Enshrined at the nature haven of Southeast Asia, Indonesia is no wonder a gem for every traveler. It’s a massive archipelago having more or less 17,500 islands to date. Considering that it has thousands of shorelines, it would be exciting to think what you could find on your visit. But choosing the best places to visit in Indonesia isn’t as easy as you think. A lot of them are diamonds but it’s just impossible to visit each one in the span of your vacation, say two weeks.
Still, you shouldn’t fret about making the most out of your trip. Here, I listed 15 of the most sought-after spots you should add to your itinerary. Be prepared for your breath to be taken away with these natural beauties you can’t find in any other country.
If there would be a landmark identifier for Indonesia, it would be the highly celebrated Borobudur. Going here is the culmination of every trip, not to mention the postcard-worthy photos that you should definitely take. The Borobudur Temple Compound is the remnants of 9th century Mahayana Buddhist Temple located on the Java Island.
This place is a UNESCO Heritage site that was restored in the ‘70s after several volcanic eruptions and earthquakes damaged the area. Borobudur has 72 stupas that bear Buddha statues. This is considered as the most popular and greatest Buddhism shrine in the world where hundreds and thousands of tourists flock year in and year out. The temple is situated in the breathtaking view of Magelang.
After your visit to the Borobudur, don’t leave Java yet. On the East side of Yogyakarta lies the Prambanan temples. Like the first tourist destination, Prambanan is a 9th-century temple dedicated to gods Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu. You can join a tourist “train” so you can see the over 500 monuments on the complex. This is indeed one of the best places to visit in Indonesia.
Prambanan is a massive place and visiting for a few hours alone wouldn’t be enough. In fact, a lot of the spots here is still ongoing renovation after a series of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions damaged it as well as the Borobudur. From afar, the Prambanan temple is a majestic sight. This and Borobudur are just an hour away, so take the time to visit both.
3. Dieng Plateau
Dieng Plateau is a caldera complex that’s about 2,000 feet above sea level. If you’re planning to have a roundtrip in the Central Java, you shouldn’t miss this stunning spot that has a panoramic view of the island. You can visit other sites surrounding the plateau-like Hindu temples, hot springs, and a multi-colored lake.
If you want, you can trek on the plateau to be close to nature. After a long year of working and walking in a buzzing city, you deserve to breathe fresh air and to feast your eyes on the cloudy horizons of Dieng Plateau. Passing through plantations is already enough for a relaxation. But remember to keep your eyes out of your camera and savor the moment as you’re standing up from the ground.
4. Best Places To Visit In Indonesia: Komodo Island
Do you want to take the glimpse of the dragon? Komodos are endemic species to Indonesia most especially to the place named after them, the Komodo Island. They are the largest lizard on Earth and they can weigh as much as 70 kilograms and can be as long as three meters. These animals may not be as cute as you imagined, but they’re truly fascinating.
The charm of the island doesn’t just lie on the Komodo dragons. Take a quick glance at the surroundings and you’ll realize what a paradise you are in. Trekking is the most practical thing to do here if the weather allows so you can have the vista of the surrounding islets.
5. Manado Tua Island
Manado can’t deny its strong Dutch influence, being one of the strongholds of the Dutch East India Company. This island was known for its spices that its trading partners, like the neighboring country Philippines, use to seek after. Right now, this is the preferred spot of tourists who want to visit old churches since Manado is dominantly Christian in religion.
Although a bit old as it sounds, Manado has its share of fancy spots like The Boulevard, Town Square, and IT Center. If you want to spend your day at the beach, indulge yourself on the pleasures of Malalayang Beach. Before you go, don’t forget to visit the Christ statue at the Ciputra housing complex which is the second largest in the world next to that of Rio De Janeiro.
6. Tanah Lot
If you find yourself in West Bali, squeeze some time to visit the coastal temple of Tanah Lot. The place can get really cramped by tourists on sunny days but given the fact that it’s the most photographed temple in Bali, you may want to join the crowd. Some parts of this lot are reconstructed like the tower of rock you can see from afar. The place is crumbling and about one-third the rocks here aren’t the original.
Still, this Tanah Lot deserves to be tagged as one of the best places to visit in Indonesia. Unlike the calmness of Borobudur and Prambanan, Tanah Lot is a bit noisy with the sounds blaring from loudspeakers. If you want to take a break, head to the Pan Pacific Nirwana to marvel at their impeccable golf course.
7. Ubud Monkey Forest
Mingling with the monkeys can be fun at the Ubud Monkey Forest. This is one of the sacred places in Bali and there are designated feeding stations for the monkeys. Majority of the land is left untouched to let the long-tailed macaques have a pristine abode.
But as much as the monkeys are adorable, they can be aggressive at times. Make sure that your pocket is empty as the little dudes are quite sneaky. It’s advisable to leave your belongings at the hotel as monkeys here adores pickpocketing. Avoid being too close to the creatures if you’re taking pictures. Also, respect the spot as this is one of the sacred and best places to visit in Indonesia after all.
8. Bali Safari and Marine Park
If you want to skip the Ubud Monkey Forest but you still want to see the local animals, head to the Bali Safari and Marine Park. This park stretches on the 40 hectares of land where zebras, hippos, horses, and other animals are living freely. To enjoy your trip here, you can ride a safari bus that will go to the park. Around 80 animal species are here.
It’s best to go here during the morning so you can make the most out of the photo-op spots. Since the weather here can be really hot, bring another set of clothes so you can take a dip in the nearby resort. If you want to stay over, you can book at the Mara River Safari Lodge. The place is luxurious and you can enjoy the savannah view from your window with free roaming animals.
9. Kawah Putih
Two hours from the center of Bandung lies the famous Kawah Putih. Putih means ‘white’ in Indonesia and, indeed, this sulfur lake is a splash of white in the middle of the Asian forest. You can ride the bus going up to the zigzag mountains before pulling over the lake. Enjoy strolling and buying sulfur rocks from locals for just a few cents.
Don’t forget to wear a gas mask as the smell of the sulfur can be really suffocating. Remember to take snapshots as this is one of the best places to visit in Indonesia. Some locals choose to get wed on this site since the view is marvelous and will fit the stunning white theme of the entourage.
10. Ancol Dreamland
Going to tourist destinations can be very exhausting especially if you arrived on the summer season. If you want to relax and enjoy what Jakarta has to offer, spend a day at the Ancol Dreamland. This tourism resort is the largest of its kind in the Southeast Asia region. The whole stretch of this paradise has a golf course, hotel, and the famed Ocean Dream Samudra.
Unleash your inner kid here while you enjoy the splash with a few friends. If you want to get out of the water in the afternoon, enjoy a stroll along the adjacent Maritime Museum, Kota Intan Bridge, and the Jakarta Old Town. There is a lot to do on this side of the capital so you may want to stay for a couple of days.
11. Istiqlal Mosque
Another largest in Southeast Asia is the Istiqlal Mosque located in the capital. Muslim congregations are held here and just imagine how vast it is that it can hold about 120,000 people inside with excess space. This mosque stands across an old Catholic church and was only opened to the public in 1978 by then President Sukarno. As one of the best places to visit in Indonesia, this mosque deserves more than an hour of your visit.
Before you go here, make sure that you’re dressed properly and you’re not bringing any cameras. You can use your phone inside but you have to leave your shoe and wear additional clothing in a designated room. If you’re a woman, you’ll be requested to wear a hijab. Non-Muslim visitors are also required to be accompanied by a guide.
12. Jakarta History Museum
The beauty of Indonesia isn’t exclusive to its stunning nature, you can also find it in their museums. When you visit the Jakarta History Museum, you’ll get to see a range of displays from the Dutch colonial times as well as prehistoric eras. Overall, the museum has 37 halls that house about 23,000 collections on which majority is dedicated to the Dutch colonies that occupied the country.
You’ll not run out of things to do and wonder about here. I suggest that you pay a guide so you can appreciate the displays even more. Beneath the building, you can find the infamous prison cells used as a place to torture Indonesian freedom fighters.
13. Best Places To Visit In Indonesia: Krakatoa
Krakatoa is notorious for being the most explosive volcano in the whole world. It last erupted in 1883 and the magnitude of its explosion was felt worldwide. It was rumored that the eruption was what inspired the painting ‘The Scream’ of Edvard Munch. The blast of the eruption was the loudest sound recorded in history because it was heard even up to 3,500 kilometers off Australia.
Right now, Krakatoa is a famous tourist spot and the marine park near it is one of the favorite diving spots in Java. The best part is that this island volcano is just one hour away from Jakarta.
14. Monas Monument
If Taipei has the Taipei 101, Jakarta has the Monas Obelisk. This stands about 132 meters with a whole fortune of 35 kilograms of gold on top. If you have the time, visit the Monas Monument to have a one-stop museum experience with free admission.
They have a very impressive collection of dioramas that depict the colorful past of the country. Just remember that you may need to bring a lot of patience as the queue can be really long here. Still, this is one of the best places to visit in Indonesia.
15. Raja Ampat
If you’re looking for the one-of-a-kind exotic tropical trip, head to Rajah Ampat. This is a paradise as it houses about 75% of all coral species on Earth. Aside from the beauty of the water, the panoramic mountains add up to the visual treat you’ll have here.
You can do island hopping on the surrounding islands or study scuba diving. If you got tired of the water-which is unlikely to happen- you can feast your eyes on the unparalleled wildlife.
Giving you the best places to visit in Indonesia isn’t an easy task as each island here has a spot worth visiting. But for starters, the 15 places I listed here would surely make any trip memorable. Just remember that Indonesia goes beyond the usual Borobudur landmark. Go out there and explore its hidden beauty!