The brilliant sarongs, endless flowers, azure seas and vivid markets are just the start of the experiences to be savored in Indonesia. This international favorite is about as vibrant and varied as it gets.
The adventurous can explore rainforests and coral reefs, or visit with Komodo dragons and orangutans, and for the culturally curious, there are ornate temples and palaces, ethnic arts and fascinating festivals.
While mainly known for Bali, Indonesia is chock full of other alluring destinations, and with stepped up efforts to significantly boost meetings, conventions and incentives business, the choices for groups wishing to indulge in its distinctive diversity are expanding.
“What makes us so unique is that we are the most varied country in the world,” said Nia Niscaya, director of international marketing for the Ministry of Tourism, Republic of Indonesia. “We are a huge country with the fourth-biggest population, 250 million. We have 700 ethnic languages and over 500 ethnic groups. And many don’t realize how big Indonesia is—roughly the same distance as between New York and Los Angeles, only water-based, with more than 17,000 islands.”
What makes the destination truly wonderful, Niscaya added, is the people.
“We have people who live in harmony with different ethnic groups, languages, even religion,” she said. “We are Muslim mostly, but we respect those who are Hindu and Buddhist as well. We are one in common as a nation. We always feel blessed and we are always happy with other cultures.”
That sentiment shows when it comes to visitors, with traditional customs that create unforgettable experiences for attendees.
“Every ethnic group has a welcome dance, which shows how very pleased we are with those who visit,” Niscaya said. “Or can you imagine, a dinner during your meeting, when hundreds of local people carry the food on their heads as respect to the creator and serve you. It’s a Balinese offering. For us, it’s not only about the food, it’s about giving you an experience and making the local people and customs a part of your event.”
One of the most unique experiences Laurent Tanguy, general manager and partner of Essence of Bali, a local DMC, put together for a group was an offering ceremony with a Balinese priest and a local villager before serving dinner on the beach.
“The participants could make a personal wish with a handmade bio-organic coconut candle and offer it to the sea gods,” he said. “People felt unique and bound to the sea when they saw the hundreds of candles floating.”
For another event, Tanguy also infused local flair by blocking a main road in a Balinese village from traffic and setting up a custom dinner on the road for 80 people, including the villagers, along with entertainment.
Bali, with excellent hotels, including top meetings choices such as The Mulia and properties by Four Seasons, Hilton, Hyatt, Melia, Sofitel, St. Regis and Westin, is Indonesia’s standby for meetings and incentives. Another top choice for meetings and conventions is the energetic, culturally rich metropolis of Jakarta, also well-equipped for a wide range of groups and home to the new Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta. Additionally, Indonesia Convention Exhibition, the largest convention and exhibition center in the country, opened in 2015 in the Tangerang District of the Jakarta.