There’s no doubt that Bali is the famous favourite of Indonesia, but with over 15,000 islands to its name, don’t make the mistake of thinking Bali is where it all starts and ends. Beyond Bali's tourist-clad shores awaits a plethora of Indonesian beauties brimming with unique travel experiences and spectacular scenery. Get up close and personal with the local wildlife, immerse yourself in the beauty of traditional Javan culture, and explore centuries-old temples set in majestic landscapes. That’s just a glimpse of what this nation of islands has hiding up its sleeve. But trust us, there’s more. So get out and explore! Here’s a few of our top destinations to discover in Indonesia.
Home to the rare Komodo dragon, Komodo Island is the largest of the fascinating volcanic islands that make up the Komodo National Park. An often overlooked Indonesian highlight, it’s more than worth a visit for the chance to glimpse these fascinating creatures, which are the largest living land lizards in the world. Boasting dramatic landscapes, Komodo Island is spectacular for its steep rugged hillsides, pockets of thorny green vegetation and winding peninsulas arching out into the glistening ocean waters. Fringed by beautiful white and pink sand beaches, its shores are also home to spectacular red coral reefs fabulous for scenic snorkelling and diving excursions.
Bustling Yogyakarta is the heart and soul of Javan arts, food and culture. Perched in the centre of Java – the island hub of Indonesia – the city itself is beautiful and incredibly well preserved. Tourists flock here to witness traditional Javan customs and arts such as classical ballet, drama, poetry, music, puppet shows and batik, a unique textile-dyeing method. Yogyakarta Palace also provides fascinating local insight. But it’s also a fabulous city for authentic Javanese cuisine and shopping, as well as exploring the nearby archaeological sites. Must-dos include the 9th century Buddhist temple complex of Borobudur, and the majestic 10th century Hindu temples of Prambanan – both UNESCO World Heritage listed and set in the lush tropical countryside.
Bukit Lawang, Sumatra
On the lush jungle island of Sumatra sits the charming little town of Bukit Lawang, a popular spot to glimpse one of humankind’s closest relations, the orang-utans. Just 90km from the provincial capital Medan, its beautiful remote setting at the eastern edge of Gunung Leuser National Park is also easily accessible. The most famous attraction here is the Orangutan Feeding Centre, which was developed to help these red-haired primates readjust to the wild after displacement or captivity. While the national park itself is also home to tigers, elephants, rhinos and leopards, unlike the local primates they are rare to spot in the wild. Aside from the wildlife, Bukit Lawang is a lovely spot to explore the surrounding landscapes. Discover the blue lake Danau Toba perched up high in the volcanic peaks, wind down in a hammock by the river, or go for a dip along the nearby Indian Ocean shores.
Raja Ampat Islands
Snorkellers and divers will love the Raja Ampat Islands. A group of over 1500 islands off Sorong, in West Papua, beneath the water’s surface awaits a treasure chest of marine life and pristine coral reefs. Relatively unknown until recently, those not interested in the party life that’s taken over some of the Gili Islands, which is also fabulous for diving, have moved their attentions here. Away from the water, the Raja Ampat Islands offer magnificent scenery, from the steep jungle-clad peaks to the beautiful lagoons, white sand beaches and fascinating cave systems. The main islands are Waigeo, Salawati, Batanta and Misool, which are all great bases for exploring above and below the water's surface.