With its more than 18,100 islands, Indonesia is said to be the largest archipelago in the world. And with 6,000 of these islands being inhabited, it is no wonder that Indonesia is one of the world’s most populous countries together with China, India and the USA. Being the largest country in Southeast Asia, Indonesia offers a multitude of wonders for travelers who wish to explore its beauty and vastness.
One of the many reasons to be in this country is its abundance of natural wonders. Having the second largest tropical forest in the world, next to Brazil’s Amazon, Indonesia is home to various national parks recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra is comprised of three distinct Indonesian national parks: Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Gunung Leuser National Park and Kerinci Seblat National Park. Because of its outstanding biodiversity and the stunning sceneries, with the Bukit Barisan Mountain, known as the Andes of Sumatra, making the views more exhilarating, it is understandably a UNESCO site. The main attraction of this park is the critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan, a small and rare orangutan species endemic to Sumatra. Go to Gunung Leuser National Park to get a glimpse of these amazing creatures. They are frequently and easily spotted in the small village of Bukit Lawang and if you prefer, you can drop by the Orangutan Viewing Platform where you can have a close encounter with them. Other interesting animals you might run into while wandering the park are the Sumatran Tiger and the Sumatran Rhinoceros. You can also glance at the country’s highest volcano, Mount Kerinci, when you reach Kerinci Seblat National Park. From Bukit Lawang, you can go straight to Parapat to catch sight of the famous and amazing Lake Toba, the world’s largest volcano lake. This massive body of water offers magnificent views and a fresh breath of air. Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java is another UNESCO site you should stop by where you can have sightings of Timor deer, wild boar and the rare Javan Rhino.
For a more adventurous experience, make sure to visit another UNESCO’s reserve, Komodo National Park on Nusa Tenggara Island. It consists of three main islands: Komodo, Rinca and Padar. The park is home to the remarkable and dangerous Komodo dragon, the largest living lizard in the world, and other notable species. Tours are offered with local guides and it is advisable to not wander the area without them. The marine life within the park is one of its interesting features too. Or, if mingling with Komodo dragons is not too thrilling for your taste, you can try volcano climbing. With its more than 160 active volcanoes, it is a perfect place to try this activity. Some of the most accessible volcanoes you can choose from are Mount Rinjani or Gunung Rinjani in Lombok, Mount Batur in Bali and Ijen Crater in East Java. You can also visit Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park for Mount Semeru and Mount Bromo.
If diving is your thing, Sulawesi is the best place to be. This island offers world-class diving locations such as Bangka, Bunaken, Togian Islands (home to Coconut Crab and indigenous people of Bajo or locally known as Sea Gypsys) and Wakatobi, comprised of four islands: Wangiwangi, Kaledupa, Tomea and Binongko, it is considered one of the best dive sites in the world. Sulawesi is also famous for Tana Toraja, a village known for its unique culture and mesmerizing sights. It is most famous for Toraja people’s unconventional burial rites.
In Central Java lie two UNESCO sites recognized for their cultural significance. Borobudur or Barabudur Temple Compound is the world’s largest Buddhist monument. Aside from an annual pilgrimage, the fascinating structure is also Indonesia’s most visited tourist attraction. Prambanan, on the other hand, is a collection of enormous ancient Hindu temples. The major site is Candi Lara Jonggrang or Candi Prambanan, the tallest of the many majestic temples within the complex. The town of Yogyakarta is another favorite destination for tourists due to its historical, cultural and even architectural importance. The most-visited site is the Kraton Ngayogyakarta or Sultan’s Palace. Take a look at the palace’s grandeur and sneak a peek of the sultan’s luxurious lifestyle while exploring the place. Other landmarks of interest are Tugu Monument, a Dutch fort and officials residential area respectively named Benteng Vredeburg and Kotabaru, the capital of ancient Islamic kingdom Mataram known as Kota Gede, and Imogiri, a graveyard for royalties. Museums are also abundant in this small city. One of those is the Affandi Museum, a museum built around the home of one of Indonesia’s finest painters, Affandi. Another well-known tourist spot is the popular Malioboro, a perfect place for shopping.