8 Best Things to Do in Indonesia For a Fulfilling Vacay

October 20, 2023 Traveling Tips
8 Best Things to Do in Indonesia For a Fulfilling Vacay

Indonesian tourism is commonly associated with Bali. Yet, the archipelago country has much more to offer. From agriculture and watersport to art and cultural activities, there are myriad choices you should explore! Scroll down the hand-picked options of the best things to do in Indonesia for your upcoming vacation in Nusantara.

3 Mandatory Categories of The Best Things to Do in Indonesia

So, it is surely a ‘safe’ choice for foreign tourists who prefer to explore Bali before roaming in other parts of Indonesia. If you wonder where other regions you should go round and about aside from Bali, make sure to cross one of the following lists. You’ll be surprised by what will be uncovered in front of you. 

Best Things to Do to Get Closer to Indonesian Vast Nature

1. Learning about Orangutan Habitat in Bukit Lawang, Sumatera Utara

If you are a fan of endangered animals, you certainly won’t miss the chance to observe Orangutans in the open area. There are three different Indonesian orangutan species, which are Sumatran, Tapanuli, and Bornean Orangutans.

Discover more about Sumatran Orangutans in their natural habitat, specifically in Bukit Lawang, Bohorok, the gate to Taman Nasional Gunung Leuser (Leuser Mountain National Park). 

Here, you need to take guided trekking over the forest before seeing and observing the orangutans. The reason is that the trekking area is an actual rainforest, which can be both challenging and also dangerous. 

Along the trekking journey, you may encounter other endangered animals such as the Thomas Langur (Kedih in the Indonesian language) whose origin is Sumatra. 

This national park area extends up to the province of Aceh, and it has also guarded rhinos, elephants, and Sumatran tigers. Besides the fauna, Bukit Lawang also offers various exotic flora, including the infamous Bunga Bangkai or Rafflesia Arnoldi (when its blooming season comes). 

You may also challenge yourself to raft and tubing, kayaking, canoeing, or even enjoy some refreshing staycation in the lodges nearby. 

2. Plunge into The Vertical Cave Jomblang, Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta is another favorite city for both domestic and international tourists. Some of the best things to do in Indonesia, especially in the Central Java area, may happen in this city. 

Tourists acknowledge Yogyakarta for its heritage culture, in the form of museums, streets, buildings, and also the way its people live their lives. You can feel a strong attachment to Javanese culture at every corner of this region while finding international touch here and there. 

But, maybe, little did you know that the area of Gunung Kidul has been explored and developed as the main attraction. It has mountain scenery with views of the high seas called Pantai Selatan (South Sea). One of its most magnetism is an ancient cave called Goa Jomblang

This place is a vertical cave that requires the explorer to use a specific technique called single rope before reaching and roaming in the cave. It requires a skilled explorer to accompany tourists to explore the cave.

After abseiling, you will trek through the rainforest before entering the underground tunnel. What is this trekking for? Well, the goal of this trekking thing is to let you eventually watch a natural spectacle called Cahaya Surga

It is the sunlight that breaks through from the top of the cave through a hole. The way the sunlight comes in looks like an imaginary light you find in movies or animation. Hence, the name came. This phenomenon happens only once over the day, in conditions where the weather is quite nice. 

Make sure that you are in a good condition to do this activity. In addition, you should also pay attention to the time. Usually, the guides recommend abseiling the cave around 9 AM to get the best out of the time. 

3. Get Surrounded by Wildlife in Baluran National Park

Little Africa van Java is a nickname for Baluran National Park. Located in the East Java Province, this national park brings you Mount Baluran, Savana Bekol, mangrove, and Bama Beach for your wildlife exploration. 

This national park was developed for several reasons, and since then the government put effort into maintaining its function for species diversity protection, ecosystem balancing, research and development for science, education, and also training. 

You may expect to meet peacocks, Javanese bulls, buffalos, deers, bobcats, fishing cats monkeys, and langurs. They also adequately conserve python. Pretty birds frequently spot soaring across the sky, and you can enjoy the view through the viewing tower while catching for sunrise. 

According to Voi ID, during the outbreak back in 2020, several leopards were also showing up in some spots in this national park. 

Occasionally, the charm of Baluran National Park will be revealed during the dry season when the savanna looks similar to the African savanna. It is also the mating season for the inhabitants, particularly the deer. 

If you were lucky enough, you may meet the masculine male deer that decorated itself with leaves, mud, and twigs to attract the female deer. Above all, Taman Nasional Baluran is open to the public as a natural tourist attraction and preservation of traditional culture. 

Moreover, exciting activities are also available. Visitors can spend only a day looking around the Savana Bekol, discovering the evergreen forest, and snorkeling in Bama or Balangan Beach. 

Rafting is also one of the best things to do in Indonesia which you can do in Baluran, alongside canoeing through Bama beach, and wall climbing in Curah Tangis post. Or else, take a slow exploration while spending nights in the lodgings they have near the beach or the savanna. 

Find detailed information on their official website (only available in the Indonesian language), or you can look for a guided tour from Surabaya or Bali. 

Read more: Unique Places in Indonesia? Here are The Ones Other Than Bali!

Enchanting History, Arts, and Cultural Visits in Indonesia

With more than 300 local ethnic groups, Indonesia has undoubtedly rich culture in addition to its history. Inevitably, history, arts, and cultural visits are also part of the best things to do while in Indonesia. Tune in for some worth-try cultural and historical visit lists. 

1. Craft and Shop Batik at Yogyakarta and Solo

Almost every Indonesian ethnic group has its traditional clothes. No wonder the country has abundant types of traditional fabrics. One of the most known is certainly the legendary Batik.

There is much to offer in terms of Batik patterns and techniques, especially from Java Island. Each of the regions has its pattern of remarks from Cirebon to Madura. Whenever you are in Yogyakarta to catch a breather during your road trip, you can easily find batik shops.

Furthermore, if you are curious enough or eager to learn the intriguing technique of batik, go to the dedicated Kampung Batik in Yogya, or the calm area of Kampung Batik Laweyan in Solo. 

In addition to batik-making workshops, both also offers cultural education and local culinary spots are ready to feed your needs. 

2. Roam through the Indonesian Mecca Porch, Aceh

Speaking of Aceh will leave you speechless! Aceh had the most wealthy people in the early stage of Indonesian independence. On top of that, its natural biodiversity both on land and at sea is incredible. 

However, the most significant event which turned the world head to Aceh is the tsunami that happened in 2004. 

More than 150.000 people were swept away by this calamity. Despite the gloom which covered the city, it has recovered beautifully. Still, you can walk the sorrowful yet awakening memory of the Indonesian Mecca Porch through the Museum Tsunami.

Another museum worth a visit in this province is no other than Museum Aceh. This place became a home for multivarious types of Aceh historical and heritage collections.  The number touches beyond six thousand items from traditional clothes and weapons.

The collection consists of ancient jewelry and household utensils to manuscripts and mockups of Mosque Baiturrahman’s development. After all of these enlightening visits, you may want to refresh your body with a caffeine boost. 

Second to last is to sip a cup of Kopi Solong, and take a coffee plantation tour in Gayo highland! Immerse yourself in know-how through discussion with the coffee experts, try harvesting the coffee cherries, and experiment with brewing Aceh Gayo coffee! 

For the latter activities, you may contact one of the tour providers. Indeed, Aceh surely has plenty of the best things to do in Indonesia!

Watersports Challenge to Do While in Indonesia

Since Indonesia is an archipelago, you expect more exposure to the sun, sea, and sand, ain’t you? Thereafter, to add up the list of surfing in Kuta, Bali, or island hopping, diving after observing Komodo dragons in Flores, cross the road to the following aquascape spots.

1. Surf at One of The Best Surfing Spot in South East Asia in Banyuwangi

If you are done with your surfing training in Bali, you will need a few further waves of exploration. Banyuwangi, which is located in the eastern part of Java Island, not too far from Bali, uncovered one of the best surfing spots, even in Southeast Asia. 

The waves on its beaches are known to be safer yet larger, it was called perfection for surfers. One of them had hosted the world surfing league and championship in the last decade. The latter is Plengkung Beach or Grajagan Land or the so-called G-Land, part of Alas Purwo National Park. 

Plengkung Beach offers many types of surfing waves, such as Kong waves, Many Track waves, and also Speedies waves. Visit the beach around August to enjoy most of the best things to do while in Indonesia. Do not forget to go with an experienced guide, cause you need to cross the wilderness of Alas Purwo

The second is Pulau Merah which got its name from its scenery through the sunsetting time. It is one of the most favorite surfing spots for surfers with 2 up to 4 meters of height waves.  

The last is Pulau Tabuhan which is situated in the northern part of Banyuwangi. What’s cool about Tabuhan Island is beyond its watercolor and waves. It has a markedly supportive wind speed of around 20 to 30 knots, which is ideal to do kitesurfing and also windsurfing. 

Thereupon, if you are keen to attempt a different experience of surfing, off you go to Banyuwangi!

2. Dive Deeper into the Clear Exotic Marine of Manado

Some of you might already have heard about Tana Tojara for cultural and heritage visits or because of the memorable taste of Toraja coffee beans. Yet, one of the best things to do in Indonesia has already been unveiled from Sulawesi Island (Celebes) a long time ago, apart from those mentioned. 

It was the marine tourism of Bunaken National Park which you can enjoy through snorkeling and diving activities. There are at least twelve diving spots in Bunaken National Park spread across five islands. They include Bunaken, Mantehage, Manado Tua, Nain, and Siladen. 

Its strategic location connects the Papua Sea, the Philippine Sea, and the Indonesian known as the golden triangle waterways. The temperature in this area is approximately the most stable in the world and it has an enormous impact. The vast sea of Bunaken became the home of abundant marine biota. 

One of the divers’ favorite diving spots is the great wall or hanging wall. Another one is the wreckage of a sunken ship. Some of the spots offer a sea abyss view that makes you feel the depth of the sea. However, the underwater visibility is great since the water condition is still crystal clear.  

The Bunaken Sea has more than 2000 fish species, and large coral reefs grow beautifully. Furthermore, Bunaken National Park has the most complete species of coral reefs. The richness of marine biota has attracted divers and researchers. 

Out of the numerous marine inhabitants in Bunaken, if you are lucky enough, you may bump into dugongs, aged turtles, dolphins, barracuda, marlin, sunfish, napoleon fish, and eagle ray. 

There are three accesses to Bunaken Marine Park, including the port of Manado, Marina Nusantara Diving Center, and Marine Blue Banter. The best time to visit is between May to August, when the water temperature is warmer, and the water current is particularly stable for diving activity. 

3. Submerge in the Cenderawasih Bay National Park with Whale Shark

If diving in Bunaken is not fulfilling enough, then you can try an impressive diving experience in West Papua. Indeed, you already heard about the refreshing and pristine scenery of Raja Ampat

As you visit the island, enjoy some time submerging yourself underwater with the whale sharks in Cenderawasih Bay National Park. Cenderawasih Bay Marine Park has more than 1 million hectares of coral reefs. 

This size makes it the largest coral reef conservation area that Indonesia has. Mollusks such as large shells, cone shells, and charonia tritonis live happily along with parrotfish, butterfly fish, damselfish, and other 200 fish species in this marine park. 

Hence, dolphins and whale sharks are also attached to this conservation area. The diving spot with whale sharks is in Kwatisore village, around 3 hours speed boat drive from Nabire. 

The whale sharks frequently gather together here and run around the bagan (local fishing boat), making it an unusual scene to see. 

Yet, make sure that your timing is around the new or dark moon cycle, not in the full moon. Choose ideally between October and April.  It’s the season when water current and temperature are more friendly with good underwater visibility which is great. 

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Let’s Try The Best Things to Do in Indonesia Now!

The Indonesian land stretches out from Sabang (most western) to Merauke ( most western part) separated by the sea. It became some of the reasons which make Indonesia prosperous.    

The sea and the mountain sights of Indonesia constantly captured local and international tourists. The cave, the river, the lake, the plantation, and the forest in Indonesia also offer a peculiar holiday experience. Alongside the landscape and aquascape, the cuisine is also approachable.

Although this list compiles some of the best things you can do in Indonesia, the list will keep adding up. Unquestionably there are more hidden gems to be found and developed. The hype for domestic tourism also increases among local tourists from time to time. 

Before the lists get longer, the next time you visit Indonesia, at least try to do one or more things on this list!

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