Are you planning a trip to Indonesia and wondering where to go and what to do? Well, look no further! Here I share 4 amazing places you have to visit in Indonesia — the country that stole my heart.
It’s 10 a.m. and I’m currently sitting outside a café in Toronto. A chilly, 22-degree wind blows through my hair and I’m aching for the warm tropical sunshine of Indonesia again. With palm trees gently swaying in the distance, a fresh coconut in hand… if I close my eyes, I can almost hear the crash of ocean waves in the distance. I recently returned from a 2-week trip in Indonesia and boy, was it the experience of a lifetime.
Three weeks ago, I left for Indonesia not knowing what to expect. There I was flying (by myself for the first time!) halfway across the world, going to a foreign country and not knowing a single person. Needless to say, I was nervous.
However, as the adventures began, my worries gradually slipped away. I made the most amazing new friends in Indonesia, created wonderful memories I will never forget, and experienced so many new things. My time in wonderful Indonesia has been my biggest adventure yet and I’ve returned home with the strongest desire to see more of the world.
From the remote jungles of Borneo to the classic Bali getaway, here are 4 places you have to visit in Indonesia!
1. Tanjung Puting
Never did I imagine I would find myself cruising down a river surrounded by luscious tropical vegetation, or trekking through the heart of the jungle and coming face-to-face with wild orangutans. I did just that in Tanjung Puting.
Located in the province of Central Kalimantan on Borneo, the third largest island in the world, you will find Tanjung Puting National Park. The exotic Borneo jungle is one of only two islands in the world where wild orangutans are found, the other being Sumatra.
Here I visited three camps: Tanjung Harapan, Pondok Tanggui, and Camp Leakey. These camps are dedicated to rehabilitating ex-captive wild orangutans and the conservation of wild orangutans. Camp Leakey, also a famed research facility, studies the orangutans in the area and has projects ranging from studying behaviour to ecology. We were also able to observe a variety of other wildlife here including proboscis monkeys, gibbons, jungle boar, and fireflies.
Want to meet wild orangutans in person? Check out my full guide to Borneo orangutan trekking in Tanjung Puting National Park with tips on logistics and what to expect!
Picture this: endless stretches of pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters, and palm trees swaying gently in the ocean breeze. This is the stereotypical idea of paradise.
Growing up in Canada, I lived for the winter, though. I loved the snow and I never thought this type of summer paradise was much for me. I was wrong.
As I basked in the warm tropical sunshine in Wakatobi and the waters around me glittered invitingly, I began to change my mind. This really did feel amazing. The final thing that had me completely hooked was snorkelling for the first time in the waters surrounding Wakatobi — I was in an underwater paradise.
Located in Southeast Sulawesi, Wakatobi is said to have some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving spots in the world. Over 900 species of fish and 750 species of coral (the Caribbean pales in comparison with only 50 species) call this place home; dolphins, turtles, and whales also inhabit here. Although I didn’t dive in Wakatobi this time, I did see some incredible footage that has me wanting to get my scuba diving certification soon!
Stay tuned for a more detailed guide on Wakatobi with tips on logistics and things to do coming soon!
In East Nusa Tenggara, you will find the rugged and relatively untouched islands of Komodo National Park, jutting out hundreds of meters above the waters. The island hikes can be tough but the surreal views you are greeted by are definitely worth it.
The main draw? This is the only place in the world you can find the fearsome Komodo dragon in the wild. The world’s largest lizard, Komodo dragons can grow up to 3 meters long and weight up to 90 kilograms. Although they have a reputation for being a human eater, the Komodo dragons I encountered appeared lazy. In fact, we were allowed to venture quite close to them. Be warned, though: in addition to having a deadly saliva with 60 different types of bacteria, Komodo dragons also produce a venom that helps them kill bitten prey.
We were accompanied by rangers on our treks through the park and warned to keep our voices low and to avoid eye contact. Also, for the girls out there, if you are having your period, let the rangers know — Komodo dragons can smell blood!
Want to hear about my experience meeting these mighty beasts? Check out the post on my close encounters with the Komodo dragons of Indonesia!
A more detailed guide on Komodo with tips on logistics and how to prepare coming soon!
And finally, no trip to Indonesia would be complete without a visit to beautiful Bali.
When I asked a local Indonesian their opinion on the one best spot to visit in Indonesia, he replied that Bali was the place. Bali has everything from beautiful beaches to volcano treks, shopping opportunities to delicious cuisine, culture and heritage to vibrant nightlife, and so much more. Indeed, Bali seems like the best way to get a first glean of all that wonderful Indonesia has to offer. In particular, Ubud has a lot to offer.
So yes, Bali may not be off the beaten path and it may be packed with tourists. But if you’re travelling halfway across the world to Indonesia, you cannot miss Bali!
Here are 15 things you need to do when in Bali!
And there you have it — that’s my list of the 4 places you have to visit in Indonesia. (Bonus 5th place: Bandung, Indonesia!)
Of course, this is by no means all there is. Indonesia is a huge and incredibly diverse country spanning three time zones across more than 13 000 islands. If you spend one day visiting each island, it would take you over 35 years to see them all!
You know how they say that the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know? This idea can be applied to my travels in Indonesia as well. The more I travelled around the country, the more I realized that there was so much more waiting for me to see and explore…
Indonesia, you stole my heart. I will be back!!!
Click on the pin for the name of the destination.
Have you been to Indonesia? What did you see and do there? Share your adventures in the comments below! Also, be sure to enter the Wonderful Indonesia Contest for a chance to win a FREE TRIP for two to Komodo!
A special thank you to the Indonesia Tourism Board for inviting me on such an amazing trip to Wonderful Indonesia!