest city in Indonesia, but its nightlife is a bit underwhelming due to the lack of either tourists or students. One advantage is that you will certainly be the only westerner around.

→ Most recommended venues: Babyface, Sakapatat, E-Plaza, Liquid
→ Where to stay near the nightlife: Near Mall Ciputra

Read More: Semarang Nightlife

3 comments to '' Indonesia Nightlife: 12 Best Cities for Partying "

  1. Balikpapan, are you joking? Nightlife there died a slow death years ago. Also, Tangerang ahead of Batam? Really?

    1. Balikpapan 10th out of 12th... not a very good result... Tangerang is behind Batam, results are ranked from best to worst...

  2. As far as I know many places closed in Batam early last year and the beginning of this year