The Indonesian archipelago spreads over 5200 km between the Asian main land and Australia, all is within the tropics and comprises over 17.000 islands. Its ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity is great correspondingly, more than 500 languages and dialects are spoken by 235 million people, whose fascinating customs and life styles are a major attraction. The largely volcanic nature in the islands has created tall cloud swept mountains swathed in the green of rice terraces or rain forest, dropping to blind bright beaches and vivid blue seas, the back drop for Southeast Asia’s biggest wilderness areas and wild life sanctuaries. All of those provides an endless resource for adventurous trekking, surfing, scuba diving, and lounging by a pool in a five star resort.
Travel across the archipelago is pretty unforgettable, fragile planes, rusty ferries and careering buses. Give yourself many of time to cover the large distances; if you have only a couple of weeks, you will have a better time and restrict yourself to exploring a small area properly rather than hopping across 3000 km to see your top ten sights. If you have longer, try to plan a trip that does not involve too much doubling back, consider an open jaw international flight ticket, and try to intersperse the length journeys with a few days of relaxation in peaceful place surroundings. Leave yourself some leeway, if you are in a hurry with a vital plane to catch, something is bound goes wrong. Having said all of this, the places which are hardest to reach are often well worth the effort and some of the most rewarding experiences come when you least expect them. An enforced day malinger between the transport in apparently dull town might end with an invitation to watch exorcism or to examine a collection of ancestor skulls over coffee and cigarettes.
When to go
The whole archipelago is a tropical area, with temperatures between 21˚C and 33˚C, although cooler on the mountains. In theory, the year divides into 2 seasons, wet and dry season, though it is often hard to tell the difference. November to April is the wet season and May up to October is dry season. However, in north part of Sumatra, this pattern is effectively reversed. The peak season of tourist is between middle of June and September and again over the Christmas and New Year season in December. This is particularly relevant in the major resorts, where prices will rocket and rooms can be fully booked for days and sometimes weeks.
Where to go
Indonesia is ripe with highlights across the archipelago, starting from Medan on Sumatra northeast coast. The classic itinerary runs to the thick jungles and orangutan sanctuary at Bukit Lawang and down towards the lake side resorts on Samosir island in Southeast Asia’s largest lake, Toba Lake. Further, the area around the laid back town of Bukittinggi appeals because of flamboyant Minangkabau architecture, the beautiful scenery around Maninjau Lake and the rafflesia reserves on the hills. Many travelers then hurtle through to Java, probably not spending more than a night in the traffic-clogged capital Jakarta in their rush to the ancient cultural capital of Yogyakarta, the best base to explore the huge Borobudur and Prambanan temples. Java’s biggest natural attractions are its volcanoes, most famously Mount Merapi on the outskirts of Yogyakarta and East Java’s Mount Bromo, where the travelers brave a sunrise climb to the summit.
Just across the sea from Java, it will be in Bali, the long time jewel in the crown of Indonesian tourism, a small island with elegant temples, verdant landscape and great surf. The biggest resorts are the party towns of Kuta and Legian, with more subdued beaches at Lovina and Candi Dasa appealing for travelers not hell bent on nightlife.