Tips to enjoy 10 long weekends in Indonesia in 2015

Tips to enjoy 10 long weekends in Indonesia in 2015
The year 2015 will be an exciting one for travel buffs with many of the public holidays falling on appropriate weekdays, creating plenty of long-weekend opportunities to enjoy.In fact, 2015 will have five public holidays that will fall on either Friday or Monday, creating five three-day long weekends. There are also five more public holidays that will happen on either Tuesday or Thursday, creating opportunities for four-day long weekends, should you decide to take a leave of absence on the bridge day.We have four other public holidays: three of them will fall on weekends and the other one – 

Islamic New Year – will be on Wednesday.

In Indonesia, it is rare for people to take a leave of absence of more than a week from work. Most jobs only allow their employees an average of 14 days of leave per year, which most Indonesians save for emergency occasions. This is why long weekends are popular amongst locals, who use them as a time for recreation.The Jakarta Post Travel will lay out some information to give you a general understanding of how these long weekends could affect your traveling plan.

New Year's Day (Jan. 1)

Tips to enjoy 10 long weekends in Indonesia in 2015
A potential four-day long weekend if you take leave on Friday: appropriate to recover from the severe hangover you might have gotten from a New Year's Eve party.Celebrations for the change of year in Indonesia are pretty much similar to what you can find in other parts of the world. Fireworks and large crowds are always expected in public spaces, despite threats from authorities to tone down – or even ban – the use of fireworks.Tips: Not many tips for this holiday. The local television channels usually air nice box office films should you choose to bid farewell to 2014 by just staying inside your hotel. Going outside in urban areas means facing heavy traffic, difficulty parking and roadblocks.

Chinese New Year (Feb. 19)

Tips to enjoy 10 long weekends in Indonesia in 2015
This holiday is more exciting than the previous one as you can find many interesting events here in the country. The influence of Chinese culture is rather strong here, resulting in plenty of acculturation.Huge numbers of people of Chinese descent also play a part in the Chinese New Year celebrations; cities like Semarang, Surakarta and Singkawang are examples of how festive the celebration can be.Tips: You can head to Semarang or Surakarta (both in Central Java) to see the parades and festivals of the Chinese New Year celebration. 

Singkawang in West Kalimantan also hosts the unique Cap Go Meh Festival 15 days after the Chinese New Year, mixing Chinese culture with that of the local Dayak tribe.

Good Friday (April 3)

Tips to enjoy 10 long weekends in Indonesia in 2015
In a country where the majority believes in Islam, Good Friday is rather quiet in terms of celebration – even the Chinese New Year seems more festive.However, the three-day weekend is an opportunity for people to go for a holiday trip. Expect massive movement of travelers to famous recreational areas: for people in the capital, it would be to the zoos, parks and shopping malls, as well as to nearby cities like Bandung and Bogor.Tips: If you would rather stay away from the crowds, look for secluded destinations like islands or mountain getaways. 

There will still be more visitors there than usual, though, so advance booking is necessary. Also, be advised that early April is usually still around the peak time of the rainy season here. Don’t forget to bring raincoats or umbrellas when traveling outdoors.

International Labor Day (May 1)

Tips to enjoy 10 long weekends in Indonesia in 2015
Being an automatic three-day weekend, this will be the holiday that we recommend you use to get out of the city because of the “celebrations” happening on Labor Day (May Day).May Day in Indonesia is the favorite time for workers to tell everybody -- especially the government -- that they are not being paid enough. Places like City Hall and government buildings are the usual target for their protests so it would be a good idea to avoid them, unless maybe you feel for their cause and are interested in joining a march.

Tips: May is still a relatively low season for tourism, which means you can probably get the best prices from lodging businesses. The month after, however, would be an entirely different situation as summer is coming.

Ascension Day of Jesus Christ (May 14)

This holiday – like the Easter holiday – does not draw much attention aside from it being a public holiday, but we may have a strategy to maximize this holiday, especially if your office adheres to the same holiday schedule as the one applied in Indonesia.

Tips: Like we mentioned before, May Day is an automatic three-day off from work and hopefully this will attract most of the local travelers. Meanwhile, you can skip May Day, take a day off to get a four-day weekend on this holiday and travel with a smaller crowd.

Buddha’s Day of Enlightenment (June 2)

Tips to enjoy 10 long weekends in Indonesia in 2015
Registered Buddhists may only make up 0.7 percent of believers in Indonesia, but the country still has a strong history of Buddhism. 

There are plenty of places in Indonesia where you can find remnants of cultures from ancient Buddhist kingdoms.Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Central Java, is the most iconic ancient structure in Indonesia to be influenced by Buddhist culture. This monument is where you want to be during the Buddha’s Day of Enlightenment (Vesak Day).During Vesak, hundreds of monks – from various countries – travel to Borobudur for a pilgrimage, much like the haj Muslims undertake. The local government has also noted this ceremony and uses it for tourism promotion by holding supporting events surrounding it, such as the release of 1,000 balloon-lanterns during the night.However, do be cautious if you attend this event, as the rise of non-religious tourists sparked controversy over the past few years, as some considered them to be disturbing the sacred ceremony.

Tips: On the topic of Buddhist temples, Central Java and Yogyakarta actually houses some other interesting ancient temples beside Borobudur. These provinces are the best places for some historical Buddhist-culture tourism, as you can visit Mendut Temple, Ngawen Temple, Lumbung Temple and Banyunibo Temple.

Eid al-Fitr (July 17-18)

Tips to enjoy 10 long weekends in Indonesia in 2015
Even though it is only listed as a two-day holiday event, Eid is normally a weeklong break with many companies ordering obligatory leaves for their employees.In Indonesia, the tradition during Eid is to travel back to one’s hometown to visit relatives still living there, commonly known as mudik. An estimated number of 27.9 million people went on mudik in this year’s Eid, according to a survey from the Ministry of Transportation. It is a huge number of travelers in just a seven-day period.

During this period of mudik, you will meet the homecoming mob everywhere. Tickets for transportation will either skyrocket or get sold out.Eid is arguably the busiest time of the year in Indonesia as the tradition extends through all social boundaries: from moneybags to paupers and even non-Muslims are involved in the festivity of Eid in Indonesia.

Tips: Having said all that, we think Eid is one of the best times for travelers to experience the society and culture of Indonesia, not to mention that Eid’s special menus like rice cakes and chicken curries are definitely a must-try.

Independence Day (Aug. 17)

Tips to enjoy 10 long weekends in Indonesia in 2015
The year 2015 will mark the 70th anniversary of Indonesia’s declaration of independence.The day is commonly celebrated with traditional competitions organized on various levels, from around the neighborhood to province-level competitions. Some of the popular competitions are sack races, cracker-eating contests and panjat pinang (greased-pole climbing). They can be quite interesting to watch as most competitions are aimed at creating amusing scenes as the participants often get caught in awkward situations as they compete.

Tips: Instead of planning for a secluded getaway during this three-day weekend, it might be better if you explore around urban places to search for these competitions. Some places even include their own unique competitions – also funny to watch – like duck catching or playing soccer while wearing sarongs.

Islamic Day of Sacrifice (Sept. 24)

The Islamic Day of Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha) is a one-day event starting with the morning prayers, leading to the slaughtering of goats and cattle and going until the last batch of the meat is distributed.There is not much to see that is relevant to the event, except for the slaughtering process, which is a ritual that originated from a story about the Prophet Abraham. The story is commonly repeated in the sermon after the morning prayer of Eid al-Adha and talks about the moment when Abraham planned to sacrifice his son Ishmael as ordered by his God – only to have God intervene at the last minute.It became a ritual for Muslims to sacrifice goats or cattle during Eid al-Adha and to share the meat with needy people. The slaughtering is usually done in mosques and it is open for the public to see.

Tips: If you prefer to go somewhere else, the holiday provides an opportunity for a four-day getaway.

Christmas Day (Dec. 25)

Christmas festivities should be apparent as you visit shopping malls in Indonesia, but it is mostly limited to these places only. Places where foreign tourists are common may also set up Christmas themes at the locations.Still, being a celebration of a minority, the best places where you can enjoy a Christmas party are hotels and restaurants.Tips: It is interesting to note that New Year’s Day – a week after – also falls on Friday. So, if you take a four-day leave from Dec. 28 to 31, you can have a long Friday-to-Friday holiday that will cost you only four days’ worth of leave.

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