Choose from 113 Fun Things to Do in Indonesia
- Souvenir shoppers and lovers of traditional crafts won’t want to miss a trip to Celuk to see its artisans at work.
- The metalwork style in Celuk is quite traditional, which is what gives Celuk its charm. For more modern styles, shop in Ubud or consider the John Hardy workshop.
- A degree of bargaining—“nego”—is expected in Celuk, but don’t expect a discount of more than 20 percent.
- An aromatherapy foot massage at this spa near Bali airport makes a great treatment to counter any post-flight swelling.
- As with many Balinese spas, Anika Spa offers couple’s treatments, including side-by-side massages and 2-person flower baths: simply request on booking.
- Don’t be shy; ask your therapist to adjust the strength of your massage.
- Rather than negotiating with street solicitors, book a Balinese spa package that includes door-to-door transfers.
A charming escape from downtown Jakarta, the Bogor Botanical Gardens (Kebun Raya) are some of southeast Asia’s oldest educational gardens, officially opening in 1817. More than 15,000 species of plants, including hundreds of palm species, deck 215 acres (87 hectares) of lush green grounds amid the cool, rainy highlands of West Java.
There is a modest admission fee for the Bogor Botanical Gardens, which are big enough to merit spending at least half a day. Given their beauty and historical significance, they’re the highlight of any visit to Bogor and an essential stop on West Java highland tours, which also often include a trip to a tea plantation.
Bogor Botanical Gardens tours typically include highlights such as the Orchid House, the Water Garden, the Medicine Garden, and the orchidarium. History geeks will appreciate the cemetery, the Presidential Palace, and especially the memorial to Singapore founder Stamford Raffles’ first wife.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Bogor Botanical Gardens are a must for garden admirers and anyone seeking a verdant respite from Jakarta’s bustle.
- With its lily-pond views, the Grand Garden Café makes an excellent spot for lunch.
- Bogor sees hundreds of thunderstorms every year, so bring an umbrella or poncho (or buy one at a minimart).
- Do not underestimate the journey time from Jakarta—it can take well over two hours at busy times of day.
- The Bogor Botanical Gardens are mostly accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
The Bogor Botanical Gardens are 36 miles (60 kilometers) south of Jakarta, about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers)—or a 20-minute walk—from Bogor train station. Slow trains run from Jakarta and Bandung but can be very crowded during rush hour. If you’d like to combine your trip to the Kebun Raya with other West Java attractions outside Bogor, book a tour or private driver (or experience gridlock while driving on the left).
When to Get There
The Bogor Botanical Gardens are open from morning to late afternoon seven days a week. They are hugely popular with locals on Sundays, so a visit on that day is best avoided. If you’re traveling from Jakarta, traffic on the roads and the trains is lighter on Saturdays than on weekdays.
Bogor Botanical Gardens Research
During the Dutch colonial era, key cash crops were developed here, including tea (the first instance of tea being grown by a colonial power), the quinine tree, tobacco, and cassava. Today, Kebun Raya Bogor remains a globally known center of botanical research: the Indonesian Institute of Sciences operates the gardens.
- Borobudur temple is a must-see for all first-time visitors to central Java.
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that covers your shoulders and knees, and comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.
- Borobudur tours from Yogyakarta city can last anywhere from six to 10 hours, depending on the option you choose.
- Parents might want to exercise caution before visiting: much of Blanco’s work involves female nudes and topless models.
- The Blanco family are still very much involved in the running of the art museum: it’s not uncommon to meet them on-site.
- Kids will love the aviary, home to a wealth of gaudy parakeets.
- Finns Recreation Club is a natural choice for families or anyone who wants easy day access to a gym or tennis courts.
- Most taxi drivers known Finns Recreation Club as the Canggu Club. Ask for the Canggu Club, or you may be taken to Finns Beach Club instead.
- Children are welcome to drop in at some of the after-school clubs that run under the Junior Sports Academy umbrella.
- A visit to Batuan Temple is essential for fans of Balinese art.
- The small entrance fee includes renting a sarong to meet temple decency standards. Also cover your shoulders as a sign of respect.
- During the 1600s, Batuan was a powerful kingdom, controlling much of southern Bali. As with so many little kingdoms in Indonesia, it rapidly fell from grace—allegedly due to a priest’s curse.
- Adrenaline junkies appreciate the back-to-nature thrills of cliff-jumping around Aling-Aling.
- Don’t forget waterproof sunscreen; even on an overcast day, the Balinese sun is hot.
- As the falls can push you below the water, lifejackets are recommended even for strong swimmers.
- Cliff-jumping is not recommended for children or those with health problems as you have to leap quite some distance to clear the higher falls.
- You can trek through the network of falls without cliff-jumping, but a guide is still recommended.
- Bali Botanic Gardens appeals to plant-lovers—and anyone who’d like to beat the heat.
- Bali Treetop Adventure Park within the park requires a separate fee and includes rope-walking circuits and zip lines for kids and adults.
- Temperatures in Bedugul can drop as low as 55°F (13°C): Bring layers and rain protection.
A popular stop between Singaraja and Denpasar, Gigit Waterfall is considered to be one of the most beautiful on the island. Easy to reach from the road, the falls have a drop of 131 feet (40-meter) into a picturesque pool where visitors can swim. There are actually three falls in the area—the other falls being smaller twin waterfalls. All are signposted from the road and reached by a short hike.
Most travelers visit Gitgit Waterfall en route to somewhere else on the island, including Sekumpul Waterfall. Many tours to the dolphins at Lovina or the attractions at Bedugul, including Ulun Danu Bratan, stop at Gitgit Waterfall en route to south Bali. Gitgit Waterfall tours typically include a short hike, a photo stop, and a swim or splash in the pool below.
Things to Know Before You Go
- You can swim, or at least splash, in all three Gitgit falls just about year-round. Bring your bathing suit: There are simple changing rooms.
- Local myth claims that couples who visit Gitgit together will ultimately split up.
- Souvenir vendors can be persistent. A raised hand and a polite “no thank you” will often do the trick.
- The hike to the main falls is well made but includes stairs.
How to Get There
The Gitgit falls sit on the main road between Denpasar (and south Bali) and Singaraja, on the north coast. Unless you speak enough Indonesian to negotiate the “bemo” minibus system, they are not accessible by public transport. It’s possible to self-drive, but most visitors prefer to join a tour or arrange a private driver/guide, and combine the trip to the falls with visits to Bedugul, Lovina, or north Bali.
When to Get There
As with most Bali waterfalls, the Gitgit falls are at their most impressive during the rainy season (roughly October to May), or after rain during the dry season. The falls can get very busy so it’s best to arrive in the morning, before 10am, to avoid the crowd.
Bali’s Best Waterfalls
Lush landscapes and stark black rock make Bali’s waterfalls stand out, despite their relatively small scale. Besides Gitgit, Sekumpul Waterfall, near Singaraja, is a popular attraction; Tegenungan Waterfall near Ubud offers a theatrical cascade; and Melanting Waterfall is the tallest and most impressive of the three falls around Munduk.
- Goa Gajah is a must-see for all spiritual travelers, history buffs, and first-time visitors.
- Either wear long pants or bring a sarong to cover your knees while visiting the temple.
- Be respectful of worshippers inside the narrow cave by standing back and refraining from photographing them.
- Give your eyes some time to adjust inside the cave; there’s no artificial light illuminating the interior.
- Founder Agung Rai and members of his family still sometimes roam the museum.
- Out of Ubud's big three museums—the others are Neka and Puri Lukisan—ARMA is the No. 1 pick for the thoughtful traveler.
- The ARMA museum complex includes a cafe, a store, and resort.
- The “kecak” dance held here on full and new moons is one of Bali’s best.
- Kids will love the chance to feed birds as diverse as pelicans, parrots, and lories.
- The on-site restaurant includes coloring facilities for younger children.
- The air-conditioned 4D cinema makes a great retreat on a rainy day.
- Bali Bird Park is probably the best place in the world to see Indonesian birds.
- Banjar Hot Springs will appeal to adults and families with older kids; time in the hot water should be carefully limited for children under the age of 5.
- The temperature of the waters is about 100°F (38°C).
- You can bring your own swimming things, or purchase towels and swimwear at the springs.
- Visiting Banjar Hot Springs involves climbing steps with no wheelchair access.