A traditional gamelan band and dance show in Ubud, Bali
Why Indonesia travel?
The world’s largest archipelago (13, 677 islands), set in Southeast Asia, Indonesia has a huge variety of wonderful landscapes and strange islands – the terraced rice paddies of Bali, the forests of Sumatra, the bizarre traditions of the primitive Dani folk in West Papua, the weird Tana Toraja buildings and funeral customs on Sulawesi island, the world’s largest lizards, Komodo Dragons on Komodo Island and Orangutans on Kalimantan.
The people however strangely attired are generally calm and friendly; the food is tasty and varied, the wildlife diverse and there is no shortage of activities.
Finally, masses of gorgeous, stylish, little ethnic hotels offer chic comfort at the right price.
Bad traffic in Ubud, Bali.
Traffic congestion, pollution and overbuilding are seriously threatening Indonesia’s tourism industry. This is particularly so in Bali where only the remotest places or upscale resorts (such as Nusa Dua region) escape rampant concrete and the motorised plague that chokes streets for walkers and slows transport between attractions to a crawl, even on a motorbike.
Tourism is visibly falling and so bargain rooms can be found, but while that’s financially good for the tourist it’s bad for Indonesia.
• In some years, air pollution ‘Haze’ has been a problem in summertime.
• Moving from one island to another is time consuming and expensive.
• Because of its popularity, some places such as famous temples or Kuta town/beach in Bali are especially touristy and the local people can be unusually mercenary.
• Beware monkeys. Ubud’s Monkey Forest for example, which is an hilarious must-see, has several colonies that just love to snatch off a pair of expensive sunglasses and chew them to bits. Or grab a camera or handbag and scatter the contents.
So ensure your belongings are stashed/zippered before getting close to the thieving little chaps, and forget the bananas!
A rainy night on Kuta’s main street, Jl Pantai Kuta. And no street lights!
This country is the epitome of tropical so temperatures and humidity are generally high and vary little between seasons, and when it rains it pours!
The mountainous central part of Bali e. g. Ubud, gets more rain and cloud than the coast and has lower temperatures.
Best months: June- September is the dry season, with less rain (n. b. not NO rain! ) and lower humidity. Temperatures between 23C – 33C (73F – 91F).
OK months: April, May, October.
Worst months: December- February with endless rain.
Don’t forget that Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country with 200 million believers. However, the majority are on Java island so tourists are less likely to be affected by Ramadan.
Bali accepts various religions but the predominant one is Hinduism. Balinese Hinduism to be precise.
During Ramadan most, if not all Muslims will neither eat nor drink during the daytime and consequently many cafes, restaurants and even shops may open only after sunset; public eating, drinking and smoking by tourists may upset the locals. In one Muslim country the only alcohol served to us during our visit was from a teapot into tea cups in a first class hotel.
Furthermore service personnel may be missing, careless or irritable during the daytime.
The last day of Ramadan, known as Idd al Fitr, can be a wild time with much celebrating, depending on location.
Dates depend on the full moon rising in your location so they may differ by one day depending on where you plan to be.
In 2017 Ramadan will start on the 27 May and will continue for 30 days until the 25 of June.
In 2018 Ramadan will start on the 16 May and will continue for 30 days until the 14 of June.
In 2019 Ramadan will start on the 6 May and will continue for 30 days until the 4 of June.
Indonesia travel main attractions
Jakarta… well, we’d prefer to wrestle a Komodo Dragon than spend another night in Java‘s unpleasant capital city, an overcrowded, chaotic, stinking, hot, muggy and deeply unpleasant city, crowded with poor living in rubbish dump slums alongside rampant pickpockets and a handful of mega rich living in bling. There are, however, a couple of modest attractions if you’re stuck there for a couple of days, some pretty good cuisine and many lovely people.
Also known as Yogya, Jogjakarta and Jogja) is Java’s best town town, reasonably relaxed and good for Indonesian culture, museums, shows and batik shopping. The Kraton (palace) is the town’s biggest attraction – but that’s not saying much as it has no great statues, no special reliefs and no wonderful paintings so if you’re expecting lots of grandeur, don’t go there.
The real draw for Yogyakarta is as a base to explore Central Java’s sights, volcanoes, tea plantations, the huge Hindu temple complex of Prambanan and spectacular Borobudur, the finest Buddhist monument in Southeast Asia.
Sulawesi island, Tana Torajah
Sulawesi Island, Tana Toraja effigies of the dead.
Sulawesi island is not too difficult to get to and offers a lot – unique and bizarre indigenous customs (especially the funeral ceremonies and strange burial sites), boat-shaped housing, lovely rural landscapes and excellent trekking. Sulawesi Pictures.
North Sulawesi is also a popular diving destination.
Making up 2/3 of Borneo island (Malaysia and tiny Brunei control 1/3), Kalimantan is a large but little-touristed mass of mountains, wild rivers, primitive cultures, curious beasts and tropical forests, though the last three have been under attack for decades by Indonesia’s illegal logging and mining industries.
Kalimantan main attractions
• Tanjung Puting National Park is highly recommended for river/rainforest riverboat trips and walks. Visit animal research centres and forest safaris to spot varied monkeys, sun bears, leopards, deer, crocs, lizards, pythons, masses of birds and weird insects and of course orang utans.
• water-based Banjarmasin city, a colourful complex of canals, stilt-buildings, the inter-galactic mosque Mesjid Raya Sabilal Muhtadin and brilliant floating markets, though there is a hideous modern side too.
• visiting Dayak people along the Mahakam River via longboat, especially at Tanjung Isuy.
• the Meratus Mountains in the south for adventurous trekking, rafting, Dayak people and wildlife including orangutans.
• cruising the islands and beaches around Derawan island (Pulau) with superb snorkeling and diving.
West Papua, Baliem Valley fashions in the year 1996. We don’t know what the current fashion is (that’s not the sort of place you go to every couple of years!) but really hope it isn’t shorts and T shirts!
Strangest of all Indonesia’s provinces, the Baliem Valley is home to the primitive Dani people who retain – for the moment – a ‘stone-age’ culture. Hiking here is often damp and accommodation can be basic (e. g. sleeping on straw next to a mummified body) but you won’t forget this place. Or the lack of beer!