Inspiration Destinations Indonesia 9 Things You Can Only Do in Indonesia (Beyond Bali) 

9 Things You Can Only Do in Indonesia (Beyond Bali) 

June 18, 2024
Sunset views over Raja Ampat, Indonesia's eastern paradise - Luxury Escapes

Flawless islands, sprawling temples and nightly parades of flying foxes: so many of Indonesia’s greatest experiences wait for you beyond Bali. 

From Lombok’s laidback bars and canoe-dotted shores to the limestone karsts and birds-of-paradise of Raja Ampat’s ‘Four Kings,’ Indonesia’s once-in-a-lifetime experiences extend from Bali to beyond. With Garuda Indonesia flights linking Australian cities to Bali’s Denpasar International Airport – and easy connections to Lombok, Labuan Bajo, Yogyakarta, Makassar, Sorong and more – it’s never been easier to discover the best the archipelago has to offer. Here, find out what memories beckon when you explore wonderful Indonesia.

Ready to discover Indonesia? Go to Bali and Beyond with Garuda Indonesia.

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Lombok  

Long called Bali’s ‘little sister,’ the idyllic island of Lombok boasts quiet beaches, an emerging tourism scene and world-class surf. The island is approximately two hours by speedboat from Bali’s Serangan Harbour. 

1. Swim with sea turtles in the Gili Islands  

Just off the coast of Lombok, this collection of three islands is remarkably serene, the result of a blanket car and motorcycle ban enacted to preserve the island’s unique sense of calm. Head to the smallest of the islands, Gili Meno, for some of the country’s best snorkelling: fringed by coral reefs and brimming with clownfish, sea goldies and sea turtles, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close to some of the ocean’s most elusive inhabitants. 

2. Hike Mt. Rinjani, one of Indonesia’s tallest mountains  

It’s said that the name 'Rinjani' comes from an old Javanese term for a god. Hiking Indonesia’s second-tallest mountain makes it clear why – as you trek through highland forests of fig and jambu, the sounds of honeyeaters and white cockatoos hanging in the air, it’s hard not to fall in love with region’s rugged spirit. While it takes four days to reach the summit from Sembalun Lawang, it’s worth it – the views from the top are considered some of the best in Asia. 

3. Journey back in time with a stay in Lombok 

Lombok’s long beaches, picturesque villages and lush volcanic hinterland have earned it a reputation as the ideal throwback stay, reminiscent of the quieter Bali of yesteryear. But there’s no shortage of exceptional luxury stays, with five-star resorts like The Oberoi Beach Resort, Lombok – located on the pristine shores of Medana Bay – offering easy access to the region’s traditional Sasak villages, hidden waterfalls and breathtaking sunsets, plus spacious pool villas and superb dining options. 

Labuan Bajo 

Located on the western coast of the island of Flores, Labuan Bajo tantalises with the promise of adventure. The city is a 75-minute domestic flight from Bali. Garuda Indonesia offer flights twice weekly.  

4. Introduce yourself to the Komodo Island (Komodo National Park) at Labuan Bajo  

Here be dragons: just a 2.5-hour ferry ride from Labuan Bajo is Komodo Island, home to the fearsome reptiles of the same name. With stretches of jagged volcanic rock, leaning palms and small jungle groves, the island seems as if it were snatched from another time, and the giant monitors – called ‘ora’ by locals – only add to the effect.  

5. Delve into Labuan Bajo’s mysterious caves  

Labuan Bajo is a city teeming with caves, and one of the region’s most spectacular examples – the ‘Mirror Stone Cave,’ named for the sparkling of its salt-lined walls – is just a 15-minute drive from the city centre. Though further out, Rangko Cave is also dressed to impress – the cave’s underground lake, accessible only by boat and illuminated only by sunlight, is an extraordinary sight.  

6. Catch the spectacular flying fox parade on Kalong Island  

As sunset falls over Kalong Island, the bats are out on parade - Luxury Escapes

The best time to visit Kalong Island is dusk: as the sun begins to fall beneath the horizon, thousands of flying foxes emerge from their slumber and leave the mangroves in search of food. While it’s impossible to land on the island itself – the event can only be witnessed by boat – this thunderous display of nature is well worth the journey.

Yogyakarta 

A city of tall palaces and deep tradition, Yogyakarta offers a glimpse into the country’s Javanese heritage. The city is a 90-minute domestic flight from Bali with Garuda Indonesia. 

7. Step beneath ancient wonders at Yogyakarta  

Once the seat of power for the 8th-century Medang Kingdom, Yogyakarta now stands as Indonesia’s distinct spiritual and cultural capital. A rich melange of cultures, empires and kingdoms gave birth to countless monuments and places of worship. What often surprises first-time visitors is the sheer scale of the region’s craft: within an hours' drive is Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple, and Prambanan, the second-largest Hindu temple in Southeast Asia (after Cambodia's Angkor Wat).  

Eager to go beyond Bali? Explore the temples of Yogyakarta and more with Garuda Indonesia.

Makassar  

Historically a vital trading port on Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island, Makassar’s long history of cultural and commercial intermingling makes it a fascinating stop. The city is an 85-minute flight from Bali. 

8. Discover Makassar’s uninhabited islands  

The first of Makassar’s surrounding islands can be reached in approximately 15 minutes by speedboat; the furthest, Kapoposang, takes a little over two hours and is surrounded by nothing but the serene waters of the Makassar Strait. Each Makassar's 55 islands offers a unique glimpse into the history and culture of the archipelago, from Lae Lae’s historic ruins (the remains of a Japanese wartime fortress) to Samolona’s beachside bars and laidback warungs (roadside food stalls). Whether it’s diving, snorkelling, swimming or just lazing on white sands, Makassar’s islands offer a slice of paradise for every kind of traveller. 

Sorong 

Sorong is the gateway to West Papua’s legendary waters and offers the perfect base to explore the region’s natural treasures. The city is a 3.5-hour flight from Bali with Garuda Indonesia. 

9. Explore Raja Ampat, Indonesia’s eastern paradise  

An archipelago of approximately 1500 islands, reefs and shoals off the coast of West Papua, Raja Ampat is an explorer’s dream. On Misool, the most remote of the region’s ‘Four Kings’ (or major islands), dramatic limestone karsts hide prehistoric rock art, the remaining legacy of the original seafarers in the region; in Batanta, colourful birds-of-paradise dance and sway in elaborate mating rituals. Raja Ampat is also a diver’s paradise: the region’s 10 protected marine parks are home to giant clams, bright-hued parrotfish and massive manta rays. 

Produced in collaboration with Garuda Indonesia and the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of the Republic of Indonesia.

Feature image: Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

Nate Robinson
About Nate Robinson
Mad for travel and an incorrigible foodie, Nate is as at home in a Mexican taqueria as he is at Tsukiji. When he's not abroad, you can always find Nate with a book in one hand and a tiki cocktail in the other.

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