There are over 13,000 islands in the 5200-kilometre-long archipelago of Indonesia. With so many to choose from, we’ve whittled it down to 16 of our favourite Indonesian islands.
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Although it suffers the predictable problems of congestion and commercialization, Bali’s original charm is still much in evidence. You'll find here distinctive temples and elaborate festivals set off by a mountainous, river-rich landscape of the interior.
This tailor-made trip to the best of Bali will take you from modern-day Bali to the traditional one. Bali has many adventures to offer, tour the countryside with a Vespa or glide through the hidden canyons. You will also be able to enjoy visits to enchanting villages, where you can take in the local way of life.
While planning your Bali holidays don't forget to read our list of Bali travel tips which will help you to make the most of your visit.
The island’s northern area is dominated by the awesome bulk of Gunung Rinjani, and trekking at least part of the way up is the reason many tourists come to Lombok. Most base themselves in the nearby villages of Senaru or Sembalun Lawang. Other visitors enjoy the cool foothills at tiny Tetebatu and Sapit. For many, a big draw is the beaches.
You will start this tailor-made trip to Java and Lombok in Yogyakarta (also called Jogja) with its rich cultural past such as the Borobudur temple. From there continue to hike Mount Bromo and explore more of East Java in Malang and Surabaya. End your trip on the dreamy beaches of Kuta/Lombok, dubbed 'the next Bali'.
Explore Indonesia's diverse culture and nature with our guide to the best things to do in Indonesia.
There’s a bird park in the middle of the island (Taman Burung) that’s worth a visit. It houses three hundred tropical birds. The snorkelling is good along the east coast. Start at Royal Reef and drift down to Kontiki in the south. Take care – there may well be boats coming in and out to the harbour along here.
Dive deep into Balinese culture with this tailor-made trip to Bali's Culture & Gili's beaches. Visits include rice field walks, the Gates of Heaven, water temples like Tirta Empul and Tirta Gangga as well as a traditional cooking class. Your trip ends with the beaches of Gili Air and Jimbaran.
The islanders’ traditional culture is based on communal dwellings in longhouses (uma) and subsistence agriculture. Their religious beliefs are centred on the importance of coexisting with the invisible spirits that inhabit the world.
With the advent of Christian missionaries and the colonial administration in the early twentieth century, many of the islanders’ religious practices were banned, but plenty of beliefs and rituals have survived. However, the islanders are still under threat, not least from an Indonesian government seeking to integrate them into mainstream life.
The most spectacular sight in Flores is magnificent Kelimutu, near Moni, northeast of Ende. The three craters of this extinct volcano each contain a lake of different, vibrant and gradually changing colours. In the east of Flores, high-quality ikat weaving still thrives. At the extreme west end of the island, Labuanbajo has some fine coral gardens and is also the port for ferries to and from Sumbawa.
From your base on Bali's renowned beaches, you'll island-hop your way around glorious Hindu temples and heritage sites. See komodo dragons, partake in a traditional Balinese ceremony, meet with a Hindu High Priest and visit local villages: this tailor-made trip to Indonesia ticks all the tropical getaway boxes.
Getting to the beaches with a surfboard can be an arduous task unless you charter a car from Sumbawa Besar, but once there you’ll find plenty of accommodation and facilities. The main breaks are at Hu’u, off Lakey Beach, and around Maluk Beach on the west coast.
Although the practice of feeding lives goats to the dragons stopped a long time ago, you may still feel as if you’ve stepped straight into Jurassic Park if your visit coincides with big tour groups.
Combine several islands on one tailor-made trip to Bali, Flores & Komodo - start in Bali's cultural capital Ubud before heading to the rice fields in Sidemen. A short flight to Flores allows you to explore volcanoes and local villages before hopping on a cruise around Komodo and other islands close to Labuan Bajo.
Danau Toba is Southeast Asia’s largest lake and a magical place to lose a few days and relax in one of the numerous waterside resorts on the island of Samosir; and the stunning crater lake of Danau Maninjau.
Experience the magic of Java, the third-largest of the Indonesian Islands, with this stunning tailor-made Java Discovery. Explore stunning ancient temple complexes, ride a bicycle through idyllic rural villages, climb to Mount Ijen's crater at sunrise and laze around on palm-fringed tropical beaches!
Invaders were hard pushed to colonize beyond the coast, and a unique blend of cultures and habitats developed. The south is split between the highland Torajans and the lowland Bugis, there are various isolated tribes in the central highlands, and the Filipino-descended Minahasans reside in the far north.
With few roads, the interior’s great rivers are its highways and a trip up one of them will give you a taste of traditional Dayak life and introduce you to lush areas of dense jungle. More intrepid explorers can spend weeks on end navigating their way through seldom-ventured parts, and a visit to one of the national parks could bring you face-to-face with wild orangutans.
The provincial capitals of Pontianak, Palangkaraya and Samarinda are sprawling, dusty towns which offer little aside from their services. However, once out of the crowded, populated areas, Kalimantan’s character starts to unfold.
From west to east, Batu Daka, Togian and Talata Koh are the Togians’ three main islands, with Walea Kodi and Walea Bahi further east. The main settlements are Bomba and Wakai on Batu Daka and Katupat on Togian. Wakai is something of a regional hub, with transport out to smaller islands.
A little further out at Rende and Melolo sit stone tombs with bizarre carvings, and in other villages on the east coast, you’ll find quality weaving, traditional structures and deserted beaches. The main town in the west is Waikabubak, where characteristic houses with thatched roofs soar to an apex over 15m above the ground.
Due to remoteness, Maluku’s two national parks bring in few visitors, but its spice trade era and World War II historic sites are of interest to history buffs. It is the sensational diving, however, that lures most visitors. With so much sea, virtually every type of marine topography can be found here.
There are many ancient cannons in the large complex. On the outskirts of town, towards the airport, there is a mosque whose foundations date back to the 15th century. Its multi-tiered roof covers an airy space, beautifully designed for prayer and meditation.
With its golden coastline and azure waves, Indonesia is perfect for a family trip. Looking for more inspiring family holiday ideas? Find some inspiration in our guide to the best places to go with kids.
If you prefer to plan and book your trip to Indonesia without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.
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