Bintan – nicknamed “The New Bali” – is the very picture of a tropical paradise. Hailed for its incredible beaches, Bintan will blow you away with its natural beauty. Sporting a number of swanky resort hotels, Bintan is a top-pick for well-heeled socialites from around the region and those who prefer to travel in luxury. If you’re looking for a bit of adventure and culture, you’ll find a number of historic sites to explore on this island, including the Santa Maria Cave, Banyan Tree Temple and Raja Haji Fisabillah Monument.
Bintan is the very picture of a tropical paradise. Photo credit: Tim Donnelly / Flickr
2. Yogyakarta and Malang
Java, as the most populous island of the Indonesian archipelago, hosts some of its most exciting cities. Yogyakarta is famous for its preservation of the old traditions of Java, and is also home to several sites of extreme antiquity, such as the Kraton Ngayogyakarta and the Tugu Monument. If your husband is a golf fanatic, he’ll rejoice at the world-class Merapi Golf centre.
Don’t miss Borobudur, an ancient Buddhist temple complex that is located a mere 60 to 90 minute car ride from Yogyakarta. The complex is testament to the skill of the ancient temple builders who carved this out of stone, into what still remains the biggest single Buddhist structure in the world. This is one place you have to ensure your children see at least once in their lifetime.
On the east side of Java lies the city of Malang. Picturesque and breezy, it’s easy to see why those in the know refer to it as the Paris of East Java. It has plenty of culture to offer, and makes an excellent starting point for excursions to the jungles and mountains of the region.
Borobudur: a grand monument to the immense skill of the ancients.
3. Bali and Lombok
Bali has a world-famous reputation that is well-deserved. The Island of the Gods, as it’s known, will thrill even the most jaded, hard-to-please traveller. Inland, one can find picturesque villages, mountains and waterfalls, while down closer to the beaches activities are varied enough for all tastes. The parties here are legendary, but there are wellness retreats and plenty of green living options for those seeking peace as well. No matter which you opt for, Bali is sure to satisfy, making the island perfect for the family who finds it hard to agree on just one thing, as you’ll find something for everyone here.
Many travellers pass Lombok over for its better-known sibling, Bali, but this wonderful island has just as much to offer travellers. The levels of service one finds at the resorts of the island rival the Balinese standards, and the beaches and wild areas inland are perhaps even more pristine. Presided over by the majestic volcano known as Gunung Rinjani, jungles and beaches await. Outdoor fun is plentiful; one can climb, dive, surf and trek, and at the end of it all, a massage table with your name on it awaits you beachside. When the urge to travel rises, all you have to do is hop on a boat and head over to the nearby Gili islands, where more fun lies in store. Lombok is the perfect alternative to Bali for a family getaway that is equal parts adventure and relaxation.
Bali is everything you’ve heard and more.
4. Flores and Komodo National Park
If you thought dragons only existed in fairy tales, a visit to the island of Komodo, located in Flores, will quickly show you the error of your ways. This island nature reserve, named by UNESCO as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, is a jaw-dropping spectacle of pristine tropical jungle, replete with rare species you never dreamed you’d get the chance to see outside of a zoo. Another feature of the island that tourists often neglect are the reefs, which are natural wonders in their own right.
There’s more to Flores, however. The tours running from the neighbouring islands can reveal to you a world of dense jungle, crystal clear waters, hidden beaches and secluded fishing villages, a truly fantastic journey worthy of legends. If your kids love the zoo, Flores is the best place to take them.
Walk with dragons in the fairytale jungle island of Komodo.
- Bali under RM650: a 3D2N budget itinerary from Kuala Lumpur
- 5 underrated islands near Bali for a change in beach
- What to see & do in Yogyakarta: Indonesia’s temple paradise
- Travel tips: Visas for Malaysians around SEA
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Originally published on 1 Dec 2015 and updated in May 2017. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.