From markets and boutique shops, to farms, shopping centres and rice fields, there are plenty of places to find the best souvenirs from Indonesia. You just have to know where to look, which is where my guide to souvenir shopping in Indonesia comes in handy.
If you’re travelling to Indonesia, you’re probably already aware how interesting and beautiful the country is. It’s full of temples and shrines, stunning beaches, rice paddies and rainforests… It’s also a fairly cheap place to travel around (minus the flights to get there), which makes it easier to see all the different cities and landscapes.
But along the way, you’ll undoubtedly want to buy things to take home. It could be traditional Balinese clothing or puppets and musical instruments found in Indonesian theatre. Or of course it could be local tea, coffee, spices and other tasty goods.
Indonesia is famous for so many different things, it can be hard to pick and choose what to take home with you. But this list of the best souvenirs from Indonesia are items that usually travel well and are iconic of the archipelagic state. That way you can bring home the best Indonesian souvenirs to remember your trip at home (or at least til the coffee and chocolate runs out).
The Best Souvenirs to Buy from Indonesia
From spices and sauces to fabrics, puppets and daggers, you’ll find all sorts of souvenir ideas from Indonesia that make for great mementoes or gifts.
1. Batik clothing from Indonesia
Batik is the national cloth of Indonesia – it even has its own holiday, with Batik Day taking place on the 2nd October every year. It’s a form of wax-resist dyeing that’s repeated over and over again to create elaborate designs and different colours.
Java, Indonesia’s capital, is the birthplace of the technique, so if you’re travelling there, it’s worth stealing a bit of its heritage with Batik clothing, accessories or other textiles. You can also find Batik textiles in most of Indonesia if you aren’t passing through Java though.
2. Wayang puppets from Indonesia
If you happen to watch any Indonesian theatre, you might be able to see Wayang Puppets in action!
Also born in Java, the puppet is made of leather and used to create shadows (wayang). They’re a great souvenir from Indonesia if you’re looking for something for children, or if you’ve seen a show yourself.
3. Keris, or kris daggers from Indonesia
Referred to as Keris in Indonesia, these are small swords or daggers that were often used in ceremonies or rituals. They’re asymmetrical, wavy blades, which have a dual nature of being a weapon and a talisman. Keris, or kris daggers, are believed to have magical powers providing either good luck or bad luck (let’s hope you get a good one).
If you’re buying a Keris as a souvenir from Indonesia, just make sure you put it in your hold luggage. Taking a renowned battle weapon in your pocket on the plane doesn’t bode well for getting through security!
4. Luwak coffee from Indonesia
This is one of the most unusual types of coffee out there – or coffee-making processes I should say, Luwaks are animals a bit like weasels who eat the coffee cherries and then defecate them, fermenting them as they pass through their intestines. Farmers then use these fermented, defecated beans to create Luwak coffee.
It’s a very, VERY distinctive kind of taste – a little earthy and syrupy, but most find it quite nice.
Although this is a traditional form of coffee in several regions in Indonesia, there are lots of concerns about the over-farming of Luwaks and how they are treated/kept. If you want to try the coffee and buy some as a souvenir, make sure it’s from a reputable and ethical plantation.
5. Topeng mask
If you want one of the best souvenirs from Indonesia that shows off the culture and arts in the country, a topeng mask is a great choice. This is a kind of mask used in traditional Indonesian dances and theatrical performances, and can be made from all sorts of materials. They’re usually wooden, but often have feathers, hair or other details.
Topengs are used in a similar way to other theatrical masks, where they represent different characters or emotions. In Indonesia, they’re often used to symbolise gods, kings and villains. So if you’re buying one as a gift, make sure you find out which Topeng you’re giving.
6. Indonesian tea
Indonesia ranks as the world’s sixth-largest tea producer. The journey of tea cultivation in the country can be traced back to the Dutch colonial era in the 1700s. Although tea production declined post-World War II, it came back bigger in the 1980s.
Indonesian tea is often black tea, but the country does also produce green and oolong varieties. Java is well-known for black and oolong tea, meanwhile Bali is great for picking up green tea. However, you’ll likely be able to find local teas no matter which part of Indonesia you visit.
Another souvenir for anyone who likes tea could be an Indonesian tea cup decorated in traditional patterns.
7. Traditional Indonesian music instruments
Instruments like the angklung or gamelan can be some of the best souvenirs from Indonesia to take home. However, if you’re not planning to pay a fortune for a special luggage, opt for the angklung over the gamelan.
An angklung comes from the Sundanese community in Indonesia. Comprising multiple bamboo tubes secured to a bamboo frame, each tube is crafted to produce a distinct pitch upon being shaken. These pitches are tuned in octaves, much like the arrangement found in Western handbells. You might be able to find small versions to take on a plane.
On the other hand, a gamelan is more like an ensemble of instruments that might be hard to squeeze back on a flight (see below). Other travel-proof musical souvenirs from Indonesia include a suling, gengceng and (small) drums.
8. Indonesian paintings
The earliest examples of Indonesian art can be traced back to prehistoric cave drawings found in areas such as Sulawesi. Today, you can find lots of different art, from Wayang Beber scroll paintings to Islamic-inspired Minangkabau paintings.
Both old and modern forms of art can be found in galleries across Indonesia. You’re just as likely to see a centuries-old Wayang Beber scroll as you are a modern interpretation of the same.
Taking Indonesian artwork home as a souvenir is a beautiful way to cherish memories of your trip. By acquiring authentic Indonesian art, you’re not just bringing home a piece of decor but also supporting local artisans and keeping age-old crafts alive.
9. Handwoven Ikat Fabric
Ikat, which literally translates to ‘tie’ in the Indonesian language, is a weaving technique used locally in the country. It involves dying threads before they’re woven, which turns them into interesting patterns. Although it’s slightly similar to batik, it’s the dying of the threads beforehand that creates a sort of blurred look.
You can find ikat fabric around the world these days, but it does originate in Indonesia. This makes it one of the best things to buy from Indonesia, as you’re getting it from the place that started it all. Like batik, you can find ikat fabric used in lots of things likes scarves, table runners, wraps and everything else.
10. Ceramic pottery from Lombok Island
Lombok Island is an Indonesian archipelago located fairly close to Bali – lots of people visiting Bali will also check it out too. If you do happen to visit Lombok, you’ll be able to find beautiful ceramic pottery.
Penujak Pottery Village is supposedly the oldest of its kind on the island, and apparently 70% of locals there work as pottery artists. So if you’re after something unique and emblematic of the Lombok community, you can find the best souvenirs from Indonesia here. They even do guided tours if you want to learn more and try making your own too!
11. Peanut Satay Sauce
If you’ve ever had pad thai you’ll be well aware of this kind of sauce. It might not be the best Indonesian souvenir for everyone, but if you love it, then you need to pick some up.
Made primarily from roasted peanuts, the sauce is blended with a medley of spices, coconut milk, and occasionally a dash of tamarind for that tangy note. It’s traditionally drizzled over skewered grilled meats, but can also be used as a dipping sauce for spring rolls, a dressing for salads, and more.
Yes, you can buy it back home, but it’s something that’s representative of Indonesian cuisine and also makes for a great gift.
12. Indonesian essential oils
Indonesia is one of those countries where you feel very at one with nature, wellbeing and relaxing. It’s probably because it has such beautiful natural beauty and delicious but healthy everywhere that you can’t help but feel good. One way to channel this back home is by taking home some of the locally-produced essential oils back home.
It produces essential oils like clove, patchouli, and citronella that are of high quality. Clove and patchouli can both be used for toothache or gastrointestinal and respiratory complaints, as well as smelling good. And citronella is one of the smells of summer (for me at least), where you typically burn it to repel mosquitos.
Best souvenirs from Indonesia
It can be difficult to know what to take home with you when you travel – especially when it’s a place like Indonesia that has so many amazing things to pick up. But instead of buying any old key chain, fridge magnet or t-shirt, why not get something that shows off Indonesian culture and local produce?
My list of the best souvenirs from Indonesia includes things that the country is known for and the work of local artisans, manufacturers and farmers. They’re mostly travel-friendly too, providing you don’t decide to go all out and purchase a gamelan!
Whatever you decide to buy, make sure you enjoy your time getting to know Indonesia and all the things that makes the country so unique. If you’re only heading to Bali, then it’s worth reading my list of the best souvenirs to buy in Bali.
Quicklist of my top Indonesian souvenirs
- Batik clothing
- Wayang puppets
- Keris, or kris daggers
- Luwak coffee
- Topeng mask
- Indonesian tea
- Traditional Indonesian music instruments
- Indonesian paintings
- Handwoven Ikat Fabric
- Ceramic pottery from Lombok Island
- Peanut Satay Sauce
- Indonesian essential oils
What to buy as a gift in Indonesia?
When searching for the perfect gift in Indonesia, you’re really spoilt for choice given how many different things are on offer. Batik fabric is an easy one, known for its intricate patterns and use in lots of different items. You could also consider Indonesian jewellery, often adorned with local gemstones and featuring traditional designs.
Depending who the recipient is, you could also purchase Luwak coffee or local teas, which are produced locally in Indonesia. Lastly, the Wayang Kulit shadow puppets, essential to traditional performances, are good gift ideas for kids.
What products is Indonesia famous for?
Batik stands out as a UNESCO-recognised fabric art that is unequivocally Indonesian. The country’s coffee, particularly the famed Kopi Luwak, garners international attention and acclaim. The historical Spice Islands (Maluku) hark back to times when Indonesia was the world’s hub for spices, producing coveted treasures like cloves and nutmeg.
Indonesia is also famous for crafts like handcrafted pottery, especially the intricate designs from Lombok, and rattan products, such as bags or furniture. Additionally, regions like Kalimantan are known for their unique gemstones, which are sought after by jewellers worldwide.
What to bring back from Jakarta?
Jakarta is Indonesia’s bustling capital so has so many things to offer when it comes to shopping. Some of the best ideas include local artisan chocolates, or traditional Wayang puppets, which both offer a tangible piece of Jakarta.
The city is also a great place to buy clothes, where you can find local fashion items that blend modern styles with traditional Indonesian motifs.
Or for music-lovers, Instruments like the Sasando, though originally from the island of Roti, can be found in Jakarta’s vibrant craft markets. Moreover, the city’s streets are filled with vendors selling hand-made batik accessories, from ties to scarves, and anklet beads that encapsulate Jakarta’s spirit.
Are things cheap in Indonesia?
Compared to many Western countries, Indonesia is much more affordable when it comes to hotels, getting around, eating out and more. However, prices can still vary. Tourist hotspots might have higher prices, while local markets or less touristy areas might offer bargains. As always, it’s a good idea to compare prices and, where appropriate, negotiate.