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Things to see and do in Indonesia

Tourist offices

Indonesia Tourist office in the UK

Address: 148 Tooley St, c/o Hume Whitehead Limited, Magdalen House , London, SE1 2TU
Telephone: +44 845 498 9980.

Attractions in Indonesia

Admire the spires of Prambanan

Close to Yogyakarta, the Prambanan Temples form the largest temple complex on Java, constructed around AD 900. The compound was deserted soon after it was completed, possibly due to the eruption of nearby Mount Merapi, but the temples have been impressively restored. The site is dominated by the imposing spires of the Brahma Temple, the Vishnu Temple and the Shiva Temple.

Be bowled over by Borobudur

Indonesia is studded with the ruins of ancient civilisations, but perhaps the grandest of all is might Borobudur, a 9th-century Buddhist temple rising above the plains of central Java. Topped by hundreds of perforated stupas, the temple is a representation of the Buddhist universe, and its walls are covered in intricately carved bas-reliefs.

Chill on the Gili Islands

Just off the northwestern tip of Lombok, these three irresistible islands boast deep-water coral reefs, beachfront bungalows, miles of white sand and bucketfuls of serenity. It's easy to find a quiet spot to unwind, but if you need more action, all-night dance parties are close by on Trawangan.

Climb a volcano

Dozens of volcanoes soar above the landscape of Indonesia, and many can be climbed on jungle treks. Mount Bromo on Java is the most visited of Indonesia's volcanoes, but other popular volcano experiences include the Kawah Ijen crater lake, boat trips to Krakatoa, and hikes on Gunung Agung in Bali, Gunung Rinjani on Lombok island, and Keli Mutu on Nusa Tenggara Barat.

Connect with Muslim Indonesia at the Istiqlal Mosque

The modern Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta is one of the largest in the world, with room to accommodate up to 120,000 of the faithful. It's the national mosque for the entire archipelago, and a monumental piece of modern architecture. Non-Muslim visitors are welcome and guides will show you round the complex.

Dive the reefs of Pulau Bunaken

Indonesia's coastline is said to contain 15% of the world's coral reefs, providing spectacular opportunities for scuba diving and snorkelling. Bunaken National Park and Lembeh Strait, both in North Sulawesi, are magnificent; a mind boggling 300 types of coral and 3,000 species of fish await beneath crystal-clear waters.

Meet the old man of the forest

Indonesian Borneo and Sumatra are two of the last refuges of the endangered orang-utan, whose name literally means 'man of the forest'. You can get up close to these fascinating creatures at rehabilitation centres on Sumatra and Kalimantan that rescue orphaned, injured and captive orang-utans and return them to their natural habitat.

Meet the tribal people of Torajaland

Torajaland, known as the 'Land of the Heavenly Kings', on Sulawesi, is one of the best places to encounter Indonesia's fascinating tribal culture. Toraja villagers live in dramatic buffalo horn-shaped wooden stilt houses and still practice the custom of burying their dead in vertical cliffside tombs, with rituals that include feasts for the mummified remains.

Navigate the Mahakam River

The great Mahakam River in Kalimantan, Borneo, is feed by a network of jungle rivers running from the mountainous interior to the coast. Starting from the port city of Samarinda, tours follow the river deep into the jungle, where tribal communities live in villages of traditional longhouses and have largely preserved their traditions.

Paddle through Ujong Kulon National Park

The elusive and highly endangered Javan rhino still survives in the remote swamps of isolated Ujong Kulon National Park at the extreme southwestern tip of Java. The best way to explore is by dugout canoe, which is an incredibly atmospheric way to see the jungle, and hopefully creep up on a rare rhino.

Roam the rainforest in Sulawesi

Gorgeous Sulawesi is a land of high mountains, misty valleys, hidden lakes, tribal villages and fascinating national parks both above and below the water. On land, top sights include Bantimurung Nature Reserve, home to thousands of exotic butterflies, and the geysers and hot springs at Lahendong and Leilem. Offshore, diving on Sulawesi's coral reefs is the main attraction.

Search for the Komodo dragon

Komodo and the Rinca islands are home to a living legend – the Komodo dragon, the world's largest lizard and a close relative of the dinosaurs. Komodo Dragons can grow up to 3m (10ft) in length and weigh up to 70kg, and you can see them close up at Komodo National Park. But don't get too close – humans have been injured and worse by dragons in the past.

See Indonesia’s Hindu side on beautiful Bali

Despite decades of tourist development, Bali remains a vision of tropical beauty. Take your pick from stunning beaches, jungle-covered volcanoes, beach bars and surf spots in Kuta or a kaleidoscope of Hindu temples harking back to the earliest civilisations on the Indonesia archipelago. The Balinese people are famously warm and friendly, perhaps the best part of a visit here.

See a traditional puppet show

Puppetry is a rich tradition in Indonesia, and marionette shows are still a vibrant part of the culture. You can see shows throughout Java, where intricately carved wayang golak and wayang kulit puppets act out stories based on well-known legends from Indonesia history; performances can sometimes last all night.

See how sultans live their lives in Yogyakarta

The Sultan's Palace in Yogyakarta is a masterpiece of understated Javanese architecture, and still home to the sultan and his family. This Javan city is famous for its traditional architecture, and the kraton (palace) is just one example. Just outside the city is the imposing Candi Prambanan, a 9th-century Hindu palace crowned by 47m (154ft) towers.

Seek tribal encounters in Samosir

An inhabited island in the middle of Lake Toba, Samosir is the surviving crater of a vanished volcano, 900m (3,000ft) above sea level in Sumatra. The island is home to the Batak people, an ancient tribe who preserve many of their ancient traditions. The island is dotted with traditional buildings and visitors explore from the gateway town of Tuktuk.

Surf Indonesia’s big breaks

Spectacular waves break all around the islands of Indonesia, providing a watery playground for surfers. The best surf spots are in Bali, Flores, Java, Lombok, Sumatra, Sumba and Sumbawa, but the best-known surfing beaches, such as Ulu Watu on Bali, can get very crowded. For experienced surfers, organised trips to isolated breaks are widely available.

Take a jungle trek

A trek through the Indonesian rainforest is an essential Indonesian experience, and Irian Jaya, Kalimantan and Sumatra offer some of the most remote and untouched rainforest on earth. Top trails include trips to Bukit Barisan National Park, a remote and beautiful peninsula in Sumatra, and the Muller Mountain in Kalimantan.

Tour the temples of Pura Besakih

Do not miss Bali's Pura Besakih, a temple complex set high on the volcanic slopes of Gunung Agung. Founding in the 10th century, this massive complex comprises of more than 30 temples, and is the setting for great ceremonial splendour on festival days.

Watch the waves break over Tanah Lot

Travel to the Sea Temple of Tanah Lot on the west coast of Bali (a short drive from Kediri), for one of the most photogenic sights in Indonesia. Jutting from a rock formation into the sea, the temple is reputedly guarded from evil intruders and demons by poisonous sea snakes.

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