Indonesia is more than just its famous beaches, surfing spots, and party islands. And behind the humble facade of this Asian country is a rich and interesting culture waiting to be discovered.
There are plenty of gems in this Javanese country that will leave your jaws on the floor. In fact, we tried backpacking around Indonesia, and well, it was obviously tiring but definitely worth taking.
It took us countless flights in and out of different airports and have spent a fortune on boat rides across islands to realize that Indonesia is full of surprises. Our explorer’s hearts were full, the same way our carry-on was filled with little mementos of the cities and towns we’ve seen during the trip.
It will be a great injustice to this beautiful country if we don’t share with you the places we’ve been to! You can see and experience it too, all you need is to book that flight halfway across the globe and on to the other side of the planet.
Here are 12 important attractions that should be on your list of places to visit in Indonesia.
Let’s start off the list with one of the most popular island destinations in Southeast Asia. It’s a large island divided into different towns and cities with different personalities and characteristics.
If you’re a party-goer, there’s a place for you in Bali, and it’s called Seminyak, where you can find the craziest party scenes on the island. There’s also plenty of restaurants for a lunch feast with your friends or a romantic dinner by the beach.
But if you don’t like the lights and the noise, you can opt to visit the quieter side of Bali where you can do some yoga and meditation. This island is also a haven for vegans and vegetarians.
Speaking of quiet and peace, Ubud is the side of Bali, where you can get that much-needed break from the chaos of the city. You might find pockets of bars and clubs in this part of the island, but the greenery and the serenity overpower the noise.
In Ubud, you can visit a lot of serene temples where you can have a moment of peace with yourself. It’s a rare occurrence, especially now that everything is so fast-paced, and you can’t even take a minute of your time to just pause and reflect about the life you’re living.
In a place like Ubud, you can get plenty of silence on your side. The fact that the views are stunning and incredible makes the place even more charming. Imagine waking up to a view of the famous rice terraces of Indonesia. We’re pretty sure that that experience is something you wouldn’t want to trade for any type of glitz and glam in this world.
This massive cultural icon in Yogyakarta is one of the finest Buddhist temples in Asia. The Borobudur Temple may be ancient, but it sure is one of the most important sites in the continent.
Once you enter the complex, you’d be greeted by lots of greens! There’s a bit of a walk from the entrance to the stairs leading to the entrance of the temple. Even from afar, you’d be stunned to see such a wonderful creation standing in the middle of a vast field of well-kept grass and trees.
Up close, it’s even more interesting because if you look inside the bell-like structures that the temple is famous for, you’d see a Buddha inside. How on earth did the workers of the Sailendra dynasty achieve that? We have yet to find out.
Just take note that there are plenty of stairs you need to conquer inside the temple. Wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes.
Komodo National Park
If you’re not scared of lizards, and by lizards, we mean the large ones with creepy eyes, then you should put the Komodo National Park on your list. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1991 to protect the Komodo dragons in the park.
Another interesting part is that the national park is located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores, which are volcanic in nature.
In a disaster, there’s rarely a favorable result after. But in the case of Lake Toba, it’s possible to have something pretty after volcanic activity.
This ancient crater looks like it’s part of the ocean, but in reality, it’s really just a humble lake in the caldera of a supervolcano. Scary to even think about setting foot in this pristine attraction, but you have to see it for yourself to understand how it plays an important part in the culture of Indonesia.
Bunaken Sea Park
Crystal clear ocean water with abundant wildlife underneath is enough reason to make us want to travel from Jakarta all the way to the other side of the country where Bunaken Island is located.
The Bunaken Sea Park is a natural paradise where you can commune with sea turtles, hundreds of fish species, and a real-life “mermaid” Indonesians would want you to see.
It’s really awe-inspiring to experience the marine biodiversity we can find in our oceans and how it makes us want to protect it even more.
And because Indonesia is famous for its beaches, you could never skip a trip to the Gili Islands.
It’s divided into three amazing islands—Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air— all of which embody a serene beachfront where you can chill and relax all day long.
You can stay at overwater villas and live a life-long dream of being an island person, even just for a short while.
On this side of the world, you will feel like you have plenty of time to do what pleases your soul. Whatever you want to do with it, whether to just soak in the sun, swim in turquoise waters, or dive below and see the beautiful ruins of a shipwreck, it’s your call.
Indonesia is a country filled with active volcanoes, but that’s not a fact you should be scared of. In fact, it’s fascinating to be surrounded by a natural phenomenon that could happen anytime— not that we want to be trapped in an island where volcanic eruptions are a regular thing.
Mount Bromo is one of those volcanoes that is worth the hike and the energy. The pictures alone are incredibly stunning, what more if you see it with your own eyes.
We don’t know about you, but to see steam coming out from an active volcano up close is a unique thing to experience. It’s perfect for trekking and hiking, and once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with an impressive display of nature you wouldn’t see anywhere else in the world.
The capital of Indonesia may seem like an ordinary city to spend a day in, but surprisingly, it has tons of interesting historical places to visit.
No matter what your religion is, you can visit religious sites like mosques and cathedrals. It’s an interesting thing to experience because you get to see a mixture of cultures in one place, which we believe is the core essence of traveling.
Well, you can also drown yourself in Nasi Goreng, all types of toppings on it, when you’re in Jakarta. We’ve had plenty of rice during our trip here, and we didn’t regret it, not one bit.
Another pristine island on the list is Mandalika, a popular hideaway for those who want to escape the crowd or the polluted skies of the city.
This coastal resort has been listed as one of the top travel destinations in Indonesia this 2020, and we think we know why. Gorgeous white sand beaches, ocean water that’s crystal clear, and the amazing flora that surround the island.
Lombok Island, where Mandalika is located, sits close to Malaysia and Singapore, so if you happen to be visiting one of the two countries, you can easily hop on a plane and spend a couple of days enjoying what Mandalika has to offer.
If you’re looking for historical places in Indonesia, Yogyakarta is one of those. Aside from the famous Borobudur Temple, there’s also the Prambanan Temple with equally stunning towers representing Hinduism in the country.
We were there just in time for the sunset, which made the entire walk around the temple grounds more enjoyable. Like Borobudur, Prambanan in Yogyakarta is a huge park, so wearing a comfortable pair of shoes is advisable.
There is no island in Indonesia more picture-perfect than Likupang. Everywhere you look an opportunity for a postcard-worthy photo, even if it’s just a bent tree down the shore.
The white sand beaches will lure you into this island to the point where you would want to live here for the rest of your life because the serenity it brings, not to mention the interesting wildlife that lies beneath the surface of the clear turquoise waters.
We can recommend a lot more places in Indonesia that you should see, but if we do that, it might take you a day to finish reading the entire list. It’s better if we keep some things to ourselves and allow you to discover them on your own.