Indonesia Travel Guide
When you speak of beach holidays in Southeast Asia, it’s difficult not to do so without talking about Indonesia in the same breath. The wildly appealing archipelago, trimmed with stretches of pristine beaches and forests, is the setting for many adventures and exploration, tricked out with wildlife, Buddhist temples, volcanoes and a mix of rich cultural traditions.
Sunset or sunrise trekking across a volcano? If this sounds like your type of adventure, look no further than Mount Batur, otherwise known as the second most active volcano in Bali, located inside a gigantic crater. This is your chance to embark on a gentle trek through some of nature's finest displays. Don’t forget to pack your camera for the panoramic vistas that await at the top.
The ethereal temple compounds of Borobudur is one of Indonesia’s iconic landmarks, and rightfully so. This ancient central Java religious site, which boasts that gracefully intricate Buddhist architecture, dates back to the 9th-century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s been the terminus for many religious pilgrimages, and today, a popular site for many surreal, photogenic visits.
Though famed for its most famous inhabitants, the Komodo dragon – also knowns as the world’s largest living lizard, the captivating Komodo Island definitely boasts far more than that. It’s the venue for untamed yet indulgent adventures thanks to its pristine coasts, emerald waters and peaks with fierce panoramas. And did we mention it’s home to one of the only seven pink beaches in the world?
If clear azure waters and white sand beaches aren’t your ideas of paradise, you might as well leave now. Gili Islands, located just off the northwestern coast of Lombok, is nothing but that, and the swaying palms, hip retreats and vibrant nightlife are enough to tempt any type of traveller. If that’s exactly what you’re looking for, kick off your shoes and adopt the barefoot lifestyle.
A holiday in Indonesia isn’t complete without a quick stop to one of its small villages. Consider Bukit Lawang in North Sumatra. It’s home to the majestic orange orangutans that you can observe from the village’s famous Orangutan Viewing Platform as well as the strange-looking Thomas Leaf Monkey. It’s also the place to go for jungle trekking, river tubing and canoeing adventures.
Imagine from your lofty vantage point an island covered with sharp ridges, rolling hills and turquoise bays. Flores is verdant, commanding and charming all at the same time. And it’s home to beauties like the Liang Bua Cave – site of an important Palaeoanthropological dig, the Spider Web Rice Fields, and of course, the impressive Kelimutu National Park. Head to Labuan Bajo for more adventures.
Indonesia is home to a few thousand volcanic islands and sits northwest of Australia and south of Thailand and the Philippines. It’s a 22h 30m flight from New York with a layover, and 16h 30m from London with a stopover.
Jakarta is not only Indonesia’s largest city, but it also serves as its sprawling capital. It sits on the northwestern coast of the island of Java and remains to be one of Asia’s most diverse cities.
The Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is the busiest and largest in Indonesia as well as the busiest in the southern hemisphere. It’s located less than 30 kilometres from Jakarta on the island Java and serves Greater Jakarta.
- Closest City
The official language of Indonesia is Indonesian, although over 700 languages and dialects are spoken on the islands. There are many English speakers, it is not as prevalent as it is in Thailand.
Indonesia uses the Indonesian rupiah. The currency code is IDR. ATMs and money changers are widespread in cities. Carry enough money with you at all times as most businesses prefer cash.
Citizens of more than 150 countries are visa exempt and can travel to and around Indonesia visa-free for 30 days. Included on the list are the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany.
The standard voltage in Indonesia is 230V while the standard frequency is 50Hz. The country uses the Type C plug (also known as the Europlug) with two round pins and the Type F plug with two round pins and two grounding clips.
Boosters of Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, and Tetanus are advised. Other vaccines to consider include Hepatitis B, Rabies, and Typhoid. Proof of Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required for when arriving from countries with risk of Yellow Fever.
In Indonesia, the emergency phone numbers are as follows: 110 for the police, 112 for general emergencies, 113 for fire, and 118 for an ambulance.
When to Visit
FAQs about Indonesia
Do you tip in Indonesia?
Tipping in Indonesia is not at all mandatory. However, it’s definitely appreciated in the service industry. The rule of thumb is to leave a 5% to 10% tip at restaurants, round up your taxi meter fare, and maybe leave your tour guide a small gratuity.
What is the internet access like?
WiFi might be easily accessible all over Indonesia, except in the remote areas, but it’s not often as fast as you’re probably used to. Restaurants and cafes offer free WiFi, while hotels either have them for free or for a fee.
Is the tap water safe to drink?
Don’t do it. Locals either boil it or drink bottled water, and you must do the same.
Can I use my credit cards?
Visa, Mastercard and American Express are accepted, but only at higher-end establishments. Stick to cash, but only carry enough on your person. ATMs machines are easily available in a lot of tourist areas, anyway.
What are the public holidays?
Alongside Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, Indonesia celebrates Chinese New Year (1st day of the 1st month in the Chinese calendar), Nyepi (every Isakawarsa in the Balinese calendar), Vesak, Independence Day (August 17), and the Islamic New Year.
What are the toilets like?
Know that both sit or Western-style and squat toilets are available in Indonesia. The thing you should keep in mind the most is that toilet paper is not commonly used. Do yourself a favour and carry a wad of toilet paper with you during your trip.