Sales executive, Surabaya
What I love most about Surabaya, Indonesia’s second city and my hometown, are the people, always friendly and willing to help – and the food. Make sure to try street food classics like semanggi (clover leaf, stewed sprouts and black shrimp paste) and rujak cingur (salad with a spicy sauce).
There’s lots for visitors to see, too. The Heroes Monument is dedicated to those who died during the Battle of Surabaya in 1945. An adjacent museum tells you more about the history of Indonesia’s independence movement.
Tunjungan Street has the charming Hotel Majapahit, opened in 1910 by the Sarkies brothers of Raffles fame. Under Japanese occupation it was called the Yamato Hotel, and was where revolutionaries tore the blue strip off the tricolour Dutch flag to create Indonesia’s red and white flag.
Manager, East Indonesia
What better way to see Indonesia than from the top of one of its many volcanoes?
Mount Semeru, three hours from Surabaya, can be conquered in two days. At more than 3,600 metres tall it’s Java’s highest mountain, with panoramic views of seven peaks stretching from Merapi in the west to Ijen-Raung’s blue lagoon in the east. Standing on top of this active volcano makes you appreciate Indonesia’s position at the heart of the Pacific Ring of Fire.
For those planning on heading to Bali – avoid erupting Mount Agung. Mount Rinjani on neighbouring Lombok offers spectacular views, complete with a crater lake and a smouldering island.
Almost all of Indonesia’s mountains can be climbed in a weekend, with guides and equipment easy to find. Just remember that it gets cold at the top – so bring extra layers.
Country manager, Indonesia
Jakarta is known as The Big Durian. Like its fruity namesake, the city can be divisive. My advice: relax. If you don’t let it frustrate you, Jakarta will amaze you.
Bhinneka tunggal ika (‘unity in diversity’) is Indonesia’s national motto. Jakarta embodies this diversity, attracting people from all over the archipelago, as well as its cultural, linguistic and religious complexity. It’s also a city of contrasts, with high-end malls next to kampung villages.
You can get a sense of the diversity through food. My favourites include rendang (Sumatran curry), soto ayam (chicken soup), sambal (a paste of chillies; sharp, fermented shrimp paste; tangy lime juice; sugar; and salt, all pounded up with mortar and pestle) and spicy Manadonese food if you’re feeling brave.