Passport, Health Precautions, Currency and
Payments, Heading to Town,
Flights, Trains, Buses,
and Ojek, Food,
Out, Off the Beaten Track,
with Kids, Where to go
& what to see, Traveling
with a Disability, Going
This is Indonesia: a tropical archipelago of more than 18,000 islands,
along the Equator in Southeast Asia. Most of the islands are not
major islands, in terms of population are Java, Sumatra and Bali. Java
home to almost 50 percent of the total population of 250 million
Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country, after
and the USA. It has three time zones and could easily span the Atlantic
from Nova Scotia to the coast of Portugal or from Ireland to Greece.
We have prepared a brief history
Temperatures at sea level range from 24
to 36 degrees Celsius all year
round. Humidity is high.
It is cooler at higher altitudes.
Those who like to scale mountains (and there are quite a few mountains
in Indonesia) need to bring warm clothes for the nights -and plenty of
drink to avoid dehydration.
Don't go hiking and climbing without a guide.
Indonesia has only two seasons: the rainy and the dry season. South
equator the rainy season generally lasts from November to April. North
Equator it is from May to October.
Indonesians dress modestly.
Although you may see some men wearing only shorts, the norm is to wear
and pants or jeans.
Women will most likely wear pants, jeans or long skirts. They almost
long sleeves. The majority of Muslim women can be seen wearing head
When visiting villages it is best to adjust to the local dress code to
some extent. For women that implies avoiding sleeveless tops, cleavage
shorts. For men, wear long trousers and short sleeved shirts.
Nudity on beaches is strictly forbidden.
Indonesia is a safe and attractive
destination for holiday makers,
business people and expatriates alike.
Areas to avoid include certain locations in Papua. If
in doubt contact the foreign Ministry in your country or the nearest
You will find that most Indonesians are very friendly and helpful.
To enter Indonesia
visitors need a passport valid for at least another six
months from the day of arrival.
Nationals of a few
countries need to apply for a visa through
the nearest Indonesian
A free Visa is available for citizens of the more than 170 countries. It is valid for 30 days and can not be extended.
On Arrival visas are
These visas can be purchased at major entry points, such as
airports and harbors of Medan, Batam, Jakarta, Surabaya, Bali.
Full details are available at
Indonesian embassies and
consulates, airlines and travel agents.
On Arrival visas are valid for 30 days and costs US$ 35 or the
Euros (Euro coins are not accepted!) and can be
extended for another 30 days.
There are also visas with different
periods of validity for students, businessmen and for social/cultural
purposes (visa sosial budaya).
Visa fees and the duration of the application process may vary among
National carrier Garuda Indonesia offers 'visa onboard' service on most
long distance flights
Before landing you will receive a customs declaration form to complete.
Indonesia has many international airports. The major gateways are
Surabaya, Makassar and Bali.
The immigration and Customs processes are usually quick and
Beware: Indonesia has capital punishment for drug smuggling
Ask your physician for advise on vaccinations and preventive treatment,
for malaria, typhoid, cholera, and hepatitis. If you arrive from a
Fever is endemic, a Yellow Fever vaccination is mandatory.
Malaria occurs in most parts of the country with the exception of West
Tuberculosis is common, especially in the eastern provinces (the
During the rainy season (October through May) Dengue Fever occurs.
general feeling of being tired, continuing fever, nausea and vomiting,
for food, and small red spots that appear on the arms after three or
Additional information on health risks for travelers is available for
through the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention.
Use a good mosquito repellent
(tropical formula). In
Indonesia you may want to buy Soffell or similar products. They are
widely available at pharmacies and in supermarkets.
Don't drink tap water anywhere. Bottled mineral water is available in
all cities, towns and even in the smallest hamlets throughout the
plenty of water during the day -dehydration occurs very
Travelers who like to get a tan must be very careful.
may occur as quickly as after 15 minutes, despite protective sun
you wondered why Indonesians seem to avoid the sun and remain in the
is because the sun is too hot to expose yourself too.
arrival it is best to take it easy for at least the first two or
days. Allow your body to adjust to the time difference and the climate
overcome the effects of jetlag.
If you need a doctor, consider Medikaloka,
a clinic of international standard located at Gedung Graha
Rasuna Said, Jakarta.
Other hospitals of international standard include Brawijaya
Hospital in Jakarta, and the Mitra
Keluarga Group in Jakarta and Surabaya. In
Yogyakarta there is the Happy Land
In Bali you will find SOS
Currency and Payments
Indonesia's currency is the Rupiah (Rp
or IRD). The exchange rate fluctuates
around Rp 13,700 for the US$ and Rp 15,000 for the Euro
Get the latest currency rates at
In all major cities there are ATMs. You will find them
in shopping centers, hotels, banks, airports and along the main
streets. Most ATMs accept foreign credit cards and
bills in Rp 50.000
denominations, some do so in Rp 100.000.
Money changers are also widely available.
Cashing Travelers' Checks may require some time as relatively few
them these days.
Banks and money changers
will refuse US$ notes that are not in pristine condition. They
also refuse US$ bills printed in certain years or with certain
Foreign coins cannot be changed at all.
Most major credit cards, such as Visa, Master Card and, less
frequently, American Express can be used to pay for flight
tickets, hotels, tours, and also for
your groceries in supermarkets (usually a minimum Rp amount is
as Rp 50,000).
Be careful when you use your card.
sophisticated international credit card fraud rings also operate in
and other Asian countries.
Heading into Town
All airports in Indonesia, including the domestic ones have
taxi services. In most airports you have the option to
pre-pay a taxi from a booth.
It is available either inside the baggage claim area or in the arrival
Prices are fixed and may include a surcharge and toll fees as
The second option is to hail a taxi 'curb side' such as in Jakarta's
international airport. These taxis have meters, but especially in
are advised to use the first option (Blue
Hotels: In Indonesia you will find an overwhelming choice of
accommodations, ranging from 5 star hotels to guesthouses, comfortable
home stays and hostels where you need to bring your own towels and
Go to Links
for more details.
Adventurous travelers who haven't made room reservations will always
find a roof
over their heads, even in the busiest season (from June to September).
Most shops are open seven days a week
from 0800 or 0900 AM to 0900 PM and
they don't close for lunch.
Indonesia is a shoppers' paradise.
There are vast shopping malls in the major urban centers that can
with any shopping mall abroad.
But there are also numerous traditional markets, neighborhood shops,
markets, boutiques, souvenir shops and 'antique' shops.
On the latter,
antik in Indonesia does not
necessarily mean antique. It is more
inclined to classic. Indonesian
antik is usually only a few days
or weeks old when you buy it and
you should certainly buy it when you appreciate the (classic) design,
craftsmanship or the value for money.
and handicrafts are of good quality, varied and
they are cheap, unless they are high quality wood carvings (with high
wood and high quality of carving).
The best place to search for good wood carvings still remains the
Genuine and classic batik
is also worth its price. Batik designs vary locally. Be aware that the
color fades quickly when you buy batik to decorate your home.
Outside of Java
batik is replaced by intricately woven traditional cloths (ikat).
Available throughout the country, you will find the best quality in the
islands east from Bali and Sumatra.
Indonesia is well known for its 24 karat gold and silver
If you don't find the design you like, you may order it and it will be
days rather than weeks.
There is a growing export trade in wood
furniture and in several cities
you can find furniture producers who will be happy to take your order
it right to your doorstep.
Even in the most up-town shopping malls clothing and shoes are
cheaper than at home.
Well-known international brands are genuine, unless they are too cheap
to be so. Be aware of fakes; you may risk a fine when you try to import
them to your country.
Go to the Links
page for several (on-line) shopping
Indonesia is quickly
access, although Internet speeds remain among the slowest in the world.
Especially in the major cities it is easy to find free wireless
hotspots. All shopping malls, most coffeeshops, and airports provide
the service. Speeds may vary considerably.
providers offer USB modems, or portable wifi hotspots, both with a
weekly or monthly prepaid or subscription plan. Download and
uploads speeds are generally good.
If all else fails there are still
numerous Warnet (Warung Internet or internet shops)
with cheap wired and
wireless access. Many of these Warnet are of low standard and struggle
ageing desktop PCs.
Indonesia boasts many domestic airlines. The oldest and best known is
owned Garuda Indonesia, which operates the youngest fleet, mostly with
B737. Garuda Indonesia has become a five star airline and boasts the
world's best cabin crew.
The others are private airlines, such as
Lion Air, Jatayu Air, Pelita Air,
Citilink, Batik Air and several others.
They operate frequent flights, especially from Jakarta to major
Indonesia such as Medan, Palembang, Bandung, Semarang, Jogjakarta,
Surabaya, Denpasar (capital of the island of Bali), Mataram on the
Lombok, Kupang, Makassar, Balikpapan, Banjarmasin, Ambon, Manado, Biak
Between the two major cities in Indonesia, Jakarta and Surabaya there
than 20 return flights each day. Most domestic airlines post schedules
on their websites.
On-time departures and arrivals, good customer service and efficient
handling are the norm for most airlines. However, with the vastly
of flights, the major airports in Jakarta and Bali increasingly
experience air traffic 'jams' causing delays for arriving and departing
Reservations for most domestic flights can be made through travel
airlines abroad. However it is more reliable, and a lot cheaper to do
you have arrived in Indonesia.
You may also book your tickets through the widget on our home page.
Airport tax for domestic flights differs with the classification of the
airports, generally between Rp
35,000 and Rp 75.000 per passenger.
all airports there are warnings not to use
calo (middlemen) and to purchase tickets directly at the
airlines' sales counters.
In the island of Java and in parts of
Sumatra traveling by train is a
good alternative to cover long distances in relative comfort and for
money. There are three kinds of services available: economy (ekonomi),
business (bisnis) and executive (eksekutif).
The economy service is currently being upgraded with airconditioning
Business class sports better seats.
Usually there is also an onboard catering service. At most
stations vendors are blocked from entering the platforms and trains to
The best service is eksekutif. It has air
conditioned coaches, reclining
seats and catering. The fare for a one way ticket from Jakarta to
than 800 kilometers all across the island, will set you back less than
35 (for the most expensive night express).
Reservations can be made online, at
the stations or at IndoMaret outlets.
During Indonesian holidays, such as
Idul Fitri and for Christmas it may be next to impossible to
or bus tickets at all. Prices for public transportation during major
The latest mode of transportation is the rail bus
in the city of Surakarta (Solo).
Smoking is prohibited at railway stations and on
In railway stations there will be warnings not to use the services of
calo (middlemen) but to buy
tickets directly at the ticket sales
Go to the Transportation
section on our Links
page to check train schedules and fares.
If you have time enough, an interesting way to see the sights and to
the sounds and smells of Indonesia is to take the bus. Buses are by far
popular means of transportation. If you like, you may take a bus from
North Sumatra all the way to Surakarta (Solo) in Central Java, or go
hopping from Surabaya (East Java) to Kupang (West Timor). Bus fares are
and the buses are air conditioned.
However, the seats may be too small even for not so tall westerners. In
the bus terminals
and on the buses, be aware for pickpockets and people who offer
services. Try to find a seat in the front and keep your baggage in
In the last few years car rental has
become more common and more
affordable. Bali without a doubt has the most car rental companies,
Avis and Hertz.
Bring your passport and show your international driver's license and
you will be
on your way quickly. Several local car rental companies send you on the
with an almost empty fuel tank. Don't be upset, that's the norm. You're
supposed to return the car with a full tank either.
A half day rental counts 12 hours of usage. A full day may keep you on
for 24 hours if you wish.
Although there are traffic rules in Indonesia most drivers seem to
There seems to be only one rule; get there as fast as you can.
drivers stay on the left side of the road most of the time, but that is
absolute guarantee. Especially bikers, becak and
cyclists are notorious
for using the wrong side of the road, especially at night.
Be aware that
becak and cyclists never have
lights. That promises some adventurous
encounters! After dark villagers often use the road as a place to
relax and to lie down. The best rule for foreign drivers is to take it
and to go with the flow.
An alternative to adventurous driving is to rent a car with a driver.
facility is known as
borongan (literally: borrowing a
car or minibus and its driver). You
are free to travel anywhere and for any number of days. Indonesian
used to drive for hours on end.
They may make a 1,000 kilometer trip from Surabaya to Jakarta in 12 or
take a few hours' rest and then drive all the way back again. However,
reasons of safety and humanitarianism allow the driver to drive for 8
day only. The daily rates for a car and driver amount to around
400,000 (plus fuel).
A far cheaper way of transportation is to share the minibus with other
passengers. This form of transportation is known as 'travel'. 'Travel'
become another form of public transportation and there are many
services between major cities. A ticket for a scheduled ride from
Jogjakarta will come at approximately Rp 80,000 per person.
Tickets are available through hotels, travel agents and specialized
still has some exotic forms of transportation, which include pedicabs (becak)
ojek. The latter are motorbike
owners who operate their bikes as taxis.
Although the fares are cheap by any standard, haggling is highly
The same system applies to pedicabs. Pedicab drivers paddle their
becak in the still of the night, in the heat of the day and
through the heaviest of
thunderstorms. The fares are low, but they are economical only on short
If you master some Indonesian or if the
becak driver speaks some English
you may be surprised about the sense
of humor of many
becak drivers, their
philosophical insights or simply how
interested they are in knowing about your life and your country.
The cultural cities of Jogjakarta and Surakarta (Solo) are by
best for a
drive in a
becak, but becak
can be found in many other cities and towns
such as Medan, some parts of Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang, Surabaya,
Becak passengers must be conscious to keep bags and cameras close to
bodies. Robbers, operating on motor cycles are notorious for snatching
and making off in an instant. Fortunately this form of street crime is
One of the English and Dutch speaking becak drivers
in Jogjakarta can be
booked through Facebook. Search for Harry van Yogya. He usually can be
around the Prawirotaman area, popular with tourists.
cuisine is as varied as its people, their cultures and where they
live. For most Indonesians, rice is the staple food and it is eaten for
breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the more arid eastern provinces maize
and tubers, such as cassava replace
rice. Unfortunately they are slowly put into the
corner of poor-men's food.
With rice, either boiled or fried, Indonesians like
to eat one or more side dishes of vegetables, meat or fish. The variety
dishes is limitless and most tourists soon acquire a taste for
with or without one of the equally varied chili varieties.
There are local variations in tastes and smells, but in general the
mildly to very spicy.
A good way to get accustomed to Indonesian food is to try one of the
restaurants. Without asking anything the waiter or waitress will put an
astonishing number of dishes on the table. Don't worry; you are not
eat it all. Just choose what you like. You are charged only for what
Those with a taste for burgers and pizza should not despair. Many of
internationally known fast food chains are present in Indonesia. Also,
hotels serve western fare.
If you are used to a breakfast of bacon and eggs, no hotel or
have a problem with the eggs, but bacon in a Muslim country like
not always available.
Vegetarians are finding it increasingly easy to find suitable
major cities. More and more (trendy) vegetarian restaurants
In the countryside, look for any of these dishes: gado-gado,
pecel, ketroprak, karedok, siomay, tempe goreng. If you don't mind to
around the meat' ask for sayur lodeh, sayur asem.
We have a few "food links" for you right here.
A free eRecipe booklet is available here.
Please feel free to share the eBook with others.
out and Tipping
times it is as if Indonesians eat and drink all day and most of the
Indeed the number of restaurants, roadside food stalls and food
astonishing. Especially in urban centers it is easy to find food stalls
any time of the day or night.
If you invite Indonesians for dinner, you should know that many are not
accustomed to having lengthy meals with equally long
conversations. One is
used to enter a restaurant, to order, to enjoy the meal quickly, to pay
leave. If your guests begin to show signs of restlessness, it's not
don't enjoy your hospitality. Instead, they feel they are overstaying
Tipping in Indonesia is easy. Whatever you tip will be appreciated, but
don't it is usually not a problem either. Waiters, except those in 4 or
hotels, don't expect tips at all.
However, tourist guides must be tipped as their base salary (if they
have one at
all) is not sufficient to keep them alive for more than a week.
the beaten Track
tourists follow the traditional route from West to East across Java to
Bali. Yet, Indonesia has a tremendous and largely undiscovered
The small islands of Nias and Sibolga in Sumatra are only one example.
find special golf resorts. There are exquisite opportunities for diving
snorkeling in the remote island of Selayar in the province of South
You may go hiking in the island of Flores, or in the island of Komodo,
for the Komodo dragons.
Even relatively nearby Madura, across Strait Madura from Surabaya holds
surprises, such as the bull races.
In the island of Lombok, the next island east from Bali you will find
Indonesia's highest volcano. Climbing should never
be attempted without an experienced guide.
In Sulawesi you may board a cruise on a traditional sailing schooner
In the island of Kalimantan you could make a cruise along the river and
traditional Dayak communities.
Go to Links for
children on a long and faraway
trip to Indonesia may seem daunting. Yet, with a bit of preparation
children will enjoy the trip and find many
opportunities to have fun.
On board the
babies are happy passengers, sleeping for many hours, waking up only to
or have their diapers changed.
On the ground they are just as happy, coping with the warm climate as
much has changed.
Should you bring a suitcase full of baby food and diapers? Probably not
favorite brand of diapers will be available in most
Baby formula and baby food in Indonesia is a little different from what
used to, but tasty and healthy. It usually comes in freeze-dried packs.
warm water or milk and stir.
Popular brand names include Promina, Sun, SGM and others.
Still about food, older children will not be disappointed to find their
burgers, pizza, fried chicken, hot apple pie, or french fries
and the like
Indonesia, especially in the major cities.
Before setting out on the trip it is good to prepare them about what to
Tell them about the different traditions, language, climate and how
adventurous it will be to discover it all.
Indonesia offers lots of entertainment for children, such
parks in Jakarta, safari parks (outside Bogor, West Java and Tretes,
East Java and the elephant park in Bali),
boat rides, swimming opportunities, game parlors and much more.
Nevertheless, the travel pace of adults may be too demanding on
Adjust your travel schedule, visiting fewer places and staying in one
little longer than you would have done traveling without kids.
If possible, don't spend most of the day on the road eushing from one
Children experience the world from a different perspective, they absorb
more impressions and need time to process it all.
Indonesians adore children and will not miss an opportunity to say 'hi'
kids, to touch them and to pass a sweet. Children with blond hair and
blue eyes are especially attractive to Indonesians, women and men
at times can become rather overwhelming for the child. Anticipating
conditions, carry your small child on your back so that the touching is
kept to the minimum.
with a Disability
Indonesia is an increasingly popular
holiday destination. However, for disabled travellers, it’s not as
simple as merely booking the flights and accommodation and jet-setting
across the world. Indonesia isn’t known for being particularly
accommodating to those with physical disabilities, in fact, quite the
cities and towns have high curbs, very few ramps and no space for those
in wheelchairs to easily access buses or trains.
However, you shouldn’t
let this deter you from exploring. Fortunately, there are ways to get
around this and experience Indonesia without too much trouble.
getting a cruise to Indonesia is a fantastic way to ensure you travel
to and from your destination in comfort. Most cruises not only include
disabled access and rooms, but provide help to make sure you
around the ship with relative ease. A cruise will also take you to the
main tourist locations so that you don’t need to take public transport
within the country itself. Not only is this more pleasant, especially
when visiting a humid country, but a lot less stressful.
major shopping centres now have adequate
disabled access for those
wanting to shop while in Indonesia.
when roaming around Indonesia itself, it’s sensible to either have a
guide with you that speaks your language and who you trust, a family
member or friend. This will ensure you don’t get lost, can relax while
sightseeing and will be safe at all times. If you make friends while on
the cruise, ask them if they wouldn’t mind touring Indonesia with you.
You can spend time coming up with a plan where you both get to see
everything you want.
Better still is to schedule your brief or multi day shore trips when
booking your cruise.
If you plan on performing activities while in Indonesia, make sure you
contact the company ahead of time.
will be plenty of information about your destination(s) on board your
cruise so this can all be done by the side of the pool as you travel,
via the on-board wi-fi now available on most cruises.
activities, especially in Indonesia, are unsuitable for those with
disabilities, so checking before you arrive is essential in avoiding
wasted trips, which take up precious time and energy. However,
fortunately, there are companies who do accommodate and adapt for those
with disabilities. For example, disabled snorkeling and diving is an
ideal opportunity to explore the Indonesian seas in complete safety.
When it's time to go home, hold on to enough Rupiah
to pay the departure
tax (airport tax) of Rp 200,000 per
passenger, payable during check-in. Departure tax is already included in the ticket fare of Garuda Indonesia.
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