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Wonders of Indonesia

Mount Bromo with a white plume and Mount Batok in the forefront
Mount Bromo with a white plume and Mount Batok in the forefront./ Alif Rahman, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

Indonesia is a true land of wonders. There are few other countries in the world that can offer a similar array of diverse, unique, and beautiful natural and cultural monuments. Some truly surprising wonders of Indonesia are:

  • Volcanoes and geothermal phenomena – volcanos are calamity and at the same time – a blessing to Indonesia. A unique monument is Kelimutu crater lakes, one of the most beautiful volcanic landscapes: 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, a multitude of species of animals and plants are not been discovered yet.
  • Megalithic monuments – while in Europe megaliths were erected in the 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 Hindu temple complexes – some of the most magnificent ancient structures in the world are Borobudur and Prambanan, but there are countless other amazing temples.

Indonesia here is divided into 7 geographical regions. Below they are listed in alphabetical order:

Geographical regions of Indonesia
  • Java
  • Kalimantan
  • Lesser Sunda Islands
  • Maluku Islands
  • Sulawesi
  • Sumatra
  • Western New Guinea

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of Indonesia

Geological wonders

Kelimutu crater lakes

Lesser Sunda Islands

System of three closely located crater lakes. Each of the lakes has different, changing colors – from bright red to green and blue.

Kelimutu Lakes from above
Kelimutu Lakes from above. / Michael Day, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0
Kawah Ijen


Turquoise-colored, extremely acid lake with a diameter of 1 km. Acidity – 0.5 pH. Nearly pure deposits of sulfur are located in the caldera. The burning sulfuric gas creates a very impressive blue flame in the night.

The blue fire of Kawah Ijen, Indonesia
The blue fire of Kawah Ijen / Dodi Mulyana, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Krakatau (Krakatoa)


Famous volcano – it erupted violently in 1883, affecting the global climate. A unique natural laboratory where can be observed fast renovation of the ecosystem after full elimination.

Aouk Underground River

Western New Guinea

An amazing system of more than 6 km long underground passages with one of the most powerful underground rivers in the world. The system has three tiankengs.

Waykut - entrance in the Aouk Underground River. Note the speleologist in the center
Waykut – entrance in the Aouk Underground River. Note the speleologist in the center /
© Tommaso Biondi, Acheloos Geo Exploring
Sangkulirang Mangkalihat


Extremely impressive karst landscape with numerous caves. Numerous endemic species of plants and animals, caves with prehistoric art (Gua Tewet), and unexplored areas.

Aouk-Kladuk Underground River

Western New Guinea

World’s most powerful underground river. The Aouk-Kladuk Underground River is some 1.5 kilometers long. The stream has a volume of 130 – 180 cubic meters.

Kladuk River in the Kladuk Abyss
Kladuk River in the Kladuk Abyss /
© Marc Faverjon, Acheloos Geo Exploring
Kelud Volcano (Kelut)


Very active, explosive, and hazardous volcano. Since 1500 AD there have been 29 deadly eruptions. After 1990 the crater formed a hot lake with fumaroles.

Pura Batu Balong natural bridge

Lesser Sunda Islands

A spectacular natural bridge that leads to a temple rising above the sea waves.

Mount Bromo


A very active volcano, 2,329 m high. Sacred place with an ancient tradition of offerings.

Volcanic landscape around Mount Bromo, East Java
Volcanic landscape around Mount Bromo, East Java. Mount Batok in the forefront. / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Wawolesea travertine terraces


White travertine terraces at the sea, formed by thermal springs. The site includes a natural hot water fountain.

Biological wonders

Liang Bua

Lesser Sunda Islands

In the cave (and only here) there were discovered remnants of a newly discovered, extinct species of human – Homo floresiensis.

Liang Bua cave, Flores, Indonesia
Liang Bua cave, Flores, Indonesia / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Sangiran Early Man site


Since 1934 in this area have been discovered approximately 50% of the world’s fossils of human ancestors – hominoids. Very valuable have been also finds of the contemporaries of these hominoids – animals. Discoveries in Ngebung, Solo, and Sangiran have provided valuable material for science.

Mata Menge

Lesser Sunda Islands

Find of other, dwarf species of humans that lived some 700,000 years ago and was even smaller than Homo floresiensis.

Satonda Crater Lake

Lesser Sunda Islands

This crater lake is connected to the sea and has interesting characteristics that allow comparing this lake to Precambrian marine environments. Here grow stromatolites, lake water has increased alkalinity, and red algae biotopes.

Archaeological wonders

Leang Tedongnge


A limestone cave in a secluded karst gorge. In this cave has been found the oldest known painting made by man. This painting is at least 45 500 years old and shows a group of three wild pigs, most likely Sus celebensis.

Leang Bulu Sipong 4


Limestone cave with one of the oldest known figurative monuments of art in the world – some 35,100 – 43 900 years old drawings. These drawings are very interesting: they show a group of mythical beings – therianthrops – hunting wild pigs and small animals – most likely anoas. They are hunting with spears and ropes. Cave was discovered in 2017.

Architecture wonders



This Mahayana Buddhist temple complex was constructed in the period between 760 and 830 AD. One of the most impressive ancient temples in the world, the largest Buddhist structure in the 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, and the whole structure is of high symbolism and represents Buddhist cosmology.

Stupas of Borobudur, Java
Stupas of Borobudur / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0


One of the most beautiful temple complexes in the world, this Hindu temple was built around 850 AD. The central tower is 47 m high. The whole complex is rich with symbolic meaning and contains numerous art values.

Prambanan, Java
Prambanan / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Candi Sukuh


An impressive Hindu temple complex, built in the 15th century. The central theme in the reliefs and sculptures of this temple is sexuality and life before birth. One of the last great Javanese Hindu temple complexes before the conversion to Islam, in some ways similar to Mayan architecture.

Ke’te Kesu’


Very well preserved Tana Toraja village with traditional houses, granaries, burial places, ceremonial grounds, and agricultural landscapes. The ceremonial ground has more than 20 menhirs.

Pura Penataran Sasih

Lesser Sunda Islands

Hindu temple complex from the 10th – 12th century AD. Contains a highly revered antiquity – an enormous Bronze Age drum that was made around 300 BC. Its history is shrouded in a mystery.

Toraja tombs


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), and 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.

Bawamataluo (Bawömataluo)


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 a stone structures for ceremonial jumping contests. In the yards of houses are located megalithic structures.

Goa Gajah (Elephant Temple)

Lesser Sunda Islands

An amazing achievement of art – an array of in situ stone carvings starting from simple ornaments and ending with an intricate cave temple that can be entered through an open mouth of a stone beast. Created around the 11th century AD.

Keraton Kasepuhan


Old and ornate sultan’s palace, built in 1527.

WorldYellow Recommended books

Indonesia, Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation

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 Guides Indonesia

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.

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