Made up of an incredible 17,000+ islands and taking the crown as the largest archipelago in the world, Indonesia has long been a holiday favourite – not only with dedicated beach lovers and sun worshippers, but also with die hard surfing and diving fans, off the beaten track adventurers and those looking to immerse in its rich and authentic culture.
A genuine tropical paradise, with countless white-sand beaches and hidden coves, there’s also so much more to explore beyond the coast. The cultural attractions like the many Hindu temples dotted throughout the islands of Bali and Java, the magnificent dramatic landscape of Sumatra, and the hectic streets of the capital Jakarta, with its Dutch Colonial architecture and street hawkers, combine in a heady blend of the exotic and unfamiliar.
As well as the huge diversity in ethnicity (more than 500 languages are spoken throughout the islands), the geography of the archipelago lends itself to great bio-diversity as well, with a wealth of plant and animal species. Some of the most famous are the Komodo dragons and the wild orang-utans of Borneo.
What to Do
With so much on offer it can be hard to know where to start, but one of the undoubted highlights are the beaches. As the archipelago’s most popular tourist destination, Bali is high on the list – and there’s a good reason for that. The magical picture-postcard beaches of Kuta are legendary, as is its party atmosphere. For a quieter beach escape, Nusa Dua is the place of choice for those looking for a more peaceful tropical getaway. The Gilli Islands, on Lombok, are a mecca for divers, yoga aficionados and beach lovers.
In terms of culture, it’s pretty much everywhere you turn, and despite the large number of tourists in some places you’ll feel the authenticity of the many beautiful temples and sacred sites in sites like Purah Tana Lot (Bali) and the Tana Toraja, in South Sulawesi province.
The majestic landscape of these islands is awe-inspiring and, for those looking for genuine adventure, exploring places like Borneo, the Jatiluwih rice fields (Bali), Lake Toba (Sumatra), the volcanoes of Krakatau and Gunung Rinjani and the beautiful Banda Islands offer plenty to consider.
The secrets of the delicious traditional Indonesian cuisine lie in the abundant use of fresh herbs and spices. Renowned for its rich colours, piquant aromas and depth of flavour, there are literally thousands of dishes and probably thousands more regional variations – all of them mouth-wateringly good. One of the best-known national dishes is the delicious Beef Rendang, which comprises very heavily spiced meat cooked in coconut milk. For the vegetarians, Gado Gado (another of the national dishes) is a medley of steamed or boiled vegetables and tofu served with peanut sauce.
Nasi Goreng is another staple, and a favourite with both locals and tourists. This simple dish of smoky rice is wok fried and given the authentic spice treatment, with plenty of seasoning, chilli, garlic, shrimp paste and soy sauce, with added extras like beans, vegetables, chicken, meat, eggs and anything else that comes to hand.
If you had to bottle the flavour of Indonesia it would have to be satay (sate). This delicious skewered delight can be made from meat, chicken, goat, mutton and even rabbit, then it is covered in a tangy peanut sauce and often served with rice cakes.
The moral of the story here is to try everything once – because there’s enough variation and flavour that you’ll never be bored!
Indonesia’s wonderful tropical climate is one of its major draw cards and the temperature remains fairly consistent year-round. Down on the coast the average temperature is around 28 degrees Celsius, while the mountain regions are about three to five degrees cooler. Because the temperatures don’t vary all that much, rather than the standard seasons, the weather tends to be divided into the dry season, which runs from April to October) and the rainy season, from November to March.
How to Get There
While Indonesia is a long haul trip from the UK, with the average flight taking around 15 hours and 40 minutes, there are plenty of options, including with budget airlines. Depending on where you’re staying for your Indo adventure you can choose to fly into numerous airports, with the two main ones being Denpasar (DPS) and Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta (CGK).
When you land at the airport, the easiest and most convenient way of getting to your final destination is on a pre-booked shared or private transfer with Shuttle Direct. By organising your transfers before you leave home, you’ll ensure a smooth transition to your accommodation with a friendly local driver.
Travelling to Indonesia? Don’t Miss…
- The magnificent Tangkoko Nature Reserve is a wildlife lover’s paradise. This stunning conservation region in North Sulawesi is home to an astounding array of species – including the Tarsier, the world’s smallest primate. It’s also the habitat of the endemic black macaques, the cuscus, maleos and a plethora of other avian life.
- Bali’s vibrant capital, Ubud, is a gorgeous town set amongst the rice paddies. Like an incredible oasis in the middle of almost nowhere, its buzzing streets overflow with cafes, galleries, boutiques and artisan shops – delivering culture shock at its very best. It’s also home to the famous Monkey Forest, where hundreds of mischievous monkeys roam freely among the tourists.
- The volcanic crater lakes of Kelimutu, on Flores, are a natural phenomenon of extreme beauty. The three lakes are each of a different colour: one red, one blue and one green, with their unusual hue due to underground gasses. Hiking to the lakes, with an overnight stay to experience sunrise over the rim of the crater is a genuine once-in-a-lifetime thrill.
About Shuttle Direct
Start your holiday with the least amount of stress by booking your onward ground transport with Shuttle Direct. As the best in the business, our range of shared and private airport transfers is second to none and our simple online booking system makes organising your travel easy. No matter where in the world you’re travelling and whatever your budget, we’ll have a friendly local driver waiting to get you wherever you need to go.