When most think of Indonesia, they think of Bali, right? But it would be a crime not to see any of the other amazing Indonesia travel spots we will suggest here.
Do you get excited by the thought of walking on what used to be an active volcano? Have you been daydreaming about endless sun-kissed beaches nestled amidst lush towering mountains? From the Komodo dragons to sheltering orangutans and tigers at the national reserve, Indonesia’s wide range of experiences beguiles even the fussiest traveler. As the world’s largest island country speckled with 17,000 volcanic islands, Indonesia is the perfect destination to experience nature, adventure, and culture at a fraction of a price. Nevertheless, we identified the Top 10 Indonesia travel destinations you should not miss. So join us as we take the road less traveled and unravel some of the hidden gems in Indonesia, along with exciting staple places of interest.
At a towering height of 2,329m, Mount Bromo is one of the most iconic mountains in Indonesia. Here, you can come up close and personal with one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Mount Bromo is famous for its awe-inspiring sunrise and the elusive view of the volcano crater. Last erupted in 2016, this majestic beauty continuously spews white sulfurous smoke. As such, bring along a scarf to protect yourself from sandstorms and sunglasses to shield your eyes from the intense sun. After a 2-hour hike from base camp, you know the 3 am wakeup call is all so worth it, as an ethereal landscape rewards you from this vantage point on top of the world!
Where to Stay
The Bromo Terrace Hotel is a great place to stay, thanks to its proximity to the city and easy access to the city’s main attractions. Located just 31 km away from the city center, its minimalistic yet modern furnishing makes you feel at home the moment you set foot. Staff converse effortless in English and language is not a barrier. Plus, you can satisfy all your gastronomic cravings at the restaurant, making it extremely convenient for tourists who do not fancy traveling out for meals.
Top Indonesia Travel Spot for Wildlife..but be safe!
Komodo Island is home to the largest lizard species in the world – the Komodo Dragon. Komodo Island is nestled amidst the Komodo National Park and located on a conservation area between Sumbawa and Flores Island. More than 176,000 tourists worldwide thronged the island annually. For a mere fee of USD11 (150,000 RP) per person on weekdays, you can kick start your adventure with an easy, flat 3km stroll. Alternatively, advanced hikers can opt for a steep, 10km-hike that will take you over peaks and into deep valleys. Park rangers will accompany travels in groups of 5. You will be glad to have the ranges close by, as Komodo dragons can weigh up to 70kg and are capable of attacking humans.
To the popular question “Is Komodo Island close?”. President Widodo of Indonesia recently announced that the Komodo Island will be closed in 2020 as a measure to preserve the survival of these magnificent reptiles, and uphold the island’s ecological condition. There is no better time but now to catch the dragons in action, as the island will reopen a year later, with a heftier entrance fee. As one of the leading places to visit in Indonesia, Komodo Island will be repositioned as a premium tourist destination.
Where to Stay
The Komodo Resort and Diving Club at the Labuan Bajo district is a smart choice for travelers. Located just 20 km from the city center and approximately 100 minutes from the airport by car, travelers will be taken to the island resort from the mainland via a wooden-boat transfer. Divers love to stay here as it is the gateway and meeting point to other dive spots. Its idyllic set-up and exceptional service make the Komodo Resort and Diving Club highly sought after by families, bachelors, and newly-weds too.
If you thought that the largest lake in Indonesia is nothing more than a lake, then you will be up for a surprise. Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world is flanked by beautiful mountains, cascading waterfalls, hot springs and so many picturesque attractions that will elevate your Instagram feed with jaw-dropping pictures.
At Sipoholo Hot Springs, immerse yourself in the sulfur-spring pools and reap the benefits of radiant, glowing skin. Amidst a backdrop of orange and white sulfur limestones, go shutter-crazy and snap many Insta-worthy photos here. Ever wondered what it feels like to look at the world from a bird’s eye point of view? Then head over to Nantampukmas Nest and sit in one of the giant man-made cup nests overlooking the panoramic scenery of Sidangkat. Don’t forget to try out the pendant nest and sit above the elongated sac, or pose behind the sunburst frames too.
Where to Stay
The JW Marriot Hotel in Medan may be the cheapest 5-star Marriot hotel in Indonesia, but it packs great value for money and is steep on hospitality with their accommodating staffs their main assets. Its prime location near the train station makes JW Marriot Hotel extremely accessible from the airport via the rail link train. Located a mere 410 meters from the Centre Point Mall and right smack in the Central Business District, heading out to places of interest in Medan is effortless from here.
Sumatra’s Snow Beach
Don’t be deceived by its name, as the Sumatra’s Snow Beach is neither a beach nor does it snow here. In fact, Sumatra’s Snow Beach at the Deli Serdang Regency is actually a river! Its moderate to strong current creates stunning white crescents as the water splashes on rocks, creating an illusion of snow amidst a beach. Since small children may get swept away by the current, parents must keep a close watch on their children. The river water originates from the mountains. Along the river banks, coconut trees thrive from its mineral-rich soil, flanked by abundant plants. So imagine the wonders this natural bath can do for your skin. Fresh cool air, crystal clear water and absolutely scenic, it’s no wonder the Snow Beach in Indonesia is popular among tourists and locals.
Instagram boyfriends – be forewarned to work double duty here, as tripods won’t do the job on jagged, uneven rocks!
Where to Stay
One of the best hotels located in the suburban area of Deli Serdang Regency is the Hotel Deli and River and Restaurant Omlandia. This family-run hotel never fails to impress its customers with personalized touches of hospitality – a true oasis of calm in the heart of a small town.
Gunung Leuser National Park
Nothing beats getting close-up with the orangutan in its natural environment. At the Gunung Leuser National Park, you can interact with semi-rehabilitated orang-utans and spot a host of tropical animals such as the Thomas Lead monkeys, macaques, gibbons, tree snakes, and monitor lizards. For ardent hikers, you will like the challenging trail as your fitness level will be tested. As the trail is moderately challenging, constantly grappling out for roots over unpaved tracks is a norm. In addition, animal lovers should spend at least one night in the jungle to fully experience its beauty. There is no better way to end the excursion river rafting on giant tubes after a humid, hot day.
Where to Stay
Unlike other hotels around this area, the Thomas Retreat Bukit Lawang has lots of open space towards the river. The interior is clean, with a décor comprising of an eclectic mix of modern finishing juxtaposed against the ethnic fabric, nostalgic antique and classic finishing the locals’ dream of. Here, you will be greeted with a hearty welcome, where the hosts bend all the way back to meet your needs. Another plus point to boot is good and cheap food in generous portions.
Top Indonesia Travel Spot near Bali
The Flores Islands are the underrated and the lesser-known sister to Bali. If you seek to escape the commercial areas like Lombok, then this destination offers various attractions worthy of its counterpart. After visiting the Komodo National Park, head over to Flores Islands and discover one of the 50 spectacular dive sites. Go kayaking along its rugged coastline, maneuver your way into mangrove spots, explore mysterious caves or plunge into pristine lakes and chilling waterfalls.
Where to Stay
If you are looking for a quiet haven and exquisite luxury on Flores Island, then The Capa Maumere Resort is the best place to stay, With only 35 lavishly designed guest rooms at this resort, there is no better place to soak in the serenity, with your favorite book, tucked away on the chaise lounge facing the ocean.
Jakarta is the capital city of the world’s most populous island in the world. This metropolis is bustling. More than 10 million people flock into the city daily for work and stream back to their villages at the end of the day. As the capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta is nicknamed the “Big Durian” – just like how the Big Apple is synonymous to New York.
Look past this busy megacity and you will discover a couple of interesting places worth a stopover. One place not to be missed is the Dutch colonial heritage sites in Kota Tua (Old Jakarta). The old colonial building along Kota Tua houses many museums. From the Jakarta History Museum (or the Fatahillah Museum) to the Wayang Museum and Fine Arts Museum, this historical site surrounded by colonial Dutch structures will transport you back to the 17th century.
Indonesia Travel Tip:
If bargain hunting and flea-market shopping is your favorite pastime, then head over to Menteng. The Menteng District is known for its flea markets. If you are on the lookout for signature trinkets or ornamental wayang at rock bottom prices, then the Jalan Surabaya flea market will delight you. For art lovers, the Ancol Art Market is the perfect rendezvous. Painters, puppet craftsmen and woodcarvers showcase their work and trade here.
Where to Stay
With a whopping 3,684 reviews and growing, the Artotel Thamrim Hotel in Jakarta is a sight to behold and worth a stay. Its absolutely eye-catching exterior is a prelude to its artsy interior décor. Inside, pop-art portraits, sculptures, and pillows in bright colors adorn the hotel. Located right in the heart of Jakarta, great proximity and affordable room rates make this boutique hotel a great stay.
Raja Ampat Islands
Top Indonesia Travel Spot for Diving
The Raja Ampat Islands, which literally means Island of the Four Kings, is a cluster of 4 islands. Raja Ampat comprises of Misool, Waigeo, Batanta, and Salawati. According to folklore, a woman who discovered seven eggs founded Raja Ampat. 4 of the eggs hatched and became the kings of the four main islands. The other three turned into a woman, a ghost and a stone.
With more than 75% of the world’s marine species thriving underwater, this is a diver’s paradise! Not surprisingly then, the best way to explore this beautiful island is by boat. Stop at pristine diving spots and scuba dive with barracudas, batfish and the friendly dugong. Explore the jungle trails, catch glimpses of the crimson bird of paradise and many more exotic plants. Go kayaking around the island and alight at your whims and fancy. Unlike many parts of Indonesia, this island is very secluded, not congested and away from the crowd. Scuba diving here is amazing. Tourists emerge from their scuba dives expressionless for minutes, stunned by the allure underwater, only to return for more.
Where to Stay
The 1-star rating assigned to Raja Ampat Doberai Private Island Resort at Waigeo is utterly misleading. With more than 80% of the hotel guest giving it an excellent rating, this island resort does not disappoint. Here you can live close to nature. At the bungalows, you can wake up to small sharks or turtles swimming around your room. Or simply dive straight in! With limited Internet connectivity, there is no excuse not to digitally detox. Combined with friendly staff, authentic Indonesian cuisine, and magnificent marine life teeming around the island, this hotel is nothing short of paradise.
Top Indonesia Travel Spot for White Sand Beaches
A slice of paradise aptly describes the Gili Islands, as the islands boast emerald clear water and exotic marine life. The Gili Islands is a cluster of 3 tiny Islands – Gili Trawangan (Gili T), Gili Meno and Gili Air. Located near the northwest of Lombok Island, each island has its unique characteristics and charm distinct from one another. Therefore, the Gili Islands is one of the places you have to add to your Indonesia travel experience.
Gili Meno is the perfect place to mingle and swim with turtles. The turtle sanctuary at Gili Meno draws divers all around and is ideal for turtle breeding. As the smallest island of the Gilis, honeymooners come in droves to this secluded and relatively quiet island. Don’t forget to check out the 48-live sized human sculptures embedded in the sea bed off Gili Meno Island.
Where to Stay
If the idea of getting away from the hustle and bustle of commercialization and Gili Trawangan appeals to you, then Mahamaya Resort Gili Meno checks all the boxes. This humble, boutique resort boasts attentive staff, good food and all the amenities you will need to feel at home. Wake up to the magnificent view of the volcanoes. Have breakfast beside the sea and literally swim right off the sandy beaches into a world of amazing corals and marine life.
The largest island of the three, Gili T is the most vibrant and developed of the 3 Gili Islands. Strong beach party vibes echo through the night as bars and night clubs dish out live bands and pub grub with cheap beer served well until early morning. And as the sunrise, the excitement shifts underwater, where dive instructors lead the pack to explore the sunken ship at Wreck Point near Mentigi Beach. This island never sleeps. Market vendors sell their colorful local ware and café owners serve up some of the best breakfast to start your day of adventure.
Where to Stay
The Ombak Sunset Hotel is one of the more popular 5-star hotels located in Gili T. Just like its name, the hotels offer the best view to catch the Sumatran sunset. Guest can explore the island with the bicycles provided at no charge. This all-inclusive resort is perfect for families. Equipped with an ATM, huge swimming pool, and a pair of swings in the ocean.
Gili Air has a distinctly local vibe, where you will find the most authentic Sumatran villages and traditional huts. This grandmother of the Gili Islands was the most popular of the Gilis, long before Gili T and Gili Meno outshone Gili Air’s popularity. Nevertheless, nothing is compromised at Gili Air island. This is the perfect playground for avant-garde attractions like sub winging, kite surfing, aqua yoga, cooking classes, and SUP yoga. And as you bask in crimson sunset on the beanbags along the Gili Lumbung Beachclub, enjoying live music with the volcano as its backdrop, there is no better place to soak in laid-back beach vibes, but here.
Where to Stay
It’s hard not to notice Hotel Pinkcoco Gili Air, thanks to its catchy name befitting the splashes of pink décor adorning the building. From its flamingo pink-colored umbrella, pink lounge chairs, bumble gum pink doors to fushia colored sofas on the beach, the Hotel Pinkcoco is more than eye candy. Here, all your needs are addressed in a jiffy, with reliable service and cookie with water at every turn. Nothing left to chance, evident through meticulous attention to detail, and a crew that is always happy to serve 24/7.
Top Indonesia Travel Spot for Buddhism
The Borobudur Temple in Yogyakarta is the world’s largest Buddhist monument. Yes, that’s right. The Borobudur Temple is nothing short of architecturally spellbinding. It comprises of nine stacked platforms, with six square and three circular platforms, and topped by a central dome. Constructed with more than 2,500 panels, decorated with 504 Buddha statues, the Borobudur Temple is a sight to behold. So it’s no wonder why this UNESCO World Heritage Site tops the bucket list of places to visit in Indonesia.
Indonesia Travel Tip:
When visiting sacred places, do dress appropriately. For ladies, avoid wearing clothing above knee-length such as short skirts or miniskirts. As a rule of thumb, dress moderately at all times and cover your shoulders. Also, avoid the crowd by going for a sunrise tour. Witness the majestic rise of the sun over the temple grounds. And shrouded against the morning mist, the spectacular sight will imprint lasting memories of your trip. This is a must for any Indonesia travel itinerary.
And if this is your maiden trip to Indonesia, we have listed 7 important travel tips for first-time Indonesia travelers.
Where to Stay
The Swiss-Belboutique Yogyakarta is an elegant 5-star hotel right in the heart of Jogja. The rooms adopt a colonial classical style design, characterized by grand entrance halls, wooden paneling, and light colors. With 4 different room types, this hotel boasts an amazing view of the city and Mount Merapi. Plus, the excellent buffet breakfast spread is a winner.
Now it should be clear that there is much more to be seen and done in Indonesia than fighting the crowds in Bali. So I hope you make the decision to seek out some of the other amazing things there is to do here.