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Embark on an incredible journey to discover the wonders of Indonesia’s vibrant and captivating culture. Each step brings you closer to a treasure trove of glorious traditions, mesmerizing art forms, and age-old customs passed down through generations.
As you travel through this awe-inspiring archipelago nation, breathtaking landscapes await you, from lush emerald rice terraces to towering volcanoes cloaked in mist. Here is the ultimate Indonesia travel guide to make the most of your visit.
Immerse yourself in the kaleidoscope of experiences that Indonesia features. Delve into ancient temples steeped in history or venture into pristine jungles teeming with exotic wildlife. Savor the tantalizing flavors of Indonesian cuisine, a fusion of aromatic spices and fresh ingredients that will leave your taste buds wanting more.
Let our meticulously curated list be your guide as you navigate through this captivating country. Every moment of your visit will be filled with unforgettable memories and heartwarming encounters.
The first part of this Indonesia travel guide will cover places to visit and things to do. Then, we’ll provide an in-depth guide to cover other travel planning considerations such as accommodation, getting around, and tips for maximizing your experiences.
- Best Things to Do in Indonesia
- 1. Tanah Lot
- 2. Borobudur Temple
- 3. Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park
- 4. West Bali National Park
- 5. Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
- 6. Dieng Plateau
- 7. See Komodo Dragons Up Close
- 8. Find Paradise on the Gili Islands
- 9. Pura Tirta Empul
- Where to Stay in Indonesia
- How to Get Around in Indonesia
- Travel Tips for Visiting Indonesia
- Learn a Few Basic Indonesian Phrases
- Respect Local Customs and Attire
- Be Aware of Local Wildlife
- Master the Art of Negotiation
- Savor Local Cuisine
Best Things to Do in Indonesia
1. Tanah Lot
Venturing through Indonesia’s vast and diverse landscapes is a journey that will enchant and inspire you with awe-inspiring destinations. The remarkable beauty of the renowned Tanah Lot in Beraban, Kediri, Tabanan Regency, Bali, is an amazing natural feature that can’t be overlooked.
This magnificent Hindu temple stands on a rocky outcrop, facing the crashing waves and embracing the power of the ocean with stoic pride.
With a history that dates back to the 16th century, Tanah Lot holds profound cultural and religious significance for Indonesians and visitors alike. It’s a sacred site where ancient rituals are performed, and spiritual seekers find solace in its divine presence. As the sun sets, casting its golden hues upon the temple and landscape, you can witness a captivating spectacle of nature’s artistry.
Beyond its captivating beauty, Tanah Lot offers an opportunity for visitors to delve deeper into Indonesia’s rich tapestry of traditions and beliefs. Embarking on a journey to this temple provides a gateway to understanding Balinese Hinduism, immersing oneself in rituals that have withstood the test of time.
The rhythmic chants of prayers echo through the air as devotees pay homage to their gods, enveloping visitors in an ethereal ambiance that transports them to another realm.
As you explore every nook and cranny of this sacred place, you will be captivated by its architectural grandeur. Intricately carved stone structures stand as testaments to human craftsmanship and devotion. Meandering through its pathways allows one to marvel at the remarkable fusion of human ingenuity with nature’s raw beauty.
Besides its spiritual allure, Tanah Lot also offers an array of experiences catering to various interests. Adrenaline junkies can brave the ocean’s might by venturing onto nearby beaches for exhilarating surf sessions or embarking on daring cliff jumps into crystal-clear waters below.
Nature enthusiasts can revel in the vibrant biodiversity in this coastal island paradise, exploring hidden coves and exotic flora and fauna.
To truly appreciate the wonders of Tanah Lot, one must embrace its soul-stirring charm and immerse oneself in the rich tapestry of Indonesian culture. Delve into the local traditions, indulge in authentic culinary delights, and engage with the warm-hearted locals who embody the true spirit of this remarkable nation.
With each step you take on this sacred land, you embark on a transformative journey that forever leaves an indelible mark on your heart and soul.
2. Borobudur Temple
The Borobudur Temple in Central Java is a magnificent testament to Indonesia’s rich history and culture. This Buddhist temple complex was constructed in the 9th century and is a true masterpiece, with stunning architecture and intricate details that captivate visitors. The temple comprises six square platforms gracefully topped by three circular platforms, making it a marvel.
Every inch of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is adorned with exquisitely carved walls and fences, showcasing the immense skill and craftsmanship of the artists who worked on it. The carvings depict various scenes from Buddhist teachings and stories, immersing visitors in a world of ancient wisdom and spirituality.
As the world’s largest Buddhist temple, Borobudur attracts tourists from all over the world. Its grandeur creates a sense of wonder and reverence, offering a unique opportunity for travelers to connect with history and spirituality. Each platform represents different stages of enlightenment, symbolizing the spiritual journey one must undertake to attain nirvana.
Exploring Borobudur is an adventure in itself. As visitors ascend through each level, they are greeted by breathtaking panoramic views of the lush green landscapes surrounding this sacred place. The serenity permeating the temple complex invites contemplation and introspection, making it an ideal destination for those seeking tranquility and inner peace.
Beyond its architectural beauty, Borobudur is a popular destination and a cultural hub. Various ceremonies and events are held here annually, allowing visitors to witness Indonesia’s vibrant traditions and rituals firsthand. These cultural celebrations enchant a wonderful site, from colorful processions to traditional dances and performances.
To truly appreciate Borobudur’s splendor, it is advisable to visit during sunrise or sunset when golden hues bathe the temple complex in an ethereal glow. Watching as daylight slowly illuminates this ancient marvel or witnessing the sun’s descent behind its grand silhouette creates an unforgettable and mystical experience.
3. Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park
The Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) Cultural Park in Bali is an exceptional destination that offers a vast range of captivating experiences. At the park’s heart stands an impressive statue of the revered Hindu god Vishnu, perched gracefully atop the mythical Garuda bird. This colossal piece of art stands an impressive 121 meters tall, making it one of the tallest statues on Earth.
As you explore this remarkable cultural haven, you will immerse yourself in a world where history and myth blend seamlessly into local life. The park not only boasts the top attractions as the awe-inspiring statue, but also hosts many cultural performances, exhibitions, and recreational activities. These offerings provide a deep insight into Indonesia’s rich heritage and artistic prowess.
Witnessing the grandeur and intricacy of GWK Cultural Park is truly a treat for the senses. From traditional dance performances that showcase graceful movements and vibrant costumes to mesmerizing music recitals that transport you to another realm, every moment spent within these grounds is filled with wonder.
Moreover, visitors can explore the park’s numerous exhibitions highlighting various aspects of Indonesian culture. Art enthusiasts will be enthralled by the displayed works, which beautifully depict traditional and contemporary themes from diverse cultures. Meanwhile, history buffs can delve into informative exhibits illuminating Bali’s fascinating past and its significance within Hindu mythology.
Participate in one of the many interactive activities to enhance your experience at GWK Cultural Park. Whether trying your hand at traditional arts and crafts or immersing yourself in workshops that teach age-old techniques, there are ample opportunities to engage with Indonesian culture firsthand.
The beauty of GWK Cultural Park extends beyond its artistic marvels; it also offers breathtaking views of Bali’s natural landscape. Nestled amidst lush greenery and commanding vistas, this peaceful oasis provides a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
4. West Bali National Park
If you’re a nature lover, visit the stunning West Bali National Park on the northwestern tip of Bali. This enchanting and well-maintained area is home to various flora and fauna, offering a rare opportunity to immerse oneself in nature’s beauty fully.
The park plays a vital role in protecting the endangered Bali Starling, an exquisite bird that has found refuge within the park’s boundaries. Observing these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat is truly amazing and emphasizes the significance of safeguarding our fragile ecosystems.
As you wander further into the park, you’ll be surrounded by lush mangroves, sprawling forests, and pristine sandy beaches. The melodic sounds of birds singing fill the air as you stroll along tranquil walking trails, creating an ambiance that transports you to a world unspoiled by human intervention.
Bird enthusiasts will be delighted with the plethora of species in the park. From brightly colored kingfishers to graceful herons, there is an abundance of avian marvels to behold. With binoculars ready, every step reveals new surprises and feathered wonders.
For those who crave adventure, West Bali National Park offers endless opportunities for exhilarating treks through beautiful country, wild jungles, and dense forests. The lush foliage provides shade from the tropical sun as you traverse winding paths brimming with life. Keep your eyes peeled for monkeys swinging through treetops or deer grazing peacefully amidst nature’s splendor.
If diver’s paradise you prefer to explore the diver’s paradise underwater, take advantage of the crystal-clear waters surrounding this coastal gem. Snorkelers will be thrilled with the vibrant underwater kingdom bustling with colorful marine life. Explore pristine coral reefs teeming with tropical fish or encounter graceful sea turtles gliding effortlessly through their aquatic domain.
5. Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud, Bali, is an enchanting place that offers visitors a unique and memorable experience. Nestled in the heart of Ubud, this sanctuary is home to mischievous yet fascinating long-tailed macaques and boasts magnificent Hindu temples and lush greenery that add to its charm.
Upon entering the sanctuary, one is immediately transported into a world where humans and monkeys coexist harmoniously. The macaques roam freely among the towering trees, swinging from branches and entertaining visitors with playful antics. It’s a sight that always brings smiles to everyone visiting this place.
But the sanctuary is more than just a haven for these lovable creatures. It is also an important site for cultural exploration.
Ancient Hindu temples within their premises highlight Balinese culture’s strong connection between religion and nature. Visitors can marvel at intricately carved stone structures adorned with vibrant flowers and offerings by devotees.
Walking through the sanctuary’s pathways, surrounded by lush greenery, it becomes evident why it has become such an essential destination for animal enthusiasts and those interested in Balinese culture. The serene atmosphere provides a soothing escape from the bustling streets of Ubud, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in nature’s beauty.
For those eager to interact with the monkeys, there are designated areas where visitors can feed them under the watchful eyes of knowledgeable staff members. This allows for up-close encounters with these intelligent creatures while ensuring their safety and well-being.
In addition to offering a captivating experience for tourists, the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary plays a vital role in conservation efforts. The sanctuary works tirelessly to protect the macaques and their natural habitat from deforestation and illegal wildlife trade threats. They also research macaque behavior and participate in educational programs promoting environmental awareness.
6. Dieng Plateau
If you’re looking for a serene and picturesque destination in Indonesia, look no further than the magnificent Dieng Plateau. Situated in Central Java, this breathtaking volcanic region is a haven of tranquility and natural beauty. As you explore the Dieng Plateau, you’ll be captivated by its ancient temples, vibrant volcanic lakes below, and surreal landscapes that seem to transport you to another world.
One of the main attractions of the Dieng Plateau is its collection of ancient temples. These historical gems date back to the 8th century and provide a fascinating glimpse into Indonesia’s rich cultural heritage.
Each temple boasts intricate carvings and unique architectural styles that showcase the skilled craftsmanship of the past. Walking among these ancient structures, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe and wonder at their grandeur.
Another highlight of the Dieng Plateau is its colorful lakes. The most famous is Telaga Warna, or “Colorful Lake.”
As its name suggests, this enchanting body of water changes hues throughout the day, ranging from a pink beach deep blue to emerald green. It’s truly a sight to behold! Surrounding the lake are lush green hills that create a picturesque backdrop, making it an ideal spot for photography enthusiasts.
But it’s not just temples and lakes that make the Dieng Plateau so special; it’s also the otherworldly landscapes that are unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
The area is dotted with geothermal landmarks such as bubbling mud pools and steaming vents, giving it an ethereal atmosphere. As you hike through these surreal landscapes, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into another dimension where nature reigns supreme.
One thing to note about visiting the Dieng Plateau is its chilly temperatures. Located around 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) above sea level, this highland region experiences cooler weather than other parts of Indonesia.
7. See Komodo Dragons Up Close
If you’re keen on experiencing the awe-inspiring Komodo dragon up close, visiting Komodo National Park is a must. This spectacular park is home to some of the world’s most iconic creatures, offering visitors a unique and unforgettable adventure.
When planning your trip to Komodo National Park, remember that weekend admission is available at a more affordable rate of 150000 DR. This affordable accommodation makes it possible for even more people to explore this natural wonder and discover more about these fascinating reptiles.
Once inside the park, you’ll have the rare chance to observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. From their impressive size and strength to the incredible creatures and unique behaviors and characteristics, there’s much to discover about the Komodo Dragon.
Don’t miss the opportunity to take incredible photos and create cherished memories as you witness these prehistoric creatures up close. Always adhere to the safety guidelines and stay within designated viewing areas for a safe and responsible experience. Immerse yourself in the beauty of this protected area and marvel at the wonders of nature as you encounter Komodo Dragons like never before.
8. Find Paradise on the Gili Islands
The Gili Islands are an incredible addition to any Indonesian trip, offering a perfect side excursion for travelers. Among these islands, Gili Meno stands out with its picturesque beauty.
It is home to Turtle Point, where turtles are frolicking in their natural habitat. Another island worth exploring is Gili Tawangan, fondly known as Gili T, renowned in Malaysia for its white sand beaches and its nightlife scene.
One thing to remember while visiting the Gili Islands is that their white sand beaches are adorned with magnificent coral formations. While this adds to the charm of these islands, it also means that walking barefoot may not be the most comfortable option unless you have a well-thought-out walking plan.
It’s advisable to bring along appropriate footwear so you can explore the stunning beaches without any discomfort. A boat trip to the Gili Islands is an excellent experience in Indonesia’s ocean lifestyle and beauty.
9. Pura Tirta Empul
Nestled in the charming village of Tampaksiring on the alluring island of Bali, Pura Tirta Empul holds a profound significance as a sanctuary of spirituality and purification. This sacred temple is adorned with natural springs with extraordinary purifying properties, drawing visitors from far and wide seeking solace and restoration within its hallowed grounds.
Upon stepping into this divine abode, one can feel the air imbued with tranquility and reverence. The rhythmic sounds of flowing water mingle with the whispers of ancient rituals performed here for centuries. It’s a place to fully immerse oneself in the rich tapestry of Balinese culture and customs.
Immersing oneself in the temple’s pristine waters carries deep spiritual significance. Symbolizing an act of cleansing, it purges not only physical impurities but also negative energies and emotions that may weigh upon the soul. Visitors partake in ritual purification ceremonies, guided by wise priests who impart blessings and prayers, infusing each moment with sacredness and meaning.
But Pura Tirta Empul is more than just a destination for spiritual seekers. It’s a gateway to discovering Indonesia’s captivating wonders, from exploring lush rainforests filled with exotic flora and fauna to marveling at breathtaking volcanoes that stand tall against the horizon.
Bask under the golden sun on pristine white sand beaches fringed by turquoise waters teeming with life, or lose yourself in bustling markets overflowing with textiles, intricate crafts, and tantalizing flavors.
Where to Stay in Indonesia
Selecting the ideal place to rest your head during your trip to Indonesia can be challenging simply because of the many choices available. The Indonesian archipelago covers an incredible amount of territory, equivalent to New York City to Los Angeles.
From luxury resorts to budget-friendly hostels, there is an accommodation option for every kind of traveler. As you plan your day trip to visit Indonesia, consider the following top accommodations to make your stay a memorable one:
- Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali
- Radisson Golf & Convention Center Batam
- Seminyak Icon, Bali
- The Hermitage, Jakarta
- Nihi Sumba Island, Sumba
- The Oppenheimer Villa, Seminyak, Bali
- Amandari, Ubud, Bali
- The Luxe Bali, Uluwatu, Bali
How to Get Around in Indonesia
Navigating Indonesia can sometimes be challenging, especially for first-time visitors. Being that the Indonesian islands cover so much territory, expect to take multiple forms of transportation in you plan on visiting other areas of the country or even other parts of Southeast Asia.
Depending on the region, transportation options vary, with options such as taxis, local buses, minibusses called bemos, horse carts, bicycle rickshaws, and motorbike taxis.
Consider renting a car or scooter to explore the islands at their own pace. Renting a car offers the flexibility to create your itinerary and discover lesser-known gems in Indonesia. RentalCars.com is an excellent resource for finding available rental car options in various regions of the country.
Travel Tips for Visiting Indonesia
Discovering the intricate dynamics of Indonesia might seem daunting at first, but with some preparation, you’ll find yourself quickly navigating this fascinating country. Embrace the unique blend of cultures, traditions, and landscapes that make Indonesia a compelling place to visit.
A vital part of any journey is ensuring you’re adequately insured abroad. Check out VisitorsCoverage.com to find the right coverage for your trip.
Learn a Few Basic Indonesian Phrases
Learning a few simple Indonesian phrases can go a long way when visiting Indonesia. Even though many locals speak English, particularly in tourist hubs, knowing some essential words and phrases can help to facilitate smoother interactions with locals, particularly in more remote areas.
A simple “Terima kasih” (thank you) or “Selamat pagi” (good morning) can brighten someone’s day and lead to more meaningful connections with the people you encounter during your travels.
Respect Local Customs and Attire
As Indonesia is home to people from various ethnic groups and religious backgrounds, adjusting your attire and behavior to respect local customs is crucial. Dress modestly when visiting sacred sites, such as temples and mosques, by covering your shoulders, chest, and legs. In predominantly Muslim areas, such as Aceh, it is advisable to dress conservatively and avoid public displays of affection.
Be Aware of Local Wildlife
Indonesia’s lush tropical landscapes are home to diverse wildlife, some of which may pose risks to unaware travelers. While exploring the country, be cautious around monkeys, as they can be aggressive and carry diseases like rabies.
Additionally, avoid touching or feeding animals in the wild, as these interactions can negatively impact their health and behavior. Respecting Indonesia’s natural environment will lead to a safer and more fulfilling experience.
Master the Art of Negotiation
Bargaining is an integral part of the shopping culture in Indonesia, particularly at traditional markets and roadside stalls. While you may initially feel uncomfortable haggling, mastering the art of negotiation can save money and deepen your understanding of the local culture.
Remain polite and friendly when bargaining, knowing when to walk away if you don’t reach an agreeable price. With practice, you’ll soon find yourself navigating Indonesian markets with ease.
Savor Local Cuisine
Indonesia’s culinary landscape is incredibly diverse, with each region bringing unique flavors and dishes. While you might be tempted to stick to familiar international chains, venturing into local eateries and street food stalls is the best way to experience Indonesia’s rich gastronomic heritage.
From rendang in Sumatra to babi guling in Bali, make sure to sample the local delicacies and flavor profiles. Your taste buds will thank you.
- About the Author
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.