A discussion of Indonesia's finest, according to Indonesia's best travel guide, Lonely Planet.
The new ninth edition (published January 2010) of "Lonely Planet: Indonesia" recently hit Indonesian bookstores, retailing at e.g. Periplus for Rp378 800.
I will review other parts of the book in future postings, but in this article I will focus on the first few pages:
Highlights of Indonesia.
Here is a list, with links to more detail of each destination. For simplicity, they are split into different themes or sections, in order of west to east.
Or, if you want to explore a particular region, here they are again, this time separated into islands or provinces:
Indonesia's tropical climate and mountainous topography gives it a wide range of highlights; unique flora and fauna, along with some amazing landscapes and scenery.
Lake Toba, North Sumatra
Noteworthy as the world's largest volcanic lake and one of the largest inland lakes in Asia, it's surrounded by great views and the very friendly Toba Batak people.
Ujung Kulon National Park, Banten
Home of the increasingly endangered one-horned rhinoceros, and some of the little remaining rainforest in Java.
Mt Bromo, East Java
Indonesia's most visited volcano, if not it's most (in)famous. A frequent stopover on the backpacker trail through Java to Bali.
Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan
An eco-tourist destination where you can get up close and personal with some of Indonesia's endangered orangutans.
Loksado, South Kalimantan
A protected rainforest where the preferred way to travel is by boat.
Mt Kelimutu, East Nusa Tenggara
Onspiring and similarly noteworthy, a rare combination of three volcanic lakes, each a different colour.
Komodo Island/Natural Park, East Nusa Tenggara
Home to the most well-known of Indonesia's many uniques creatures.
Lake Sentani, Papua.
Sentani isn't just home to Jayapura's airport, but also this lovely and picturesque lake. I know one person with a middle name "Sentani"; his pilot father remembers how much he enjoyed flying over it.
The people of Indonesia are certainly multi-cultural; they speak 726 different languages, 247 of them in Papua alone. So whether you're an anthropologist, archaeologist or just interested in learning about different cultures, there is something for everyone in Indonesia.
Indonesia's most famous and deservedly World Heritage Listed Buddhist temple, visited by David Beckham in 2007 and soon to be visited by the Obamas. It also is regarded as one of the 1000 Places To See Before You Die.
Sukuh Temple, Central Java.
Arguably Central Java's finest religious monument, near Solo.
Recently voted Asia's top city as well as one of the 1000 Places To See Before You Die, Ubud is justifiably popular as a place to relax, learn/appreciate Balinese culture and handicrafts, or just a change of pace from the south of Bali.
Tanah Toraja, South Sulawesi.
Home to a unique culture where funerals are the biggest party. It also is regarded as one of the 1000 Places To See Before You Die, and the location of arguably Indonesia's most unusual postcard.
West Timor, East Nusa Tenggara.
Included in the new edition at the expense of Sumba for its unique culture and bee-hive houses.
Baliem Valley, Papua.
Undiscovered until 1945, it is surrounded by amazing mountain scenery and lots of great hiking opportunities. It also is regarded as one of the 1000 Places To See Before You Die.
Clubbing in Bali and Jakarta.
A somewhat more controversial choice IMHO (as it's not really unique to Indonesia)... but if that's your thing, then that's another way you will also enjoy your time in Indonesia.
Diving and Beaches
These locations are all fantastic, so arguments over which one is the best are futile. Just visit and enjoy as many as you can!
Pulau Weh, Aceh.
Enjoying a revival in tourist numbers. You can read and see more about it here.
Batu Karas, West Java.
Near Pangandaran, this volcanic sand beach is a lovely place to sit back and relax. Apparently, it is also a great place to learn to surf.
Bingin beach, Bali.
One of Bali's many surf beaches, this one is for the more experienced surfer.
Gili Islands, Lombok.
Previously noted for its quiet beaches, the Gili Islands offer a respite from reality for a fraction of the cost of some of its peers next door in Bali. You can now travel there direct from Bali by Perama boat. Read more here.
Pulau Derawan, East Kalimantan.
If it's Lonely Planet writer M. Cohen's favourite place in all of Borneo/Kalimantan (including Malaysia and Brunei), then it must be pretty good. Read more in Best deserted beaches.
Pulau Bunaken, North Sulawesi.
Forms part of the famous Coral Triangle, and recently hosted an international conference on ocean protection. Former Miss Indonesia and current WWF Marine Conservation Ambassador Nadine Chandrawinata is apparently a fan, after learning to scuba dive there in 2006.
Banda Islands, Maluku.
It has some very nice and quiet beaches, possibly because it can be very difficult to get there in the first place. Apparently, the diving is spectacular too.
Ternate Harbour, North Maluku.
Home to such lovely sea views, which currently adorn the Rp1000 note.
Around Morotai Island, Papua.
The unique attraction of diving here is the many World War 2 relics that still dot the marine landscape. Some really nice beaches too.
Raja Ampat Islands, West Papua.
A new addition to the Highlights of Indonesia this edition, deposing diving in Biak. Again, its relative isolation can be good (conservation and not crowded) or bad (difficult to go there), depending on your viewpoint.
Do you agree with Lonely Planet's choice of locations? Why/why not?
Regardless, please also share your favourite places in Indonesia below.
Lonely Planet’s Indonesia Highlights is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, which also features listings of Indonesia hotels, like Kuta hotels, Ubud hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.