Ok.. so you’ve got a couple of weeks vacation and you’re headed to Indonesia, but like most visitors to this amazing island nation, you’re probably wondering “Which places should I visit? Where should I go? What are the must-sees and must-dos?”. To save you the heartache (and time wasted), we've put together our The Best of the Best of Indonesia - the things you must add to your Indonesian vacation hit list
1. Komodo DragonsIndonesia is home to the Godzilla of the reptile world -Komodo Dragons: the largest lizard on the planet. They are closest thing we have to dinosaurs, each year these fierce dragons draw visitors from around the world. Found only on the Islands of Komodo National Park, these impressive creatures weigh up to 70kg and have toxic bites with incredibly strong jaws; they can hunt and kill animals far bigger then themselves (including a human here and there)… they are definitely a lizard you show respect to! Best to visit these guys with a park ranger, otherwise… you may end up in a real life Jurassic Park disaster!
2. Incredible Cuisine
You can eat for days in Indonesia… and still be trying something new! Feast on a rich and delicious local cuisine based in spices and traditional cooking techniques including satay, nasi goreng (fried rice) topped with vegetables, fried eggs, chicken, mie (noodles) covered in spices and vegetables and meat. Try an Indonesian favourite – Bakso – which is basically beef balls with rice noodles, topped with the all important “sambal” (chilli sauce!).
Tropical fruits abound from banana, pineapple and mango, to the more exotic rambutan, jackfruit, selak… and for the very brave (and crazy).. the ever so fragrant durian. Even though the variety in is huge depending on the region you find yourself in…, there is one thing in common, FLAVOUR. Of this there is no shortage!
3. Coffee & Tea
Indonesia is one of the largest coffee producers in the world – you can’t say you’ve been to Indonesia without without having a “cup of Java”! The options are endless.. for the coffee connoisseur, you could spend an entire vacation just sampling coffee.
If you’re not a coffee drinker… no problem! Indonesia is home to swathes of lush tea plantations that extend as far as the eye can see! From Bandung to Bogor tea fields are abundant, with local people hard at work picking the leaves. A small donation or entry fee will get you into some of the factories, where you can view the process, and of course…. Enjoy the hot brew at the end 🙂
4. Island Paradises
Goes without saying… Indonesia is made up of approximately 17500 islands. From remote white sand beaches, to party islands big or small, Indonesia has got it all. From islands with water sports and surfing, white or black sand beaches perfect for chilling out with a cocktail, secluded beaches or sunset bars… there’s no shortage.. there’s only a few thousand options to choose from!
5. Scuba Diving & Snorkelling
Being an island nation around the equator.. Indonesia is a diver and snorkelers heaven. With rich and abundant waters, Indonesia is home to one fifth of the world’s coral reefs… making it the biggest and best playground in the world for those that like to dive beneath the surface. Beginners or salty sea dogs will find locations to suit.. from tiny critters, colored reef fish, through to sharks, manta rays and whales, Indonesia truly is a snorkeler and divers delight. With so much to see in Indonesias waters, it’s almost wrong not to get wet.
6. Culture & Indigenous Tribes
Lets start by saying… there’s no singular Indonesian culture. With so many regions separated by water or rugged mountain terrain.. hundreds of different cultures have evolved over time. There are at least 300 different ethnic groups, each with their own set up languages (although most will speak the common language of Dutch created “Bahasa Indonesia), customs and beliefs. Traditional belief systems go back a really long time and are often unique to a locality and the practice of their ancestors. Beliefs are drawn from everything from dynamism, animism to totemism. There are 6 mainstream religions, including Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.. which when blended with regional tradition often have unique expressions. On top of this, every location has a legend and a story – from spirits and gods, to hermits, royals and strange creatures in the sea or forest, there’s a story no matter where you go. Indonesia is an amazing melting pot of cultures, tradition and religion, and no two places are exactly alike. There is one thing in common though – Indonesians love to celebrate EVERYTHING.
If you’re a volcanologist, or you just like the odd puff of smoke and a bit of an adventure hike… Indonesia sees more volcano action then anywhere else in the world. Located on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, Indonesia is home to 157 active volcanoes.. including the very famous Mt Bromo and Mt Merapi – which has erupted at least 68 times ins 1548! Most recently, Mt Agung in Bali had a hiccup.. puffing and billowing smoke without going to a full eruption, but nevertheless it caused it’s share of scare to the region. Hikes exist up many of the volcanoes, some more challenging then others, but all need a guide. The most popular way to climb a volcano in Indonesia is to start early in the morning (think 3am) in pitch black, and make it to the peak in time to catch the first rays of sun as it peaks over the horizon. For those that are able – the summit of a volcano is THE BEST view of sunrise in Indonesia!
8. Massage, Wellness & Relaxation Spas
For any and all budgets, Indonesia is the place to head for to relax, reset or re-energize the body and mind. Largely driven by the Island of Bali, Indonesia boasts some of the world’s most luxurious spa resort offerings, but is also home to the beachside / streetside massage that cost just a few dollars.Any spa treatment you could imagine can be found; from a multitude of massages to seaweed wraps, mud wraps and fish spas. There’s aromatherapy, soul therapy (of all kinds!), craniotherapy, music therapy.. and all the other therapies in between. Indonesia spas will usually immerse you in a natural setting, using local oils and materials from within the country. With the abundance of spa and wellness treatments, no matter your budget, Indonesia a favorite amongst holiday makers seeking the ultimate in indulgent relaxation.
9. Indonesian People
Although the country and culture is so diverse, one thing that all Indonesians have in common is how friendly and welcoming they are! No matter where you are, you’ll be met by some of the biggest smiles you’ve ever seen, along with big laughs to match.
Always willing to lend a helping hand.. the best way to make your holiday a real Indonesian experience, is to have chat or a tea or a meal with a local or two (or two plus their family). Small tip – don’t ask for directions.. these never tend to be entirely accurate. Turns out it’s considered rude to say you don’t know where somewhere is… so it’s easier/more polite (or perhaps just more fun) to make something up!
Well… where to begin. Indonesia is one of the most biodiverse locations on earth; will almost every terrain you could think of, both above and below water, this is the nation that will have most animal lovers beside themselves with joy! Komodo Dragons, Orangutans, tigers, leopard, elephants, rhinoceros, crocodiles, monkeys too numerous to count. And that’s just on land! Under the water – Indonesia sits in the famed Coral Triangle, and has the richest marine ecosystem in the world; from the tiniest plankton, to the largest whale (literally – there are several places in Indonesia where you can see the Blue Whale) and all that lies between in the watery food web, even the greatest explorer or marine enthusiast could never see it all.
Everywhere you visit in Indonesia boasts all of the above and so much more, making it one of the best wildlife locations in the world to visit.
And finally… technically this is Number 11 on the Top 10 list… but Indonesia is incredibly AFFORDABLE. So many of the experiences on offer are (a lot) less then half of the price elsewhere in the world. All in all.. we can’t really think of a reason NOT to visit Indonesia!