We’re a pretty international bunch here at HotelsCombined – with staff members hailing everywhere from Brazil to Russia, our range of cultures and backgrounds span the globe.
So to get some real insight into the range of travel destinations found on our site, we thought it would be best to chat with the true travel experts – that is, the people who were actually born and raised there and who can give you all the inside tips that no guide book ever could.
On that note, our Indonesian Marketing Manager, Debora Santosa, shares her advice on Bali hot spots, Indonesian cuisine and how to follow the proper cultural dos and don’ts:
Where in Indonesia do you come from? Tell us a bit about your hometown.
I was born and raised in Bandung, a city which is about a three hour drive from Jakarta. It’s the capital of West Java province and the city is located in a “basin” surrounded by many mountains. In the 18th century, Bandung was a resort city for tea plantation owners and earned the nickname of Parijs van Java (Dutch:”The Paris of Java”) from Dutch colonials. That’s why you can spot so much Dutch colonial architecture throughout the city.
Today, Bandung is a popular weekend destination, especially for Jakarta’s residents. Tourists come here to enjoy the cool climate and mountain scenery, to savour local foods, and to hunt for cheap fashion finds. Other tourist sites include the Tangkuban Prahu volcano crater, Kawah Putih volcano lake, and Trans Studio Bandung (the world’s largest indoor theme park).
For first-time visitors to Indonesia, what must-see spots would you recommend?
For first-timers to Indonesia, I would definitely recommend spending a week to explore Bali. Don’t just stay in one area, get a driver and explore the island. Relax on the white beaches of Nusa Dua, watch dolphins from the black sands of Lovina Beach, visit temples and ancient palaces, go clubbing in busy Kuta and Legian, chill out by the poolside in trendy Seminyak, try trekking through the rice fields of Ubud or simply enjoy beautiful sunsets from the cliffs of Uluwatu.
Culturally, what would you suggest travellers be mindful of when visiting Indonesia?
Use your right hand in all social encounters, never offer or receive something with your left. When visiting a religious site, please remember to dress appropriately (no shorts or sleeveless tops) or bring a sarong to cover up. Also, Indonesians are generally not punctual so be prepared to expect 10-30 minute delays . They are quite laid-back and will often blame their tardiness on “macet” (traffic jam).
What are the top Indonesian festivals/events to take in?
The holy Vesak festival at Borobudur temple is where thousands of Buddhist monks and pilgrims participate. Beginning with a procession from Mendut Temple to Borobudur Temple, there are several holy rituals and the day ends by releasing thousands of lanterns into the sky symbolizing enlightenment for the entire universe.
Jazz Gunung (Mountain Jazz) is a must for music lovers. This unique event holds jazz concerts in an open-air amphitheatre located about 2000m above sea level, at the foot of Bromo Mountain.
What are your favourite Indonesian dishes?
I love Pempek, which are Indonesian-style fish cakes with special sauce. Other favourites are “Ayam goreng” or crispy fried chicken, satay, and soto (sort of like chicken soup). And of course, no Indonesian meal would be complete without prawn crackers!
What are you favourite Indonesian hotels?
I had an amazing stay last year at W Bali – it had a great beachfront location, super friendly staff and private and luxury villas. For a more affordable getaway to Bali, I would also recommend Villa Kayu Raja, Seminyak. The property offers modern townhouses with a private pool and open-air living room area, with prices that won’t break the bank.
Sheraton Hotel in Surabaya is also a favourite with spacious rooms, comfy beds and excellent staff. Another thumbs up goes to Hilton in Bandung which is an excellent place to stay with Pascal Hyper Square located just next door, where the food market offers you over 1,000 local food choices to sample!
To find out more about Indonesia attractions and to browse through our over 5,700 Indonesian accommodation options, visit our site at http://www.hotelscombined.com/Place/Indonesia.htm.