About Indonesia Including Borneo & Malaysia
Bali, including Ubud: Bali sits in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, between Java and Lombok. The island is home to most of Indonesia’s Hindu minority. It is also the primary travelers’ destination in Indonesia, and is the center for Indonesian arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, puppetry, metalworking and music. The artisan villages of Celuk, Mas and Ubud are centers of the Balinese gold and silver jeweler industry, wood carvings and paintings. Rural villages, beautifully terraced rice fields and many 17th-century village temples are worth exploring. In Ubud, the focus is on culture, yoga and nature. In contrast to the beaches of southern Bali, Ubud sits in an area of forests and rivers. It has cooler temperatures and less congestion. Puri Saren Agung is a large palace that was the home of the last king of Ubud. It is occupied by his descendants, and dance performances are held in the courtyard. The Ubud Monkey Forest is a sacred nature reserve located near the southern end of Jalan Monkey Forest. It houses a temple and more than 300 crab-eating macaque monkeys. The Blanco Renaissance Museum is also located in the town.
Diving: Indonesia Archipelago is made up of more than 17,000 islands; many largely inaccessible, most uninhabited. Once on the spice trade routes, they slowly became ignored by history. Only now are they being rediscovered little by little. That means some of the most unique scuba diving and snorkeling adventures can be experienced in the Indo-Pacific regions. Superb visibility, endless marine life, extensive coral sites, migrating whales, pristine reefs and caves – a water world of powerful beauty and biodiversity.
Jakarta: The north coast area of western Java including Jakarta, was the location of prehistoric Buni culture that flourished around 400 BCE to 100 CE. The area in and around modern Jakarta was part of the fourth century Sundanese kingdom of Tarumanagara, one of the oldest Hindu kingdoms in Indonesia. Jakarta is the capital and largest city of Indonesia. On the northwest coast of Java, it is the center of commerce, culture and politics in Indonesia. Listed as an Alpha Global City, Jakarta’s greater urban area is the second largest in the world after Tokyo, and home to millions of people from around the world. The population of the city is more than 80% Muslim. Along with a massive population comes big city problems of traffic, overcrowding and rapid urban growth. Merdeka Square is a massive city square that includes a deer park and 33 trees that represent the provinces of Indonesia. Central Jakarta encompasses the Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta Cathedral and Jakarta Central Post Office. There are some 142 museums in the city, many clustered around the square area, Jakarta Old Town and Taman Mini Indonesia Indah. The Jakarta Old Town contains museums that are former institutional buildings of Colonial Batavia, including Jakarta History Museum, Fine Art and Ceramic Museum, and the Maritime Museum.
Komodo Island: Komodo Island’s most famous residents are the remarkable Komodo dragons, the largest monitor lizard on earth. It also inhabits the nearby islands of Rinca and Padar. The great lizard shares the island with wild buffalo, deer, pig and various species of tropical birds such as the cockatoo. The island’s roughly 2,000 human residents are descended from convicts who were exiled to the island and later mixed with islanders. The island Komodo is part of the Lesser Sunda Islands and forms part of the Komodo National Park. The island is a popular destination for scuba diving. Komodo has a pink sand beach, one of only seven in the world. The sand appears pink due to the mixture of white sand and red sand, formed from pieces of foraminifera, a type of marine plankton species.
Moyo Island: Amanwana is the only resort on the island of Moyo, a nature reserve east of Bali. Moyo is home to a deer sanctuary for the indigenous rusa deer; and its hilly forest shelters seven species of bat, monitor lizard, python, macaque monkey and wild boar. Jungle treks take in lovely waterfalls, and search for a variety of birdlife, including kite, osprey and sea eagles.
Pangkalan Bun: This is the transit point for getting to Tanjung Puting National Park on the island of Borneo in the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan. The park is famous for its orangutan conservation. Even though this is a protected park, about 65% of the park’s primary forest is degraded. Habitat destruction is the greatest threat to the precious wildlife here.
Sulawesi & Toraja: Sulawesi is one of the four larger Sunda Islands of Indonesia and the world’s 11th-largest island. About 127 mammal species seen in Sulawesi include two species of dwarf buffalo, pig, palm civet, and primates including tarsiers and several species of macaque. The settlement of South Sulawesi by modern humans is dated to 30,000 BCE on the basis of radiocarbon. Beginning in the 16th century, Makassar was the dominant trading center of eastern Indonesia, and soon became one of the largest cities in island Southeast Asia. In the Toraja highlands, the Toraja are an ethnic group indigenous to a mountainous region of South Sulawesi. They are known for elaborate funeral rites, burial sites carved into rocky cliffs, massive peaked-roof traditional houses known as tongkonan and colorful wood carvings. Toraja funeral rites are important social events, lasting for several days. The cliffs at Lemo display ancestral sculptures and hanging graves; and Londa has an ancient ceremonial burial place. The village of Kete Kesu has fine examples of traditional houses and rice barns. It is famous also for its woodcarving.
Yogyakarta: At the center of the city is the kraton, Sultan’s palace, which is surrounded by densely populated residential neighborhoods that occupy land that was formerly the Sultan’s sole domain. The core of the modern city is to the north, encompassing the Dutch colonial-era buildings and the commercial district. Jalan Malioboro sports rows of pavement vendors, a nearby market and malls that are the main shopping area for tourists.
Borneo (Indonesian: Kalimantan): The island is the third largest in the world, and rests north of Java, Indonesia, at the geographic center of Maritime Southeast Asia. The island is divided among three countries: Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. Approximately 73% of the island is Indonesian territory. The Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak in the north occupy about 26% of the island. The sovereign state of Brunei, located on the north coast, comprises about one percent of Borneo’s land area. Borneo is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world, along with the Daintree Rainforest in Australia and the Amazon Rainforest.
Malaysia: Malaysia is a country of contrasts that begins in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, where ultra-modern skyscrapers overlook old neighborhoods of wooden houses on stilts and five-star hotels. Traders, adventurers and settlers arrived from India and China as early as the first century. They began establishing trading ports and coastal towns in the second and third centuries, resulting in strong Indian and Chinese influence on the local culture, including the introduction of Hinduism and Buddhism. In addition to the rich cultural menu, nature deals an extraordinary hand here. The region is famous for its incredible cave systems. Malaysia has flawless beaches and beautiful national parks. It is estimated to contain 20 percent of the world’s animal species, including about 210 mammal species; more than 620 species of birds, 250 reptile species and 150 species of snakes. Separate from Malaysia but close by, the wonderfully eccentric island-city-state of Singapore was a free trade port in the 18th century, which attracted waves of Chinese, Indian, Malay and Europeans. The result is a dynamic city/state that offers up a unique style all its own, skillfully blending new world with old traditions.
Best Time to Go
This region can be enjoyed year around. It is generally hot, sunny and uniform. It usually rains for a bit every day with more rain during the monsoons. Southwest monsoon season is from late May to September, and Northeast monsoon from November to March. In Borneo, travel is possible all year, but the best season is March to October, during the dry season, although it still rains in the forest. This is also best time for diving.
Day 1: Jakarta, Indonesia
On the northwest of the island of Java, this exotic capital of Indonesia encompasses the Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta Cathedral and Jakarta Central Post Office as well as some 142 museums.
Day 2: Jakarta / Pangkalan Bun, Borneo
Borneo is the third largest island with one of the oldest rainforests in the world.
Day 3: Pangkalan Bun – Tanjung Putting National Park
This national park on the island of Borneo is famous for the endangered orangutan.
Day 4: Pangkalan Bun / Semarang / Yogyakarta
Yogyakarta is a center of classical Javanese art and culture such as batik, ballet, drama, music and puppetry.
Day 5: Yogyakarta
The city is known for its 17th-century Sultan Palace, the old market of Beringharjo and Prambanan Hindu temple, which is said to be one of the most beautiful Hindu temples in the world.
Day 6: Yogyakarta – Borobudur – Yogyakarta
Borobudur is a ninth-century Mahayana Buddhist monument decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues.
Day 7: Yogyakarta / Depart
Bali including Ubud (5 days)
Bali is globally renowned known for its beaches but also a center for the traditional Balinese arts, from dance to painting.
Diving (3-5 days)
For serious scuba divers, Indonesia’s islands represent a unique opportunity to dive still untouched reefs and pristine waters alive with marine life, including species found nowhere else.
Komodo Island (3 days)
The island is celebrated for its amazing Komodo dragons. It is also recognized for having one of only seven pink beaches in the world.
Lombok & Tembok (4 days)
Less developed than nearby Bali, the island has the third largest volcano in Indonesia and wildlife such as the rare black ebony leaf monkey, long-tailed gray macaque, barking deer and a host of colorful birds.
Moyo Island (3 days)
The protected marine park offers some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling in Indonesia, with pristine reefs boasting a rich array of sea life.
Sulawesi & Toraja (3 days)
The Toraja from the mountainous region of South Sulawesi have a fascinating traditional culture.
Borneo (6 days)
Borneo has significant cave systems. For example, in Sarawak, the Clearwater Cave has one of the world's longest underground rivers while Deer Cave is home to more than three million bats.
Malaysia (5 days)
Malaysia is a country of contrasts beginning in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, where ultra-modern skyscrapers overlook old neighborhoods of wooden houses on stilts and five-star hotels.
$500-$700 per person per day. Land only, double occupancy.