Things to Do in Indonesia
In the town of Ciater, north of Bandung, West Java, warm steamy waters rise from the earth, heated by the Tangkuban Perahu volcano nearby. A number of resorts and spas channel these hot springs into natural bathing pools, some with attractions such as waterfalls, and all offer admission to guests who would like to spend the day lounging.
A Balinese Hindu site, the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is populated by some 700 long-tailed Balinese macaques that live in and around the forest. The monkeys are believed to protect the area and the three Hindu temples within—Pura Dalem Agung, Pura Beji, and Pura Prajapati—from evil spirits.
Nusa Dua’s answer to Ubud’s art museums, Museum Pasifika, which opened in 2006, is dedicated to the art of Asia Pacific. Balinese artists and expatriates working on the island are well-represented, but galleries showcase art and sculptures from Papua, Vanuatu, Polynesia, historical Indo-China, and beyond.
The Indonesia National Monument (Monas) towers 433 feet (132 meters) above Jakarta’s geographical center, topped with a gilded flame. Designed by Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, it houses a museum of dioramas and an observation platform.
Not far from Ubud, Tegenungan Waterfall foams in a white cascade over black stone cliffs into a quiet pool. At around 66 feet (20 meters) high, it’s an impressive flow, and that’s not all the site has to offer. Besides climbable cliffs, a secret smaller waterfall, and simple food stalls, a charming grotto houses a sacred spring.
Jakarta’s old port, Sunda Kelapa is a popular stop on any tour of historic Jakarta (or Batavia, as it once was). Wooden 2-masted pinisi sailing ships still moor here, while porters move goods to and fro as they have since the 13th century. Converted warehouses hold the Maritime Museum, and a watchtower and lighthouses stand guard over the bustling harbor.
After Borobudur, the 9th-century Prambanan temple complex is Yogyakarta’s most prized site. Like Borobudur, it’s been recognized with UNESCO World Heritage status. The Prambanan Archaeological Park is home to over 500 temples. Some 240 make up the Prambanan group; others fall into other groups, including Sewu Temple and Lumbung Temple.
When volcanic and seismic activity permits, 12,224-foot (3,726-meter) Mt. Rinjani is one of Indonesia’s great volcano climbs—even if you stop, as many climbers do, at the crater rim. The towering peak, complete with crater lake, dominates north Lombok, so even when the mountain is closed to visitors, hikes on the lower slopes appeal.
Besides the giant lizards who give the park its name, Komodo National Park is also well known for its beautiful and undeveloped beaches. One of the most unique is Pink Beach (Pantai Merah), named for the rosy sand that gets its color from eroded bits of red coral from the nearby reef.
Clear, calm waters make the beach an excellent site for snorkeling, especially since the coral reefs just beneath the surface are home to hundreds of species of marine plants and animals. Located about 15 minutes by boat from the Loh Liang boat jetty, Pink Beach makes for a convenient place to relax in the sun or cool off in the water after a day of trekking in the national park.
A charming escape from downtown Jakarta, the Bogor Botanical Gardens (Kebun Raya) are some of southeast Asia’s oldest educational gardens, officially opening in 1817. More than 15,000 species of plants, including hundreds of palm species, deck 215 acres (87 hectares) of lush green grounds amid the cool, rainy highlands of West Java.
More Things to Do in Indonesia
An East Java highlight, the Ijen Crater (Kawah Ijen) towers above the Ijen Plateau. A highly acidic crater lake yields sulfur for local miners, while burning gases emit an eerie blue glow at night. Views of Java’s most perfect volcanoes, including Mount Merapi and Mount Raung, make the summit worth bagging.
Bali’s first beach hotel opened back in the 1930s on Kuta’s epic sweep of golden sand and metronomic surf. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, Australian surfers popularized the place, and today Kuta Beach is the epicenter of Kuta, Bali’s liveliest and most touristic district. If great waves and beach boys float your boat, Kuta won’t disappoint.
Bali is known for it beautiful beaches, but the interior has its own appeal. Here you’ll find one of the region’s most active volcanoes, Mt. Batur (Gunung Batur), rising 5,633 feet (1,717 meters) above sea level In the highlands of Kintamani.
Jakarta Chinatown, better known to locals as Glodok, was born after the massacre of 5,000 Chinese in 1740, when the remaining population were moved to a separate settlement outside the city walls. Today it’s a bustling hub where Chinese eateries, temples, street markets, and medicine shops nudge up against electronics stores.
Considered to be the Bali that time forgot for its unspoiled landscape, Penida Island (Nusa Penida) sits about 10 miles (15 kilometers) off the Bali coast, alongside the islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. Besides snorkeling and diving—the island is known for mantas and mola-molas (the world’s largest bony fish)—Penida offers unspoilt villages, rugged landscapes, and sacred temples.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Komodo National Park covers 669 square miles (1,733 square kilometers) of islands and pristine ocean. Its attractions are twofold: Komodo dragons, the world’s largest lizard, and lush reefs. Besides the dragons, wildlife includes boar, bats, deer, wild horses, and monkeys.
The stunning Tegalalang Rice Terrace, part of the Cultural Landscape of Bali Province UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprises cascading emerald-green fields worked by local rice farmers. Just outside Ubud, it has become a destination for travelers making their way between Bali’s sandy beaches, towering mountains, and steaming volcanoes.
Known as the “erotic temple,” 15th-century Candi Sukuh stands on the slopes of Mt. Lawu, its entrance marked by a large lingam (phallus) and yoni (vulva). The pyramid structure of the temple, not to mention the erotic carvings, make this very different from other Javan temples, and some think it harks back to pre-Hindu, animist beliefs.
Bali’s most popular sacred spring, Tirta Empul Temple dates back more than 1,000 years. Travelers from around the globe flock to its holy waters to bathe beside Balinese pilgrims; accept blessings from healers, priests, and shamans; or simply soak up the atmosphere. The temple is northeast of Ubud in Tampaksiring, not far from Gunung Kawi.
Opened in 1868, in a grand building on Merdeka Square, Indonesia’s National Museum is one of Jakarta’s most fascinating attractions. A rich collection spanning hundreds of thousands of years covers everything from early hominids to the archipelago’s spectacular range of textiles, along with gold, statuary, and architectural models.
The lush grounds of Taman Sari, occasionally known as the Water Castle, are a fraction of what they once were, when this opulent water palace occupied swaths of downtown Yogyakarta. But well-kept gardens, reflecting pools, striking architecture, and a maze of subterranean passageways, including an underground mosque, still impress.
The heartland of Java—and a longtime rival to neighboring Yogyakarta—the city of Surakarta is overwhelmingly known as Solo. Conservative and formal, this is the place to head for ancient Javanese arts such as batik cloth, wayang shadow puppets, and courtly dance, as well as authentic Indonesian urban culture.
The regency of Karangasem in east Bali was once a powerful kingdom ruling over much of Lombok. Today, it offers a sleepy, untouched charm beneath the towering presence of volcanic Mount Agung (Gunung Agung). Highlights include historic Amlapura, the district capital; traditional villages; Besakih and Lempuyang temples; Tirta Gangga and Taman Ujung water palaces; and Amed and Tulamben for diving.
With a history dating back more than 1,000 years, one of Bali’s holiest Hindu sites (and most popular attractions) is a grotto covered in carvings of mythological creatures. While Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) has uncertain origins, it's believed that Hindu priests dug it out by hand to use as a hermitage.
- Things to do in Ubud
- Things to do in Komodo
- Things to do in Ambon
- Things to do in Yogyakarta
- Things to do in Seminyak
- Things to do in Kuta
- Things to do in Jakarta
- Things to do in Jimbaran
- Things to do in Medan
- Things to do in Singapore
- Things to do in Malaysia
- Things to do in East Java
- Things to do in West Java
- Things to do in Bali