Top Indonesian Dishes For Tourists

Sample The Spice Islands

From Bandung to Bali, and Sumatra to Surabaya, each has its own unique tastes. There are so many ways to explore Indonesia and if you have little time to actually travel to beautiful Indonesia, you can do it by tasting Indonesia’s food:

satay and peanut sauce

1. Indonesian Satay: Satay is meat skewers that are cooked over coals. These juicy skewers are usually served with rice cakes (ketupat) with peanut sauce poured over the satay. It is a national dish conceived by street vendors and has been one of most celebrated food in Indonesia. It is practically everywhere and highly addictive.

2. Beef Rendang: This dish originated from Padang, Sumatra. Padang food is famous for its spiciness and richness in flavor. You definitely have to try Beef Rendang. It is somehow similar to Beef Curry but without the broth. We get to appreciate this dish because it take forever to cook to get that tenderness out of the beef. Try this Padang goodness and let the world know how tasty it is.

3. Fried Rice: Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice) is considered Indonesia’s national dish. It is the most versatile dish. You can mix it with veggies, chicken, beef, seafood, whatever it is that you can think of. What makes Indonesian Fried Rice different is the use of sweet, thick soy sauce called keycap and garnished with acar, pickled cucumber and carrots. Others prefer adding sambal (hot chili sauce).

4. Nasi Rawon: Nasi Rawon is a dish made of beef stew from East Java. Rawon has this nutty flavour and a deep, black color from the use of keluak nut. It is rich in flavor. This dish is best enjoyed with a bowl of rice. Yummy and hearty at the same time. Find out for yourself.

5. Sop Buntut (Oxtail Soup): The title says it all. It is a soup with Oxtail as its main hero. Although believed that oxtail soup was invented in London in the seventeenth century but this Indonesian version of oxtail soup is popular as ever. It is a healthy and hearty soup loved by many people. The oxtail is usually fried or barbecued and combined with a soup base.

Indonesia tourist souvenirs

6. Siomay: As you may or may not already know, most of Indonesian street food has something to do with peanut sauce. This dish right here called Siomay is Indonesia’s version of dim sum. This dish contain steamed fish dumplings. The portion comes with steamed potato, cabbage, egg and served with peanut sauce. If you want to go all local, the best way to enjoy Siomay is from a bicycle vendor, who carts his large steamer at the back of his bike. Street food at its best.

7. Indomie: This product is so sinful that we cannot help but be seduced by it. Cost merely around 25 cents a pack and you get a quick and satisfying snack. It is none other than our very own Indonesian Instant Noodles! With so many flavours to choose from, you’ll be left with more than enough choices. I can’t think of anyone who has ever tried every single flavor that is available.

8. Nasi Uduk: This aromatic dish is also one of Indonesia’s national dish. The meal revolves around rice cooked in coconut milk. It is quite similar to Nasi Lemak from our neighbouring country, Malaysia. The difference is that nasi uduk is usually served with fried chicken, tempe (soybean cake), shredded omelette, fried onion, anchovies and topped with sambal and emping (melinjo nut crackers). You definitely cannot leave out sambal for Nasi Uduk. This dish is popular among lunchtime crowds.

9. Sweet Martabak: One of our favorite desserts would be Indonesian Sweet Martabak. It is an Indonesian version of a pancake. In Indonesia, Martabak is only sold in the evenings. You can choose mix fillings from chocolate, cheese and peanuts.

10. Pempek: Last but not least, Pempek. Pempek or empek-empek is made of fish and tapioca. It is a Palembang specialty in South Sumatra. Pempek comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The most popular one is called, kapal selam (submarine), contains an egg in the middle. Pempek is sprinkled with shrimp powder and served with cuka, a dark dipping sauce made from vinegar, chill and sugar.

Enak sekali!

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at Visit Indonesia.

The Foods Of Indonesia

International, Local Cuisines Found Across Indonesia

Many Indonesian meals consist of steamed or fried rice with side dishes of meat, chicken, fish, and vegetables.   There is such a rich variety in the Indonesian cuisine that one should sample specialties in each region. However, most common nationwide are “sate” (skewered and grilled meat with peanut sauce on the side), “gado-gado” (vegetable salad with a peanut sauce), “nasi goreng” (fried rice), which often is served with every meal, and “bakmi goreng” (fried noodles).

Indonesia has a very international menu available in most areas frequented by world travelers. Chinese restaurants are found throughout the country. There also are fine restaurants specializing in continental, Japanese, and Korean cuisines. Pizza, hamburgers, and sandwiches also are found in many restaurants and cafes.

Unlike some countries in Asia, people in Indonesia don’t eat with chopsticks. They typically use a spoon in the right hand and a fork in the left hand. They eat with the spoon and use the fork to hold food down or load the spoon with the next bite.

Indonesian Sauces and Spices

Most Indonesians like their food spiced with a hot chili sauce called sambal. It’s similar to the hot sauce used with Mexican food. It can be very hot, but it’s a common accent for rice, fish, and meat. Sometimes restaurants make it fresh and others buy it in bottles.

Spices and hot chili peppers are the essence of most cooking, and in some areas they are used generously, such as in West Sumatra and North Sulawesi. In addition, peanut sauce is very common, especially with sate dishes. You also will find soy sauce available on most tables. Salt and pepper also are typically available for your personal flavoring.

Bali's towns and villages

Fish and Meat

Each province or area has its own cuisine, with varied recipes and cooking styles. Common Javanese cuisines consist of vegetables, fruits, soybeans, beef, and chicken. They don’t eat as much fish as you might assume. The Sumatrans generally eat more beef compared to the other regions. West Sumatra is known for its Padang style restaurants, which can be found throughout Indonesia. Padang style often includes dried meat and fish and is spicier than most Indonesian dishes.

Further to the eastern side of Indonesia, including Bali, seafood is more of a staple in the daily diet. Grilled fish, shrimp, lobster, oysters, and calamari are commonly found on the menus. Various seafood soups also are common.

In Bali, Papua, and the highlands of North Sumatra and North Sulawesi, pork dishes are specialties. As the population of Indonesia is predominantly Muslim (except Bali), pork is usually not served, except in Chinese restaurants, non-Muslim regions and in places serving international cuisine.


Salad lovers have to be patient and careful. Green salads are not found at every restaurant, but fruit and vegetables abound. Larger restaurants, hotel restaurants, and international restaurants often have the green salads many world travelers crave. In these restaurants, the salads should be safe to eat, but smaller restaurants in smaller towns deserve a word of caution, because the salad may have been washed in tap water instead of distilled water. When this happens, the salad can make you sick. If the establishment has international patrons, it should be safe to eat the salads.

foods of Indonesia

Vegetarian Dishes Across Indonesia

There is an abundance of tropical and sub-tropical fruits and vegetables available for consumption in Indonesia all year. Some fruits are seasonal, but most are available throughout the year, such as bananas, apples, papayas, pineapples, oranges, etc. Pure vegetarian dishes are available, but more limited and challenging to arrange in some areas. Most vegetarians are thrilled with the freshness and variety of the food available here. Most establishments are very accommodating.


Beverages of every type are found throughout the country. The word for beverage is minum. The word for large is besar and the word for small is kecil. The word for hot is panas and the word for cold is dingin.

Coffee and Tea

Coffee and tea are among the many crops grown throughout the islands. It’s usually fresh and strong here. Kopi is the word for coffee and teh is the word for tea. They both are fairly strong. Kopi Jawa is Javanese style and unfiltered. It has powder-like coffee grounds in the bottom of the cup. Gula is the word for sugar, susu is the word for milk.

Juice and Soft Drinks

Soft drinks from around the world are common here. Better yet, fresh juices, jus, from local produce also are available in most establishments. Fresh orange, grapefruit, melon, and other juices are rarely more than a few steps away.


You’ll feel right at home in many bar situations. You should find your favorite drink in most situations. One of the most common beers is Bir Bintang (beer BEEHN‑tahng). It means Star Beer—the Indonesian version of Heineken. Tiger Beer from Singapore and Australia’s Foster’s Lager also are common. Foreign beers and liquors often are available, but typically more expensive due to the tax on imported products. Most beers are available in regular and large sizes:

If you are in the mood for one of your traditional drinks, order it just as you normally would in your hometown. Most basic drinks and forms of alcohol seem to be part of a universal language. For instance, gin, vodka, rum and tequila are generally stocked and easily communicated in places that stock liquor.

There are several breweries that produce local beer. Bali produces brem, which is a rice wine, whereas Toraja has tuak, which also is found in North Sumatra and other areas.


In some cases, you don’t want ice in your drinks. However, most restaurants and hotels will have the ice that is safe to consume without getting sick. The alcohol in your drink might kill bacteria in the ice, but don’t count on it.

I don’t want ice. = Tidak mau es. (TEE‑dahk MAH-oo ehs)

Without ice! = Tanpa es! (TAHN‑pah ehs)

Indonesia rupiah


Since many Indonesian people support their families with tips, it’s an important subject. Many hotels and restaurants add on 18 percent for taxes and service charges. When the tip is not automatically included, a good waiter or waitress deserves at least a 10 percent tip. Depending on the restaurant, you may want to actually hand the change directly to the person when you leave the establishment. That way the tip ends up in the right hands.

Bali market

Helpful Words & Phrases For Indonesian Restaurants

eat = makan (MAH-kahn)

Drink = minum (MEE-noom)

I want = Saya mau _________. (SYE-ah MAH-oo ________).

He/she wants _________. = Dia mau _________ (DEE-ah MAH-oo).

please (get me) = minta (MEEN‑tah)

to clean = bersihkan (BEHR‑see‑KAHN)

how much, how many = berapa (BEHR‑rah‑PAH)

hungry = lapar (LAH‑pahr)

thirsty = haus (HAHS)

later = nanti (NAHN-tee)

not yet = belum (BEH‑loom)

tasty = enak (EH‑nahk)

very tasty = enak sekali (EH-nahk se-KAH-lee)

I like = Saya suka (SYE-ah SOO-kah)

one more = satu lagi (SAH‑too LAH‑gee)

it’s enough (I have enough) = sudah cukup (SOO‑dah CHOO‑koop)

Thank you = terima kasih (TEHR-ree-MAH KAH-see)

See you next time = Sampai jumpa lagi (SAHM-pye JOOM-pah LAH-gee)

foods of Indonesia

Helpful Indonesian Words

apple = apel (AH-pehl)

baked/grilled = bakar (BAH-kahr)

banana = pisang (PEE-sahng)

bill = bon (BOHN)

beef = sapi (SAH-pee)

beer = bir (beer)

bottle = botol (BOH-tohl)

bowl = mangkok (MAHNG-kohk)

bread = roti (ROH-tee)

buffet = buffet (BOOH-fay)

calimari = cumi cumi (CHOO-mee CHOO-mee)

candy = gula gula (GOO-lah GOO-lah)

chair = kursi (KOOR‑see)

chicken = ayam (AH-yam)

chicken soup = soto ayam (SO-toh AH-yahm)

chocolate = coklat (CHOHK-laht)

cigarette = rokok (ROH‑kohk)

coconut = kelapa (KEH‑lah‑PAH)

coffee = kopi (KOH-pee)

cold = dingin (DEEN‑geen)

corn = jugung (JOOH-goong)

croissant = croissant (KROH-sahnt)

cup = cangkir (CHAHNG-keer)

dirty = kotor (KOH‑tohr)

done, finished = selesai (SEH‑leh‑sye)

drink (a) = minum (MEE-noom)

drinking water = air minum (AH‑eer MEE‑noom) 

drunk = mabuk (MAH‑book)

egg = bubur ayam (BOO-boor AH-yahm)

empty = kosong (KOH‑sahng)

female server = mbak (m‑BAHK)

finished = habis (HAH‑bees)

fire, match, lighter = api (AH‑pee)

fish = ikan (EE-kahn)

flavor = rasa (RAH-sah)

flower = bunga (BOON‑gah)

food stall = warung (WAHR-roong)

fried = goreng (GOHR-rehng)

french fries = ketang goring (KEH-tahng GOHR-rehng)

fried banana = pisang goring (PEE-sahng GOHR-rehng)

fried rice = nasi goreng (NAH-see GOHR-rehng)

funny = lucu (LOO‑choo)

gin = jin (JEEN)

glass = gelas (GEH‑lahs)

him, her = dia (DEE‑ah)

hot = panas (PAH‑nahs)

hot sauce, chili sauce = sambal (SAHM-bahl)

ice = es (ehs)

juice = jus (joohs)

kitchen = dapur (DAH‑poor)

large = besar (BEH‑sahr)

laugh, to laugh = tertawa (TEHR‑tah‑WAH)

lemon = jeruk (JEH‑rook)

like = suka (SOO-kah)

lips = bibir (BEE-beer)

lobster = udang besar (OO-dahng BEH-sahr)

make = buat (BOO‑aht)

milk = susu (SOO-soo)

mouth = mulut (MOO-loot)

music = musik (MOO-seek)

napkin = serbet (SEHR-beht)

noisy = bising (BEE‑seeng)

noodles = mie (MEE)

nose = hidung (HEE-doong)

orange = jerek (JEH‑rehk)

orange juice = jus jerek (joohs JEH‑rehk)

paid = lunas (LOO‑nahs)

party = pesta (PEH‑stah)

peaceful = damai (DAH‑mye)

peanut = kacang (KAH-chahng)

pepper = merica (MEHR-reeka)

peppermint = permen (PEHR-mehn)

pineapple = nanas (NAH‑nahs)

pizza = pizza (PEE-zah)

plate = piring (PEER-reeng)

pork = babi (BAH-bee)

rice = nasi (NAH-see)

rice wafers = kretek

restaurant = rumah makan, ristoran (ROO-mah MAHK-ahn, REEST-or-RAHN)

restroom, toilet = kamar kecil, W.C., toilet (KAH‑mahr KEH‑cheel, wye‑sye)

rum = rum (ROOM)

salt = garam (GAHR‑rahm)

shrimp = udang (OO-dahng)

sip = isapan (EES-ah-PAHN)

sir/madam = mas (mahs)

sit = duduk (DOO-dook)

small = kecil (KEH‑cheel)

smell = bau (BAH-oo)

soy sauce = kecap (KEH-chahp)

steam = uap (OO-ahp)

store = toko (TOH-koh)

sugar = gula (GOO-lah)

suggestion = usul, saran (OO‑sool, SAHR‑rahn)

sweet = manis (MAHN-ees)

table = meja (MEH‑jah)

taste, flavor = rasa (RAH‑sah)

tea = teh (TEH)

tequila = tekila (TEH-kee-LAH)

tip = persen (PEHR-sehn)

toast = roti bakar (ROH-tee BAHK-ahr)

tonic = tonik (TOH‑neek)

vodka = vodka (VOHD-kah)

water melon = semangka (SEH-mahng-KAH)

whiskey = wiski (WEES-kee)

white rice = nasi putih (NAH-see POO-tee)

wine, grape = anggur (AHN‑goor)

Selamat makan! Selamat minum!

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Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at Visit Indonesia.

Bali The Island Of Temples

Bali’s Religion and Beliefs

Approximately three million people live on Bali and about 90 percent of the people follow the Hindu religion. Balinese Hinduism was formed from a combination of existing local beliefs and Hindu influences from across Southeast Asia and South Asia. The Balinese, like all people of Hindu faith, believe their religion is one of holy water. Water symbolizes fullness. Water is the building block of life and all living beings are at the mercy of God for water.

Bali temples

The Balinese consider everything to be holy and they believe that physical and spiritual lives are indivisible. Balinese describe their attitude toward life as one with “happiness in duty.” Faith and fun are one. Festivals, ceremonies, dances, and trances are an integral part of Balinese life.

The local people make offerings to the gods every day. Typically, women prepare and deliver the offerings on behalf of their family. Most offerings are simple and include rice, flowers, and incense on a banana leaf. For special ceremonies, the offerings are much more elaborate.

Bali monkey dance

The Balinese believe that when a child is born, it must not touch the ground during its first 105 days. During that time, they believe the baby is still living between heaven and earth and is not yet human. After three months, the family holds a ceremony to welcome the child to the material world and to give the child its name. From this point forward, the child can touch the earth.

Like all followers of the Hindu religion, the Balinese believe in reincarnation. Therefore, the lifelong goal of every Balinese person is to have a beautiful cremation ceremony. They believe the spirit is not released until the body is destroyed and the ashes are thrown to the sea. When a Balinese person dies, a surviving son must arrange for a cremation ceremony. Therefore, it’s important for every Balinese family to have at least one son.

Wealthier families have private cremation ceremonies fairly soon after a relative’s death. Families that don’t have the financial resources immediately available for the cremation may temporarily bury the body for up to 25 years, while they save enough money for the cremation ceremony. They also may join with other families recently who have lost a loved one. By joining together, they can conduct a mass cremation ceremony to make it more affordable.

The Balinese can’t cry when a relative passes away. If a tear falls to the earth, it grounds the spirit of the deceased, which prevents the spirit from leaving this world.

Balinese weddings happen in one of three ways. First, the parents can arrange a wedding between their children, without concern for the children’s preference. Secondly, the couple can ask their parents to agree and negotiate a relationship. Finally, if the children anticipate resistance from the parents, they can elope and negotiate with the parents later. On Bali and Lombok, the locals refer to eloping as “kidnapping.”

Danau Bratan Bali

Like all followers of the Hindu religion, the Balinese follow the caste system. There are four classes of people and the priests are at the top of the system. Weddings between castes are allowed, but sometimes frowned upon. The bride always assumes the caste of the husband (up or down) and can’t return to her family’s caste if the marriage fails.

The Balinese also believe that their canine teeth attract evil spirits and bad human qualities, such as greed and jealousy. They historically believed that these teeth must be filed and flattened in order to be reincarnated. In the past, when children became adults, the village priest filed their canine teeth down to a uniform length. Although the Balinese have stopped this practice for humane reasons, they still conduct a symbolic filing on young adults that is brief and less intrusive.

The Balinese wear yellow or white clothing when entering a temple for a ceremony. Musicians, however, are exempt from this dress code and they usually wear very bright clothing.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Learn more about Bali.

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Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at Visit Indonesia.

Indonesia’s Museum’s, Monuments Loaded With History

Museums, Monuments Found Across Indonesia

Indonesia’s monuments and museums are found throughout the country. They represent the whole spectrum of Indonesian life, thought and history. The best-known and also the oldest in existence of the museums of art, culture and history is the Central Museum in Jakarta.

Museums of natural history are found in Bogor and Bandung. Of equal scientific interest, though small in size, is the Sangiran museum of paleontology and anthropology near Solo (Surakarta).

Sangiran Museum

Sangiran Museum
A small museum in this village, 15 kilometers from Solo, displays prehistoric fossils found in the region. This area is found along the Solo River. It has an outcropping of the earth’s prehistoric surface, which has yielded many major anthropologic finds. Among them were the remains of Solo Man, one of the earliest human fossils known. The fossilized remains of Java Man were found not far away in 1881 by the Dutchman Dr. Eugene Dubois near the village of Trinil, East Java.

Indonesia mask

Central Museum
Jakarta’s Central Museum is one of the finest in Southeast Asia. Founded in 1788, it still has the world’s most complete collection of Indonesian artifacts. Its Hindu-Javanese collection is one of the finest in the world. It has one the richest collections of Han, Tang and Ming porcelain, and an array of Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese export ceramics. Its monetary collection includes rare specimens of cloth-money used in the past in various areas of Indonesia. The National Library is adjacent to the museum. It features more than 700,000 old and recent volumes of books, manuscripts and periodicals covering virtually every subject on Indonesia.

Jakarta History Museum fatahillah square

Jakarta History Museum, Fatahillah Square
This open-air museum in Jakarta has three main structures. The first is the Jakarta Museum, which exhibits the colonial history of the city, but also includes relics from the pre-colonial past. The building on the east, formerly the Supreme Court, houses the Fine Arts Gallery and the Ceramics Museum, which contains an excellent Chinese and Southeast Asian ceramics collection. On the western side of the square is the Wayang Museum, filled with puppets used in the indigenous puppet theater. The largest part of the collection consists of wayang kulit, the popular flat leather puppets from various regions. Demonstrations of the shadow play are given every Sunday morning.

Maritime Museum
The Maritime Museum is at the northern end of Jakarta. It has exhibits displayed inside the historic Dutch East India Company warehouses. In small-scale models and pictures, the museum attempts to give the visitor an idea of Indonesia’s seafaring tradition and the importance of the sea to the economy of present-day Indonesia. The museum features models of fishing boats from most parts of Indonesia, including the legendary pinisi schooners of the Bugis people of South Sulawesi.

Merdeka Square Monas National Monument Jakarta

National Monument
The 137-meter tall monument, also known as Monas, symbolizes Indoesia’s independence with a gold-leaf flame at the top. It faces the Presidential Palace in Jakarta. The basement of the monument houses a Museum of History with dioramas about Indonesia’s history—from prehistoric times through the present. A good portion of the display is devoted to the national war for independence, which raged from 1945 through 1949. You can hear the voice of Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, in the Hall of Silence at the foot of the National Monument. The monument is located at Merdeka Square (freedom square).

Armed Forces Museum
The Satria Mandala Museum, or Armed Forces Museum, is located in the southern part of Jakarta. It features an interesting collection of arms, including Japanese fighter planes from World War II, Russian and American guns, and armored cars.

The Textile Museum
The Textile Museum in Jakarta has about 600 different kinds of traditional Indonesian textiles, from batik to ikat and Dayak bark cloths. In many regions, such textiles are still used to pay fines, avert illness, and mark other social and religious purposes. Some of the oldest Indonesian ornamental designs are found in their original textiles.

Museum Indonesia
The Museum Indonesia, a three-story structure in traditional Balinese architecture, is located inside the Taman Mini Park. The museum has a vast collection of contemporary Indonesian arts and crafts, traditional costumes from the various regions, puppets, musical instruments, masks, and a large variety of utensils and equipment used in daily life across the islands. Mannequins and replicas display the various rituals concerned with the passage of life.

Museum Sono Budoyo
Founded in 1935, this museum faces the Kraton (Sultan’s palace) in Yogyakarta. It is built in traditional Javanese architecture. Its collection includes weapons, leather and wooden wayang puppets, masks, statues, textiles, curios, and old Javanese gamelan instruments. A library also is attached.

Museum Radjapustoko
The Radjapustoko Museum is located next to the Sriwedari amusement park in Solo. It features an interesting collection of art objects and mementoes from Java’s past.

Zoological Museum
The Zoological Museum in Bogor has a vast collection of preserved Indonesian animal species, from birds and reptiles to mammals and conchs displayed in life-like dioramas. The museum includes a library about the Indonesian animal world as well.

Geological Museum
The fossilized skull of legendary Java Man is featured at the Geological Museum in Bandung. The museum was founded in 1929 and includes collections of fossils, rocks, minerals, volcano models, maps, and more.

Other Monuments and Museums

Museums of local culture and history are found in many provincial capitals and towns across Indonesia, including the Bukittinggi Museum in West Sumatra, the Makkasar Museum in the former Fort Rotterdam in Ujung Pandang (Makassar), South Sulawesi, and the Simalungun Museum at Pematang Siantar, in North Sumatra.

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Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Bali’s Most Stunning Temples

Religion The Center Of Balinese Culture

No visit to Bali would be complete without a trip to see at least one of Bali’s many Hindu temples. There are over 20,000 pura (Balinese for temple) in Bali, a widespread marker of Bali’s reverent culture. The most impressive temples include:

Pura Besakih

The holiest of all temples in Bali, the Mother Temple of Pura Besakih is located some 3,000 feet up Gunung Agung in East Bali. This sprawling complex consolidates 23 separate temples, some dating back to the 10th century. The temple’s main axis aligns with the peak of Gunung Agung, the tallest mountain and holiest site on Bali.

Bali pura besakih

Pura Besakih narrowly escaped destruction in 1963, as lava flow from Gunung Agung’s killer eruption missed the temple by mere yards. Today, Pura Besakih is a major draw for tourists and for devout Balinese.

Pura Gunung Kawi

Located about a mile south of Tampaksiring, Bali’s “Valley of the Kings” is located in a ravine between ricefields. The Pakerisan river flows through this ravine, and the cliffs flanking the river feature shrines carved into the stone honoring kings and queens from the 11th century. The Balinese – big believers in the holiness of water – believe that the river sanctifies Pura Gunung Kawi.

Bali temple Gunung Kawi

The site isn’t a temple per se, nor is it a tomb – the royalty honored here were likely cremated according to Balinese custom.

Tirta Empul

The sacred spring that feeds Tirta Empul provides holy water for priests and bathing for ordinary Balinese, who believe that a dip hereabouts can bring good fortune and health. An offering must first be made at the temple before you can climb into the long main pool to bathe and meditate.

Bali tirta empul temple

Legend has it that the god Indra created the spring Tampaksiring (namesake of the nearby town) as an antidote to a poisonous spring created by an evil demon king. In reality, Tirta Empul was probably built in 926 AD during the Balinese Warmadewa dynasty. A villa complex nearby houses government VIPs; it was originally constructed for former President Sukarno in the 1950s.

Goa Gajah

Known as the Elephant Cave, Goa Gajah seems strangely free from elephants until you realize it takes its name from its proximity to the Elephant River. (Which is also strangely lacking in elephants.) Goa Gajah’s key attraction is the menacing entrance to the cave – the surrounding rock has been carved into a face, mouth agape.

Bali Goa Gajah

The interior of the cave features a statue of the Hindu god Ganesha and a worship area devoted to the Hindu god Shiva. Goa Gajah probably dates back to the 11th century, and is mentioned in a poem that dates back to the 1300s.

Pura Tanah Lot

Perhaps the most frequently featured temple on Bali’s postcards due to its unique offshore setting and sunset backdrops, Tanah Lot also happens to be one of Bali’s most important temples. Tanah Lot stands on a rock some distance from the shore, towering over the sea. Access to the temple is limited to low tide; even so, this picturesque temple is barraged by visitors.

Tanah Lot temple Bali

The temple’s construction was supposedly inspired by the priest Nirartha in the 15th century; after spending the night on the rock outcrop where the temple now stands, he instructed local fishermen to build a temple on that site. Today, Tanah Lot is regarded as one of Bali’s most important directional temples. A multimillion-dollar restoration effort in the 1990s saved Tanah Lot from falling into the sea.

As one of Bali’s most popular temples, Tanah Lot is surrounded by crowds and vendors. Do not visit if it’s peace and quiet you’re after, but do come if you’re after a great sunset view.

Pura Taman Ayun

Built in the 1600s by the King of Mengwi, Pura Taman Ayun survives today as a beautiful example of a royal public temple. The descendants of the Mengwi royal family still sponsor the temple, which also serves as the clan kawitantemple (a temple dedicated to the worship of the deified ancestors, in this case the previous rulers of the Mengwi royal family).

Bali's temple Taman Ayun

“Taman Ayun” means “beautiful garden”; a moat surrounds the temple, which gives the complex the appearance of floating on water. A landscaped front courtyard entered through an ornamental candi bentar (split front gate) adds to the temple’s beauty.

Pura Ulun Danau Bratan

This temple on the shores of Lake Bratan is second only to Pura Besakih in significance, but for rice farmers in Bali, this temple is the foremost on the island. Pura Ulun Danau Bratan is the primary temple in the many temples and shrines that punctuate the subak irrigation system popular in Bali. The temple is dedicated to the worship of the goddess of lakes and rivers, Dewi Batari Ulun Danau.

Lake Bratan temple Bali

Part of the temple is located on the mainland, while a significant section seems to “float” on the lake, being set on an island just off the mainland temple complex. An 11-roof meru (pagoda) sits on the island section, a towering beauty surrounded by a placid lake.

Pura Luhur Uluwatu

Pura Luhur Uluwatu is both a major Balinese temple – one of the six sad kahyangan revered by all Balinese – and the site of a nightly kecak performance that reenacts the Ramayana through chanting men, masked actors and a dramatic fire-dance.

Uluwatu temple Bali

Pura Luhur Uluwatu was first constructed by a Javanese Hindu guru in the 10th century. The whole temple stands on a cliff soaring 200 feet above a prime Bali surfing spot in the westernmost part of South Bali – the temple’s name refers to its position “at the head of the rock”, and visitors get an eyeful of the sea as it breaks against the base of the cliffs below. The view is especially beautiful during sunset.

Pura Goa Lawah

The temple of Pura Goa Lawah in East Bali iincludes a cave inhabited by thousands of bats. A black-sand beach nearby makes Goa Lawah a popular site for post-cremation purification, for the Balinese families that can afford it.

Bali pura goa lawah temple

The Javanese priest Nirartha supposedly visited the cave back in the 15th century. Legend has it that the cave interior extends over 19 miles underground to emerge at Pura Besakih.

For more information about Bali, visit

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Learn To Speak Bahasa Indonesia

A Few Indonesian Words Go A Long Way

This quick video tutorial helps introduce travelers to the Indonesian language. Learn proper pronunciation, grammar and essential words to get the most from your trip.

Learn to say hello, goodbye, please and thank you. Put a smile on hundreds of faces along the way by saying just a few simple words in Indonesian.

Indonesians will smile in delight when you speak just a word or two of their language. In addition, many locals will turn around and speak English to you. It’s a fun experience and a great way to get to know the real fabric of Indonesia and its culture. Plus, if you ever find yourself in need of directions or help, just a few words can make a big difference.

Speak Indonesian

Indonesian is a phonetic language. One way to learn the Indonesian language bahasa Indonesia pronunciation is to listen to locals speak. After listening carefully, imitate their pronunciation as accurately as possible and practice speaking out loud. Most Indonesians are happy to help you learn the language.

Travelers also can learn a great deal about the Indonesian language by watching local news and programs on Indonesian television. Watching movies also can help you learn words because they often are in English with Indonesian subtitles. It makes for an interesting language lesson.

Bali culture

For a quick introduction to Bahasa Indonesia, please watch this short video overview and then order your copy of the book. Pronunciation is critical, so take your time and practice just a few words at a time. Terima kasih!

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Bali More Attractive Than Ever To Tourists

Bali Is The Gateway To Indonesia

Bali still has pockets of untapped beauty as serene and laid-back as they ever were. Today, Ubud is the most famous country village in the tropics, after last year’s Eat Pray Love, starring Julia Roberts, was filmed there. Bali’s reputation as a tropical island paradise has its roots in an expatriate artists’ colony in the hills near Ubud which, 80 years ago, attracted Noël Coward and Charlie Chaplin, among others.

Uluwatu temple Bali

In the 1960s, hippies flocked to the coconut groves of Kuta beach for the amazing surf and endless summer. Since then, Kuta has expanded at an exponential pace, north into gaudy, glittery Seminyak and beyond, where thickets of luxury resorts and private villas have risen in ancient rice fields, as if by a wizard’s spell.

When I arrived in Bali to live, in 1999, the main cross-island road in the south was a washed-out gravel track, impassable after heavy rain; the internet was an exotic commodity, torturously slow when it worked at all; and there were no more than half a dozen restaurants that ventured beyond banana pancakes and croque-monsieur. A few of the big resorts had opened, attracting intrepid millionaires, and Kuta’s coconut groves had long since given way to budget hotels and homestays; yet Bali was still recognizably the sleepy, enchanted isle that time forgot.

Bali vacation

But in just 12 years the island has been transformed. Now there are fine restaurants in Ubud and Seminyak, and that cross-island track is a splendid four-lane motorway. But all this progress has come at a cost. Ubud may possess an indestructible charm, with its cultural treasures intact, but tourism is far and away the main business. Seminyak offers gorgeous luxury accommodation with every mod con, and a nightlife ranging from chic to raucous, but it’s quite possible to spend two weeks in Bali and leave without being exposed to its fascinating traditions of village life.

To see Bali as it was, not just 12 years but 12 centuries ago, I drove out to West Bali National Park, which occupies most of the island’s western bulge, across a strait from Java’s eastern tip. Bali’s only national park, it comprises nearly 20,000 hectares of forest, with an additional 50,000 hectares protected from development. The original forest here isn’t tropical rainforest as in the national parks of Java, but coastal savannah, with deciduous trees and thick underbrush. With not a coconut palm or a banana tree in sight, it doesn’t look like the Bali of brochures. You might think you were in rural Alabama or Sweden were it not for the monkeys, iguanas and pythons, and the gentle herds of russet-coloured mouse deer and muntjak which run throughout the park.

Bali Aman dari

The Menjangan Resort occupies a good chunk of the park, but has a minimal impact on its surroundings. A pair of simple, solid-frame lodges face each other across a swimming pool shaded by ancient trees. The rooms are large and comfortable but unfussy, finished in natural woods, bamboo mats and fine Indonesian textiles. There is just one small clearing behind the guestrooms for a huge aviary that is home to 11 of the rarest birds on earth. One of the national park’s primary missions is to promote the conservation of the Bali starling (Leucopsar rothschildi),a gorgeous white bird with black-tipped wings and tail, bright-blue eye patches and a jaunty crest. By 2001, its wild population had dwindled to just six; now it is estimated at more than 60. The park has around 160 avian species, making it a major destination for birdwatchers.

Bali Indonesia tourism

The resort takes its name from Pulau Menjangan (Deer Island), 10km off the north-east coast, which many believe has the best snorkeling in Bali, with its coral gardens like underwater palaces, frequented by an assortment of brilliantly colored fish. The island is uninhabited except for the deer which migrate there every year in a mass swim across the channel from the mainland.

golf Indonesia

A further hour’s drive along Bali’s north coastal road brought me to Lovina. The path to Lovina beach was well beaten by backpackers a long time ago. While it has the simple charms of any tropical beach, the pebbly strand and flat sea here are tame stuff compared to the mighty surf and white-sand beaches of Kuta and Seminyak.

The attraction of Lovina has always been its hip, relaxed style, and the low prices that come with it. In 1995, an enterprising Dane called Nils Normann looked up from the beach to the thickly forested hills facing the sea, and envisioned an inn in the European style, a country retreat with fine dining and sumptuous gardens. The result is the Damai, which opened with just eight bungalows, to which Normann has since added six handsome, roomy pool villas.

Indonesia Tourism News via

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia