Offbeat Indonesia: 5 Destinations to Escape the Tourist Trap

If I had a dime for every time somebody thought Indonesia was all about Bali, I’d be a billionaire. Straddling between two oceans, this Asian archipelago is made of more than 17,000 islands! Still, most of us can’t seem to move on from Bali. If you are the type of traveller who likes to trod on paths less travelled, here are some breathtaking parts of Indonesia that go way beyond the beaches that flood your Instagram feed:

#1 Tanjung Puting National Park

Sekonyer River in Tanjung Puting National Park (courtesy: Thomas Fuhrmann)
Sekonyer River in Tanjung Puting National Park (courtesy: Thomas Fuhrmann)

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is to appreciate nature. As Indonesia reopens tourism, take a look at its indigenous flora and fauna. The Tanjung Puting National Park in Central Borneo is a fantastic choice for ecotourism, popular for its orangutan conservation endeavour. Go on an indulgent multi-day cruise along the Kumai and Sekonyer rivers, admiring the enchanting forest which is home to Bornean butterflies, clouded leopards, hornbills and monitor lizards, among several other creatures.

#2 Kei Islands

Kei Islands (courtesy: Visit Kei Islands)
Kei Islands (courtesy: Visit Kei Islands)

Wish to get lost in a remote tropical island? Welcome to Kei Islands! Tucked away in the Indonesian province of Maluku, Kei Islands are a group of 47 islands. The lagoons are rich in corals, giving the waters that distinct turquoise glow. While the islands are full of simple villages, white sand beaches or volcanic mountains, the real treasure is underwater. Go on a diving trip to see soft corals and other marine life such as wrasses, rays, sea snakes and sea horses.

#3 Yogyakarta

Taman Sari (Water Castle) in Yogyakarta (courtesy: ginomempin)
Taman Sari (Water Castle) in Yogyakarta (courtesy: ginomempin)

The Javanese city of Yogyakarta may be known to you, but did you know that there’s more to this place than ancient temples? Often hailed as the epicentre of culture, Yogyakarta is a paradise for art enthusiasts and shopaholics. Pick up bags and dresses with elegant batik print fabrics, ethnic Javanese masks and silverware as souvenirs for your friends back home. For deeper insights into Indonesian heritage, stroll through Yogyakarta’s palace complex or browse through museums that dot the city.

#4 Aceh

Laut Lampuuk in Banda Aceh (courtesy: Saiful Mulia)
Laut Lampuuk in Banda Aceh (courtesy: Saiful Mulia)

A place safely off the tourist radar, Aceh may come off as quite conservative. However, this ensures a crowd-free travel experience when you visit its eponymous river, the capital city of Banda Aceh or its beautiful beaches and lakes. The terrain of this Sumatra province varies greatly, from hilly regions to sandy beaches to freshwater lakes to dense forests – a delightful experience for those who wish to do a lot in a limited period of time.

#5 Sulawesi

Sulawesi (courtesy: Fabio Achilli)
Sulawesi (courtesy: Fabio Achilli)

Rich in biodiversity, the giant island of Sulawesi offers a lot to the modern explorer. Swim in its transparent waters by the beaches, visit its marine parks and terrestrial national parks, or be mesmerized by the volcanic Mount Tongkoko. Nature’s exquisite beauty is manifested through its native trees such as the rainbow eucalyptus, animals like the tarsier, and colourful birds like lorikeets.

While Bali may still be your dream destination, you can extend your Indonesia trip by adding these lesser-known gems to your itinerary. Book your next Indonesian adventure through Thomas Cook and unravel its best-kept secrets.

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