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It is impossible to see all the sights of Indonesia in one visit. Despite the fact that this country is small, located on the islands, there are a huge number of wonderful and delightful places. What are only the ancient temples that are in a ruined, dilapidated or well-preserved form! Exotic nature surprises with unexpected surprises, such as a water cloud at a famous waterfall or a “living” wall completely dotted with butterflies. Don't know what to see in Indonesia? Especially for you, we have compiled a list of the most interesting places in this country.
What to see in Indonesia in the first place
No matter how wonderful local attractions may seem, visiting them unaccompanied is not a good idea. Only guides in Indonesia know when it is better to go to inspect this or that memo and how to behave so as not to violate religious traditions. So, in addition to choosing attractive places to visit, be sure to think about who will accompany you.
1. Prambanan Temple Complex (Java Island)
Stone temple complex Prambanan
All tourists coming to the island of Java must visit the Prambanan Temple Complex – an amazing medieval building. The complex includes more than a hundred interesting Hindu and Buddhist temples, most of which, after major earthquakes and powerful volcanic eruptions, have survived only in the form of ruins. In the first half of the 20th century, the buildings were restored and now they are a majestic picture of towering three temples dedicated to the gods Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, decorated with reliefs in the style of the Ramayana, an ancient Indian epic. Their spiers rise high into the sky. Nearby are ancient shrines dedicated to the deities of mythical animals.
It is impossible to appreciate the sights of Indonesia without visiting this magnificent temple complex. It is as if time has stopped here and it seems that you can wander around the territory, looking at fantastic stories on the walls of buildings, for an eternity. Bas-reliefs depicting ancient gods and demons, birds and animals combined into incredible figure compositions. Unfortunately, many figurines have not been preserved, some have been damaged by earthquakes, some have been stolen. However, some of the fragments have been restored, and the remaining ruins are carefully collected, assembled and gradually restored.
2. Monkey Forest in Ubud (Bali)
Atmosphere of sacred monkey forest in Ubud
One of the most popular attractions for tourists in Bali is visiting the Monkey Forest. Balinese people revere these animals very much. Monkeys feel at ease, and tourists who regularly feed them, despite the ban, are treated indulgently.
On the territory of the sacred forest-reserve there is a small Hindu temple, the guardians of which are macaques living in the forest. As befits all Balinese temples, it is decorated with bas-reliefs and stunning fantastic statues, among which there are many images of monkeys. Such sights of Indonesia as this park attract tourists with lush vegetation, freshness, it is pleasant to walk along it: birds sing, streams murmur, and communication with macaques is of great interest to both adults and children. There is a small pond and an alley with sculptures of animals in the forest.
Monkeys are so used to tourists bringing them all sorts of goodies that they become impudent and do not even hesitate to “search” visitors for something to eat. The macaque population is growing rapidly and now has more than 600 individuals. Excursions in Bali to this park leave a lot of positive emotions and good impressions.
Official website: http://www.monkeyforestubud.com/
3. Bat Cave (Bali Island)
Goa Lawah temple with bat cave inside
A very unusual and interesting excursion to Bali is a visit to the cave of bats. It is located in one of its six main temples – Goa Lavah, which means “bat”. The temple was built in the XI century.
They say that the cave has a length of 25 km, many secret passages, some of them lead to other temples. They also say that there is an entrance in the dungeon, a kind of portal to another Universe, and entire expeditions disappeared in the mysterious corridors. Similar sights of Indonesia attract tourists with their mystery. Many bats meet visitors right on the threshold of the cave with a desperate squeak and a specific smell. By the way, their appearance does not cause disgust at all, cute faces with beady eyes look somehow human.
In front of the cave, on special altars, local residents lay out food for the winged inhabitants of the cave. If you love mysteries and are wondering what to visit in Indonesia, go to the Bat Cave, only at sunset. A mesmerizing sight awaits you when the mice begin to leave the cave en masse, fly out of it, flapping their wings above your head, and it seems as if the whole sky was filled with an endless stream of mice.
4. Banyar Hot Springs (Lovina Beach, Bali island)
Sculptural mythical heads at Banyar hot springs
In Bali, Banyar hot springs are considered sacred, so visiting them is akin to a pilgrimage, aimed at bodily and spiritual cleansing. A feature of this attraction of Indonesia is a pool with warm healing water, which enters it directly from the ground. Everything is decorated in Balinese style, which allows you to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of rest and relaxation.
The hot springs borrowed their name from the village near which they are located – Banyar. It is located in the north of Bali, not far from Lovina beach. Locals believe that this water cures many diseases, so they often come here themselves.
Arriving at the place, you will see two pools that have a connection with each other. The water is not very hot, and it is pleasant to stand under the stream, which falls from a height of 3.5 m. The water has a massaging effect and uplifts the mood. There are always a lot of people here, both tourists and locals, so bathing is almost always massive.
The smell of water can alert, but you should not be afraid – it appears due to the high sulfur content. Everything is provided here for a comfortable pastime: there is where to put things, eat in a restaurant, admire the picturesque surroundings, visit the spa. Local stalls sell a variety of souvenirs, you can safely bargain, as sellers always quote several times the price.
5. Jati Luvi rice terraces (Tabanan district, Bali island)
Jati Luvi Rice Terraces
The sights of Indonesia are very unusual and attract the attention of tourists. What are the rice fields worth! Plantations are the pride of the island, as the locals consider this culture a gift from higher powers. Rice is grown in the same way as it was a hundred years ago, the technology has hardly changed.
Rice plantations are located near the town of Tabanan. If you are wondering what to see in Indonesia, first of all go here. The main thing is to take slippers with you, because, in addition to beautiful views, there are a lot of puddles and mud under your feet. Not far from the plantations is Mount Bakutaru. The air here is always fresh and a little cool due to being at an altitude of 700 meters above sea level.
Local residents hold religious ceremonies here, as beliefs say that without worshiping higher powers, you can not expect a good harvest.
Rice terraces as a tourist attraction have been known for a long time, but only the last 50 years have been in a hurry to visit them actively. The government took it under control, and every year it becomes more and more convenient for foreign citizens to visit. There was parking, toilets, a place where you can eat and relax. The menu contains only local cuisine and drinks.
Check out the beautiful places of Indonesia in this wonderful video!
6. Lake Bratan (Bali)
The main water temple Ulun Danu on Lake Bratan
Sights of Indonesia are most often natural objects, mountains or reservoirs. Lake Bratan fell in love with tourists due to the unusual landscape and proximity to the volcano Batur. It is not the only one here, but there are also Tamblingan and Buyan, but the most popular of them is Bro.
Locals call Bratan Lake of the Holy Mountain and believe that if you swim in its waters, you can gain longevity and prolong youth. The water in the reservoir is cool, as the depth in some places reaches 35 meters. Guides in Bali bring tourists here to show the Ulun Danu Temple, which is located on the shore and is dedicated to the local deity Devi Danu. There are always more locals in it than tourists. Although the temple was erected in 1663, it is still active. Here, all believers can bring treats and gifts to honor the spirits. Entrance to the territory of the sacred place is paid.
The temple against the backdrop of mountains and a lake looks very picturesque and unusual, and you will not see anything like it anywhere else in the world. The reservoir is a source of fresh drinking water for the entire island, so it is closely monitored and cared for. Water pollution or disrespect is unacceptable.
7. Krakatoa Volcano (Sonda Bay, between the islands of Java and Sumatra)
Active volcano Krakatoa
The Indonesian picturesque volcanic island of Krakatoa, formed over a million years ago, is a cone-shaped mountain and is located between two islands – Java and Sumatra. For thrill-seekers, the beautiful Krakatoa volcano is one of the first places on the list of attractions, and it also attracts the attention of volcanologists from all over the world.
A powerful eruption in 1883 completely destroyed the island on which the crater was located, and the tsunami formed as a result of the explosion killed a huge number of people. Terrible tremors were felt by the whole planet, the sunsets became fiery red, and the air temperature dropped by several degrees. When the eruption ended, most of the island disappeared, and the volcano became much lower. Volcanologists claim that Krakatoa annually changes its height, increases and continues to grow. To date, the volcano remains active, in connection with which the Indonesian government forbade the locals to settle close to it, and tourists from approaching at a distance of less than one and a half kilometers. However, nothing prevents surfers from perfecting their skills at Tanjung Setia Beach in Lampung Province, which is famous for its high and unusual waves.
8. Tirtaganga Water Palace (Bali)
Non-sinking stones and statues in the pond of the water palace Tirtagangga
The palace complex of Tirtagangga, which means “sacred water of the Ganges”, is a unique combination of picturesque water pools with a sculptural ensemble and covers an area of 1.3 hectares. The three-level palace is a symbol of the Universe, where all three levels were divided into Swah – the highest divine, Bwah – the mortal human, Bhur – the lower dark world of demons. The magnificent fountain, which is located in the central part of the water palace complex, surrounded by Hindu gods, is a symbol of the highest deity.
Before the 1963 eruption of Mount Agung, which severely damaged and partially destroyed the entire complex, there were sculptures of people on the site of the current swimming pool, which symbolized the human world. The lower level in the form of a labyrinth with sculptures of evil spirits and animals is a symbol of the mysterious world of demons. All the sights of Indonesia are unique, each in its own way, while it is the Tirtagangga Water Palace that impresses with its grace and splendor. When wondering what to see in Indonesia, tourists first of all choose this complex with picturesque parks, alleys, ponds, fountains and sacred springs, leaving unforgettable impressions in their memory.
9. Java Island
Java Island impresses with its truly amazing natural beauty and is divided into three provinces:
- Central – the historical and cultural center of the island; Western – high mountains and green valleys; Eastern – rich in beaches, lakes, majestic volcanoes and nature reserves.
Wanting to get an indescribable feeling and visit the sights of Indonesia, tourists first of all come to the island of Java. Having traveled through all the provinces, guests will see unique ancient monuments, formidable volcanoes, endless rice plantations and national parks, and will receive a tremendous boost of energy.
Visitors begin to get acquainted with Java from the metropolis, the capital of the island – Jakarta. The city is quite interesting and ambiguous, here you can feel the whole great history of Indonesia, see its symbol in the center of the capital – the majestic National Monument. There are many active volcanoes on the island (there are more than 120 in total). Among the most popular and visited places by tourists are the ancient temple complexes of Borobudur and Prambanan, the Taman Sari Water Palace created in the 18th century, the amazing Bromo-Tenger-Semeru National Park, on the territory of which there are not only beautiful waterfalls and dense impenetrable forests, but also several active volcanoes.
10. Elephant Cave (Bali Island)
The head of a mythical creature above the entrance to the Elephant Cave
Not far from the village of Bedulu is the temple of Goa Gajah, which is located in a man-made cave called the Elephant. The choice of location for the Hindu sanctuary is not accidental – the natives considered the confluence of two streams endowed with divine power.
The sights of Indonesia almost always have unusual names, and the Elephant Cave is no exception. It got its name due to the statue of Ganesha located in the temple. This deity has the head of an elephant. However, there is another version that says that the Petanu River influenced the choice of the name, the locals call it the “elephant stream”.
The entrance to the territory is paid, but you can go through only if you put on a sarong (local traditional clothes). Here you can see many fragments of sculptures and architecture preserved from ancient times.
Of particular interest to tourists are three statues and a sculpture of Hariti. This giantess was known in Bali as Men-Breyut. You can enter the cave only through the main entrance, which is designed in the form of an open mouth of a terrible monster. Different scientists see different mythological characters in it, for example, Kebo Iva, the demoness of Rangda or the god of hunting Pashupati.
Sights of Indonesia: what else to visit while in Indonesia
Check out a few more tourist sites that are often included in excursions in Indonesia, because the wider the choice, the more likely it is that the holiday will be amazing! All the information provided is up-to-date, and the photos allow you to appreciate the stunning beauty of the sights that await you in this country.
11. Munduk Waterfall (Central Bali)
Munduk waterfall in the thickets of the tropical forest
The sights of Indonesia are famous all over the world for their beauty. Especially when it comes to waterfalls, as they look powerful and spectacular. One of them is Munduk. They go to it along a narrow path, which is immersed in greenery and stretches along a cliff right above the river. The main thing along the way is not to be distracted by the beautiful views of the valley, and carefully look under your feet.
When making a list of what to visit in Indonesia, you should not miss this object. The Munduk waterfall is a stream falling from a height of 25 meters that does not dry up even during a drought period. From November to February in these places the rainy season, and the spectacle will be especially impressive.
The flow of seething water against the background of the green jungle looks breathtaking. Not far from it there is parking, for which you will have to pay a purely symbolic amount. Rising to the observation platform at about 500, you can hear the sound of water, but the waterfall itself is not visible until the last. You won’t be able to get close to it, as there is a cloud of water dust nearby. If you stand for a few minutes, you can get wet through.
Pura Ulan Danu temple, Tamblingan lake, Buddhist temple are located not far from the waterfall.
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Buddhist Borobudur Temple
Going to the island of Java, you should add to the list of places to visit the Temple of a Thousand Buddhas, or, as it is also called, Borobudur. This is the second largest sanctuary, after the well-known Angkor Wat. This Indonesian landmark has only 50 sculptures, but in addition to them, there are almost 300 stone bas-reliefs that create a fantastic sight. The length of the temple is about 5 km, and this object is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. In fact, this is a Buddhist textbook that tells about all the reincarnations of the Buddha and the pillars of his teachings. Many tourists make a wish by touching the Buddha's foot.
It is not known for certain who exactly was involved in the construction of this amazing architectural structure and for what purpose it was done. Gunadharma is considered to be the architect, but Japanese legends speak of this, and there are no other sources that would confirm this. The approximate time of construction is 750 AD. It took about 75 years to complete the construction of the complex.
But Borobudur fell into decay after the locals left these lands. Scientists believe that the reason for this was the volcanic eruption. This is confirmed by the fact that for several centuries the complex was buried under volcanic ash and hidden in thickets of tropical vegetation. When looking for what to see in Indonesia, it is better to go here first of all.
13. Temple Pura Tanah Lot (Beraban, Bali)
“Land in the sea”
The sights of Indonesia are very diverse, and it will take a lot of time to see them all. However, if you get to the city of Beraban at low tide, then you should definitely visit one of the main attractions – the Tanah Lot temple, whose name literally translates as “land in the sea.” It is impossible to get there before low tide, because it is located on a rock in the sea.
This active temple, according to legend, was built in the 15th century by a Hindu priest. Today, the rock on which the temple is erected is more than one third artificial, because in the 80s of the last century the temple began to slowly collapse, and in the 90s it was already on the verge of complete destruction. The Japanese government has given Indonesia a loan of about $130 million to restore not only Pura Tanah Lot, but many other attractions throughout the country.
It is worth planning a visit to the rock in the afternoon, as it is very hot there during the day. Only true believers are allowed to enter the temple itself, so the way there is closed for tourists. However, from the bottom of the Tanah Lot rock, you can see very well. If you take a camera with a good magnification, you can not only see the temple in all its details, but also take beautiful photos.
Official website: http://www.tanahlot .net/home/
14. Taman Sari Water Castle (Jogyakarta, Java)
Taman Sari Water Palace Pool
If you don't know what to visit in Indonesia, then be sure to start your acquaintance with this amazing country from the Taman Sari Water Castle, which is located on the island of Java .
This castle was built in the 18th century by an architect from Portugal and had a huge number of canals and pools of magnificent beauty. Today on its territory there are two artificial lakes, islands, pavilions and pools.
According to legend, the castle had a huge number of secret passages and rooms. So that no one would know about their location, the architect who built this majestic structure was killed on the orders of the Sultan. Another version is that the Sultan did not want such a luxurious park to ever be repeated, and therefore ordered the unfortunate architect to be killed.
After the eruption of the Merapi volcano, the park was significantly damaged, and even if it had secret passages and labyrinths, they were littered with ash.
Today, a significant part of Taman Sari has been restored and restored. This is a wonderful place to relax, which, despite the terrible legends associated with it, attracts a huge number of tourists.
15. Bunaken National Park (Sulawesi Island)
Sea depths of Bunaken Park – a place for divers to rest
When the question arises of what to see in Indonesia, the name of Bunaken National Park immediately comes to mind. It is rightfully considered a marine park, since almost 97% of its entire area is occupied by water. The landmass of Bunaken Park consists of five islands: Siladen, Nine, Monteheij, Bunken and Manado Tua, which is an extinct volcano.
Bunaken Marine Park is a national reserve that was established in 1991 to protect the flora and fauna of Indonesia. Despite the delightful beauty of the islands and their coastal zones, the part that is hidden under water is of greatest interest to tourists in this park. Not far from it is the center of the Coral Triangle, which is home to a wide variety of fish, corals and shellfish.
For diving enthusiasts, this marine park will be a great place to relax. There are at least 30 dive sites here, all of them have excellent visibility at a depth of at least 20 m, the minimum water temperature is 27°C. The greatest depth of these places is about 100 m, however, experienced divers do not recommend diving deeper than 30 m, since a very large number of predators live in the water, which roam in search of prey. Also read about the sights of Malaysia and get inspired for your next trip to Southeast Asia!