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Clear blue sky and sea at Padar Island, Indonesia

Things to do in  Indonesia

Islands of adventure

Home to more than 120 active volcanoes, more than 700 languages, and 17,000-plus islands (and counting), Indonesia stretches further from east to west than the continental United States. For travelers to the world’s fourth most populous nation, this means two things: You’ll never see it all, and you’ll never run out of things to do. Adventure awaits in this tropical wonderland—from spotting Komodo dragons and Sumatran orangutans to learning about Sulawesi funeral rituals and visiting ancient temples on Java to partying at beach clubs on Bali.

Top 15 attractions in Indonesia

Ubud Monkey Forest (Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary)

A Balinese Hindu site, the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is populated by some 700 long-tailed Balinese macaques that live in and around the forest. The monkeys are believed to protect the area and the three Hindu temples within—Pura Dalem Agung, Pura Beji, and Pura Prajapati—from evil spirits.More

Museum Pasifika

Nusa Dua’s answer to Ubud’s art museums, Museum Pasifika, which opened in 2006, is dedicated to the art of Asia Pacific. Balinese artists and expatriates working on the island are well-represented, but galleries showcase art and sculptures from Papua, Vanuatu, Polynesia, historical Indo-China, and beyond.More

Tegenungan Waterfall (Air Terjun Tegenungan)

Not far from Ubud, Tegenungan Waterfall foams in a white cascade over black stone cliffs into a quiet pool. At around 66 feet (20 meters) high, it’s an impressive flow, and that’s not all the site has to offer. Besides climbable cliffs, a secret smaller waterfall, and simple food stalls, a charming grotto houses a sacred spring.More

Kuta Beach (Pantai Kuta)

Bali’s first beach hotel opened back in the 1930s on Kuta’s epic sweep of golden sand and metronomic surf. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, Australian surfers popularized the place, and today Kuta Beach is the epicenter of Kuta, Bali’s liveliest and most touristic district. If great waves and beach boys float your boat, Kuta won’t disappoint.More

Tegalalang Rice Terrace (Sawah Terasering Tegalalang)

The stunning Tegalalang Rice Terrace, part of the Cultural Landscape of Bali Province UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprises cascading emerald-green fields worked by local rice farmers. Just outside Ubud, it has become a destination for travelers making their way between Bali’s sandy beaches, towering mountains, and steaming volcanoes.More

Mt. Rinjani (Gunung Rinjani)

When volcanic and seismic activity permits, 12,224-foot (3,726-meter) Mt. Rinjani is one of Indonesia’s great volcano climbs—even if you stop, as many climbers do, at the crater rim. The towering peak, complete with crater lake, dominates north Lombok, so even when the mountain is closed to visitors, hikes on the lower slopes appeal.More

Tirta Empul Temple (Pura Tirta Empul)

Bali’s most popular sacred spring, Tirta Empul Temple dates back more than 1,000 years. Travelers from around the globe flock to its holy waters to bathe beside Balinese pilgrims; accept blessings from healers, priests, and shamans; or simply soak up the atmosphere. The temple is northeast of Ubud in Tampaksiring, not far from Gunung Kawi.More


The Buddhist temple of Borobudur is recognized not only as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also the largest Buddhist structure on earth. Towering stone stupas stretch into the skies, and Indonesia’s breathtaking natural backdrop of volcanoes and lush landscapes lends an even more impressive air to this remarkable sight.More

Indonesia National Monument (Monas)

The Indonesia National Monument (Monas) towers 433 feet (132 meters) above Jakarta’s geographical center, topped with a gilded flame. Designed by Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, it houses a museum of dioramas and an observation platform.More

Neka Art Museum

In Bali’s cultural capital, Ubud, the Neka Art Museum is one of the town’s big three art galleries. Founded by Suteja Neka, its airy pavilions are home to a treasure trove of Balinese and Indonesian art, as well as a collection of wavy daggers known as “keris.” The Balinese Painting Hall is a good place to explore the work of local artists.More

Glodok (Jakarta Chinatown)

Jakarta Chinatown, better known to locals as Glodok, was born after the massacre of 5,000 Chinese in 1740, when the remaining population were moved to a separate settlement outside the city walls. Today it’s a bustling hub where Chinese eateries, temples, street markets, and medicine shops nudge up against electronics stores.More

Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature Park)

In East Jakarta, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (Beautiful Indonesia Mini Park) showcases the sheer diversity of this archipelago of approximately 18,000 islands. The 247-acre (100-hectare) space houses full-scale replicas of homes from different cultures, plus museums, theaters, gardens, a waterpark, an aviary, an IMAX cinema, a cable car, and more.More

Sunda Kelapa (Jakarta Old Port)

Jakarta’s old port, Sunda Kelapa is a popular stop on any tour of historic Jakarta (or Batavia, as it once was). Wooden 2-masted pinisi sailing ships still moor here, while porters move goods to and fro as they have since the 13th century. Converted warehouses hold the Maritime Museum, and a watchtower and lighthouses stand guard over the bustling harbor.More

Elephant Cave (Goa Gajah)

With a history dating back more than 1,000 years, one of Bali’s holiest Hindu sites (and most popular attractions) is a grotto covered in carvings of mythological creatures. While Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) has uncertain origins, it's believed that Hindu priests dug it out by hand to use as a hermitage.More

Ubud Palace (Puri Saren Agung)

Home of Ubud’s royal family since the late-19th century, Ubud Palace (Puri Saren Palace or Puri Saren Agung) sits in the heart of downtown Ubud near the traditional art market. Explore the pavilions and gardens. There are also traditional Balinese dance performances in the courtyard each evening, a must for any visitor to Indonesia.More
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All about Indonesia

When to visit

The summer peak season (July–August) and the shoulder seasons (April–June and September–November) are the best times to visit Indonesia. In most of the country, the dry season runs between roughly May and October. While it’s tempting to visit during the northern hemisphere winter, Indonesia’s rainy season brings heavy humidity and often unpleasant water conditions. Bali, in particular, can get extremely crowded over Christmas, New Year, and Lunar New Year.

Getting around

With all those islands, it might seem that flying would be the best way to get around Indonesia, but boats and trains (on Java and Sumatra) are greener and more atmospheric ways to travel. Indonesia’s public transit can be hard to navigate, but regional ride-sharing apps, such as Gojek and Grab, fill in the transportation gaps. Travelers looking for photo ops won’t want to miss quirky short-hop modes of transit, such as pedal-powered becak cyclos or Lombok’s cidomo horse carts.

Traveler tips

It’s easy to try and cram too much into an Indonesia trip. Staying for a month or more and picking a small number of areas to focus on will let you spend more time experiencing the archipelago and less in transit. Pack carefully for your itinerary: For example, what is appropriate in a Bali beach club won’t be acceptable in downtown Jakarta. Volcano hikes can get surprisingly cold, while plus-size clothing is almost impossible to find even on Bali.

Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
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WIB (UTC +7)
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People Also Ask

What is Indonesia known for?

Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago nation, encompassing more than 17,000 islands. Many travelers come to Indonesia to lounge on its beaches, snorkel or scuba dive the coral reef, or surf world-class waves from Bali to Sumatra. But it’s also home to jungle, rice fields, ancient temples, and volcanoes.

What special attraction is located in Indonesia?

Indonesia’s best-known islands are Bali, Java, Lombok, and (most of) Borneo. Weird and wonderful wildlife includes orangutans, tarsiers, mola-mola fish, and Komodo dragons. Out of its UNESCO World Heritage sites, the most famous is Java’s Borobudur, one of the world’s greatest Buddhist monuments, built during the eighth and ninth centuries.

What is unique to Indonesia?

Indonesia is home to unique wildlife species, including types of rhinoceros, orangutan, and elephant. But its most famous critter is the Komodo dragon, Earth’s largest lizard. Komodos can grow to more than 10 feet (3 meters) and live only in Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Flores.

What is the coolest city in Indonesia?

Jakarta is Indonesia’s biggest city and the nation’s capital, but Yogyakarta just may be the coolest. Yogyakarta is a university town with vibrant nightlife, a laid-back vibe, and a rich traditional culture. It’s also the perfect base for exploring Borobudur (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Prambanan Temple, and Mt. Merapi.

What things are illegal in Indonesia?

Drugs are famously illegal in Indonesia, with penalties—including death—applied to locals and foreigners alike. Riding a motorbike without a helmet and a locally valid license is also illegal, although you may see unhelmeted riders on the streets. LGBTQ rights are threatened, and the autonomous Aceh region has harsh local laws.

Is Indonesia friendly to foreigners?

Yes. Indonesians are incredibly friendly to foreigners. In much of the country, it may be hard to walk down the street without someone engaging you in conversation or practicing their English. Public displays of affection, however, are taboo for all couples and can be actively dangerous for visibly LGBTQ couples.


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