Information & Facts
Attractions in Indonesia are as varied as the 17,000 islands and
give visitors endless things to do. Some of the best include
viewing the volcanic sceneries in Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National
Park on Java. The island is also home to the grungy metropolis of
Jakarta and the historic Yogyakarta. Here you can find glitzy
nightclubs to traditional puppet theatre. The neighbour island of
Bali is an attraction in itself, luring visitors with white sands
of Kuta beaches, endless surfing spots and Ubud's cultural
Sumatra offers visits to traditional towns such as Bukit Lawang
and Bukittinggi and stunning landscape. The giant island of Borneo
shares its jungle treks with visitors and native orang-utans alike.
A lumbering ferry line connects all the island's attractions and is
an adventure itself. The best time is visit is between April and
October during the dry season which also makes transport
Due to the hot and tropical climate, when conducting business in
Indonesia, formal business attire in a light, cool material is the
best option. Indonesia is largely Muslim so dress should be
conservative, especially for women. Business cards are often
exchanged and it is customary to shake hands with a slight bow when
greeting and leaving. Some Indonesian names can be long and hard to
pronounce and making an effort to get it right when greeting
someone will be appreciated. It is best to use formal titles such
as Doctor, or 'Bapak' for Mr. and 'Ibu' for Madam. Business hours
vary, government offices are usually open from 7am to 3pm and small
businesses from 8am or 9am to 4pm or 5pm.
Indonesia is hot and humid all year round, but cooler inland
than along the coastal regions. The monsoon from December to March
brings the heavy rains. The dry season, from April to October, is
the best time to visit as some activities and road travel can be
difficult during the rainy season.
The international access code for Indonesia is +62. The outgoing
code is 001 or 007 followed by the relevant country code (e.g.
00144 for the United Kingdom). When using Voice Over Internet
Protocol, the outgoing code is 017. It is not necessary to dial the
first zero of the area code. City/area codes are in use, e.g. 36
for Bali and 21 for Jakarta. For operator-assisted international
calls, phone 101. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks
and have roaming agreements with most international operators.
Internet cafes are available in the main towns and resorts.
Indonesian people are generally friendly and polite and while
they understand that western culture is different to their own, it
will be appreciated if their customs are respected. Religious
customs should also be respected, particularly during the month of
Ramadan when eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours
should be discreet as it is forbidden by the Muslim culture.
Visitors should always be polite and avoid public displays of
affection. It is considered impolite to use the left hand for
passing or accepting things. Appropriate dress is important in
places of worship and women should dress conservatively, covering
the shoulders and legs, especially in Muslim areas. The concept of
'saving face' is very important and public displays of anger, and
personal ridicule and blame are considered extremely vulgar and bad
mannered. In Jakarta a new law bans people from giving money to
beggars, buskers and unofficial traffic guides in an attempt to
'bring order' to the city. Offenders could face up to six months in
jail and $5,000 fines. Gambling is illegal.
Travellers to Indonesia over 18 years do not have to pay duty on
50 cigars or 200 cigarettes or 100g tobacco; alcohol up to 1 litre;
perfume for personal use; and personal goods to the value of US$250
per passenger or US$1,000 per family. Travellers not entering on a
tourist visa will have to pay duties for photo and film cameras
unless these have been registered in their passport by Indonesian
Customs. Electronic equipment may not be imported to the country.
Prohibited items include Chinese medicines and prints, narcotics,
firearms and ammunition, pornography, cordless telephones, fresh
fruit or goods to be used for commercial gain.
Electrical current is 120/230 volts, 50 Hz. A variety
of plugs are in use including the European two-pin and UK-style
There are a number of health risks associated with travel to
Indonesia and medical advice should be taken at least three weeks
before departing. Malaria is a year round risk except in Jakarta,
other large cities and the tourist resorts of Java and Bali. The
dengue fever mosquito is found throughout Indonesia and visitors
should be aware of a significant increase in reported cases of
dengue fever throughout all the country's provinces during the
rainy season. Outbreaks of chikungunya fever, also from mosquitoes,
have occurred regularly in Indonesia in recent years. Visitors to
Java and Sumatra are advised to ensure all polio inoculations are
up to date before travel. Outbreaks of bird flu have also occurred
and many people have died from the disease; Indonesia has the
world's highest death toll from the virus. Travellers are not at
risk but are advised to avoid close contact with caged, domestic
and wild birds, and ensure that all eggs or poultry dishes are
thoroughly cooked as a precaution. Outbreaks of Anthrax and leprosy
occur. Travellers' diarrhoea is a major risk; visitors should only
drink sealed bottled water and avoid dairy products, uncooked meat,
salads and unpeeled fruit. Poor sanitation and eating contaminated
food can increase the risk of cholera, typhoid and other diseases.
The standard of local medical care is poor and very expensive. It
is essential that you take out full medical and travel insurance
covering all eventualities. A yellow fever certificate is required
from those travelling from infected areas.
Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, but many
dialects are spoken. English is widely understood in Jakarta and
Rupiah (IDR) is the official currency and is divided into 100
sen. Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, hotels and
money changers in major tourist destinations; US dollars is the
most accepted currency. Cash often yields a better exchange rate
than travellers cheques, which are not always accepted. It is
recommended that travellers cheques also be in US dollars. Most
major credit cards are accepted at hotels, restaurants and stores
catering to the tourist trade. ATMs are available in main centres.
Small change is often unavailable so keep small denomination notes
and coins for items like bus fares, temple donations and cool
Passengers to Indonesia of most nationalities can obtain a
30-day visa on arrival, provided that: (i) they arrive at a major
Indonesian airport; (ii) their passport contains at least one
unused visa page for the visa-on-arrival sticker; (iii) they are
holding return/onward tickets, and the necessary travel
documentation for their next destination; and (iv) they can show
proof of sufficient funds to cover their stay in Indonesia (at
least USD 1,000 or a valid credit card). The visa fee is USD 25.
One visa extension, of a further 30 days, is possible, via an
application made to the Immigration Office. Note that the day of
arrival in Indonesia is counted as the first day of stay, and that
fines will be levied against tourists who exceed their permitted
period of stay. Visitors wishing to travel to the Indonesian
province of Irian Jaya must obtain a special permit ("Surat Jalan")
after arrival in Indonesia from the Dinas Intel Pam Pol MABAK in
Jakarta, or other regional police headquarters in Biak or Jayapura.
It normally takes about two days to obtain this permit. Upon
arrival in Irian Jaya, visitors must report to the local police
office. Note that a yellow fever vaccination certificate is
required, if arriving in Indonesia within six days of leaving or
transiting through an infected area. NOTE: It is highly recommended
that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after
your intended date of departure from your travel destination.
Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated
by travel agents and official sources.
Following the bombings in Bali in October 2005, there remains a
high risk of terrorism directed against foreigners throughout the
country and reports indicate that terrorists are planning further
attacks on Westerners and western interests and are likely to be
carried out at locations frequented by tourists. Extreme caution is
advised in public places, including transport terminals, shopping
malls and public buildings, and especially in restaurants, hotels
and places of entertainment in tourist areas. The security
situation remains unsettled in Sulawesi and foreigners are advised
to avoid parts of Maluku, particularly Ambon, and Central Sulawesi.
Visitors are also advised to be cautious if travelling to Aceh.
Religious violence between Christians and Muslims and unstable
politics has also made many parts of Indonesia unsafe for
travellers; there is continued risk of harassment of Westerners by
fundamentalists. Indonesia has a high crime rate and theft and
petty crime is common in tourist areas and on public transport.
Credit card fraud is on the increase. It is strongly recommended
that visitors contact their foreign office for the latest travel
advice before travelling to Indonesia. Flooding and landslides
occur frequently during the rainy season between December and
March. The safety of air travel in Indonesia has come under the
spotlight following a series of fatal airline accidents; six of its
airlines have failed to meet international safety standards,
including the national carrier, Garuda, and in June 2007 the EU
announced that all Indonesian airlines have been banned from
entering the EU.
Indonesia spans three time zones. GMT +7 (West, including
Java and Sumatra), GMT +8 (Central, including Bali, Sulawesi and
Lombok), GMT +9 (East, including Irian Jaya).
Major hotels add a 10% service charge to bills in Indonesia and,
where it is not included, a tip of between 5% to 10% of the bill,
would be appreciated. Airport porters usually receive around Rp
2,000 per small bag. Tipping taxi and rental car drivers is not
mandatory, but if you do choose to tip, Rp 1,000 is sufficient for
taxi drivers and a little more for rental car drivers.