There is an obvious reason why millions of people love traveling. It is not solely about exploring new and unique destinations, but it is also about finding yourself along the way. Not only are you able to spend quality time with yourself in a new place, but it is also an excellent way to meet different people from other cultures and make new friends. Most importantly, traveling is a great opportunity to explore a whole different side of yourself you may not even think you have.
However, if you have been into traveling for quite a while, you may feel like you have almost seen it all. Nevertheless, this is truly far from the reality of the situation, when you consider visiting glorious Indonesia. With over 17,000 spectacular islands spanning from South East Asia all across Oceania, an avid traveler truly has choices to think of. Many who haven’t thought of Indonesia before believe that there is not too much to see other than volcanos and cool beaches. However, the fact that it is officially the 4th most popular country on the planet Earth, and that there are over 300 ethnic groups scattered across the islands proves that Indonesia is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for any travel enthusiast.
Not only is Indonesia a highly Instagrammable paradise worthy of every single praise, but it is also a place of some of the world’s most interesting and unique cultural traditions. So, are you interested in finding out in depth why exactly do people consider Indonesia a true paradise on Earth? Without further ado, here are some amazing places to visit on your next trip.
1. Visit Lake Toba
Firstly, an avid traveler must not by any chance miss the opportunity of seeing Lake Toba, the largest natural lake in Indonesia. To get a hint of exactly how large it is, imagine it having an island in the centre almost the size of Singapore. Many even go as far as describing Lake Toba as an ocean of sort due to the fact that it is over 1,145 square km with a depth of 450 meters. Not only is Lake Toba considered to be the largest lake in Southeast Asia, but it is also deemed as one of the deepest lakes in the whole world.
When visiting, it is recommended finding a reliable guide and exploring the area by hiring a motorbike. Even though the roads are quite rough in some places, they offer breath-taking views of the whole lake from some of the highest points of the island. If you visit Lake Toba, it is likely that you will be staying in the town of Parapat, 176 km from Medan (it is a popular international gateway). After arriving in Parapat, tourists can easily catch a ferry to Samosir Island. When you arrive at Samosir Island, locals recommend taking some time and exploring the area slowly due to the fact that it is truly a wondrous place. Imagine this; it is only you, your backpack and nature. There are no such things as mobile phones and technology, so you can fully focus on recharging your batteries and connecting with the Indonesian culture.
2. Explore Java
Next on the list of must-see places when visiting Indonesia is Java, also known as the main administrative centre in the whole area. However, it is a shame that not many tourists know about the attractions Java offers, so they usually skip it altogether and head to another place. Just some of the things that Java has to offer is a wide array of breath-taking temples not to mention, stunning active volcanoes as well. People who enjoy big city life and modern day living are highly recommended visiting the second largest city of Indonesia, Surabaya. Not only is it visually stunning, but it also offers significant historical attractions which every history geek should definitely not miss out on.
Experts advise to explore the old part of the city and take photos of the traditional buildings which still stand up until this day (many of which date from the Dutch colonial period). Not only that, but Surabaya is the home of a couple of famous museums which showcase the highlights of Indonesian history. On the flip side, if you are more into beaches and spending time getting a tan in the sun, then consider the lovely seaside town of Anyer, located in Banten. The clear turquoise sea and the wide array of water sports will leave anyone speechless and entertained for hours. In addition, if you have a keen interest in colorful and thriving underwater life, definitely check out the town of Anyer; all of this is due to the exceptionally high mineral content in its waters (thanks to the volcanic islands).
3. Trekking in the Mountains
However, if trekking is your favorite activity, then Merapi is exactly what you are looking for. Among the 150 volcanoes in Indonesia, Merapi is considered the most active one (its last eruption happened in 2010). Did you know that in English, the name can be translated to Fire Mountain? As a matter of fact, the trek begins in the village of Selo, located between Mount Merapi and Mount Merbabu. Many consider this experience perfect for romantic couples due to the opportunity to witness a truly breath-taking sunrise and getting to enjoy the alluring scenery of Java.
Another trek tourists are raving about is the trek to Bromo. Mount Bromo, the most famous volcano in Indonesia is located between Surabaya and Yogyakarta. It is immensely different from the other volcanoes in the area; for example, it is not surrounded by water. Instead, believe it or not; Mount Bromo is surrounded by a sort of volcanic sand named Sea Sand. One of the main reasons why many recommend visiting Mount Bromo is due to its ability to heal the spirit and bring inspiration to whoever decides to take part in the trek. Another truly unique thing tourists have the ability to see while trekking Mount Bromo is the Tenggerese houses which are inhabited by the Tenggerese people, believed to be descendants of Majapahit princes.
4. Visit the Island of Gods
Known for being among the top best and most popular travel destinations in the whole world, Bali is truly a sight for sore eyes. Also, it is not difficult realizing why it is popularly known as the Island of Gods and dubbed the most beautiful place on the planet Earth. Due to its gorgeous azure seas which surround the island and sun-kissed beaches, Bali is truly the place for the perfect vacation. Also, many consider it the number one place to tie the knots or even plan a memorable honeymoon. However, what else has Bali got to offer besides rustic temples, caves, interesting museums, and golden beaches? If you are a true adventurist (think of Lara Croft or Indiana Jones) then you will definitely enjoy your stay and leave with a broken heart.
First of all, locals recommend visiting Kuta Beach, the most famous beach on the island. Also called a surfer’s paradise, Kuta beach is perfect for people of all ages and interests (Not only surfing!). Most locals like to spend some time relaxing on the beautiful beach whilst sipping on a cocktail or two. Others who enjoy adrenaline packed activities should definitely make their way to Bali Treetop Adventure Park, which offers hours of fun in the stunning forests.
Feeling hungry? If you run around all day in hopes of enjoying your stay in Bali as much as possible, you will certainly get hungry really quickly. If so, then there is no better way to satisfy your rumbling belly than by visiting Bebek Bengil (in English it translates to Dirty Duck), the most popular restaurant in Ubud. The main specialty is definitely the Bebek betutu which is simply duck boiled in an aromatic broth, rubbed with an assortment of local spices. However, if it is your very first time in Bali, you will also be interested in the best and most affordable places to spend the night. From truly Insta-worthy, picturesque sights to experiences which make your heart skip a beat; Bali is one of the destinations you simply do not want to miss for anything!
5. Explore the Markets
Certainly, the best way to fully experience the culture in Indonesia is by immersing yourself into it and mixing with the locals themselves. For example, try venturing into the interesting local markets and grab a taste of some of the most unique street foods until your stomach simply can’t handle it anymore. Of course, the real Indonesian markets do not offer only goods, but they are a place to get into contact with local dialects and there is also the opportunity to see some truly traditional buildings.
For example, start off your adventure at the Sukawati Art Market, where tourists have the chance to see and buy some of the most authentic local-made products. The products featured at Sukawati Art Market range from handmade bags and purses to silk fabrics and stunning portraits. One of the many reasons why it is recommended starting off at this particular market is due to the fact that it is considered one of the most affordable ones. However, many would like to know which market is the most convenient for purchasing batik, the traditional fabric in Indonesia used for basically everything. If shopping for batik interests you, then head to the heart of Yogyakarta, where you will find Beringharjo Market. More experienced travelers recommend learning some key phrases such as “Niki pinten?” (which translates to “how much is this?”) because it is believed that the locals will see this as a sign of respect, and this will give you the item at a much lower price.
In summary, the range of interesting things to see and do in Indonesia is truly endless. Not only does it have a bit of everything for everyone, but it remains a stunning country which awaits for you to explore.