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7 Bucket-Worthy Ideas for the Best Cultural Trip in Indonesia

 

Picture this. You are traveling to one of the most exotic places. Viewing unique traditional houses with their high rooftops and unique paintings. Then you escape to watch festive dances. Their unique masks, vibrant costumes, and lively music hypnotize you. Can you guess where you are? If you guessed Indonesia, you’re completely right! The archipelago is perfect for a cultural travel of a lifetime. Its vivid heritage is bound to excite you! So, to assist your future vacation, we've gathered the country's most bucket-worthy spots to experience!

Here are 7 alluring ideas for an amazing cultural trip in Indonesia!

 

1 | Get a closer look at the traditional Bolon House at Lake Toba, North Sumatra

bolon house in north sumatera

Ever seen a house as majestic as the traditional houses in Lake Toba, North Sumatra? If you haven't, then be sure to put this on your bucket list! Bolon House stands high at 15 meters with embossed paintings and vibrant paint color. These paintings symbolize different meanings, representing Batak's beliefs and customs. It was even said that this rumah bolon was used for kings in North Sumatra. A majestic place for your cultural trip!

You can get a glimpse of these ancient heritage sites around Samosir Island, namely Siallagan Village and Tomok Village.
 

2 | See Topeng Betawi Dance and taste bir pletok at Setu Babakan Betawi Cultural Village, Jakarta

female dancers in Betawi Cultural Village, ready to perform Topeng Dance

There's nothing like the lively Betawi heritage to boost your mood! Experience this culture at Setu Babakan Betawi Cultural Village, Jakarta. You can view its unique mask or topeng dance, Blantek. The dance combines Blenggo Dance, Pencak Silat, and magic tricks. The traditional music of Rebana Biang is in the background, too! After you watch the vibrant dance, you can then buy yourself a bir pletok drink. Contrary to the name “beer” in English, this non-alcoholic beverage is sweet but warms you up. It's because this drink uses herbs like sappanwood, pepper, and ginger!  A healthy drink for you to try.

Visit this cultural village with around an hour's drive from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. So, if you're ever in Jakarta, stop by this destination to experience some cultural fun!
 

3 | Learn to create batik & play gamelan at Karangrejo Village, Borobudur, Central Java

foreigner learning to make batik with Indonesian in Borobudur

Borobudur is not just known for its grand Buddhist temple. It’s also a popular spot for a cultural trip! Try visiting Karangrejo Village, just a few minutes away from Borobudur Temple. Here you can explore its cultural attractions, including its batik and gamelan music. One place you can also go to learn how to make batik is Plataran Heritage Borobudur. Open your mind to Batik’s history, techniques, and traditional uses. You can also go to Pendopo Bu Condro, where you can listen to gamelan music, watch them play, and ask to try playing it yourself!

Karangrejo is also known for its natural attractions in Setumbu Hill. So, before you immerse yourself in its culture, it’s recommended to glimpse the sunrise from here. You can easily reach it with a 60 to 90-minute drive from Yogyakarta.
 

4 | Watch the spectacular traditional performance at Uluwatu Kecak & Fire Dance, Bali

a group of men dancing Kecak Dance in Uluwatu Bali

Want to experience something hypnotizing in Indonesia? Catch Bali’s traditional dance at the stunning Uluwatu Temple! There, you can watch the spectacular Kecak Dance. Listen to its alluring “Cak! Cak! Cak!” chants as the men begin to perform. It boasts the epic tale of a prince, Ramayana and his wife Shinta. This dance is said to originate from a Balinese ancient ritual called Sanghyang, aimed as a form of exorcism or to repel evil spirits where dancers fall into a trance. As you view this mesmerizing stage act, be sure to catch the view of the sunset in the background. A magical destination fit for any culture-seeker! Reach this spectacle with a 40-minute drive from the Ngurah Rai International Airport.
 

5 | Discover intricate hand weaved Tenun & dress up in traditional Sasak clothes at Sukarara Village, Mandalika, Lombok

showcasing colorful handweaving tenun in Sukarara Village

Nothing’s as colorful as the world of tenun in Sukarara Village, Mandalika! As one of Indonesia’s most popular hand-weaving places, Sukarara Village showcases its traditions in creating intricate masterpieces. You can see these hand woven fabrics come to life in the hands of the locals. Observe how they choose the best thread, the natural dyeing process, and their weaving methods with traditional tools. The pop of color in its tenun will energize you for your cultural travel!

An iconic cultural spot in Lombok, you can easily reach this destination. It’s around 25 km away from Mataram. Or just 20 minutes from Lombok International Airport.
 

6 | Glimpse the vibrant dance of Kabasaran Dance at Likupang, North Sulawesi

two people performing Kabasaran Dance in Likupang, North Sulawesi

Interested in watching a vibrant war dance? If your answer is yes, then you should try viewing Kabasaran Dance. This traditional performance originated from the Minahasa people in North Sulawesi. It is said that Kabasaran was performed by warriors during war. So, it's no wonder they wear attractive red costumes with weapon-like attributes, such as swords or spears. Check this cultural act in numerous festivals around Likupang. Or you visit the cultural village of Sawangan, just an hour drive from Likupang.
 

7 | Stay at the enchanting Mbaru Niang Houses at Wae Rebo Village, East Nusa Tenggara

two traditional Mbaru Niang Houses in Wae Rebo Village

Discover fairytale-like houses at Wae Rebo Village, East Nusa Tenggara! Why do we call them fairytale-like houses? It’s because of their cone-shaped structure, similar to those in fairytales. These houses called Mbaru Niang are tall and completely covered in lontar thatch. The village and its small population of around 1,200 inhabitants, welcome you to their simple way of life. Immerse in their traditions as you talk to the locals. Then get a chance to experience their ceremonies or rituals. One popular ritual you can try to catch here is the sacred rituals of Penti. It’s a thanksgiving ritual to celebrate the past year’s harvest and prayers for a prosperous, new agricultural year. Pretty exciting, don’t you think?

 

These cultural trip ideas will surely add a dash of magic to your bucket list. From unique houses to one-of-a-kind traditional dance, Indonesia’s culture brings out feel-good excitement. Experience this colorful heritage for your next cultural travels! Keep in mind to implement CHSE (Cleanliness, Health, Safety, and Environmental Sustainability) protocols during your travels to Indonesia. This means to keep your physical distance, always wear a mask, and wash your hands.