Explore Indonesia

Indonesia is a vast nation of over 250 million people spread over 17,000 thousands of islands. Comprised of hundreds of ethnic groups and languages, Indonesia is proud of its diversity, from idyllic white sand beaches to fiery volcanoes, rugged landscapes to dense jungle inhabited by exotic animals. The country offers an incredible range of rich and diverse experiences, and visitors to this nation remember their time here with fondness.

The people are as varied as the landscapes. Indonesia is the largest Islamic country with 90% of the population practicing Muslims, besides Hiduism, Buddhism, and Christianity. The culture is also diverse throughout the archipelago as well.

With the richness of landscape and culture, there are so many activities that cater to every conceivable taste. Explore paradise on Bali, where stunning beaches dot the coast, juxtaposed by the dramatic volcanic landscape and terraced rice paddies of the interior. Island hop over to Jogjakarta, the capital of Java, which is home to the 9th century Borobudur, the world’s largest and most impressive Buddhist Temple as well as an active volcano. Head further east to the island of Komodo, home of the legendary dragon, or to the isle of Moyo, a protected area which offers some of the best marine activities in the region. For those who love jungle wildlife, Kalimantan is their destination to make the most memorable moment while watching orangutan swinging through the jungle canopy.

People

This world’s largest island country is home to over 260 million people speaking more than 300 languages. Over half of the population, the Javanese live on the island of Java. The Sundanese, Malay, and Madurese are the next largest groups in the country. Many ethnic groups, particularly in Kalimantan and Papua, have only hundreds of members.

The national language is the Bahasa Indonesia which is similar to Malay. Few other hundred languages belong to different ethnic groups. Some of the distinctly different local languages are Batak, Halmahera, Ambonese, Ceramese, Sasak which are spoken in different dialects. In popular tourist destinations, English are widely spoken.

Religion

The Indonesian constitution guarantees all people in Indonesia the freedom of religion. A number of different religions are practiced in the country, including Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. These collective influence on the country’s politic, economy, and culture life significantly. According to Indonesian law, every citizen is required to mention their religion in official documents such as passport and identity card.

The majority of Indonesian population is Muslim by far. There are over 205 mil Indonesians who are Muslims which means that Indonesia is the biggest Muslim country in the world.

Christianity is the second-largest religion in Indonesia. Indonesian Christianity consists of Protestantism and Catholicism which tend to cluster in the eastern part of the country.

Different to other countries, in Indonesia, both religions Buddhism and Hinduism lived simultaneously without fighting against each other. Hinduism has the longest history in the archipelago. Until the present day, while most Hinduism followers are in Bali – the island of the Gods, only 0.7 percent of the Indonesian population are Buddhists who concentrated in North Sumatra, West Kilamatan and Jakarta.

Confucianism is a recognized religion in Indonesia which was brought to the country by Chinese merchants and immigrants from the 3rd century.

Landscape

This world’s largest archipelago nation is located off the coast of mainland Southeast Asia, astride the equator in the humid tropics and extends over 3,700km east-west. The major Indonesian islands are characterized by densely forested volcanic mountains that run from Sumatra to Flores, and lush green rice fields together with tropical rainforest, and endless beaches. Thus, the country owns a huge range of flora and fauna as well as animals including elephants, tigers, orangutans, and sea creatures.

Java – the most populous island in the world is dominated by over 100 volcanoes, of which 30 of them are still active on the island.

Bali is the most visited island which dominated by the Gunung Agung volcano, and has a variety of geography including stunning mountains, limestone, forest, and awesome beaches for surfing and snorkeling.

Komodo is kind of hilly, and deserted island, located between Sumbawa and Flores, with a few hundred people live on the island. The main attraction here are the komodo dragons.

Climate

Indonesia’s climate is entirely tropical. Thus, there are 2 seasons – wet and dry – with warm tropical temperature averaging 28 degree Celsius during the day. The dry season spans from May to September, with the rains falling between October and April.

Some region is exceptions. On Sumatra, the rainy season is from October to January in the north, and November to February in the south. With the unusual shape of Sulawesi, the weather is slightly different here and rainfall is expected in the northern regions of the island during June and July.

In generally, the best time of year to visit Indonesia is between May and September when the days are dry and sunny. However, during wet season temperatures remain high and rainfall comes in the form of intense tropical downpours that tend to last for a couple of hours and needn’t spoil your trip.

In some regions the difference between the two seasons is not extreme: Bali and Kalimantan, for example, are relatively unaffected by the season change, but the contrast typically grows as you travel further east into the Nusa Tenggara region (to the islands of Lombok, Flores and beyond) where there is a greater chance of flooding during the wet season and droughts in the dry.

History

Indonesia is one of the earliest inhabited places. Being the world’s largest archipelago country with over 17,000 islands, and its strategic sea-lane location fostered inter-island and international trade. Trade has since fundamentally shaped Indonesian history. This 4th largest country is populated by people of various migrations, creating a diversity of cultures, ethnicities, and languages.

The first people in Indonesia arrived about 40,000 years ago, then at the end of the last ice age, there came a new wave of people who at first hunted animals, collected shellfish and pick plants for food. Later, they learned to grow crops until by 700 BC, they knew how to make bronze, iron and started growing wet rice.

Together with trading business with Chinese and India started in early 400 BC, Hinduism and Buddhism were introduced to Indonesia also.

8th century AD was the flourishing time of Indonesian civilization. Meanwhile, Islam was brought to the island by Indian merchants.

In the early 16th century, Portuguese arrived, set the colonial time in Indonesia.

 

Lifestyle

Eating

Indonesian cuisine reflects regional, ethnic, Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Western influences. It is so vibrant and colorful, full of intense flavor which often described as savory, hot and spicy. Daily food quality, quantity, and diversity vary by socioeconomic class, season, and ecological conditions. Rice is the main element in most regional cooking beside side dishes of meat, fish, egg, vegetables and a variety of condiments and sauces using chili peppers.

Balinese and Javanese have the greatest variety of culinary while the Batak has much less, but adding more rice. In Maluku and part of Sulawesi, sago is the stable, and in West Timor people prefer corn, but having rice for ceremonial occasions. Sumatran often has Middle Eastern and Indian influences, such as curried meat and vegetables. Eastern Indonesian cuisine are similar to Polynesian and Melanesian.

Some popular dishes are Nasi goring (fired rice), satay (skew grilled meat), gado-gado (vegetable salad), soto (soup), and tumpeng (cone-shaped rice dish with side dishes of vegetable and meat).

Shopping

 Shopping opportunities are a good reason to visit the country, especially for those who look for furniture, antiques, art or handmade jewelry.

The island of Java is a good shopping base. Jakarta in particular has a numerous of mega malls, fully packed with well-known international brand. Bali is another shopping paradise which doesn’t offer high-end shopping malls, but also unique stuffs at local markets including antique, wood and stone carvings, masks, woven, and batik textiles.  

Shopping and bargaining in markets, shops, and art galleries are a lot of fun. Bear in mind that bargaining is normal practice in Indonesia. So getting a good deal depends largely on your bargaining skill. Shopping usually fall between 09:00 – 22:00.

Shopping

 Shopping opportunities are a good reason to visit the country, especially for those who look for furniture, antiques, art or handmade jewelry.

The island of Java is a good shopping base. Jakarta in particular has a numerous of mega malls, fully packed with well-known international brand. Bali is another shopping paradise which doesn’t offer high-end shopping malls, but also unique stuffs at local markets including antique, wood and stone carvings, masks, woven, and batik textiles.  

Shopping and bargaining in markets, shops, and art galleries are a lot of fun. Bear in mind that bargaining is normal practice in Indonesia. So getting a good deal depends largely on your bargaining skill. Shopping usually fall between 09:00 – 22:00.

Etiquette

A nod or slight bow is the norm of greetings. Handshakes are appropriate between men, but with a soft touch, and with the hand lightly touching the heart between Muslims.

Following Muslim custom, only right hand is used to give or receive.  Never use your left hand for anything. Don’t touch anyone with it, don’t eat with it, and don’t pick things up with it.

Use your right thumb to point at things, as pointing with the index finger is considered rude.

Remember to remove your shoes or sandals at the door to a house, and don’t show the soles of your feet to anyone.

For religious reasons, men and women do not touch in public.

It’s considered shameful and impolite for women walking around in skimpy clothing, especially in some devout traditional Muslim cities.

When entering a mosque, men should wear long pants and a long sleeved t-shirt to cover their arms. Women should cover up as well, even their hair.

In rural area, try to avoid public affection.

You don’t need to show your anger to make your point. In Indonesia, the fact that you’re not ok with a situation is spoken by a calm refusal.