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Both nature and culture are major components of Indonesian tourism. The natural heritage can boast a unique combination of a tropical climate, a vast archipelago of 17,508 islands, 6,000 of them being inhabited, the second longest shoreline in the world (54,716 km) after Canada. It is the world’s largest and most populous country situated only on islands.

The distance between Aceh in the west and Papua in the east is 4,702 km (2,500 mi), comparable to the distance between New York City and San Francisco.

Indonesia seems to have been a travel destination for centuries. Some panels in Borobudur bas-reliefs depicted drink vendors, warungs (small restaurants), tavern or lodgings where people were drinking and dancing.

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Indonesia has a well-preserved, natural ecosystem with rainforests that stretch over about 57% of Indonesia’s land. Forests on *Sumatra and *Java are examples of popular tourist destinations. Moreover, Indonesia has one of longest coastlines in the world, measuring 54,716 kilometres (33,999 mi), with a number of beaches and island resorts, such as those in southern *Bali, *Lombok, Bintan (map) and Nias Island (map).

However, most of the well-preserved beaches are those in more isolated and less developed areas, such as Karimunjawa (map), the Togian Islands (map), and the *Banda Islands (map).

Indonesia is home to 167 active volcanoes, far more than any other country. Some of the more accessible mountains for visitors are in the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park and the Ijen Crater in East Java, Mount Rinjani in Lombok and perhaps easiest of all, Mount Batur, and Mount Agung, its neighbour in Bali.

In 2018, *Denpasar (map), Jakarta and *Batam (map) are among of 10 cities in the world with fastest growth in tourism. The government has given priority to 10 destinations as follows: Borobudur (map), *Mandalika (resort area, map), *Labuan Bajo (map), *Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (map), Thousand Islands, Jakarta (map), *Lake Toba (map), *Wakatobi National Park (map), *Tanjung Lesung (map), *Morotai (map).

*Bunaken National Marine Park (map), at the northern tip of Sulawesi, claims to have seven times more genera of coral than Hawaii, and has more than 70% of all the known fish species of the Indo-Western Pacific.

Indonesia consists of 300 ethnic groups, spread over a 1.8 million km2 area of 6,000 inhabited islands. This creates a cultural diversity, further compounded by Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic and European colonialist influences.


The Jakarta Post is Indonesia’s largest circulating English newspaper; you can grab a copy in some of Indonesia’s biggest cities. The Jakarta Globe is in a tabloid format and usually has richer content. Both newspapers provide good online content too.

Public transport

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 BUS >

 RAIL >   PT Kereta Api – the government-owned train company, runs trains across most of Java and some parts of Sumatra. + (*Rail transport in Indonesia)

 AIRPORTS >   Most visitors to Indonesia arrive at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali or Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta.

 WATERWAYS >   Indonesia is all islands and consequently boats have long been the most popular means of inter-island travel. Ferries may take you on long trips lasting days or weeks, or short jumps between islands for several hours. However, not all destinations are served daily.

The largest company is the state-owned PELNI, whose giant ferries visit practically every major inhabited island in Indonesia on lengthy journeys that can take a week from end to end. ASDP runs fast ferries (Kapal Ferry Cepat, rather amusingly abbreviated KFC) on a number of popular routes. Indonesia Ferry >>