Top things to do in Indonesia
When I was leaving for Indonesia for the first time in April, the country meant only Bali and Jakarta to me. I knew nothing of Bandung or any other place, not even the name. I guess that is the case with most of us tourists. I had read and heard so much about only Bali and Jakarta and a few attractions around them that they had become synonymous with Indonesia.
On the contrary, there is much more to the archipelago country of more than 17500 islands. The days I spent, were unforgettable and the experience cherishable. Soaking in the nature, admiring the landscapes, culture and food, I wanted more of everything. While every experience was memorable, here are some of them that stood out. To me these are the reasons, why you should include a trip to Indonesia in your itinerary.
Temples of Bali:-
No visit to Bali would be complete without a trip to see at least one of Bali’s temples. There are over 20,000 pura (Balinese for temple) in Bali, several of them have become the island’s most iconic landmarks, with magnificent centuries-old architecture and are set against the exotic backdrops.
Each temple is unique in its own way. Be it the mysterious ruins of Goa Gajah, or the silhouettes of Uluwatu and Tanah Lot at golden sunsets, they should be in your ‘must visit’ list. If you are lucky, you can also see lively processions, ornate decorations and festivity that take place during temple anniversaries.
Tip- Respect the customs and dress modestly.
Dances of Indonesia:-
Balinese dance is a very ancient dance tradition that is part of the religious and artistic expression for people of Bali. The dances are dynamic and intensely expressive. Balinese dancers express the stories of dance-drama through the bodily gestures including gestures of fingers, hands, head and eyes.
Most dances in Bali are connected to Hindu rituals and mythological stories. Here, you can see some unheard stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Tip- Be on or before time, the shows are jam packed.
The music is in the air everywhere in Indonesia. In Angklung Show, young children and adults sing and dance on the beats of their musical instruments, the verve is high and infectious too! In the end, you can’t stop yourself from getting up and joining them on the dance floor.
Tip – Stay till the end. Don’t miss musical orchestra and it’s perfectly okay if you want to let your hair down.
Handicrafts, carvings and learning the art:-
One of the many facets of Indonesia is the kind of handicrafts in the country. Variety of carvings, paintings, sculptures and Batik precipitate upon you.
Tip – Do not forget to see some factories or workshops where these arts are practiced.
Generally Bali is what people look for, if they want to learn and experience about Indonesian culture. Not anymore. Bandung has hundreds years of history of culture. Despite the influences of foreign culture, some remote Indonesian regions still preserve uniquely indigenous culture. The Wayang puppet show and Angklung musical orchestra, are very specific to this region.
There are, of course, several museums, in Jakarta and elsewhere, for those inclined to visit them. In Jakarta, the national museum is worth spending some. The museum artifacts seem to trace Indonesia’s history from the beginning. You may also visit Miniature Indonesia that has captured the essence of the culture of each province of Indonesia spread over several acres.
Tip: You need quite some time to visit this vast museum of sorts. Keep at least half a day for Miniature Indonesia.
Many times we had the chance of tasting and relishing the local Sumatran, Javanese, Sundanese, Balinese cuisine and much more. Even before I had left India, I was advised by my friends to have Lotek, Gado Gado etc. The best part of Indonesian cuisine is that it’s not as hot & spicy as its neighboring countries and is light on stomach. Also, there is no dearth of vegetarian dishes. I will write a separate post later on Indonesian cuisine.
Tip – Try local dishes as much as possible. Do not worry if you are a vegetarian.
Shopping:- I suggest you carry an empty suitcase with you… for, you are bound to shop to your heart’s content. Not only the westerners, people from neighboring countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and also Korea come here to shop for textiles and clothes! Bandung is very inexpensive when it comes to clothes. Even after paying for the airfare, they save some money when they shop in Bandung! There are many factory outlets that have fabulous clothes in latest fashion. Besides clothes and apparels, other things to shop for are wooden artifacts, Bandrek, a local drink, local snacks, shoes and souvenirs etc.
Ah yes, if you are in Jakarta, don’t forget to visit the Antique market.
Tip – Carry an empty suitcase. 🙂
Nature & wildlife:-
Being an archipelago country of more than 17500 islands, Indonesia is a heaven for nature and wildlife lovers. The country is full of natural wonders. Vast expanse of rice fields which are declared as World Heritage sites is one of them. Green patches of tea gardens are another natural expanse which is going to win your heart.
We went to two volcanic craters in and around Bandung, named Kawah Putih and Tangkuban Perahu. I have written about them in detail.
Both have some legends attached to them yet, both are very different from each other. While you can till the crater in one, you can only admire the other from above. Both can be seen spewing Sulphur fumes. We also witnessed from afar the Mount Batur.
Besides Hiking, rock climbing, camping, night treks etc. surfing and water sports are a few things which are very popular among the tourists as well as the locals. The beach where the movie ‘Eat, Pray & Love’ was shot is here. People come here, rent a place and learn surfing and snorkeling. The locals dote on it and now I can also swear by its natural beauty and delicious food.
Indonesia is a traveler’s paradise and a tourist’s heaven. It is a secular republic with Muslim majority. There is no state religion, and the people are tolerant towards other ethnicities and religions. People are warm and friendly and helpful.
If you want a particular region to discover, I recommend Manado in Northern Sulawesi Indonesia.
When are you booking your tickets for Indonesia? 🙂
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