Things to do in Bali
Scale Mount Batur at Sunrise
Witness Bali's famous sunrises from the top of the dramatic Mount Batur volcano. Steal out before daylight and scale its slopes illuminated by torchlight. It takes two hours to hike to the summit through volcanic ash and lava forms. At the top, you can watch the day break over the sea and take in mist-swaddled vistas. Walk around the crater rims before descending for a dip in a hot spring.
Hop onto a VW convertible for a day roaming central Bali's ancient temples. Visit Gunung Kawi, a moss-draped 11th-century temple with ten impressive rock-cut shrines and views of rural rice terraces. Next stop, Pura Tirta, a water temple which draws thousands of Balinese Hindu worshippers. Take a soak in its holy spring water pouring from its stone fountains.
A Kecak Dance Concert
Up in the tropical hills of Ubud, immerse yourself into authentic Balinese culture. Sit back in a candle-lit amphitheatre and watch a Kecak dance concert, a visually stimulating traditional form of Hindu dance and drama. Watch in awe at this trance-inducing performance, with chanting as well as thrilling displays of fire kicking. Afterwards treat yourself to a local-style feast at a chic restaurant with views over the endless rice paddies.
Things to do in North Bali
An Underwater Safari
Take a scenic 30 minute boat ride to the island's best diving and snorkelling sites. You'll stop off at peaceful spots where the water is calm and crystal clear. Don a mask and flippers and then slip into the sea to explore its thriving coral gardens. Swim among shoals of batfish, sculpture-like sea fans and schools of snapper. You may even spot a reef shark or two.
Riding in Bali Barat National Park
Explore the Bali Barat National Park on horseback. Whatever your experience level, all can enjoy roaming this wild terrain of natural forest and savannah. Ride out on beautiful horses, perhaps spotting the endangered Bali starling and flying foxes in the rustling canopy. Gallop along a white sand beach and take in views of the deliciously blue sea.
Brahma Vihara Arama
Journey into the mountains to visit the Brahma Vihara Arama, Bali's only Buddhist monastery. Reminiscent of Java's famed Borobudur temple, peruse beautiful decorative carvings, bell-shaped stupas and lily pad-dotted water features. Gaze at views over the rice paddies all the way to the sea or simply meditate in this peaceful environment.
Things to do in East Bali
Cool Combo: Culture & Trekking
Head to the slopes of Mount Agung where the historic Besakih temple sits, the island's largest Hindu monument. Next, join worshippers at the sacred water palace Tirta Gangga, and admire its beautiful stone fountains and decorative pools fed by mountain streams. Then it's time to boot up for a gentle two-hour hike through the photogenic surrounding rice terraces, stopping at small rural villages to chat with the locals.
A Visit to a Rare Bali Aga
Visit the ancient community of Tenganan, a rare Bali Aga (an indigenous Balinese mountain village). Here you can quietly observe age-old traditions and meet artisans whose ancient weaving techniques have remained the same for years. Watch them at work, tie-dying and creating the traditional geringsing textile - Tenganan is the only village that still produces this double ikat fabric.
Sunset Vistas at Pura Tanah
Visit the Hindu pilgrimage temple of Pura Tanah, one of seven spread across the Balinese coast. Arrive at sunset when this oft-photographed shrine is at its most alluring and walk over to its craggy islet, a Balinese cultural icon. From the viewing points, watch as amber light melts into the sea and the waves crash along the rock.
Things to do in Ubud & Central Bali
Explore UNESCO World Heritage Terraces
Admire the beauty of the UNESCO listed Jatiluwih rice terraces on the slopes of Mount Batukaru on a full day tour by e-bike. Led by an experienced and knowledgeable guide you can explore the area and enjoy the panoramic views from the mountain slopes. Along the way pass by local farmers, bamboo forests, the Besi Kalung temple and the temple Tambo Waras, which Balinese Hindus visit for purification.
Discover the delights of Balinese cuisine in Ubud, starting with a visit to a local market to pick up some fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices. Then stop off for a tour of nearby rice paddies on the way to a cooking lesson with a local chef, where you can learn to prepare traditional local dishes before tucking in to enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Meet with an Astrologer
Enjoy your own 'Eat, Pray, Love' experience with a day spent enjoying a cooking class with local chefs, meeting with a traditional shaman for a Balinese blessing ceremony and sitting down with an astrologer who will predict what the future has in store for you, using ancient methods. Finally, enjoy an indulging Balinese massage to round off a perfect day on the 'Island of the Gods'.
Things to do in Borneo
The Danum Valley
With 43,000 hectares of pristine tropical rainforest, The Danum Valley is one of the largest areas of protected rainforest in Malaysian Borneo. Home to all manner of weird and wonderful wildlife, this is a must-do for any wildlife enthusiasts. Notably, the valley is one of the few remaining natural habitats of the orangutan, so spotting one of these majestic creatures in the wild is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
See Endangered Sun Bears
Visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sabah for a chance to observe the world's smallest bears in their natural habitat. Threatened by forest degradation, illegal hunting and poaching, the centre aims to provide a natural environment suited to their needs and facilitate their rehabilitation back into the wild.
Gunung Mulu National Park
Located in the state of Sarawak, Gunung Mulu National Park is the world's most studied tropical karst area, characterised by dramatic cave systems home to millions of cave swiftlets and bats. There are an impressive seventeen vegetation zones in the park along with the grand Gunung Mulu sandstone pinnacle and one of the largest known caves in the world.
Things to do in Java
Sunrise at Borobudur
Wake at the crack of dawn to travel to the 9th century Borobudur, Java's most beautiful stupa. Arrive just in time for sunrise where from this ancient complex you can watch the mist rising over the lush green forests of Menoreh Hill. Then explore this stupa, the largest Buddhist temple in the world. Your guide will point out wonderfully preserved engravings, huge sculpted buddhas and thousands of stone reliefs.
Wake at four am and head to the Mount Ijen volcano in a 4WD jeep. The trek up the mountain is about two miles and along the way you'll encounter sulphur miners carrying their bounty back down the slopes. At the summit you'll encounter Mount Ijen's smoke-shrouded crater lake where you can admire its turquoise water and extraordinary sulphur mine.
A Ramayana Ballet Performace
Watch an evening Ramayana ballet concert in the 10th century Prambanan complex, the largest dedicated to Shiva in Indonesia. Sit back and admire this dramatic setting, UNESCO-listed for its beauty. Lap up a sensory display of Javanese dancing accompanied by gamelan music and dazzling pyrotechnics.
Things to do in Lombok
Explore the 'Secret' Gili Islands
Escape the crowds and visit some of Indonesia's best kept secrets, the Paradise Islands. These three small islands, Gili Nanggu, Gili Sudak and Gili Kedis, show very few signs of modern development. Spend a day hopping from one island to the other, exploring local villages, enjoying the clear blue waters and white sand beaches with snorkelling, swimming and plenty of relaxation.
Visit Sasak Villages
The Sasak people make up the majority of Lombok's population so while here spend time discovering their unique culture. Explore rural villages and watch locals use ancient techniques to make textiles in the same way they have for generations. Visit the Mayura Water Palace to learn about the spiritual beliefs of the Sasak and admire the grounds and design of the palace, with its mix of Hindu and Islamic architecture.
Trek to Waterfalls
Venture deep into the heart of the island and trek through the dense Suranadi Woodlands, where you may come face-to-face with wild monkeys. Admire the 130ft-high Benang Setokel Waterfall, which means 'ball of thread' in the Sasak language as the water gives the appearance of threads of string. Next visit the Benang Kelambu waterfall, which looks like a giant net of water up against the mountainside.
Things to do in Raja Ampat
See The Birds Of Paradise
Indonesia is the world's largest island country. Blissfully remote and almost completely untouched, the islands of Raja Ampat are achingly idyllic. The islands' jungles come to life in the early hours of the morning with the joyous songs and ritualistic dances from the rare birds of paradise. Go for a sunrise trek to witness this wildlife wonder followed by a fascinating visit to a local indigenous community.
Climb The Limestone Peaks
Lace up your walking boots and tackle the steep, forty minute climb to the top of Mount Pindito on Wayag Island for truly breathtaking views over this watery wonderland. Raja Ampat is a place unlike any other with an array of karst islands sprouting from crystal-clear waters. At over 650ft-tall, the limestone peak of Mount Pindito offers the ideal vantage point to take it all in from.
Explore The Water
Boasting some of the most abundant coral reef eco-systems on earth, the archipelago of Raja Ampat is a diver's wonderland. Swim alongside green sea turtles, manta rays, Indian lionfish and numerous species of sharks. Alternatively, stay closer to the surface and spend your days snorkelling, peering down on the colourful marine wildlife illuminated by the sunlight penetrating the warm tropical waters.
Things to do in Seminyak & Southern Bali
Seafood at Sunset
After a day relaxing on Jimbaran Bay's golden sands, pad down to the southern end of the beach as the light starts to fade. Pull up a pew at a sunset-facing restaurant perfectly positioned for panoramic ocean views. Welcome in the evening with a sizzling seafood feast, toes sunk into the sand. Under flickering candlelight, tuck into barbecued lobster and prawns grilled on charcoaled coconut husks.
A Surfing Lesson
Head to the pristine Legian beach for a surfing lesson. It's the perfect place for novice surfers who can ride the long leisurely waves. Meet a savvy local pro who can suss out the best swells. With a soft sand floor, gentle sea breeze and long views of a palm-fringed shore, there couldn't be a more idyllic environment to try out a new sport.
Sunset Pura Tanah
When the daylight starts to fade, make your way to the 16th century Pura Tanah Lot, one of the seven sea temples dotted along Bali's coast. Arguably the most picturesque, its water-facing shrine is perfectly perched on a rocky outcrop sculpted from years of crashing waves. When the tide recedes, walk across the ocean floor to the base of this photogenic temple and lap up golden hour like never before.
The Best of Indonesia
Explore Indonesia by Luxury Yacht
Indonesia is an increasingly popular destination, with attention turning beyond Bali to the fascinating islands of Java and Lombok and further afield still to Sumba and Komodo. But there's more - much much more - to see in this beguiling destination, including Raja Ampat in the very bullseye of the Coral Triangle, the so-called 'epicentre of marine biodiversity'.
Raja Ampat comprises over 1,500 small islands, cays, and shoals surrounding four main islands. Tim Simond, author of our partner publication Dive in Style, and a man who has dived a fair bit, calls it quite simply the best diving destination on earth, with mile upon mile of pristine reefs exploding with marine life from mantas and whale sharks to rarer critters such as the pygmy seahorse.
But even if you don't dive, this is a part of the world that remains blissfully remote, completely beautiful and well worthy of exploration. Currently the way to see this region is aboard one of the burgeoning number of super luxurious yachts plying the waters of Raja Ampat. Best of the bunch are sister boats Silolona and Si Datu Bua, closely followed in their slipstream by Tiger Blue and with more boats in the pipeline.
During our summer months, these super luxurious liveaboards ply the waters of the Komodo Archipelago where travellers can dive with mantas and even dolphins, and enjoy a close encounter with a prehistoric being - the fearsome Komodo Dragon.
Why We Love It
Where else in the world can you see a bird of paradise, a pygmy seahorse and a manta ray in just a few hours?
Yoga in Bali
We can't think of many more zen-tastic environments to practice yoga in than in Ubud's serene and luscious countryside, located in the centre of the Indonesian island of Bali.
In particular, we are speaking of the world-renowned wellbeing experts at COMO Shambhala Estate. Daily classes, private tuition, and retreat weeks are available so you can finally master your downward dog with help from internationally accredited instructors.
The estate's surrounding environment isn't too shabby either with picture-perfect jungle, waterfalls and a river flowing throughout the grounds. We reckon this definitely beats your local class at home.