Discovering Indonesia's Hidden Gems: Unconventional Vacation Spots for 2023

After nearly three years of the pandemic, 2023 is the perfect year to plan for an exciting vacation. There are already several public holidays in Indonesia, such as the Idul Fitri break, Ascension Day, and the school vacation, so it’s an ideal time to start planning your next trip. However, if popular vacation spots like Bali, Lombok, and Yogyakarta are too “basic” for your vacation-related thirst, consider visiting Indonesia’s hidden gems.

One such hidden gem is Likupang Beach, located in North Minahasa Regency in North Sulawesi province. Notable for its natural beauty, white sands, green hills, and meadows in the background, Likupang Beach is a tranquil destination for beachgoers for a more serene excursion. The local government has also proven its commitment to turning Likupang Beach into a flourishing holiday haven by encouraging sustainable tourism practices and a zero-waste lifestyle among the locals.

For those in the mood for a jungle adventure, Tanjung Puting National Park in Central Kalimantan is a must-visit. The park boasts an awe-inspiring experience with the abundance of vegetation along the park’s Sekonyer River and orangutan conservatory. Moreover, Tanjung Puting National Park encompasses more than 3,000 square kilometers of world-renowned Borneo peat swamps, mangroves and coastal beach forests, lowland rain forests, tropical moist forests, and secondary (regenerated) forests. The Orangutan Foundation runs the park’s facility called Pondok Ambung Tropical Forest Research Station, which supports local and international researchers in studying the diversity of flora and fauna nurtured by the foundation, including orangutans.

Lasem in Rembang Regency of Central Java province is another hidden gem worth visiting. The subdistrict is known for its unique, blended Chinese and Javanese culture and historical values. It’s arguably one of the very first regions in Indonesia where the early Chinese immigrants stepped foot in Java in the 14th century, and it’s the town where many Chinese merchants set up shop after Admiral Cheng Ho visited Java to establish a bilateral partnership with the Majapahit Empire. Besides the ancient Chinese architecture that remains intact across the town’s neighborhood, Lasem is also known as a batik center predominantly concentrated in the town’s Kampung Batik Karangturi. The city is also known for its religious attractions, such as the Jami Lasem Mosque, which has stood the test of time since 1588.

For a more provocative side of history, consider visiting Lawang Ombo, also known as “A Piece of Eastern Paradise.” This former opium house is one of the oldest residences in Lasem and a must-see for tourists who are looking for a more provocative side of the town’s history.

Finally, Banda Neira, also known as the home of nutmegs, is a hidden gem that’s worth a visit. The island offers almost every attraction to tourists, pilgrims, and globetrotters. The island’s Lava Flow is a sight to behold, and visitors can observe the marine life underneath the mirror-like waters with the naked eye. Banda Neira was made famous as the island where some of the country’s most storied icons, such as Mohammad Hatta and Dr. Cipto Mangunkusumo, were once exiled by the Dutch in the early 20th century.

Indonesia has a wealth of hidden gems that are worth exploring. Whether you’re in the mood for a serene beach vacation or a jungle adventure, there’s something for everyone.