From raw natural magnetism to charming cultural towns with captivating rituals, these wonderful destinations in Indonesia deserve all the superlatives and tourist hype.
In a sprawling archipelago that’s a melange of different landscapes and cultures, pinning down the best destinations to visit is difficult but necessary. Indonesia holds countless attractions and nice surprises in every corner, so finding something fascinating to amuse yourself should not be a hard task, no matter what part of the country you’re travelling to. However, if you’re looking for the all-time favourite, tried and tested destinations that represent the tourism scene loved by many, these are the best in Indonesia.
Arguably one of the most photographed scenes from Indonesia, you may not be stranger to the iconic blown-off crater in a complex of peaks, illuminated by bursts from the multi-coloured sky. Sunrise-watching in the mountain complex is a popular excursion from many nearby towns, but the destination offers more adventures than that. Mount Bromo shares the vicinity with glorious waterfalls, savannah, sand and sea, all of which are within reach of each other in a day trip or two.
Toraja’s notorious funerary rituals may precede everything else that is interesting about the highland destination in Sulawesi. But beyond groomed corpses and eerie Tau Tau effigies looking down from the towering cave tombs, Tana Toraja is also a beautiful destination thronged by stunning hills and tropical jungles. Villages above the clouds, captivating megalithic sites, sunrises, ornate traditional houses; there are many excellent attractions in Tana Toraja that do not involve digging up graves.
A mighty and otherworldly lizard, the komodo dragon is arguably one of the most fascinating creatures on earth—one you can only encounter in the wild at Indonesia’s Komodo National Park. Captivating as it is, the ancient dragon is hardly the only interesting thing on this string of exotic islands. The national park’s main islands—Komodo, Padar, and Rinca—boast different unmissable charms. Beyond Padar’s iconic viewpoint overlooking three magnificent bays and Komodo’s famed pink sand beach, the thriving wildlife and beautiful nature extends below sea level, making this national park a prized destination for diving as well.
The world’s biggest sanctuary isn’t only known and loved for its historical and spiritual significance. Simply put, Borobudur is one of the most beautiful temples in the archipelago. It is majestic with iconic stupas, elaborate stone reliefs, and awe-inspiring natural landscapes. Of course, for those who care enough to delve deeper than what meets the eye, the beautiful adornments reveal epic stories and insights to enrich mind and soul. The grand design itself symbolises the cosmos and human mind; one thing that makes the symbol-rich temple a popular site for pilgrimage. Also a rather mysterious architectural feat, the temple was built with a delicate pattern system instead of cement or adhesive, putting all two million blocks together firmly.
While Bali may be a world-famous tourist destination, the heart and soul of this island paradise lies further up the hills in the serene jungles of Ubud. From ancient wisdom to contemporary charm, both zen-seekers and adventure daredevils have found their way to this charming highland for different reasons, be it meditation in traditional huts or cliff-jumping in glorious waterfalls. The legendary art and culture capital of Bali also offers a lot of horizon-expanding experiences, such as traditional crafts workshops, art performances, and earth-loving raw food movements.
Located in the vast Gunung Leuser National Park, this charming village is the cherry on top of the flourishing, pristine tropical jungle. Bukit Lawang is a sanctuary for the beloved orangutan, serving as both natural habitat and conservation centre. The area also reverberates with natural charms like rivers, hills and towering trees, making it an ideal spot for trekking while spotting the thriving Sumatra wildlife. Other popular activities include river-tubing, caving, even volunteering to teach local children or helping out with orangutan rehabilitation.
This string of islets off the coast of Lombok used to be a notorious backpacking destination. Today, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air welcome everyone, from lavish globetrotters to travellers on a shoestring budget. And the charms they hold sure check all the boxes. We’re talking beachside hip bars overlooking glorious sunsets, hiking up the hills and diving down the coral reef in one day, and scrumptious local seafood dinners followed by rave parties.
With one of the liveliest underwater scenes on the planet, this world-famous tropical paradise is home to more than 530 species of coral, 700 species of mollusk, and 1,300 types of fish. Despite the magnetism of exotic species and a breathtaking island view, Raja Ampat remains largely pristine because of its remote location and vast locality. More than just a divers’ paradise, Raja Ampat also makes an unforgettable destination for birdwatchers, photographers, adventurers, and even those who long for a luxury vacation with an amazing view in a far-flung island.
Yogyakarta, or Jogja, as it’s often lovingly called, is a cherished guardian of the Javanese culture, keeping profound traditions alive and well throughout the centuries. This results in a truly distinctive town, a stronghold for tradition and culture that fascinates tourists with all its charms. The Yogyakarta Sultanate palace complex remains one of the unmissable highlights where tourists can observe and interact with the ancient culture in the flesh. Exploring villages of batik-makers and visiting the majestic Prambanan Temple are also among the best experiences to have in Java’s center of art and culture.
Perched at 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) above sea level, Dieng Plateau is one of the coolest destinations in Indonesia, and not just weather-wise. Both a natural and cultural destination, there are many things to see and do in Dieng Plateau. Other than the sweeping mountain view of jungles and distant villages, this highland also has a multi-colored lake, hot spring, and ancient Hindu temples. Once a year, tourists flock to the spot for a much anticipated festival that includes traditional rituals, performances, and jazz above the clouds.