With a new year approaching an after numerous visits around Indonesia in 2016, here is an article about recommended places to visit in Indonesia for 2017 compiled by me. All the places in here have been visited by me personally and my recommendations are purely based on what general travelers would like to see.
As Indonesia is really huge, there are many common and popular places like Bali, Bandung, Jakarta and so on, but when you explore further, there are many more interesting and unique places that most visitors have not been to. While you may have heard of places like Papua Indonesia, Kalimantan Borneo or even Sulawesi Island, there are still other places which have recently opened to full scale tourism as the infrastructure over the years has improved a lot.
Recommended Places to Visit in Indonesia for 2017
This list is in no particular order and for further information, you can visit the official Indonesia Tourism website link at the end.
The island that is home to Komodo National Park and is currently one of the most popular destinations in Indonesia. Visitors are now heading here not only to see the Komodo Dragon, but also to explore the beautiful island of Flores, which is still under developed and is what most travelers want nowadays. Flores in East Nusa Tenggara is no doubt one of the new destinations in Indonesia which a lot of traveler are talking about as there is much to do here in a laid back environment.
The island of Flores offers beaches, diving, bird watching, hiking, trekking, culture and lots of eco tourism. Mount Kelimutu with the tri-colored lakes are also located here. I did an article on things to do in Flores for anyone who wants to explore this island and for those planning to come here purely to see the mighty Komodo Dragons, I wrote another article on how to get to Komodo Island with the information you need for flights and so on.
Having been around for many years, the Gili Islands have always been popular with the backpackers and recently in the last three to five years, more and more general touristy have been coming here to escape the commercialize Bali tourism places. There are three main beautiful paradise islands - Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno, and all three are accessible only via boats.
The beauty about these three islands is that there are no airports, vehicles, bikes available and horse carriages and bicycles are the only mode of transport around here. To get to one another island, boats shuttle you up and down for a small fee. Gili Trawangan is the largest of the three and has the most facilities and a majority of the visitors tend to stay here. For a more quiet place, Gili Meno would be the perfect place. The Gili Islands offer backpacking hostels, lodges, medium range accommodations and luxury hotels and resorts. Read about what to do in Gili Trawangan Island.
The capital of Sulawesi Island offers visitors some old world style of tourism where you will not find commercial tourism but a developing city that is open to all walks of life. I would easily brand Makassar as Indonesia's Hidden Gem which is rich in natural culture and also serving as a gateway to other must-visit places in Sulawesi. Locals are still fascinated by tourist and are ever friendly when approached.
Some of the must-visit places around Makassar include the beautiful crystal clear water islands of Kodingareng Keke and Samalona, which is only 20-30 minutes out of Makassar City. For nature and Eco lovers, the Bantimurung National Park is a great place to explore as it lies about 60 minutes out of the city and you can spend half a day here trekking or just chilling out at the beautiful Bantimurung Waterfalls. Culture and historical fans will find Fort Rotterdam an exciting place which holds a lot of Dutch history dating back almost 400 years ago. Most exciting in Makassar is to sample the famous local food which is absolutely unique and different from your usual Indonesian cities.
One of the most popular volcanic mountains in Indonesia is no other than Mount Ijen in the district of Banyuwangi, east most of Java island. The locals call this mountain Kawah Ijen and this is one of two places in the world where you can see the very special and unique blue flame in one of the craters. The trek up is not easy and you have to leave the foot at about 3.00 AM to get up there by 4.30 AM to see the blue flame. This means, you need to depart from your hotel at around 12.00 midnight for that two hour plus 4x4 journey to the foot of the mountain before you trek up.
The sulphuric smell in the air when you are at the peak is not a joking matter as you need to be prepared with proper face masks, not the cheap ones. Mount Ijen is also popular with bird lovers as there are a total of 107 bird species found around the mountain. Rangers are required to bring you up the mountain and at a cost. Usually, all of this is arranged when you make a booking through a tour company.
One of the original ethnic people on Lombok Island is no other than the Sasak people, who make up around 85% of the population of the island and the balance are Balinese people. Apart from Mount Rinjani and the beautiful beaches of Lombok, a visit to the Sade Village in South Lombok will introduce you to the traditional culture of the Sasak people here.
Sade Village showcases a traditional Sasak village and living environment which is complete with thatched rooftop homes, homegrown industries like Songket cloth weaving and locally made handicraft. The village works like a cultural village where visitors are welcomed by a traditional Sasak musical welcome followed by a couple of traditional Sasak dances which are great photo opportunities. The best way to find out more about this ethnic group is to engage a guide that can translate everything to you.
All the way to the south-east of West Java are two hidden Eco tourism marvels which only locals have been enjoying over the years. The Santirah River and Green Canyon both offer a unique river tubing experience that is suitable for just about anyone. Pangandaran would be the main city where you will stay at and this coastal city is considered very new to outside tourism as they have been doing well on the local side.
With travelers wanting unique experiences, the Santirah River and Green Canyon offer a unique river tubing experience where you sit on recycled tire tubes and sail down the river for over one kilometer. The journey lets you pass waterfalls and narrow canyons and some basic rapids which give you a full ecotourism experience. Apart from river tubing, Pangandaran offers beaches, surfing, trekking, hiking, waterfalls and a very original laid back culture. There are guesthouses, hotels and resorts found around Pangandaran, but locally operated ones and not your Marriott or Hilton type. Some of them are quite interesting too, like The Arnawa Hotel in Pangandaran which I stayed at.
To get to Pangandaran in West Java, you need to travel by land which takes you around six to seven hours. But if you are looking for a unique and scenic journey, this is one of the recommended places to visit in Indonesia for 2017.
Just two hours south-east from Bandung is probably Indonesia's answer to Japan's Shirakawa-Go Village where Kampung Naga shares an uncanny resemblance to the Japanese UNESCO World Heritage Site. Translated as Dragon Village, this unique community is found in a valley and does not depend on modernization where the entire village operates without electricity and is a fully self sustained community. Kampung Naga is also located approximately 100 meters below sea level in the rich and fertile valley.
Getting here is half the fun as when you arrive, you need to walk down a 45 degree slope into the valley and it is here where you will get a beautiful picturesque scenery of the entire village among the hill paddy fields. They offer day trips and also a homestay experience for anyone wanting to experience this. Visitors are required to respect the local community here and if you want to take photographs, please ask for permission first. I did an earlier article on places to visit beyond Bandung and some of the mentioned destinations are included in there.
|The unique Bird Cages or Lutung Kasarung in Dusun Bambu, Bandung (Photo from Dusun Bambu)|
Somehow, this place in Bandung had to be listed as it is quite unique, especially for those seeking a nature escape out of Bandung. Located about one hour out of Bandung, on the way to Tankuban Parahu Volcano Crater, this Eco-park practises the seven aspects of life: Ecology (nature), Education, Economic, Ethnology (culture), Ethics, Esthetics (Aesthetics), and Entertainment which makes up the 7E's.
One of the most attractive things I have come across here is the Lutung Kasarung or Bird Cages where visitors can dine in them in an elevated park section. A very unique concept and is probably the most popular here as these bird cages are usually fully booked. The kind of food you can find here is of course, local Indonesia cuisine, but they also have an international menu. Overall, this place is awesome for families or couple travelers and they have lodging as well. Most visitors come here for day trips and Dusun Bambu gets crowded on weekends and holidays as it is currently the most popular and talked about place out of Bandung.
|View from the restaurant of Dusun Bambu in Bandung (Photo by Dusun Bambu)|
As for me, I am also looking forward to exploring other new places around Indonesia which would be of interest to international travelers. You can also follow Malaysia Asia on Instagram as I am also uploading various travel photos there. Ad if you have any comments of feedback on recommended places to visit in Indonesia for 2017, please do share them in the comment form below. Safe travels and have a great 2017.