It's no secret that Bali is amongst the most popular travel destinations in the world. However, not all is as it seems. Since facing surges in tourism, Bali has been facing great issues such as environmenal damage, animal cruelty and exploitation of the local population. But Indonesia is more than its most popular hotspot, so here's a list of seven lesser-known places to explore. You might find they're even more enjoyable than a visit to Bali!
For panoramic views of smoking volcanoes, rolling green hills and temples, look no further than East Java. Forget just one or two main attractions here, a trip to East Java will take you on an endless journey of discovery. You can find Indonesia's best waterfall, the Tumpak Sewu waterfall, which may not be the largest but is undoubtedly the most impressive, resembling the Tree of Life from above. The best time to explore this waterfall is during sunrise, however it's from the only waterfall found in the region. Other stunning falls include the Coban Sriti Waterfall and the Kabut Pelangi waterfall where the water comes crashing into an ampitheater covered in lush green plants. East Java is easy to reach by ferry from Bali.
This rainbow village is truly a little whimsical gem. And the story behind its creation is just as beautiful as its appearance. Originally a run-down village with little hope, a junior high school principal wanted to improve the local community and had a vision of painting all 390 houses here in bright colors. The government pledged 22,000 dollars for the initiative to take place and the results have been rewarding in many ways. Since the transformation, residents have been decorating their homes with art and have also decided to clean the nearby river. Not only has the transformation incentivized local residents to improve their village, but it has attracted tourists too which has given the local economy the boost it desperately needed.
Raja Ampat Islands
This archipelago may be hard to get to, but the serene paradise you'll find here is definitely worth the trip. The deep green waters alone will leave you stunned, and there's a reason it's popular for honeymoons! Misool is the island you want to head to if you enjoy diving around pristine coral reefs. If you're looking for a more adventurous diving experience, Cenderawasih Bay is where you can find majestic whale sharks. Expect to also see dolphins, turtles, angelfish and purple pufferfish as the Indonesian waters here are amongst the most biodiverse in the world. And when your head is above the water, you are guaranteed to experience some of the most beautiful sunsets imaginable.
This destination is perfect for those who enjoy both history and architectural wonders. The Borobudur Buddhist temple is simply unforgettable. Dating back to the 9th century, this is the world's largest Buddhist temple complete with 504 Buddha statues. This majestic temple is a true wonder especially given that it was built without the use of cement or mortar. You can find this temple sitting perfectly on a hilltop overlooking stretches of lush green fields and hills. Another wonder is the Prambanan Temple complex, composed of several temples: three ornately decorated temples that depict the epic of the Ramayanam and dedicated to the Hindu deities Shiva, Vishnu and Brahama, and three temples dedicated to their animals, just to name a few.
The stunning landscapes of mountains and waterfalls found in Lombok are a world away from the tourist crowds in Bali. The famous Mount Rinjani rises an incredible 3,726 meters so be ready for a difficult hike. You'll be rewarded with stunning views, and the pictures you'll capture once you reach the top will be anything but disappointing. The vistas aren't the only surprise here. You can also find the Air Kalak Hot Springs and what perfect way to relax after a hike than a natural bath? If a mountain climb isn't at the top of your agenda, the waterfalls are sure to be. The Tiu Kelep Waterfall is the most famous and you are guaranteed an unforgettable journey trekking the river to watch this fall. And not only does it differ from Bali in its attractions, but Lombok is also complete with its own unique personality and customs.