Tourism Destinations

For the sake of simplicity, tourism destinations in Indonesia below are grouped into six parts, region-wise, namely Sumatra, Kalimantan, Java, Sulawesi, Papua & Maluku, and Nusa Tenggara & Bali. At the end of this page, we also compiled an overall list for MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition) destinations in Indonesia.

Sumatra

Starting our journey from the west, we would arrive first in Sumatra. Together with Java, centuries ago this island was home of some of the archipelago’s most powerful kingdoms, which left palaces and religious buildings behind. In this island we can find some pre-Islamic temples and buildings, starting from Bahal Temple and other Hindu temples in Padang Lawas Temple Compound in North Sumatra Province, Gumpung Temple and other Hindu temples in Muaro Jambi Temple Compound in Jambi Province, and the Buddhist Muara Takus Temples in Riau Province. Being of younger times, mosques, fortresses and palaces of old Islamic kingdoms are even more common: examples starting from Baiturrahman Grand Mosque Banda Aceh, Aceh Special Region, which miraculously went unscathed in the 2004 earthquake and tsunami, Moorish-influenced Grand Mosque of Medan and locally-styled Maimoon Palace of Medan, North Sumatra Province, Ganting Grand Mosque of Padang, West Sumatra Province, to Kuto Besak Fortress in Palembang, South Sumatra Province.

Sumatra is less densely populated than Java, however, making it also an ideal place to enjoy the beautiful natural scenery and exciting wildlife adventure. Starting from the northern tip of the island, we have abundant options, from rafting in Alas River in Aceh Special Region, enjoying beautiful scenery in Lake Toba in North Sumatra Province, surfing in Mentawai Islands in West Sumatra Province, spending a day (or more!) on the pristine beaches of Bintan Island in Riau Archipelago Province, watching the exotic rafflesia arnoldi blooms in Bengkulu Province, climbing Mount Kerinci –the highest in the island (3,805 m)- in Jambi Province, to marveling the remnants of Krakatau (Krakatoa) volcano which literally shook the entire planet when it exploded in 1883, off the coast of Lampung Province, the southernmost part of the island.

In Sumatra, however, lovers of woven fabrics among us should consider themselves warned. This island is home to some of the most beautiful, intricate woven fabrics of Indonesia, known collectively as songket. Almost every province in this island have their own distinctive style and design, from the rare, uniquely patterned songket of Aceh Special Region, gorgeous tribal-patterned ones of North Sumatra Province, exquisitely reserved ones of West Sumatra Province, splendidly coloured ones of Palembang in South Sumatra Province, right to the sheer glory of ones from Lampung Province.

Touring Sumatra offers us a great opportunity to sample the richness of its food, starting right away in Aceh Province with its gulee itek, duck in thick coconut gravy, to West Sumatra’s world-famous rendang, down south to South Sumatra Province to have a taste of its pempek, or empek-empek, a kind of fish cake accompanied with its distinctive vinegar sauce.

Kalimantan

Alternatively known as Borneo, almost three quarters of this third largest island in the world belongs to Indonesia, and is a heaven for nature adventurers. Experience the journey upriver through thick rainforest in Kapuas River in West Kalimantan Province, see for yourself the famed orangutans and other exotic, lesser-known primates at its reserve in Tanjung Putting National Park in Central Kalimantan Province, or dive to the marine park off the beach of Derawan Island in East Kalimantan Province.

The island is home to the Dayak people, a host of large and small native ethnic groupings, who dance in dynamic yet haunting movements in beautiful costumes adorned with beads and feathers. Kalimantan is not all about Dayaks, however, as it is also home to other native and foreign-descent ethnic groups that adds to the unique mix of culture. Check out for classic Malay songket designs of Sambas and Banjar, respectively from West Kalimantan and South Kalimantan Provinces, visit the Muara Kuin Floating Market in South Kalimantan Province, shop for the fine sarongs of Samarinda in the East Kalimantan provincial capital and don’t forget to get yourself a certificate from the Equator Monument in Pontianak, West Kalimantan provincial capital –it is the only city in the world located precisely in the equator!

Pontianak is also known for its bubur pedas, or spicy rice porridge mixed with vegetable and peanut. For even more unique meal, let’s head east to Palangkaraya, capital of Central Kalimantan Province, where they make juhu singkah, a vegetable soup from rattan –the same rattan they use to make chairs, only much younger! The widely-known soto Banjar wait for us in Banjarmasin, capital of South Kalimantan Province. As with sotos throughout the archipelago, it is a beef soup, but with spices and condiments specific to Banjarese Malay of the city.

Java

Java is the smallest of Indonesia’s major islands but replete with tourism destinations, from the huge, ancient Borobudur and Prambanan temples in Central Java Province as well as smaller temples that dotted the island to palaces of Surakarta in Central Java Province and Yogyakarta in Yogyakarta Special Region, which are former capitals of centuries-old Java sultanates, from old cities of Jakarta, Semarang and Surabaya –in Jakarta Special Capital Region, Central Java Province and East Java Province, respectively–which are echoing ambience of old Dutch colony, to the playful art-deco architecture of early 20th century buildings of Bandung in West Java Province.

If you’d rather spend the day hiking nearby mountain or relaxing at the next beach, fret not. Catch the amazing sunrise in Bromo Caldera, East Java Province, test your mountain climbing prowess at the island’s highest mountain, Mount Semeru (3,677 m) in Central Java Province, surf at the beaches of Pelabuhanratu, West Java Province, or unwind at the Pangandaran Beach, also in West Java Province.

To you shoppers amongst us, big cities of Java offer its warmest invitation. Here, in Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya, you can shop literally till you drop. Venues are your own choosing: from luxurious, huge shopping malls of Jakarta, cozy boutiques of Bandung, friendly-atmosphered shopping centres of Surabaya, street-shopping experiences in any city mentioned, down to serious, business-scale “trade centres” and markets, also in any city mentioned. What to buy is limited only to your fancy, and your wallet of course, ranging from gorgeous traditional fabrics from all over Indonesia to intricate hand-crafted teakwood furniture with which Jepara, Central Java Province, is known worldwide.

Steeped in tradition, Javanese and Sundanese, the two dominant ethnic groups in the island offer a variety of performing art, from wayang puppet performance of West and Central Java Provinces, energetic and often participatory dances of the borders of West and Central Java Province, traditionally hours-long graceful dances of Central Java Province and Yogyakarta Special Region, to the distinctively dynamic movements of dances from East Java Province.

Batik, the UNESCO-designated Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, is found all over the island, with an array of distinctive designs from each area, ranging from the classic, muted charm of Tuban batik from East Java Province to the boldly coloured and patterned Pesisiran of Java northern coast, from the elaborate sophistication of Yogyakarta-Surakarta batik to the newly revived, pastel-coloured Banten Batik from Banten Province.

While crossing Java, let’s taste some of its widely-known food, starting from gado-gado, vegetable salad in thick peanut sauce, in Jakarta, to West Java with its mie kocok, noodle soup cooked with broth from cow’s legs, heading east to Yogyakarta with its distinctive gudeg, young jackfruit boiled with palm sugar, through to East Java to savor its soto Madura, the Madurese ethnic’s take on the archipelago’s favorite beef soup.

Sulawesi

Let’s go off the beaten track and visit this wonderful island, where we can watch the ocean-faring Bugis schooners depart from the coasts of Makassar, South Sulawesi Province, discover the elaborate burial ceremony of the Toraja ethnic group in South Sulawesi Province, spend the day snorkeling at the Wakatobi Island, Southeast Sulawesi Province, marvel at megalithic statues around Lake Lindu in Central Sulawesi Province, or dive at the amazingly rich Bunaken Marine Reserve in North Sulawesi Province.

Dine to your heart’s content in this exotic island, which offers a range of food just as exotic. If buffalo ribs soup of South Sulawesi Province does not trickle your fancy, maybe a spiced, steamed bat meat of North Sulawesi will. In case your stomach is less adventurous than you are, beef or chicken versions are always available. Fish, however, is one thing you should not pass on in this island. Sulawesi is the land of seafaring ethnics of Indonesia –do sample their sweet, glorious catch of the day, simply grilled and poured with a sauce made of sliced chili and tomatoes. Heaven.

Papua and Maluku

In Papua, it’s all adventure from the mountaintop to the bottom of the sea. Climb the highest island peak of the world (Puncak Jaya, 4,884 m) in this island, which is so high that it is the only place in the world where snow can be found all year round in a normally tropical place. Or head to Raja Ampat Islands, the heart of the world’s coral reef biodiversity, to be amazed at its richness and beauty.

Maluku Islands or alternately the Moluccas is none other than the fabled Spice Islands in the days of yore. Pay some respect to the elderly: visit to the oldest living clove tree in the world, which have seen European colonial powers rose and fell. The tree, named Afo, is estimated between 350 to 400 years old and located in Ternate Island. Its peers were felled by the Dutch, yet it survives, even gave the world its seedlings which later broke Dutch’s monopoly of clove. Visits to the remnants of Dutch and Portuguese fortresses in the Ambon Island, built at the heyday of spice trade, shall give us an idea of the scale of the madness that it was.

Nusa Tenggara and Bali

Starting our journey from the east, this range of smaller islands offers us an unforgettable journey. In the East Nusa Tenggara Province you can see one of Indonesia’s most mysterious and dramatic sights, the three crater lakes of Mount Kelimutu. Each of the three featured different colours which slightly changes over the years. But no visit to these islands of legend is complete without seeing the home of the last dragons on earth: the Komodo dragons. While these dragons might not breathe fire, a visit to the Komodo Island will left you in awe.

Going westward to the neighboring West Nusa Tenggara Province, we have options of basking under the tropical sun at the Kuta Lombok Beach in the Lombok Island or surfing at nearby beaches on its west, or spending a lazy day at the scenic and more popular Senggigi Beach. Or, if hiking is more of your cup of tea, let’s head up to Mount Rinjani (3,726 m), the third highest in Indonesia, and see its beautiful crater lake.

The next province, Bali, needs no introduction. It is the most famous tourism destination in Indonesia and known to the world over. Besides, what introduction can do justice to the abundant charms that is Bali? Pack your belongings and experience it.

Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition (MICE) Destinations

Looking for a place to reward your best employees with a holiday like no other? Or trying to find the best venue to convene your colleagues the world over? Or seeking a place to organize an exhibition to showcase products of your group of companies? Look no more; the Ministry of Tourism has compiled a list of five specific cities in Indonesia to cater for your needs, which we cite below.

Surabaya

The second largest city in Indonesia, Surabaya plays an integral part in the country’s history and development. It is a vast center for manufacture as well as trade, and many of Indonesia’s heavy industries are found here, such as sugar, plywood and cement plants. Situated on the northern coast of the East Java Province, not only does Surabaya have a huge naval base, it has the lively Tanjung Perak Port where elegant sailing vessels from all over eastern Indonesia are moored. With many natural attractions to offer and infrastructures that are continuously upgraded, Surabaya offers excellent reasons why it has become a new and exciting MICE destination.

Yogyakarta

Despite its location in Central Java, Yogyakarta bears a special administrative status, the Special Territory of Yogyakarta. Together with the Kraton of Surakarta and the Mangkunegaran, the court of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat Palace in Yogyakarta is considered the cradle of Javanese culture. Even today, the Javanese are fiercely proud of their heritage and still hold on to a culture, tradition and values that have been treasured for so many generations.

As a city of tradition and culture, Yogyakarta is renowned for its arts both traditional and modern. It enthralls visitors with performances of classical dance, music and wayang kulit, while its skilled craftsmen produce unrivalled batiks and silverworks.

Manado

Manado is the capital of the North Sulawesi province of Indonesia. Manado is located at the Bay of Manado, and is surrounded by a mountainous area. Some places of interest nearby are Bunaken and Siladen islands for snorkeling and scuba diving. The beautiful sunset from Manado Bay Boulevard is a great attraction too. Having played host of the World Ocean Conference in May 2009, Manado has facilities essential for any MICE event.

Jakarta

The capital of Indonesia, Jakarta is the center of government, commerce and industry. As the country’s economic backbone, Jakarta plays an important role in Indonesia’s continuing growth. Because of its strategic location on the shores of the Java Sea, for centuries Jakarta has been a meeting point for the different races, cultures and traditions of the hundreds of ethnic groups that compose Indonesia.

Home to over twelve million residents, Jakarta is a city where centuries-old traditions still live amidst towering modern skyscrapers, where a wide range of leisure options and business opportunities lure visitors each year. There’s shopping, dining, golfing, museums and historical sites to visit and natural wonders to explore. Jakarta’s unique characteristics and identity borne of a unique mixture of cultures encompass a broad range of tastes and with tourism, transportation and communication infrastructures constantly being improved; the city has a strong appeal as a MICE destination.

Bali

As Indonesia’s most famous tourist destination, Bali lives up to its name and reputation. It is a magical island that enchants visitors with its rich cultural traditions, scenic beauty and warm hospitality of its people. For the Balinese, art is a form of worship and religion pervades the Balinese society. Ceremonies, traditional performances and activities that are artistic in nature are woven into the patterns of daily life, providing visitors with a marvelously unique spectacle. Without losing their unique identity, the Balinese have comfortably accommodated foreign influences and taken tourists and visitors in their stride.

The number of world-class accommodations, business and leisure facilities has grown considerably in the past few years, and upgraded transportation and communication network give Bali easy accessibility from destinations outside and around the country. The beauty of its natural wonders and rich culture combined with modern facilities and infrastructure create a broad range of options for visitors who choose Bali as a MICE destination.

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