Travel Advice to Indonesia - 19 Tips to Create Your Experience of a Lifetime

Indonesia is rapidly becoming one of the world's favourite tourist destinations but before you do plan a trip to this beautiful tropical country, you should go through the following tips and tricks that will make travelling to Indonesia that much easier. This is a handy guide that contains travel advice for Indonesia for all that are planning a trip to the Southeast Asian nation.  

  1. Packing For Indonesia
  2. Download Offline Maps
  3. Indonesian Currency
  4. Beating the Heat
  5. Make Sure Your Vaccinations Are Up to Date
  6. Keep Small Denominations or Change With You
  7. Keep a Universal Adaptor
  8. Know the Laws of Indonesia
  9. Stay Safe and Avoid Home-Made Liquor
  10. Buy an Indonesian SIM Card
  11. Choose Accommodation Beforehand
  12. Visa Obligations
  13. Book Reliable Taxis
  14. Rent Scooters in Bali
  15. Enjoy the Street Food in Bali
  16. Make Sure Your Food is Vegetarian If You Are Vegetarian
  17. Beware of Bali Belly
  18. Learn Common Bahasa Indonesian Phrases

Travel Advice For Before You Reach Indonesia

Before you land in Indonesia, here are some things to keep in mind about the nation:

1. Packing for Indonesia

Travel Tips for Indonesia
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Indonesia offers something for everyone, from hiking and trekking to deep-sea diving, surfing, and walking along nature trails. Hence, what to carry almost always depends on where in Indonesia you are.

  • Best Clothing
    In terms of clothing, because of their generally tropical, humid weather, cotton clothes are the best in Indonesia.
  • Trekking Clothes
    However, if you decide to trek and explore the many volcanoes, be sure to pack some warm clothes, as it can get quite chilly up there.
  • Camping Essentials
    Due to its lush green forests, if camping is on the itinerary, do carry the average camping gear, but also do not forget bug repellent, as mosquitoes and other insects may abound.
  • Religious and Orthodox Clothing
    If you’re thinking of visiting Sumatra and Java and some of the Hindu temples there, do carry a sarong or a shoulder cover, as the temples will require you to cover your legs and shoulders. 

2. Download Offline Maps

For anyone with a bad sense of direction, or even otherwise, downloading the map of the island you're visiting can come very handy if you've gotten lost, or even for the lack of a useful guide. Google maps is a reliable source for these life-saving maps.

3. Indonesian Currency

Indonesia is a relatively inexpensive country to travel to, but its system of currency can be extremely confusing. One might think that IDR 15,000 is a hell of a lot of money, but in reality, it is only INR 73.45. Most importantly, vendors and shopkeepers in Indonesia usually quote prices without the last three zeros - so if someone asks you for “15 Rupiah", they are asking for IDR 15,000. Hence, it is always advisable to check and recheck with the local vendors of the prices that they quote. 

4. Beating the Heat 

Travel Tips for Indonesia
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Carry a good sunblock, preferably reef safe (maybe a larger size if you’re planning a long trip), a good pair of polarised sunglasses, and some aloe vera gel to keep away the sun from scorching your skin. If you’re unsure of the weather, which is possible because of the climatic conditions in Indonesia, you can carry, or even buy a good umbrella - the cheapest way to beat the heat!

5. Vaccinations in Check 

Depending on where in Indonesia you’re going, and for how long your trip is, it is advisable to get all routine vaccinations in place well before the date of travel. Standard tourists vaccines include those for Hepatitis A, Malaria, Yellow Fever (for nationals arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission), Typhoid and Polio. This list is not exhaustive, so make sure you consult with a healthcare practitioner about the vaccines that you may need to get before getting to Indonesia. 

6. Let Loose Change Chime in Your Pockets

Always carry smaller denominations of money, because not all places in Indonesia, especially the smaller, relatively remote islands will have ATM facilities. Moreover, petty theft and ATM frauds are common in Indonesia, so it is also advisable that you only go to the more prominent ATMs outside of a bank.

7. Universal Adapter 

DO NOT forget to take a Universal Travel Adapter, as Indonesia uses the European-style C+ two-pin round plugs. You can buy one when you get to Indonesia - they’ll be available at the airport and any electronic stores in markets, but irrespective of where you get it, keep your handy helper with you at all times!

8. The Indonesian Law 

Indonesian law, especially against illegal trafficking of drugs and psychotropic substances is stringent and harsh. Be aware of your surroundings in Indonesia, and do not have any psychedelic content on your person. Do not engage in any illegal activity, and be wary of people around you, which may seem like a paranoia fit, but it is crucial to be aware your surroundings as the punishment for substance peddling or consumption is the death penalty!

9. Safety

Ensuring personal safety is of the utmost importance when travelling in Indonesia. Petty theft is commonplace, particularly in touristy areas like Bali. However, being sensible with your belongings should be good enough (put the strap across your body, don't leave valuables unattended, stay vigilant). Travel insurance is a must. You're unlikely to encounter violent, heinous crimes here, but it's still a good idea to stay on the right side of the law. Alcohol poisoning is another activity to beware of. Heavy import tax has led to many locals to increase their supply by adding chemicals, so its best to drink only at reputable bars and hotels. You will be taken back by the open drug usage in party centrals such as Kuta and Legian in Bali, but it still is illegal and a safer option to stay away from parties where you know drugs will be present. Indonesia has a history of drug smuggling and has sentenced criminals to death for it. And in any case, why would anyone want to spend their holiday caught in an unnecessary legal battle.

When in Indonesia

When you finally do reach Indonesia, there are some things that you must keep in mind while on the island. Here are a few:

10. Buy an Indonesian SIM Card

Travel Tips for Indonesia
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It is always better to buy a local SIM card of wherever you’re travelling to, as it limits calling and internet charges that you might find piling up on your domestic SIM. For Indonesia, there are a variety of SIM cards one can purchase.

Tips
Do keep in mind that buying from the airport will cost a lot more than buying from local vendors. However, every local vendor would quote a different price, so you’ll have to bargain hard for the cheapest option.

Best Buy
Telkomsel SIMpati prepaid card is one of the most bought SIM cards by travellers because of its country-wide reception, cheap rates, and good connection. For additional information on SIM cards in Indonesia, TripSavvy has an abundance of information. 

11. Accommodation in Indonesia

The bigger, more touristy cities in Indonesia, like Jakarta, Bali, Yogyakarta provide for accommodations for all budget types. From dorms and hostels to villas and resorts, these places have it all for any and every kind of traveller. However, once you begin to venture into the more rural, and less frequented parts of Indonesia, choices are fewer. Hence, it is advisable to pre-plan your lodging scene, whether online or otherwise, keeping in mind the season in which you visit Indonesia. 

12. Sorting Out Visa Obligations

Travel Tips for Indonesia
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Indonesia provides around 169 countries with the option for a free tourist visa valid for 30 days, and about 60 countries are eligible for free visa-on-arrival. The Visas-on-arrival are valid for 30 days and can be extended to 30 more days. Tourist Visas cannot be extended beyond the period of 30 days, and cannot be converted to other visa types. 

Essentials
  • A passport that is valid for six months from the date of arrival. 
  • Flight tickets, whether they are return tickets or those going forward to another nation
  • A hotel booking for the 1st leg of the trip.
Notes: For Indian passport holders, the fee for Visa-on-Arrival is USD 35 for 30 days, which roughly converts to INR 2427. 

13. Book a Taxi 

Travel Tips for Indonesia
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In the larger cities like Jakarta, Bali, Yogyakarta or even Lombok, given their size and crowd, it is more accessible and even logical to get around the islands via taxis.

Top Taxi

Blue Bird Taxi services are a trusted commutation service to be abode by tourists. The price is set through a meter, so there's no worry of being ripped off. It also has an app that lets you pay for your ride via credit/debit card, and like any other taxi service, you can have the taxi come directly to your location. 

14. Rent a Scooter!

For smaller places, like Labuan Bajo and Ende, it is more comfortable and more economical to hire a two-wheeler.
  • Essentials
    You can apply for an international driver’s licence beforehand, or go to a local police station and obtain a permit from there. Whizz across the greenery of these islands in your scooter, but please, please do not forget to wear a helmet and protect that noggin!  
  • Rules
    If you choose to drive, drive on the left. 

15. DO NOT MISS THE STREET FOOD

Travel Tips for Indonesia
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Indonesia’s speciality lies in its street food- it is its heart and soul. Indonesia’s warungs, or small family-owned restaurants, are a cheap, delicious option for travellers not big on fancy five-star food. Some of the oldest street food stalls and vendors sprawl the streets and squares of Indonesia's cities.

Top Selections:
Some lip-smacking dishes that you must not miss out on are

1. Nasi Goreng - Fried rice with a thick soy sauce, served with eggs, fish crackers and a side salad or chicken
2. Mie Goreng - Noodle soup with stir-fried vegetables or meat
3. Gado-Gado - Salad made with potatoes, eggs, green beans, carrots and tofu, with a good helping of peanut sauce
4. Rendang - coconut milk cooked in with lots of spices, often made with beef or other meats.
5. Sirsak fruit juice - A local non-alcoholic drink with a unique taste
6. Chapchay - A seaweed dish widely relished by tourists

16. The Vegetarian's Delight

While vegetarian food is not very difficult to get in Indonesia, it is still a good idea to ask the restaurant staff of vegetarian options and make sure there is no meat in your dishes. What you can also do is to carry some light vegetarian snacks with you on your trip, just in case vegetarian food is not available in the areas you’re exploring. Also, don't worry, there are enough Indian restaurants in Indonesia, so you’ll never miss the chole bhature or rajma chawal!

17. Beware of Bali Belly!

Travel Tips for Indonesia
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The worst that can happen to you in Indonesia is what is called the Bali belly. Please make sure you're only eating cooked, boiled vegetables, and assure yourself of the meat your eating. The tropical climate and constant humidity have often lead to a pandemic of avian influenza or bird flu as is commonly called, so make very sure that the meat that you're ordering has been sourced from a clean, hygienic place. Be even more careful if you're in Indonesia in the monsoon season, these diseases happen to be higher during the rains.

18. Learn the Language - Common Phrases

Below are some common words that you can use to get by in Indonesia. Although English is widely spoken in the country, it’s always good to equip yourself with some local vocabulary to be polite and make your experience in Indonesia even more authentic.

Thank you - Terima Kasih
How are you - Apa khabar
Yes - Ya
Good Morning - Selamat Pagi
No - Tidak
I am vegetarian/no meat - “Saya vegetarian”/ “tidak baging.”
How many?/What price? - “Berapa banyak”/ “Berapa harga.”

Do’s and Don'ts

  • Drink bottled water, and carry a reusable bottle wherever you go.
  • Bargain. Most vendors and shops will instantly increase prices seeing tourists. Bargain hard.
  • Be respectful of the cultural and religious sentiments of the people. Places that require you to be fully clothed must be respected.
  • One-time use plastics are now banned in Bali, so make sure you don't purchase polythenes that pollute the environment. 
  • Do carry a small first-aid kit with you when travelling anywhere. 
  • During safaris and wildlife tours, make sure not to disturb or annoy the animals.
  • Carry travel insurance. Even though healthcare facilities abound in Indonesia, it’s added padding and protection to have insurance. 
  • Do not drink alcohol in public.
  • Interact with locals. Indonesians are helpful, very cheerful people, and it is entertaining to interact and converse with them.
Travel Tips for Indonesia
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With these tips in your travel arsenal, you can be sure to experience the beautiful archipelago like never before!

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