CapitalJakarta AirportSoekarno-Hatta international airport 20 miles west of Jakarta and Ngurah Rai international airport in Bali’s capital, Denpasar. CurrencyIndonesian Rupiah (£1=15,400 Indonesian Rupiah) Size741,000 sq miles Population238 million Average temperaturesclose to the equator, Indonesia has a tropical climate, with weather generally hot and humid. In the rainy season (October to April), rain generally starts around noon and lasts into the afternoon; in the dry season, temperatures remain almost constant at about 28C on the coast, dropping to about 22C inland in the highlands.
Bali, a quite sumptuous, sensuous island, with a misty highland interior, sandy beaches galore, and temples scattered about the island at every turn; food, which is always served spectacularly fresh, suffused with delicious, explosive spices, as good in roadside stalls as it is in five-star hotels; speaking of which, Indonesia, and Bali in particular, has fantastic, sublimely elegant five-star hotels, most of them in stunning cliff-top settings with world-class spas; Kelimutu, a multihued caldera hidden in the crater of an ancient volcano; Sumba, a fascinating, remote island with unique tribal traditions and a rich weaving heritage; the Komodo islands, home to the eponymous dragon, and destination of wonderful cruises from Bali and Lombok; the undisturbed beaches of Pulau Weh, with some of the best diving off its coast, and one of the best places in the world to see whale sharks; Donau Toba, Southeast Asia’s second largest volcanic lake, in an area inhabited by the famously warm Batak people; the Banda Islands, known in history as the fabled Spice Islands, sheltering today some of the best snorkelling and diving reefs in Indonesia; Pulau Ternate and Pulau Tidore, two volcanoes you can climb with sweeping views below; the swaying palms and verdant rice fields of Borobudur, with its awe-inspiring monument to Buddha; Gunung Bromo, an active volcano resting in the desolate wastes of the Sea of Sands; Bunaken Marine National Park, with staggering marine life and dazzling reefs; Tana Toraja, a mystical mountain kingdom in Sulawesi, with its own unique funeral rites; trekking the Baliem Valley’s stunning highlands; the island of Pulau Biak, home to birds of paradise, white-sand beaches and WWII wreck-diving; Tanjung Puting National Park, with river rafting and kayaking, jungle treks and orang-utan sanctuaries; Loksado, where you can hike and raft, delving deep into the bamboo jungles of the Meratus Mountains.
Buses are the mainstay of Indonesian transport. At any time of the day, thousands in all shapes and sizes move thousands of people throughout Indonesia. Train travel – one of the most comfortable and easiest ways to get about – is restricted to Java and Sumatra. In Java, trains are one of the most comfortable and easiest ways to travel. Ferries connect most of the islands. On smaller islands, bike and moped hire is a good option, while car-hire can help you get to some of the more remote sites, parks and beaches.
There are no direct flights to Jakarta or Denpasar; airlines offering a scheduled service from the UK include Etihad Airways, Emirates, Lufthansa, KLM, Qatar Airways and Qantas. Flight time is about 15 hours.
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