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Indonesia Bucket List: Top 5 Things to Do in Indonesia

Travel + Leisure - World's Best Awards 2019
Georgina Rawson
Written by
Keith Jarman, Rachel O'Leary, Anna Chaplin, Sarah Kounnou & Georgina Rawson

In the heart of southeast Asia, smoking volcanoes, lush rainforest and pristine beaches make up Indonesia’s 17,000 plus islands.

With so many islands to choose from, it can be hard to narrow down which activities are worth putting on your Indonesia bucket list.

From seeking out Komodo dragons to indulging in a Balinese cooking class, this is our expert round-up of the top things to do in Indonesia.

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Go dragon spotting in Komodo National Park

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Komodo National Park is home to the legendary Komodo dragon. Made up of three main islands – Komodo, Rinca and Padar – this world-renowned island is full of famous inhabitants and vibrant marine life. Although sightings of the indigenous Komodo Dragon are not guaranteed, they are common – so keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of the fearsome predators that look as  though they’ve just stepped out of the Jurassic period. 

Coral formation in shallow water, Satonda Island, Komodo National Park, Indonesia

One of the most memorable ways to explore the Komodo islands is on a private cruise; sailing between lush green islands, swimming through crystal clear waters and wandering along picturesque beaches makes for a truly unforgettable experience. Start your journey with a snorkelling experience on Sebayor Island, the perfect spot for an introductory dive to Indonesia’s waters. Then, head to the Komodo Island hills for a mesmerising sunset, before exploring Pink Beach and trekking in search of the legendary Komodo Dragon. 

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Explore the ancient past at Borobudur Temple

The main feature of Indonesia’s mystical Java is the infamous Borobudur, one of the most evocative religious sights in Asia. A 9th-century Buddhist monument, this incredible structure stretches over three layers and has an incredible 72 open work stupas – each containing a Buddha – surrounding the main stupa at the top of the temple. We recommend visiting Borobudur at sunrise, when the glowing orange and purple light make this temple a magical sight. 

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This magnificent temple took over 1,000 years to complete, and its intricacies are evident from the 150,000 foot square base to the very top of its six different tiers.  Whilst you’re there, a knowledgeable tour guide will explain the history of Buddhism and the site as you enjoy the incredible views and atmosphere. After you’ve explored the temple, seek out the private exit leading to Dagi Hill where you’ll enjoy views of the temple with a warming cup of coffee in tow. 

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Enjoy Raja Ampat’s world-class diving

Any diving enthusiast will no doubt have heard of Raja Ampat – an archipelago of Indonesian islands located just off the northwest tip of Papua New Guinea. Made up of over 1,500 tiny islands, Raja Ampat is characterised by forest covered islets, blissful coastline and crystal clear turquoise water. All of the islands in Raja Ampat are part of the Coral Triangle, making the islands’ waters some of the best in the world for diving. Over 35 species of fish and up to 40 corals are endemic to this region, so any diver is in for a captivating show.

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As the islands are so remote and uninhabited by humans, the best way to explore them is by boat. An exclusive private charter tailored to your specific needs is a great way to see the Raja Ampat islands in an unforgettable way. With rugged and scenic beauty, Raja Ampat is truly heaven on earth; diving the islands’ waters whilst lounging on a spacious deck between dives and tucking into al fresco dining is a truly world-class experience. 

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Indulge in a Balinese cooking class

Bali is undoubtedly Indonesia’s most famous island, and despite what you may think, there are still wonderful places to get off the beaten track here. For foodies, one of the island’s many hotspots is Seminyak’s Bumbu Bali cooking class. A culinary institution since Heinz von Holzen first opened it in 1997, this local foodie spot has gone from strength to strength ever since. 

For attendees, the day starts with a visit to the local market to source the freshest ingredients. As the town comes to life, you’ll experience the colourful village market awash with vegetables, spices and a whole hubbub of activity. Once you’ve got your hands on your veg, head to the famous Kedonganan fish market, which showcases the best of what Indonesia’s waters have to offer. The catch comes in at dawn every morning and if you’re lucky, you may run into the chefs of Bali’s fine dining restaurants. Once you’ve sourced your ingredients and cooked up a storm, the morning culminates in a celebratory lunch during which you’ll taste the dishes you have helped to prepare.

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Hike Mount Batur at sunset

With lush greenery and steep rice terraces that flank the soaring banks of the Ayung River, Ubud is one of Bali’s most scenic and relaxed destinations. It is also peppered with the island’s most important holy sites, temples and artisan workshops. Spend time exploring the local culture, taking in the epic landscape and relaxing in this beautiful part of Bali.

Landscape in Ubud, Bali

You will be met at the hotel and drive to Penelokan Village, enjoying a break for coffee and cake while enjoying stunning views of Mount and Lake Batur. You’ll start the trek mid afternoon and walk for approximately 1.5 hours to get the Mount Batur rim, where your chef starts to prepare the food for the hike. Once you’re back from the peak, enjoy the awesome sunset on the horizon and celebrate with a glass of local wine once the sky goes dark before ambling back down. 

Feeling inspired? Our expert travel designers are always on hand to help you plan your next adventure through Indonesia.

Call 866 964 1523 or