The Top 5 Things to do in Indonesia on Your Gap Year

Prambanan temple near Yogyakarta on Java island, Indonesia

Picking five things to do in Indonesia is like saying you can only have one piece of chocolate from Willy Wonka’s factory. With over fourteen thousands islands making up the Republic of Indonesia, it’s a tough call but we’ll give it a go. Whether you are just passing through Indonesia on your Round the World Gap Year or there for a significant amount of time, here are our top five picks of things to do in Indonesia.

Seminyak Bali

On the southern end of the island of Bali, a short taxi from Denpasar airport, is Seminyak. Home to a host of expats, this part of Bali is renowned for its luxury hotels, villas, spas, bars and clubs. One of the most popular activities in Seminyak is to sit, relax and absorb a beautiful sunset as you sip on a cocktail or Bintang. There are many bars lining the beach but it’s worth checking out Rock Bar, Double-Six Rooftop or Single Fin. During the day if you’re not working on your tan at the beach or on your wellness at the spa, you can work on your wallet by shopping at some of the many boutiques in the area. If you’re looking for a nice hotel in Seminyak try Traveloka.

Sacred Monkey Forest Sancturary

If you mix a Hindu temple complex and a horde of monkeys and you end up with Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. This reserve is located in Ubud and not just a popular tourist destination but a spiritual and economic centre for the local community as well as an important area for conservation and research. The cheeky monkeys can be quite aggressive so if you do plan on feeding them, don’t hold on too long. Do not feed the monkeys any human food. Sticking to bananas is a safe bet. Also, avoid eye contact and showing your teeth when smiling as this is seen as a sign of aggression!

Prambanan

This 9th-century Hindu template can be found in Central Java and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple is the largest in Indonesia and one of the biggest in the region. The main temple is 47 metres high and the compound houses many smaller temples. The temple opens at 6am so if you want to beat the crowds it is best to stay the night before and get there early. You can get a bus direct to Prambanan quite easily from Yogyakarta.

Mount Bromo

This volcano is located in Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park and is also one of Indonesia’s most active. It is iconic and recognisable as the entire top of the volcano blew off leaving a crater that consistently spews smoke. The volcano is 2329m high and various areas are blocked off oweing to the fact that it still presents a very real danger. As of the end of 2015, due to the volcano ejecting ash, visitors are unable to climb the volcano after the local authority issued a warning. Should the volcano become accessible again, the best time to go is June to August, avoiding the weekends.

Borobudur

This 9th-century Buddhist temple resides in Central Java. It is the world’s largest Buddhist temple and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site following restorations. It is the single most popular tourist attraction in Indonesia today and suffers from both deliberate vandalism and wear and tear so please be respectful when visiting. There is a local bus to Borobudur but most visitors opt for one of the door-to-door minibus packages from tour operators which may also include extra stops to and from the site.

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