Spread in between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, Indonesia is home to over 17,000 islands, bridging Southeast Asia and Australia. The vast archipelago speaks of the country’s diversity of more than 200 ethnic groups. And from over 300 native dialects, Bahasa Indonesia is considered the official language.
Among Indonesia’s islands, Bali is most famous for its spectacular beaches. Over at Sumatra, lush rainforests invite tourists into a natural escape. In the capital Jakarta, foodies may consider it as paradise with its endless choices. These locations, and the rest of the country, experience only two kinds of seasons: rainy and dry. While the atmosphere is almost entirely tropical, temperature is cooler in high-altitude regions.
WHEN TO VISIT
The dry season in Indonesia spans from April to October. Hence, it’s the best period to visit the islands of Java, Bali, and Kalimantan. In the northern and southern regions, rainfall occurs from October to February. In spite of this, very few torrential showers of rain occur.
An itinerary with clear purpose can save travellers the hassle of going to Indonesia. For instance, diving in the beaches of Lombok or visiting Komodo National Park is ideal from April to September. Another is trekking Mount Bromo or Rinjani, which is a great activity in the dry months.
Soekarno–Hatta International Airport (SHIA) is the main gateway for international air travel to and from Indonesia. It’s located in Tangerang City just outside Jakarta. The second busiest is the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. Several more airports in Surabaya, Makassar, and West Java serve international and local flights as well.
Indonesia’s neighbouring countries of Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines have ferry terminals that connect to various parts of the country. Continuing the journey by sea, cruise ships and yachts also have home ports, specifically in Tanjung Priok, Tanjung Perak, Tanjung Benoa, Belawan, and Makassar.
On land, city buses give access to major areas such as Sumatra, Java, and Bali. The TransJakarta bus rapid transit system is the most extensive mass transportation service. Another is the commuter railway system in Java to its nearby provinces. Bajajs, becaks, and ojeks are unique public transportation options in some areas of the country.
Fresh herbs and spices give life to Indonesian dishes. These ingredients, coming from various regions, are used in over 5,000 traditional recipes. However, only 30 of these are widely significant. Sate (pronounced sa-tay) tops the list. Sate ayam (chicken sate) and sate kambing (goat sate) are two common types of this Asian-style barbecue. Sambal, a specialty hot sauce that originated in Indonesia, is so popular that its way to Malaysia and Singapore. Nasi goreng and beef rendang are two original Indonesian dishes that are commonly attributed to Malay-style cooking.
While the predominant religion in Indonesia is Islam, the locals have freedom of worship per their constitution. In Bali, the Hindu community celebrates ‘Nyepi,’ or Day of Silence. The Papuan people in the east honour their roots with Baliem Valley Festival. In Borobudur, monks gather for ‘Vesak’ or Waisak Day, the commemoration the life and death of Buddha. And music in Jakarta stays alive with the Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival.
Ministry of Tourism, Indonesia (official website)