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The Most Popular Travel Destinations in Indonesia

A mosaic of 17,508 volcanic islands (800 of which are inhabited), 300 ethnic groups, and 719 languages, this Southeast Asian nation is diverse in every sense of the word.

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Ubud

Ubud—made famous in the book Eat, Pray, Love—is downright blissful. The upland town is a haven of traditional arts, spirituality, and wellness with yoga centers, holistic spas (the perfect place to indulge in a Balinese massage), organic eateries, and galleries galore. It’s also a treasure trove of tranquil beauty, from terraced rice paddies and lush hillsides to Hindu temples and rock-cut shrines. Health-focused travelers will love these wellness retreats.

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Jakarta

Indonesia’s capital is a true megalopolis—home to more than 10 million residents and 100 different ethnic groups. From the Dutch colonial buildings of Kota Tua to the Chinese temples of Glodok, the city’s architecture reflects its myriad cultural influences. The National Museum has an enormous collection of Indonesian statues, ceramics, and jewelry. Jakarta is also a shoppers’ paradise with numerous specialty markets, selling everything from antiques to handicrafts, plus modern malls.

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Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta is the soulful and artistic mecca of Javanese culture. During the day, traditional dance shows and gamelan concerts are held at the open-air pavilions surrounding the 18th-century Sultan’s Palace. Looking for local handicrafts like batik and leather goods? Pop over to the Jalan Malioboro neighborhood. The Sonobudoyo Museum displays a dizzying array of Javanese art, puppets, masks, weapons, statues, textiles, and instruments. Craving more vacation ideas? These are the 10 places you need to go in 2018, according to experts.

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Lombok

Lombok is located in the West Nusa Tenggara province and is part of the Lesser Sunda Islands chain. Surfing is the main pursuit. And the best breaks, including Kuta and Banko Banko, are on the southern coast. To the west are the beaches of Senggigi as well as many important temples. In the central highlands is the ever-majestic Mount Rinjani, or Gunung Rinjani, a towering active volcano that draws hikers from far and wide. The eponymous, surrounding national park also offers opportunities to explore protected forests, hot springs, and waterfalls. Here’s what you need to know about the world’s most incredible cascades.

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Kampung Pelangi

Kampung Pelangi in Randusari is famed for its florid facades. Perhaps you’ve seen photos of this technicolor town, but do you know the story behind it? In mid-2017, it underwent a multichromatic makeover—everything from the houses and storefronts to the fences and awnings—in the hopes of making it more appealing to travelers. The flashy facelift was a hit and now tourists are flocking to the newly-minted “Rainbow Village.”

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Denpasar

Busy, noisy, and at times chaotic, Bali’s bustling capital and economic hub is a hive of activity. Denpasar may not be the ideal destination for a laid-back holiday. However, those seeking constant stimulation will love exploring the countless markets, bars, parks, restaurants, and malls—cornerstones of everyday life, here. There are also plenty of museums, monuments, Hindu temples, and performance halls to keep you occupied.

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Bandung

Its surroundings may be bucolic, but Indonesia’s third-largest city is unmistakably urban. The Dutch colonial landmarks that earned it the nickname the “Paris of Java” remains, and now you can find Art Deco architecture in the mix. With factory outlets, specialty stores, and massive malls, the options for shopping are endless. Need a nature fix? Escape to nearby volcanoes, tea plantations, and hot springs. Can’t make it to Bandung? Take a dip in these mineral-rich waters across America.

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Surabaya

Surabaya is a diverse, vibrant, and congested port that’s more business than leisure. That doesn’t mean you should leave the city off your Indonesia itinerary. Particularly intriguing is the Arab Quarter with its Moroccan medina-esque atmosphere, serpentine streets, and 15th-century mosque. To the south is the thriving Chinatown district. The city holds a special place in the hearts of locals as the site of a major battle in Indonesia’s war for independence.

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Komodo

This rugged, road-free island is best known as the desert-like habitat of the Komodo dragon, the largest lizard on earth. (It’s also home to one of the prettiest pink sand beaches on the planet.) Its fantastical-looking creatures aren’t just limited to land. Diverse marine life—more than a 1,000 species of fish, manta rays, sea turtles, and whales—seagrass beds, mangroves, and coral reefs make the surrounding waters a magnet for scuba divers. Loh Liang, on the eastern coast, is the main entry point to the island. To the south is Kampung Komodo, a secluded Bugis village.

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Malang

Malang came under Dutch rule in the 18th century and retains much of its colonial-era charm to this day. Its mild highland climate, wide boulevards, and attractive architecture make it delightfully walkable; its unhurried pace and thriving coffee culture add to the allure. Just outside the city are ancient temples, tea plantations, and trek-worthy volcanoes. Not looking to travel that far? Try some of these scenic trails in the U.S. instead.

Lindsay Cohn
Lindsay Cohn is an avid traveler who has visited 45 countries across six continents and writes about travel for Reader’s Digest as well as USA Today, Fodor’s, Travel + Leisure, Brides and PureWow. Beyond travel, she covers a variety of lifestyle topics including beauty, wellness and design. Her work has also been published on Well+Good, Elle Decor, Martha Stewart, Domino and Mindbodygreen. Follow her on Instagram @lindsay_cohn