With over 17,500 islands, Indonesia has more islands than days in a decade; it’s the world’s largest archipelago. Sitting across the equator, Indonesia has everything you imagine a tropical island nation to have: coconut trees, white sand beaches, marine parks, volcanoes, and jungle. It’s a country of vast mineral, oil, and gas resources, and world famous coffee and tea. With dynamic, modern cities and a rapidly rising middle class, Indonesia is one of Asia’s fastest growing economies.
Jakarta is a dynamic city of skyscrapers and commerce. Hotel accommodation ranges from back-packer budget to five star, and there is a lively and ever-changing restaurant and bar scene, with international cuisines as easy to find as local dishes.
Jakarta loves luxury shopping malls, and these have become the city’s most popular hang-out spots. Jakarta’s malls are packed with international and luxury retail brands and restaurants, and include coffee shops with free wi-fi, bars, supermarkets, car parks, and cinemas. So popular are Jakarta’s shopping malls, that art galleries and exhibitions are moving into mall spaces, and many malls contain recreation and lifestyle attractions like spas, hair salons, fitness centers, swimming pools, bowling alleys, children’s rides, arcades, ice drinks, night clubs, language schools, banks, and apartment residences.
Within walking distance of Balai Sidang Jakarta Convention Center, Senayan City has over six floors of shops and restaurants.
Traditional markets also thrive in the city, with the best and freshest buys to be found at dawn when the markets are liveliest.
Most of Jakarta’s parks are small and tucked into residential neighborhoods. The largest public parks and green spaces are at the Monas(National Monument) and the Gelora Bung Karno sports center in central Jakarta; Taman Mini and Ragunan zoo in south Jakarta, and Ancol and the mangrove forests along the north coast. Menteng park in the city center is popular with footballers and photographers. Fatahillah Square in north Jakarta and Suropati park in central Jakarta often have cultural dance performances at the weekends.
For more expansive greenery, Jakarta has over eight golf courses.
With international connections around the world, domestic air connections to over 30 cities, a sea port, and road and rail connections across Java, Jakarta is the gateway to Indonesia.
Highlights on Java, Indonesia’s most populated island, include:
Jakarta: the capital city of Indonesia and gateway to the rest of the country.
Pulau Seribu: accessed by speedboat from Jakarta’s Ancol Marina, the Thousand Islands offer sandy island retreats, diving and snorkeling, and bird watching.
Bogor: an easy hour’s train ride from Jakarta, the Bogor Botanical Gardens have 87 acres of flora from across the world, including rare orchids and Rafflesia, the world’s largest carnivorous flower.
Puncak: the cool hills of Puncak make a very popular weekend break for Jakarta’s residents; tea gardens and paragliding are two attractions. Traffic can be intense.
Taman Safari: offers a drive on the wild side on the road to Puncak. This 35-hectare safari park is home to around 200 species, including rhinoceroses, white tigers, and bears.
Bandung: surrounded by volcanoes and hot springs, Bandung is a fast-growing, cool-climate alternative to Jakarta. Attractions include the Lembang mountain resorts, Bosscha observatory, Tangkuban Perahu volcano crater and Ciater hot springs.
Ujung Kulon: a 120,551 hectare national and marine park, home to the Java rhinoceros, leopards, gibbons, mouse-deer, and the Javan bull.
Anak Krakatau: located off the west coast of Java, Anak Krakatau is an active and growing volcano in the Sunda Straits. The waters around Anak Krakatau are popular dive and snorkeling spots.
Yogyakarta: considered one of Java’s arts and education centers, along with Solo. Attractions include the Sultans’ kraton (palace), the active Mt Merapi volcano, cultural and crafts tours through Via Via Café, and access to the temples of Borobodur and Prambanan.
Borobodur: built in the eighth century, Borobodur is a Mahayana Buddhist complex and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site was brought to world attention by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1814 and more recently through a visit by actor Richard Gere in 2011.
Prambanan: built in the ninth century, Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Solo: considered one of Java’s arts and education centers. Attractions in the city include the Keraton (palace) of Susuhunan Pakubuwono, the Pasar Gede traditional market, the batik making villages of Laweyan and Kauman, the annual batik carnival in June, and access to the Borobodur and Prambanan temples.
Tawangmangu: a hill resort on the west slopes of Mt Lawu from which to explore the temples of Cetho and Sukuh, and the 40m-high Grojagan Sewu waterfall.
Kasunanan Palace: the 17th century residence of former King Pakubuwono, the palace today comprises an art gallery exhibiting royal heirlooms.
Dieng Plateau: an active volcano complex with eight Hindu temples dating from the 8th and 9th centuries.
Malang: a cool-climate mountain town famous for its apples, hot springs, and easy access to local volcanoes.
Jember: grabs headlines with its extravagant annual fashion parade in July.
Bromo-Semeru: woodland and savannah surround the smoking peaks of Gunung Semeru and Bromo, and are popular with trekkers, horse-riders, off-road bikers and jeep drivers.
Surabaya: capital of East Java, sea-side Surabaya is Indonesia’s second largest city.
Madura: home of the Madurese bull racing events, Madura is now linked by road to Surabaya via the Suramadu bridge.
Trowulan: believed to be the ancient capital of Majapahit. Sir Stamford Raffles rediscovered Trowulan in 1815, declaring the ruins the pride of Java. Archeological findings are displayed in the Trowulan museum and include Majapahit pottery and statues.
Pandaan: the CandraWilwatika open-air theater hosts performances of classical Javanese dance based on stories from the Ramayana every full moon night between June and November.
Meru Betiri: a wildlife reserve protecting tigers, black panthers, leopards, and turtles.
Singosari: contains the ruins of the 13th century Jago temple, with scenes from the Mahabarata carved into the temple side panels. Kidal temple, dating from 1260, is nearby.
Penataran: a Singosari-Majapahit temple dating from the 14th century, with bas relief scenes from the Ramayana.
Sidoarjo: site of ‘Lusi’, a mud volcano which began erupting in 2006 and continues today.