The Southeast Asian country of Indonesia is made up of over 17,000 islands populated by hundreds of ethnic groups speaking many languages. From the bustling capital of Jakarta to the enchanting island of Bali, tourists flock to Indonesia every year to experience the country’s vibrant multi-cultural islands, its breathtaking natural beauty, and its mouthwatering cuisine.
A land of stunning volcanoes, scenic islands and exotic wildlife, Indonesia has plenty to offer when it comes to natural beauty. For visitors more interesting in experiencing Indonesian culture, the many museums, performance centers, and traditional eateries are sure to delight and intrigue.
Head to Bali to experience the stunning Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfalls. These are some of the most dramatic falls that Indonesia has to offer, and they were made more tourist-friendly in 2018. The waterfalls are now a short 20-minute walk from the car park, and the trail takes you through quaint villages and coffee farms. The falls, surrounding huts, and bridges also make for some excellent photographs for sharing.
The Kelimutu National Park on Flores has an abundance of breathtaking natural beauty. The volcanic Mount Kelimutu and its three different colored crater lakes are particularly worth visiting. Mount Kelimutu and its lakes are sacred to the native Lio people, who believe the souls of the dead travel to the lakes. Because of this belief, you can often see food and other gifts on the rocks surrounding the lakes. Be sure to walk up the steps to Inspiration Point, the highest lookout where you can see all three lakes at once.
The iconic Borobudur Buddhist Temple is a familiar sight to anyone familiar with photographs of Indonesia. The vast temple is located in Magelang in Central Java, and it's the largest Buddhist temple in the world. Borobudur was built in the 8th and 9th centuries and is ornately decorated with intricate stone carvings. Pay the extra fee to see the temple at dawn or dusk, and you’ll get to enjoy a magnificent view you’ll never forget.
If the bustling towns and villages have you feeling a bit overwhelmed, then head to peaceful Weh Island. This idyllic destination is the perfect place to rest, catch up on a book and soak up some sun. For those who want a little more excitement, Weh Island is also a top destination for diving. Explore the coral reef and unique marine life or enjoy a relaxing swim in the warm, clear water. In addition to swimming and diving, the island has an enticing jungle. Ideal for walks and taking in the local flora and wildlife.
Padang food comes from the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra, and it’s famous for being the most popular and best tasting cuisine in Indonesia. The cuisine is named after the West Sumatran capital city of Padang, and it always features some sort of curry, chili pepper, and rice. Padang dishes are often cooked using the gulai cooking method, where meat, fish or vegetables are slowly cooked in coconut milk. The most popular types of gulai dishes include a sour and spicy stew as well as rendang, a rich coconut and chili stew that can contain beef, chicken, duck or mussels.
If you’re looking to take in some Indonesian culture than you need to head to Ubud in Bali. The town in Bali is full of art museums, galleries and performance centers. Wander around the many streets and alleyways to find shops and market stalls selling wood carvings, handmade furniture and jewelry, art and even antiques. The Agung Rai Museum of Art is a must-see while you’re in the area. The museum offers rotating exhibitions as well as permanent collections of exceptional Indonesian art. There are also cultural classes and dance performances held at the museum.
No trip to Indonesia is complete without seeing the country’s most famous inhabitants. Indonesia is home to both the Sumatran Orangutan and the carnivorous Komodo Dragon. Head to Bukit Lawang to catch the Sumatran Orangutans in the wild and enjoy an amazing hike through the jungle while you’re there. To catch a glimpse of the local dragons, head to the Komodo National Park in the Lesser Sunda Islands.
The Gili Islands are as close to paradise as it gets. The islands welcome visitors with serene white sand beaches, crystal clear water and scenic coconut palms. These islands are the perfect place for swimming, diving or just relaxing on the beach. Take a speed boat from Bali and enjoy some of the best beaches Indonesia has to offer.
Adventure seekers will find what they’re looking for at Indonesia’s impressive Mount Bromo. The active volcano in East Java looms over the island at over 7,600 feet high. Pack some food and plenty of water and hike to the crater for an unbelievable view. The hike itself isn’t hard, but the walking surface is sandy and dusty, so it’s worth wearing a bandana or scarf around your face for protection. Make an extra effort to leave early for the hike so you can watch the sunrise from the top of the volcano.
Apart from its natural beauty, Bali is also known for the traditional Kecak dance. The dance is performed to the tune of men chanting rhythmically, and it is a truly dramatic performance. The Balinese Hindu dance began in the 1930s, and it tells the story of a legendary battle from the Ramayana. For an even more memorable experience, catch a sundown performance at the Uluwatu Temple.