With over 13,000 islands in the country, the archipelago of Indonesia certainly offers something unique for everyone. The Indonesian people are as varied as the landscapes they inhabit. There are more than 700 languages spoken throughout the archipelago and the culture varies correspondingly.
Although there are 707 languages spoken in Indonesia, knowledge of Indonesian is sufficient as the most widely used language in the country.
With a culture that is so diverse, Indonesia is one of Southeast Asia’s most attractive destinations. Indonesia is a huge country and it would require several visits to explore it properly. There are many places to visit, each offering a different experience. If you are wondering what to do in Indonesia, let me share 10 essential things that you can do here.
10 Essential Things that You Can't Miss in Indonesia
Here is a list of 10 essential things to do when you visit Indonesia:
1- Greet and Smile
In spite of the varying culture, one similarity that everyone has in common is the friendliness. Indonesians are friendly; they are probably one of the most sociable in the world. Wherever you go, you are likely to be greeted by “Good morning” or “Hello” by the locals. You will often find yourself in passing conversation with numerous locals. However, driven by their curiosity, it may take some getting used to all the questions.
2- Visit the Largest Buddhist Temple in the World
Once listed in the Seven Wonders of the World, Borobudur Temple (“Candi Borobudur” in Indonesian) was built in the 9th century. It is an architectural masterpiece and the world’s largest Buddhist monument. Borobudur is located on a hilltop at the south of Magelang in Central Java province. It was built in the eighth century and belongs to the Buddha Mahayana. Borobudur was revealed by Sir Thomas Stanford in 1814 during the English occupation in Indonesia. Watching the sun rise over Borobudur Temple will certainly be an unforgettable experience.
3- Appreciate the Unique Wildlife
Indonesia has vast areas of natural beauty where you can enjoy fantastic views and wildlife. One of the most popular ones is Komodo Island in East Nusa Tenggara. There live the Komodo dragons of its namesake. The Komodo dragon is the largest lizard on earth that grows to be as long as three meters and weighing over 100 kilograms. This animal is protected in the UNESCO site of the Komodo National Park because it is really dangerous; it preys on mammals with poisonous saliva.
4- Stay on the World’s Largest Volcanic Lake
Open up a map of Indonesia, zoom into the northern part of Sumatra Island (the largest island on the left), and you will see a lake with an island inside it. The island in the lake is actually as big as Singapore. Lake Toba was formed a long time ago after a dynamic volcanic eruption. Today the lake is very peaceful and relaxing. Keep in mind when you go for a swim in the lake because it is also the deepest volcanic crater lake in the world.
Lake Toba is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) long, 30 kilometers (19 mi) wide, and up to 505 meters (1,657 ft) deep, according to Wikipedia.
5- Learn the Local Languages
The Indonesian language (Bahasa Indonesia) was made official and adopted to make it easier to communicate among the ethnicities across the vast Indonesian archipelago. There are hundreds of local languages, sometimes spoken intact, sometimes blended with the Indonesian language. You can learn some Javanese phrases in Java, Sundanese in West Java and Balinese in Bali.
6- Take Part in the Cultural Festivals
More than 300 ethnic groups inhabit Indonesia. Their own cultures, traditions, and customs enrich the characteristics of this diverse country. There are a wide variety of cultural festivals to join, such as the religious Tabuik ceremony from West Sumatra, colorful Jember Fashion Carnival from East Java, Mappanretase by the Bugis people of South Kalimantan, Tomohon Flower Festival from North Sulawesi, and the famous tribal war Baliem Valley Festival from Papua.
7- Experience the Savory Cuisine
Indonesian food emphasizes spiciness and sweetness. Nasi goreng (fried rice) and satay (meat skewer) are national favorites. Besides, you can find local specialties in different regions and islands. Rendang, a spicy meat dish that looks almost curry-like, was once listed as the world’s best food by CNN. If you are a vegetarian, try Gado-Gado (vegetable salad with peanut sauce). Dare yourself to try the various kinds of Indonesian chili. Chili is technically more of a condiment, and is a staple at all Indonesian tables. The dishes aren’t complete without chili. Some restaurants have even made it their main specialty.
8- Learn How to Make Batik
There are several workshops in Yogyakarta, a city on Java, where you can learn how to make batik. Batik is a famous traditional cloth that is made through a series of processes, from heating up the dye to carefully drawing intricate patterns. Batik shirt was considered formal attire, like a business suit. Many Indonesians wear Batik as part of their modern-day clothing and the batik pattern is even incorporated in non-clothing products, such as hats, wallets or wallpapers.
9- See the “Man of the Jungle”
Bukit Lawang, a small riverside town built beside the rainforest of the vast Gunung Leuser National Park, is the gateway to start your jungle adventure to see the men “orang” of the jungle “utan”. Orangutans are arguably the most intelligent of apes and one of our closest relatives. They were once widespread throughout Southeast Asia, but now they are limited to only two places in the world, Sumatra and Borneo. Thus, making it one of the most endangered species on earth.
10- Explore the Underwater World
Indonesia is home to over 530 coral species and 1,300 types of fish. It is a true tropical paradise for divers. One of the most popular spots is the Raja Ampat Islands in West Papua. This island chain comprises mushroom-shaped islets, spooky caves, and fine white-sand beaches. According to a report by The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, around 75% of the world’s species are found in Raja Ampat. Besides, it is a destination for photographers, bird watchers, and even those who long for an unforgettable vacation on a faraway island.
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