As the largest archipelago on earth, there are a whopping 17,508 islands that make up Indonesia. Of which, about 6,000 are inhabited, with over 300 ethnicities. Everyone talks about Bali all the time, but there are really so many more different landscapes to see! From majestic mountains to colourful corals, ancient temples and unique wildlife, here are the eight most beautiful places to visit in Indonesia.
1. Komodo Island, East Nusa Tenggara
This is home to the magnificent Komodo National Park and the largest lizards on earth, the Komodo dragons. The terrain here is uniquely diverse. There are mountainous hillsides, tropical rainforests, grass-woodland savannah, and pristine white sandy beaches. Komodo Island is also where the famous Pink Beach is! The marine environment here is also one of the world’s richest, and it is still relatively undiscovered. Unsurprisingly, the island draws in scientists, divers, photographers, and travellers after a nature and wildlife adventure.
2. Dieng Plateau, Central Java
‘Dieng’ translates to ‘abode of the Gods’, which says all you need to know about this collection of small ancient temples. Set 2,000 metres above sea level, the Dieng Plateau was formed after a volcanic eruption. Other than the ancient Hindu temples and sweeping views of the jungles and distant villages, it also has a multi-coloured lake, a hot spring, and two amazing views of the sunrise. The double sunrise is a unique natural phenomenon. Visitors can take in the first ‘golden’ sunrise from a watch tower, while the second ‘silver’ sunrise can be seen from the temples. It’s not hard to see why the ancient Javanese considered this place to house supernatural powers!
3. Borobudur Temple, Central Java
Borobudur Temple is the world’s largest Buddhist sanctuary. Built around the 8th century, the temple sits majestically on a hill, overlooking lush green fields and distant hills. Apart from its religious significance, the structure is also an engineering marvel – it was built entirely without cement or glue! The temple is nothing short of amazing, and it offers a way to learn about Indonesia’s long and intricate national history, religion, culture, customs and architecture.
4. Raja Ampat, West Papua
Clearly one of the most beautiful places to visit in Indonesia, Raja Ampat is home to thousands of corals, fish and mollusks. Despite the range of exotic species and pristine waters, Raja Ampat remains largely untouched thanks to its remote location. Apart from its world-class diving opportunities, the islands are also a paradise for birdwatchers, photographers and adventurers. If you love the great outdoors and also luxury vacations, then Raja Ampat is where you want to be.
5. Lake Toba, North Sumatra
At twice the size of Singapore, Lake Toba is the world’s largest crater lake. There are tons of viewpoints where you can enjoy this volcanic lake. Make sure you visit Samosir, the island in the middle of the lake. It has an almost otherworldly quality, and feels worlds away from the usual hubbub of Indonesia. Apart from taking in the beautiful lake views, you can also learn about the Batak people, their history and culture.
6. Bunaken National Park, North Sulawesi
Off the northeast coast of Sulawesi, Bunaken National Park is home to almost every species of coral fish native to Indonesia. Coupled with warm waters, consistently great conditions and visibility, Bunaken National Park is easily one of the best dive spots not just in Indonesia, but also the world. Bunaken consists of four islands, and dive sites here mostly consist of steep, dropping walls, big-fish action, colourful corals and special critters.
7. Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi
Home to the Toraja ethnic group, the Torajans only opened up to the world and came out of their isolation at the beginning of the last century. They are best known for their unique death rituals, where deceased family members ‘stay’ in their homes for years before they are eventually buried. Even then, they are regularly exhumed to be cleaned and cared for. Graves are carved into caves and hung off cliffs, which makes for quite a sight to behold. If you prefer to avoid the morbid sights, the Toraja countryside offers spectacular trekking opportunities. Visit remote villages, check out their unique traditional houses, or go rafting in the Sa’dan river rapids.
8. Krakatoa Volcano, Lampung
The site of the most infamous volcanic eruption in history, today Krakatoa is open for tourist activities. Visiting and hiking Krakatoa is of course the biggest draw for people here. But it is still an active volcano, so visitors cannot go anywhere near during heightened activity phases. Even if you can’t actually set foot on the islands due to volcanic activity, you may still be lucky enough to witness Strombolian ejections or at least see Krakatoa’s orange glow from the coast of the mainland.