Anthony Bourdain in Indonesia:
The Complete Country Guide
To say that Anthony Bourdain had strong feelings for – and about – Indonesia is an understatement. From his first visit, Bourdain was enthralled by Indonesia; its sights, smells, tastes, and history were fascinating to him and he hoped to both convey that to visitors at home and help protect it as one of his many “someday I might settle down here” spots.
Unfortunately, the inevitable march of progress and time changed Indonesia from the place he visited early in his career to one of the last places he ever visited before his death. It’s impossible to watch the two episodes that Anthony Bourdain filmed in Indonesia (No Reservations, season 2, episode 8/12* and Parts Unknown, season 12, episode 3) and not walk away sad – for both Tony and for the Indonesia he loved.
If you’re planning a trip to Indonesia and want to spend time in some of the places visited by Anthony Bourdain during his travels, this guide will help you get started. Below, you’ll find the cities, regions, and islands Tony visited, plus basic information about where he ate in each one. I’ve also added links to my other Indonesia guides to help you dive deeper and plan a Bourdain-inspired trip to a very special destination.
*The “Indonesia” episode of No Reservations comes up listed as both episode 8 or episode 12 depending on the source/streaming service.
Want to watch the episodes where Anthony Bourdain visits Indonesia?
The No Reservations episode is available on Amazon and Hulu. The Parts Unknown episode is available on Amazon, Hulu, and Apple TV.
Bali was perhaps the place where Anthony Bourdain most saw the impact of tourism during almost all of his travels. From his first visit in 2006 to his second and final visit in 2018, Bali changed dramatically – and almost entirely for the worse, by Tony’s estimate. In his attempt to find Bali as it was before hoards of yoga students, selfie-takers, and vacationers at cookie-cutter five-star resorts took over, he eats at a number of places well away from the hotel buffet:
If you have more insight into the places Tony visited in Bali or can help me confirm some of the ones I’m unsure about, please let me know on my Bali guide.
First, Anthony Bourdain watches some ram fighting somewhere in Garut Regency, a province in West Java. After a few rounds, he gets hungry and seeks out Nasi goreng – Indonesian-style fried rice – with sambal, a spicy chili paste that’s as ubiquitous in Indonesia as ketchup in the U.S.
Next, he stays at Kampung Sampireun, a nice resort where guests have their own water villas. As this visit was early in his career, this was likely a nice splurge – and came with a fun food experience too. In the morning, Tony was delighted to try pancakes delivered by boat – he dubbed it the “International Boat of Pancakes.” This dish was actually Serabi, small rice flour pancakes with brown sugar and coconut milk.
Finally, Bourdain sets out to tour Picnic Dodol, a candy factory, to learn how to make and enjoy dodol, a popular Indonesian caramel rice candy. It isn’t quite to his taste, and he instead snags a durian from a local vendor and enjoys snacking on that back at his hotel.
Tony visited the capital city of Jakarta during both of his on-screen visits to Indonesia, though he didn’t eat at many places in total. Here’s a list:
You can check my full guide to the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Jakarta for more details about each one and what he ate and drank there.
Other Food Experiences in Indonesia
I would be remiss if I didn’t include two other food experiences Anthony Bourdain had in Indonesia, even though these are not likely places you will be able to visit during your own trip. Both took place as part of filming Parts Unknown.
- First, Bourdain is joined by psycho-anthropologist Sir Lawrence Blair for a private lobster beach picnic on Nusa Penida, a former island penal colony off the coast of Bali. The two discuss mortality and Indonesian tradition, in advance of the episode’s finale at a traditional Indonesian funeral.
- Second, Tony sits down with Kadek Adidharma, who ended up providing the primary narration for the episode, at a food stall in advance of the funeral. We don’t know exactly where the funeral took place, the name of the restaurant, or what they ate, but it was the kind of conversation Bourdain was known for engaging deeply with and would have been lovely to hear with voiceover.
Have any questions about the different cities and regions visited by Anthony Bourdain in Indonesia? Or do you see an error I can correct? Please let me know in the comments below.