Official language: Bahasa Indonesia with English being widely spoken in the touristic areas
Currency: Indonesian Rupiah
Welcome to the land of islands!
Scattered along a massive expanse of tropical seas, lies the beautiful Indonesia in all its glory, and with over 18,000 islands to explore, the sky is the limit for the adventure-hungry tourist. The islands of Indonesia are home to remote tribes, unhindered by the outside world, and species of animals that you have yet to discover. The Indonesian people, with their varied cultures make up one part of the Indonesian experience, the rest lies tucked away in the expanse of the archipelago on islands such as Borneo among the thousands. If you’ve ever dreamed of discovering your own island paradise, Indonesia would be the place to do it in. From white sandy beaches and emerald waters to the exceptional dive sites, the islands yearn to be explored by travelers from all walks of life. The fact that Indonesia is the third most populated country in the world means there’s A LOT of cultural exchanges on offer. Whether you dare to venture into the remote jungles to meet the animist tribes, or choose to be amazed by the Hindu kingdoms of Bali and Java, the possibilities are endless. Indonesia is home to the world’s most popular tropical escape, Kuta, and then there are also the volcanic islands to the east towards Australia with its lush rainforests. Don’t forget about possible Orangutan encounters on Sumatra or the island of Komodo, home to the world’s largest living reptile, the Komodo dragon. Get ready to hop your way across the islands with the ferries and flights that take you around the archipelago in this perfect escape in Southeast Asia! Indonesia is famous for its ton of tropical paradise islands, the popular Bali being an all-star. But it’s also well known for Sumatra - the one place in the world where Orangutans still roam free, its stunning landscapes, Komodo dragons and an abundance of adventurous activities for travelers from all walks of life.
Must see places in Indonesia
Bali is without a doubt truly a beautiful destination. There’s also a lot on offer like surfing at Bingin Beach, a visit to the Mother Temple of Pura Besakih, and traditional Balinses dancing on show in Ubud. You should know that Bali is much more expensive than the rest of the Indonesian islands, yet if you can afford it, make sure you stop by the capital, Denpasar, for an unforgettable shopping experience! Some of the best experiences in Bali include visits to Hindu temples, relaxing in the hot springs scattered across the islands, scuba-diving, relaxing at a day spa, partying in Kuta, taking a trip to the little offshore island of Nusa Lembongan and off course, Ubud Monkey Forest encounters.
It’s BIG, and it’s busy (with a population of 10 million strong), but the capital of Indonesia is a sight you cannot afford to miss. Enjoy some good old people-watching from one of the cafes with views out to Fatahillah Square in the Dutch quarter. The historic architecture on offer here is one of a kind. Jakarta is also where you’ll find some of the best (and the most extensive array) nightlife and restaurants Indonesia has to offer. If you want to get out of the hectic Jakarta scene, take the road 40 miles out to discover the tranquil Bogor Botanical Gardens, spread out over 200 acres of land. Here you’ll be able to witness the 15,000 species of plants and trees while you just kick back for a few hours.
The island of Java has a lot on offer for the avid traveler. From the volcanic Mount Bromo and its National Park to the tourist city of Yogyakarta with its historical sights, museums and entertainment venues, Java is not just a stop-over destination. Don’t forget about the small and secluded village of Kalibaru with its numerous plantations to explore.
The car-less islands of Gili offers you a laid-back beach paradise experience. You can see all its remarkable sights by bicycling or horse-and-cart rides. The islands consist of three small islands, Gili Trawangan,Gili Air and Gili Meno, and all three of them make excellent choices for backpackers and budget travelers. The Gili Islands is a more tranquil alternative to Bali with loads of great seafood and stunning beaches on offer. Whether you choose to go snorkeling or scuba diving or just want to lounge around the beaches, make sure you don’t miss out on the vibrant nightlife in Gili Trawangan!
If you’re ever dreamed of seeing the gentle Orangutan, Sumatra is the best place to do it! Sumatra is the Orangutan’s natural environment, and this is one of the last remaining places you can see these interesting and fascinating primates in the wild without the interference from the outside world.
If you’re keen for a serious culture trip, then the narrow streets, street foods and friendly people of Yogyakarta is just what you need. The great temples of Borobudur and Prambanan are located here, so it’s a hub for all things cultural and historical.
Tanjung Puting National Park - Borneo
Located on the island of Borneo in the Central Kalimantan province of Indonesia, the Tanjung Puting National Park is a must see place for eco-tourists and animal lovers alike. To get a little more background on the fauna and flora found in the park, you can visit anyone of the research centers. You’ll get the opportunity to see some wildlife including gibbons, macaques, clouded leopards, sun bears, pythons, crocodiles and orangutans.
If you’re going anywhere near Southern Sulawesi, you have to stop by Tana Toraja. This cultural island, hidden between the mountain peaks is as unique as they come. The traditional villages with their rich culture and gripping ceremonies are sure to fascinate and bedazzle travelers from all walks of life.
To get you in a more relaxed mood, a swim in the world’s largest lake might be what the doctor ordered. Lake Toba offers you an abundance of tranquil waters, peace and quiet and incomparable beauty.
Things to do in Indonesia
See the Komodo in the wild
The larger-than-life Komodo dragon can be seen in its natural environment in the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Komodo National Park on Komodo Island. This, by the way, is the ONLY place in the world where you can see the gigantic lizard in the wild.
Hit the waters in Bunaken
Bunaken National Marine Park is a diver-and-snorkeler paradise. With fantastic visibility in the deep waters, you’ll get to see some spectacular marine animals like tuna, sharks, manta-rays, turtles and sea snakes to name but a few.
Take a snap of Prambanan
Built in the late 10th century, this Hindu temple complex is as impressive as it is sacred, hence it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main temple measures in at a whopping 150 feet and boasts impressive architecture that will captivate you. Make sure you take your camera for this one! Surrounding the temple are also ancient statues scattered in the pristine area.
And don’t forget about Borodudur!
The massive Buddhist temple complex of Borodudur is older than Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and dates back to the 9th century. Just like Prambanan, Borodudur is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and showcases stunning reliefs that highlight Buddhist teachings.
Dare to see the volcanoes
Indonesia has no shortage of active volcanoes to explore…Mount Bromo and Kawah Iljen Crater Lake can be found on the island of Java. Halfway between Java and Sumatra lays Krakatoa, a sight you can see with just a short boat trip out to sea. Then there are also dormant volcanoes like Gunung Agung in Bali, Gunung Rinjani on Lombok Island and Keli Mutu on Nusa Tenggara Barat Island.
Explore the jungles
The Indonesian rainforest makes for one hell of a trekking experience! Irian Jaya, Kalimantan and Sumatra are where you’ll find the remotest terrain while some of the best trials include Bukit Barisan National Park in Sumatra and the Muller Mountain in Kalimantan. You might also want to consider a trip to the Ujong Kulon National Park in Java, best known for its elusive Java rhino.
Explore Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park in Java
Mount Bromo and its National Park is a top attraction on the island of Java, and with good cause! The Bromo volcano, surrounded with its lunar-like landscape of the Sea of Sand is a sight you won’t want to miss.
Best time to visit
Tourists travel to Indonesia from May to September
With a tropical climate, the weather varies highly from one area to another in Indonesia. June to September sees the dry season with the onset of the Eastern Monsoon. December through March is the wet season, when the Western Monsoon brings the most annual rainfall, although year-round rainstorms are normal. The higher regions are cooler, with average temperatures between 23°C and 28°C throughout the year coupled with high humidity. June to August is peak tourist season, so the prices of everything will be higher. If you travel between May and September you’re likely going to be paying less and might get lucky with the weather as well.
Did you know?
- Rijsttafel, a smorgasbord with 12 kinds of different meats, fish, vegetables and curry dishes
- Nasi goring, a fried spiced rice dish, considered Indonesia’s national dish
- Ayam goring, fried chicken
- Soto, a soupy broth with either chicken or beef
- Sambal, a hot chilli sauce that accompanies dishes in Indonesia
- Bakso, meatballs
- Sate, a dish consisting of either beef, fish, pork, chicken or lamb that is cooked on hot coal and then dipped in peanut sauce
- Rendang, a buffalo coconut curry from West Sumatra
- Gado-Gado, is a salad with raw and cooked vegetables with a peanut and coconut milk sauce
- Whenever locals offer you food or drink, it should not be touched until the host invites you to do so.
- The left hand is seen as unclean, therefore, never pass or accept anything with your left hand.
- Public displays of affection are frowned upon in Indonesia.
- Bargaining is a part of live in Indonesia, so just keep that in mind