Famous for its natural and historical beauty as well as its cultural diversity, Indonesia is a huge country with world’s largest archipelago of 18,110 islands in total. The place has the unspoiled beauty of Lombok and the rugged shoreline of Bali that juxtapose man made creations with natural attractions beautifully. Take in the beauty of this island country by exploring some of its more famous attractions that can be listed as follows:
Borobudur Temple: Said to be the largest Buddhist temple of the world, the majestic Borobudur Temple is a popular Indonesian tourist attraction located in Magelang, Central Java. This colossal pyramid like structure was built between 8th and 9th centuries from thousands of huge blocks arranged in ascending platforms. Also a part of UNESCO Heritage Sites list, the temple has also been named as one of the 7 wonders of the world compiled by UNESCO. The intricately carved stones tell the story of Buddha enlightenment while proving to be a feast for eyes with its earthly atmosphere of paneled terraces and hundreds of openwork stone stupas. The place that has been named as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world several times was renovated in 1983 under the guidance of UNESCO.Fel the rich spiritual symbolism and history together at this magical place that is still revered by the locals and world folks alike.
Prambanan Temple: Located on the border of Central Java and Yogyakarta, Prambanan Temple is the largest Hindu Temple in Southeast Asia. Though not as famous as Borobudur, Prambanan is a definite must see for any tourist with its breathtakingly large and intricately decorated 240 temples in various state of repair. Modelled on the mountains where the Hindu gods reside, this 9th century architectural gem was declared as a UNESCO world Heritage Site in 1991. Perhaps the most breathtaking in the complex are the 47 meter tall Shiva Temple and the 33 meter Brahma and Vishnu temples on the either side of the centerpiece of the complex. Do make a point of seeing the amazing Ramayana ballet that is performed against the backdrop of the temple for four nights during each full moon from May to October.
Lake Toba: This immense volcanic lake that is about 100 kilometers long and 30 kilometers wide lies on the Sumatra island and was formed by a gigantic volcanic eruption over 70,000 years ago. In fact, according to scientists, it is the largest resurgent caldera on Earth. The cool and refreshing atmosphere around the place invites the tourists to experience the true beauty of nature along with some interesting spiritual, architectural, historical and culinary attractions of the region.
Sri Sultan’s Palace: Built during the mid 18th century, Sri Sultan’s Palace comprises of a massive complex consisting of a main complex, the residential area, the two Sultan’s grounds and a large servant’s area. The palace, also known as Kraton Ngayoyakarta, is splendid example of European style interiors combined with traditional Javanese court architecture. In addition to the palace, there is a special museum housed right within the complex that holds an exquisite collection of sacred pusaka heirlooms gilt copies, gamelan instruments and various gifts from European monarchs. With over 25,000 residents, the palace complex is like a mini city in itself with many stunning sites in addition to its own market, mosque, cottage industries and schools.
Shadow Puppet plays: Designated as a masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, the shadow puppet plays or the Wayang Kulit are said to have been around for more than half a millennium. Many interesting aspects of Javanese culture as well as many age old stories and tales are brought alive by these polished puppets that ar made of gilded buffalo leather. Accompanied by a gamelan orchestra, these shadow puppet plays take place every evening at Sonobudoyo museum that is located in the northern side of Yogyakarta’s main square, right n front of Sri Sultan’s Palace.
Raja Ampat: One of the most talked about tourist destinations of Indonesia in current times, Raja Ampat is a stunningly beautiful group of islands that offers a startling diversity of habitats to explore. Casting a spell on all those who visit the place, the place is being touted as a beautiful example of God’s handiwork with its both under water and above water attractions. While Wayag, the cluster of volcanic rocks sticking out of ocean is clearly enchanting, the under- water marine life is one of the most impressively diverse in the world for a coral reef system of this size. Literally translating into ‘The Four Kings’, Raja Ampat is quite possibly one of the richest coral reef ecosystems in the world making it a great place to visit for tourists who love diving and other water activities.
Komodo National Park: Named after the Komodo Dragon, World’s largest living reptile, the park is not just famous for this 3 meters long teeth and 70 kg weighing resident. Komodo National Park is a beautiful diving destination that offers some amazing underwater marine attractions such as cods, mackerals and groupers. Along with the diving sites, the natural beauty of the place is such that you will fall in love with the same. The Komodo Dragons too forms an important part of the natural beauty of the area. These formidable predators mostly eat carcass of dead animals and hunt birds, but very rarely attack any humans.
Torajaland: Located in the highland region of South Sulawesi, Torajaland is famous for the cultural traditions that the local Toraja people have kept alive till date. The first thing about the place that will grab your attention are the massive peaked roof houses also known as tongkonan. Another coveted tradition of the place that tourists vie to visit is the Toraja funerals. These distinctive ceremonies are held only by a noble family and last for days that involve dancing, music, poetry and animal sacrifices that prepare the deceased for the afterlife. These native cultural practices along with other customs and rituals will make you feel like you are in the midst of an anthropology lesson.
Bunaken: Located to the north of Sulawesi island in Indonesia, Bunaken is said to b one of the most diving and snorkeling sites of the country. Established in 1991, the place is one of the first of the growing marine parks of the country. Overlain by clear sparkling blue waters, the aquatic ecosystem of the place is the major attraction for thousands of naturalists visiting the place. The place has a total of over 70 per cent of all the fish species that actually reside in the Western Pacific Ocean. One of the best times to visit the place to get the maximum out of the place’s beautiful natural aquatic resources is between the months of April and November.
Tanjung Puting: Tanjung Puting National Park is a popular ecotourism destination located on the Borneo Island in Central Kalimantan. The place will make you feel one with nature as it infiltrates your soul with its beauty and interesting animal life. This wildlife research center also has various multi day boat tours to view some of the most famous residents of the park such as clouded leopards, sun bears, pythons, gibbons, macaques, crocodiles and various others. Do not forget to take a peek into the orangutan rehabilitation center to meet some of these hairy friends of mankind. Not only that, there is also the Tanjung river that has some adrenaline rushing activities such as jungle tracking and river cruising.
Baliem valley: Also known as the Grand Valley of Western New Guinea Highlands, Baliem valley offers a glimpse into what was till recently a stone age world. Discovered y chance by the outside world in 1938 when an aerial reconnaissance flight southwards discovered large agricultural population. Today, the place attracts a steady stream of tourists who come to marvel at the beautiful mountain views, tribal village, roaring rivers, and the sweet warm spirit of the local Dani People.
Mount Bromo: Though not the highest yet the most well known peak of the Tengger Massif in East java, Indonesia, Mount Bromo is an active volcano belonging to the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. The place is one of the most visited tourist destinations of Indonesia. The top of the volcano has been blown off forming a big crater that constantly belches out white smoke. Surrounded by the Sea of Sand of fine volcanic ash, the overall effect of the complete view that is best seen during the sunrise is quite unearthly and unsettling. Depending on the degree of the volcanic activity of the volcano, the Indonesian Center of Vulcanology and Disaster Hazard Mitigation Department issues warnings and alerts for the tourists and locals visiting the area.
West Bali National Park: Also known as the Taman National Bali Barat or Bali Barat National Park, this wildlife destination is located on the western tip of Bali covering a total of 750 sq.km. With its open savannahs, mangrove swamp tangles, dense rainforest growth, colorful coral reefs and the famous deer island namely Pulau Menjangan, the place has open boundaries that have now been converted into a conservation area. Many endangered wildlife species are found loitering in the park gardens along with various other species of animals and birds such as Bali starling or the endangered jalak.
Waterbom Bali: One of the premier water parks of Bali, Waterbom Bali water park is located in South Kuta in Bali. Built in 1993, this water park features various exciting slides, rides and water games that are suitable for people of all age groups. The park’s grounds are packed with various leisure facilities that include various types of slides and pools along with lush tropical gardens that provide ample shade top the visiting public. Depending upon the age group of the visitors, there are slides and rides ranging from easy going to adrenaline pumping that provide ample fun and entertainment for all. The park is constantly upgraded to keep it in line with the ever increasing number of rides and entertainment options while keeping the existing spirit of the place intact.
Uluwatu Temple: Renowned for its magnificent location and believed to be one of the six key spiritual temples of Bali, Uluwati Temple is located on the top of a steep cliff around 70 meters above sea level. With a splendid sunset serving as the perfect backdrop for the temple, the place is a must see what with direct views overlooking Indian Ocean and daily Kecak dance performances. What makes the place specially spectacular is its cliff top setting with several archeological studies proving it to be of megalithic origin. Hundreds of monkeys dwell the forest that lies in front of the temple believed to guard the temple from evil influence. It is believed that the three powers of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva become one here and thus, the place is revered as a place of worship of Siva Rudra, a Balinese Hindu deity of all elements and aspect of universe. It is also said that the temple itself protects Bali from evil sea spirits. In terms of tourism also, though the place is a popular visiting place of Indonesia, yet the number of hassling vendors are limited in the temple area. Also, just below the cliff, the Uluwatu Beach is one of the best internationally known surfing spots of Bali. So, don’t forget to pack your sarong and swimsuits while visiting the area.
Kintamani & Mount Batur: Also known as the Kintamani Volcano, Mount Batur is one of the most favorite tourist destinations of Bali offering spectacular views and beauty of Lake Batur that fills the main part of the crater of mountain. Take the long winding road along the lake shore to go to Toya Bungkah or hot springs or any other place and you are sure to find many reasons in the way to linger on. There are some ancient villages too dotting the area around the lake known as Bali Age Village. One of the best places to enjoy the panoramic setting of the place is from Penelokan that greets you with spectacular views of a green carpet area of plants, a lava field, black molten rocks and blue green lake water along with the wonderful twin caldera of Lake Batur. It is best to take a guided tour of the area to enjoy the mountain area to its best.
Banjar Hot Springs: Locally referred to as ‘Air Panas Banjar’, Banjar Hot Springs are located just 5kms away from the famous Lovina coast in North Bali. These centuries old hot springs are a favorite tourist retreat and recreational site, both among foreigners and locals alike. The place has been upgraded with foreign facilities over the recent years with ample bathing pools and restrooms along with changing rooms available for the public. He hot water springs are famous for the therapeutic experience they provide due to the sulphuric content of the water. In fact, during World War II, these hot waters were known to cure many skin ailments as well as rheumatic problems in addition to relaxation and fun. For those unwilling to take a swim, there are lush tropical gardens in addition souvenir shops and a view to die for from the Komala Tirta Restaurant.
Bali Agung Show: Combining a Balinese legend with some lively dance choreography and modern facilities, Bali Agung is a popular theatrical art performance that takes place at the Bali Theatre located in Bali Safari & Marine Park. The performance combines traditional and contemporary dance with puppetry and animal show. It is a colossal group effort by 150 performers that bring on stage numerous allusions of the island’s past. It is romantic, tragic as well as heroic depending on the part that I being narrated. Narrated in English and lasting around an hour, the show is visually strong with powerful motion, sound and color aspects.
Amed Beach: Boasting of a popular and colorful underwater playground of marine life, the place is a must visit for all the diving enthusiasts. Once best known for its traditional salt farming, the place became popular after its beautiful underwater trove was unveiled with a historical shipwreck adding to its mystique. The place offers dramatic sunrises when you are out for a morning catch on the glistening waves. At various points on your morning aboard traditional outriggers, the place is teeming with colorful marine life that includes tropical fishes, sea turtles, rays, reef tip sharks and vibrant coral gardens. After finishing your day playing with these underwater friends, loosen up with a traditional Balinese massage that is considered to be a specialty of the area.
Lovina Beach: A combination of some smaller local beaches, Lovina Beach lies between two districts in Bulelang Regency. The place has calm waves with serene black sand shores that are always alive with thrilling adventures and a vibrant nightlife. This quaint North Bali coast has spectacular sunsets and sunrises along with some colorful dolphin watching tours that keep you camera ready while you catch glimpses of these flippers in the sea. The name of the coast originated from the resort of the same name that was built first in the area. Subsequently, the name outgrew the establishment and came to be applied to the whole coastline which continues to win hearts of all.
Pasir Putih Beach: Revealed only recently to the public eye, Perasi Beach is also known as the ‘White Sand Beach’ or ‘Virgin Beach’ or simply the ‘Hidden Beach’. This secluded beach has a pristine stretch of sand with fantastic views of the small rocky islet of Gilli Biaha on the horizon. The calm waves and its serene setting add to its whole appeal. There are several local restaurants and cafes to quench those hunger pangs that you may get while visiting the area. You can enjoy various water activities at the place such as swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing. The place well hidden among the hills and behind the greenery can be enjoyed at any time of the day, though the restaurants and cafes serving grilled seafood are open only till sunset.
Ulun Danu Beratan Temple: This famous picturesque landmark is located on the western side of Lake Beratan in Central Bali. The place is a popular holiday retreat among locals and island visitors alike what with its strategic location connecting the north and south parts of the island. Literally meaning ‘the source temple of Lake Beratan’, the temple is one of the most iconic sanctuaries of the island with smooth reflective surface of the lake creating a unique floating impression around the temple. The place is dedicated to the main Hindu trinity, Brahma-Vishnu-Siva, in addition to Dewi Danu, the lake goddess. With the cool temperature of the place, the lake and temple are a popular sightseeing spot as well as one of the most photographed sites of the island. The place has stood silent witness to the golden days of Mengwi Kingdom while also being home to a megalithic artifact of a sarcophagus and a stone tablet.
Ubud Royal palace: Said to be one of the most prominent places in Ubud, The Palace is a focal landmark of the area that was built during the lordship of late Ida Tjokorda Putu Kandel and has been well kept by the successive heirs. It has a well preserved Balinese architecture and charming garden settings that is quite well known among the Balinese arts lovers. The palace serves as a cultural repository of dance, arts and literature. In fact, the stage and halls of the palace regularly play host to various international events such as Writers & Readers festival and various others.
Elephant Safari Park: Home to majestic Balinese elephants, the Elephant Safari Park offers a chance to get up close and personal with these peaceful giants. There is a full reception and information center along with a Safari park lodge and a comprehensive museum along with the only mammoth skeleton in Southeast Asia. Take a ride on the backs of towering pachyderms to go through the lush gardens. The park also features a graphic display of elephant history along with a unique boutique shop that features of a massive range of elephant inspired gift items. For the young ones of the family, there is the elephant arena where they can touch, hand feed these animals and watch the playful bathing rituals of these animals. The park is ideal for all family members and open for seven days a week.