11 Must Visit Places in Indonesia
According to National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN), the archipelago country is home to 460+ ethnic groups and 710+ languages. It’s also one of the largest countries in the world with over 18600+ incredible islands. Check out more facts about the nation here.
Deciding where to go to is tough, especially since some places are still unexplored but fortunately, this blog is on hand to help you plan your trip so that you won’t miss a thing.
The capital of Indonesia is commonly the first stop for tourists to the country. The city is layered with different cultures from Chinese, Arab, Indian, European and Javanese which has inspired much of its architecture, language and cuisine. It’s also the most diverse city in the country. According to Tripadvisor, it’s also home to more than 300 ethnic groups from all over the world.
A favourite spot to visit is the old town; here you can find a range of Dutch colonial buildings still intact. Chinatown is also a great location where you can try authentic local cuisine and probably the best too.
While the city itself is congested and noisy, there is still a heap of exciting activities to pursue. Rooftop bars and restaurants with fantastic views of the town, look for antiques down Surabaya street or go diving in the thousand islands (a few hours boat ride away). The national museum hosts many dioramas showing the history of the country, and it’s close to the iconic Monas, a symbol of the struggles of Indonesians.
2. Raja Ampat, Papua
Located in western part of Papua island, the archipelago of Raja Ampat is made up of more than 1500 small islands and islets, a dream for divers. The area has some of the most diverse natural habitats on earth, with over 1300 different species of fish, 530 species of coral and more than 700 species of mollusc. The islands are remote and hard to access however this is one of the biggest appeals about visiting.
3. Bali Beaches and the Royal Family
Bali beaches are famed for Australian surfers, yoga enthusiasts and party-goers. If you enjoy white sand beaches, then check out Kuta, Nusa Dua and Sanur. For hidden and lucrative shores then Uluwatu and Padang Padang are the obvious choices. In the north of Bali are black sand beaches with eerie looking coves to play hide and seek in. Bali is notorious for its diversity and friendliness with many expats living there after only visiting for a week.
Jane Gillespie is the most famous expat on the island. She used to be a kindergarten teacher back in Sydney. In 1978, she married a Balinese royal, Prince Tjokorda Raka (now is the head of Bali’s royal family). Since then, Jane Gillespie became Princess Asri. Her middle child, Prince Tjok Gus Kerthyasa married to Indonesia’s famous television star back in 2011. The family runs significant businesses on the island, including cafes and jewellery brand. If you’re coming to Biku cafe in Seminyak or Tulola design in Kuta, you might be able to meet one of the royals in person.
4. Lombok Island
Similar to Bali and recently becoming a more common tourist destination, Lombok Island is the hub for travellers who plan on going to the famous Gili Islands. Lombok is mainly laidback for backpackers, and the white sand beaches are considered one of the best surfing spots worldwide.
By flight, the island is approximately just 25 minutes away from Bali and 2 hours away from Jakarta.
5. Komodo National Park
The park is home to the largest reptile on earth, the Komodo Dragon. The dragon is native to Indonesia, and their home is based on only a few islands where you can see them in their natural habitat.
The national park is a protected site, it’s illegal to hunt or harm these monster creatures, and it’s not worth risking it either. Just one bite from their poisonous saliva or cut from their sharp claws is enough to land you in hospital. Of course, there are tour guides who will ensure you are within a safe proximity to observe them.
6. Tana Toraja
Also known as the “Land of The Heavenly Kings”, Tana Toraja is famous for its unique (and gruesome) burial rites. Whenever someone dies, the locals preserve the body for many years until there is enough money for the actual funeral.
During the Tomate festival, which can last up to a week, ritual dances are performed, and buffalo fights take place. Buffalos and pigs are slaughtered to help ferry the soul of the deceased into the afterlife. After this, the body is then placed in a small cave or left inside a hollow tree or a bamboo frame hanging off a cliff.
Apart from the festival, Tana Toraja is also known for cultivating rice, cacao, coffee and clove. Coffee from here carries a high reputation and visitors should try a cup.
7. Tanjung Puting National Park
The national park is famous amongst tourists because it’s one of the few places in the world where you can get up and close to orangutans. The area was initially declared a game reserve in 1935 but became a national park in 1982.
Animal lovers will get the opportunity to see clouded leopards, civets and Malaysian sun bears and there’s also 230 species of birds to check out too. Crocodiles, snakes and other threatened species are based here though you need to have a keen eye to spot them as you explore the rich forests and canopies.
The rare and highly endangered dragonfish lives in the park as well. According to the locals, dragonfish brings good fortune to anyone who owns one (hence why they are threatened).
8. Yogyakarta in Central Java
When it comes to arts, culture and cuisine, this spot on the island of Java is the place to visit. You can explore streets full of batiks, puppets and food vendors.
The city also has a lot of history with nearby temples and one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the country. Outside of the Hindu Prambanan temple, you can watch traditional dance performances paying homage to the greatest Hindu gods and goddesses.
9. Mount Krakatoa
One of the most famous volcanic islands in the world, Mount Krakatoa erupted in 1883, one of the most massive eruptions in recent times. The explosion was so profound that its boom could be heard in Australia and Burma. Nearby towns such as Banten and Anyer were destroyed with inhabitants too.
The volcano is still active and once a year it may have a significant eruption but nothing as bad as the one in 1883. The Krakatau islands are considered essential to scientists worldwide, mainly since it was the site of one of the most brutal natural disasters in the world. Tourists obviously can’t get too close, but there are a few locations within a safe distance where you can learn about the history and take a few fantastic photos of the volcano.
10. Lake Toba
The sizeable natural lake located on the island of Sumatra is also the largest lake in the country. If that’s not attracting enough, the lake is the site of a massive volcanic eruption that took place around 77,000 years ago. It’s thought that the explosion killed any humans living there at the time and it was so powerful that ash has found in Eastern Africa. Tourists can visit the lake and learn more about its history from tour guides who operate around the area.
11. Mentawai Islands Regency
Until the 19th century, the indigenous people were isolates due to strong winds, unpredictable currents and dangerously sharp reefs. The archipelago has thought to have separated from Sumatra about 500,000 years ago, resulting in flora and fauna unique to its location.
The islands are also home to an ultra-rare species of monkey called Simpai by the locals. Tourism, and in particular, surfers, flock to the island for its relaxing and laidback way of life. It’s worth a visit if you intend on spending some peace.
Of course, those destinations above don’t represent the beauty of the whole nation. There are still a lot of incredible places you can visit. It’s just list of my favourite destinations among others. What do you think folks? Do you have favourite destinations other than my list? Send it to me so that I can visit them next time.
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