Go East is a series from Lighthouse that brings you countries and destinations that lie east of India and have not hit the big time yet on the travel circuit. Forget Europe, forget Australia, forget Morocco. Give a miss to South Africa, drop the trip to the US, keep New Zealand waiting. Go east with Lighthouse as we move to Indonesia having covered Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
17,000 islands, the world’s largest archipelago span 5,120 km across the equator, clear seas and amazing surf breaks with beautiful beaches conspire with living volcanoes and virgin jungle. That’s Indonesia in a few words. But, it means that there is a lot to see, do and experience in a country that is so spread out that it has three time zones. Richly endowed with natural resources, Indonesia has attracted traders, pirates, and adventurers from all over the world throughout its history. Time to add your name to the list. Read on to decide where to go:
In all probability, you will land in Jakarta, the capital and the largest city of Indonesia, located on the northwest of the island of Java. There is plenty to do in Jakarta, from green parks & historical centers, to cosmopolitan shopping, diverse gourmet choices, and one of the hippest nightlife in Southeast Asia! Start at Monas, the national monument. Jakarta’s best known landmark, the 137 metre monument is located in the centre of Merdeka (Freedom) square. From the observation deck, you can view the city. Drop into Kota Tua, the old town, in the north of Jakarta where you get to see colonial architecture and some museums housed in old buildings. The Museum Nasional houses a vast collection of prehistoric, ethnographic and archaeological artifacts, including one of the world’s largest collections of Southeast Asian ceramics and Hindu Javanese art. Jalan Surabaya is a lively open-air antique market and a good place to bargain for exotic treaures.
If music is of special interest to you then Jakarta becomes an important port of call. The annual Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival runs for three days each March and is filled with international and local artists performing jazz, R&B and reggae. The Hammersonic in April is a metal music event, while Java Rockin’ Land entices you to a June night of rock & roll, and the Djakarta Warehouse Project in December will make you dance and be entertained by world famous DJs.
Yogyakarta in Central Java is wedged strategically between two magnific ent ancient temples – Prambanan, the Hindu temple and Borobudur, the renown Buddhist temple. It holds more wonders than just that and you can explore the main streets and narrow alleys for hidden treasures of bygone days, taste the best Javanese food and soak yourself in history, art and culture. While in Yogyakarta do try Gudeg. This unique Indonesian dish is a stew made from young jackfruit with palm sugar, coconut milk, meat, garlic and spices. The special taste came from the slow melding of flavours and textures to the right perfection. The best place for a tast of Gudeg is Gudeg Yu Djum.
Do not miss out the majestic Mt Bromo at Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, with active and dormant volcanoes to choose from. You may ride a horse or catch or rent a jeep all the way to the top and be in time to catch a sunrise.Myth has it that Mount Bromo is significant to the Tengger people who believe that the site is where their brave prince sacrificed his life for his family. To appease the Gods, the people will offer food and money by throwing it into the crater of the volcano once a year during annual Kasada (or Kasodo) festival.
Lake Toba, also called Danau Toba, is the largest volcanic lake in the world measuring 1,707 sq ft in area. Situated in Sumatra, the lake’s quiet and serene beauty is worth a visit.
Located at the north of the island of Sulawesi, Bunaken is one of Indonesia’s most famous dive and snorkeling areas. The island is part of the Bunaken Marine Park where you can see more than 70% of all fish species that live in the western Pacific ocean. The best time to visit Bunaken is between April and November because that is the best time for diving as well.
Wildlife lovers must visit the Komodo National Park located within the Lesser Sunda Islands that includes the three larger islands Komodo, Padar and Rincah, and 26 smaller ones. The park is named after the Komodo Dragon, the world’s largest living reptile that can reach 3 metres or more in length and weigh over 70kg. Although Komodo dragons eat mostly carcass of dead animals, they are formidable predators and will also hunt prey including birds, and mammals. Seeing a dragon in the wild is an experience of a lifetime.
The most popular tourist destination is Lombok is the Gili Islands, an archipelago of three small islands: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. The islands are very relaxed and laid-back, with countless little beachside cafes still playing reggae and no cars or motorbikes to disturb the peace.
The Baliem Valley in the highlands of Western New Guinea offers a glimpse into what was recently a stone-age world. The valley was not known to the outside world until 1938 and Wamena is the starting point for most travellers who come to marvel at the mountain views, roaring rivers, tribal villages and the Dani people whose language differentiates only two colours – cool/dark shades and warm/light colours.
The Tanjung Puting National Park in Borneo is a popular ecotourism destination with multi-day boat tours to view wildlife and visit the research centers. You could see gibbons, macaques, clouded leopards, sun bears, pythons, crocodiles and – most famously – orangutans.
Finally, Bali. What is there to add? Here some ideas: Walk around the monkey forest at Ubud. Get pampered in a Balinese Spa. Visit the Turtle Breeding sanctuary near Kuta. Have a sunset dinner at Jimbaran Bay. Take a walk or bike ride through paddy fields. Check out Balinese dancing.
Is this all that you can do in Indonesia. Not by a mile. Call Lighthouse on (0) 9818905024 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll tell you lots more, enough for more trips than one to Indonesia.