Straddling the equator between the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean lies Indonesia, the supposed sleeping giant of Southeast Asia. It neighbours Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Palau and the Philippines to the north, India to the northwest and Australia to the south. It also has land borders with Papua New Guinea to the east and Malaysia to the north. In short, Indonesia might as well be at the heart of Southeast Asia with its strategic placement and multitude of tourist offerings; travellers from all over the world will certainly enjoy.
Places to see and things to do in Indonesia
Indonesia is so popular among travellers because it’s got something for everyone – dreamy beaches, peaceful countryside, eco-friendly tours, museums full of history and culture, great clubs and bars, bargain shopping and great markets with everything imaginable, cheap eats and accommodation, fun activities and water sports, exotic wildlife and beautiful people. It’s close to home for Aussie travellers, and most of its regions welcome western tourists.
Begin your Balinese trip by flying into Denpasar, Bali’s main airport. Kuta is one of the most well-known and popular places to visit for party-going travellers because of its downtown party atmosphere, restaurants, bars, clubs and shops, as well as it’s (very crowded) beaches. It’s the main tourist strip, and you’ll have to deal with hawkers everywhere, even as you’re trying to relax on the beach. You’ll be in good company with fellow backpackers and young travellers from all over the world living it up here!
However, if you want a quieter place to stay with cleaner beaches and beautiful scenery surrounding you, head a little further north, out of Kuta, to Seminyak, where you can relax a little more, but still be in close proximity to all the local sights and sounds.
Travel inland to Ubud and you’ll find spectacular forests and mountains overlooking rice paddies and huts. Visit the elephant and monkey sanctuaries or shop in the local markets peddling every kind of Balinese ware, as well as fortune tellers and medicine men. Leave from here for local walks and eco-friendly adventure trails if that’s your thing.
A UNESCO world heritage site, the island of Komodo, with its clean blue seas and gigantic mountains provides the perfect environment for those looking to have a relaxing holiday. You can go scuba diving and take a geeze at the worlds richest marine life. Komodo island is one of the only places in the world you can get up close and personal with the Komodo Dragon as these lizards dominate the islands ecosystem, hence the name.
Looking for a bit of a thrill? Head down to Ancol Dreamland, located on Jakarta’s waterfront in Ancol bay city. It’s Jakarta’s answer to Disneyland, divided into several sections including the main attraction Fantasyland (Dunia Fantasi), an amusement park filled with rollercoasters and other thrill rides, as well as games and the classics like the Ferris wheel. Then there’s Seaworld, home to South East Asias largest aquarium. Next to Sea World lies Gelanggang Samudra where you can catch a live dolphin show, aswell as experiencing the 4D theatre. To top it all off you can hit up Festival Beach, where you can sit back on the beach and grab a bite to eat, or if you’re not ready to relax you can hire a jet ski or some fishing gear. Spoilt for choice!
Explore the main streets and narrow alleys of this region in central Java. Because of its uniqueness it’s one of the main tourist hubs in Indonesia. If sight seeing is your thang then you can check out the ancient Hindu Prambanan Temple. Unearth the secrets of this region and Hike the ruins to Mount Merapi, where you can see the ruins of the recent volcano eruption in 2010. Shop the streets of Malioboro and at the Beringharjo market. Last but not least you can’t leave without trying the most famous dish in Yogyakarta, a stew made from young jackfruit (nangka) with palm sugar, coconut milk, meat, garlic and spices.
This is one of the most well-known islands in the Indonesian archipelago, and you can get here by sea or air from Bali. Surfers can ride some of the best waves in the world here, and divers can explore spectacular coral reefs. Trek through the jungles, or laze about on pristine beaches. You’ll get yourself a great hut or villa with meals and fresh water that’s affordable, as well as local guides, but make sure you agree on a price beforehand. Take a day trip to one of the famous Gili Islands which are meant to be surrounded by magic circles that you can’t leave once you’re in. Get lost and get wrecked in Lombok!
This place is friendly and welcoming to all travellers, and you’ll be greeted with local warmth and customs everywhere you go. It’s like the place that time forgot in some of the more remote parts of this island. Pulau Weh, a volcanic island in the north, and the Mentawai Islands in the south, just off the main coast, will both give you an experience of a lifetime, with endless days of blue skies, sunshine, clear waters, soft white sand, local drinking huts, traditional and western food, diving, surfing, snorkelling, trekking, or just doing nothing. Ask around at your hotel, backpackers’ hostel or with your local tourist guide to find out about where the best local hang-outs are and where traditional tribal ceremonies are held. You’ll be running wild with the natives by the end of your visit.