Travel

Six Amazing Destinations in Indonesia

In 1824 the Anglo Dutch treaty split the spheres of European influence between a British Malaya and a Dutch Indonesia. This division, though arbitrary for a long time in several areas, obscured the long history of interacting cultures and values shared between Malaysia and Indonesia. Today, tourists are bound to find Malaysian and Indonesian holiday experiences, both distinctive and yet common, delightfully similar in many respects. Listed here is a selection of some of the greatest destinations that Indonesia has to offer.

 

1) Borobudur

Photo Credit: null0, Flickr

The stupefying stupas of Borobudur continue to enthrall visitors the world over with their incredibly ornate reliefs and tapestries. It is estimated that the Hindu/Buddhist temple complex was built around 825A.D and took an impressive 75 years to complete.
   
The domes and terraces of Borobudur are built upon 6 ascending square platforms with three circular platforms at its zenith. Visitors are able to explore the many wonders of the complex on foot, and there are enough stunning reliefs and statuettes to make for a day’s worth of sight-seeing. Most of the reliefs recount events in the life of Buddha and the law of Karma. Within the archeological park are two museums where visitors can supplement their experience of Borobudur with a greater understanding of the history and purpose of the complex.

Though non-Indonesian guests will be charged an Rp 190,000 ($US20) entrance fee, the fact that Borobudur is one of Asia’s most astounding archeological sites means that the experience is more than worth it.

 

2) Komodo National Park

Photo Credit: PopPETography, Flickr

Located in the Wallacea Region of Nusa Tenggara, Komodo national park is – predictably – most famous for the dragons named after the region. Visitors will have the opportunity to encounter these unique reptiles in their natural milieu, as well as many other impressive examples of Indonesian flora and fauna. Visitors should be warned that the Komodo Dragons are not just isolated to fenced off enclosures, rather the creatures wander freely about the place. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that visitors should not wander off but rather remain near to park rangers present. The dragons can be extremely dangerous if provoked and although they are not venomous, the bacteria in their saliva can prove deadly.
   
Kayaking and camping can also be enjoyed around the Komodo National Park. There are many beautiful island grottos and secluded bays that can be explored. It should be mentioned though that guests should under no circumstances drink the tap water found on the island.

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Though the island of Komodo may sound as if its dangers eclipse its allures, visitors have long lauded the place as a veritable ‘land-that-time-forgot’, with creatures and natural facets that recall a primeval Indonesia uncorrupted by human encroachments. Visitors who wish to experience Komodo National Park as a true lost world may have their illusions shattered by the Atlantis Spanish Sea-food Resteraunt and beach club, though it does offer some tasty dishes and musical entertainments.

The stupefying stupas of Borobudur continue to enthrall visitors the world over with their incredibly ornate reliefs and tapestries. It is estimated that the Hindu/Buddhist temple complex was built around 825A.D and took an impressive 75 years to complete.
   
The domes and terraces of Borobudur are built upon 6 ascending square platforms with three circular platforms at its zenith. Visitors are able to explore the many wonders of the complex on foot, and there are enough stunning reliefs and statuettes to make for a day’s worth of sight-seeing. Most of the reliefs recount events in the life of Buddha and the law of Karma. Within the archeological park are two museums where visitors can supplement their experience of Borobudur with a greater understanding of the history and purpose of the complex.

Though non-Indonesian guests will be charged an Rp 190,000 ($US20) entrance fee, the fact that Borobudur is one of Asia’s most astounding archeological sites means that the experience is more than worth it.

 

3) Lake Toba

Photo Credit: Max Grabert, Flickr

Covering an area 1,707 km², Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake on the planet. It is also one of the most beautiful natural wonders Indonesia has to offer. The lake is hemmed by verdant hills and luscious forests, and guests can hike up the foothills to take in peerless views of the surrounding valley. There are several areas around the lake were visitors can enjoy a warm dip, though the majority of Lake Toba is – of course – far too hot to enjoy.
   
There is an excellent selection of cafes and resteraunts for visitors to enjoy around the lake area, including the famous Maruba Restaurant which sells traditional Batak and Indonesian cuisine. Visitors who are looking to lengthen their stay will be pleased to note that there are also several quaint cottages and guest house accommodations to choose from at Lake Toba. Samosir Cottages is particularly beautiful, and guests staying there can enjoy traditional music every Wednesday and Saturday night.
   
Lake Toba is the ideal destination for tourists looking to escape the dense congestion of Indonesia’s sprawling cities. The site is bereft of the overly ‘touristy’ flourishes that all too often linger about other natural wonders and, for this reason, visitors who are looking for some R&R in an awe-inspiring setting should make Lake Toba a priority.  

See Also: Lake Toba – An Explosive History

 

4) Bali

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Photo Credit: John Yavuz Can, Flickr

Bali, Island of the Gods, is known to just about everyone as one of Indonesia’s most popular and affordable tourist destinations. Though its sparkling beaches, thriving night-clubs and impressive monuments have been tarnished by recent disasters (both natural and man-made) and although certain densely populated regions, such as Kuta and Denpasar, have acquired negative attention for being infested by drunkards, louts and scam-artists,  Bali remains one of Indonesia’s most resplendent jewels for many good reasons. Visitors can enjoy myriad attractions and activities from sight-seeing tours that cover the islands best temples and natural wonders, to water-sports (surfing, white-water rafting), to tree-top exploration to shopping amidst steamy market stalls. Particularly popular are Bali’s decadent spas, were guests can be pampered like a sultan with a range of aromatic products.
    
Kuta, Denpasar and other densely populated areas also contain a wide array of wonders that travelers of all ages can enjoy, and the friendliness of the locals (the majority of whom speak Balinese which is very distinct from Bahasa Indonesia) is sure to enhance the experience. A good dose of safety consciousness is, as with every destination, essential, and visitors are warned never to accept deals or offers put forth by strangers on the street.  
   
With too many lavish hotels and exquisite eateries to name, Bali is sure to provide more than enough entertainment and satisfaction for the traveler looking to immerse themselves in the South East Asian experience.

See Also: A Place Called Pemuteran: Bali’s Laid-Back Gem

 

5) Torajaland

Photo Credit: Arian Zwegers, Flickr

Also known as Tana Toraja, this region of South Sulawesi is known among the locals (mostly animists and Christians) as “The Land of the Heavenly Kings”. The native Toraja people are famed for their distinct architecture, displayed most notably in their impressive Tongkonan houses with their sloping, ‘ship-like’ roofs. The Toraja people are also well known for their equally distinct but infinitely more disturbing funerary practices. Upon the burial of a Torajan citizen, a carved wooden effigy of the deceased, known as a ‘tau-tau’, is placed at the entrance of the tomb.
   
Hiring a local guide to take you around the most interesting sites is recommended but not essential, though guests should avoid ‘guides’ who claim to offer special deals and instead seek out information from hotel staff.  
   
The everyday lives of the local Toraja people and their cultural practices has long provided the incentive for anthropological enthusiasts to travel the region. Though there are many interesting examples of local flora and fauna those who favor luxury to exploration may be well advised to look elsewhere in Indonesia when planning their trip.

 

6) Jakarta

Photo Credit: yohanes budiyanto, Flickr

Indonesia’s capital city is a vast megalopolis bustling with inhabitance from the length and breadth of the archipelago. As with every major city, there are too many architectural, cultural, retail and culinary attractions to mention, and one could live several lifetimes in Jakarta and not run out of ways to be entertained. Visitors can enjoy first-rate amusements at Ancol Dream Park, encounter the countries intriguing, multifaceted heritage at the national museum, explore the quaint Dutch-era charm of Kota Tua (also known as old town Batavia), or bask in the lap of luxury in any of the city’s 5-star hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton, Hotel Mulia and (of course) the Shangri-La. Tourists who want to partake of some retail therapy will be happy to know that there are innumerable markets and shopping malls in which to splurge.

Delicious local cooking can be enjoyed to the max even on a shoestring budget in Jakarta. Meals of greatest fame include the Nasi uduk (cooked rice in coconut milk), Ketoprak (a kind of rice roll with tofu, bean sprout and peanut sauce) and Ketoprak (beef soup).
   
As with every big city, there is a seedy side. Visitors who enjoy the clubbing night-life will note that there is a large number of prostitutes in certain districts. Though incidents of intimidation and robbery do occur, the majority of locals are more than willing to lend a helping hand to anyone in distress.

Jakarta is an excellent destination to round off the Indonesian experience as its bustling urban networks are an impressive juxtaposition to the equally impressive, though far more tranquil, natural splendors of the archipelago.

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