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Indonesia is a sprawling archipelago, made up of more than 17,000 islands, and home to over 300 different ethnic groups. With its massive potential for adventure - from majestic mountains to glorious temples, and stunning beaches, plus opportunities galore for surfing, diving, and hiking, travellers will find no end to the list of things to see and do. It’s hard to beat Indonesia for the sheer range of experiences on offer, however we’ve listed our top picks of what we consider the most beautiful places to see in Indonesia.
Read on for our list of the top 10 most beautiful places in Indonesia, covering pristine islands, the best of the country’s untouched beaches and lakes for water sports fans, national parks for wildlife lovers, and curious, traditional sites for urban explorers.
The Komodo National Park covers the three larger islands of Komodo, Padar, and Rinca, alongside 26 smaller ones, and is the only place on earth where you’ll be able to encounter Komodo dragons in the wild. Not only can you catch a glimpse of these fascinating lizards, but visitors will also be treated to miles of untouched coastline, views of lush tropical hills, and the famed pink sand beach. If you’re keen on diving and interested in getting up close and personal with some of the park’s thriving underwater wildlife, you may want to check out Ampersand Travel’s range of luxury designed Indonesia holidays, which include family and group diving packages.
Escape the Bali tourist trap by heading to Lombok, known for its many beaches and surfing spots. The island’s landscapes and beaches are no doubt on par with the former’s, but lack the crowds and the stag parties. The town is a mix of small guesthouses, cafes, restaurants, and low-key places to grab a few beers. South Lombok on the other hand, offers pristine white sands and brilliant blue waters - perfect for swimming, while the world-famous Gili Islands, just off Lombok’s coast, house a range of luxury resorts and hip bars.
Not only is Lake Toba the biggest natural lake in the country, it’s also one of the most beautiful. Stunning from every angle, Lake Toba is almost twice the size of Singapore, and occupies the caldera of a supervolcano. There are plenty of view points where tourists can take in the sight of this volcanic lake, as well as the lush green hills, dotted with banana trees and tobacco fields. Once you’ve visited Toba, you can either head to the small island of Samosir in the centre, or explore the fascinating Batak Museum in Balige.
A charming little market town in West Sumatra, Bukittinggi sits 930 meters (3,051 feet) above sea level, providing spectacular views of the surrounding forests and a refreshingly cool climate all year round. The town is home to the majestic Sianok Canyon, the Pasar Atas traditional market, the iconic Jam Gadang clock tower, the Dutch hilltop fortress of Fort de Kock, built during the colonial period, and a series of underground tunnels constructed by the Japanese in WWII. It’s the perfect base to explore Danau Maninjau, and a great stopover for any roadtrip or bike tour through the country.
The art and culture capital of Bali, Ubud is chock to the brim with charming art galleries and lively traditional dance performances. It’s the perfect spot to explore ancient temples, visit majestic royal palaces, and simply take in the glorious green hillsides and terraced landscapes created by Bali’s centuries-old cooperative irrigation system. Ubud is also a gateway to some of the most beautiful landmarks on the island, including the famed Tegalalang Rice Terrace and the Ubud Monkey Forest.
Translated to mean ‘Four Kings’, the world-famous tropical paradise of Raja Ampat is home to over 530 species of coral, 700 species of mollusk, and 1,300 different types of fish. A divers’ paradise - Raja Ampat has remained largely pristine due to its remote location, and its dramatic landscapes which shield its secret lagoons, bays, and beaches. It’s an unforgettable island destination for birdwatchers, photographers, and adventurers alike, and can be visited as part of a luxury vacation or cruise. While there are several different companies that can get you there, we recommend Rainforest Cruises, who offer a wide range of Southeast Asian cruise experiences.
The Borobudur Temple is the largest Buddhist sanctuary in Indonesia, and considered a must-see attraction. Built sometime in the eighth century, the temple consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. It’s surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa, as well as a series of ornate and mesmerising stone carvings which depict scenes of daily life in 8th-century ancient Java. The temple is considered a powerful symbol for Indonesia - to testify for its past greatness, and evokes a sense of grandeur and pride for many Indonesians.
Located off the coast of mainland Sumatra, the Bangka Belitung Islands are famous for their idyllic beaches with blissful white sand, iconic granite formations, coral reefs, and picturesque palm trees. The islands attract tourists from around the world, namely for their translucent waters, hypnotising sunsets, and unique mix of local heritage and Dutch colonial architecture. This island getaway is only a short 2-hour flight away from Batam (or 1-hour flight from Jakarta), and the perfect holiday destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Famous for its iconic cone-shaped main houses, the traditional village of Wae Rebo is beautifully aligned against a misty mountain backdrop. Adored by domestic and international tourists alike, Wae Rebo is a must-visit for sharing ceremonies, local food, and overnight experiences. Just be warned that the village is remote - it’s located in the highlands, 3-4 hours on foot from the nearest city, and the only way to get there is by hiking. Road improvements have opened up the Manggarai area to some degree, but it's still remote and best seen in the company of an experienced tour guide.
If you want to experience the beauty of Balinese culture, but without the crowds, look no further than the Nusa Islands. Often referred to as ‘the Maldives of Bali’, the Nusa Islands are a string of three small islands off the coast of Bali, which in many respects outshines the famed mainland. Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan are all perfect for diving, snorkeling, and water sports, while the latter is a great place for cliff-jumping, caving, and hiking. Life on the Nusa Islands is all about enjoying nature, and relaxing in the chill island atmosphere.
Wherever you’re headed to Indonesia, you can search The Travelling Souk for inspiration – it’s full of expert tips on where to stay, where to eat, and what to see while you’re there.Back to overview
We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest.