Pura Ulun Danu Bratan at sunrise, famous temple on the lake, Bedugul, Bali, Indonesia. (Photo via ErmakovaElena / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
The vast and wonderful Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands, two-thirds of which are inhabited. And with its large size comes varied experiences and adventures to be had. It is home to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, diverse flora and fauna in a land that is covered 60 percent by forests, and wonderful cultural sites. You’ll discover plenty of pampering in spas, world-class golf courses and top shopping. Or head for the beaches in Bali and the dive sites in Bunaken.
There are five major islands in Indonesia — Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan/Borneo, Sulawesi/Celebes and Irian Jaya/Papua.
The most well-known island in Indonesia is probably Bali. Visitors to this island can enjoy world-class diving, cultural, historical and archaeological attractions. Its Hindu temples are some of its best known sites, including the nine directional temples, located at strategic points on the island to protect it from dark forces. Easiest to get to is Pura Luhur Uluwatu (Uluwatu Temple) at the southern tip of Bali and Tanah Lot.
Other temples in Indonesia are the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Borobudur and Prambanan in Java. Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist monument, dating from the 8th century and Prambanan is acollection of massive Hindu temples built by the 10th century Mataram Kingdom.
Other UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are national parks and offer great opportunities to get upclose to flora and fauna include Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java, and large parts of Sumatra including Gunung Leuser National Park and Kerinci Seblat National Park.
Diving is big in Indonesia and Bunaken in North Sulawesi and Wakatobi in Southeastern Sulawesi are well-known within the dive world. Beautiful beaches beyond Bali, can be found in Nias, off the western coast of Sumatra, and Lombok, part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands.
The capital of Jakarta on Java is also its main gateway. For foreign visitors, it is usually a stopping point to other parts of the country. While you are there, shopping should be a priority. The city has a number of malls, shopping centers and traditional markets.
As such a large country, Indonesia’s cuisine varies by region. You’ll find Chinese, European, Middle Eastern and Indian influences. Rice is a main staple, with meat and vegetables as side dishes. Main ingredients are spices (especially chili), coconut milk, fish and chicken. It is recommended that you use only bottled water.
The three main international airports are Soekarno-Hatta (CGK) at Tangerang, Banten, near Jakarta; Ngurah Rai (DPS) at Denpasar, Bali; and Juanda (SUB) at Surabaya, East Java. There are other cities with air service from neighboring countries, including Singapore and Malaysia.
Your best bet for long-distance travel once in the country is by air.
Indonesian climate is divided into the dry and rainy seasons. Most of Indonesiahas its rainy seasons from October through April.The temperature is almost constant except for rainy season’s nights when it can drop. The temperature on the coast is about 82.4° F, and is much lower in the highlands.