Say cheese! Being a child in Indonesia is probably the equivalent of being a celebrity anywhere else. Your children’s pictures will be taken constantly with and without your permission. Don’t fret. Indonesians love children with devotion and will do anything in their power to make them smile and laugh.
Although the infrastructure in Indonesia is not very child (or adult) friendly, children will often find many activities to engage in. From outdoor activities like golfing, rafting, horseback riding and snorkeling to the vast amount of indoor playgrounds, laser-tag venues, bowling allies and of course family karaoke, children will always find something that tickles their interest.
Teens and tweens alike will greatly enjoy all the outdoor activities available all throughout Indonesia. Examples of fun adventures for kids include doing canopy with Tree Top Adventures in the outskirts of Bali or snorkeling the gorgeous waters of Indonesia. Whether in the Indian Ocean or its Pacific counterpart the tropical waters in Indonesia are home to an enormous array of sea life. Another great option is to go-karting or paintballing, both widely available.
Hiking and Camping are a perfect family adventure that can be done in the beautiful rainforests or on the peaceful beaches. Renting camping equipment usually comes without hassle in the bigger tourist areas and camping gear can be purchased in the major cities of Indonesia.
For the more adventurous families, white water rafting provides an adrenaline rush comparable to riding the tallest rollercoaster in the world. Bali, Sulawesi, West Java, and Sumatra provide excellent venues and tours ready to host the most intrepid of riders. Safety standards are usually at par with worldwide levels.
Indonesia is home to one of the most diverse ecosystems. Thousands of species call the tropical islands of Indonesia their home. It is possible to see some of these animals on their natural habitat. Komodo dragons can be sighted in the Komodo National Park between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores. Tanjung Puting National Park in the island of Borneo in Kalimantan is home to two different species of Orangutans and is considered an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The monkey forest in Ubud is easier to reach and a great place to interact with hundreds monkeys and fight with them over your stolen sunglasses or water bottles.
For a less audacious experience, Indonesia offers great zoos, aquariums and tropical safaris. The Batu Secret Zoo in East Java is an excellent place to view hundreds of animals in their different ecosystems. This zoo is very clean, spacious and organized and is a must see if the area is being visited. Taman Safari, with its three venues in Bogor (near Jakarta), Prigen (East Java) and Bali offer a one of a kind experience that immerses visitors in the animal’s natural habitat. Zebras, elephants, giraffes, and goats among other animals come up to the cars to be petted and fed and this provides a fun interactive experience.
The Seaworld Aquarium in Jakarta is a small but very well maintained venue for observing all kinds of animals. The aquarium has a nice variety of fish and marine mammals including some living in the “petting” and “feeding area. When in Bali, the Marine Park is a nice site worth checking out specially if visited in conjunction with Taman Safari.
Although none of the international franchises have reached Indonesia, some cities have nice amusement and water parks. The Ancol marina in Jakarta hosts two amusement parks as well as an aquarium and a waterpark. Ancol Dreamland is a theme park offering over 30 rides and attractions including roller coasters, flume rides and several shows.
KidZania located inside the Pacific Place Mall in Jakarta is a world-class educational theme park where kids can work on different professions to “earn” a salary that can be used to buy souvenirs or used in different entertainment establishments.
In Surabaya, Ciputra Water Park boasts world-class water slides and pools and is home to the largest wave-pool in Indonesia. Jakarta is home to two fun waterparks: Waterbom in Ancol and Snowbay Watertainment in the Taman Mini Complex. Both are worth visiting and could be a refreshing finale to a visit to the amusement parks in Ancol or the Indonesian Cultural Pavilions in Taman Mini. Another Waterbom park is also located in Bali.
The incessant heat and humidity of Indonesia has drawn many establishments to provide entertainment indoors. A great number of playgrounds, movie theaters and family karaokes can be found throughout Indonesia, particularly in the malls.
Indoor playgrounds offer a cool and clean option for kids ranging from 2 to 10 years old to go inside mazes and downs slides. Many malls have enormous arcade game areas where kids and adults can spend hours fighting a super villain or racing Nascar cars.
Movie theaters often show the latest blockbusters soon after they premiere elsewhere in the world. A vast amount of movie theaters have special discounts for children and IMAX and 3D movies are often shown in most Indonesian cities. Movie theater tickets are not pricey and snacks to accompany the viewing are often cheap and good quality.
Family Karaokes are a fun entertainment option for all families. Many venues carry children’s songs and there are some clubs that cater specially to tweens and teens.
Indonesians love to play and watch sports so many sport clubs are available to the expat community. Tropical weather all year long allows children to enjoy taking a dip in a swimming pool as often as they please. Many homes and apartment buildings have pools and private swimming instructors are widely available. Country clubs usually provide tennis and swimming lessons and specialized clubs such as those geared to learning to play soccer are common in the bigger cities.
Indonesia is considered as a Golfing Paradise for many. The little ones can also take advantage of the lush golf courses and even start taking golf classes at the early age of four years old.
Indonesia has an immense cultural heritage that is evident in the food, architecture and the overall way of life. It is easy to get children immersed in the culture and provide culturally enriching experiences in almost every corner in Indonesia.
There are several museums all around Indonesia. Children will probably particularly enjoy the Puppet Museum in Jakarta , the submarine museum in Surabaya and the Fossil museum in Sangiran. There are many shops that provide batik-making classes as well as ceramics and puppet-making courses. Children will enjoy engaging in the different classes and learn a new trade.
Wayang, or shadow puppets, are a tremendous cultural tradition. Many cities offer puppet shows that are accompanied by the sweet tunes of traditional gamelan music.
By Ana Gaby, a Mexican expat who has been living, breathing and eating in South East Asia with her husband and two little boys for the past three years. More about their adventures in her blog http://StumbleAbroad.net