The world’s fourth most populace country – 245 million and counting – is a sultry kaleidoscope that runs along the equator for 5000km. It may well be the last great adventure on earth. From the western tip of Sumatra to the eastern edge of Papua, this nation defies homogenisation. It is a land of so many cultures, peoples, animals, customs, plants, features, artworks and foods that it is like 100 (or is it 200?) countries melded into one.
And we’re talking differences that aren’t just about an accent or a preference for goat over pork; we are talking about people who are as radically different from each other as if they came from different continents. No man may be an island but here every island is a unique blend of the men, women and children who live upon it. Over time deep and rich cultures have evolved, from the mysteries of the spiritual Balinese to the utterly non-Western belief system of the Asmat people of Papua.
Best places to stay in Indonesia
Indonesia is a busy place, and not just because it’s one of the most densely-populated places on Earth. Blessed with rich jungles, imposing volcanoes and mile upon mile of gorgeous beachfront, it’s not surprising that 135 million people live here full-time.
Indonesia travel guide
From the western tip of Sumatra to the eastern edge of Papua, Indonesia offers endless exploration and infinite diversity. This unique land may well be the last great adventure on Earth.
Bali & Lombok
Bali may be small in size – you can drive around the entire coast in one long day – but its prominence as a destination is huge, and rightfully so. Ask travellers what Bali means to them and you’ll get as many answers as there are flowers on a frangipani tree.
For decades, travellers have made the hop from Bali for a dip in the turquoise-tinted, bathtub-warm waters of the irresistible Gili Islands and stayed longer than anticipated.
Diving and snorkelling in Indonesia
Indonesia's best beaches
Jakarta to Ubud
Don’t be fooled into thinking Indonesia is ‘just another island getaway’, because the scale of experiences you’ll have in this magical country are truly epic. Miles of empty beaches, steamy verdant rainforests, volcano studded valleys, culture rich cities, ancient temples - and that’s just the places they tell you about.
Indonesia's best treks
Komodo & Rinca Islands
Nestled between Sumbawa and Flores, the islands of Komodo and Rinca, their jagged hills carpeted with savannah and fringed with mangroves, are home to the legendary Komodo dragon. The world’s largest lizard, known locally as ora, it can reach over 3m in length and weigh up to 100kg. It hunts alone and feeds on animals as large as deer and buffalo, both of which are found here.
Best places to surf in Indonesia
Southeast Asia on a Shoestring travel guide - 16th edition
Exotic and tropical, friendly and hospitable, historic and devout, Southeast Asia offers a warm embrace from its sun-kissed beaches and steamy jungles to its bustling modern cities and sleepy villages.
Paradise found: West Papua for beginners
For a grab bag of stimulating experiences, this remote province is hard to beat. West Papua is as far west in Indonesia as you can go, with sublime landscapes, extraordinary animals and an ancient and vibrant Melanesian culture...
Borobudur is built from two million stone blocks in the form of a massive symmetrical stupa, literally wrapped around a small hill. Standing on a 118m by 118m base, its six square terraces are topped by three circular ones, with four stairways leading up through carved gateways to the top.
Let it rain: enjoying Southeast Asia's wet season
It's the rainy season in Southeast Asia. Don't worry, it probably won’t rain all the time – probably just in the afternoon (admittedly, rather a lot)...
Raja Ampat Islands
This group of about 1600 mostly uninhabited islands off Sorong has some of the best diving in the world. Little known until the last few years, Raja Ampat’s sheer numbers and diversity of marine life, and its huge, largely pristine coral-reef systems, are a scuba dream come true – and fantastic for snorkellers too. It’s like swimming in a tropical aquarium.
A trip to Tana Toraja is like a cultural documentary brought to life. Sweeping and elaborately painted houses with boat-shaped roofs dot terraced rice paddies where farmers work the fields alongside their doe-eyed buffalo. It’s an island hemmed in by mountains on all sides and rich with traditional culture.
This tiny, coral-fringed isle is North Sulawesi’s top tourist destination but (so far) it’s managed to avoid becoming resort-land and maintains a rootsy island soul. Tourist accommodation is spread out along two beaches – other than that, the island belongs to the islanders; these friendly folk have a seemingly endless reserve of authentically warm smiles.