The Ultimate Indonesia Bucket List: 25 Places You Need To Visit

Sep 16, 2021 | Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Food & Drinks, Group Tours, Indonesia, Travel Tips

Indonesia is a destination that is popular across the world as it’s well known for its incredible culture, beautiful scenery and opportunities for wildlife watching. If you are dreaming about pristine beaches, getting lost in nature, and incredible wildlife experiences then this is the country to visit! Some of the most popular things to do in Indonesia include hiking active volcanoes, searching for orangutans and exploring authentic temples. We’ve compiled a list of 25 things you don’t want to miss when travelling to Indonesia, so if you are planning a post-pandemic getaway then keep reading for all the best spots and activities!

1. Search for dragons in Komodo National Park

When you think of dragons, you may automatically imagine the huge animals of Game of Thrones or Harry Potter. Unfortunately, although these mythical creatures are definitely not found in Indonesia, the country is home to the Komodo Dragon.

Komodo dragons are a part of the monitor lizard family, and they are the largest species of lizard in the world. These large creatures can grow up to 3m long (around 10ft) and they can weigh up to a whopping 135kg (about 300 pounds). They are the dominant predator on the islands that they inhabit, and their diet consists of pretty much anything they can find. These huge lizards are known to prey on deer, pigs, smaller Komodo dragons and even large Water Buffalo. Komodo dragons have a venomous bite which they use to kill their prey, and they have even been known to attack humans, so be cautious if you do see one.

These incredible creatures are only found within the Lesser Sunda Islands in Indonesia. They can be seen on four islands within Komodo National Park, and these are Komodo, Rinca, Gili Montang and Gili Dasami. These lizards can also be found on the Island of Flores. It is easy enough to get to these islands from the likes of Bali and Lombok. You can either catch a plane to the island of Flores or head out on an island hopping tour to see the best of these islands!

close up of a komodo dragon

2. Visit the famous ‘T-rex beach’ of Nusa Penida

If you’ve ever seen photos of Indonesia, then we can almost guarantee that you’ve come across a picture of the famous ‘T-rex beach’. It is one of the most photographed spots in the whole of Asia and is a common spot for photographers and travellers to visit.

More commonly known as Kelingking beach, this beautiful spot is found on the island of Nusa Penida. This place is known for its Insta famous viewpoint, where you can get stunning views of the turquoise waters and incredible cliffs below. From above, the cliffs located beside the beach have a striking resemblance to the shape of Tyrannosaurus Rex – hence the nickname T-rex Beach!

The views from the top will totally knock your socks off, making this a must for any Indonesia bucket list. You can also head down to the beach at the bottom of the viewpoint if you wish, but the path down is pretty precarious;so be careful. If you are looking to visit this beautiful spot, then you can catch a boat to Nusa Penida from Bali.

kelingking beach in nusa penida, indonesia

3. Learn to surf in Canggu

Canggu is a popular village located on the west coast of Bali. It is well known for its beautiful surrounding beaches, westernised restaurants and hip culture. One of the most popular things to do here is learning how to surf, and that’s because the waves here are suitable for both beginners and advanced surfers.

If you are looking to take surfing lessons here, then you will have plenty of choices. Some of the most popular choices include Canggu Surf School, In Da Surf Camp and Wavehouse Surf Camp. A lot of companies offer you the choice to do group lessons or pay for private lessons. Some companies even offer surfing trips or just the opportunity to rent surfboards if you are already pretty confident in your abilities.

On the first day of our Indonesia tour, we will start our journey off in the most up and coming part of Bali. You can wander around the streets of Canggu trying the incredible food, sipping a Bintang in one of Canggu’s hip bars or shop in the popular markets.

a surfboard shack on canggu beach

4. Take amazing photographs at Goa Jomblang

Goa Jomblang is a series of natural caves that are located on the island of Java. To reach them it’s a 90-minute drive from the city of Yogyakarta, but it is totally worth it. These cave systems were formed over thousands of years by rainwater and underground rivers that eroded the rock.

Goa Jomblang is located on private land so, in order to see it, you must go on a tour. The opening of the cave system is located at roughly 150 below surface level, so be prepared for a steep journey down. Once you’re down at the bottom, it is then roughly a 30-minute walk down to the end of the cave. Here you can witness something truly mesmerising!

If you time your visit perfectly, you will get to witness the rays of sunlight beaming down into the caves. The best time to see these light rays is usually between 11 am-12 pm, so make sure you don’t forget your camera for this one!

 

5. Marvel at the famous Mount Merapi

Mount Merapi is a volcano located on the island of Java. It is located around 20 miles north of Yogyakarta and reaches a height of 2,911m. The word Merapi loosely translates into the “Mountain of Fire” and it is the most active of Indonesia’s 130 active volcanoes. Mount Merapi has erupted regularly since 1548 with small eruptions sometimes occurring as often as every 2-3 years.

This volcano has had plenty of eruptions throughout history, and almost half of those eruptions have been accompanied by pyroclastic flows or clouds of superheated gases. During the eruption of November 22 in 1994, a pyroclastic flow ended up killing 64 people. Further eruptions in 2010 caused numerous pyroclastic flows which killed a lot of people and resulted in the evacuation of tens of thousands. However, one of Merapi’s largest eruptions occurred in 1006 which covered all of central Java with ash.

mount merapi in java

6. Go diving within the beautiful Raja Ampat

The Raja Ampat islands are an archipelago found off the coast of West Papua. These islands are known for their beautiful beaches, stunning coral reefs and for being rich with marine life. This region of Indonesia is home to more than 1,700 species of fish and around 600 species of hard corals, which amounts to around 75% of known coral species across the world.

Diving is one of the main reasons why people come to Raja Ampat, and that’s because of its biodiversity. Some of the many species that can be found here include the reef manta ray, the dugong, hawksbill sea turtles, whales, dolphins and various species of shark. If you don’t fancy diving, then snorkelling is also extremely popular here!

If you are dreaming of the ultimate Indonesia bucket list experience, then you just have to visit Raja Ampat. There is also a beautiful viewpoint located in this area, and it’s located on Pianemo Island if you are looking for something else to do other than explore the ocean. To get to Raja Ampat you need to first take a flight from Jakarta or Makassar to Sorong. Then afterwards, you can take a small plane to Waisai, or you can catch a ferry from Sorong port.

aerial view of the raja ampat islands

7. Visit the island of Menjangan

Menjangan Island is located about 10km off the coast of Bali and forms part of the West Bali National Park Conservation Area. It is well known for its teeming coral reefs, pristine beaches and crystal clear waters.

Aside from Menjangans beautiful marine life, this island has another hidden gem. In Bahasa Indonesia, Menjangan actually means ‘deer’. This is how the island got its name, from the wild deer that can be found roaming around the island. They have even been spotted swimming in the surrounding waters by the locals, so you may get the opportunity to witness something truly unique.

During our Indonesia tour, we will take you to explore the beautiful Menjangan Island and its surrounding reefs. Our guide is also a divemaster so he will be able to show you the best spots and identify the different species of fish that we see! Whilst visiting this beautiful spot, we will also show you the Biorock project which is the largest coral planting project in the world. Afterwards, to do our bit we will finish our day off with a sunset beach clean-up and happy hour by the pool.

 a woman snorkelling on menjangan island in bali

8. Stay in the caldera of a supervolcano

Lake Toba is located on the Island of Sumatra and is the largest volcanic lake in the world. It occupies the caldera of a huge supervolcano; the Toba Volcano which last erupted around 75,000 years ago.

That eruption is considered to be one of the largest ever super volcanic eruptions in the earth’s history. Research suggests that the eruption ranked as an 8/8 on the volcanic explosivity index and that it caused a volcanic winter that lasted for 10 years. The eruption left a huge crater over 11km long and 30km wide, which is where the famous Lake Toba is found today. What’s even crazier is that the magma chamber found underneath the lake is even bigger than the one found underneath Yellowstone.

There is an island located in the middle of the lake, which is called Samosir. There are plenty of different guest houses where you can stay, and you can hire a scooter to explore the island if you wish. To get there, you can take a ferry from Parapat.

lake toba in sumatra

9. Explore Borobudur temple

Borobudur temple is found on the island of Java, and it’s the world’s largest Buddhist monument. This magnificent temple was built between AD 780 and 840 during the reign of the Syailendra dynasty.

After centuries of neglect the temple was rediscovered in 1814, and in the 1970’s UNESCO and the Indonesian government worked together to restore the temple to its former glory. The restoration took around eight years to complete, and the temple is now one of the most visited tourist destinations in Indonesia. It’s estimated that around 5 million people visit this incredible spot every year.

The best way to explore Borobudur temple is by foot, as you can truly embrace yourself in its history. There are guides available to help you learn more about this incredible monument, which is a great experience. They can walk around the site with you and explain the history of the temple, the area’s legends and stories and give you information about the Syailendra dynasty.

borobudur temple in java

10. Hike up Mount Bromo for sunrise

Mount Bromo is part of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, and although smaller than some of Indonesia’s other volcanoes, the views pack a punch. One of the coolest parts about this spot is that you can climb right up to the crater, and witness the incredible view of the surrounding landscape for yourself. The volcano has erupted a couple of times since 2010 and is under constant supervision by the Indonesian Volcano Monitoring Bureau. Throughout the past 10 years, there have been multiple circumstances where people have been forbidden to climb or even enter the vicinity of the volcano due to safety reasons.

This volcano means a lot to the local people, and there are countless legends and myths that surround this landscape. One of the local legends is that a brave prince once sacrificed his life for his family here at Mount Bromo. The people of the local area appease the gods here once a year during the Kasada festival, where people throw offerings of chickens, money and vegetables into the volcano crater.

On our Indonesia tour, we will be rising bright and early to climb the incredible Mount Bromo. We will take a jeep out across the sea of sand first and stop off at an awesome viewpoint to give you a cracking view of the volcano at sunrise. Afterwards, we’ll be climbing right up to the crater, where you will witness a 360-degree view of the incredible Mars-like landscapes that surround Bromo.

 woman looking out over mount bromo

11. Search for orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park

Tanjung Puting National Park is located within the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan (also known as Central Borneo). This national park is famous for the work of the orangutan foundation, which is an initiative that helps to conserve wild orangutans and protect their habitat. They also help to rescue injured or orphaned orangutans and then rehabilitate and reintroduce them back into the wild.

Searching for orangutans in this amazing destination is a must for any Indonesia bucket list. When it comes to entering Tanjung Puting National Park, you are only allowed in if you have a certified guide with you. Often the best way to visit is by tour as this way you get to visit various camps which are owned by the Orangutan Foundation. These camps are home to orangutans that are currently in the process of being rehabilitated back into the wild, and it’s an incredible experience to see for yourself.

Aside from orangutans, Tanjung Puting is home to other monkey species including gibbons, macaques and the unusual proboscis monkey. You might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a clouded leopard or Malaysian Sun Bear.

mother and baby orangutan swinging in the trees

12. Explore the rice terraces of Ubud

There are plenty of different rice terraces for you to explore around Ubud, so you will be spoilt for choice. However, the most popular are Tegallalang Rice Terraces. If you have seen photos of Ubud, then we can almost guarantee that this spot has popped up somewhere. These rice terraces offer stunning views and are a beautiful lush green in colour. There are so many different routes you can take throughout Tegallalang, with each corner offering more beautiful views than the last. Take your time at this one, trust us!

If you are looking for something a bit different, then Alas Harum Swing is located close to Tegallalang and is only a 20-minute journey from Ubud. Not only are the rice terraces pretty beautiful, but there are also lots of different places for you to get great Instagram spots. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can try one of the swings here to get an even better view of the terraces.

During our Indonesia tour, we will take you to one of Ubud’s most popular Instagram spots – Tegallalang Rice Terraces. You will get to wander around this beautiful place and admire the true beauty of Bali.

a woman walking through tegallalang rice terraces

13. Visit the rainbow village

The famous rainbow village of Indonesia is located within Kampung Pelangi on the island of Java. This village was once a run-down slum, but a unique idea helped to turn Kampung Pelangi’s fortune around!

The idea to paint Kampung Pelangi in rainbow colours started with one man – Slamet Widodo. At the time, he was the junior high principal and wanted a way to improve the community he lived in. He proposed an initiative to paint all 390 houses of the village in beautiful rainbow colours. This initiative was taken up and the government pledged over $22,000 to paint the village. The project encourages local citizens to get involved and locals are now undertaking the clean up of the nearby river.

Due to this unique idea, Kampung Pelangi is now completely on the tourist radar. The investment made by the government has helped this village thrive. Local businesses are already seeing a rise in sales, and as you can imagine this spot is a beacon for photographers and Instagrammers alike!

 

 

14. Go on an island hopping tour around the Gili Islands

If you are dreaming of pristine beaches, coconut palms and plenty of snorkelling opportunities, then the Gili islands are for you! Located off the coast of Lombok, these islands are a popular tourist destination and are a slice of paradise. The Gili Islands are made up of three different islands; Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan (otherwise known as Gili T). Each island offers something different for travellers, so it’s best to do some research first before you decide which one to visit.

Gili Meno is the smallest and quietest of the islands, so is the perfect couples retreat. It also arguably has some of the most beautiful beaches out of the three islands! Gili Trawangan is more of a party destination as it’s the largest island and the most lively, and there will be plenty of parties for you to attend. Gili T is also one of the cheapest places in the world to learn how to dive, which can be a decision-maker if you ask us! Gili Air is a combination of both islands with a relaxed atmosphere and lots of facilities, so if you can’t decide between the two, then this one might be for you. 

During our Indonesia tour, we will head out on a private island hopping tour of Gili T. We will show you all the sights that make this island and its surroundings so famous. Imagine snorkelling with turtles, exploring eerie underwater statues and teeming coral reefs. Have we got your attention? We thought so!

woman snorkelling in gili trawangan

15. Explore Uluwatu temple in Bali

Uluwatu temple is located on the cliffside of Uluwatu and is a Balinese Hindu Sea Temple. Also known as ‘Pura Luhur Uluwatu’, the temple is known for its stunning location as it is perched upon a sea cliff that is approximately 70m high. Aside from the beautiful temple views, you might even catch a glimpse of a turtle in the waves below if you’re lucky!

This temple is considered to be one of 6 key temples that make up Bali’s ‘spiritual pillars’. Some of the Balinese people believe that the powers of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva (which make up the Hindu trinity) merge here. Those beliefs resulted in this temple becoming a place of worship of Siva Rudra, who was the Balinese Hindu deity of all elements and life in the universe.

If you are planning to visit this beautiful temple, there is something else you should know! The temple and its surroundings are inhabited by cheeky macaques who are notorious for stealing peoples belongings. They will almost definitely steal any food that you have, but they have also been known to snatch cameras, sunglasses, bags and even flip flops. It’s best to keep your belongings in a tight backpack, and leave as much of it at your accommodation as possible! However, they are believed to be the loyal guardians of the temple which is pretty cool if you ask us.

uluwatu temple in bali

16. Wander around the Monkey Forest in Ubud

The Ubud Monkey Forest or otherwise known as the ‘Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is located in the heart of Ubud, and is a must-visit for any Indonesia trip! This natural sanctuary is home to over 700 long-tailed macaques, and they are incredibly intuitive.

Just to make you aware, these monkeys will likely climb all over you and steal your food. They do also like to take belongings, so keep your possessions close and safe. If you do get something stolen and are lucky, the staff members that wander the park might even be able to retrieve something for you!

The sanctuary is also a temple complex so there are plenty of incredible spots for you to visit including the Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal temple and “Holy Spring” bathing temple. This spot has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the whole of Bali and is often visited by over 10,000 tourists each month.

monkey climbing on girl in ubud monkey forest

17. Visit the hidden Banyumala waterfalls

Banyumala Twin Waterfalls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the whole of Bali. Located in the north of the island, this waterfall is yet to gain the popularity of other waterfalls such as Gitgit waterfall or Tegenungan, so if you are really lucky you could even have this spot all to yourself!

Banyumala is located about 45 minutes from Munduk village and there is a car park located at the site (although it is in pretty poor condition). From the car park, the walk to the falls takes about 20 minutes. It can be pretty steep in some parts but not too strenuous, so is definitely worth the effort. Once you get to Banyumala Twin Waterfalls you will be rewarded by stunning views and the chance to cool down by taking a swim.

During our Indonesia tour, we will take you to the hidden Banyumala waterfalls so you can see for yourself how incredible they are! This spot is off the beaten track and is the perfect spot for a relaxing swim.

the banyumala twin waterfalls from above

18. Go jungle trekking in Gunung Leuser National Park

If you are looking for an adventure, then look no further than Gunung Leuser National Park. Located on the island of Sumatra, this national park is one of the richest tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia.

Gunung Leuser National Park is one of the best places on the island to see the elusive Sumatran orangutan. Trekking through the jungle in search of these beautiful creatures is an incredible experience, and one not to be missed. Aside from orangutans, there are plenty of other wildlife species to be found here. This region is also home to gibbons, elephants, rhinos, tigers and siamangs.

To enter into the national park you must have a certified guide with you. If you are looking to shop around for tour prices then the best place to stay is Bukit Lawang. Bukit Lawang is a small village that is found on the banks of the Bahorok River and sits right at the entrance of the national park.

siamang in the trees

19. Dive with manta rays in Nusa Penida

Diving with manta rays is on many people’s bucket lists and it isn’t hard to see why. Getting the chance to swim underwater with these graceful creatures is a once in a lifetime experience, and one of the best places to do this is Nusa Penida.

Located on the southwest corner of Nusa Penida is Manta point, and this is one of the best spots to see manta rays in Indonesia. Manta rays are resident around Bali all year round so whenever you choose to visit, you will have a pretty good chance of spotting one.

Some of the manta rays here have a wingspan of over three metres and have beautiful patterns which make each and every one unique. Having the opportunity to witness these graceful creatures glide underwater is one you don’t want to miss, so make sure this activity is on your Indonesia bucket list!

manta_ray_gliding_underwater

20. Stay at the Red Island Surf Camp

Red Island Surf Camp is one of the most untouched areas when it comes to surfing spots in Asia. If you want to learn to surf in the beautiful tropics without the crowds then this is the place to go. Red Island is located in the Alas Purwo National Park of Java and offers travellers a surfing experience that truly is authentic and off the beaten track.

This surf camp offers surf lessons, surf adventure trips, volunteer experiences and there are even courses on how to become a surfing instructor. This place has something for everyone, no matter their ability so make sure you pay this cool spot a visit!

During our Indonesia tour, we will take you to this incredible spot where you can learn how to surf! You will start your day off with a surfing lesson from one of the expert instructors here, and then the activities for the rest of the day are of your choosing. You can choose to catch some more waves, try a yoga lesson or simply relax on the beach.

learning to surf at red island surf camp

21. Relax on Indonesia’s famous pink beach

If you are looking for a relaxing beach day; look no further than Indonesia’s famous pink beach. Pantai Merah (otherwise known as the pink beach) is found on Komodo island and has become a hotspot for tourists. This pink beach is one of only 7 in the world and gets its beautiful pink colour from microscopic animals. These tiny animals are called Foraminifera and they produce a red pigment on the coral reefs, which combines with the white sand in order to produce that striking pink colour.

To get to Komodo island, you will first need to get to Labuan Bajo by plane or boat from Bali, and then take an extra trip by boat to this incredible spot. You can also choose to visit Pantai Merah by including it on an island hopping tour of the different islands located throughout Komodo National Park.

 

 

22. Marvel at the beauty of Tumpak Sewu Waterfall

Tumpak Sewu Waterfall (also known as Coban Sewu) is located in East Java and is one of the most beautiful waterfalls that you will ever see! The name Tumpak Sewu actually means ‘a thousand waterfalls’ and at a height of 120m, it is one of the highest waterfalls in Indonesia.

The beauty of this waterfall is that you can get amazing views from every angle you view it from. Although you can’t swim at the foot of this waterfall, make sure you head down to the bottom of the falls. The hike to the bottom takes between 30-40 minutes and some parts of the walk are quite precarious so make sure to wear sensible footwear. Once you reach the bottom, you will realise why this walk is so worth it!

One of the best viewpoints of this stunning waterfall can be found just a 10 minute walk away from the car park. From this viewpoint, you will see endless waterfalls; so much so, that it’s almost like looking at a curtain of water. If you happen to own a drone then this is the spot to use it, because trust us when we say that you’ll get some pretty amazing photographs!

aerial view of tumpak sewu waterfall

23. Hike up Mount Rinjani

Hiking up Mount Rinjani is a must if you are travelling through Indonesia. Mount Rinjani is an active volcano located on the island of Lombok and is popular for its stunning sunrise views. It’s impressive size of 3,726m makes it the second-highest volcano in Indonesia, after Mount Kericni.

Adjacent to Mount Rinjani is a large caldera (6km by 8.5km if we’re being exact) which is partially filled by a beautiful crater lake. This crater lake is called Segara Anak or Anak Laut which translates to ‘child of the sea’ because of the water’s stunning blue colour. The lake is approximately 200m deep, and there are also hot springs located nearby.

The hike up to the summit of Mount Rinjani isn’t for the faint-hearted. The trail up the volcano isn’t well maintained so is often very slippery, and very steep. Make sure you pack plenty of layers too because even throughout summer, the temperatures can hover around freezing.
Your body will probably be pushed to the limits heading up to the top, but after you witness the views, you won’t be disappointed!

 mount rinjani in lombok

24. Explore the magical Tirta Empul Water Temple

Tirta Empul Water temple is one of Bali’s most popular tourist attractions. It is one of the largest on the island and was founded in 926 AD. Tirta Empul is actually dedicated to Vishnu (the Hindu god of water) and the name of the temple translates to ‘holy water spring’ in Balinese.

The temple is found in the village of Manukaya and is a 30-minute drive from the centre of Ubud. It takes at least 30 minutes to wander around the whole complex, and there are four main parts of the temple to explore. There is actually a presidential palace located here that was built for the first president of Indonesia in 1954.

After arriving at the temple, you will be given a sarong to use in the water and throughout the temple itself. You can then make offerings and head into the water to cleanse your sins. If you want the best experience we recommend having someone there with you to explain the water purification process. During our Indonesia tour, we will take you to this beautiful temple and share this experience with you!

 people in the holy springs of tirta empul water temple

25. Visit Sipiso Piso waterfall in Sumatra

If you love chasing waterfalls then you don’t want to miss out on this gem. Sipiso Piso waterfall is one of the highest waterfalls in Indonesia at an astounding 120m. Located in Northern Sumatra, this stunning waterfall is a must for any Indonesia bucket list!

Sipiso Piso waterfall is formed by a small underground river that falls from a cave. This cave is located on the side of the Toba volcano crater which is pretty cool, and it means you can also get beautiful views of Lake Toba from this spot too.

There are so many incredible viewpoints to view Sipiso Piso from, so you will want to spend a few hours here. You can view the waterfall from the main car park, from the viewpoints on the hike down and of course from the foot of the waterfall. Once you get to the bottom you will witness the outstanding power of this waterfall, so prepare to get soaked by the spray. The power of the water is incredible at the bottom, so make sure you don’t get too close!

sipiso piso waterfall in sumatra

There are so many incredible places to visit in Indonesia and things to do! Whatever your travel preferences, we can guarantee that you will be spoiled with many choices. This beautiful country has so much to offer. Whether you are looking to relax on the beach, get lost in the jungle or dive into the depths of the ocean, there is something for everyone.

If you want the best experience of travelling through Indonesia then why not join us? On our 12 day Indonesia tour we will organise all the activities and destinations for you. We will show you some of the best spots this country has to offer, and the best part? You don’t have to do anything – just relax and have fun! If Indonesia is on your bucket list, we would love to show you around! 

Feeling inspired to save for your next adventure? Check out our other trips here and use the code ONELIFE15 at checkout to get an enormous 15% off all our trips, for a limited time only!

Written By: Abbie Bevan

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