Friday, September 10, 2021

Destinations in Indonesia

AsiaIndonesiaDestinations in Indonesia

Regions in Indonesia

The size of Indonesia seems almost unimaginable: Over 17,000 islands that provide 108,000 km of beaches. Over 4,000 kilometers separate Aceh in the west and Papuaine to the east, the same distance between New York City and San Francisco.Indonesia lies on the western edge of the Ring of Fire and has more than 400 volcanoes, 130 of which are considered active, as well as many submarine volcanoes. The island of New Guinea (where the Indonesian province of Papua is located) is the second largest island in the world, Borneo (about 2/3 Indonesian, the rest belongs to Malaysia and Brunei) is the third largest and Sumatra is the fifth largest.

Provinces, of which there are currently 34, usually consist of a group of smaller islands (East & West Nusa Tenggara, Maluku) or divide a larger island and its offshore islands into pieces (Sumatra, Kalimantan, Java, Sulawesi, Papua).

Sumatra (incl. the Riau Islands and Bangka-Belitung)

Wild and rugged, the world’s fifth largest island with a population of more than 40 million has great natural and cultural richness and is a habitat for many endangered species. It is home to Aceh, Palembang, Padang, Lampung and Medan, as well as the multi-coloured Lake Toba in the land of the free-spirited Toba Batak and Indonesia’s gateway island.

Kalimantan (Borneo)

Borneo is the third largest island in the world, with most of it constituting Kalimantan (the rest belongs to Malaysia and Brunei). Borneo is an explorer’s paradise because of its untouched forests (but rapidly disappearing), mighty rivers, indigenous Dayak tribes and home to most orangutans.The towns of Pontianak, Banjarmasin and Balikpapan are among the fastest growing cities in the country.

Java (incl. Karimunjawa, the Thousand Islands and Madura)

The heartland of the country, big cities including the capital Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya and many people on a not so big island. Here are also the cultural treasures of Yogyakarta, Solo, Borobudur and Prambanan.

Bali

Also known as the land of the gods, Bali captivates with its sheer natural beauty of towering volcanoes and lush terraced rice fields that exude peace and serenity. Bali is fascinating for its dramatic dances and colorful rituals, handicrafts, luxurious beach resorts and thrilling nightlife. And everywhere you look you’ll find intricately carved temples.Thousands of gift shops abound in Bali. From Denpasar to Ubud, you will find many things you would like to take home. Most of the star hotels are close to the beach. Otherwise, they usually have their own private spots on certain beaches. You can easily find them in popular places like Kuta or Sanur. If you are thinking of bringing home souvenirs, the best choice is the souvenir market in Sukowati, where you will be overwhelmed by the selection.

Kuta has a wide range of boutiques and shops selling everything from colourful T-shirts, surfwear, flip-flops to creative jewellery. If you want to buy dried foods, Bali’s coffee is the most aromatic. You may also want to buy essential oils for aromatherapy to spray on your bath.

As Bali is 8 degrees south of the equator, the weather is tropical, warm and humid all year round, with two distinct main seasons: Dry season and rainy season. The situation is quite different in the areas around Bali’s central mountains (volcanoes), which have several peaks over 3,000 metres high. Up here, temperatures are much cooler and there is much more rainfall than in the coastal areas.

Bali’s white beaches are popular for family holidays. There are a variety of water sports, such as banana boats, parasailing or jet skiing, swimming or just sunbathing. Best known among Bali’s beaches is Kuta. There are a number of hotels, restaurants, shops and cafés along it. In the evening, the area pulsates to the beat of disco music. For a quieter evening, Jimbaran Beach is a popular place to eat fresh, grilled seafood in the evening. Sanur Beach is also dotted with hotels and restaurants. You can also visit Nusa Dua, where more private beaches face super deluxe hotels.

Surfers love the waves on Nusa Lembongan near Nusa Penida. These islands are a 45-minute boat ride from Nusa Dua or from Sanur. On the southwest coast of Nusa Penida are Manta Point and Malibu Point, where divers can swim with travally, large rays and even sharks. The best dive sites are at Menjangan with a shallow reef, an anchor wreck, an eel garden and caves to explore. Nearby and still in the Bali Barat Park is Pemutaran Island.

Bali offers world-class adrenaline-pumping white-water rafting on the spectacular Ayung River near Ubud. Here you can also go bungy jumping off a cliff to almost touch the river. If you like cycling, Ubud and its surrounding area is a wonderful town for cycling. There are also good cycle paths in Uluwatu in the south.

Mountaineers may wish to climb Gunung Agung. Start your ascent from behind the temple or through Sebudi village. However, be sure to ask permission from the temple authorities beforehand, as the Balinese religion dictates that no one may stand higher than the sacred temple, especially when ceremonies are being held.

The Kecak dance is most dramatically enacted in the open air at Pura Tanah Lot, with the sun slowly sinking into the sea as a backdrop, looming on the horizon behind this beautiful temple. The Kecak dance tells the story of the Ramayana, in which Prince Rama’s wife Sita is abducted by the ogre Rahwana.

Sulawesi (Celebes)

This oddly shaped island is home to a variety of societies and some spectacular landscapes, the Toraja culture, rich flora and fauna and world-class dive sites such as Bunaken.

Nusa Tenggara (NT)

Also known as the Lesser Sunda Islands – literally the “Southeast Islands” – they are divided into East Nusa Tenggara and West Nusa Tenggara and are home to numerous ethnic groups, languages and religions, as well as Komodo lizards and spectacular diving. West Nusa Tenggara contains Lombok and Sumbawa and many small islands. Lombok is the less visited but equally interesting sister of Bali and offers several dive sites as well as historical and religious sites. Eastern NT contains Flores, Sumba and West Timor, as well as several other islands, including Komodo Island, home of the Komodo dragon, and offers the unique attraction of containing tiny kingdoms on Sumba. Traditional art in eastern NT, especially woven fabrics, is interesting and inexpensive, and you can find beaches literally covered in sand of unique colours, coral and shells.

Maluku (Moluccas)

The historic Spice Islands, still contested today, largely unexplored and virtually unknown to the outside world.

Papua (Irian Jaya)

The western half of the island of New Guinea, with mountains, forests, swamps and an almost impenetrable wilderness in one of the most remote places on earth. Apart from the gold and copper mining around Freeport, this is probably one of the most untouched parts of the country, and scientists have recently discovered unknown species here.

Cities in Indonesia

Jakarta

With a population of 9 million, Jakarta is the capital city of the Republic of Indonesia and is a large, sprawling metropolis.During the day, the number increases by another 2 million as commuters head into the city for work and fan out again in the evening. Located on the north coast of Java, Jakarta province has expanded rapidly over the years, absorbing many villages in the process, so that Jakarta is actually a collection of villages known as kampung, now criss-crossed by main roads and highways. It is therefore not surprising that one minute you can be driving down a wide avenue and suddenly find yourself squeezed into a small street along with dozens of cars and motorbikes. Together with its many suburbs, Jakarta has become a mega-city. When visiting Jakarta, it is therefore best to invest in a good map or rely on GPS.As the capital of an Indonesia, Jakarta is not only the seat of the national government and the provincial government, this city is also the political centre of Indonesia. In addition, Jakarta is also the centre and hub of Indonesia’s national finance and trade. So it is no wonder that you find Jakarta to be an ever dynamic city, a city that never sleeps.

Bandung

Bandung is the capital of West Java province. Bandung is a great place to visit at any time of the year, as the city is not only known for its picturesque open views, but also offers many attractions worth visiting. Bandung is surrounded by green, fertile mountains and is now Indonesia’s center of learning and creativity. Today, Bandung is one of Indonesia’s most prestigious university cities.Known for its friendly climate, Bandung soon grew into a city for wealthy planters who owned the miles of tea, coffee and chinchona plantations, orchards and vegetable gardens in the cool and fertile hills of West Java. Now Bandung has become the centre for textile mills that produce much of Indonesia’s textiles for fashion clothing, linen and upholstery. The city offers a myriad of trendy factory stores at reasonable prices, a wide selection of local and international cuisine, and a unique European colonial style atmosphere combined with charming traditional art. You will probably be overwhelmed by the large number of factory stores scattered in Dago (Ir H Djuanda), Rio (RE Martadinata), Cihampelas and Setiabudi. Shop to your heart’s content and grab well-known brands, trendy fashion and much more at surprisingly low prices!

Banjarmasin

Banjarmasin is the best place to absorb the urban culture of Kalimantan, both on land and on water. Situated on a delta near the junction of the Barito and Martapura rivers, Banjarmasin, together with its neighbouring town of Banjarbaru, forms the centre of Indonesia’s ninth largest metropolis.From ancient times to the present day, Banjarmasin has remained an important port city on Kalimantan. It has an abundance of wide and powerful rivers that have always played a significant role in the way of life of the Banjarese (the indigenous ethnic group of Banjarmasin). Even today, there are floating markets every morning where farmers and traders offer their goods for trade on boats. The city’s main attraction is the suburb crisscrossed by canals, where most of the trade takes place on the water. The most remarkable of these river markets is the Muara Kuin floating market, which is located on the Barito River.The floating market is the place to watch the traffic of all kinds of boats loaded with bananas, shrimps, fish, sweet potatoes, spinach, coconut, red-hot spices and chillies, buckets of rambutans and any other fruit that is in season. With skill and precision, the traders manoeuvre their boats, which are constantly shaken by the waves of the river, and exchange goods and money.

Jayapura

Located in East Papua, Jayapura is the starting point for many travelers who want to venture into the interior of Papua.Travellers come here for all kinds of adventures. Here you can begin your trek into the remote Baliem Valley, conduct a sustainable crocodile conservation study for your thesis, or prepare to capture the magic of Lake Sentani and its culture on camera.Atop a lush hill stands a red-and-white communication tower that offers the best view of the town. This may not be the most exciting activity in Papua, but it is a good way to get your bearings and discover how big this region is. Jayapura is, however, simply a gateway to your extraordinary voyage to one of the largest islands on the planet.

Kuta

Once a sleepy village with a quiet, beautiful stretch of beach, Kuta has now become a popular beach destination, alive with tourists from all over the world swimming, surfing or sunbathing on the beach. Others, casually dressed in shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops, stroll down the main street to shop or eat at the many open-air restaurants. Back in the 1960s, the only hotel was the Kuta Beach Hotel, but without much planning, Kuta quickly developed into a meeting place for surfers and backpackers, while the upscale society preferred to stay in the quieter Sanur on the opposite side of the peninsula. Over time, Kuta’s popularity grew and shops, restaurants, discos and hotels – from the basic to the exclusive – sprang up along the main road from Kuta to Legian, catering to the ever-growing holiday crowd that included not only international tourists but also domestic visitors from Jakarta and other major cities.

Makassar (Ujung Pandang)

Makassar is the biggest city of Eastern Indonesia as well as the capital of South Sulawesi province. Makassar enjoys a central location in the Indonesian archipelago and is Indonesia’s busy air hub connecting Sumatra, Java, Bali and Kalimantan in the west with Sulawesi, the Moluccas and Papua in the east. Since the 14th century and located on the busy trade route along the deep Strait of Makassar, the city of Makassar is a bustling, cosmopolitan city with the settlement of many races and ethnic groups, Chinese, Europeans, Javanese, Balinese, Ambon and others. Makassar is the gateway to East Indonesia and the starting point for an adventurous tour to the highlands of Tana Toraja, where breathtaking mountain scenery and the unique rituals of the Toraja people await you.Makassar Island is also known for having some of the best diving sites. Just 50 km from the city, Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park awaits with its breathtaking waterfall and hordes of enchanting butterflies. Or visit the fascinating traditional shipyards of Bulukumba and the pristine beach of Bira. Having seafood freshly caught and served in various forms, both Chinese and local, are the highlights when coming to Makassar.

Medan

The booming city of Medan, capital of North Sumatra, is an economic hub and commercial centre for the region. It is the largest city on the island of Sumatra, which has long attracted residents from all over Indonesia to come and stay. Because of this ethnic diversity, Medan is known for its delicious culinary places that are rich in many flavours. Bolu Meranti is a type of rolled sponge cake with different types of buttercream, which has become one of the most famous snacks in the city, along with Bika Ambon Zulayka. Medan is also a busy metropolis, so be prepared for some traffic jams. Noise of minibuses and bekahs competing with cabs and motorcycles over space and movements in the crowd and extreme heat.

Visit Maimoon Palace for a glimpse of royal heritage. Retreat to the calming atmosphere of the highlands and visit Lake Toba and Samosir Island. Berastagi, famous for its abundance of fruits and flowers, is also a place worth visiting near Medan. Have some durian fruit or durian cake, and the sweet passion fruit known as markisa, also available for sale in syrup bottles. Visit the local market and browse the many freshly picked local products. Find your way to amazing waterfalls and hot water springs to relax.

Surabaya

This city was once the trading hub for the illustrious empires of inland Java. Situated at the mouth of the Brantas River, Surabaya is now a modern industrial city, considered the economic and commercial centre of East Java and also home to the nation’s navy. Highlights of the city include the Submarine Museum, the immaculately presented Sampoerna Museum, the Cheng Hoo Mosque or a visit to Madura Island where you can experience the excitement and thrill of a local bull race. The city is also an ideal base for exploring the other attractions of East Java, including Mount Bromo, the cool mountain resorts of Malang and the natural beauty of the Ijen Plateau. Explore the culinary adventure from fine restaurants to lively night stalls offering unique local snacks. From the fresh fruit salad known as rujak, to the hearty black soup with diced meat called rawon, to the fried tofu dish called tahu tek. The most famous food souvenirs from Surabaya are the Spikoe Resep Kuno brand layer cakes, almond crispy chips, Bu Rudy’s Chilly Sauce and the latest hits of Surabaya Snowcake – a mix of pastry and sponge cake.

Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta, together with its twin city Surakarta (Solo), is the cradle of civilisation in Java. This city was the seat of power that produced the magnificent temples of Borobudur and Prambanan in the 8th and 9th centuries and the new powerful Mataram Kingdom of the 16th and 17th centuries. Due to its endless attraction, Yogyakarta is referred to as “the Asia that never ends”. This city is one of Indonesia’s most important cultural centres. From climbing the magnificent Borobudur Temple to visiting the Keraton (Sultan’s Palace) and the famous Alun Alun, to watching silversmiths create amazing jewellery in Kotagede and learning how to make one yourself. Maybe try shopping on Maliboro Street, have a relaxing Javanese spa treatment, and there are more ways to never be bored in this relatively small but buzzing city – ranging from natural wonders, examples of both local art and tradition as well as Javanese heritage to delicious cuisine. Try the Gudeg, a special preparation based on a traditional Javanese recipe. Try the Bakpia, a traditional snack with many tempting flavours. Yogyakarta is indeed a city with many attractions for you to enjoy. All this and much more to explore has brought Yogyakarta as the second most visited destination in Indonesia after Bali.

Other destinations in Indonesia

Baliemtal

Nestled high in the mountains of central Papua at an elevation of 1,600 meters, surrounded by steep green mountain cliffs, stands the astonishingly picturesque valley of Balim, which is home to the Dani tribe.The Baliem Valley is 72 km long and 15-31 km wide in places. It is bisected by the Baliem River, which rises in the northern Trikora Mountain and cascades into the great valley, then meanders further south, dropping 1,500 metres to become a great muddy river that slowly empties into the Arafura Sea. The first outsider to discover the valley was the American Richard Archbold, who, from his seaplane on 23 June 1938, suddenly spotted this impressive valley with its neatly terraced green fields of sweet potato between the rugged mountain peaks. This is Indonesia’s own Shangri-La.

Borobudur

The magnificent Borobudur Temple on the island of Java is the largest Buddhist monument in the world, an ancient site widely regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Majestically perched on a hilltop, the temple overlooks a lush green field and distant hills. The temple was built in the 9th century during the reign of the Syailendra dynasty and the design of the gupta architecture reflects the Indian influence on the region, yet there are also sufficient elements of indigenous scenes that make Borobudur a uniquely Indonesian establishment. The monument is a marvel of design, decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The architecture and masonry of this temple is second to none. And it was built without any kind of cement or mortar! The structure appears as a series of huge interlocking Lego blocks connected together to each other without the need for any glue. It was rediscovered in 1815, buried under volcanic ash. In the 1970s, the Indonesian government and UNESCO worked together to restore Borobudur to its former glory. The restoration took eight years and today Borobudur is one of the most valuable treasures in Indonesia and the world.The temple is decorated with stone carvings in low relief depicting images from the life of Buddha. Critics have described it as the largest and most comprehensive Buddhist relief collection in the world, with an incomparable degree of artistic value.

Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park

Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park covers a vast area of 800 square kilometres in the centre of East Java. For anyone interested in volcanoes, a visit to the park is a must. This is the largest volcanic region in the province. Explore this park and check out the plume of smoke coming out of Mount Semeru, which is an active volcano at an altitude of 3,676 meters.Experience the remarkable Tengger Caldera, Java’s largest, with its 10 km long barren, desert-like sea of sand. Within the caldera rise the deeply fissured volcanic cones of Batok and Bromo, the latter still active with a cavernous crater from which smoke billows into the sky. Temperatures at the summit of Mt Bromo range from 5 to 18 degrees Celsius. In the south of the park is a hilly plateau, criss-crossed by valleys and with several small picturesque lakes that extend to the foot of Mt Semeru.

Bunaken

One of the best diving destinations in Indonesia, if not the world. Bunaken Island is located in Manado Bay in the northern part of Sulawesi Island, Indonesia, with an area of 8.08 square kilometers. Bunaken are part of Municipality of Manado, which is the capital of North Sulawesi. The marine park surrounding Bunaken is a part of the national park and also includes waters from Manado Island, Siladen and around Mantehaj. At Bunaken Marine Park you can meet a real “mermaid” and also get a glimpse of marine life. Visitors to Bunaken Marine Park have the opportunity to see a wide variety of exotic and colorful marine life under the sea. A motorboat could be used to get to this park. The trip from Manado takes about 40 minutes and the transparent waters of the Bunaken Sea make it possible to see numerous marine creatures. There are 13 types of coral reefs in this park, dominated by edge and boulder ridges of rocks. The most attractive sight is the steep vertical mud coral reef that drops down to 25-50 metres. Delight in 91 species of fish found in Bunaken National Park, including the locally famous Gusimi horsefish (Hippocampus), white oci (Seriola rivoliana), yellowtail lolosi (Lutjanus kasmira), goropa (Ephinephelus spilotoceps and Pseudanthias hypselosoma), Ila Gasi (Scolopsis bilineatus) and others. Divers can also encounter molluscs such as the Giant Kima (Tridacna gigas), Goat Head (Cassis cornuta), Nautilus (Nautilus pompillius) and Tunicates/Ascidian.For those who like diving, this is a great place. With around 20 dive sites to choose from, divers have the opportunity to swim under the sea and enjoy the marine life. Most diving takes place near Bunaken and Manado Tua, as there are many excellent dive sites there. Steep walls are marked with deep crevices, sea fans and giant sponges. The shallows are filled with fish. The wall, often sheltered from stronger currents, is frequented by bumphead parrotfish, turtles and Napoleon wrasse. You can also explore the island on foot or take a boat to get from one dive site to another. Just walking along the beach is a most pleasant experience.

Kerinci Seblat National Park

Tigers, elephants, monstrous rafflesia flowers and much more in this vast forest area in Sumatra

Komodo National Park

Located in East Nusa Tenggara, Komodo National Park is home to the unique and rare Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis). Due to the exclusivity and rarity of this animal, in 1986 KNP has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.The park comprises three main islands, Komodo, Rinca and Padar, and numerous smaller islands, which together cover 603 square kilometres of land. At least 2,500 Komodos live in this area. Great kites are usually three metres long and weigh up to 90 kg. Their habitat offers beautiful panoramic views of savannahs, rainforests, white beaches, beautiful corals and clean blue seas. In this area you can also find horses, wild buffalo, deer, wild boar, snakes, monkeys and various species of birds.On Rinca Island, Komodos can be seen lying down in front of the national park rangers’ houses or “parking” near the officials’ houses. During the dry season, these savannas and hills are covered with dried grasses. You can also indulge in other activities such as diving and snorkelling. You can take a cruise ship or a fishing boat to pursue these activities. There are dive sites that are highly recommended such as Merah Beach, Batu Bolong and the Tatawa Islands.

This place has a rich and amazing underwater biotics. Divers claim that the waters of Komodo are one of the best dive sites in the world. It has fascinating underwater landscapes. You can find 385 species of beautiful corals, mangrove forests and algae as home to thousands of species of fish, 70 species of sponges, 10 species of dolphins, 6 species of whales, green turtles and several species of sharks and stingrays. The waters surrounding the island are turbulent and teem with unparalleled marine life. A marine protected area has recently been established, which is still largely undocumented and unexplored.

Lake Toba

Lake Toba is one of the impressive natural wonders of the world. This huge crater lake has an island at its centre that is almost as big as Singapore. Covering an area of over 1,145 square kilometers and with a depth of 450 meters, Lake Toba looks more like an ocean, in fact. The largest lake in Southeast Asia and one of the deepest lakes in the world, Lake Toba is a place to sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful, unspoiled scenery. As you sit and enjoy the view of the picturesque mountains and the cool, clear lake, you will feel the cares of the world melt away. Because the lake is 900 meters above sea level, it is cooler and offers a relief from the heat, humidness and pollution of the city.

Lombok

With divine beaches, the majestic Mount Rinjani and a spectacular underwater world to explore, the island of Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara has no shortage of attractions both in and out of the water. It’s no wonder then that Lombok is the most popular destination in West Nusa Tenggara. Challenge yourself with a trek up steep volcanic peaks. Hire a bike and cycle through lush, evergreen rice fields. However you spend your time, you won’t be disappointed by the spectacular natural beauty on offer.Kuta Beach in Lombok bears the same name as the famous Kuta Beach in Bali, but offers a different atmosphere with no fewer attractions. Explore other phenomenal beaches on the south coast, such as the famous Tangsi ‘Pink’ Beach further southeast, with pretty corals that make the shore blush. The amazing Senaru Waterfalls and Benang Kelambu Waterfalls offer a calming sight. Don’t miss joining the Grupuk Surf Camp and brush up your surfing skills at the beautiful Selong Belanak Beach. Join the locals of the Sasak tribe and experience their daily life in the weaving village of Sade and Rambitan. You may learn a thing or two from the wonderful women with their meticulous weaving skills who produce fine quality textiles.

Tana Toraja

Safely tucked away behind the high mountains and rugged granite rocks of the central highlands of Sulawesi, Tana Toraja is the homeland of the Toraja people.Only ‘discovered’ from their long isolation and opened to the world since the beginning of the last century, the Toraja today still hold on to their ancient beliefs, rituals and traditions, although many of their people have modernised or embraced Christianity.Toraja nobles are believed to be descendants of celestial beings who descended a heavenly staircase to live here on earth in this beautiful landscape. In order to sustain the energy of the land and the people, the Toraja believe that it must be maintained through rituals that celebrate both life and death and that are tied to the agricultural seasons. Tourists coming to Toraja are therefore attracted either by the unique culture and rituals, most of which revolve around graves and death ceremonies. While others prefer to avoid the morbid images and hike through the spectacular, almost untouched Toraja landscape and visit remote villages, or enjoy rafting on the rapids of the Sa’dan River.

Banyuwangi

Banyuwangi literally means “Aromatic Water”, which is linked to the local legend. Banyuwangi is the easternmost town on Java, and it is here that dawn rises first and casts its welcoming rays over Java, this lush green but also most densely populated island. The regency of Banyuwangi covers an area of 5,800 square kilometres and includes southern beaches lapped by the Indian Ocean to the impressive Mount Raung, 3,282 metres high, and Mount Merapi, 2,800 metres above sea level.

The town of Banyuwangi is the gateway to your explorations to see wild animals roaming freely in the Alas Purwo reserve, the oldest wildlife reserve in Java, trek through the Baluran savannah or find remote and pristine beaches on Pulau Merah or G-Land and travel to Sukamade Beach where turtles come to hatch their eggs. Mountaineers can hike up from Banyuwangi to the breathtaking Ijen Crater and marvel at the blue flames peeking out from between the yellow sulphurous rocks, cut and collected by hand by traditional miners.

Bintan Island

Just a ferry ride from Singapore or Johor Bahru in Malaysia, as well as the neighbouring island of Batam, Bintan is the largest island in the Riau Islands province and offers the perfect holiday with its high-end resorts, world-class golf courses and refreshing coastal atmosphere.

Tanjung Pinang, on the southwest coast of the island, is the capital of Riau Islands province. Besides being the centre of activity for the local population, Tanjung Pinang also offers a number of historical sights. These include Senggarang, the unique village on stilts, and a large Buddhist temple near the airport known as the Maritria Temple or Vihara Avalokitesvara. Penyengat Island, off the city, was once the seat of the Johor-Riau Kingdom and became the cultural capital of the Malay world in the 19th century. The restored Sultan’s Palace here is an interesting blend of Javanese and Dutch architecture. Here you will also find the tombs of the royal family, the fort and the great mosque Mesjid Raya Sultan Riau Penyengat.

However, Bintan’s main tourist attraction today is the Bintan Resorts, a spectacular beach holiday destination in the north of the island that stretches over 23,000 hectares along the entire white sand coastline to the South China Sea. Bintan has now become a world-class sports tourism destination, attracting thousands of people from all over the world to compete in marathons, triathlons, extreme sports and golf challenges.

There are currently ten independent beach resorts, four designer golf courses and a range of leisure facilities and attractions within the fully integrated Bintan Resorts.

To attract even more visitors, a huge artificial lagoon has recently been created in Lagoi, surrounded by new four-star and other luxury hotels. In Bintan, the resorts are: Bintan Lagoon Resort, Lagoi Bay Villas, Angsana Bintan, Banyan Tree Bintan, The Canopi, The Sanchaya, Swiss-Bel Hotel, Ria Golf Lodge, Nirwana Gardens, and more.

Southwest of the sprawling Bintan Resorts tourism area, right on its border, lie pristine mangrove forests cut by the meandering, clear Sungei Sebung River. Visitors can take a boat trip almost to the source of the river and experience an exciting excursion into the world of tropical mangroves: Observe monkeys, kingfishers, otters, tree snakes and even thousands of glow worms, which produce glowing lights at night and make the bushes glow like Christmas trees. At the same time, visitors help to save this precious, untouched environment from destruction.

In the east of the island, on the other hand, there is a long, white beach dotted with picturesque, huge boulders called Trikora Beach. This is the favourite beach playground for locals, but also for those coming from Singapore and Malaysia. A little further south is Nikoi Island, where an upscale, secluded boutique eco-resort has sprung up for those who like to stay in the midst of unspoilt nature – Robinson Crusoe-like, but with a dash of comfort and luxury. There is also a cave here dedicated to the Virgin Mary, with a small chapel and the Stations of the Cross, built by Vietnamese refugees but still very much visited today.