17 Famous Landmarks in Indonesia | Historical Sites, Monuments & More
Explore 17 famous landmarks in Indonesia to unearth the secrets of the “Emerald of the Equator”. Indonesia is a stunning display of thousands of emerald green islands that peak high above a turquoise ocean. The Republic of Indonesia consists of 17,508 islands that are known as an archipelago.
The remarkable country is known for its tropical beaches, rain forests, exotic animals that roam freely, and its multicultural population. It is also home to some of the most significant natural features in the world! This includes the largest flower, a vast number of volcanoes and an impressive volcanic lake.
“Stop wishing, start doing“, said BJ. Habibie, the third President of Indonesia. These wise words should reflect your mind as you travel to a country that offers leisure and an escape from normalcy. A trip to Indonesia’s landmarks could be where an adventurer meets his newest challenge or where the mundane can meet his spiritual awakening.
Finally, the capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta, is the most Instagrammed city globally for a reason. The city is rich in history, and there are so many activities to do and places to see. For example, explore some of the thousands of Islands, such as the Island of Bali and Gili Trawangan.
So, are you ready for the Indonesian experience? Before you set a flight, look at Indonesia’s famous landmarks to get your journey started!
1) Uluwatu Temple
The Uluwatu Temple is a must-see Indonesian landmark. The temple sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea inhabited by bartering monkeys. No, this is not the set of a Disney movie, but an actual place you can visit between 9 am and 7 pm. The temple is a Balinese Hindu sea temple meant to worship the Rudra Diety.
Be cautious if you decide to go here because the monkeys will try to steal your belongings. Bring fruits or nuts in case the monkeys manage to take your possessions, so you can trade with them. It’s safe to say that a visit to this temple is risky monkey business!
2) Raja Ampat Islands
The Raja Ampat is an archipelago of Indonesia that contains more than 1,500 small Islands. Also known as the Four Kings, Raja Ampat Islands sits on the Equator and thus has the richest marine biodiversity in the world. With that said, it’s no surprise that this Indonesian natural feature is the best place for snorkeling and diving.
Raja Ampat Islands is a year-round destination, but the best time for snorkeling is from September to April. Book yourself into one of the Island’s exquisite nature resorts and embrace it’s coral reef critters.
3) Komodo Island
Komodo Island is a UNESCO world heritage site home to the world’s most giant lizard, the Komodo Dragon. Komodo Island is yet another popular diving destination because of its flourishing marine life and breathtaking coral reefs.
More than 4,000 dragons inhabit the Island. Just add volcanic hills, seagrass beds, lakes, and you have yourself a mini Jurrasic world!
Apart from the 10 foot long Komodo dragons, you can spot many varieties of dolphins, whales, sharks, stingrays and more! Spot the Komodo dragon all year round, but it’s best to visit from April to December if you want to avoid wet, rainy conditions.
4) Borobudur Temple
The Borobudur Temple is the largest Buddhist temple located in Central Java, Indonesia. The temple was built in the 9th century under the Sailendra Dynasty rule. The design of the temple followed the traditional Javanese Buddhist architecture of the time.
The Borobudur was crafted with excellent detail and features a number of Buddha statues positioned calmly around the temple. The Indonesian monument was built with ancestral worship in mind.
The temple is probably the top destination for tourists, so it can get crowded quickly. The best time for visits will be on early sunrise tours or during the week. Regardless, you will not regret waiting in line to see this magnificent work of architecture.
5) Bali Pulina Coffee Plantation
What better way to kick start your day in Indonesia than with a cup of coffee freshly cultivated from Balinesian soil?
See first hand how the Balinese locals grow and manufacture their tasty coffee. The plantation offers entrance packages that include amenities like a tour guide, insurance, a snack and exceptional Luwak coffee. It is an ideal opportunity to interact with locals and explore the Bali Pulina nature.
6) Ubud Monkey Forest
If you cannot get enough of seeing monkeys, stop by The Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali. The forest is one of the most well-known natural features of Indonesia and a sanctuary for over 1,000 monkeys. This is where to spot the native long-tailed macaque. The monkey forest is a holy place for the indigenous population, with several temples dotting the forest.
By now, you can guess who the inhabitants of these temples are—there is something intriguing about how Indonesian monkeys are drawn to temples. As mentioned before, keep your personal belongings close to you. A walk through the forest will afford you a sight filled with tranquil rivers and magnificent trees.
7) Jatiluwih Rice Terrace
The Jatiluwih Rice Terrace sits comfortably against the enthralling mountains of Batukaru and Agung. Another UNESCO world heritage site, the Jatiluwih rice terrace is Indonesia’s most extensive collection of rice fields. Furthermore, it is the perfect spot for hikers, cyclists and photographers.
Take a peaceful drive alongside the lush green rice fields as the Balinese locals practice their philosophical rice farming technique, the Subak. The Subak is an egalitarian system that combines spirituality, nature and humanity, which has resulted in the abundance of crops. Visit the rice terrace during its Jatiluwih Green Land season, between February and April.
8) Sipiso-Piso Waterfall
The Sipiso-piso waterfall is a natural feature of Indonesia that forms part of the Lake Toba caldera, north of Sumatra. The waterfall plunges from a height of 394 feet and it is excellent for hikes and photography.
Keep in mind that it requires 1,000 steps downhill if you want a close-up view of the waterfall, but the breathtaking waterfall is worth the cardio! The Sipiso-piso can be visited all year round.
9) Lake Toba
Lake Toba is recognized as a Unesco Global Geopark, which houses the remains of a supervolcano that erupted about 70,000 years ago.The lake sports an impressive size, at a width of about 19 miles and a length of 62 miles, making it the largest lake in Indonesia.
Lake Toba is rife with volcanic geological structures that tell the oldest tales of how the earth was formed. It’s better to visit Lake Toba in the dry season (September to May), and you can get there by taking a ferry from Parapat. What’s more, you can swim in some allocated parts of Lake Toba. Or take in the delightful scenery of the surrounding flora and fauna.
10) National Monument
The country of Indonesia has an extensive history of migration, Dutch rule, Japanese occupation and finally, independence. Which brings us to one of the most treasured historical sites in Indonesia. The National Monument symbolises Indonesian independence and freedom.
The structure stands over 430 feet tall in the center of Merdeka Square, Central Jakarta. The monument is also known as the Monas and is topped with a golden flame that represents Indonesia’s spirit.
Within the monument is a museum that tells the story of Indonesia’s fight for freedom, and it contains the original Proclamation of Independence text. Furthermore, visitors can take a lift to the top of the monument for a striking view of Jakarta. The Monas (another name for the national monument) is usually a landmark included in a day tour to Jakarta.
11) Tanah Lot Temple
The Tanah Lot temple is a Hindu shrine built just off the Island of Bali. The place of worship is believed to be guarded by giant sea snakes and has other Balinese mythology surrounding it.
The Tanah Lot is one of seven sea temples where the Hindu honor sea gods. Tourists are drawn to the breathtaking setting of a shrine built on a rock surrounded by sea. It’s no wonder why the Tanah Lot temple is regarded as one of the most valued landmarks of Indonesia. Most visitors choose to visit the temple as part of an island tour. And the best time to see the temple is at sunset, which happens around 6 to 7 pm.
12) Trowulan Archeological Site
The Trowulan Archeological site was declared a UNESCO world heritage site—one of many from Indonesia! The site is the last discoverable city remains of the Indonesian Hindu-Buddha classical age. The Trowulan site is situated in the Mojokerto Regency in East Java, which can be entered by bus.
Here you can visit the Trowulan Museum to discover ruins and artifacts of a much older Indonesia. The archaeological site allows for a deeper look into the history and culture of Indonesia—the perfect enriching experience.
13) Prambanan Temple
After the Angkor Wat, the Prambanan Temple is the second largest temple compound in Southeast Asia. The construction of the Prambanan temple started in 850 AD to worship the three primary Hindu gods. A visit to the temple will be perfect for those who are in search of spiritual enlightenment.
14) Equator Monument
Until 2005, The Equator monument used to be known as the center of the world. This belief has recently changed due to more accurate geographical instruments. However, it does not stop the locals from hosting solstice parties during the spring and fall equinox. The monument has humble beginnings in the town of Pontianak, where it started as a simple arrow on a pole.
Today, the landmark is five times bigger and grander. Many tourists are intrigued by the Equator Monument because you can walk between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. A visit to the Equator Monument can indeed be an experience that is grounding—a realization that human existence relies on time and direction.
15) Sangiran Early Man Site
Here we have yet another UNESCO world heritage site and yet another opportunity to ponder the meaning of life. The Sangiran Early Man Site is where the first hominid fossils were discovered.
The excavation site plays a crucial part in understanding human evolution; without it, we would miss a lot of puzzle pieces in figuring out our history. Hence, do not let the opportunity to visit the “Java man” (one of the first known human ancestors) pass you by.
Expect a travelling time of up to an hour to get to the museum via buses and motorcycle taxis. The museum is open for tourists from Tuesday to Sunday between 8 am and 4 pm.
16) Istiqlal Mosque
The Istiqlal Mosque is the 6th largest mosque in the world. What’s more, Indonesia is recognised as a Muslim nation because 87% of its inhabitants follow Islam. However, a Christain architect known as Frederich Silaban designed the mosque.
The Istiqlal mosque was built as a tribute to Indonesian independence and to serve as a symbol of religious tolerance. The mosque stands almost opposite Jakarta’s neo-gothic Roman Catholic church. Tourists who visit here will get a taste of the religious diversity that is a source of pride for Indonesia.
17) Lawang Sewu Building
The Lawang building is a landmark with a haunting reputation. The Lawang Sewu is considered the most haunted out of all Indonesian buildings. Dutch settlers between 1904 and 1907 constructed the building to serve as a railway station during the Dutch colonization of Indonesia.
Also known as “Thousand Doors”, the massive building was taken over by Japanese soldiers during the Second World War. It was then when the Japanese converted one of the building’s basements into a dungeoun of torture and execution. Ever since, the Lawang Sewu Building was mostly abandoned and has amassed an eerie feeling.
Furthermore, the mystic landmark is an ideal option if you find yourself in central Java, Semarang, with a taste for the paranormal. The Lawang Sewu Building is near the other two landmarks mentioned above, the Istiqlal Mosque and Jakarta Cathedral, making it a bustling tourist destination.
Ready to Visit some Landmarks in Indonesia?
Those who have spent most of their lives in the concrete jungle know how hard a dose of nature hits. And Indonesia will hit you hard because it is exploding with life—literally!
It has the third most volcanoes globally. When you reach the Indonesian shores, you will find the second-longest coastline ever to exist, and it is crawling with coral creatures. Do not miss out on these Indonesian natural features, historical sites and monuments!
Finally, Indonesia is a fantastic destination for animal lovers, hikers and nature enthusiasts. Indonesia is vibrant, full of life and an unforgettable experience to anyone who visits.
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