From shopping havens to some of Southeast Asia’s most beautiful beaches, there’s a holiday for everyone in Indonesia.
Did you know that Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago, made up of some 18,307 islands? While much of the country probably isn’t what you and I would call ‘touristy’, there are many amazing nooks and crannies awaiting those who venture across.
Indonesia’s proximity makes it an ideal weekend getaway from Malaysia, so the next time you want to travel somewhere for a few days, don’t overlook your neighbours. Depending on what you’re looking for, here are five suggestions.
Where to go for Weekend Getaways in Indonesia
1. Indonesian Party Paradise: Bali
Bali is probably Indonesia’s most famous holiday destination, particularly among Westerners. While parts of it might be overrun with tourists (translation: it can be expensive), it’s also well known for beautiful views, good food and, of course, a vibrant nightlife. From luxury resorts to boutique hotels, many touting panoramic ocean views and natural surroundings, you’ll be spoilt for choice as far as accommodation is concerned.
Going away with that special someone? We hear The Watergarden hotel and spa in the seaside town of Candidasa, away from the non-stop bustle of popular Kuta, has been voted one of the 10 most romantic hotels in Bali. And if activities like scuba diving and surfing are your cup of tea, then you’re in luck, because Bali is famous for both.
2. Indonesian Shoppers’ Delight: Bandung
No stranger to shopaholics both local and international, Bandung is less than three hours from Jakarta, and is best known for its smorgasbord of factory outlets, spread out over Jalan Setiabudi, Jalan LLRE Martadinata (formerly Jalan Riau), Dago District and Jalan Cihampelas.
But there’s more to Bandung than just shopping. Nicknamed ‘the Paris of Java’ by the Dutch, its hilly surroundings give rise to some stunning scenery, and the traditional Sundanese food is pretty good too! For a taste of local culture, you can check out the traditional music performance at Saung Angklung Udjo, where you can try your hand at playing the angklung, a traditional bamboo musical instrument.
3. Indonesian Diving Destination: Raja Ampat
Not only does Indonesia have one of the longest coastlines of any country in the world, it is part of the Coral Triangle, a global centre of marine biodiversity, and boasts a wonderfully rich and colourful underwater world. In other words, it’s perfect for scuba divers.
Raja Ampat, located just off the northwest tip of West Papua, is one of the most well-known diving destinations in Indonesia, and it’s easy to understand why. Crystal-clear waters and breathtaking coral reefs teeming with fish are the norm here, and if you’re lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, you might even see whale sharks!
Perhaps the only downside to Raja Ampat is the distance: there’s no direct international flight from Malaysia so you’ll have to catch a domestic flight from Jakarta to Sorong, then travel to the Raja Ampat islands by boat or ferry.
4. Indonesian Beach Holiday: Belitung
Also known as the ‘island beyond the rainbow’, Belitung, off the coast of Sumatra, boasts some of Indonesia’s most stunning beaches (yes, plural).
In addition to clear waters, pristine sands and great snorkelling, Belitung is also home to interesting granite stone formations, a 130-year-old lighthouse and offshore sand islands just waiting to be explored.
Even better, it’s not widely known among international tourists, at least not yet, so if you’re looking for a less-congested patch of paradise all to yourself – with mostly just the locals for company – Belitung is your best bet. Again, there’s no direct flight from Malaysia to Belitung – you’ll have to transit in Jakarta and catch a 50-minute domestic flight out – but as people who’ve been there will tell you, it’s worth it.
5. Indonesian Spa Retreat: Tempat Senang
Conveniently situated in nearby Batam, Tempat Senang is a boutique resort and spa designed for the sole purpose of pampering its guests. With just 14 resort-style suites, each with its own unique theme, it’s exclusive to say the least.
Tempat Senang’s award-winning traditional Balinese spa, with its lush, green setting, offers a generous menu of treatments including half-day and full-day packages. You could just leave this place the most relaxed and pampered you’ve ever been. Be warned: it’s a little on the pricey side, so you might want to save it for a special occasion.
Best Time to Visit
Weather in Indonesia: Like Malaysia, Indonesia has two seasons: monsoon (from November to March) and dry (April to October). May to September is generally the best time to visit, especially if you’re looking to do some scuba diving or relaxing by the beach. Just bear in mind that those months are also the peak tourist season.
Where to Stay
There are many accommodation options for holidaymakers in Indonesia. If you want to spend some time in the capital, the Millennium Hotel Sirih Jakarta and the Amaris Hotel Seasons City are good options.
Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and Firefly are common options for those travelling to Indonesia, depending on whether or not the destination is directly accessible. For those who require a connecting domestic flight from Jakarta, try Xpress Air and Garuda Indonesia.
Malaysians do not need a visa to travel to Indonesia if your stay is 30 days or less.
Image credit: Getty Images