A Bucket List Guide to Indonesia, And No, We're not Just Talking About Bali!

Raja Ampat. (picture: thesevenseas.net)

If you’re thinking of heading to Indonesia on your next holiday, no doubt Bali’s top of your list. But this country has plenty more to offer, and the best way to explore it is by turning your standard beach holiday into a multi-stop adventure.

Approximately 18,000 islands make up Indonesia, but only about 6,000 of these are populated. Some, like Java, contain half the country’s population, while the remote islands in Raja Ampat are home to just a few families.

It’s a country of extreme contrasts. You can’t get two more different views than the metropolis of Jakarta and the tiny jungle-covered islands in Piaynemo.


It’s perfect for adventure lovers, culture vultures and those wanting to chill out. If you can find two to three weeks, you’ll be able to cram in all of the following, and still enjoy a few days in Bali at the end.

So, from Yogyakarta’s epic temples and Bandung’s lush landscapes, to the rugged paradise islands of Raja Ampat, it’s time for the ultimate Indonesian adventure.


The bustling town of Yogyakarta is the perfect base for exploring Indonesia’s famous temples. To the northwest is Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple, and Indonesia’s most visited tourist attraction.

Constructed in the 9th century, it was abandoned in the 14th century as the population converted to Islam. Restored in the 70s and protected by UNESCO, it’s an incredible place to explore, and best seen first thing in the morning.

The sunrises at Brorobudur are legendary, with not only the temple being illuminated, but also the surrounding volcanoes and jungle – a totally magical view.

Meanwhile, to the northeast of Yogyakarta is Prambanan, the largest Hindu temple site in the country. Eight large main temples remain, each covered in incredible detail.

Yogyakarta is also a great destination for art and culture lovers, with batik making and ballet shows popular with visitors. 


Indonesia’s third largest city is located a few hours’ drive from Jakarta. It offers a chance to get to grips with Indonesian culture, explore some dramatic landscapes, while having plenty of fun.

Adrenaline lovers will relish the opportunity to go off-roading. Hard hats on, you’ll head along muddy terrain past tea plantations, rice paddies, through the stunning Jayagiri Rainforest and up to a beautiful view point.

It’s a region full of traditions, and for the ultimate introduction, spend a morning with the Hong Community. The Sundanese people love passing on their culture via a series of fun games, music and crafts.

Eco-tourism park Dusun Bambu is set in the foothills of active Mount Burangrang. After enjoying lunch overlooking the boating lake, you can have a go at archery, trampolining and rowing.

And for foodies there’s a Kampung Daun – a restaurant in the jungle with several cascading waterfalls. A memorable place to enjoy a plate of nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice). 

Raja Ampat

After taking in the culture of the country, it’s time to jet over to paradise. Raja Ampat (meaning Four Kings) is a raw, untouched archipelago in West Papua.

These may be among the most beautiful islands on the planet, but part of the excitement is what’s going on below the water. The waters are some of the most bio diverse in the world, making diving and snorkelling top notch.

Pop your head in and you’ll be taken to a colourful coral universe surrounded by angelfish, needlefish, lionfish, batfish, and even pufferfish.

Divers will get the chance to see bluefin jacks, grey reef sharks, blacktips and whitetips along with the elusive wobbegong – a type of shark that’s only found in this region.

Boat trips to other islands are popular with the few tourists who make it to Raja Ampat, and a visit to Arborek really is a must!

After smiley kids greet you with traditional music and dance, you can head off on a tour of the village. It’s a colourful place with around 200 residents, a school, church, a few homestays and basic stores.

But the most famous view in Raja Ampat has to be Piaynemo. The cluster of small mountainous islands is located in the brightest of waters. After a hot, sweaty trek up to the viewpoint, you’ll be ready to dive right in!

Gili Islands 

The Gili islands (Gili Trawangan, Meno and Air) are located between the islands of Lombok and Bali. While all are small, Gili T is the largest and the best base for a short visit.

It’s got a kooky vibe with hippy beach shops, shisha bars, and lots of backpacker bars. There are no cars on the island so unless you fancy cycling you’ll need to hop on a horse cart.

While one side has been developed a little, there are still plenty of quiet, romantic spots like Hotel Ombak Sunset with its famous swing out in the water. Snorkelling is top notch here too, with turtles often swimming close to the shore.


There is so much to see in Bali, but before you plan your time you need to decide if you’re going for adventure, luxury or a mix of the two.

Seminyak, Kuta and Nusa Dua are home to plenty of stunning resorts. Hotels such as The Balé offer chic private pavilions with large pools and gardens.

While there you can unwind completely, enjoying massages at their spa and gourmet food at new restaurant TAPA Bistro.

A short drive and you’ll be at the sacred temple of Uluwatu perched high on the cliffs. Below, Blue Point Beach is known for its world-class surfing, and there are plenty of great cafes to watch the surfers in action.

Meanwhile adventurers will want to spend time in Ubud. The trendy jungle town in the middle of the island is a great base for visiting the world famous monkey sanctuary, Tegallalang rice terraces and a number of impressive waterfalls.

Not only that, but it’s a short drive to Mount Batur – a huge volcano that’s best hiked at sunrise. You won’t forget those views in a hurry! 

source: metro.co.uk

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