Southeast Asia’s wild frontier offers colossal volcanoes, thriving coral reefs and vast rainforests. And with over 17,000 islands stretching from the Malay Peninsula to northern Australia, there’s no counting the reasons why you should visit Indonesia.
It isn’t just Indonesia’s geography that’s unique. It’s also a land of diverse people. Kudos to you if you already know that “apa kabar” is “how are you” in Bahasa. However, Indonesia is home to some 300 other languages and hundreds more cultures. Without these, Indonesia would be without its numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the breathtaking Borobudur in Java and Bali’s idyllic water temples.
With so much packed in every punch, there’s almost too much on offer to fit on even the longest of visits to Indonesia. So where do you begin? We’ve rounded up 10 of Indonesia’s most beautiful places that are sure to satisfy even the most seasoned traveller.
1. Visit Indonesia: Nusa Penida, Bali
Believed by locals to be inhabited by dark spirits, Bali’s “Island of Priests” has a very different reputation on social media. Bordered by a dramatic coastline and boasting secluded beaches that seem like they were almost bitten out of the cliffs, this is Instagram bait at its finest.
Earn yourself a couple (of hundred) likes at Kelingking Beach, but make sure you savour the rest of Nusa Penida’s otherworldly sights, such as Angel’s Billabong, Diamond Beach and Broken Beach. The island’s giant manta rays are also a major offshore draw. Meanwhile, the island’s dark spirit temple, Pura Dalem Ped, has been at the centre of local Hindu traditions for centuries. Save yourself a few days to make the most of this bewitching destination.
Offering air-conditioned huts built in the style of local grain houses, Coco Resort Penida’s woven walls, A-shaped roofs and Sasak decor are a thoughtful throwback to Bali’s unique cultural heritage.
Amenities at this charming hotel include a pool, restaurant and lounge bar. You can also enjoy a Balinese massage or hot stone treatment at the Coco Spa. When you’re ready for some beach time, Crystal Bay, one of Nusa Penida’s best swimming beaches, is just down the road.
- Goa Giri Putri Temple (9.7 kilometres)
- The Pura Dalem Ped temple (9.7 kilometres)
- Crystal Bay (2.1 kilometres)
Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 81 – USD 132
Guest Rating: 8.5
Address: Jalan Crystal Bay Desa Sakti Nusa Penida Island, Sakti, Nusapenida, Kabupaten Klungkung, Bali 80771
2. Visit Indonesia: Ubud, Bali
A far cry from the overdevelopment in nearby Kuta, Ubud is reason enough to visit Indonesia. Surrounded by rippling rice paddies, this spiritual and cultural centre is the hub of Balinese Hinduism. You’ll recognise this instantly from the floral offerings decorating its streets and the gamelan music that follows you down every alleyway.
Just taking a yoga class or enjoying the excellent local cuisine is enough for an unforgettable vacation in Ubud. However, explore the surrounding countryside or cleanse yourself in the pool of an 11th-century temple and you’ll see what this place is really about.
Make the most of your stay in Ubud at this secluded luxury resort. Bordered on three sides by the picturesque Petanu River, The Kayon offers rest and relaxation in a truly spectacular setting. A few dozen rooms, decorated in a contemporary Balinese style, look out over dramatic jungle vistas. Each has its own private terrace, while the villas also have private pools.
Up on the hotel’s main deck, two restaurants, an infinity pool and a wedding chapel all capture magical forest views at sunset. A yoga pavilion offers group and one-on-one classes, while the Serayu Spa specialises in nurturing body rituals.
- Ubud Palace (7.6 kilometres)
- Ubud Market (7.7 kilometres)
- Monkey Forest (6.2 kilometres)
Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 280 – USD 637
Guest Rating: 10.0
Address: Banjar Kepitu, Kenderan, Kec. Tegallalang, Bali
3. Visit Indonesia: Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara
Dominated by Indonesia’s second highest volcano, Lombok is an excellent choice for both beach bums and intrepid adventurers. It was the island’s surfing that brought the first Western tourists here. Righteous swells can be found all along the southern coast from November to March. Hit up neighbouring Bali if you want to surf between April and October.
Hikes to the summit of the smouldering Mount Rinjani provide almost otherworldly views of the island’s angry volcanic landscape. Meanwhile, the laidback town of Kuta is a wise choice for those looking to clock in some serious beach time.
The Lombok location of this renowned group of luxury hotels offers possibly everything you could want during your visit to Indonesia. Set across more than 9 hectares of gardens with ocean views, The Oberoi’s thatched pavilions and airy villas are hard to beat. The decor is contemporary, with rooms furnished in bare wood and cushioned cane furniture. Select a villa and you’ll also get to enjoy a private pool.
There’s plenty at The Oberoi to help you make the most of your vacation. Book a snorkelling trip to the nearby Gili Islands or get PADI-certified diving at the resort’s own private reef. Cocktails and exquisite Indonesian and international fare are served at four on-site dining venues. However, for something truly spectacular, take a romantic sunset cruise and enjoy champagne against the backdrop of Bali’s sacred Mount Agung.
- Medana Beach (1.4 kilometres)
- Lombok Wildlife Park (5 kilometres)
- Sire Beach Golf Club (5.8 kilometres)
Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 280 – USD 1,171
Guest Rating: 9.9
Address: Medana Beach,, Tanjung,, North Lombok,, Sigar Penjalin, Tanjung, North Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara 83352
4. Visit Indonesia: Komodo National Park, East Nusa Tenggara
If you’re adding Komodo to your itinerary, you’re probably hoping to catch a glimpse of the world’s largest lizard. Around 3,000 Komodo dragons can be found across the three islands comprising this nature reserve.
But that’s not the only reason Komodo is somewhere you must go when you visit Indonesia. The rugged landscape is pockmarked with secret coves and beaches just waiting to be explored. Pink beaches I and II are great places to start.
Elsewhere, the Martian rises on Padar Island boast fantastic viewpoints for sunrise and sunset. Don’t forget to bring your snorkel. The marine life, which includes whale sharks and dugongs, is another reason Komodo is a must-visit place in Indonesia.
As the park itself is a protected area, the neighbouring island of Flores is your best jumping off point for visits to Komodo. Bintang Flores Hotel, which sits just across the Flores Strait from Komodo, has the perfect location. This beach hotel offers great sea views and everything you could need once your wild adventure on Komodo is over.
Scuba diving and snorkelling enthusiasts will love the diving excursions organised by Wet Frog Divers, Bintang’s on-site dive centre. Tuck into seafood at Kelimutu Coffee Shop, which is caught fresh from the Flores Strait. Dine alfresco, so you don’t miss Bintang Flores’ fiery sunsets.
- Labuan Bajo Fish Market (3.5 kilometres)
- Batu Cermin Cave (5 kilometres)
- Amelia Sea View (6.8 kilometres)
Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 86 – USD 235
Guest Rating: 7.9
Address: Jl. Pantai Pede, Labuan Bajo, Komodo, Kabupaten Manggarai Barat, Nusa Tenggara Tim.
5. Visit Indonesia: Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, East Java
Java seems like a strange place for 145 million people to live. This long, angry island is made up of 38 smoke-billowing volcanoes. However, this volcanic activity has given the island some of the most beautiful places to visit in Indonesia.
Case in point: Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. Snaps of this lunar landscape may have popped up on your Instagram feed before. It’s not hard to see why. The park takes its name from two of the four volcanoes towering over it: Mount Bromo and Mount Semeru. The latter is Java’s highest peak. Most of the park’s peaks are actually rising out of the crater of an enormous supervolcano. It’s no wonder the hiking here is nothing short of surreal.
Contemporary design and creature comforts await you at this Art Deco hotel in Probolinggo, Java’s gateway to Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. Most of the Bromo Park Hotel’s smartly decorated rooms come with views of the city, sea or the national park.
The inclusion of family rooms with bunk beds makes this a great choice for those visiting Bromo Tengger with the kids. Other amenities include free Wi-Fi and a restaurant serving satisfying local and regional specialties.
- Bentar Beach (8.4 kilometres)
- Candi Jabung Hindu temple (32.4 kilometres)
- Patung Kuda Cipta Wilaha (2.1 kilometres)
Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 32 – USD 138
Guest Rating: No rating
Address: Jl. Dr.Sutomo No.70, Tisnonegaran, Kec. Kanigaran, Kota Probolinggo, Jawa Timur 67217
6. Visit Indonesia: Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan
Orangutans are one of the top reasons people first decide to visit Indonesia. Tragically though, their numbers have been in rapid decline as Indonesia’s jungles are slashed and burned to make room for palm oil plantations. Click here to learn what you can do to help save these gentle apes and their forest homes.
Indonesia’s track record on orangutan conservation has been inconsistent at best. However, thanks to long-term efforts by the Orangutan Foundation, Tanjung Puting National Park remains one of the best places to spot them in the wild.
A total of 11 primate species can be found living in this 3,000-square-kilometre reserve – the highest concentration in the world. That’s in addition to clouded leopards, civets, and tiny Malaysian sun bears. A river cruise down the Sekonyer River is the best way of spotting these amazing creatures in their natural habitats.
Located in Pangkalan Bun, this well-appointed outpost of the international hotel group is more than just a convenient base camp. The Swiss Belhotel Pangkalabun’s 93 rooms are smartly decorated and have air conditioning and high-speed internet.
Upgrade to a royal or presidential suite for a separate dining and living space. Other facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, fitness area, spa and a restaurant serving local and international dishes.
- Waterfront City (4.1 kilometres)
- Tanjung Putting National Park (15.9 kilometres)
- The Camp Leakey orangutan sanctuary (48 kilometres)
Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 52 – USD 125
Guest Rating: 7.3
Address: Jl. Ahmad Yani Km. 2, Pangkalan Bun, Baru, Kec. Arut Sel., Kabupaten Kotawaringin Barat, Kalimantan Tengah 74113
7. Visit Indonesia: Raja Ampat, West Papua
When most people start planning to visit Indonesia, few think to venture out into its “wild east”, despite the enticing rewards. Raja Ampat is easily one of the most beautiful places in Indonesia. Comprised of over 1,500 sparsely inhabited islands, this is a Nat-Geo wonder world of teardrop-shaped islands, floating forests and white-sand beaches. It’s somewhere you simply must visit in Indonesia.
The beauty of this remote regency doesn’t stop at the shoreline either. “The species factory”, as it’s also known, is home to over 1,000 fish, 700 molluscs and 75 percent of all known coral species. Although Raja Ampat is a more advanced diving destination, there are numerous sites where first-timers can get certified while exploring this underwater playground.
Occupying a secluded waterfront location on the island of Waigeo, Waiwo Dive Resort is well-situated for boat trips throughout Raja Ampat. It also puts you within easy reach of Sorong, the main transport hub to other parts of Indonesia. This waterfront hamlet comprises affordable terraced rooms and bungalows – some right on the sand – with spectacular views at sunset.
The eco-friendly resort has been built on the edge of the island’s largely unexplored jungle, so you might encounter some of the local wildlife, including Papua’s iconic Birds Of Paradise. Waiwo’s rooms come with air conditioning and either one king-size bed or two queen-size beds. Its newly upgraded dive centre, Dive into Raja Ampat, offers PADI courses and multiple excursions around the islands.
- Waisai Village (5.9 kilometres)
- Warkesi Bird Watching Area (8 kilometres)
- Kabui Bay (22.3 kilometres)
Star Rating: 2*
Price: USD 75 – USD 146
Guest Rating: No rating
Address: Jl. Marinda – Waiwo, Waisai, Kota Waisai, Kabupaten Raja Ampat, Papua Bar. 98482
8. Visit Indonesia: Yogyakarta, Java
The only Indonesian royal city to still have a sultan, monarchical Yogyakarta (also called “Jogjakarta”) is the centre of Javanese culture. This is a place where tradition runs deep. The Javanese language is at its purest, traditional dances are perfectly refined and the city’s streets hum with gamelan music.
This is the gateway to two of Indonesia’s most astonishing Heritage-listed archaeological sites: the Buddhist Borobudur and Hindu Prambanan. You can also zip-line through the leafy canopies of Kalibiru National Park, go rafting on the Progo River or ride sandboards down the dunes of Gumuk Pasir.
Enjoy a stay befitting Jogja royalty at this refined hotel outside the city centre. Yogyakarta Marriott Hotel offers elegant rooms with views of either the city or the hotel’s sparkling pool. Book a Club M room for access to complimentary hors d’oeuvres and beverages in the exclusive Lounge.
The Marriott’s two exquisite restaurants are sure to satisfy all your foodie cravings. An upbeat atmosphere and contemporary local decor pair well with the Indonesian and international buffet at Yogyakarta Kitchen. You can also sit out on the patio at the Mediterranean restaurant, Taman Sari Bar & Grill, which is the perfect setting for a cocktail, or three.
- Hartono Mall Yogyakarta (0.4 kilometres)
- Taman Sari (10.1 kilometres)
- The Palace of Yogyakarta (10.4 kilometres)
Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 86 – USD 280
Guest Rating: No rating
Address: Jl. Ring Road Utara, Kaliwaru, Condongcatur, Kec. Depok, Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55283
9. Visit Indonesia: Bandung, West Java
Back when Indonesia was known as the Dutch East Indies, Bandung was known as the “Paris of Java”. The city may have changed today, but wander past the Art Deco storefronts and boutique cafes lining Jalan Braga and you’ll see the connection.
Bandung’s appeal doesn’t stop at its historic centre though. The rolling tea plantations surrounding the city make for some of the most beautiful scenery you’ll see when you visit Indonesia. Beyond the city, the majestic stratovolcano, Tangkuban Perahu, boasts turquoise crater lakes and steamy hot springs.
Boasting spectacular mountain views, Padma Hotel Bandung’s refined rooms offer a taste of old colonial Bandung in a contemporary setting with 24-hour butler service. Book a Hillside Studio for sprawling views of the surrounding countryside from the sixth or seventh floor.
Dining at the hotel’s restaurant is a treat in itself, with fine Asian and European fare served against the backdrop of a forest canopy. The hotel also has an inviting swimming pool, well-equipped fitness centre and yoga classes.
- 1917 Heritage Dago Golf Course (4.6 kilometres)
- Selasar Sunaryo Art Space (7.8 kilometres)
- Museum Konferensi Asia Afrika (7.8 kilometres)
Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 109 – USD 398
Guest Rating: 9
Address: Jl. Rancabentang No.56-58, Ciumbuleuit, Kec. Cidadap, Kota Bandung, Jawa Barat 40142
10. Visit Indonesia: The Derawan Islands, East Kalimantan
Just off the northeastern corner of Indonesian Borneo, Derawan is another dive site that’s a bit of a puzzle to reach. However, don’t let that deter you when you visit Indonesia.
These 31 easy-going islands offer great driving, pristine beaches and the largest nesting site in the country for green turtles. The high tides during the full moon are the best time to watch these majestic animals crawl onto the beaches to lay their eggs. Meanwhile, tiny Kakaban Island is one of the only places in the world where you can swim in a sea of stingless jellyfish.
Pratasaba Resort is located on the spindly, shark fin-shaped Maratua Island (but you can call it “Turtle Island”). This jungle resort offers a range of comfortable cottages and lodges perfect for families and couples. There are also homestay rooms for those travelling to Derawan on a budget.
Positioned right in the centre of the island of Maratua, Pratasaba Resort is a great base for trips out to the rest of Derawan. Its dive centre has access to over 50 dive sites in the surrounding area, as well as Kakaban Island. When you return, hit up the floating restaurant, Saba Resto, for fresh seafood and fantastic sunset views.
- Halo Tabung Cave (8.4 kilometres)
- Kakaban Lake (10.1 kilometres)
- Lagoona Kehe Daing (9.1 kilometres)
Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 96 – USD 169
Guest Rating: No rating
Address: Payung-Payung, Maratua, Berau Regency, East Kalimantan 77381
Visit Indonesia and See for Yourself
When the choices are this good, deciding where to start your adventure is tough work. However, you are guaranteed one thing in all of these places. You’ll find it whether you end up wandering down Ubud’s mystic temple trails or diving into the wild underwater worlds of Raja Ampat. Visit any of these Indonesian destinations and you’ll never want to leave.