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

Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago, with about 17,000 islands and is home to 261 million people. Because of its rich history and culture, and various geological terrains, Indonesia provides something for everyone. Given how economically conducive it is for travellers, Indonesia is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, with millions visiting every year. 

However, before you do plan a good, elaborate 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.  

Before Reaching Indonesia

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

1. Best Time to Visit

Travel Tips For Indonesia
The Indonesian Seasons
Indonesia has two seasons: summer and monsoon.
The average temperature is 28 °C.
Best Season
The best time to visit Indonesia is between May and September when the weather is dry and sunny.
October to April is the rainy season, with short but heavy bursts of rainfall almost every day.
Peak Season
June and September - During these months, accommodation prices can skyrocket, and it is quite crowded.
Shoulder season
The shoulder seasons lasts from April-June and then from September-October, and have the best weather and fewer people. Prices of accommodation drop too.
November to March/April is when the rainy season is in full swing, and although accommodation prices are low, getting out can be problematic. 

What is interesting, however, is that given its vastness, not every island in Indonesia experiences summer and monsoon at the same time. Sumatra and Sulawesi experience the rainy season in the months of October-January and June-July, respectively. So research thoroughly about the climatic conditions of the places you would be exploring. 

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. Sorting Out Visa Obligations

Travel Tips for Indonesia
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. 

  • 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. 

4. 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. 

5. 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.

6. Packing for Indonesia

Travel Tips for Indonesia
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. 

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. Beating the Heat 

Travel Tips for Indonesia
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!

9. 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. 

10. 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!

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:

11. Buy an Indonesian SIM Card

Travel Tips for Indonesia
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.
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. 

12. 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. 

13. Book a Taxi 

Travel Tips for Indonesia
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.
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.


Travel Tips for Indonesia

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
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. Safety First, ALWAYS

Be aware of your surroundings- petty theft and crime are rampant in Indonesia. Lock your bags and suitcases even in hotels. It's always better to be safe than sorry, right?

19. 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
With these tips in your travel arsenal, you can be sure to experience the beautiful archipelago like never before!

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