Indonesia is one of the top destinations for travellers. It’s easy to see why — thousands of tropical islands with seemingly never-ending coastlines, sparkling seas, volcanoes, party islands and even dragons (of the Komodo variety).
Indonesia’s motto is ‘Bhinneka Tunggal Ika’ meaning Unity in Diversity, which neatly sums up the experiences you’ll have when visiting.
Cities to visit
Jakarta - A concrete jungle at first sight, it begs to be explored and will reveal hidden gems full of culture and history.
Kuta - A popular spot for tourists on the island of Bali, famous for its sandy beaches, party vibe and culture.
Surabaya - Called the ‘City of Heroes’ due to its part in cementing the Indonesian independence, today you can find monuments of this history along with tree lined streets, parks and European-style pavements.
Manado - An eastern gateway city to the islands and reefs of nearby Bunaken, Manado can be found on Sulawesi Island and is a popular spot for diving and snorkeling.
Medan - The capital of North Sumatra is a foodie’s delight, full of tasty dishes due to the diversity of the locals.
Mind, body, spirit
Indonesia is synonymous with cultural travel and soul searching. Relax your mind, body and spirit among the various Yoga retreats, health spas and even silent meditation retreats that are scattered among the beautiful countryside and coastlines.
Other popular destinations include the Buddhist Temple Borobudur located in Central Java. This temple is breathtaking, set among beautiful green rice fields and overlooking volcanic peaks. You can join in chanting with the monks during meditation. Another is the Tanah Lot Temple found in Bali. Famed for its unique offshore location — sitting on a rock, surrounded by the ocean – this Hindu shrine is unlike any other. Sunset is the best time to visit breathtaking view.
The Komodo dragon is the largest living species of lizard, weighing up to 70kg. An endangered species, it is found only on the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Gila Motang, Rinca and Flores. A dominant predator, the Komodo dragon is very dangerous as their fierce bite and bacteria-laden saliva rapidly cause blood poisoning. There is a stable population of around 5,000 dragons on these islands. Many tours provide visiting opportunities with professional guides — for your safety never travel to the islands alone.
This famous volcanic island is situated in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra. Krakatoa erupted in 1883, destroying two thirds of the island and unleashing huge tsunamis. Said to be the loudest explosion ever heard, the string of disasters took the lives of more than 36,000 people. After the eruption, a new volcano and island appeared and today this new volcano is called Anak Krakata or Krakatoa’s Child. Nearby, there is a marine park where visitors can snorkel and explore the colourful kaleidoscope of marine life.
Visit the equator
The equator or, as we like to call it ‘the longest straight line on the planet’, is a chance for travellers to simultaneously visit the northern and southern hemispheres. Pontianak, a city on the Indonesian side of Borneo, has an equator monument established by a Dutch geographer in 1928. Visitors to the monument can’t resist the urge to have one foot on either side of the planet at once.
Indonesia is a surfer’s dream, with its coral reefs, palm-lined beaches and beachside bungalows. The Mentawai Islands off the west coast of Sumatra are a particular favourite with dozens of world class surf spots. With great waves all year round, the most ideal time to surf is in the dry season when the Indian Ocean is more active and the weather is dry and sunny. Further east, Bali and Lombok have great surf spots. Bali receives the full force of the southern ocean swells and in Lombok you can find at least nine major surfing spots.
Party in Bali
Bali appeals to tourists due to its affordability and the opportunity to party all night and relax poolside by day. Full Moon parties, cocktail buckets and beachside bars in places like Kuta attract a younger, wild crowd while Seminyak with its upper class bars and expensive cocktails attracts a hipper and older group, including expats.
Two-thirds of Indonesia is made up of tropical rainforests, each with a diverse range of plants and animals living inside. From elephants to Sumatran tigers and endangered orangutans, you will be able to experience something unique. The world heritage site of the Tropical Sumatran Rainforest is one of the most interesting due to its ecosystem. Ten percent of the world’s flowering plants are found in Sumatra and it is one of two remaining places you can see orangutans in the wild. Spend a few days trekking out to see the orangutans, stay at an eco-lodge, learn survival skills or go rafting down a rainforest river.
Visit the Baduy
The Baduy village is a great way to ground yourself and see how people and nature can truly live in harmony. The Baduy are an ancient tribe located in the remote highland jungles of west Java. They have been isolated since the mid-1500s and live much like their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. Today through their controlled interaction with the outside world, they have been able to stay clear of headphones, iPods, electricity and vehicles. Access to the tribe is regulated, so you will need to join a tour to visit the Baduy.
Batik is the centuries-old Indonesian art of decorating cloth using wax and dye. In Java, Batik is part of an ancient tradition and some of the finest Batik cloth in the world can be found here. Yogyakarta, located in Java, is where Batik is at its brightest. Here, you can learn to create your own cloths, visit museums and purchase a professional cloth at the Batik markets.
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