There’s more to Indonesia than Bali, especially since this Southeast Asian nation is home to over 17,000 islands. Tourists are missing a lot if they are content in exploring Bali, which is so touristy. Sure, it’s one of the country’s must-see destinations, but exploring beyond this province will deliver more satisfying travel memories.
Indonesia boasts many experiences for tourists of varied tastes, from nature lovers to culture buffs. It has nine destinations listed on UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and even those not part of the list deserve praise. From its bustling capital to its charming islands, Indonesia is indeed wonderful.
Jakarta might be notorious for its traffic woes, but this bustling metropolis is still a good place for an introductory tour of Indonesia. After all, it is the capital. It faces the Java Sea to its north, giving tourists a calming breeze as a boost to start their exploration. The city’s center is a sightseeing hotspot because of its landmarks, like the National Monument, a presidential palace, and the National Museum. Those who want to go on an island can join a trip to the Seribu Archipelago, while culture buffs can meet the capital’s ethnic group in the south. Indeed, this Indonesian destination never sleeps, too.
In Indonesia, Solo travel means a visit to an “old city.” Officially known as Surakarta, Solo played an important role in the development of central Java, and remnants of its ancient kingdom can be seen in the city. Among landmarks related to the Mataram empire is the intricate Kraton Surakarta and the still-in-use Mangkunegaran Palace. Tourists should not miss dropping by the Sangiran Museum of Ancient Man, which hosts the largest collection of Homo erectus fossils in the world. House of Danar Hadi also aims to inspire visitors with its batik, some of the finest on the planet. Solo will surprise wanderers.
Foodies would want to munch on the treats of Medan, an ethnically diverse city that prepares flavorful cuisines. As such, tourists should not miss tasting bolu meranti, a delectable sponge cake abundant in the streets. The majestic Maimun Palace will interest sightseers, while nature lovers can head to the pristine Lake Toba or the welcoming Samosir Island. Lastly, those seeking zen can visit its intricate temples. The town of Berastagi is also near the city, and it’s perfect for those craving tropical fruits. “Me time” in Medan is satisfying.
Surabaya, then and now, is a rich trading hub and played a key role in the independence movement of Indonesia. As such, those exploring this metropolis will be enamored by its rich stories of the past. For starters, tourists can check out its submarine museum and the tobacco museum of the House of Sampoerna. It also has mesmerizing temples for those looking for a retreat. At nighttime, explorers should not miss as Suramadu bridge — the longest cable-stayed bridge in the country — lights up. Daytime, meanwhile, will entice tourists to head to the nearby Madura Island via the said bridge. Travel guide Lonely Planet said it best: the city is like wine: it gets better as tourists get to know it.
Culture is the star in Malang, so those exploring it should not miss watching traditional dance performances, like the topeng, a masked spectacle. Those visiting in time for the spectacular Kesodo festival will witness inspiring rituals with the stunning Mount Bromo in the background. The said volcano can also be hiked by adventurous tourists. Historical landmarks, museums, and monuments also abound in the city, making it the perfect place for holistic travel. From its culture to its natural wonders, Malang is marvelous.
Magelang is the usual starting point for those exploring the World Heritage Site of Borobudur Temple, one of Indonesia’s iconic landmarks. Hugged by two mountains, the city has a rich heritage and lush landscapes. Aside from museums and temples, the destination is proud of its rivers, where rafters can challenge the rapids. Those who want to test their legs can trek Mt. Merapi to reach Ketep Pass, which connects Merapi to Mt. Merbabu. Those who want to see a quirky destination should not miss the cute Chicken Church to learn its story. Magelang is indeed mesmerizing.
4 Komodo Island
The island of Komodo is famous for two things: Komodo dragons and its breathtaking Pink Beach. The world’s largest reptile is endemic in Indonesia, so visitors should not miss checking them out. Those who want to have fun under the sun will enjoy beachcombing and taking snaps of its seemingly pink-sand beach, while trekkers can hike the peak of Padar Island for a scenic panorama. Above the treeline or underwater, those exploring Komodo and the national park where it is located will have unmatched experiences.
Most tourists don’t head to Mataram, making it the ideal city for those who want to explore off-the-beaten and uncrowded destinations. Lonely Planet lists at least four destinations in this town. First is Pura Lingsar, the holiest temple on the island of Lombok, so peace comes easy in this compound. It can be followed up by a visit to Pura Meru, the second-most important Hindu temple on the island. Tourists can also check out the once-grand Mayura Water Palace and cap off their exploration at the Islamic Center Nusa Tenggara Barat, where they can reach its tallest minaret for an inspiring view of the landscape.
Dubbed the “City of Thousand Rivers,” Banjarmasin is the place to make a splash. Indonesia markets it as the best place to take in the urban culture of Kalimantan, something to entice those who want to experience authenticity when traveling. Tourists should not miss riding a boat that will take them to any of its floating markets. While afloat, tourists have a chance to observe the way of the locals while chatting with their guide. Before going home, they should at least buy some goods, especially fruits, that will remind them of their sweet experience in Banjarmasin.
Mosques abound in Makassar, and there’s a unique one with Chinese influences, an enticing prospect for curious travelers. This busy city is a melting pot of cultures because of its many influences and residents of varied backgrounds. Those who want to step back in time can start their journey at Fort Rotterdam, where a former sultanate’s bastion awaits them. Meanwhile, nature lovers can chase waterfalls in the lush Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park. Before leaving the city, tourists should have a quick stroll along Losari Beach, where the sunset is magical.