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From Jakarta to Bali, via one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, we pick five places you really can’t leave off your Indonesia itinerary.
Indonesia is one of the most amazing places to visit on Earth. No question. From spas and safari in Bali to a very special beach on Komodo, via exhilarating capital Jakarta, we take a tour of just a few of the highlights this intoxicating country has to offer.
Indonesia is an incredibly large and diverse country, so it’s fitting that its frenetic capital Jakarta is home to somewhere between 9 and 20 million people (it depends if you count the wider urban region of Jabotabek). Don’t be over-awed, but hit the city’s upscale shopping malls, explore its heritage, and go in search of some of the best street food anywhere. As they say in Indonesia, ‘a meal without nasi (rice) is not really a meal’, so be local and start with any variation of the popular nasi goreng (literally ‘fried rice’) and let your taste buds explore from there.
While you could easily spend your time on Bali relaxing in one of its famous spas, but if you feel active you can get acquainted with some of the island’s most endearing residents at Monkey Forest, or go on a wildlife adventure to see animals from Africa and all over the world at the Bali Safari and Marine Park – don’t miss the nocturnal magic of the Night Safari. Or make some feathered friends at the Bali Bird Park, home to almost 1000 birds of 250 different species. For perhaps the most iconic Balinese experience, catch the sunset over the ocean at Pura Tanah Lot, one of the most sacred temples in Bali.
Think of Indonesia and you’ll conjure up coffee table images of tropical paradises: out-of-this-world beaches and turquoise waters backed by rice terraces and jungle. You’ll find out that all this is will come true in reality, but you probably didn’t imagine that beach to be pink. Yes, pink! On the stunningly beautiful Komodo Island, a mix of white and red sand gives one particular strand its surprising colour. Komodo is not only a destination for beach lovers – and scuba divers – but it’s also home to the famous Komodo dragons, the largest lizards on the planet. They don’t breathe fire, but at up to 10 feet in length, are an impressive sight nonetheless.
4. Tanjung Puting National Park
While Komodo’s dragons attract reptile aficionados from around the world, when it comes to wild things, if there is one creature that most visitors to Indonesia want to meet, it’s the orang-utan. You can see these rare, charming and beautiful beasts on a trip deep into the jungle at Tanjung Puting National Park, which covers an area the size of Bali. Trek through the jungle to see birds and bush pigs, and take a boat trip down the Sekonyer River to see eight species of monkey, including the distinctively-featured proboscis monkey, and of course, orang-utans – a unique and unforgettable experience.
5. Mount Bromo
A different kind of wild adventure awaits you in another of Indonesia’s National Parks, Bromo Tengger Semeru in East Java. Covering an awesome area of 800 square kilometres, the park offers many opportunities to indulge your inner explorer. Trek across the desert on a pony, or get high-octane thrills by doing it by jeep! However, one experience you really can’t miss is climbing to the top of Mount Bromo, a 7000-foot volcano that gives spectacular views over the park to the smoking peak Mount Semuru in the distance. This vista is at its most impressive at sunrise, so wrap up warm, take your camera and cherish the memory forever.