24 Best Things To Do In Indonesia 2023
Indonesia is a wild and wonderful country of 17,000 islands, and many of the best things to do in Indonesia are off the beaten path.
Everyone goes to Bali, which is an amazing island (don’t get me wrong!), but it’s been suffering from overtourism and overdevelopment for years.
If you branch out to the other islands in Indonesia, you can see smoking volcanoes, sulfur lakes, pink sand beaches, tropical rainforests, exotic wildlife, and so much more.
Since Indonesia is my second home (and my wife’s actual home!), we’ve been privileged to do a bunch of exploring in this beautiful country, including some of the most far flung Indonesian islands.
Without further ado, here is our list of some of the best things to do in Indonesia!
Best Things To Do In Indonesia
1. Get In Nature
Indonesia is one of those countries where if you’re not exploring the outdoors, you’re doing it wrong.
Don’t waste any time in the cities, just get in nature as soon as possible! Of course you have the islands and beaches, but there are also all kinds of other scenery in Indonesia too.
From Sumatra to Papua, you can find a wide variety of lakes, mountains, rainforests, giant boulders, sand dunes, and more.
2. Climb The Volcanoes
Indonesia has 400 volcanoes — more than any other country in the world, and 130 of them are active.
Most of the volcanoes in Indonesia are open to tourists for hiking, and at some of them (like Mount Bromo in Java) you can even walk up to the edge of the smoking crater!
This is hands down one of the best things to do in Indonesia! In Bali, the most popular volcano to hike is Mount Batur for sunrise, or if you really want a challenge you can climb Mount Agung.
Two other amazing volcano hikes elsewhere in Indonesia are Mount Rinjani in Lombok and Mount Dukono in Maluku, although both of these are pretty challenging.
Read More: Best Hikes In Indonesia
3. Visit The Waterfalls
Pretty much every island in Indonesia has at least a few stunning waterfalls if you do a bit of exploring.
A lot of the best waterfalls in Indonesia are located in Sumatra and Java, but even the smaller islands like Bali and Lombok have some great ones too.
A great place to chase waterfalls in Indonesia is at the Ciletuh Geopark in West Java, which is a UNESCO-designated geopark loaded with nice waterfalls. It’s reachable by driving a half day from Jakarta, and there are some nice places to stay near the waterfalls.
One of the tallest falls in Indonesia is the Ponot Waterfall in North Sumatra, which is a giant 3-step waterfall near the famous Lake Toba, and it has a height of more than 250 meters (820 feet)!
Read More: Best Waterfalls In Indonesia
4. Watch The Wildlife
Indonesia has almost 20 percent of the world’s animal species, so there’s a lot of endemic wildlife to see here that can’t be found anywhere else.
You can watch the world’s biggest lizards on Komodo Island, bug-eyed tarsiers at the Tangkoko Reserve in Sulawesi, wild orangutans at Bukit Lawang in Sumatra, and of course the famous macaques at the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali.
Wildlife watching is definitely one of the best things to do in Indonesia!
5. See The Volcanic Lakes
Where you have volcanoes, you also have plenty of volcanic lakes and hot springs!
Some of the hot springs are suitable for swimming, and others make for fantastic photos. The most famous volcanic lake in Indonesia is probably the Kawah Ijen crater in East Java, which is pretty close to Bali.
Two other great spots to check out are Kawah Putih in West Java, and the three lakes of Mount Kelimutu in Flores.
6. Explore A Cave
Limestone mountains are common in many parts of Indonesia, so that means there are lots of spectacular caves too.
You can explore a sparkling limestone cave at Rammang Rammang in Sulawesi, or swim in a blue pool at the Rangko Cave in Flores.
One of these prehistoric caves in Sulawesi even has the world’s oldest known cave art made by humans, which we found completely fascinating!
7. Go Diving & Snorkeling
Indonesia is part of the Coral Triangle, a tropical ocean wonderland with most of the world’s coral and fish species.
Needless to say, it’s a great place to go diving or snorkeling, and you can see all kinds of rare fish, colorful corals, sea turtles, manta rays, and if you’re lucky you may even get to swim with a whale shark!
We’ve had great success snorkeling in pretty much every part of Indonesia, but our top pick would probably be Belitung island in south Sumatra.
8. Relax On The Beaches
When people think of nice beaches in Asia, they think Maldives or Thailand, not Indonesia.
Indonesia beaches are fantastic, but they tend to be underrated because a lot of the really good ones are hiding in remote places without easy access. On the bright side, that means you’re more likely to have them to yourself!
With some exploring, what you’ll find are the most amazing white sand beaches, dazzling pink beaches, and black volcanic beaches, along with top quality surf spots, and occasionally some very photogenic cliffs, boulders, and shipwrecks.
Read More: Best Beaches In Indonesia
9. Visit A Lighthouse
Lighthouses are probably the last thing that comes to mind when you think of Indonesia, but it does have a few nice ones.
Two great examples are the colonial Dutch lighthouse on Lengkaus Island in Belitung, and the local built lighthouse on Pulau Karang in Sumatra.
10. Stroll The Terraces
Bali is famous for its green rice terraces, but you can also see scenic crop terraces all over Java, Lombok, and many other islands.
Check out the Dieng Plateau in central Java, or the steep Majalengka terraces in West Java!