Things to Do in Indonesia
In the town of Ciater, north of Bandung, West Java, warm steamy waters rise from the earth, heated by the Tangkuban Perahu volcano nearby. A number of resorts and spas channel these hot springs into natural bathing pools, some with attractions such as waterfalls, and all offer admission to guests who would like to spend the day lounging.
Nusa Dua’s answer to Ubud’s art museums, Museum Pasifika, which opened in 2006, is dedicated to the art of Asia Pacific. Balinese artists and expatriates working on the island are well-represented, but galleries showcase art and sculptures from Papua, Vanuatu, Polynesia, historical Indo-China, and beyond.
A Balinese Hindu site, the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is populated by some 700 long-tailed Balinese macaques that live in and around the forest. The monkeys are believed to protect the area and the three Hindu temples within—Pura Dalem Agung, Pura Beji, and Pura Prajapati—from evil spirits.
Not far from Ubud, Tegenungan Waterfall foams in a white cascade over black stone cliffs into a quiet pool. At around 66 feet (20 meters) high, it’s an impressive flow, and that’s not all the site has to offer. Besides climbable cliffs, a secret smaller waterfall, and simple food stalls, a charming grotto houses a sacred spring.
The Indonesia National Monument (Monas) towers 433 feet (132 meters) above Jakarta’s geographical center, topped with a gilded flame. Designed by Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, it houses a museum of dioramas and an observation platform.
Tanah Lot Temple is one of Indonesia’s most popular religious attractions. Commonly referred to as the “temple of the rock,” this temple off the coast of Bali is set upon a black-stone peninsula that juts into rippling waters. Incredible ocean views, clear mountain air, and a deep spiritual connection draw visitors to this unique sight.
When volcanic and seismic activity permits, 12,224-foot (3,726-meter) Mt. Rinjani is one of Indonesia’s great volcano climbs—even if you stop, as many climbers do, at the crater rim. The towering peak, complete with crater lake, dominates north Lombok, so even when the mountain is closed to visitors, hikes on the lower slopes appeal.
Besides the giant lizards who give the park its name, Komodo National Park is also well known for its beautiful and undeveloped beaches. One of the most unique is Pink Beach (Pantai Merah), named for the rosy sand that gets its color from eroded bits of red coral from the nearby reef.
Clear, calm waters make the beach an excellent site for snorkeling, especially since the coral reefs just beneath the surface are home to hundreds of species of marine plants and animals. Located about 15 minutes by boat from the Loh Liang boat jetty, Pink Beach makes for a convenient place to relax in the sun or cool off in the water after a day of trekking in the national park.
Bali’s first beach hotel opened back in the 1930s on Kuta’s epic sweep of golden sand and metronomic surf. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, Australian surfers popularized the place, and today Kuta Beach is the epicenter of Kuta, Bali’s liveliest and most touristic district. If great waves and beach boys float your boat, Kuta won’t disappoint.
The stunning Tegalalang Rice Terrace, part of the Cultural Landscape of Bali Province UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprises cascading emerald-green fields worked by local rice farmers. Just outside Ubud, it has become a destination for travelers making their way between Bali’s sandy beaches, towering mountains, and steaming volcanoes.
More Things to Do in Indonesia
A charming escape from downtown Jakarta, the Bogor Botanical Gardens (Kebun Raya) are some of southeast Asia’s oldest educational gardens, officially opening in 1817. More than 15,000 species of plants, including hundreds of palm species, deck 215 acres (87 hectares) of lush green grounds amid the cool, rainy highlands of West Java.
In East Jakarta, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (Beautiful Indonesia Mini Park) showcases the sheer diversity of this archipelago of approximately 18,000 islands. The 247-acre (100-hectare) space houses full-scale replicas of homes from different cultures, plus museums, theaters, gardens, a waterpark, an aviary, an IMAX cinema, a cable car, and more.
Jakarta’s old port, Sunda Kelapa is a popular stop on any tour of historic Jakarta (or Batavia, as it once was). Wooden 2-masted pinisi sailing ships still moor here, while porters move goods to and fro as they have since the 13th century. Converted warehouses hold the Maritime Museum, and a watchtower and lighthouses stand guard over the bustling harbor.
Bali is known for it beautiful beaches, but the interior has its own appeal. Here you’ll find one of the region’s most active volcanoes, Mt. Batur (Gunung Batur), rising 5,633 feet (1,717 meters) above sea level In the highlands of Kintamani.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Komodo National Park covers 669 square miles (1,733 square kilometers) of islands and pristine ocean. Its attractions are twofold: Komodo dragons, the world’s largest lizard, and lush reefs. Besides the dragons, wildlife includes boar, bats, deer, wild horses, and monkeys.
The classically Balinese combo of rice fields and river gorges is what makes Ubud’s landscapes so beloved, and the Campuhan Ridge Walk, the best-known walk in Ubud, is the perfect way to appreciate them. Starting at Pura Gunung Lebah, choose between a 2-hour circular route around Campuhan and Sanggingan or a longer hike to Keliki and Taro.
Situated just outside Kuta on Bali’s southwestern tip sits an ancient temple perched atop towering seaside cliffs. At Uluwatu Temple, one of Bali’s most important directional temples, Ganesha statues welcome visitors who’ve come to enjoy spectacular views, observe wild monkeys, or watch a traditional Balinese dance at sunset.
An East Java highlight, the Ijen Crater (Kawah Ijen) towers above the Ijen Plateau. A highly acidic crater lake yields sulfur for local miners, while burning gases emit an eerie blue glow at night. Views of Java’s most perfect volcanoes, including Mount Merapi and Mount Raung, make the summit worth bagging.
Under an hour from Singapore, yet part of Indonesia, Bintan Island (Pulau Bintan) is the best known of the Riau Islands, a tropical archipelago that splays out across the waters from Sumatra almost to Borneo. Its high-end resorts and white-sand beaches are a playground for well-heeled Singaporeans and Indonesians, while there is also culture to be had.
Set on the shores of Lake Bratan (Danau Bratan), close to the town of Bedugul, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is one of Bali’s most photographed temples. Built, like Taman Ayun Temple, by the king of Mengwi, the combination of multi-roofed shrines with mountains and reflecting lake is incredibly photogenic—one reason it’s so popular with tourists.
Known as the “erotic temple,” 15th-century Candi Sukuh stands on the slopes of Mt. Lawu, its entrance marked by a large lingam (phallus) and yoni (vulva). The pyramid structure of the temple, not to mention the erotic carvings, make this very different from other Javan temples, and some think it harks back to pre-Hindu, animist beliefs.
Jakarta Chinatown, better known to locals as Glodok, was born after the massacre of 5,000 Chinese in 1740, when the remaining population were moved to a separate settlement outside the city walls. Today it’s a bustling hub where Chinese eateries, temples, street markets, and medicine shops nudge up against electronics stores.
Just north of Ubud in Bali’s northeast highlands lie the village known as Kintamani and the region of the same name. The star attractions here are Mt. Batur, an active volcano above a lake with hot springs, coffee farms, and spice plantations; rice field landscapes; and villages populated by the Bali Aga indigenous people.
Opened in 1868, in a grand building on Merdeka Square, Indonesia’s National Museum is one of Jakarta’s most fascinating attractions. A rich collection spanning hundreds of thousands of years covers everything from early hominids to the archipelago’s spectacular range of textiles, along with gold, statuary, and architectural models.
- Things to do in Ubud
- Things to do in Komodo
- Things to do in Ambon
- Things to do in Yogyakarta
- Things to do in Seminyak
- Things to do in Kuta
- Things to do in Jimbaran
- Things to do in Nusa Dua
- Things to do in Jakarta
- Things to do in Singapore
- Things to do in Malaysia
- Things to do in East Java
- Things to do in West Java
- Things to do in Bali