Indonesia comprises a fantasy collection of more than 17,000 islands strung like emeralds across the blue expanse of the Indian and Pacific oceans. Together they harbour an incredible diversity of landscapes, from golden beaches to volcanic peaks and valleys lined with verdant rice terraces. Once a trading stop for Indian, Chinese and Arabian merchants, the islands were later governed by the Dutch and occupied by the Japanese. When you go on an Indonesian holiday today, you’ll discover influences from all these cultures.
What To See?
From the floating village of Manado in North Sulawesi to the dazzling skyscrapers of 21st-century Jakarta, there’s so much to discover when visiting Indonesia. The predominant religion is Islam, but Hinduism and Buddhism have left their mark upon the country’s spiritual canvas. You’ll discover a spectacular mixture of temples, mosques and flower-covered shrines to visit, including Bali’s Tanah Lot sea temple and the ornate 9th-century Borobudur temple compounds near Yogyakarta on Java.
Traditional dance and music lie at the heart of Indonesian culture. Catch mesmeric trance dancing and firewalking displays accompanied by tinkling gamelan music in Bali’s spiritual heart of Ubud, or stately mask dancing at Jakarta’s Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature Park.
Visitors also come to Indonesia for the wildlife. If you’re staying near Jakarta, you can spot endangered orangutans, tigers and sun bears in Taman Safari wildlife park and on Bali, you’ll encounter playful monkeys in the Sacred Monkey Forest of Ubud.
What To Do?
The best places to visit in Indonesia for hiking include its towering, active volcanoes; try an early-morning ascent of Bali’s Mount Batur for sunrise views of crater lakes and virgin forest. Less demanding walking trails lead around Kawah Putih crater lake south of Java’s pulsating city of Bandung, or across Bali’s sculpted rice terraces.
And the country is acclaimed for its beaches and water sports. There’s world-famous surfing at Kuta on Bali, awesome scuba diving on Menjangan and island-hopping to golden beaches in the Thousand Islands north of Jakarta.
Where To Eat?
Although you can taste a world of cuisines in Indonesia’s hotels and resorts, try to sample delicious local street food. Indonesian cooking incorporates spices and tastes from its colonial past and contemporary multi-ethnic communities. Popular local street food includes the spicy salad gado gado or nasi goreng (fried rice). Pisang goreng banana fritters and klepon coconut rice balls are desserts ideal for everybody with a sweet tooth.