Indonesia is a true land of wonders. There are few other countries in the world which can offer similar array of diverse, unique and beautiful natural and cultural monuments. Some truly surprising highlights of Indonesia are:
- Volcanoes and geothermal phenomena - volcanos are calamity and at the same time - blessing of Indonesia. Unique monument is Kelimutu crater lakes - three closely located lakes which constantly change their colors, one of the most beautiful volcanic landscapes are seen around Mount Bromo. There are found numerous amazing geothermal phenomena - geysers, travertine terraces and others.
- Ecosystems - many islands of Indonesia still are covered with pristine tropical forests, seas have the highest biological diversity in the world, multitude species of animals and plants are not discovered yet. True representative of the unique ecosystems of Indonesia is Carstenz Peak - here one can experience a unique kaleidoscope of altitude zones - from rainforest to glaciers, with numerous endemic species in every altitude zone.
- Megalithic monuments - while in Europe megaliths were erected in distant past by (almost) unknown cultures and with unclear purpose, in Indonesia megaliths often represent a part of contemporary life. Here are found very diverse structures made of enormous stone blocks, created in different epochs and often used up to this day - such as Bori Parinding burials (South Sulawesi) or Bawamataluo (Nias Island).
- Ancient Buddhist and Hinduist temple complexes - some of the most magnificent ancient structures in the world are Borobudur and Prambanan, but there are countless other amazing temples.
- Kawah Ijen - East Java. Turquoise colored, extremely acid lake with a diameter of 1 km. Acidity - 0.5 pH. Nearly pure deposits of sulphur are located in caldera. The burning sulphuric gas creates very impressive blue flame in the night.
- Kelimutu crater lakes (Keli Mutu) - East Nusa Tenggara, Flores. System of three closely located crater lakes. Each of the lakes has different, changing color - from bright red to green and blue.
- Kelud Volcano (Kelut) - West Java. Very active, explosive and hazardous volcano. Since 1500 AD there have been 29 deadly eruptions. After 1990 in the crater formed a hot lake with fumaroles.
- Krakatau (Krakatoa) - Banten. Famous volcano - it erupted violently in 1883, affecting the global climate. Unique natural laboratory where can be observed fast renovation of ecosystem after full elimination.
- Mount Bromo - East Java. Very active volcano, 2,329 m high. Sacred place with ancient tradition of offerings.
- Underwater fumaroles near Sabang - Aceh, Weh Island. Underwater fumaroles near Sabang city, located in 9 m depth.
- Cisolok geysers - West Java. Two geysers near Cipanas River, reaching up to 5 m high.
- Silangkitang geysers and other Tapanuli geysers - North Sumatra. Group of geysers. The largest geyser beats from a large pool.
- Sipoholon travertine terraces - North Sumatra. Hot springs have deposited here bright white travertine terraces.
- Leang Pute Sinkhole - South Sulawesi. Very impressive sinkhole, 270 m deep, with a 50 - 80 m wide mouth.
- Lomes Longmot - West Papua, Vogelkop Peninsula. Giant sinkhole, 330 m deep, with vertical walls. Continues deeper as a cave, reaching 360 m depth.
- Luweng Jaran Cave - East Java. Longest known cave in Indonesia, 24 km long (2002). Cave is adorned with numerous beautiful speleothems, but it is very dangerous due to flash floods. Not fully explored.
- Sangkulirang Mangkalihat - East Kalimantan. Extremely impressive karst landscape with numerous caves. Numerous endemic species of plants and animals, caves with prehistoric art (Gua Tewet), unexplored areas.
- Yogoluk Sinkhole - Papua. Up to 240 m deep and 180 m wide sinkhole with vertical walls, formed over underground river.
- Carstenz Peak (Puncak Jaya) - Papua. One of the few locations in the world with glaciers near equator. Alpine zone of Carstenz Peak contains numerous endemic species of plants and animals.
- Kakaban Jellyfish Lake - East Kalimantan, Kakaban Island. Large, brackish lake, which was divided from the sea in recent times. Contains four species of non-stinging jellyfish, who are abundant here, as well as numerous other marine animals.
- Lake Yamur - Papua and West Papua. Lake with isolated population of bull shark (Carcharinus leucas).
- Satonda Crater Lake - East Nusa Tenggara. This crater lake is connected to the sea and has interesting characteristics which allow to compare this lake to Precambrian marine environments. Here grow stromatolites, lake water has increased alkalinity and red algae biotopes.
- Madakaripura Falls - East Java. Group of waterfalls in dramatic location, whole cascade is up to 200 m high. Located in blind valley, encircled by tall cliffs. Here are located 7 falls and also caves.
- Payakumbuh Harau Falls - West Sumatra. Roughly 150 m tall, nearly vertical waterfall in beautiful valley.
- Sigura Gura Waterfall (Tiger Falls) - North Sumatra. Approximately 220 - 250 m tall waterfall, sliding down along a steep slope.
- Sipisopiso - North Sumatra. Beautiful waterfall with a single plunge, 120 m high.
Other natural landmarks
- Bluestone beach near Ende - East Nusa Tenggara, Flores. Beach consisting of amazing blue-green stones.
- Pura Batu Balong natural bridge - Bali. Spectacular natural bridge leading to a temple rising above the sea waves.
Ancient human finds
- Liang Bua - East Nusa Tenggara, Flores. In the cave (and only here) were discovered remnants of an extinct, recent species of human - Homo florensiensis.
- Sangiran Early Man site - Central Java. Area where since 1934 have been discovered numerous fossils of human ancestors (approximately 50% of total known hominoid fossils in the world) and their contemporaries - animals. Discoveries in Ngebung, Solo, Sangiran have provided valuable material for science.
Prehistoric rock paintings
- Leang Leang Caves (Pettae Cave and Pettakere Cave) - South Sulawesi. Caves with paintings left by Toalan culture, which existed 5000 - 1000 BC. Paintings of babirussa hint at a possibility that pig was domesticated here by this time. Numerous hand prints.
- Raja Ampat rock paintings - West Papua. Diverse prehistoric rock paintings of high quality, made some 3000 - 5000 years ago.
Megaliths, traditional villages and rock-cut tombs
- Batak stone chairs in Samosir - North Sumatra, north-east of Samosir Island, Toba Lake. Approximately 300 years old ancient ceremonial court site, in service up to recent times.
- Bawamataluo (Bawömataluo) - North Sumatra, Nias. Representative of the traditional, unique Nias architecture and planning. The structurally complex, ornate wooden houses (more than 500) are lined along the central street with stone structure for ceremonial jumping contests. In the yards of houses are located megalithic structures.
- Bena and Wogo villages - East Nusa Tenggara, Flores. Traditional villages of Ngada region. Whole village represents amazing achievement of megalithic architecture - the land has been transformed, large stone structures built, while the villagers themselves are living in wooden buildings with distinct architecture.
- Ke'te Kesu' - South Sulawesi. Very well preserved Tana Toraja village, with houses, granaries, burial place, ceremonial ground and agricultural landscape. Ceremonial ground has more than 20 menhirs.
- Marupu of Anakalang - East Nusa Tenggara, Sumba Island. Largest complex of dolmens - burials (marupu) in Sumba. Sumba Island is very rich in enormous, often heavily ornamented dolmens serving for ceremonial traditions up to this day.
- Megaliths of Bada Valley - Central Sulawesi. In this pristine valley there are scattered hundreds of impressive ancient stone statues and kalamba - enormous stone cisterns.
- Ono Limbu village - North Sumatra, Nias Island. In this traditional village, like in many others on this island, enormous stones still serve for ceremonial use.
- Padang Hill - West Jawa. Largest concentration of megalithic stones in Southeast Asia, consisting of thousands of stone blocks.
- Pugung Raharjo - Lampung. Remnants of walled megalithic settlement, developed in the 12th - 16th century. Central structure is large, terraced earthwork pyramid - temple. Site is adorned with numerous phallic megaliths.
- Toraja tombs - South Sulawesi. One of the few locations in the world where the tradition of rock cut tombs is still alive. Some of the most impressive are Londa (carved tombs up to 50 m above the ground), Lemo (carved burial caves contains galleries of statues). Surprising are Bori Parinding burials - carved in huge stone boulders and marked with more than 100 menhirs.
- Waruga Burials - North Sulawesi. Unique burials in enormous stone jars, adorned with sculptures. Made sometimes around 1400 AD.
- Borobudur – Central Java. This Mahayana Buddhist temple complex was built in in the period between 760 and 830 AD. One of the most impressive ancient temples in the world, largest Buddhist structure in world. This pyramid-shaped shrine is adorned with 2,772 sculpted panels and 504 Buddha sculptures, it is 35 m high, each side is 123 m long, whole structure is of high symbolism and represents Buddhist cosmology.
- Candi Muaro Jambi - Jambi, Sumatra. Enormous Buddhist temple complex, built in the 11th - 13th century AD. There are excavated eight temples, but numerous mounds are unexplored. Temples have ascetic forms, not much adornment.
- Candi Plaosan – Central Java. Complex of Buddhist temples, built in the middle of the 9th century. Complex includes 174 buildings, lavishly adorned with statues and ornaments.
- Sewu – Central Java. Magnificent Buddhist temple complex from the 8th century, consisting of 257 temples.
- Candi Sukuh - Central Java and Eastern Java. Impressive Hindu temple complex, built in the 15th century. Central theme in the reliefs and sculptures of this temple is sexuality and the life before the birth. One of the last great Javanese Hinduist temple complexes before the conversion to Islam, in some ways similar to Mayan architecture.
- Goa Gajah (Elephant Temple) - Bali. Amazing achievement of art - array of in situ stone carvings starting from simple ornaments and ending with intricate cave temple, which can be entered through an open mouth of stone beast. Created around the 11th century AD.
- Penataran Temple complex (Candi Penataran) - East Java. Largest Hinduist temple complex in East Java. Constructed for more than two centuries in the 12th - 15th century. Consists of diverse, very ornate structures.
- Prambanan – Central Java. One of the most beautiful temple complexes in the world, this Hindu temple was built around 850 AD. Central tower is 47 m high. Whole complex is rich with symbolic meaning and contains numerous art values.
- Pura Besakih - Bali. One of the most important Hinduist temples in Bali, probably built in the 14th century. Complex includes 22 temples located in a single line leading to Mount Agung.
- Pura Panataran Sasih - Bali. Hinduist temple complex from the 10th - 12th century AD. Contains highly revered antiquity - enormous Bronze Age drum, made around 300 BC. It's history is shrouded in a mystery.
- Pura Taman Ayun - Bali. One of most beautiful Hinduist temples in Bali, located in gorgeous park. This Hinduist temple was constructed in 1634 for Raja of Mengwi family. Temple structures represent amazing achievement of architecture and art.
- Temples of Dieng Plateau - Central Java. The oldest known standing stone structures in Java, built around 750 AD. Hinduist temples are located on plateau with volcanic gasses and sulphurous lakes.
Other archaeological monuments
- Batujaya ancient city - West Java. Remnants of structures of the oldest Hindu - Buddhist kingdom in present day Indonesia, built in the 5th - 6th century AD. Contains base of Jiwa Temple - Buddhist temple.
- Old Banten - Banten, Java. Ruins of once very important city - the capital of Sultanate of Banten (the 16th - 19th century). Among the ruins are the fascinating remnants of Kaibon Palace, still operating Great Mosque of Banten and other structures.
- Ratu Boko – Central Java. Remnants of ancient fortified complex of structures, covering 16 ha. The purpose for the construction of this complex is not entirely clear.
- Trowulan ancient city - East Java. Ruins of ancient city, covering approximately 100 km2. City flourished in the 14th - 15th century, was razed to the ground after 1478. Impressive and unusual structures are Candi Tikus - bathing pool and shrine, Bajang Ratu and Wringin Lawang - ancient city gates and Candi Brahu.
- Yeh Pulu frieze - Bali. Unique frieze, carved in a low cliff. Frieze is 25 m long and approximately 2 m high and shows everyday life - hunting, field works, playing with animals. It is not known who and when made it.
- Bogor Palace - West Java. Presidential palace, originally constructed in 1744, rebuilt in Neo-Classical forms in 1856. Contains valuable art collection.
- Istana Maimun - North Sumatra. Palace of sultan, built in 1887 - 1891. Interesting interior design, uniting local and European design styles.
- Keraton Kasepuhan - West Java, Cirebon. Old and ornate sultan's palace, built in 1527.
- Kraton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat - Yogyakarta. Main palace of Yogyakarta Sultanate, consists of numerous ornate buildings.
- Tirta Gangga water palace - Bali. Royal garden with beautiful pools, fountains, stone carvings and lush vegetation. Built in 1946 and rebuilt in the middle 1960s.
Art Deco heritage
- DENIS bank in Bandung - West Java. Once innovative highrise bank building in Art Deco style, constructed in 1936.
- Metropole - Jakarta. The largest Art Deco style building complex in Jakarta, constructed in 1932 - 1949. Consists of three buildings, one is movie theater.
- Savoy Homann Bidakara Hotel - West Java, Bandung. Innovative Art Deco style hotel, built in 1939. Well preserved interiors and furniture.
- Villa Isola - West Java, Bandung. Enormous Art Deco villa, built for Dutch media tycoon in 1933. Includes two large Art Deco gardens.
Other man-made monuments
- Agung Demak Mosque - Central Java. One of the oldest mosques in Indonesia, built in 1474 AD. Built of timber, has a form of pyramid.
- Fort Belgica - Maluku Province, Banda Islands. Very impressive fort, built by Dutch East India Company in 1611.
- National Monument (Monas) - Jakarta. 133 m tall monument of unusual design. It symbolizes the independence fight and was built in 1961 - 1975.
List of described attractions by provinces
Indonesia is divided into 7 regions which in turn are divided into 33 provinces:
|Kawah Ijen||Volcanoes, Lakes|
|Cisolok Hot Springs and Geysers||Springs, Geysers|
|Yogyakarta Special Region|
Lesser Sunda Islands
|East Nusa Tenggara|
|West Nusa Tenggara|
|South East Sulawesi|
|Leang Pute Sinkhole||Sinkholes|
Western New Guinea
Map of Indonesia
Featured: Yogoluk Sinkhole
One of largest sinkholes in the world is Yogoluk Sinkhole (Gua Yogolok) in Papua province, northern side of Wamena valley.
This area is rich with karst features - here are known more than 50 caves, often adorned with amazing speleothems. In Wamena karst are found several giant sinkholes as well, reaching up to the size of tiankeng (a giant sinkhole, at least 100 m deep and wide).
One of such sinkholes is Yogoluk Sinkhole, formed by a collapse of giant cave room.
Declaring independence in 1945, Indonesia said it would “work out the details of the transfer of power etc. as soon as possible.” With over 300 ethnic groups spread across over 13,500 islands, the world’s fourth most populous nation has been working on that “etc.” ever since. Author Elizabeth Pisani traveled 26,000 miles in search of the links that bind this disparate nation.
Insight Guide Indonesia is an essential guide to one of the world's last tourism frontiers, a far-flung archipelago of rainforests, volcanoes, vivid festivals and teeming cities, all brought to life through evocative photography. Our inspirational Best of Indonesia section highlights the unmissable sights and experiences, while a comprehensive Travel Tips section gives you all the practical information you need to plan your trip.