Things to Do in Indonesia
The town of Ciater in West Java is a highland area that’s well-known for its tea plantations and natural hot springs. The Ciater Hot Springs are set within a resort that uses nature's own resources to soothe body and mind amid tranquil surroundings. The streams and pools here are fed by mineral springs created from the heat of nearby volcanoes.
Visitors can take a swim in the warm sulfurous pools, which are said to have healing properties for a wide range of ailments, from skin problems to tender joints and muscles. The resort also offers a number of other leisure and relaxation facilities for guests, including tennis courts and restaurants.
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is a Balinese Hindu site at the bottom of Monkey Forest Road and populated by cheeky long-tailed macaques. It's a popular site with visitors to Ubud who come to see the monkeys and the temples within the sanctuary.
There are hundreds of monkeys living in and around the monkey forest. You can purchase food for them at the entrance gate but be warned that the monkeys are aggresive opportunists - particularly in their pursuit of food. They will think nothing of climbing on you or raking through your bag in search of something edible.
There are 3 temples within the forest, Pura Dalem (death temple), the Holy Bathing Temple and Pura Prajapati (funerary or cremation temple). All 3 of these temples are sacred, as is the forest and the monkeys, who are believed to protect the area from evil spirits.
The National Monument sits in the center of Jakarta’s Merdeka Square and was built to commemorate Indonesia's struggle for independence. The tower’s construction began in 1961 under President Soekarno, and the monument – also known as Monas – was finally opened to the public in July 1971. The tower stands at more than 130 meters tall and is topped with a burning flame, symbolizing that the spirit of the Indonesian people will never be extinguished. The flame is made from bronze metal and coated with gold foil, while the main structure symbolizes a rice pestle and mortar, thereby representing Indonesia’s agricultural history. These objects are also said to symbolize fertility by representing the male and the female. A lift on the southern side of the monument takes visitors up to the viewing platform at 115 meters above ground level. The National Monument is surrounded by a well-kept park, often used for sports and recreational activities.
Though not quite as large as nearby Borobudur, the ancient Hindu temples that make up the impressive Prambanan are spectacular in their own right. Built by the Mataram Kingdom in Central Java around 860 CE, the first temples here were meant to honor Lord Shiva. While many of the later temples erected on this site fell to ruins in an earthquake curing the 16th century, Prambanan still attracts visitors from across the globe seeking to experience walking through one of the Hindu religion’s most prized sites.
Prambanan is divided into three main zones, which include an outer open space, a middle zone housing rows of 224 identical shrines, and an inner zone where eight temples and small shrines dedicated to gods are located.
Situated about 35 miles (60 kilometers) south of Jakarta at the foothills of Mount Salak, the 215-acre Bogor Botanical Gardens provide a natural haven right in the center of the bustling city of Bogor. Officially opened in 1817, these are the oldest botanical gardens in Southeast Asia, having thrived over the years under the leadership of a number of renowned botanists and serving as a major center for botanical research.
A scenic place to visit, the gardens feature streams and ponds interspersed along meandering avenues and pristine landscaped lawns. The gardens are also fronted by the regal Bogor Presidential Palace, with the mighty Mount Salak as the backdrop, which only adds to the aesthetic appeal.
More Things to Do in Indonesia
While Bali is best known for it beautiful beaches -- and rightly so -- the inland portion of the island has its own kind of beauty. Nowhere more so than at Mt Batur. Located in the highlands of Kintamani, Mt Batur rises some 5,633 feet (1,717 meters) above sea level and is one of the region’s most active volcanoes.
To best appreciate the Mt Batur experience, sign up for an early morning trek to the summit. Such excursions typically depart from Ubud at 2 or 3 am and arrive at the base of the volcano while it’s still dark. Trekkers make the two-hour journey to the top of the volcano using headlamps and the light of the moon, an effort rewarded by an amazing sunrise from the top.
Since Batur remains so active, visitors to the peak get to experience a very unique breakfast of eggs boiled on lava-heated rocks. After you’ve made the ascent and descent, nearby Lake Batur offers hot springs perfect for relaxing tired muscles.
Located in the Taman Sari neighborhood of the city, Jakarta’s Chinatown is in an area known as Glodok. It lays claim to being the largest Chinatown in Indonesia, and one of the largest in the world. Dating back to the Dutch colonial era, Glodok is best known for its markets, architecture, and temples, as well as being one of the biggest centers for electronics in Jakarta.
Amid the traditional houses and such impressive temples as Da Shi Miao and Vihara Dharma Bhakti, shopping and food are at the heart of Glodok. Visitors can take a stroll through the streets, passing historic buildings and ancient temples, while visiting shops selling modern-day electronics next to those touting traditional Chinese medicines.
Komodo National Park, located in the middle of the Indonesian archipelago, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 due to its biodiversity and most famous inhabitants, the Komodo dragon. The world’s largest lizard -- sometimes reaching more than 9 feet (3 meters) in length -- are found only on these beautiful and desolate volcanic islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar.
No matter which of the three islands in the park you visit, you’re almost guaranteed to see a dragon or two, but you might also spot Timor deer, water buffalo, wild boar, Rinca rats, wild horses, fruit bats or long-tailed macaque monkeys. The islands also represent one of the riches marine environments in Indonesia, and the diving opportunities on the reef just off the coast are top notch. Outdoor enthusiasts will find hiking trails (though you’ll need a guide) and smaller islands only accessible by kayak.
Built in the 15th century, this ancient temple sits atop the rolling hills of Gunung Lawu, some 900 meters above the Solo plain. It’s a destination for travelers looking to venture into an unfamiliar world where mysterious fertility cults once practiced sacred rituals and ornate carvings and life-like statues prove unlike those in Java’s more traditional Hindu and Buddhist temples.
Visitors will find three statues of turtles upon entering Sukuh, as well as a giant phallus that reiterates the temple’s focus on birth and sexuality. The ground’s central pyramid is the tallest of the three located on site. While typical Hindu gods, like Ganesha, are stationed around the site, relief work, carvings and statues at Sukuh more often depict intercourse and genitalia, making it a truly unique stop on a tour of typically more conservative temples.
The National Museum in Jakarta sits on the western side of Merdeka Square. After various incarnations under a number of different names, the National Museum was opened in 1868. Often referred to as the ‘Elephant Building’ due to the bronze elephant statue at its entrance, this impressive museum houses a huge collection, providing an in-depth insight into Indonesia’s fascinating cultural heritage. The National Museum essentially takes visitors on a journey through Indonesia’s history, from prehistoric times right up to the present day. There are almost 150,000 artifacts on display here, with prehistoric, archaeological, ceramic, ethnographic, numismatic/heraldic, geographic, and colonial collections to explore. A new wing was added to the museum in 2007, with four levels dedicated to the neo-classical colonial era and the origins of mankind in Indonesia, including a model of the Flores ‘hobbit’.
One of Bali’s holiest Hindu sites (and one of its most popular attractions) is a grotto with a history dating back more than 1,000 years. Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) has uncertain origins, but it's believed that it once served as a sanctuary for Hindu priests to meditate or even sleep.
Goa Gajah's entrance makes a menacing first impression, carved in the likeness of a gaping mouth of a demonic creature. The façade of the cave entrance features several relief carvings of various mythological creatures, and while no one is sure what they represent, local lore says that an elephant was the protagonist of the drama depicted in the carvings; hence, the nickname Elephant Cave.
The courtyard just outside the cave has more recently excavated decorative bathing pools, adorned with carvings of partially clad females pouring water from urns. The cave itself is rather small, a T-shaped space with several small ledges and a statue of Ganesh, added after the cave was excavated.
- Things to do in Ubud
- Things to do in Komodo
- Things to do in Ambon
- Things to do in Yogyakarta
- Things to do in Seminyak
- Things to do in Kuta
- Things to do in Jakarta
- Things to do in Jimbaran
- Things to do in Medan
- Things to do in Singapore
- Things to do in Malaysia
- Things to do in East Java
- Things to do in West Java
- Things to do in Bali