Things to do in Indonesia

  • Places to explore:

Overview

Indonesia is an exotic tropical destination made up of not just a few but a whopping number of around 17,000 islands scattered around the equator. The splendid archipelago comprises various island jewels that shimmer in the seas, inviting tourists from across the globe to revel in its stupefying charm. The islands of Indonesia call for an adventurous sojourn. The major cities are densely populated, still tourists are drawn to them to marvel at the landmarks, shop at best markets and get a taste of Indonesian food. The far-flung islands of the archipelago, on the flip side, offer great vacation due to their dramatic landscapes framed by gorgeous beaches, amazing volcanoes, verdant rice terraces and lush rainforest. 

Popular Cities 

Jakarta - The capital and largest city of Indonesia, Jakarta lies on the northwestern part of the island of Java. It is the financial, political and cultural hub of the nation and a great place to soak in the Indonesian way of life. Besides soaring skyscrapers and congested traffic, the city boasts theme parks like Taman Mini Indonesia Indah and Ancol Dream Park, museums and historical sites. It is also a great shopping destination with large glittering malls, extensive markets and several duty free shops. 

Semarang - The vibrant city of Semarang is a fusion of distinct traditions influenced by Chinese, Javanese and Dutch cultures. The most sought-after tourist sites here include Sam Po Kong Temple, Gereja Blenduk, Simpang Lima, Tugu Muda and Taman Budaya Raden Saleh along with several museums and plenty of amusement parks. 

Manado - It is the largest city in Northern Sulawesi and a popular diving site, courtesy Bunaken National Marine Park that nestles vivid marine animals and coral reefs. A trek to the Mount Mahawu Volcano crater is a must here. Besides, visit the Minahasa Highland, Kali Waterfall, Ban Hin Kiong temple and Bukit Kasih are popular attractions of the city. 

Bandung - The resort town of Bandung lies at an altitude of 768-metre in West Java, replete with verdant landscapes including majestic Parahyangan mountains. Thanks to its elevation, the mesmerising town witnesses a mild climate round the year. The city has various trekking routes, amongst which the trail to Mt. Tangkuban Perahu is the most scenic. Juanda Forest Park, active crater at Kawah Domas, Bandung Zoo and Kawah Putih Crater Lake are the popular attractions. 

Medan - Located on the north of Sumatra, Medan is home to impressive Art Déco buildings dating to the Dutch colonial era. These include the Old City Hall, the Great Mosque and the Post office. Besides that, Tondi Gallery, Vihara Maha Maitreya temple, War Museum, Water Tower, Tjong A Fie Mansion, Pura Agung Raksa Buana temple and Pantai Cermin Theme Park are the popular draws to the city. 

Yogyakarta - A prominent tourist destination in Indonesia, Yogyakarta is the cultural hub of Central Java. This bustling town is known for its proximity to exemplary temples like Borobudur and Prambanan. Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono palace, also known as the Kraton, is the prominent attraction of the town. Tugu Monument, Imogiri, Benteng Vredeburg and Kota Gede are other famous places to visit. 

Attractions 

Beaches 
Indonesian picturesque islands and abundant sunny beaches are world-renowned for their surreal beauty. And amidst that many resplendent beaches, it is hard to find your favourite because each one you visit seems lot better than the last one. The best beaches in Indonesia include: 

  • Pink Beach, Komodo Island -The dreamiest of all, this fascinating pink-coloured beach is made from a fusion of white and red sands. It is a perfect hideaway. Just drop a beach towel anywhere on the plush pink sand and spend the day in paradise. 

  • Pandawa Beach, Bali - The Island of Bali is famed for its enchanting beaches, amongst which the secluded sandy stretch of Pandawa Beach is simply astounding. Here, you can indulge in various water sports. 

  • Gili Nanggu, Lombok - Most tourists doubt this beach and pass it for the island trio; Gili Meno, Gili T and Gili Air. And that’s what makes this sandy shore a perfect getaway. It is incredibly beautiful and most importantly, unspoilt. 

  • Derawan Beach, East Kalimantan - A spectacular beach admired for its stretch of spotless silver sand. Manta rays and green turtles frequent the water surrounding this beach. 

  • Sawarna Beach, Banten - Lined by coconut trees, Sawarna Beach with its powder-fine white sand, has a timeless charm. And the crystal-clear water of Indian Ocean embracing it adds to its beauty. Check out the karst caves when vacationing on the beach. 

    National parks 
    Just like its beaches, Indonesia has numerous national parks as well, of which six have been listed as World Heritage Sites. Another set of six national parks is included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves whereas three are acknowledged as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar convention. The most prominent national parks in Indonesia include: 

  • Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park - This national park is the only conservation area in Indonesia that includes a sea of sand called the Tengger Sand Sea, made up of volcanic sand. And inside the caldera sits the Mount Bromo, without a peak, consistently belching white smoke of sulphur. In the background, Mount Semeru is marked by its frequent eruptions every 20 minutes. The caldera is surrounded by lush greenery dotted with waterfalls. 

  • Ujung Kulon National Park - A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this national park lies around the south-western tip of Java on the Sunda shelf. It is the largest area in Indonesia with lowland rainforest and home to exotic wildlife including the critically endangered Javan one-horned rhinoceros. 

  • Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park - This large stretch of refreshing greenery spans over three different provinces in the island of Sumatra. It nestles a variety of endangered animal species including Sumatran Striped Rabbit, Sumatran Tiger and Sumatran Rhinos. 

  • Gunung Leuser National Park - This beautiful area nestles around the Barisan Mountain Range and covers its highest peak Gunung Leuser. It is a great place to spot orangutans, black and white gibbons and thomas leaf monkeys. 

  • Kerinci Seblat National Park - This large park spreads over an approximate of 14,000 square kilometres of tropical rainforests in Sumatra. It is also a tiger reserve and one of the places to spot the Sumatran Tiger out in the wild. 

    Places to visit 

    Sumatra 
    This large island is noted for its rugged terrain and the endemic species of Sumatran Orangutans. Laden with natural beauty and ne amongst the richest ecosystems of the world, Sumatra is a delightful place to visit. Stroll along the Lake Toba, the world's largest volcanic lake and explore the Kerinci Seblat National Park, home to the largest active volcano in the world. A Sumatran vacation means an endless adventurous trip that features orangutan sanctuary in Bukit Lawang, marine life at diving sites of Sabang, Mentawai islands excursions, alluring Belitung and its granite beaches, spotting dolphins at Kiluan in Lampung. 

    Bali 
    The shining pearl in the Indian Ocean, Bali is the most sought-after holiday destination in Indonesia, acclaimed for its astounding landscapes ranging from rugged coastlines to sandy beaches and barren volcanic hillsides to verdant rainforests. International grade surfing sites, a vibrant culture, spellbinding sunsets, exceptional temples and forest-cloaked hillsides make visit to Bali a startling experience. Tanah Lot, Pura Luhur Uluwatu and Besakih temples are not just sacred sites, but also an example of marvelous architecture. Some of the finest beaches on earth are found here and you can enjoy a day at Nusa Dua, Legian, Jimbaran Bay, Padang-Padang and Lovina. 

    Java 
    It is a bustling metropolis where most volcanoes are active, the fertile valleys are fringed by lush plantation, the glittering skyline is soaring to the moon and the nightlife keeps you grooving till dawn. Java is one of the very few places that offer everything an adventurous backpacker seeks in their ventures. Some of the most fascinating landscapes on earth can be found here. Furthermore, it is also replete with lush rainforests, national parks, tea estates and rice fields. Some interesting places to explore in Java are the unspoilt Karimunjawa islands, the Borobudur temple near Yogyakarta, hot springs and waterfalls in Baturaden, and its magnificent national parks including in Ujung Kulon National Park, Mount Halimun Salak National Park, Kepulauan Seribu National Park and Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park. 

    Culture 

    Indonesia is culturally rich with art, culture, religion and traditions of early migrants and western settlers intermingle together. The art forms of the country are largely influenced by religion. The popular dance dramas of Bali and Java comprise parts of Hindu epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. Batik, ikat and songket textile patterns find their origins in Indonesia. 

    The country has a majority of Muslim population that makes up about 88% of the total population followed by Hindu, Buddhist and Christian population. In fact, it is home to the world’s largest Muslim population. But the freedom of religion is granted by the Constitution of Indonesia. Islam is followed by such large number of people, still you don’t see the typical strict dress code followed by other Muslim-majority countries. 

    Festivals 

    Owing to such diversity in culture and traditions, Indonesia celebrates various festivals. Some of them are celebrated in a particular region whereas others are observed throughout the country. Most regional festivals commemorate the great kings and emperors of the yesteryears. Throughout the country, festivals of religious significance as well as the ones with sporting spirit are celebrated. While there are far too many festivals in the country, here is a list of select few. 

  • Baliem Valley Festival, observed in August, is a cheerful Papuan festival that celebrates the diverse indigenous cultures of the region.

  • Bau Nyale Fishing Festival, held in February or March as per lunar calendar, is an event dedicated to Lombok’s first nyale (wormlike fish) and to see that thousands of people come together and enjoy this significant fishing festival.

  • Pasola is a rich celebration of harvest and is marked by ritual warfare in the Nusa Tenggara region in February or March, depending on the lunar calendar.

  • Waisak is celebrated in May to mark the birth of Lord Buddha and his enlightenment with festivities held at Borobudur Temple near Yogyakarta on the island of Java.

  • Festival Teluk Kendari is an April festival dominated by thrilling dragon boat races and large feast at Kendari Bay in Sulawesi.

  • Nyepi is celebrated in Bali around March or April, based on the Hindu calendar. It is the first day of the year and is largely celebrated before the actual Nyepi day with various ceremonies. And on this day, they do nothing and most of Bali remains closed. That is because Nyepi means silence.

  • Yogya Arts Festival, held from June to July, is a month-long event where inspiring artwork is exhibited as well as art performances are organised in Java.

  • Bali Arts Festival celebrates the soothing music, enigmatic dances and incredible crafts of Bali with performances and shows in June and July.

  • Bidar Race is a prominent event organised in August when abundant canoes, also called bidar, race one another on Sungai Musi in Sumatra.

How to Reach Indonesia


There are a number of airlines that operate connecting flights between India and Indonesia. 

Getting Around 

Planes -The fastest and easiest way to get around Indonesia is by airplanes as you can cover a long distance within a few hours. There are several domestic airlines including Garuda, Lion Air, Air Asia, Citylink and Mandala Air that connect different parts of the country. 

Boats - Being an archipelago, boats have long been a popular means of getting around Indonesia. The entire country has a great connectivity via ferries to different destinations. While visiting closely lying islands by ferries is a good idea, it can take weeks to reach far-flung islands. But it is fine if you are up for a cruise experience. Many large vessels offer cruising from island to island with accommodation available in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and economy classes. 

Trains - Java has a well-connected network of train tracks and the PT Kereta Api runs a number of trains across Java and a few parts of Sumatra. From Jakarta, trains frequently run to various cities including Surabaya, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Solo and Bandung. There is no train connectivity in Bali, however, trains run from Surabaya to Banyuwangi, connecting the island with ferries. In Sumatra, trains only run around Medan in the north and Lampung to Palembang in the south. 

Buses - In almost every island, bus is the most popular means of commuting. You can get an AC bus or even an economy bus (non-AC). Chartered shuttle buses can be booked for group tours across the country. 

Note: While rental cars are available across the country, you should avoid it. Almost everywhere in Indonesia, drivers do not have respect for the road, pedestrians or the traffic rules for that matter.

On the Map

Food

Foods of Shanghai

Cuisine 

Indonesia has a distinctive cuisine that is influenced by the Chinese, Indian, European, Thai, Vietnamese and Middle Eastern cooking. Each region in Indonesia has its own cuisine varying slightly from one another. The staple food, nonetheless, across Indonesia is rice, which is cooked in numerous different ways throughout the country and served with either meat or vegetables or both. Spices are broadly used, especially chillies (very hot cabe rawit and relatively mild lombok). Moreover, ground nuts and coconut milk are also the basic ingredients in most of the Indonesian delicacies. Some of the popular foods in Indonesian cuisine include: 

  • Ayam goreng - Chicken deep-fried to give it a crisp taste. 
  • Gado-gado - This succulent dish is prepared with blanched vegetables and peanut sauce. 
  • Ikan bakar - A type of grilled fish spiced with varying condiments depending on the region. 
  • Perkedel - These are scrumptious deep-fried patties filled with of potato and meat and for Vegetarians, vegetable filling with potatoes are used. 
  • Sate -Also called satay, it is made of grilled chicken and lamb. 
  • Sapo - A delicious clay pot stew prepared in the Chinese style of cooking. 

    Top Restaurants 

    The best places to eat in Indonesia are the kaki lima (street side stall) that serve the authentic food of Indonesia. There are several dedicated food streets in various region, which are bordered by numerous kaki lima. For a great dining experience, try the restaurants listed here: 

  • Tangke Rest at Tamansari in Jakarta serves a great selection of delicious food like lindung cah fumak (steamed chicken and shrimp) and burung dara goreng kering (deep fried pigeon).
  • Harum Manis at Tanah Abang in Jakarta is renowned for its speciality Kambing Guling Pendop.
  • Naughty Nuri's Warung and Grill at Ubud in Bali is a great place to delve into charcoal-grilled pork ribs along with a savoury martini
  • Agung, which is a delectable slow cooked lamb. Additionally, you must try the Sunday buffet to get the flavours of dishes from across the country.
  • Coco Beach in Lombok is a great option for vegetarians. Although it serves meat, but is best known for its veg options that are prepared with vegetables grown in on-site organic garden. Its most scrumptious veggie foods include vegetable cakes, tapioca leaf in coconut milk, garlic and rosemary infused baby potatoes and tofu cakes.
  • Seribu Rasa at Jl. Agus Salim No. 128, Jakarta serves a succulent fried pomfret with mango sauce. Other specialities include red curry lamb mataram and soft shell crab with ebi floss.
  • Sarong Bali Restaurant at Kabaroan, Kuta in Bali is a decent place to dine at with signature delicacies like salmon tartare on a betel leaf, pork hock with tamarind tamarillo and grilled scallops with sweet crispy duck.

    Top Markets 

    The metropolitan cities of Indonesia offer the best shopping experiences with their numerous high-end boutiques, local markets and multi storey shopping malls that house shops of labels from around the world. While malls and boutiques are perfect for fashionistas, local markets are best suited for those looking to buy souvenirs, local handicraft items and antiques. These are the places where you are supposed to haggle for everything to shop at the right prices. Here is a list of best places shop in Indonesia. 

    Mangga Dua - This Jakartan market lies at the border of the Old Jakarta and the Modern Jakarta, offering a variety of items. This is the place to haggle the prices for clothes, souvenirs, handicrafts, silver jewellery, batik arts and other items. Mangga Dua is one of the largest shopping areas of Asia and visited by locals and tourists alike. 

    Sukawati Art Market - This is the most popular market in Bali, renowned for intriguing Balinese artwork. Here, you can buy a variety of items such as paintings, curios, sculpted wooden figures, handicrafts and traditional Balinese handmade products. It is located in a two-storey building on the Jalan Raya Sukawati main road in Gianyar.

More Information

Best Time to go to Shanghai

Best Time to go to Indonesia

The best time to visit Indonesia is between May and September, when most of the country witnesses the dry season. Even some places that receive rains during this months can be visited as it falls for only a few hours daily. If you wish to travel in the monsoon season, which is less crowded and inexpensive, you must consider the parts of the country you are planning to go to. Going off the track during monsoon can be problematic, but cities remain a delight even when it rains. Some islands cannot be accessed because of the rough seas. 

Why should you go? 
Indonesia is a large country with so much to explore that it offers numerous attractions to different people with varying taste. Plus, it is inexpensive and easy to get around at. All in all, it is a rare destination offering everything to everyone. 


Stay Safe 

Indonesia has a bad reputation when it comes to theft, robbery and pickpocketing. But violent crimes are rare. Pickpockets frequent crowded areas like public transport, markets and pedestrian overpasses. To avoid theft and robbery, you should not wear flashy jewelry or accessories. Do not flaunt anything that make you come off as rich. Laptops, cellphones, Mp3 players and PDAs are often snatched by thieves on the street. 

Other than that, you should not accept drinks or food from strangers as they can be laced with drugs. Do not withdraw a lot of cash from ATMs at once and keep your valuables in the hotel’s safe deposit instead of your hotel room safe. Credit card frauds are also common in Indonesia. Do not keep any valuable item or cash in your checked baggage. 

The country has stringent rules regarding drugs and when found in possession, the person in question is sentenced to death. So, be very careful and keep a close watch on your bags and even hotel room. 

When venturing out into the wild, be cautious of the wildlife like crocodiles, snakes and komodo dragons. Better still, hire a local guide. 

Indonesian Emergency Contact - 112. 

Currency 

The Indonesian currency is Indonesian Rupiah, abbreviated Rp, and denoted with Rp or IDR. The currency comes in denominations of Rp50,000, Rp20,000, Rp10,000, Rp5,000, Rp2,000 and Rp1000, which is now replaced with a coin. While the large numbers on banknotes seem like a lot of money, but know that IDR 5,000 equals to only around 24 INR. Currency exchange desks are widely available on Java, Bali and Lombok. In other parts of the country, it is rather difficult to find exchange desks or even banks that offer foreign exchange. Therefore, you should exchange at a bank on either of these places prior to venturing out to other provinces. 

ATMs are installed in all of the major tourist destinations across the country. Some machines have only Rp.500,000 (a little more than 2400 INR) as the maximum daily withdrawal limit and some machines allows you to withdraw money equaling to the maximum amount allowed by banks back home. Credit cards are widely accepted in the country, however, most vendors prefer Visa and MasterCard only. Other cards may or may not get accepted and depends solely at the discretion of the vendor. A surcharge of 2-5% is common with cards. 

Note: Cloning of credit cards and frauds associated with it are common in Indonesia. Do not use them at every establishment, but only at the reputable ones. 

Visa Information 

You can apply for a tourist visa to Indonesia for up to 30 days, which can further be extended to another 30 days. You can submit your visa application form at either the Indonesian Embassy in New Delhi or consulate general offices in Mumbai and Chennai. Along with your application, you must also submit your passport, which must be valid up to six months from the date of arrival and it should have at least one blank page for the necessary stamps. Two coloured passport size photographs are also required and they must have a red background. A copy of confirmed return air ticket is supposed to be submitted. You also have to present hotel confirmation receipts and your bank statements (last three months) as proof of adequate funds to support your stay in Indonesia. The application is usually processed within 4 working days. 

You can even opt for a Visa on Arrival (VoA) and for that you must possess a valid passport, return confirm ticket, adequate amount to support your stay and hotel booking confirmation. 

Special Tip 

Bali has a lively nightlife. From chic bars and clubs to full moon parties and numerous events, Bali is the place to groove all night long as it keeps you entertained till the wee hours. Nusa Dua, Seminyak and Kuta are the places to enjoy a raging nightlife.