When it comes to traveling in Indonesia, the place that first comes to mind is Bali. But there are so many other places to visit in Indonesia, that are simply breathtaking and worth the effort.
I have spent a great deal of time in Indonesia, having lived a total of 5 years there. During my time living in Indonesia, I also spent a great deal of time traveling extensively throughout the country in my youth.
It is easily one of my favourite countries to travel to, because there are so many places to visit in Indonesia that are stunning. The cultural history and natural environment makes Indonesia a special place to visit.
And so I have teamed up with a fabulous group of Travel Bloggers to bring to you a list of places to visit in Indonesia, outside of Bali.
Dieng Plateau (Central Java)
Vicky from Vickeblueyes picks… Dieng Plateau in Central Java
Many of those that explore the island of Java do so at a frighteningly quick pace, to escape the smog filled cities and to reach sandy shores and idyllic islands, but Indonesia has so much more to it than just topping up your tan lines.
Indonesia is a geothermal haven and the mountainous plain of Dieng Plateau encapsulates what life is like high in the mountains. Mist shrouds the valley, hanging onto the patchwork crops leaving dew soaked marshlands, hiding sulphurous bubbling craters and emerald lakes, towering hills and ancient Hindu ruins that are embedded into the breathtaking scenery.
Getting here is quite a challenge, and tours arranged by companies from major cities should be avoided as an overnight stay here is a must to sync into the relaxed way of life. Catch a mode of transport (bus, minivan, taxi- anything you like!) to Wonosobo and then the local bus to Dieng Plateau.
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Bukit Lawang (Sumatra)
Bianca from The Altruistic Traveller picks… Bukit Lawang in Sumatra
Bukit Lawang is a beautiful riverside village that lies on the border of one of the world’s most bio-diverse regions, the Gunung Leuser National Park. Home to hundreds of species of wildlife, the Gunung Leuser is where you will find the second largest concentration of orang-utans in the world and there are many treks leaving from Bukit Lawang that let you get up close to these gentle giants.
To get to Bukit Lawang you first must pass the gauntlet of Medan, Sumatra’s hurried capital. But a 4-hour bus ride will see you out of the chaos and into the serenity of the beautiful Sumatran rainforest. The area is a great destination for responsible tourists, because there is much conservation work being done to protect the park’s species.
Treks can be arranged from many of the guesthouses and are run by local guides who aim to protect both the forests and their inhabitants.
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Komodo National Park (Lesser Sunda Islands)
Katalin from Our Life, Our Travel picks… the Komodo National Park in the Lesser Sunda Islands
Komodo National Park is as UNESCO World Heritage Site, and consists of almost 30 islands, including Komodo and Rinca. It is the natural habitat of the world largest lizard (and one of the largest reptile), the komodo dragon.
The ‘dragons’ weigh about 70 kg and has a length of 2.5 m. They are impressive animals. It can be a bit scary to walk around, but only very few attacks have actually happened in the last few decades. When we visited the island, we spotted about seven of them during our walks on the islands.
The easiest way to get there is from Labuan Bajo, Flores. Numerous agencies and captains offer a boat ride or tour package to the bigger islands and their surroundings. We spent 3 days in the national park and visited several islands, went snorkeling and slept one night on the boat as well.
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Gunung Batu (Bandung)
Jo from Wander with Jo picks… Gunung Batu in Bandung
Bandung is a pleasant town surrounded by mountains on all sides. It is no wonder that hiking is quite an amazing experience in Bandung and one of my best hikes was – Gunung Batu.
It is a mountain situated in North Bandung in the lovely area called Lembang. The entire north is quite scenic and the easiest way to reach is by renting a car/bike or hopping on a cab. It is a easy hike, and I would suggest to go early to enjoy a lovely view of the sun rising over the vast Bandung valley.
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Tulamben (off Bali)
Barbara from Jet Settera picks… Tulamben, off the main island of Bali
Tulamben is one of the most famous diving destination off the island of Bali.
To get there, I took a private car with another tourist where we arrived to this small diving village on the shore. The village only had about 100 inhabitants, two dive shops, and a few bungalows along the beach for divers. The town only has a couple of food stands, where visitors can buy food from a very limited menu. Also, there are no ATM machines, so make sure you have enough cash if you plan to visit.
Divers visit this small village to discover the giant shipwreck underneath the sea. The US cargo ship Liberty sank in WW2, and today it has been taken over by ocean life. It was a very interesting diving spot, given that the sand was black and volcanic.
Getting out of Tulamben is difficult, because there were no public buses for tourists, so I hopped on a bemo that the locals take to get from one city to the next. In the end, I took 7 bemos and it took 6 hours to get back to Kuta Beach. You could also hire a private car with a driver to help take you to Tulamben, which takes about 3-4 hours depending on traffic.
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Nusa Lembongan (off Bali)
Tara from ShaTara Travel picks… Nusa Lembongan, off the main island of Bali
Nusa Lembongan is a small island off the coast of Bali, which makes it extraordinarily easy to get away from the crowds that make Bali their Indonesian travel choice. Nusa Lembongan sits in between the much larger Nusa Penida, and the smaller Nusa Ceningan, which means you can do some hassle free island hopping without paying for expensive flights to the more isolated Indonesian islands.
Nusa Lembongan has many bays for viewing the sunrise or sunset over a cocktail, or fresh coconut, and being a small island with good, uncrowded roads, you can easily explore it all on a moped. The main draws of this island are surfing, diving, snorkelling, and generally relaxing away from all the hawkers that can be found in Bali.
Good surf can be found for both long and short boards at one of the many bays, with ‘playgrounds’ and ‘lacerations’ on the east coast being easily accessible, and popular amongst backpackers and veteran surfers alike. Equipment for surfing, snorkelling and paddle boarding can be hired at almost every beach if required. If you are a diver, or intend to learn to dive, I cannot recommend Nusa Lembongan enough! The reef system is much healthier here than on the nearby Gili Islands, and you have the opportunity to dive with majestic Manta Rays!
After arriving in Bali, you can reach Nusa Lembongan easily from Sanur beach, with the ferry crossing taking just half an hour! There are numerous companies that offer door to door service from your Bali hotel, to the ferry pier, and then continuing on to drop off at your new hotel on Nusa Lembongan. Bali fast boat charges 400,000 Indonesian Rupiah for this entire service.
Kawah Ijen Volcano (East Java)
Erika from Erika’s Travels picks… Kawah Ijen Volcano in East Java
The Kawah Ijen Volcano in Eastern Java is famous for its blue fire, its sulfur miners and its deep turquoise crater. Just a short hop from Bali and a few hours from the equally impressive Mt Bromo, the Ijen Volcano woos travelers with its unique geological features and stunning suroundings. Multi-day volcano tours leave from many of the big cities in Bali and Java. The volcano can be reached independently too, though it often requires a combination of trains, buses and motorbikes.
Kawah Ijen is best experienced at sunrise. At 1am, hikers set out towards the rim of the crater to witness the volcano’s infamous blue flame—the only of its kind in the world. As the sun begins to rise above the mountain, the surrounding scenery comes into focus, revealing a deep turquoise-colored lake, billowing gases and a steady stream of sulphur miners hiking up and down the mountain.
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Yours Truly, Soraya from Hello Raya picks… Lhoknga in Sumatra
If you’re an avid surfer, then Lhoknga is the place for you. If you are a lover of nature and a beautiful beach, then Lhoknga is the place for you. If you like a simpler way of life, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, then Lhoknga is for you. Check out my travel guide to Lhoknga to find out more about traveling here.
Lhoknga is located about a 20-30 minutes’ drive from the city of Banda Aceh, which is located in Sumatra. In 2004, Lhoknga and Banda Aceh was devastated by the Boxing Day Tsunami. After years of reconstruction, the town and people of Lhoknga are back on their feet, and have been welcoming avid surfers and other travellers.
There are a variety of things to do in Lhoknga and the surrounding areas. The most popular reason for visiting Lhoknga is to surf, which is best from November to March. The nature that surrounds this area is just beautiful and you can spend hours walking along the coast and through the jungles. You can also head into Banda Aceh to learn more about the 2004 Tsunami.
My favorite thing to do in Lhoknga is watch the sunset – it is just breathtaking, and there is nothing better than to sit at Lhoknga beach, sipping on a coconut while watching the sun go down.
To get here is easy – you fly into Banda Aceh and grab a taxi from the airport to Lhoknga. Air Asia is the most popular and runs direct flights from Kuala Lumpur. You can also pick up a flight from the city of Medan.
For a more detailed breakdown of things to do here, check out my top 15 things to do in Banda Aceh & Lhoknga.
Yours Truly, Soraya from Hello Raya also picks… Yogyakarta in Java
I have a personal love affair with Yogyakarta because I spent a few years of my childhood living here…about 20 years ago. I have returned back to Yogyakarta recently to find that although there have been some development, it still remains its charming ol’self…this makes Yogyakarta one of my favourite places to visit in Indonesia.
Yogyakarta is filled with so much history and culture. It is the centre for classical Javanese art – from batik to the gamelan…and you name it. It also was the previous capital of Indonesia in the 40’s. The region of Yogyakarta is also home to the famous Borobudur, the UNESCO World Heritage site, which is a Mahayana Buddhist Temple. You will also find the Prambanan, which is an ancient Hindu Temple compound, and also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
What I also love about Yogyakarta is its natural landscapes. Just driving 15-20 minutes outside the main city, you will find yourself surrounded by beautiful agricultural land. It is also a short drive from the Mount Merapi volcano. And don’t even get me started with the food – so much to eat!
Getting to Yogyakarta is easy – there are numerous direct flights into the city via airlines such as Air Asia and Garuda.
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