you travel to Indonesia, learn about
, Dress Code
, Security Passports and
and Credit Cards
, Off the
, Where to go and
with a disability
Find more details in our free e-Book Visiting Indonesia
A tropical archipelago of more than 18,000 islands, stretching along
the Equator between Malaysia and Australia. Most of the islands are not
inhabited. The major islands, in terms of population density are Java,
Sumatra and Bali.
Java alone is home to almost 50 percent of the total
population of 260 million Indonesians. Indonesia is the world's fourth
most populous country, after China, India and the USA.
There are 714 ethnic groups, speaking more than 700 indigenous languages.
Indonesia has three
time zones and could easily span the Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia
to Portugal or from Ireland all the way to Greece.
Temperatures at sea level range from 24 to 37 degrees Celsius all year
round. Humidy is high. It is cooler at higher altitudes.
warm clothes for mounting hiking as temperatures can drop below zero at
night. Bring plenty of water. And don't hike or climb without
Indonesia has two seasons: the rainy season
and the dry season. South from the Equator the rainy season generally
lasts from November to April. North from the Equator it is from May to
October. The effects of climate change are obvious: farmers find it
increasingly challenging to guess when the rains will fall and when to
seed their lands.
Indonesians dress modestly.
Although you may see men wearing shorts, outside of the big cities the
norm is to wear a shirt and pants or jeans.
will most likely wear pants, jeans or long skirts. They usually wear
long sleeves. The majority of Muslim women wear head scarves (kerudung
you visit a village, it is best to adjust to the local dress code to
some extent. For women that implies no sleeveless tops, cleavage or
shorts. Men can wear jeans and short sleeved shirts.
Nudity on beaches is strictly forbidden.
Passport and Visa
Indonesia is a safe destination for
tourists, business people and expatriates alike. Areas to
include certain locations in Papua and the Poso area in Sulawesi. If in doubt,
contact you country's Foreign Ministry or the Indonesian
You will find that most Indonesians are very friendly and helpful.
On arrival in Indonesia your passport must be valid for at
least six months.
A Free Visa
is available on arrival for citizens of most countries. It is valid for
30 days and can not be extended.
On Arrival Visa
can be purchased (US$ 35 or its equivalent in foreign currency). The On
Arrival Visa is also valid for 30 days and can be extended
another 30 days at Immigration Offices.
Other visas are available for
students, businessmen and for social/cultural purposes (visa sosial budaya
Visa fees and application times vary among embassies.
Indonesia has capital punishment for smuggling and possession of
narcotics. Do not carry even the smallest amount of soft or hard drugs.
Arriving travelers only need to have Yellow Fever vaccination if
they have visited a Yellow Fever region. Depending on your destination
within Indonesia you may want to be protected from malaria,
typhoid, cholera and hepatitis.
Malaria is endemic in most parts of the country with the exception of
West and East Java.
Tuberculosis is common in the eastern provinces (the islands east from
During the rainy season (October through April) Dengue Fever occurs.
a good mosquito repellent (tropical formula). In Indonesia you may want
to buy Soffell, which is widely available in pharmaacies and
supermarkets, or a similar product.
Unfortunately it is not
safe to drink from the tap. Bottled mineral water is available in even
the remotest locations and is safe. Drink plenty of water to prevent
Be careful if you like to get a sun tan. Sunburn may occur in
as little as 15 minutes. Have you wondered why
Indonesians avoid the sun and remain in the shade? It is because the
sun is too hot to expose yourself to.
After arrival it is best
to take it easy for a few days. Allow your body to get used to the new
time zone and the climate. More on avoiding jet lag is available in 'No
more Jetlag, the fun of subsonic air travel'.
The quality of
healthcare varies wildly. In the main cities a growing number of
international standard hospitals are avilable. Even so, wealthy
Indonesians prefer to fly to Singapore to be treated.
and Credit Cards
The Rupiah (Rp. or IRD) is the national currency. The exchange rate
fluctuates around Rp. 13,700 to the US$ and Rp. 17.000 to the Euro
will find ATMs in shopping centers, hotels, banks, airports and along
main streets. Most ATMs accept foreign credit cards and
50,000 or Rp 100,000 bills. Money changers are widely available. Be
alert when changing money. Unscrupulous money changer use a
variety of tricks to deceive you.
Most major international 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 at supermarkets. Usually a minimum sales amount of Rp 50,000
Receiving an overseas money transfer through Western Union is no issue
Be careful when using your credit card.
Unfortunately sophisticated international credit card fraud rings also
operate in Indonesia. It is best to always use your pin code.
Taxis are on the ready in all airports. In several major airports
customers should pre-pay for their cab at a designated booth, either
inside the arrival hall or curbside. Rates are fixed and may already
include a surcharge for toll fees. The best taxi operator is Blue Bird
(also operates Black Bird and Silver Bird limousines).
don't use the pre-pay facility, and hail a taxi at the curb, make sure
it has a meter (called Argo) and that the driver agrees to
it. Toll fees are not included.
Indonesia's ambitious tourism goals come with large
investments in airport infrastructure and hotel construction projects.
Hotels vary from 5 star hotels to guesthouses, modest
home stays and hostels where you need to bring your own towel and soap.
Most shops open seven days a week from 08:00 or 09:00 AM through 09:00
or 10:00 PM.
is a true shopping paradise. All cities boast huge shopping
malls. Outside of those malls there are traditional markets,
neigborhood shops, supermarkets, boutiques, souvenir shops and
On the latter, antik
in Indonesia does not necessarily mean antique. It is more inclined to
classic. Indonesian antik
is usually just a few days old.
Souvenirs and handicrafts
are of good quality, varied and innovative. High quality wood carvings
(Bali) have become very costly.
Genuine and classic Batik
is also worth its price.Batik designs vary locally. Be aware that the
colors may fade quickly when it is used to decorate your home.
Outside of Java, batik is replaced by intricately woven tradtional
cloths called ikat
The most sought after ikat is from the islands east from Bali.
Indonesia is well known for its 24 carat gold
jewelry and gem stones
. If you
don't find the design you like, just order it and it will be ready in a
of tropical hardwoods is a major export earner.Exporters will be happy
to ship your order right to your doorstep.
brands are sold even in the most shoddy market. Don't buy these cheap
counterfeits. They will probably be confiscated at Customs when you
come home. Genuine branded products are availablle in all shopping
If offered souvenirs made from ivory
or turtle shells
, it is
best to refuse. Export is illegal. Offenders face steep fines
and even jail time.
Online access is quickly improving. Yet, internet speeds remain among
the world's slowest. There are more and more free wireless hotspots. All shopping
areas and airports provide them.
Speeds may vary considerably.
telecom providers offer USB modems, or portable wifi hotspots with a
weekly or monthly plan. Download and upload speeds are generally good.
If all else fails there are still some Warnet
internet shops) with cheap wired and wireless access. Many of these warnet
to survive which is obvious from their ageing equipment.
Indonesia boasts many domestic airlines. The national carrier is
Garuda Indonesia, a 5-star airline that obtained the 'World's Best
Cabin Crew' Award.
Other airlines include low cost airlines Lion Air, Jatayu Air, Sri
Wijaya and full service airlines Batik Air, and Citilink and several
Out of Jakarta and Bali (Denpasar) they
operate frequent flights to all corners of the archipelago, including
Medan, Palembang, Bandung, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Surakarta (Solo),
Surabaya, Mataram (Lombok) Labuan Bajo (Komodo), Kupang,
Balikpapan, Banjarmasin, Ambon, Manado, Biak and Jayapura.
Between Jakarta and Surabaya there are at least 20 return flights each
Jakarta's Soekarono-Hatta International Airport
world's 17th busiest airport.
The rapid growth of air traffic is now causing frequent delays.
for most domestic airlines can be made through travel agents and
airlines abroad. However, it is more reliable, and a lot cheaper, to do
so after arrival in Indonesia.
In all airports there are strong warnings not to use illegal calo
but to purchase tickets diirectly at the airlines' sales counters.
Java and parts of Sumatra traveling by train is a good alternative to
cover long distances in relative comfort and for little money. Yet,
airfares have become so low, that outside the major holiday seasons,
trains are rarely fully booked.
Most stations have banned vendors from the platforms.
Passengers have a choice of economy (ekonomi
), business (bisnis
Even in economy class there is now airconditioning and assigned, though
cramped, seats. Business class sports better seats.
Train trickets can be obtained at a number of outlets, including
mini-markets and railway stations. Before boarding the train,
passengers need to print a boarding pass using the bar code, printed on
the ticket. Make
sure to stand in the (usually long) check-in line well before the
train's scheduled departure.
With enough time in your schedule, it is interesting to experience the
sights, sounds and smells of Indonesia from an intercity bus. Buses are
by far the most popular means of transportation. You could travel from
Medan in North Sumatra all the way East to Surabaya in East Java. you
could even continue to the islands east from Bali.
All buses sport airconditioning. The seats may still be a challenge for tall
westerners. Be wary of pickpockets in the bus terminals and on the
unsollicited services and never leave your bags unattended.
Car rental has become more common and more affordable in recent years.
What's more, GPS navigation has been introduced. Many international car
rental companies can be found in Jakarta and Bali, including Avis and
All you need to rent a car is an international driver's license and
Local car rental companies send you on the road with a nearly empty
tank. That is the norm. You are not expected to return the car with a
full tank either!
A half day rental lasts for 12 hours in Indonesia. A full day is 24
There are traffic rules, but most drivers seem to ignore them or invent
their own rules on the go. It is helpful that most drivers agree to
the left side of the road. The bigger the vehicle, the better it is to
yield, even if you would have the right of way.
Not in the mood for this kind of adventure? Rent a car with a driver.
Daily rates hover around Rp. 400,000 not including fuel and meals for
driver. Most drivers are not fluent in English, but you may be lucky.
Alternatively, prepare some standard sentences in Indonesian.
If you just want to travel from A to B, you may want to
share the vehicle with other passengers. Locally this mode of travel is
known as 'travel
companies sell tickets through hotels, travel agents and their outlets.
Ojek and more
Travelers are surprised to find that several traditional means of
transportation have survived to this day. Horsedrawn carriages and
pedicabs co-exist with motorbikes and cars. Ojek
taxis for short distances. Passengers are expected to haggle
about the price.
In the main cities Go-jek
summoned using a smartphone app. Passengers are expected to haggle
about the price.
Pedicabs are knows as becak
The cultural cities of Yogyakarta and Surakarta (Solo) are by far the
best for a becak
ride. Keep bags and cameras close to your body: very occasionaly bags
are snatched by thieves operating on fast bikes. Becak
are used on
short trips only. Becak
fares are comparable to taxi fares.
Indonesian cuisine is as varied as its people, their cultures and
locations. Rice is the staple food for most Indonesians. They eat it
with every meal. In the eastern provinces, Maluku and Papua maize and
tubers used to be the staple foods.
With rice, either boiled or fried, come one or more side dishes of
vegetables, meat or fish. Most of the food is spicy. The varieties are
Vegetarians are finding it increasingly easy to find veggie menus,
especially in the cities. In the countryside vegetarian dishes are: gado-gado
, tofu and tempe
If you don't mind to 'fish' around in a dish, ask for sayur lodeh
or sayur asem
. Or ask
the waiter to preapre one of the items on the menu without meat or
On the eBooks page
will find an e-booklet with a few easy to
prepare Indonesian dishes. Also check out our Recipes
A good way to try Indonesian food is at one of the many Padang
restaurants. You don't have to order anything: the waiter will put the
complete menu on the table. You will only pay for the dishes you eat.
Just in case you feel a sudden craving for burgers or pizza, don;t
despair. Pizza Hut, KFC, Burger King and McDonald's have become
household names in all major cities.
Pork is available in major hotels nd supermarkets that cater to expats
The Government has introduced strict alcohol regulations, making it
harder to obtain a beer or a glass of wine. However, it is left to the
local administrations to enforce the law or relax it. Bali is largely
unaffected. Even so, liquor is not cheap in Indonesia.
Even though Indonesia allows foreigners to bring one bottle of liquor
into the country, Customs officials are notorious for confiscating
Every year dozens of men die in Indonesia after boozing on bootleg
liquor. Always reject any offer of sharing a bottle with the
guys if you are not fully convinced of the drink's origins.
Whatever amount you's like to tip is appreciated. Essentially,
Indonesian workers don't expect to be tipped. The exception is in 4 or
5 star hotels, where staff have grown accustomed to be tipped. Tourist
guides must be tipped, because they cannot survive on their basic
salaries -if they have one at all.
the Beaten Track
Indonesia has a tremendous and largely undiscovered potential to be
enjoyed by travelers.
The small islands of Nias and Sibolga in northern Sumatra are only one
example. Other islands big and small offer opportunities for diving and
You may go hiking in the island of Flores, or see the Komodo dragons in
Even relatively nearby Madura island (north from Surabaya, East Java)
holds surprises, such as traditional bull races.
In the island of Lombok (eats from Bali), Indonesia's tallest volcano,
Mount Rinjani offers long and short hikes. Always do so with an
experienced local guide.
In Sulawesi or Bali you may board a traditional motorsailer called pinisi
island hopping and diving cruise.
In the island of Kalimantan a river cruise visiting traditional Dayak
communities is a great way of exploring the island.
See more suggestions here
Should you bring a suitcase full of diapers and baby food? Probably, as
your diapers (suited to the tropical climate) are widely available.
Baby formula and baby food in Indonesia are a little different, but
tasty and healthy. Baby food comes in freeze-dried sachets. Popullar
brands include Promina, Sun, and SGM.
For older children fries and burgers are widely available.
Indonesia offers lots of entertainment for kids. Such as theme parks in
Jakarta, safari parks in Bogor and Trestes, the elephant park
in Bali, boat rides, water parks, games, beach fun and lots more.
Before the trip, prepare children about what to expect. Tell them about
different traditions, language, climate and how adventurous it will be
to discover it all.
Indonesians adore children and will miss no opportunity to say 'hi', to
touch them (especially if they are blond and have blue eyes) and to
pass sweets. Sometimes, all the attention may become overwhelming.
with a Physical Disability
Disabled travelers may find it a challenge to travel Indonesia. All
cities and towns have high curbs. There are very few ramps and building
designs have not considered accessibility for wheelchairs. Thanks to
advocacy by interest groups, awareness to the needs of the physivally
challenged, change is in the air.
Preparing your trip, check about accessibility before booking hotels