The Indonesian archipelago is a collection of islands that holds untold treasures in its diversity of cultures, landscapes, and cities. With nearly 13,500 islands under its jurisdiction, Indonesia offers an adventure for everyone, from exploring ancient temples and hiking active volcanoes to diving in largely untouched waters. You can wander the busy streets of Jakarta, or take a step back in time with a visit to the remote villages of Tana Toraja; indulge in the bliss of Bali, or come face to face with the volatile Anak Krakatau. Whatever you choose, the experience is sure to be one filled with awe and appreciation for a country as steeped in history and natural beauty as this one.
For many people, Bali is beaches. Arguably Indonesia’s most popular vacation spot, Bali has a number of cultural landmarks and traditions that make a visit here worthwhile. But anyone who travels to Bali is going to have warm sand and blue water on their mind, and the island doesn’t disappoint. Kuta is the best known beach, and is great for those who like to combine sun, surfing, and socializing. Because of its popularity, you’ll find no shortage of restaurants and activities here. If you’re looking for something a little quieter and less crowded, NusaDua is still a beauty, but draws fewer tourists. Sanur is the place to go for a little more culture as well as great water sports.
This ancient temple is one of the most famous and culturally significant landmarks in Indonesia. Borobudur was built in the 8th century and constructed in the shape of a traditional Buddhist mandala. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is considered one of the greatest Buddhist sites in the world. The massive temple was forgotten for centuries, when it is believed that much of the population moved to eastern Java due to volcanic eruptions. But it was rediscovered in the 1800s and, today, is one of the main draws in Java. Visit at sunrise for a torch-light climb up the temple and for the breathtaking experience of watching as the complex is bathed in sunlight. Borobudur lies near Yogyakarta, an old Javanese city known for its rich cultural and historical offerings.
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No trip to Indonesia would be complete without seeing some orangutans, and Borneo is a great place to visit these beautiful and endangered creatures. Though orangutans still live in the wild, several sanctuaries rescue and protect orangutans as land development infringes on their natural habitat. Tanjung Puting National Park in Kalimantan, Borneo, is home to the largest orangutan population in the world, as well as other primates, birds, and reptiles. If you don’t make it to Borneo, you can also see orangutans at the Bohorok Orangutan Centre in Bukit Lawang, a tourism village in the Sumatran jungle.
The Gili Islands are a major draw in Lombok, which has risen in popularity among backpackers and tourists in recent years. These picturesque islands offer beaches that rival those of Bali in their beauty, as well as opportunities for diving and even snorkeling at a turtle sanctuary. If you’re looking for more turtle action, you can check out a turtle hatchery where hundreds of these creatures are born each year. Kayaking is also popular in the Gilis, and if you’re seeking a place to reconnect with your mind and body, you will find several options for yoga classes. The Gili Islands provide a more relaxed, though still stimulating, alternative to popular Bali.