Indonesia is a vast and complicated country, geographically. It would be impossible to come up with a truly comprehensive top 10 list of the best attractions in Indonesia. This list is though one that will give the first time visitor to its shores a good idea of the diverse beauty of this amazing country.
One of the most amazing ancient temples in the whole of Southeast Asia, Borobudur is a 9th century Buddhist temple officially recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is huge, six square platforms rising in height with 3 circular ones on the top. It has an amazing 2672 relief panels carved into it and 504 statues of the Buddha. It lays claim to be the world’s biggest Buddhist temple in the world, though scholars claim Angkor Wat is bigger. I Think Borobudur is a bigger building whereas Angkor is a bigger site. This temple is without doubt enormous, and of enormous religious importance. It is Indonesia’s single most visited site of any description.
Pura Luhur Uluwatu
On the island of Bali in a village called Pecatu is one of the most important old temples of Indonesia. Pura Luhur Uluwatu was built almost 1000 years ago, to protect the island from evil spirits. The name means something close to ‘divine origin at the land’s end’. There are wild monkeys living in the temple and it is therefore best to remove sunglasses and hide your camera. As always with temple sites, you need to dress respectfully, though they do hire out sarongs if you forget. It is a worthy addition to anyone’s list of the best attractions in Indonesia.
The Independence Mosque is the largest in the whole of Southeast Asia. Opened to the public on 22 February 1978, the national mosque of Indonesia was built to commemorate Indonesian independence from the Netherlands and named “Istiqlal”, which in Arabic means “independence”. It has seven entrances, and all are named after Al-Asmaul-Husna, which are the names of God in the Islam faith. Seven is extremely significant as it represents the Seven Heavens of Islamic cosmology. It is an extremely impressive building. The central dome is supported by twelve round columns, whilst the prayer hall is surrounded by rectangular piers which support four levels of balconies. It is located in the centre of jakarta located near the most important square of the nation, close to the Merdeka Palace.
The Tanjung Puting National Park is found on the island of Borneo in Central Kalimantan Province and is a popular ecotourism destination. The park covers over a million acres of amazing mixed landscapes. Drylands forests, peatland and swamps, mangroves and beach areas. It is home to many proboscis monkeys, macaques, orang utans, gibbons,, clouded leopards, sun bears, wild boar, porcupines, and sambar deer. The park is also home to many reptiles; crocodiles, monitor lizards, and pythons all are found here. The Indigenous birds, include hornbills and kingfishers, whilst insects are well represented by the giant Bornean butterfly.
Visiting the Baliem Valley is like taking a trip back in time, the valley and the indigenous people who live here were not even discovered by the wider world until as recently as 1938. Situated in Western Papua, it is a remarkable place. Incredibly the Dani people who live here and number some 200,000 had managed to remain separated from th rest of the world. 50 miles in length and a dozen miles in width the main town here is called Wamena. Amazingly this is the largest town in the entire highlands of Papua. Incredible to think that one of the best attractions in Indonesia, remained a complete secret for so long.
Originally a town in its own right, Seminyak is now part of the urban spread of Kuta in Bali. It is home to probably the best beaches in the country and has developed along those lines. There is plenty of good shopping to be had and the place has many top quality hotels, resorts and spas. The Ku Dé Ta bar here has earned an enviable reputation as the number one bar destination in magazines catering for holidays for young people.
Ubud Monkey Forest
This is a popular nature reserve and temple complex situated in Ubud, again on Bali. Four separate colonies of crab-eating macaques are found here, the total population being around 600 individuals. Sadly tourism has had an adverse affect on the monkey population. They exist in greater numbers than they would in the true wild, and the phenomenon of obese monkeys is all to easily spotted. Great care needs to be taken, as monkey bites are not uncommon.
This astonishing lake and super volcano is situated in the middle of the island of Sumatra. It is an amazing 60 miles long, 20 miles wide and over 1650 feet deep. It is estimated that the massive eruption that caused this happen around 70,000 years ago. It was the largest eruption to have occurred on earth during the last 25 million years and would have been a climate changing event. The local population is ethnic Bataks. It is a remarkably beautiful place and deserves its spot in the list of best attractions in Indonesia.
The largest Hindu temple is all of Indonesia is Prambanan in the central region of Java. It is some 11 miles to the northeast of the city of Yogyakarta. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the central tower stands 154 feet high. The building was started in the 9th century. The buildings were abandoned in the 16th century following a major earthquake and were rediscover some 250 years later. Since the 1960s, local traditional dancers perform the Ramayana epic, on the night of the full moon of every month.
Almost 100 miles off the coast of Sumatra, the fabulous Mantawai Islands have become a mecca for surfers. This chain of about 70 islands has its own indigenous population and a unique indigenous flora and fauna. It numbers amongst its highly endangered primates: the Kloss Gibbon, the Mentawai Macaque, the Siberut Macaque, the Mentawai Leaf Monkey and the Pig-tailed Langur. On October 25, 2010, the earthquake on Sumatra led to a deadly tsunami that wiped out villages here.
So there you have it, I hope it has given you some food for thought when trying to figure out which of the best attractions in Indonesia you wish to visit. It’a a wonderful country, with lovely people. A truly brilliant holiday destination.