Places to Visit in Indonesia for 2016

Where to go in Indonesia 2016

While Top 10 posts are quite overrated and over used, I am pretty sure there must be a ton of them available online and for this article, I have pretty much summed up a number of recommend Places to Visit in Indonesia for 2016.

This article was compiled after spending an amazing two weeks traveling around Indonesia in October 2015 for #INAtopbucketlist. You should note that the places recommended here start from the city of Bandung in Java Island all the way to Komodo Island, Flores in East Indonesia. 

In general, there are many amazing places in Indonesia that are highly recommended to visit, but based purely on my personal experiences, I am highlighting the places that our group visited where you can self drive or even do plane hopping from district to district all the way to Flores.

Below are the places in no particular order, and in simple straight forward English. None of that historical and factual information that people dread reading. Anyway, if you need detailed information, you can simply visit the websites of each of the places mentioned here. The list is;

Tankuban Parahu Crater
The Tankuban Parahu Crater outside of Bandung
Tankuban Parahu Volcano in Bandung

30 kilometers out of Bandung city is one of the famous active volcanoes called Tankuban Parahu which comes with a fantastic Sundanese story, where I will leave it to the tour guide to tell you. Why ruin a perfect story here?

Once you arrive here, there is an option to walk up 4.5km to the crater or take a shuttle bus there which costs around IDR10,000, which of course I took. The journey up is quite interesting and saves time, but for nature lovers, I would highly recommend you take a slow hike up. 

Arriving at the volcanic crater, you will see a fenced walkway three quarters around it and you are free to explore this area. Looking inside the mighty crater, sulfuric steam oozes out from the hole at the bottom but not to worry, as it is quite far from where you stand.

Tankuban Parahu is also the only volcano crater where if you self drive, you can drive all the way to the rim of it. Lots of souvenir sellers are seen trying to sell you their wares, but not the pushy kind so no worries here. On weekends, it can get really crowded, so it is recommended to visit as early as possible and best on a weekday. 

Entrance fees: IDR20,000
Opening hours: 6.00am to 5.00pm
Travel time from Bandung - 60-90 minutes drive one way
Time to spend here - About 1-2 hours
What else to see and do here - Visit the Ciater Hot Spring lake and buy hard boiled eggs cooked there.
Trekking/Hiking: Available

Bandung Shopping 2016
Bandung Shopping offers numerous factory outlets like this one - Rumah Mode
Shopping in Bandung

While Bandung, the capital of West Java is well known for its shopping, there is no doubt that anyone visiting Bandung will most definitely do some serious shopping here. Bandung, also known as the Paris of Java, is also the third largest city in Indonesia and is located 768 meters above sea level, therefore it is a little cooler than other cities.

The most famous places here are of course, the Factory Outlets in Bandung - where you will find wide selections of outlets catering to all kinds of fashion from kids, men and of course, the women. Known locally as FO's, they are well scattered around Jalan Riau, Jalan Dago and Jalan Setiabudi in Bandung.

However, in this recent trip to Bandung, the entourage stayed at the Mercure Bandung (http://www.mercure.com/gb/hotel-8814-mercure-bandung-setiabudi/index.shtml) at the end of Jalan Setiabudi, and our time was limited therefore, we did not have the chance to explore the factory outlets in Bandung for shopping.

Just so you know, I have been here before and I would say Bandung is highly recommended, especially for Malaysians, Bruneians and Singaporeans as the price of the items here are relatively much cheaper than back home.

Nasi Timbel Bandung
Bandung's famous Nasi Timbel
The culinary scene in Bandung is also something worth exploring as one can easily find the famous Bandung Food and Layer Cakes, Sundanese food and also an interesting local street food that can be found all over town.

While shopping is the main activity here, you have the opportunity to also experience a colonial European style atmosphere from the many buildings, malls and cafes here.

There are also a number of tourist sights that you can visit which are the various volcano craters located just out of Bandung.

Travel time from Jakarta - 3 hours drive one way
Direct Flights into Bandung - AirAsia, Malindo Air, Lion Air, Wings Air, SilkAir
What else to see and do here - Shopping, Eating and Sightseeing 
More information: http://www.indonesia.travel/sites/site/496/bandung

Kawah Putih Crater
Kawah Putih Crater
Kawah Putih Crater in Bandung

Another volcanic crater that resembles a beautiful greenish lake is Kawah Putih or the White Crater located 50 kilometers south of Bandung. What is special about this crater is that it is located 2,430 meters above sea level therefore it is a cooling place, nestled inside a national park.

To get here, you can simply book a tour from Bandung or self drive up to the crater. A fee applies for those wanting to drive up while there is a mini shuttle bus service (IDR20,000) in both directions.

From the entrance, you need to walk down a flight of stairs for about 5 minutes before reaching the Kawah Putih Crater lake area. You can walk around most of the lake and this is a great place to take photographs.

Recommended time to come here is during he rainy season when the lake fills up and is the best for photography. Again, on weekends and school holidays, the place can be extremely crowded with locals. There are toilet facilities before heading to the crater.

Entrance fees: IDR30,000
Opening hours: 7.00am to 5.00pm
Travel time from Bandung - 120 minutes drive one way
Time to spend here - About 1-2 hours
What else to see and do here - Hiking around, enjoying the flora and fauna in the area
Trekking/Hiking: Available
More information: http://www.indonesia.travel/sites/site/1003/kawah-putih

Borobudur Temple Yogyakarta
Borobudor Temple, a mist-visit place in Yogyakarta
Borobudur Temple in Yogjakarta

This is hands down one of the must-visit places in Java Island as Borobudur is on par with Angkor Wat, Cambodia, in terms of centuries old rich religious history of the Hindu religion.

Located about an hour from the main city of Jogjakarta, tourist flock here as early at 4.00am to catch the magnificent sunrise over Borobudur. A tip is to get here early and book a nice spot to take your photographs.

You can spend around two to three hours walking around the temple complex or head on to your next destination. Again, Borobudur Temple is highly recommended for first timers to Indonesia.

Try not to visit Borobudur in the evening to catch the sunset, simply because you will have very little time as they close at 5.00pm.

Entrance fees: USD$20.00, Children USD$10.00
Opening hours: 5.00am to 5.00pm
Travel time from Yogyakarta: 60-80 minutes drive one way
Time to spend here: About 1-2 hours
What else to see and do here: Visit the entire temple complex
More information: http://borobudurpark.com/ticket-price/

Prambanan Temple Photo
Prambanan Temple, photo taken from the West side
Prambanan Temple in Yogjakarta

Another majestic temple complex in Jogjakarta is Prambanan Temple which his equally as grand as Borobudur but in my honest opinion, Candi Prambanan is one of the must-visit places here as it is the largest Hindu shrine in Indonesia and one of the biggest in the world.

Being here gives one the magnificent aura or the entire temple complex where the central temple known as the Shiva Temple, stands at an amazing 47 metres high surrounded seven other temples. In total, it was known to have a total of 240 temples around the complex also known as Rara Jonggrang, and at certain places, you can see the remains in the form of rubble.

Original Layout of Prambanan Temple
The original layout of Prambanan Temple
A tip is to catch the beautiful sunset which takes place around 6.00 pm  where you can get the temple in to foreground.

The best view to photograph the temple is also from the west side facing the complex. There are some stairs that lead you down and somewhere half way, you can get a beautiful overall view.

Exploring the inside of the Shiva Temple is also recommended as at four corners, you see four different statues inside which is quite dark inside. A flash is required for those who want to take photos inside here.

In Yogyakarta, I stayed at the Phoenix Hotel (http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-5451-the-phoenix-hotel-yogyakarta-mgallery-collection/index.shtml), which is a classic colonial styled hotel located in the heart of town and convenient for travelers or business travelers. This is also one of the high end luxury hotels in Yogyakarta.

Entrance fees: USD$13.00, Children USD$9.00
Opening hours: 6.00am to 5.00pm
Travel time from Yogyakarta: 30-40 minutes drive one way
Time to spend here: About 1-2 hours
What else to see and do here: Visit Ratu Boko, another Hindu Temple Complex nearby
More information: http://borobudurpark.com/ticket-price/

Ramayana Ballet Show at Prambanan
Cast of the Ramayana Ballet Show at Prambanan, Yogyakarta
Ramayana Show at Prambanan Temple

A show not to be missed, especially when you are visiting Prambanan Temple is the Ramayana Ballet Show which is based on an epic Hindu Poem, originally from India.

The show here is now a Javanese version showcasing the story of King Rama which involves over 200 dancers and musicians for this spectacular stage show. The best part - Prambanan Temple is used as a natural background.

Ramayana Ballet Show
The Ramayana Show
The best time to catch this amazing show is by visiting the Prambanan at around 3.00pm before heading over for the Ramayana Ballet which starts about 7.30pm but I recommend going a little early to get a good seat at around 7.00pm.

Note the Ramayana Ballet shows are only available on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and are weather pending.

Tickets: VIP: IDR375,000, Special: IDR250,000, 1st Class: IDR175,000 2nd Class: IRD100,000
Opening hours: 7.30pm - 10.00pm
Show Days: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays only
Travel time from Yogyakarta: 30-40 minutes drive one way
Time to spend here: About 3 hours
What else to see and do here: Enjoy the show! 
More information: http://borobudurpark.com/ticket-price/

Mount Bromo Surabaya
The majestic Mount Bromo, taken from the most popular photo spots, on the way down after sunrise
Mount Bromo in Surabaya

If you visit Java island, Mount Bromo is hands down one of the places to visit and the closest large airport city is Surabaya which is about three hours drive away. The nearest general city is Malang, which is one hour away.

Known for the spectacular sunrises, landscape photography and amazing journey to the crater, any kind of traveler would be in for a trip to remember here. However, as from my experience, I would highly recommend visiting Mount Bromo on a weekday, to simply avoid the super large crowds.

Visitors will start as early as 2.00am, making their way up towards the Pananjakan Sunrise Point to catch the amazing sunrises here which can be overly crowded. Your 4WD stops at a certain point and you have to continue walking up to the view point.

Local motorbikes will keep asking if you want a lift up, for a fee that is. My tip - Stop at Bukit King Kong and hike up as it is less crowded for the sunrise view.

Mount Bromo Photo
The view from the top of Mount Bromo overlooking the Bromo Desert
After sunrise, your next destination is the Bromo Crater, where a 4WD will take you all the way to the Bromo Desert before you hike your way up or take a horse ride service up for a fee. Here, it is highly recommended you wear a mask as the sand and crater sulphur smells can be very pungent.

My tip - Take your time, relax and head to the Bromo Crater at 10.00 am, after the massive sunrise crowds have left, you will enjoy a peaceful time here, minus the busy crowds.

Usually, Mount Bromo is sold as a package so you pay a one time fee which includes the 4WD transfer to the Sunrise, Bromo Crater and back to your hotel. There are a lot of add-on extras, like horse rides to the crater and unknown ticket charges, so you best book a proper package by recommendations.

For accommodations, I stayed at Jiwa Java Resort (Formerly known as Java Banana Resort - http://www.java-banana.com/home.php), which is the closest and nicest resort to Mount Bromo.

Priced on the high side, but as a traveler, this place is absolutely amazing with dramatic views and excellent resort service, the kind of room you you want to relax at after a long tired day. And, it is located 2000 meters above sea level. Highly recommended for those wanting a good staying experience.

Entrance fees: IDR267,500 Weekdays, IDR400,500 Weekends, Holidays
Opening hours: 2.00am to 5.00pm
Travel time from Surabaya: About 3 hours drive one way
Time to spend here: About 4-6 hours
What else to see and do here: Sunrise, Horse Rides, 4WD Desert Adventures and a trek up the crater. 
More information: http://www.indonesia.travel/sites/site/243/mount-bromo

Ubud Photo
An art shop along the streets of Ubud, Bali
Ubud, Bali

Bali is hands down is one of the most lively and interesting islands to visit in Indonesia and for this article, I am suggesting Ubud as the place to explore for 2016.

Most of you would have already been to Bali, especially Kuta, Legian, Nusa Dua, Seminyak and even Ubud, but have you fully explored Ubud's beautiful places?

Ubud is the capital of arts and craft in Bali and offers visitors a totally different experience away from the general beaches. Located on the higher grounds, Ubud's temperature is cool and the overall surroundings covered with lots of greenery which include the famous hill terrace rice paddy's.

Overall, Ubud is a place where you can explore on foot as there are just three main roads in town literally offering all kinds of interesting shops.

Ubud Bali Photo
One of the interesting Balinese restaurants in Ubud
For nature, the Ubud Monkey Forest is the place to visit as it is here where you will see crab-eating macaques roaming freely in their natural habitat and a sacred temple located inside the forest.

For yoga lovers, the famous Yoga Barn (www.theyogabarn.com) is also located in the center of Ubud, near the Monkey Forest. This is one of the most talked about yoga retreats in Bali which offers the complete yoga experience.

Exploring Ubud, you will come across the famous Ubud Palace which is the most popular tourist attraction in town apart from the many art galleries and museums here.

For food, a must try is the famous Bebek Tepi Sawah (www.bebektepisawahrestaurant.com) which serves the unique and traditional Deep Fried Duck. Recommended for any food traveler.

Alternatively, for pork lovers, you have to try the world famous Babi Guling at Warung Ibu Oka which is hands down one of the most interesting pork dishes you will ever try. They have two branches in Ubud and the recommended one is at the end of Jalan Tegal Sari.

The general one is very near the Ubud Palace along Jalan Suweta. Go early to avoid the large crowds, best around 11.00am.

Travel time from Bali: Two hours drive one way
Time to spend here: As long as you like
Best Time to Visit: May - October
Average Temperature: From 19-31 Degrees Celsius 
What else to see and do here: Visit a paddy field, explore museums and specialty shops 
More information: http://www.indonesia.travel/sites/site/277/ubud

Labuan Bajo in Flores
Ships and boats outside Labuan Bajo port in Flores
Labuan Bajo in Flores

With recent connectivity via Wings Air from Bali, you can now explore Labuan Bajo, the main town on the island of Flores which is east of Bali and Lombok. This place is also your main gateway to the world famous Komodo Island so, best options are to be staying in Labuan Bajo.

After exploring the town area, this place kind of reminds me of an undeveloped paradise, perhaps like Bali 30 years ago.

The airport is ultra modern as it was recently renovated to a new design, however when you get further into the city area, you will see a traditional island town.

Labuan Bajo comes complete with hotels, resorts, guesthouses, cafes, bars, restaurants, tour agencies and diving centers. Generally, all you need is available here.

Manggarai Tribe
The colorful Manggarai people of Labuan Bajo, Flores
Interesting places to visit in Labuan Bajo are based on culture and heritage and one of the best places would be at Melo Village, about 15 minutes out of town, where you can see the ethnic Manggarai people here who perform the unique Caci dance and ritual.

You also need to book a guided tour to get here as language would be a barrier if you do not speak the local language.

For some community work, we visited the Taman Bacaan Pelangi (http://tamanbacaanpelangi.com/) or Rainbow Reading Garden in Labuan Bajo, where this non-profit organization establishes children’s libraries in remote areas of eastern Indonesia.

You can contact them directly to volunteer or participate in their programs which are on many of the east Flores islands.

For outdoor lovers, there is quite a bit of trekking and hiking available at Labuan Bajo, namely places like Mt. Mbeliling, Cunca Rami Water Fall and Crater Lake which are all great trekking spots.

This needs to be a guided tour as well. Apart from that, there is loads of snorkeling, diving, island hopping and the main event - visiting Komodo Islands. I also stayed at the beautiful La Prima hotel and Resort (http://www.laprimahotel.mynetworksolutions.com/) at Labuan Bajo during my trip here.

Travel time from Bali: 1 hour by flight
Time to spend here: As long as you like, but ideally, around 5-7 days. 
What else to see and do here: Trekking, Hiking, Scuba Diving, Island Hopping. 
More information: http://www.indonesia.travel/sites/site/92/labuan-bajo

Komodo Island Rinca
Rinca Island view point, part of the Komodo Island in Flores
Komodo Island in Flores

Without doubt, visiting Komodo Island is a dream for most travelers and for me to see the mighty Komodo Dragon in person, it was a huge tick of my bucket list. So, my number one place to visit in Indonesia for 2016 is Komodo Island, hands down.

Back in the day, you would have to take a boat and bus to get here, sometimes traveling over 24 hours, but nowadays, it only takes 60 minutes via flight from Denpasar in Bali.

Komodo National Park, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 is right now one of the must-visit places in the world and to get here, you simply need to fly into Labuan Bajo before coming here.

Tours and boat operators are plenty in Labuan Bajo for day trips while you can also arrange for an overnight trip on a live-on-board boat which can accommodate from two to six persons.

Komodo Dragon Island
A tough looking Komodo Dragon seen on Komodo Island (Photo taken with Samsung Galaxy Note 5)
The Komodo National Park is shared among three main islands which are Komodo, Rinca and Padar Island and the best place to spot the Komodo Dragons are on Komodo and Rinca Islands and the best part, you can even get pretty close to them, estimate about 3 meters distance.

A surreal experience indeed and this is all worth the trip if you ask me. Apart from the dragons, there are great hiking trails to the top of the hill where you can get an amazing top view of the Rinca island bay.

Pink Beach is also another must-visit place in Komodo as the sand here has a pinkish coloring and the waters are clear and beautiful for snorkeling. Marine life is abundance in these shallow waters out of the beach here. I was utterly impressed when I did some snorkeling here.

You can also read about How to get to Komodo Island in my previous article done in November 2015 as it gives you an overall idea to travel here.

Entrance fees: USD$13.00, Children USD$9.00
Opening hours: 6.00am to 5.00pm
Travel time from Labuan Bajo: 45-60 minutes boat ride one way
Time to spend here: About 4-8 hours
What else to see and do here: Visiting the many other islands around Komodo
More information: http://www.indonesia.travel/sites/site/106/komodo-national-park

Komodo National Park Malaysia Asia
The writer, David Hogan Jr poses at the Komodo National Park
I hope that this article will provide you with an overall summary of the places as my trip around Indonesia was in October 2015 under #WonderfulIndonesia which was promoting the #INAtopbucketlist campaign.

Together with an international team of media, bloggers, photographers and social media influencers, we took a 14 day trip around Indonesia to experience these places. A huge thank you goes out to the organisers and Indonesia Tourism for making this bucket list trip possible.

If you have any comments, feedback or suggestions, please feel free to leave a message below and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Alternatively, you can also follow Malaysia Asia on Instagram and Facebook for my social media updates.

For anyone wanting to visit any of these places, you can get more information from the Indonesia Travel website and judging from my personal experience, I think it would be best to visit some of these places on the weekdays to avoid huge crowds, unless of course, you love busy places.

Again, I personally put these places as some of the best places to visit in Indonesia for 2016 as I am sure many travelers out there would like to explore some new places in Indonesia. 

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