Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Indonesia Destinations
Indonesia offers a truly incredible diversity of attractions and activities for the traveller. A vacation in this huge nation of islands can be restful and escapist, packed with sightseeing and adventure, or even both during the same trip. There is so much to see and do, that it is worthwhile to research all the sights and options with a guide book, or internet sites, in advance of any visit. For further, in-depth counselling, talk to us! We have stayed at your dream-accomodation, sampled the local culinary-scene, and know that very special, remote mountain-top spot away from it all, for a perfectly romantic sunrise-breakfast with your loved-one. In short: Be your own scriptwriter for a pictureperfect dream-vacation and pick us as your director to make it all become reality. Here are just some of the destinations served by Go Vacation Indonesia:


BALI: The Magical Island
The most popular tourist destination in the Indonesian archipelago. This relatively small (5.632.86 km2) and, besides the very South, not densely populated island is unique for its combination of scenic beauty, lively traditions, superb hotels and beach resort facilities. Its people represent the largest homogenuous hinduistic society outside India in all over Asia, with only small clusters of other ethnic groups and beliefs. The landscape is diverse, rugged volcanoes contrasting with lush green rice terraces. Bali’s colourful arts, crafts and festivals are excitingly different, its range of shopping temptations limitless and its warm tropical climate perfect for relaxing on white, gold or black sand beaches, while there is every type of nightlife in major resort centres. Drive through the exquisite countryside to experience the island’s great beauty and explore countless Hindu temples and shrines, every village has at least three, while religious ceremonies and processions take place somewhere almost every day. Don’t let media publications about the extensive touristical development of the last three decades confuse you. Just step a few kilometers outside the few tourist hotspots, and you will find idyllic small-town Bali and villagers celebrating religious festivals like they did a thousand years ago. Feast all of your senses when watching them celebrate the descent of the gods from the mountains with music and dance. Get even closer to their dieties by climbing mist-shrouded Gunung Agung and shop in the artistic centre of Ubud.

There are cultural performances practically everywhere, such as the dramatic Kecak, or monkey dance; Barong, featuring an ugly witch; or graceful Legong dance, accompanied by the uniqueley hypnotic Balinese gamelan music.
Nusa Dua & Tanjung Benoa
Nusa Dua has the the highest density of Deluxe Class hotels in all southern Bali. The extremely tidy appearance of the widespread parks and gardens between the mostly larger scale resort hotels, as well as an extremely high standard of security clearly appeals to the type of sophisticated and well-off guest that cherishes such an environment. Nusa Dua is also home to the most popular golf course in Bali and the main convention centre on the island. The beaches here are glorious - white sand, clean, deep, long and safe for swimming. Great shopping options like Galeria Nusa Dua and Bali Collection, a plentitude of culinary options outside the resorts and recently established high-end modern-style show-theaters boosted Nusa Dua’s popularity in the recent years. Immediately north of Nusa Dua lies the peninsula of Tanjung Benoa with more choice of moderately priced smaller scale loding and an evergrowing choice of eateries just a step outside most hotels.
Probably the best beach suitable for swimming along the west coast of southern Bali, Jimbaran Bay with its white sand shore opens up to a sea that unlike a few miles further to the North, does not see any high waves. That makes it the perfect holiday spot for beach-lovers, but party people alike, as the famous nightspots of Kuta or Seminyak are a mere 15-20 minutes taxi ride away. Extremely popular among foreigners and locals are the numerous seafood restaurants dotted directly along the beach. Diners select the live seafood that they wish to eat, and it is immediately prepared, generally grilled over a fire of coconut husks rather than charcoal.
Kuta, Legian & Tuban
Kuta, once a sleepy fishing village until half a century ago, was discovered by travellers from Asia and wandering surfers from nearby Australia. Although most of the serious surfers have moved on to newer areas, mainly on the southern tip of the island, all the way up the westcoast, or even to Lombok, Kuta still has preserved its repuptation of a nonchalant – easy living – daydreamer’s paradise where the bohemian meets up peacefully with the comfort-seeking multinational package tourist frequenting the more fancy resort hotels. This is the centre of the disco- and beer-hall scene, but also a shopper’s paradise with posh malls, hip boutiques for the fashionista and literally thousands of souvenir shops, Kuta manages to please a wide range of tastes and expectations at the same time. Stretching north from Kuta, Legian is comparably more on the quiet side, especially the closer you get to bordering Seminyak. Tuban, or more commonly called South Kuta, over the past few years has become a prime resort area and a favourite amongst families with a good variety of shops, restaurants and family entertainment establishments (bowling, waterpark etc.).
Famed for being the culinary Mecca of southern Bali, with islandwide the highest density of fine restaurants, Seminyak is also chic and trendy with a club scene more on the upper level of nightly entertainment. As a consequence, many of the hotels to be found here, foremost cater for a young and style-conscious, as well as affluent and sometimes narcistic travellers. Thus, the atmosphere in the nightspots and beachside lounge-bars is young, vibrant and in general fun to watch and partake. The wide and seemingly endless beach is perfect for long walks, and gazing at the picture-perfect sunset.
Sanur is Bali's oldest upscale resort area in a mature beach-side town. Despite the abundance of restaurants and accommodation, it has a quiet and relaxed feel to it. Sanur tends to appeal most to a middle-aged and older clientele, especially Europeans. Another reason for its popularity are the moderate costs for high quality loding and dining out. Sanur is also famous for the annual International Kite Festival in July, which coincides with the peak tourist season. Traditional Balinese giant kites up to 10 metres in length are made and flown competitively by teams from different villages around Bali. The origins of this event are as a festival intended to send a message to the Hindu Gods to create abundant crops and harvests.
Candi Dasa
Candi Dasa on the east coast, formerly known as Teluk Kehen (Kehen Bay), is a tranquil, never too crowded village offering varying accommodation, from basic to five-star resorts and a selection of a few good restaurants. This small fishing village is nestled between the Lombok Strait to the east and the mountains to the west. Its appeal lies in the quick accessibility from South Bali (1- max. 2 hours from any beach area), a clear ocean perfect for swimming and fine snorkelling in many spots, and for the proximity to many of the most important historic and cultural sites of the island. In fact, staying here saves day trippers a lot of time compared with choosing South Bali as a base for reachig out to the attractions of the central- and eastern-central areas of the island.
Amed lies on the north-eastern tip of Bali, a little more than a two hour’s drive from the Ngurah Rai International Airport and refers to a long stretch of coast running from the village of Cucik about 14 km eastwards incorporating the seven villages of Amed, Jemeluk, Bunutan, Lipah, Selang, Banyuning and Aas. The pace of life here is slow and the coastal scenery quite stunning making Amed the perfect place for a relaxed holiday in Bali. Amed is the most recent tourist development area in Bali. There are good dive sites close at hand and a thriving dive industry has developed all the way along the coast here. Originally the hotels were catering almost exclusively for divers but, more recently leisure tourism is becoming increasingly important, following the overall trend of travellers looking for idyllic spots far away from the hustle and bustle. Don’t expect long stretches of powdery sand beaches here, but on the other hand some decent-quality hotels allure with their own colourful house-reef for great snorkelling.
Tulamben is a small fishing village, 30 km north of Amed, about 20-30 min by road. As well as local dives off the various Amed beaches a notable attraction is diving the wreck of the USAT Liberty at Tulamben. Some divers base themselves at Tulamben itself where all of the hotels have either in-house dive operations or are associated with one of them. The Liberty is a US Army transport ship torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942. The wreck lies about 30 m offshore and is covered in soft corals. A huge range of reef fish have made this their home. Some of the wreck can be seen by snorkelers. Due to the high popularity of this dive site it is highly recommendable to get there early in the day.
Expect one of the most isolated spots along Bali’s north coast. Many insiders refer to this region as the “real Bali,” the island paradise as it was decades ago, free of traffic and noise, souvenir shops and confusion. Against the backdrop of the mountains you can find small villages with the friendliest people, always offering you their smiles end their help, maybe finding your way along nearby trekking paths that lead to hidden waterfalls. A few fine, little boutique-style hotels offer the perfect place to wind down and enjoy the simple things in life, be it soft sea breezes, swaying coconut palms or the singing of many varieties of birds.
Lovina essentially consists of seven traditional villages on the north coast to the west of Singaraja. The whole stretch of coast here is fringed by narrow black sand beaches which are generally safe for swimming, with a very calm sea during most time of the year. Diving and snorkelling is reachable, though not directly in front of the resorts. Above all, people come here to relax instead of lots of sightseeing. Dolphin watching on the open sea is a favourite pastime for tourists. The choice of luxury accomodation is limited to just a few, but what is to be found lives up even to high expectations. Many of the beachside hotels are nestled within widespread ricefields, which make a pretty walk – and taking these during lunchtime often lead to hidden little gems of restaurants with brilliant local food in an idyllic setting.
This is a small laid-back village which has become increasingly popular with visitors in recent years. There are a number of waterfront resorts and its proximity to Lovina and West Bali National Park together with the extreme natural beauty of the area, has fuelled quite rapid growth in tourism infrastructure in the area. Some of it derives from the fact that Pemuteran’s quick accessibility after arriving at Gilimanuk port by ferry makes it the perfect spot for a beach prolongation after an extended sightseeing tour through Java. Pemuteran is home to the largest artificial Biorock reef project in the world and there is a real spirit of marine conservation effort in this area, resulting in corals thriving and hotelguests happily enjoying the evergrowing biodiversity when snorkelling in front of the resorts. Not to forget nearby Menjangan island, blessed with some of the best-preserved reefs for both ambitioned diving and leisurely snorkelling. The dive sites are one of the best in all over Indonesia and numerous underwater film productions proove this. Right behind the resort’s entrances wait the great outdoors of Bali Barat (West Bali Nationalpark) with a wide choice of trekking paths through the forest, allowing birdwatchers to see very rare species such as the indigenous Jalak Bali (Bali Starling) or the Muntjak (Mouse Deer), an adorable dwarf-sized variety.
A hidden gem on Bali’s tranquil westcoast. Only a few hideway-style hotels exist here, be it minimalistic zen-style luxury retreats or more down to earth cottages with Balinese architecture, each one created its very unique concept to attract a type of guest that is simply very different to the average traveller. Word has spread that in this magic place, putting your mind and soul at ease almost comes automatically by watching the Indian Ocean spectacularly roaring along the seemingly endless coastal line. With miles and miles of sparkling, anthracit coloured volcanic-sand beaches, the whole setting is perfect to put your mind at ease. Even deeper relaxtion can be reached when partaking with Yoga sessions, or imagine yourself during lowtide, sitting on a natural volcanic plateau in front of your hotel, surrounded by the ocean, meditating, and being as close to the elements as you could ever get. The same plateau is used for unique spa treatments, lying on the warm rock while a gentle body scrub with herbs and volcanic sand is applied to the body and creates ultimate indulgence and relaxation.
Munduk – Mountain Retreats & Lakeside
Munduk village in north Bali, nestling on a mountain ridge and overlooking a wide valley that opens up wonderful views of the not so distant ocean, is normally reached by driving one of the most scenic routes up from South Bali. It takes you through mountainous terrain with spectacular views of Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan. The latter is a haven for birdwatchers and during a trek around lakeside a number of scarce species can be observed. Munduk is surrounded by tropical rainforest, rice terraces and farms producing traditional commodities. The area with its unique nature and very agreeable temperatures (20-25 degrees Celcius) is extremely suitable for all kinds of outdoor activities, especially trekking. Nearby, Munduk Waterfalls are impressive and really roar in the wet season. This spot is little visited and hardly ever frequented by mass tourism despite being perhaps the most impressive accessible falls on the whole island.
Java is the most densely populated island of Indonesia, with 138 million people living in an area of 130,000 sq. km. Scenery is varied, with volcanic peaks, most inactive though, forming part of the Pacific ‘Ring of fire’, contrasting with rich rural landscapes of rice fields, orchards and picturesque villages. Indonesia’s largest cities, Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Surabaya, are centres for government, trade and culture, while ancient temples and monuments recall a long and dramatic history. There is much to see and do on Java, with highlights including:
Jakarta (Population 9.6 million)
Capital city, seat of government, a centre for finance, business and culture, Jakarta, known as Batavia in Dutch colonial times, is also a major port. Sightseeing attractions include the central Merdeka Square with its massive National Monument and impressive buildings such as the Presidential Palace and must-see National Museum. Historic Kota district has Dutch-era public buildings, such as the former Town Hall and museums devoted to the city’s history, puppets and fine arts. Close by is Sunda Kalapa, the old port area, noted for the many Makassar trading schooners which still dock there. Jakarta also has excellent hotels, shopping malls, restaurants and a lively nightlife that falls nothing short of what Bangkok’s club-scene has to offer.
Usually visited after leaving Jakarta on a Java overland tour, the cool hill town of Bogor, surrounded by mountain scenery, is delightful. Main attraction is the magnificent Botanical Gardens, 85 hectares with over 12,000 species of trees and tropical flowers, including orchids. Overlooking the gardens is the President’s Palace, formerly residence of the Dutch governors. Beyond Bogor, the road leads over Puncak Pass, through tea plantations and some of Java’s most beautiful rural scenery, en route to the modern city of Bandung, from where tours may continue, by bus or train, to Yogyakarta.
Bandung is located in the central highlands. Located at an altitude of 768 m with the surroundings of lush and beautiful Parahyangan mountains makes the climate mild and pleasant. The city is well known for its universities and being a great place for gastronomic adventure. Nowadays, Bandung has become a very popular weekend escape for Jakartans, so it is recommendable to avoid the very crowded weekends and national holidays. There were many buildings built in a classic Dutch art deco colonial style during the late 18th and early 19th century, many of which are very well preserved.
Dieng Plateau
This 2,100 m. altitude highland plain is reached by a scenic drive north from Yogyakarta. Here are ruins of some 400 of Java’s most ancient Hindu temples, dating from 8-9th centuries. Among the best preserved, the Arjuna group is set in a beautiful landscape. Other attractions include multi-coloured mineral lakes, bubbling thermal springs and surrounding high volcanoes.
Yogyakarta (Population 396,000)
A historic city noted for its traditional culture and intellectual heritage, Yogyakarta is a semi-autonomous sultanate, contrasting old and new. In the walled Kraton city district are sightseeing highlights such as the Sultan’s palace, Taman Sari ‘water palace’, Mesjid Besar mosque and several museums, one in an old Dutch fort. Worth visiting are the colourful bird market and workshops for batik and silver crafts – the latter make Yogyakarta a shopper’s paradise especially for garments and artwork. Two of Java’s greatest monumental treasures are usually visited as side trips from Yogyakarta. The huge temple mount of Borobodur was build 1,200 years ago and restored by UNESCO in 1973-83. Symbolising the Buddhist cosmos, the massive multi-tiered monument contains many stone carved Buddha images, some within latticed shrines, looking out over the surrounding countryside. Especially interesting are the thousands of sculptured panels showing Buddhist religious themes and scenes from the lives of those ancient people. In contrast to Buddhist Borobodur, the ornate temples of Prambanan are the largest and finest examples of Hindu architecture in Indonesia. Devoted mostly to Shiva, Brahma or Vishnu, there are several hundred temples, in ruins or restored, dating from the 8-10th centuries. Both of these monuments are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Surakarta (aka Solo City) (Population 550,000)
Perhaps the most traditional of Java’s historic cities, cultured and a centre for the performing arts. Sightseeing includes the Kraton, sultan’s palace, several interesting museums, Istana palace, a mix of Javanese and European styles, and antique Mesjid Agung mosque. Local markets are noted for birds, batik, antiques and typical Javanese souvenirs.
Surabaya (Population 2.5 million)
This modern commercial city is Java’s most important port, a thriving centre for trade and industry. Worth exploring are some buildings dating from the Dutch era, historic Arab quarter and Chinatown. For many visitors, however, this is primarily the departure point or a stopover hub for reaching places like Madura island, famed for its bull races or, via its airport, for flights to Bali, Jakarta and numerous other airports in the archipelago.
Mount Bromo
Included in many round-Java tours is a pre-dawn excursion, by bus, then on foot and horseback, up to the rim of this still active 2,400 m. volcano. Its lunar landscape is rugged and spectacular, especially at sunrise, with views of the crater, which is over 10 km. across, with steam rising from its depths. Bromo has deep religious significance, with locals making offerings to appease its evil spirits. Other active volcanoes surround Bromo, with peaks up to 3,700m.
Ijen & Kalibaru
The Ijen Crater (Kawah Ijen) is part of a volcano complex in East-Java that includes the also well-known Merapi (not to be confused with equally-named Merapi near Yogyakarta). Is is inside a 20 km wide caldera and Ijen volcano has a one-kilometerwide turquoise-colored acid crater lake that your eyes can feast upon when arriving at the summit after a safe, yet a bit physically challenging climb. The reward is worth every single drop of sweat you might have gushed, as the breathtaking views over the rugged and seemingly endless lunar landscape is simply put one of a kind. Watch the sulfur miners carrying and skillfully balancing baskets full of the yellow mineral collected from the crater floor all the way up to the rim and all the way down again the same path you are taking back. Kalibaru is located 50km west of Banyuwangi, along a twisting road with dramatic view north to the Ijen area and south to Meru Betiri National Park. Located at an altitude 428 meters above sea level, Kalibaru offers moderate temperatures all year long and a good base from which to explore the surrounding coffe-, cocoa, and rubber plantations. Other local excursions include the waterfall at Wonorejo about 5 km north of Kalibaru.
Karimunjawa Islands – Pulau Menyawakan
The 27 small islands which make up the Karimunjawa archipelago lie 120 nautical miles offshore, north of the provincial capitol of Semarang, which is also the only convenient gateway to reach these secluded islands with its intact eco system. Momentarily (December 2011) the charter flight from Semarang, using small but modern aircraft, is put on hault until further notice. Access by sea from Semarang is momentarily only recommemded by the fast ferry operating once a week and taking you just 3 h 30 minutes. Nature-lovers and outdoor-enthusiasts can find here rainforest, stretches of coastal mangroves, and above all, biodiverse reef systems for diving and snorkelling alike. In 1955 offshore the island of Kemujan a freighter sank and is now a great divesite for wreck-diving. Not to forget the pristine, powdery-white beaches, many of which are situated on totally uninhabited islands and make a perfect daytrip by boat from your hotel. Game fishing is another out of a multitude of options to spend your days. Catches of giant-size mackarel are the rule, not the exception.
Often decribed as Bali’s little sister, this neighbouring island is within sight from Bali’s eastcoast, but the overall feel to it is totally different. Its most remarkable and distinct assets are many beaches with white sand (rare on Bali), roads with just a fraction of the traffic that Southbali sees on a normal day, and a nightlife consisting of just a few clubs and pubs in downtown Senggigi. The restaurant scene is growing year after year with even stylish designer-restaurants available now. Even animal species inhabiting Lombok are different from Bali, because the Wallace Line which delineates Australian and Southeast Asian fauna goes right trough the Lombok Strait, a narrow ocean passage between both islands. Mighty Gunung Rinjani, with 3.726 m the third-largest mountain in Indonesia dominates the landscape. Zig-zagged crater walls, crystal clear waterfalls and the dense montane rainforest make Rinjani a haven for outdoor-lovers and even ambitioned climbers. Lombok’s climate is in many places dryer than Bali’s during the “official” rainy season, and especially the northwest-coast is a place worth looking at when picking a place to spend a beach holiday.
Senggigi & Mangsit
Nightlife and major restaurants are concentrated in the central township of Senggigi. Not a typical tourist resort town with crowded nightspots for socialising or sidewalks endlessly covered with souvenir stands, but all thinkable needs are satisfied here, from pharmacy to minimart to a good selection of places to dine out, plus the occasional pub with live music. Most dive operators entertain their offices here as well, which makes it easy to compare dive packages on offer. Mangsit, just north of Senggigi has a well established hotel strip as well, in fact, most of the smaller scale boutique-style hotels are to be found here. This goes together well with the tranquil sweeping beach scene with traditional outrigger boats resting on the sand. As a backdrop to the beaches are gently rolling hills with lush tropical vegetation. The nightspots of Senggigi are just minutes away by inexpensive metered taxis. Mangsit Beach offeres quite good snorkelling as well right in front of the hotels.
Kuta Beach
Kuta, in the very South, has a landscape shaped by cliffs and mountains reaching the coast to create awe-inspiring landscapes and views. Many beaches consist of pristine white sand, and the transparent blue-green waters are perfect for swimming, except a few spots with high waves frequented by surfers – in fact, Kuta has some of the best surfing in all over Indonesia. Kuta has just one four star resort catering mostly for people looking to unwind, lie on the beach, rent a motorcycle to look around, or to just relax by reading a book or taking a nap in the afternoon. This whole sleepy fishing village ambience will most likely change soon, with Lombok’s new international airport now open.
Gili Islands
This group of islands off the northwest and the southwest coast, are no longer just the backpacker Mecca of the 1980s and 1990s, as nowadays, especially on Gili Trawangan, there are options available to keep a more luxury-minded traveller happy with comfortble hotel rooms, elaborate seafood buffets and even one or the other chic and stylish beachfront eatery. The islands are very relaxed and laid-back, with countless little beachside cafes still playing reggae and, best of all, no cars or motorbikes to disturb the peace. The Gilis to the Northwest often serve as perfect getaway after an extensive roundtrip tour on Bali, as reliable express-ferries make it directly to Gili Trawangan in roughly one hour. Less known, and only since very recently (such as on Gili Asahan) offering decent accomodation, are the Gilis to the Southwest. The underwater world here is very much intact, and snorkelling-enthusiasts are already beginning to discover this paradise. But usually those largely uninhabited isles are just frequented by day trippers coming for a few hours by boat from the mainland, or even as a romantic setting for romantic beach barbecues arranged by hotels.
Flores, which can be reached by direct flights or even live-aboard cruises from Bali, offers verdant landscapes dotted with multi-ethnic villages such as Luba and Bena with traditional houses, where it is interesting to see that animistic beliefs are still very much present, eventhough catholicism is the main religion here. There are excellent roads covering the island from east to west – interesting enough that so far tourist groups are hardly ever seen, and individual travellers predominate. The most famous tourist attraction in Flores is Kelimutu, a volcano containing three colored lakes, located in the district of Ende close to the town of Moni. These crater lakes are in the caldera of a volcano and have highly acidic water. The colored lakes change colors on an irregular basis, depending on the oxidation state of the lake from bright red through green and blue. Labuanbajo (on the western tip of Flores) is a town often used by tourists as a base to visit Komodo- and Rinca Nationalpark. Labuanbajo also attracts scuba divers, as whale sharks inhabit the waters around Labuanbajo. The west coast of Flores is one of the few places, aside from the island of Komodo itself, where the Komodo dragon can be found in the wild, and is part of the Komodo National Park, a UNESCO heritage site. In September 2004, at Liang Bua cave in western Flores, paleonthropologists discovered small skeletons that they described as a previously unknown hominid species, Homo floresiensis. They are informally named hobbits and appear to have stood about 1 m (3.3 ft) tall. The excavation site can be visited as a sidetrip when touring the island. Sumbawa island, right in the middle between Flores and Lombok, is among those places in the vast geographical region called Nusa Tenggara that you could call the last frontier ob tourist development in Indonesia, but the potential is there, and already waiting for travellers who love pioneering explorations off the beaten tracks, and are willing to accept the limited choice of high class accomodation. The reward for such free spirits is being one of the few chosen ones to see unspoilt forest, archeological sites, a coastline of numerous pristine beach, and the famous underwater world e.g. off Moyo Island, which is also the only part of Sumbawa offering deluxe class accomodation.

(not to confuse with Sumbawa), located in the Savu Sea, and neighbouring Flores to the south, is an island that almost defies description. Flying over it you see a vast expanse of grass-covered hills without much of the lush greenery, but it is worth to look closer! Between each rocky hill lie little treasures: Hidden villages, crystal clear streams, and tight clumps of forest, field and paddy. Not to mention some of the most beautiful secluded beaches you could imagine. And then there is culture, of Stone Age sites and traditional villages that have remained unchanged for centuries, a unique tribal culture with its ancient animist rituals. Highly recommended are visits during February and March at select locations along the west coast of the island. The Pasola is a wild and martial event involving hundreds of charging horseman battling with spears on a large playing field.
Much of this 470,000 sq. km. island is still jungle covered and habitat to increasingly rare native animals, tigers, leopard, rhino and elephant. Orang Utans are still to be found in larger numbers and their conservation centres are top attraction for visitors. The island is also notable for famous Lake Toba and Samosir island, inhabited by the fascinating ethnicity of the Toba Batak ethnic group. In general, getting to experience many different and unusual local tribal cultures is maybe the most exciting point for coming here. A good example is the highland-tribe of the Minangkabau, the largest matriarchal ethnicity in the world.  
Medan (Population 1.8 million)
Gateway to Sumatra is the relatively modern capital city, Medan. Sights here include the sultan’s palace, impressive grand mosque, colonial-era buildings of Dutch and Chinese influence. One major excursion attraction is the nearby Bukit Lawang Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre, where visitors can see numbers of these appealingly human apes.
This cool hill station, at 1,300 m, was popular with the Dutch during colonial times and lowland living Sumatrans today, is set in lush, green rolling landscapes dominated by the active volcanoes that are often included on sightseeing tours.
Parapat, Lake Toba & Samosir Island
The commercial and trading town of Parapat is the departure point for visits to Lake Toba, covering 1,700, with its Batak tribal people and culture. Set in the lake, popular for boat excursions, is a large island, Samosir, noted for its royal tombs, stone age ‘chairs’ and megaliths, Batak-style traditional houses, multi-storey graves and hot springs, all set among fertile rice fields.
Bukittingi (Population 91.000)
The city is situated in the Minangkabau highlands and, at 930 m above sea level, enjoys a cool climate. Attractions within the city include: Lobang Jepang – a network of underground bunkers and tunnels built by the Japanese during World War II, traditional markets in downtown, a museum on Minangkabau culture in a replica traditional house, and the Dutch hilltop outpost Fort de Cock from colonial times.
The spectacular island of Sulawesi is a real adventure destination. This enormous island has much to offer the visitor from extraordinary unique cultures, to an under-explored mountainous hinterland, and several truly world class diving spots.
The old Bugis spice trading port of Makassar is the point of arrival for travellers flying from Bali or Jakarta. Mainly used as a gateway only for excursions through South Sulawesi, with an average stay of just one night, it does have a few points of interest: Losari Beach, a long stretch of waterfront in the middle of the city with a very nice sunset view and food stalls up every night and Fort Rotterdam, an old fortress from Dutch colonial days.
Senkang - Lake Tempe
Sengkang, the capital of a former Bugis kingdom, this historic and bustling market town overlooking Lake Tempe retains its traditional character, as well as many old cultural traditions, dance, and a traditional orchestra. Nearby Lake Tempe, the largest lake on Sulawesi, is a shallow lake fringed by wetlands and a large population of birdlife. Lake Tempe is the place to be for ornithologists. Go by long tail boat on the huge lake to visit a traditional floating house.
An eight-hour drive through stunning coastal and mountain scenery leads to Tana Toraja, the highland region of a unique and mystical culture. Sightseeing includes the traditional Toraja houses, set on stilts with soaring boat-shaped roofs and decorated with buffalo horns, obtained during ritual sacrifice. The Toraja folk place their dead in coffins perched in caves carved into towering cliffs, with carved wooden figures of the deceased placed in balconies overlooking the landscape. The local arts and crafts, lively markets and cultural performances are also memorable features of this original destination.
Manado – Minahasa Highlands – Tangkoko
Manado city is the provincal capital of North Sulawesi and the starting point for exploration of the Minahasa region's many attractions. Fun-loving and extroverted, the Minahasa people live in neat wood frame houses, with fences and flower gardens, giving Manado a European feel. Those with an adventurous palate should try the famously hot and spicy Minahasa cuisine. Inland from Manado, a trip through the Minahasa Highlands will take you to intriguing prehistoric above-ground burial sites, volcanoes, hot springs, the highland lake Tondano and breathtaking panoramas of lush mountains, coffee and coconut plantations, orchid gardens and terraced hillsides. From Manado, also be sure to visit Tangkoko National Park , home to birds and other wildlife unique to Sulawesi, such as the Tarsier - the smallest monkey on earth, cus cus, Hornbill etc.
Bunaken Marine Nationalpark
Bunaken, 45 to 60 minutes by boat from Manado, is one of Indonesia's most famous diving and snorkelling areas. In addition to Bunaken Island itself, the 890 km2 of marine national park includes the neighbouring islands of Manadoa Tua (a distinctive coneshaped extinct volcano that makes a good hiking trip), Siladen, Gangga, Montehagen, Nain and Nain Kecil. So far only Gangga Island and Siladen offer accomodation on a high standard. More and more casual snorkelers are visiting the area as are those who wish to just relax immersed in nature. Gangga in particular with its phantastic South Searesembling beach quality never fails to excite even the pure leisure tourist. The park is famed for the clarity of its water (35m visibility is common in the summer dry season), the abundance of coral and fish, and for the precipitous underwater "walls" at some sites. Bunaken Timur, right off the east coast of the island and featuring all of the above, is rated by many as the single best dive site in all Indonesia. Bunaken has a quite stunning biodiversity including no less than 70 different species of coral, five species of sea turtle, an extraodinary range of fish (70% of all fish species that exist in the Indo-Western Pacific Ocean are found here).
The Togean Islands, or just the Togeans, is an archipelago of 56 pristine coral and volcanic islands and islets located in the Gulf of Tomini in Central Sulawesi. The surrounding coral reef supports a rich, diverse marine life and life over the surface, the people, consists of around seven ethnic groups. The Togeans are the only place in Indonesia where you can find all major reef types in the same place; atoll, barrier and fringing reefs.
Selayar Island
Selayar Island is the main island of the Selayar Islands. It lies off the coast of Cape Bira of South Sulawesi Province. Divers dominate the scene in the few resort hotels, and the most fascinating and rare underwater encounter is seeing dugong! This gentle creature never fails leaving divers in awe, nor do the over 50 well preserved divesites around Selayar and nearby atolls. Other activities include hiking the lush rainforest with pictureperfect waterfall and a batcave, which can also be reached by bikes or motorcycles. Secluded white-sand beaches complete this island paradise.
Wakatobi is a small archipelago in South East Sulawesi, the name is an an acronym of the four component islands: Wangiwangi, Kaledupa, Tomea, and Binongko. This small collection of islands enjoys some of the healthiest coral fields you are likely to see. The rich waters mean an abundance of marine life in all its forms and the area is also regularly visited by liveaboard cruises.
Indonesian Borneo, known as Kalimantan, occupies two thirds of the southern part of this huge island (the other part belonging to Malaysia). The port city of Banjarmasin is one of the gateways to Kalimantan, reached by domestic flights from Jakarta and Surabaya. The city offers a lively floating market. This is a land of dense tropical rain forests, notable for its large Dayak tribal longhouses, in settlements reached by motorised canoes along jungle fringed rivers. Other highlights of possible roundtrip itineraries are Martapura, a town famous for its diamond trading- and polishing industry, rafting on Dayak bamboo rafts along the Amandit river, and above all, using a river houseboat to explore Tanjung Puting National Park. The park houses Camp Leakey, a celebrated Orang Utan rehabilitation centre, where visitors get to see these endangered apes up close. Unlike in Malaysia, chances of seeing wild populations of Orang Utans are very high. Nearby Pankalanbun airport can be reached directly by domestic flights from Jakarta, Surabaya and Semarang and is more and more the preferred choice of visitors to enter Kalimantan. This area of the island has not seen any deforestation as partially encountered on the route coming overland from Banjarmasin.
This easternmost province of Indonesia (formerly known as West Irian Jaya) comprises the western half of the island of New Guinea, the world's largest and highest tropical island, while the eastern half is the independent country of Papua New Guinea. Papua retains many traditional cultures and is home to some of the richest biodiversity in the world. Lorentz National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest protected area in the Asia-Pacific region, ranges from Papua's southwest coast to its central mountains. Tourism concentrates in two regions, one of them being the Asmat region in southwest Papua. The region is vast, covered in primary rainforest and swamp forest, and covers approximately 1.5 million hectares. Asmat is notable both for the rich and vibrant traditional tribal culture and art as well as its globally significant biodiversity. Given the terrain, all transportation between villages must take place by canoe with an outboard motor. The other region, with easier accessibilty and much easier to travel within is the Baliem Valley, which is mostly occupied by the very friendly Dani Tribe. Travellers usually arrive in Wamena by flight from Bali via Jayapura. There is authentic-style and very comfortbable accomodation as a homebase, making the adventurous daytrips enjoyable and very much endurable for almost any age. Even very close by the accomodation there are Dani hamlets to be found, and typical daytrip excursions take you by boat, on foot crossing suspension bridges over rivers, as well as some portions by safari bus to the many Dani settlements and of course deep inside the lush rainforest. Visiting colorful local markets, mountain passes with breathtaking views, and enjoying unique Dani hospitality when partaking in a traditional pig cooking festival make a trip to this unique eco-tourism destination a lifetime experience.
Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat casts a spell on all who visit – scientists, photographers, and divers alike. This group of majestic islands, located in the northwestern tip of Papua, lies in the heart of the coral triangle, the most bio-diverse marine region on earth. The most convenient way getting there is taking a domestic flight to Sorong after having arrived at the international airport of Manado (Sulawesi), followed by a boat transfer to one of the still few eco-friendly dive resorts. In 2010 a survey was done on spot by American marine scientists and the results speak for themselves – here are just a few of the impressive numbers: 1.606 species of reef fish, 75% of all known coral species in the world, 10 times the number of hard coral species found in the entire Caribbean, etc.. A very popular and convenient way to dive as many sites as possible in this vast oceanic region are numerous liveaboard cruises, using a wide variety of vessels, even impressive traditional 3-mast Schooners, resembling floating boutique resorts with luxurious cabins.
This group of islands is located between Sulawesi and West-Papua, and in the Dutch era, the Moluccas were known as the Spice Islands and were the only place on earth where nutmeg, mace, cloves and several other valuable spices were grown. The over 632 islands are sprawled across a vast expanse of ocean Maluku and are blessed with incredible sea gardens, tropical beaches and rugged, forest-coated volcanic mountains. Ambon is the preferred gateway for tourists, and its airport is served by direct flights from Makassar or Surabaya. The city is the provincial capital and built on a hillside overlooking the bay. It has a number of interesting historical and cultural sites, among the remnants of forts built the the Dutch East Indies Company during the heyday of the spice trade. A typical itinerary takes travellers by speedboat to Saparua Island with its busy town markets and Duursted Fort from Dutch colonial times, with its worth to see mueum. Excursions to several nearby villages allow you to experience the simplistic rural life and daily routines of the locals, such as sago -processing and cooking. Many animisitc rituals and age-old beliefs have survived in these secluded communities. In Waai village, people worship holy eels. Local handicraft is famous all over Indonesia, and visiting the workshops for pottery, weaving, spice- and mother of pearl-processing are always fascinating to watch. The concourse of roundtrips usually includes enough time to enjoy the many white-sandy beaches or great swimming and snorkelling.

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