Things to Do in Indonesia

Indonesia is an island nation in Southeast Asia consisting of over 17,000 islands, though a majority are too small to be inhabited. With so many islands comes a wide variety of activities to choose from. To get you started, here are 30 of the best things to do in Indonesia.

Borobudur

Borobudur is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple. It is the world’s largest Buddhist temple, consisting of six square platforms, three circular platforms, and a central dome. The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupas. The temple combines elements of Gupta art from India along with scenes and elements from Indonesian art.  There are 504 Buddha statues, 2,672 Buddha relief panels, and over 1,460 narrative relief panels around Borobudur, making the temple one of the largest and most complete collections of Buddhist reliefs in the world. 

After being abandoned during the decline of Hinduism in the 14th century, Borobudur was left to be reclaimed by nature until 1814. Several restorations of the temple have taken place since then, bringing Borobudur back to it’s former magnificence. 

Borobudur is one of the largest Buddhist temples in the world and one of the greatest archeological sites in Southeast Asia. The temple is a pilgrimage site and hosts various Buddhist celebrations, including Vesak Day. In conjunction with Candi Mendut and Pawon, Borobudur creates a straight line of religious significance. If you want a really neat experience, visit the temple early in the morning to see the sun rise over the valley from the top of the temple.

Taman Sari Water Palace

Taman Sari was once a royal garden in the heart of Yogyakarta. Built in the mid 1700s, this garden functioned as a place of rest and meditation, a workshop, a defensive post, and a hiding place. Out of the 59 buildings that once stood in the garden, only one part remains.

Before the British invaded Indonesia in 1812 and destroyed part of the complex, there was a mosque, bathing area, meditation chambers, swimming pools, and a series of 18 water gardens and pavilions surrounded by artificial lakes. Many more gardens and buildings were damaged during the Java War of 1825-1830, with the final blow being an earthquake in 1867, which destroyed most of the remaining features. Only the bathing area remains.

While the bathing area was not the focal point of the water palace garden, this is the best-preserved portion. The bathing area consists of two pools surrounded by high walls where the concubines of the sultan would bathe while the sultan decided which to choose from. It was a private area where only the sultan, the concubines, and select servants could enter. Now, tourists can wander the bathing area and imagine what it would be like to lounge and relax in such a beautiful space.

Taman Sari Underground Mosque

Taman Sari Underground Mosque, also known as Sumur Gumuling, is part of the Taman Sari Water Palace complex. When the Sultanate of Yogyakarta built the grand garden palace in the mid 1700s, he made sure to include a mosque. But it’s not like any other mosque you’ll find in Indonesia.

While other mosques are large structures with domes and pillars, this mosque consists of one storey and was built underground. The only way to enter the mosque for many years was through underground water tunnels that ran below the water palace. When those became damaged and filled with dirt, a new entrance was made above the central dome. This entrance leads visitors through passageways that were once filled with water.

While this tiny mosque has room for only a small handful of congregants, it is worth a visit. It is a quiet and peaceful place where one can spend time meditating and reflecting. Things to note are that there is a Mihrab, though it can be hard to see, and the five stairs leading to the central dais represent the five pillars of Islam: profession of faith, prayers, giving alms, fasting, and making a pilgrimage. 

Goa Gajah

Goa Gajah was built in the 11th century as a sanctuary and site of meditation and is also known as Elephant Cave Temple. This sprawling temple is located at the conjunction of two rivers, which marked the site as a sacred location. In this expansive temple complex can be found winding paths through the jungle, sacred pools, stone carvings, statues, pavilions, and a cave built into the hillside. The cave consists of an elaborately carved entrance that leads to a T-shaped cavern which houses three statues of Shiva and Ganesh. Both the internal and external walls of the cave contain imagery from both Hindu and Buddhist lore while the stupas and chattras by the river behind the cave are strictly Buddhist. 

In front of the cave entrance sits sacred pools that provide holy water for ceremonies. The most prominent features of this pool are the female statues pouring water into the pool. While there are only five statues there currently, it is believed there were once seven statues to represent the seven sacred rivers in India: Gangga, Sindhu, Saraswati, Yamuna, Godawari, Kaveri, and Narmada.

Ratu Boko

Ratu Boko Palace is an archeological site dating back to the 9th century. This site is located at the top of a plateau and it is assumed this was a settlement or workplace as opposed. Many believe Ratu Boko is the remains of a palace complex that belonged to one of the kings of the Sailendra and Mataram Kingdoms. This belief is gaining traction due to the site clearly not being a temple, but having evidence of fortified walls, defensive structures, and a moat. The original name of the site has been lost, but locals refer to it at Ratu Boko after the legendary Stork King from Loro Jonggrang folklore. 

While the legend of an ancient palace for King Boko existed for many centuries, the site wasn’t officially discovered until 1790 when a Dutch researcher climbed the hill on which Ratu Boko sits. Subsequent excavations and exploration yielded a golden statue of a man and woman embracing, stone pillars decorated with animal carvings, gates, thick walls, limestone terraces, a crematorium, a bathing place, multiple temples, pools, remnants of buildings, and artificial caves. The art and carvings found around the palace include elements from both Buddhist and Hindu lore, which indicates these groups lived together in harmony.

Kawah Putih

Kawak Putih translates to White Crater. It is a crater lake inside one of the two craters that make up Mount Patuha. This site is striking due to the white sand and rocks surrounding the water and the changing colors of the lake, which alternate between bue, whitish green, and brown, depending on the amount of sulfur in the water and the surrounding temperatures. While it may seem tempting to take a dip in this pristine water, the sulfur creates a high acid content, making the water very dangerous to enter.

For centuries, this lake remained a well-known secret in Indonesia, but was discovered by a German botanist in 1837 who was conducting research in the area after hearing stories about mysteries surrounding the forest around the volcano. This led to the area being mined for sulfur for a short period of time, both by the Dutch in the late 1800s and by the Japanese during WWII. The Indonesian Forestry Department took control of the lake in 1991 and began developing it as a tourist destination. Now, there are plenty of walking paths and pavilions around the lake with resorts and spas nearby.

Nusa Penida

By Delilah of Our Travel Mix

Nusa Penida is a small island off the southeast coast of Bali. Visitors travel from far and wide to experience amongst the most breathtaking views in Indonesia. Whether you’re an avid Instagrammer or not, Nusa Penida is the best place in Bali for a day trip, or to spend a night or two.

On the west side of the island, Kelingking Beach is possibly the most popular attraction on Nusa Penida. The iconic view features a cliff in the shape of a T-Rex. Take the sketchy pathway down to Kelingking Secret Point Beach if you dare – the climb down is difficult, but you’ll have the views almost all to yourself.

The natural infinity pool at Angel’s Billabong, and the rocky arch at Broken Beach are also must-sees on the west coast. Atuh Beach and Thousand Island Viewpoint on the east side of the island are the best places to watch the sunrise. There are magnificent islands outcropping from the bright blue waters. Rumah Pohon Treehouse is not far from Atuh Beach. The treehouse is awesome, like something from your childhood dreams, but it’s the view that is the star of the show.

Pulau Padar

By Norbert of Globotreks

Indonesia is full of stunning islands, but one of the most eye-catching is Pulau Padar, located in the Komodo National Park. Even though Pulau Padar is surrounded by its famous sister islands of Rinca and Komodo, which are full of the dangerous Komodo dragons, Pulau Padar, on the other hand, is uninhabited. Instead, you can freely hike on the island and enjoy its beautiful nature.

Since you’re probably going to be visiting the island as part of an island-hopping trip in the national park, one of the best things to do on Pulau Padar is to spend the night at its shore. You can wake up around 4 am to hike to the island summit -which is not that high- to watch the sunrise from up there. Not only is the sunrise view beautiful, with other islands popping out of the sea in the distance, but the perspective you get of Pulau Padar is one only found in postcards.

The best time to visit Pulau Padar (and Indonesia) is from May to September.

Wae Rebo Homestay

By Umiko of Two Worlds Treasures

Wae Rebo is an ancient Indonesian village on Flores Island and the only way to get there is by foot. You must hike a narrow path through a humid rainforest for about 3 hours in order to reach the village. Fortunately, there are porters who carry all of your belongings. Settled over 100 years ago, this tiny village is made up of Mbaru Niang traditional houses and operates using techniques handed down from their ancestors. 

The traditional house in Wae Rebo has a conical shape with thatched roofs and wooden floors, a style that is found nowhere else in the world. These homes are communal living spaces where one room is used for everything. Inside the homes, there are woven mats along the wall with a blanket and pillows for sleeping and longer woven mats and woven sitters in the middle for serving meals.

Visitors can observe the daily life of villagers or join in with drying coffee beans, pounding coffee grounds, cooking meals, chopping wood, tending gardens, and playing soccer. In the evening, there are traditional music performances and by ten they turn off all the light sources.

If you plan a trip to Indonesia, make sure you check out the komodo dragons and underwater sea life!

Tumpak Sewu Waterfall

By Katie of Two Wandering Soles

Indonesia has no shortage of waterfalls, but one of the most spectacular is on the island of Java. Getting to Tumpak Sewu Waterfall takes a bit of time and planning, but its remote nature makes it all the more impressive. Since there aren’t many large towns nearby, most travelers hire a driver to get there, which is pretty affordable in Java.

Once you park the work is not done. A 45-minute steep and sometimes treacherous hike is required. But once you reach the canyon floor, all your efforts will be rewarded with one of the most breathtaking sights you’ll lay eyes upon.

Tumpak Sewu is roughly shaped like a horseshoe, encircling visitors on 3 sides. Mist is heavy as the water pours down, and one of the best things about this waterfall is you won’t be surrounded by the same thick crowds as you’d find at waterfalls in Bali. You might even have a few moments of solitude beneath this impressive waterfall.

Orangutan Trek

By Becki of Meet Me In Departures 

With the increasing loss of habitat, there are very few places in the world where you have the opportunity to see Orangutans in the wild. However, if you are fortunate enough to see wild Orangutans, it will become one of the most special and memorable experiences of your time in Indonesia.

Orangutans only exist in the wild in a few pockets in South East Asia, one of which is Gunung Leuser National Park on Sumatra island, a UNESCO listed site. To see the orangutans, visitors will need to travel to Bukit Lawang and then hike into the jungle. I chose a 2-day hike into the jungle and camped overnight for the opportunity to see them.  

There used to be an Orangutan rehab centre here, which would release them back into the wild once they were healthy enough. The Orangutans have thrived here, producing many offspring. 

Trekking through the jungle was hard work at times, with all the rain, humidity, and bugs, but so worth it when you finally get to see one of the beautiful Orangutans up close. It was one of the highlights of my time in Indonesia. 

Ramayana Ballet

By Laura of What’s Hot?

Prambanan is a Hindu temple site dating back centuries and an absolute must as a day trip from Yogyakarta. Whilst you’re there, you should definitely add the Ramayana Ballet to your itinerary. The ballet is held at an open-air temple close by and you can enjoy a wonderful dance performance with stunning night time views of Prambanan temple in the background.

The dancers depict the story of Rama and Sita but if you’re not familiar with this story there are pamphlets and large screens with English captions explaining what is happening. Although it is called a “ballet”, it’s a far cry from what you’d think of in the West. The Ramayana Ballet is based on a traditional Javanese dance and instead of smooth and fluid movements, there are flexed toes and short, jagged motions. The tale is action-packed with real fire, acrobatics, and arrows being fired across the stage! 

If you’re coming straight from Prambanan Temple, you’ll need to either pack dinner with you or buy a buffet ticket from the restaurant at the ballet site. For a souvenir, you are welcome to hop up upon the stage at the end of the performance to take photos with the dancers and see their amazing costumes up close.

Mount Ijen

By Larch of The Silver Nomad

Climbing a volcano may not be on everyone’s bucket list, but if you are in Banyuwangi, East Java, consider a hike up Mount Ijen. At 3,000 metres high, it can take several hours to climb, and to get the most out of your experience, start your hike around 2am..

So why climb 3 kilometres up a volcano in the early hours of the morning? The first reason is the view: when the dawn breaks, the views of the surrounding hills wreathed in mist are breathtaking. On a clear day you can actually see the west coast of Bali.

Another reason to make the effort is that after the last major eruption in 1871, the world’s largest sulphur lake was formed. The turquoise waters are about a kilometre down inside the crater. You can stay on the Ijen Plateau and admire the crater and the plumes of sulphur gases from there or take the trail down for a closer look. The paths are tricky, and it is best to have a guide lead you down and also to provide you with a breathing mask. If you are lucky, you will see the blue flames which peek out from the sulphur clouds.

Climbing Mount Ijen is a spectacular experience not to be missed in Java.

Tangkuban Perahu Volcano

By Arrianne of Travel Habeat

Tangkuban Perahu is a semi-dormant volcano located in Bandung, Indonesia. Its name literally means “overturned boat” and was named as such because of its shape. If you want to explore one unfamiliar aspect of nature, discovering a volcano is an incomparable experience. Tangkuban Perahu has three craters that visitors can see closely – Kawah Ratu (Queen Crater), Kawah Domas (Domas Crater), and Kawah Upas (Upas Crater).

A short trek will lead you to Kawah Domas where a lot of geysers can be found. You can even buy and boil eggs here. Trying the unique sulphuric mud massage is also an option. Kawah Ratu is the largest one and since going to the crater floor can be somewhat risky because of dangerous gases, a nice viewing deck is provided where you can appreciate its massiveness and mystery. And beyond Kawah Ratu’s depression is the sight of the still active Kawah Upas that is also the oldest crater of the volcano. Don’t dare miss Tangkuban Perahu when visiting Indonesia for an extraordinary adventure that will make you more amazed with nature.

Spider Web Rice Fields in Flores

By Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan

If you’ve traveled much around Indonesia or other nearby countries, you’ve already seen plenty of rice fields. After all, rice is the staple food of Southeast Asia. But you’ve never seen any quite like this. On the island of Flores, the Manggarai people who inhabit the region arrange their rice fields in a very unusual way. Created on communally owned land known as lingko, each plot starts from a central focal point and grows outwards, creating the appearance of a spider web. Often, there is a pole at the center point, called the lodok, where ceremonial harvest rituals are performed.

Traditionally, in Manggarai communities, multiple families live together in a communal house with a conical roof. The rice fields are also designed with the same round shape, ensuring a fair division of the land between the families of the village. Although, not everyone gets the same size plot. Larger families and people of higher status in the community are awarded large pieces of land. With a 30-minutes’ drive from the town of Ruteng are various villages where you can see the spider web rice fields. The easiest way is to hire a driver or a motorcycle taxi who can take you to one of the best viewpoints.

Komodo National Park

By De Wet of Museum of Wander

Komodo National Park on the western edge of Flores island is one Indonesia’s hottest destinations. While most of us associate Komodo with the legendary dragons which inhabit these islands, Komodo is so much more than that.

Komodo appeals to nature lovers and adventurists by having some of the best snorkeling and diving on the planet. Definitely don’t miss Manta Point and Taka Makassar for incredible snorkeling. The otherworldly Padar island offers the best view over the Komodo islands, and the hike to the top is well worth it. Island hopping from one stunning island to the next will take you to pink sand beaches, snow white sandbars, cobalt blue waters teeming with marine life, underwater coral gardens, and of course the world famous komodo dragons.

The town of Labuan Bajo is the base from where you can explore Komodo. Here you can find places to stay and tour operators to suit all budgets and preferences. To experience the best of this water-wonder-world, go on an overnight snorkeling trip to Komodo

Mount Bromo

By Claudia of My Adventures Across The World

Mount Bromo is an active volcano that is part of the Tengger massif, together with three more volcanoes – Semeru, Batok and Widodaren, with which it forms the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. The vast plain called the Sea of Sand is also part of this national park. 

Seeing the sun rise over Mount Bromo is one of the top things to do in Indonesia, together with riding a jeep through the Sea of Sand and then walking or riding a horse all the way up to the crater of the volcano. 

Unfortunately, the experience is often diminished by the large crowds present at both sites and by the fact that the horses used to ride all the way to the crater are ill treated – in fact, it’s best not to do that and to just walk, something that is completely doable and requires a minimum level of fitness. 

If you intend to visit, make sure to research for a responsible tour operator to organize your trip and that factors in the crowds. Avoid going there at weekends and during national holidays as there will be even more people.

Prambanan

By Bec of Wyld Family Travel

Prambanan is a UNESCO site that was built in the 10th century and is the largest Hindo temple in Indonesia, along with the second largest Hindu temple in SE Asia. There used to be over 240 temples of varying sizes all over the temple grounds, but now there are only 8 main temples and 8 small shrines remaining. The largest of the temples in the main temple site rise towards the sky a lot like Angkor Wat.

After you have marvelled at the sheer magnificence of the main temple site, take some time to do the temple walk to see the smaller temples and shrines. You can follow the signs to the other temple sites and you will find the further you get away from the main site the fewer people you will come across. Sewu Temple, Bubrah Temple, and Lumbung Temple are all on a circuit which you can walk, hire a bike or get a golf cart around. Once there you may even get to watch some of the workers restoring some of the stones from temples that are yet to be reconstructed.

Mount Rinjani

By Neil of Bushwalking Blog

Lombok isn’t on everyone’s Indonesian bucket list but if you don’t mind a bit of a stroll (up a volcano), it could definitely end up being the highlight of your Indonesian adventure.

Lombok’s Mount Rinjani sits at a massive 3,726 metres above sea level. It’s a devil of a climb, with a fantastic view. You can see the whole island of Lombok and even all the way to Bali from up there.

I’ll level with you, though. I didn’t make it to the summit myself and I was still super happy with my trek. The views are pretty spectacular from the crater rim too, and at 2,640 metres it’s still no walk in the park.

There are actually lots of different trek routes for Rinjani which range from 2 to 4 days and not all of them include the summit. The highlight of my trek, apart from that triumphant moment of making it to the crater rim, was swimming under a waterfall at a hot spring within Rinjani’s caldera. Your fitness level will determine how you decide to plan your Rinjani trek so if this sounds like your kind of adventure, it’s time to start training and doing researching.

Tanjung Puting National Park

By Slavi of Global Castaway

While most of Indonesia’s highlights, like Bali and Komodo, are world-famous, one of the most exciting places in the country somehow manages to stay under the radar.

Located in the Central Kalimantan (Central Borneo) province, the Tanjung Puting National Park is among the best ecotourism destinations not only in Indonesia but in the entire world. Home to a wide variety of species like the endemic proboscis monkeys and the cute pygmy elephants, the park’s biggest attraction is its orangutan population.Tanjung Puting is the place where the legendary Dr. Birute Galdikas began her career studying the behavior of the great apes, research that’s responsible for basically everything we currently know about the orangutans.

Exploring the park is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding and serene experiences you can have in Indonesia. The tours there are performed on a large Kelotok boat that slowly makes its way through the tea-colored river. They stop around a few feeding platforms where the rescued Orangutans enjoy their daily banana snack. And trust me, seeing those amazing creatures in their natural habitat is nothing like seeing them in the zoo. It’s a bucket-list experience that will remain a fond memory until your last day.

Kelimutu Crater Lakes

By Carryn of Torn Tackies

Looking for one of the best things to do in Indonesia? Head straight to Flores Island and go off-the-beaten-track to explore the Kelimutu Lakes, a natural phenomenon that’s arguably one of the most impressive sights in the country. These tri-colored lakes sit at the peak of a dormant volcano, offering unspoiled views of the lush valley in the distance.

Most remarkable of all is that the Kelimutu Crater Lakes change color as a result of chemical reactions and the gas activity of the volcano. However, locals believe otherwise – their theory is that these incredible crater lakes are the resting place of their ancestors and when these spirits become restless, the lakes change color. The colors have ranged from red to white to dark brown to turquoise. No matter your beliefs, there’s no denying just how spectacular the tri-colored lakes are!

Kelimutu National Park is situated towards the east of Flores Island, close to the city of Ende. To get here, you can either fly into Ende, or do an overland trip which is a popular option for backpackers and adventure travelers. It may be slightly off the standard tourist track, but witnessing these stunning lakes makes the trip worthwhile

Mt Batur Sunrise Hike

By Kate of Rolling Along with Kids

For adventure and exercise during a visit to Indonesia, a morning hike up Mt Batur should be on your list of things to do. Mt Batur has an elevation of 1,717m and a moderate amount of fitness is needed for the 2 hour climb up the mountain.

The hike starts with a slight incline along a paved road before it becomes a real climb up the slippery volcanic rocks. A guide is useful to help choose the best path and also explain details about Mt Batur. It is an active volcano that last erupted in 2000 and once you reach the top, the sunrise views are stunning.

This is one activity in Bali that photos just don’t capture the amazing feeling you get when you watch the sunrise in person. The early morning wake up, long drive and then climb all become a distant memory as the darkness begins to change to the most beautiful colors. Slowly Mt Abang and Mt Agung in the distance come into view.

Climbing Mt Batur is one of my favorite Bali experiences and it gives you an appreciation of why the Balinese people revere mountains so much.

Anak Krakatau

By Joel of World Heritage Journey

Anak Krakatau is a volcanic island lying just off the western coast of Java. Part of the Ujung Kulong National Park World Heritage Site, the name translates as “Child of Krakatoa”. Right here, in 1883, the volcano Krakatoa erupted in one of the loudest and most violent events in recorded history. The eruption rattled windows thousands of miles away in Australia and India, and had a huge impact on the globe’s climate for several years.

Volcanically speaking, it’s still a very active place, which makes it exciting (and slightly dangerous) to visit. These days, Anak Krakatoa has bubbled out of the sea and formed an ash cone about 400 metres high, though on-going eruptions mean this is constantly changing. Not long before our visit, one side of the cone had collapsed into the sea, causing a localised tsunami that killed over 400 people.

But, for nature lovers, it’s an unmissable stop. Although there’s currently a 1-mile exclusion zone around the actual island, preventing boats from landing, it’s a fantastic place to visit and contemplate the awesome power of nature.

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple

By Kerrie of Just Go Traveling

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, also known as the floating temple, is one of the most unique temples in Indonesia. Located in Bali, Ulun Danu Temple sits alone within Lake Beratan, giving the illusion that the Balinese temple is floating on the water. It couldn’t be placed in a more worthy spot as it is surrounded by mountains and lush greenery. Early in the morning a soft cloud often covers the temple giving it an even more mysterious vibe.

This temple is dedicated to Dewi Danu, the Balinese water and river Goddess. Built in 1633, the main purpose of the temple is to provide ceremonial offerings to Dewi Danu in order for her to keep blessing the lake, which is the main source of irrigation in central Bali.

Ulun Danu is just off the shore and has abackdrop of the Pucak Mangu Mountain Range. It makes for beautiful viewing and you can even get up close and personal by renting a traditional Balinese rowing boat known as a ‘Jukung’ or ‘Cadik’.

This is a temple not to miss when travelling Indonesia and you’ll be left feeling amazed by the tranquillity of the surroundings and the beauty of the architecture.

Tanjung Aan Beach

By Samantha of Sam Sees the World

Indonesia is known for its stunning beaches and vivid blue waters, but no place is better for this than the island of Lombok. The island of Lombok is a secret paradise in Indonesia which offers everything you could ever want on a tropical vacation. There is so much to do in Lombok, but most importantly, Lombok is home to the stunning Tanjung Aan Beach. This beach is one of the most beautiful and picturesque beaches you will ever see, with waters so blue they look fake, sand so white it hurts your eyes, and very few people around.

Although Lombok is located just a short distance from Bali, the beaches here could not be more different. At Tanjung Aan Beach you will have a peaceful private beach day experience. There are sunbeds to rent for a small fee and even two restaurants to eat authentic Indonesian food at. Beyond this, the water is the perfect temperature and the perfectly clear blue hue we all dream of. While visiting Indonesia, this is a must-see to experience a beach day like no other.

Gili Islands

By Dave Chant of Dave Chant 

The Gili Islands are a set of three islands off the coast of Lombok that can be reached from either Bali or Lombok. The Gili Islands are stunning and, even with increased tourism in past years, make a beautiful addition to any Indonesian holiday.

All three are easily accessible with each other by boats, but people often pick one and always ask which one is best. Gili Trawangan, otherwise known simply as Gili T, is the “popular” one. More tourists, more backpackers, more young people. This is the party island known for its nightlife. Gili Meno is the most remote, but has the most sea turtles while also having the least facilities. In the middle of these two lifestyles comes Gili Air, best for honeymooners, families, and those looking for a more relaxed Gili T. Don’t expect bars and restaurants to be open past 11pm.

All Gili Islands allow you to relax, swim, snorkel, dive, eat, see the sunset and enjoy the slow life. There’s no motor vehicles on any island, which allows a better ability to enjoy the natural surroundings. Each island is ideal for a slow unwind before you have to take that flight home to “reality,” so why not try them all?

Bali Jatiluwih Rice Fields

By Simona of Travel Off

When thinking of Indonesia, the first image that comes to my mind is lush rice paddies. I have visited many rice fields, but the one I definitely recommend is Jatiluwih, a 600 hectare area of rice terraces listed as a UNESCO World Heritage in 2012. The rice fields are located in a rural area at the centre of Bali, approximately 2 hours from the capital, Denpasar. 

You can visit Jatiluwih with a guide or on your own. The site is open 8 am to 6 pm and there is a checkpoint on the street where you will be asked to pay an entry fee, which is totally worth it! Also, be aware that there is no shadow and it can get quite hot so it is recommended to wear a hat and sunscreen and plan a visit early morning or late afternoon.

There are four different hiking trails, I walked the “medium” path that was quite easy and took just a little less than 3 hours including a good amount of time to stop, take pictures, and simply soak up this amazing landscape.

Munduk Waterfalls

By James of The Travel Scribes

A far cry from the madding crowds of Canggu or the hipster enclave of Ubud is the quiet hillside town of Munduk, nestled in the less visited central region of Bali. Known for its rolling hills and epic vistas, one of the drawcards is the lesser-known Munduk Waterfall Trail, one of the hidden gems of Bali.

Unlike the bustling waterfalls like Sekumpul or Banyumala, the Munduk Waterfalls don’t boast those same hordes of visitors, making this off-the-beaten track activity one of the best things to do. Just a short wander from the town itself, you can visit four waterfalls in a short circuit, ideally done top to bottom to save your legs from endless uphill trekking!

Simply hitch a lift to the furthest one, Golden Valley Waterfall, and sip on some delicious Balinese coffee at Eco Café, before you head off to Red Coral Waterfall (also called Munduk Waterfall), a gorgeous single stream fall. Next up is Labuhan Kebo, which boasts two rock pools for swimming and, finally, the most impressive of the bunch: Melanting, a powerful waterfall that will have water roaring in your ears. Chasing the waterfalls in Munduk is undoubtedly one of the must-do things to do in Indonesia.  

Singkawang Cap Go Meh Festival

By Halef and Michael of The Round the World Guys

Singkawang is a town in West Kalimantan province in Borneo that’s famous for having a majority Chinese ethnic population. During the suppression of communism in the anti-Chinese Suharto era from the 1960s to 2000s, Singkawang maintained its connection to its Chinese roots. At the same time, Singkawang was integrating with the local Dayak culture. Because of this, it is one of the most unique towns in Indonesia.

To see one of the most unique parts of that integration, come to the bizarre Singkawang Cap Go Meh Festival where you’ll see a parade with hundreds of tatung shamans who show off their ability to shield themselves against sharp objects. They stand on nails and sharp blades, while slicing their hands and neck with swords, and even piercing their cheeks with metal rods.

The Cap Go Meh festival itself is the fifteenth day of the Chinese lunar New Year, and in Singkawang, it is not just an autumn festival – but rather, a tribute to the ancestral Gods who protect the earth. A truly wonderful festival that’s worth checking out when you visit Indonesia!

National Monument

By Sharon of Dive Into Philippines

The National Monument is one of the most iconic sites in Indonesia and was built to commemorate Indonesia’s struggle for independence. Located in the massive Lapangan Merdeka (Freedom Square), the National Monument towers at its centre. The monument stands 132 metres high and is topped with a 17 metre high gilded flame, which was designed to be a symbol of Indonesia’s independence and strength.

The monument was completed in 1975 and subsequently opened for tours. An elevator take visitors to a viewing platform that stands 115 metres above the ground. It is a popular attraction so arrive early as lines can be long. It has great views over Jakarta and is not to be missed to see another side of this country.

In the base of the monument is the National History Museum which is worth a visit while you are at the monument and is included in the entry price. The museum has 48 dioramas explaining Indonesia’s history with an emphasis on their struggles for independence. Information boards are in both English and Indonesian.

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