Indonesia is a massive country, with 6,000 of its 17,000 plus islands inhabited. Taking its size into account, it can be difficult to see everything here in a lifetime, let alone a holiday. Most foreign visitors head to Bali, well known for its traditional lifestyle and beautiful natural environment. However, no matter where you go, you will be able to enjoy quality food, the friendliness of locals, quality attractions and natural wonders.

The picturesque beaches and tiered rice fields of Bali are among the island’s main draws. This picture-perfect island has been welcoming tourists for decades and continues to do so despite recent terrorist attacks that have dented the tourism industry here. While most visitors like to spend their days lazing on the beaches, the hinterland offers some exciting activities among the lush forests including temple-hopping and trekking.

Few visitors to Indonesia give the capital the time it deserves, but those who can tolerate its pollution and chaos will be rewarded with modern amenities, interesting museums, a quaint old town and arguably the best nightlife in Asia. Also known as the 'big durian' - a fruit that some love and others hate – Jakarta is located in the northwest of Java and is a fascinating stop-off point for visitors on their way to other parts of the country.

These coloured lakes are a major tourist attraction due to the changing colours of their waters. The lakes, which have filled volcanic craters, provide visitors with a spectacular sight. Dissolving minerals in the lakes’ waters are thought to be behind this natural phenomenon which results in the lakes taking on amazing shades of turquoise, brown and dark green to blue, maroon and black.

If you want to see Bali as it was decades ago, then this is the place to head. The lovely rugged scenery here is much as it has been since the beginning of time and the volcanic runoff from Gunung Rinjani volcano has created some incredible rolling hills. Activities in Lombok, just west of Bali, range from visiting rural villages to exploring forested areas with waterfalls. You can also take part in snorkelling and diving, or just rest on the beach.

Medan, the capital of North Sumatra, is the jumping off point for natural sites like Lake Toba and Krk Island. While in the city, make sure to see historical sights like the Sultan’s palace, the old Dutch fort and the Great Mosque.

The capital of West Sumatra, this little city is home to some charming sights including the tiny but interesting Adityawarman Museum, housed in a Minangkabau house; and the Taman Budaya cultural centre, offering free city tours.

A delightful, artsy town on Bali that is popular with foreign visitors, Ubud is a must-see on the tourist trail. The serene wonders of its many resorts, doused with traditional bungalows, complement the lovely natural scenery. While here, stop in at the Neka Museum (website: to see the artwork of Dutch-born Indonesian artist Arie Smit, alongside works by local artists. Also worth visiting is the Elephant Safari Park (website:, where native Sumatra elephants inhabit expansive, verdant enclosures.


With an incredible outdoor world, Indonesia will offer you so much to do that you will want to come back for more. There are endless water sports on the gorgeous beaches, from boat rides, to surfing and scuba diving. While in the cities, stop by at forts, museums and ancient palaces. It is all about nature and traditional culture here – and they both come together beautifully.

Bird watch in the forests or markets. With so many national parks, Indonesia is ideal for bird-watching. If you have little patience, then visit Denpasar's bird market near the northern end of Jalan Veteran or the Taman Burung Bali bird park which houses thousands of different species of birds in Singapadu, about 20 minutes drive north of Denpasar.

Camp in a national park. One of the most amazing aspects of Indonesia is its national parks and you should make sure to spend some time in one. Camping, hiking, trekking and swimming are all on offer. Some of the country’s national parks are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Hike up a volcano. Many of Indonesia’s volcanoes are still active, and it can be rewarding to hike up one and take a peek. Visit Mount Bromo, reaching 2,000m into the sky in East Java province or Tangkuban Perahu near Bandung, an active volcano. There’s also the well publicised Krakatau.

Play all day at Ancol Dreamland. This big park is filled with an array of attractions that will keep you busy for days. Attractions include swimming pools, an artificial lagoon for fishing and boating, an aquarium with dolphin shows, a bowling alley, restaurants, shops and nightclubs.

Ride in a submarine. There’s a submarine available for trips to the depths of Amuk Bay, Padangbai that holds 36 passengers. The portholes allow a great view during the 45-minute dive. Website:

See the orang-utans. Bukit Lawang Centre in Ubud affords you great insight into these amazing animals. Among the native species of Indonesia, the beautiful orang-utans here have been exploited but have since received help at this famous rehabilitation centre. Dating from 1973, the centre was created to help primates readjust to the wild after captivity. There is a viewing area where you can see semi-wild orang-utans up close. Website:

See what lies beneath. Comprised of some 17,000 islands, most of which are uninhabited, Indonesia has some pristine dive sites. Compared to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, Indonesia’s waters have more than double the number of species of marine life, and diving is one of the best ways to see them.

Surf Bali’s waves. Indonesia is known among surfers as a top destination for the sport. Bali in particular is home to 30 good spots for surfing. The best time to ride the waves is from May to September.

Take a Balinese dance lesson. Balinese dance and music courses usually last a couple of weeks, or you can pay for individual, one-on-one lessons. It’s also possible to learn how to play the gamelan. Check with your hotel for the nearest school.

Take an island cruise. You can go from Bali to Sulawesi by boat, passing through the Lesser Sunda Islands, and then on to the Moluccas. Whether you travel by modern cruise liner, yacht or Buginese schooner, there are trips from 3 to 15 days.

Take in a traditional performance. Traditional shows are very popular in Indonesia and you won’t have trouble finding one to view. Most performances are dramas with a combination of music and dance that come together to tell a cultural tale, giving insight into local traditions of ethnic groups indigenous to Indonesia. Puppet shows are also very interesting.


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