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  • Overview

    Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago, comprising of five main islands and a multitude of smaller island chains, with about 17,000 islands strung across the equator altogether.

    A rich history of warring kingdoms, conquests, colonialism, trade and natural disasters has bequeathed Indonesia with an exhilarating kaleidoscope of cultures and traditions, languages and religions, aspirations and problems, and the dramatic scenery of volatile landscapes.

    Unfortunately it is this very diversity of ethnic groups and religions that has put a country of such exotic natural resources to the test. Racial divides and fierce religious hostility, government corruption, uprisings, economic negligence and, more recently, terrorist attacks have been frequent blights on the fabric of Indonesian society. However, for the traveller, this diversity and overdose of traditions and religions is fascinating. For decades the country has been a magnet drawing thousands of people to its shores despite its turbulent nature. Its position along the Pacific 'ring of fire' contributes to its status as a destination for the adventurous: Indonesia is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Having said that, in addition to the adventurous thrill-seekers and nature-lovers, Indonesia attracts many tourists wanting nothing more than a peaceful beach holiday, and the country offers many renowned resorts.

    A holiday in Indonesia offers something for everyone. Sumatra is an almost untouched wilderness with a diversity of wildlife, highland tribes, unique architecture, wonderful resort-lined lakes, and quaint hilltop towns. Java features steaming volcanoes, astonishing historical monuments, a sprawling capital city and traditional dance, music and art. The image of paradise is epitomised in Bali, an island of artistic people and elegant temples, resplendent scenery, palm groves, beach resorts and fabulous diving sites. Further east, Komodo is the home to the world's largest lizard, the Komodo dragon.

    Indonesia is a land of vigorous colour, of tensions and upheaval, but also of festivals and dancing, golden sunsets and friendly white-toothy smiles.

    When it comes to attractions, Indonesia is as varied as its 17,000 islands, and visitors will be swamped with an endless list of things to see and do. There are cultural, historical, religious and natural attractions aplenty, and as such it may be wise to select one or two islands to explore in order to avoid suffering from a sightseeing overload.

    A popular place to tackle first is Java, a touristic favourite not least because of the incredible volcanic scenery in its Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park. The island is also home to the grungy metropolis of Jakarta and the historic Yogyakarta. On Java, travellers can find anything from glitzy nightclubs to ancient ruins to traditional puppet theatre. If the laid-back aesthetic of "Eat Pray Love" is what you are after, head straight to Bali. This hugely popular island has been luring in visitors for years thanks to its white sandy beaches, endless surfing spots and inland cultural attractions.

    For a wider range of natural attractions, one can get lost on the mammoth island of Sumatra, which offers visitors traditional towns, such as Bukit Lawang and Bukittinggi, and stunning landscapes. Bigger yet is Borneo, which shares its jungle treks with visitors and native orangutans alike and is a delight to explore.

    A lumbering ferry line connects all the main islands and attractions and is an adventure itself. The best time is visit is between May and September, during the dry season, which also makes transport easier.

    Wayang Kulit (Shadow Puppets)

    Shadow Puppet performances are a proud part of Indonesia's cultural heritage. In fact, UNESCO has declared wayang kulit a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, meaning that the art form is considered a global treasure. The puppets are lovingly handcrafted out of buffalo hide or goat skin, and mounted on bamboo poles, with moveable limbs that are worked by a highly skilled puppeteer from behind a backlit screen, casting the shadows of the puppets onto the surface to tell spellbinding stories. The puppeteer is usually the creator of the puppets, the director, producer and main narrator of the shadow world.

    Wayung Kulit Wayung Kulit Arian Zwegers
    Prambanan Temple Complex

    Rivalling the Buddhist monument of Borobudur, this magnificent Hindu temple is the largest in Java and arguably the most beautiful in Indonesia. Prambanan was built in the 9th century, possibly to compete with the splendour of Borobudur, or to celebrate the return to power of the Hindu dynasty in Java at the time. The complex is dominated by three main temples, Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu, each dedicated to their namesake, and the walls are decorated with exceptional relief carvings depicting scenes from the famous Hindu classic tale of Ramayana.

    Prambanan Temple Complex Prambanan Temple Complex Cazz

    One of the greatest Buddhist monuments in South East Asia, Borobudur was built in the 8th century and stands on top of a hill surrounded by volcanoes and green fields. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an immense, multi-tiered structure, crowned by a Great Stupa (bell-shaped monument) that stands 128ft (40m) above the ground. It is part of a 2.5 mile-long (4km) chain of smaller temples, with the Mendut Temple containing three exquisitely carved giant statues of Buddha and two disciples inside. The terraces of Borobudur are covered in sculpted reliefs, their narrative panels illustrating Buddhist beliefs and teachings, and covering an estimated length of 3.5 miles (6km).

    Borobudur Borobudur null0
    Tanah Lot

    Meaning 'land in the middle of the sea', Tanah Lot is an exquisite sea temple built atop a rock formation off the island of Bali. A very popular tourist spot and a great location for photographs, Tanah Lot sits on a rocky island, in waters occupied by poisonous sea snakes that are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders. Despite the alleged presence of the snakes it is possible - and fun - to walk or wade to the temple cave at low tide. The temple was built by one of the last priests to arrive in Bali from Java in the 16th century and unfortunately the main temple can't be entered.

    Tanah Lot Tanah Lot Jos Dielis
    Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park

    The Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park encloses spectacular volcanic landscapes and one of the most impressive natural sights in Indonesia. The ancient Tengger crater in its midst stretches for six miles (10km) and within its sheer volcanic walls are three peaks: Batok, Kursi and the smoking Mt Bromo. Thousands of tourists make the journey up Mt Bromo for the unforgettable spectacle at sunrise (during the dry season), when the surrounding landscape takes on an otherworldly quality. The views from the top and into the smoking crater are unbelievable.

    Sunset over Mount Bromo Sunset over Mount Bromo Hasna Syalva

    Set in the hills north of Denpasar, Ubud is the cultural centre of Bali. The major attractions of the town and its surrounding villages are the art museums and galleries, notably the Neka Museum, containing a huge collection of traditional and modern Balinese paintings. An enormous variety of Balinese art and crafts line the streets and crowd the marketplace of Ubud. Frequent performances of traditional dance and music, and restaurants offering some of the best food on the island compel visitors to stay much longer than intended.

    Traditional dancers performing in Ubud Traditional dancers performing in Ubud Vincent

    Ampenan-Mataram-Cakranegara-Sweta, or more simply referred to as Ampenan, is a vibrant district located on Indonesia's lush Lombok Island. The sprawling metropolis is comprised of four towns, the boundaries of which are indistinguishable to casual holidaymakers. A number of the destination's shrines and temples are open to visitors, the best of which are located around the Mayura Water Palace, which dates from 1744 and was used by the royal court during the Balinese rule of Lombok. Ampenan's market is the area's primary attraction and is located along the main road to Senggigi, north of the city proper.

    Fishing boats in Ampenan Fishing boats in Ampenan David Stanley
    Bukit Lawang

    The little village of Bukit Lawang is situated on the eastern banks of the pretty Bahorok River, facing one of the grandest forest areas in South East Asia, the Mount Leuser National Park. Its major attraction, the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, helps orphaned orangutans that have been displaced because of land clearing, or rescued from captivity, and teaches them the necessary skills to survive in the wild. Visitors have an opportunity to view the apes twice daily when they come swinging through the trees to collect the bananas and milk left on feeding platforms in the forest. Jungle trekking and tubing down the river are other popular activities.

    Website: bukitlawang.com
    Orangutan Orangutan Dave59

    Bukittinggi, or 'high place', is situated on a hill and set among majestic mountains, green plantations and rice terraces. One of the friendliest and most easy-going cities in Sumatra, it is home to the Minangkabau people and the area is steeped in the Minang culture, which is Muslim and strongly matrilineal. One of the features of the town is the characteristic architecture: wooden houses with curved roofs soaring to a point representative of buffalo horns and decorated with beautiful wooden carvings. Nearby Mount Merapi is an active volcano that can be reached on a beautiful hike.

    Bukkitinggi, Sumatra Bukkitinggi, Sumatra Judith Duk
    Jalan Jaksa

    Jakarta's Jalan Jaksa district was once a famous backpacker area, where young adventurers could find much of what they needed for unforgettable, budget holidays. Students studying at the Jakarta Law Academy used to frequent the street and were perhaps the originators of the area's youthful flavour. Today its old bars, hostels, travel agents and second-hand bookstores have given way to gentrification through upscale condos and hotels, and a variety of eateries. It's still worth passing through Jalan Jaksa, though, as it's just a short walk from a lot of Jakarta's best tourist offerings.

    Jalan Jaksa Jalan Jaksa VasenkaPhotography

    The city of Jayapura is often the first stop for travellers to Papua, but even so its remoteness is such that many of the visiting Westerners are thought to be mine workers or missionaries. Although the wilds of Papua are a quick trail away, the city itself provides visitors with reasons to stay. Beautiful beaches and bays stretch below thick jungle hills and some of these contain remnants of WWII landing crafts, just as some of the caves in the area are said to retain Japanese skeletons from the war. The nicest swimming beach is Base G, which has aqua blue water and a palmed shoreline.

    Base G Base G Stenly Lam
    Indonesia Miniature Park/Taman Mini

    Indonesia is a vast place and it would take many holidays to explore the whole archipelago. A trip around Indonesia Miniature Park is useful and interesting because it offers samples of the different cultures and architecture to be found on some of the islands, including replicas of famous landmarks. Contrary to its name, the park itself is not small and covers 100 hectares of land. It includes examples of traditional buildings and cultural artefacts from all of the 27 provinces that make up Indonesia. The park also regularly hosts food sampling, dancing and other cultural performances from each province.

    Taman Mini Taman Mini Tun Tun Win
    National Monument of Indonesia

    Visitors will inevitably be pulled to the National Monument (MONAS) and the enormous obelisk that is visible from much of the city. The first president, Sukarno, began to build the structure as a symbol of nationalism, with an impressive weight of gold shaped into the tip's flames. For visitors it serves as a great landmark in an otherwise confusing city centre. Elevator rides to the top are available, providing a bird's eye view of the city. The monument and surrounding park are open to the public and there is a museum that documents Indonesia's fight for independence; there is also a hall of meditation at the monument's base.

    National Monument of Indonesia National Monument of Indonesia Midori

    Kota, also called Old Batavia or Old Town Jakarta, is the only surviving piece of the Dutch colonial district. The Dutch had their Indonesian heyday in the 16th century when Jakarta was at the centre of Asia's trade with the West. Today, many of the area's colonial buildings are falling into disrepair but the central cobblestone square, Taman Fatahillah, still invites visitors to imagine life in the 16th century, when there was little outside the colonial fortifications of Kota save for orchards and rice fields. The area is open to roam about in and there is no admission charge or distinct boundary to delineate the old district.

    Fatahillah Square Fatahillah Square Hans Hansson
    Gunung Batur Volcano

    The still-active Gunung Batur volcano is known as Bali's second holiest mountain and symbolises the female element of the island. The male element is symbolized in Gunung Agung, a neighbouring smaller volcano. The walk up Mount Batur is not easy, but the views are spectacular and, if travellers are lucky, they might even spot a few monkeys along the way. Gunung Batur rises from a volcanic crater that also contains a lake and the view of this otherworldly landscape from the crater rim is spectacular. Visitors should look out for the remnants of black lava flows on the western side of the mountain from this vantage.

    Mount Batur Mount Batur Jessy Eykendorp
    Pura Besakih

    Locally known as the Mother Temple of Bali, Pura Besakih is located on the slopes of Mount Agung and is the biggest and holiest of all Balinese temples. Dating back to the 14th century, the three main temples are dedicated to Shiva, Brahma and Wisnu, and another 18 separate sanctuaries belonging to different regencies and caste groups surround these. The complex has been built over centuries and is very impressive. Despite the hassle of dealing with insistent local touts, this is a beautiful and interesting attraction and many will find it rewarding.

    Pura Besakih Pura Besakih Benjamin
    Pura Kehen

    One of the most valued temples in Bali, Pura Kehen is a garden temple located in the town of Bangli in East Bali and can be traced back to the 11th century. Founded by Sri Brahma Kemuti Ketu, Pura Kehen is the second largest temple on Bali and the most sacred in the region. Many visitors are mesmerised by the temple's grandeur and the steep steps leading dramatically up to the gateway. Like the Mother Temple of Pura Besakih, Pura Kehen was built on the slope of a hill and has eight terraces.

    Pura Kehen Pura Kehen Aleksandr Zykov

    The small village of Batubulan is marked by stone figures of gods and demons on the side of the road. Known mostly for its stone carvings, Batubulan is a popular centre for cultural tourism and attracts travellers looking for a unique souvenir to take home with them. Visitors to the village can even enjoy visiting the workshops and watching the artists at work. Batubulan actually means 'moonstone' and stone carving has been the main industry of the village for a long time. The temples in the area reflect the traditional talent of the local inhabitants and some remarkable stone carvings are on display at temples such as Pura Puseh.

    Stone Carving Stone Carving Jos Dielis
    Elephant Cave

    Built in the 9th century, Goa Gajah, or Elephant Cave, is located near Ubud and originally served as a sanctuary; it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With a wonderfully carved entrance featuring menacing creatures and demons, children will find a visit to this historic cave an unforgettable experience (as will adults!). The main figure was once thought to be an elephant, hence the name, and in the 1950s a bathing pool was excavated, thought to have been built to ward off evil spirits. Visitors can wash their hands and feet in the fountains and there are usually locals on hand selling prayer offerings and the like.

    Elephant Cave entrance Elephant Cave entrance Jack Merridew
    Bali Bird Park

    The Bali Bird Park is home to a spectacular collection of more than 1,000 birds of about 250 different species. Kids will love spotting their favourite birds and learning about the exotic species they have never encountered before. Birds such as Macaws, peacocks, parrots, white herons and many more can be seen. The park is divided into regions that recreate natural habitats for the birds, complete with indigenous plant life and other artefacts from the region in question. Regions represented in the park include Bali, Papua, Java, Sumatra, South America and South Africa.

    Macaws Macaws Andrea Lawardi
    Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal

    Featuring more than 180 species of trees, many of which are considered holy and used in various Balinese spiritual practices, the Monkey Forest in Ubud is a fantastic place for kids and adults to spend the day exploring. The forest is seen as a marriage of nature with human endeavour and is considered a sacred place - in Balinese culture it is not just the temples which are considered holy but the surrounding gardens and forests as well. Traditionally monkeys are often seen as guardians of temples and are thought to ward off evil spirits.

    Balinese long-tailed macaques Balinese long-tailed macaques Farley Roland Endeman
    Nias Island

    Famed for its right-hand reef breaks, Nias is a key surfing destination for many travelling through the area, with the best known surf spots being Sorake Bay and Lagundri Bay. This fascinating island also boasts a rich cultural history, featuring prehistoric remains that are thought to date back to the megalithic Stone Age. Tourists visiting Nias Island can enjoy traditional festivities such as the war dances performed by locals, and the hauntingly beautiful local music, which is mostly sung by women. Popular activities other than surfing include scuba diving and snorkelling in the clear waters, which brim with rich marine life.

    Sorake Bay Sorake Bay Jen Joaquin
    Lake Maninjau

    Lake Maninjau is set like a burning sapphire stone in the crater of the mountain and is a spectacularly beautiful place to relax and unwind. It is a caldera lake, located in west Sumatra, and is thought to have been formed by a volcanic eruption around 52,000 years ago. The lake is set at about 1,545 feet (471m) above sea level, and the average temperature of the water in the lake is around 86°F (30°C). Visitors can enjoy cycling the 37-mile (60km) circumference of the lake, or plodding through the neighbouring rice paddies while others can swim, canoe and hike the surrounding mountains or explore the local villages.

    Lake Maninjau Lake Maninjau Ken Marshall

    The capital of Sumatra, Padang offers a compact and enjoyable cross-section of Sumatran life and its various cultures. Many surfers stop here on their way to the Batu or Mentawi Islands, but the town itself boasts a few noteworthy attractions such as the Adityawarman Museum, which features a collection of antiques, and the cultural centre where locals perform traditional dances on Sundays or even pencak silat (martial arts). Many people come here for the markets, for which Padang is famed, but Padang Beach is also popular for its spectacular sunsets and hundreds of colourful food stalls.

    Padang Beach Sunset Padang Beach Sunset Fadillah Jafar

    The town of Berestagi is famed not only for its passion fruit, but also for the two active volcanoes on its doorstep: Gunung Sibayak and Gunung Sinabung. Gunung Sibayak boasts fantastic hot springs whose warm waters are not only open to the public, but are also believed to have therapeutic properties. More active travellers can climb this mountain, earning breathtaking views over the island of Sumatra from the top. This is the most commonly climbed volcano in Sumatra as the hike to the top is comparatively easy, with beautiful and unusual scenery to enjoy along the way.

    Gunung Sibayak Gunung Sibayak Palma Hutabarat
    Sidemen Valley

    A typical Balinese village tucked away in a lush green valley, Sidemen is a popular excursion on Bali for tourists looking for peace and quiet. Terraced rice paddies lie under the shadow of a volcano, which offers good opportunities for hiking. Other active pursuits in the valley include cycling and whitewater rafting. The village of Sidemen is known for its skillful weavers, who make the intricate silver-and-gold songket fabric used in traditional weddings. The Pelangi Workshop allows visitors to watch the weaving process, and there are several shops in town to buy songket fabric along with other souvenirs.

    Sidemen Valley Sidemen Valley Keith Yahl
    Gili Islands

    Situated a few miles off the northwest coast of Lombok, the three Gili Islands - Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air - were 'discovered' by backpackers in the '80s and until recently remained a laid-back haven for budget travellers in search of a peaceful and secluded holiday paradise. The islands are surrounded by glorious soft sandy beaches, colourful coral reefs and crystal clear turquoise waters, and are ideal for diving. There are almost no roads or motor vehicles on the islands, with scooters and donkey-drawn carts acting as their replacements. Small ferries transport guests between the Gili Islands, none of which are more than twenty minutes apart.

    Gili Trawangan Gili Trawangan Chris Nener
    Kuta Lombok

    Not to be confused with its better-known namesake on Bali, Lombok's Kuta is almost totally undeveloped by comparison, having only been 'discovered' by surfers a few years ago and still devoid of any large holiday resort hotels. The whole south coast is characterised by miles of stunning curved sandy bays set beneath empty, rolling hills. Kuta's southeast peninsula and Awang Bay are dotted with tiny fishing villages untouched by tourism, while inland villages specialising in local crafts such as pottery, weaving, basket ware and carving can be visited.

    Kuta Lombok Kuta Lombok Alex Hanoko
    Lake Toba

    The holiday paradise of Lake Toba is embedded in the northern highlands of Sumatra and is surrounded by steep and fertile mountains. Filling in a giant volcanic crater, the lake has depths of up to 1,680 feet (525m) in places. In the middle of Lake Toba sits the jade-green island of Samosir, which is thought to be the origin of the friendly Batak people. Evidence of their culture and traditions is visible in the little Batak villages, with their characteristic curved roofs, and the traditional dance performances at Simanindo's Batak Cultural Centre. There are also several hot springs near Pangururan, which attract visitors.

    Lake Toba Lake Toba Batubara Ismail Rahmat

    Just a few miles south of Ampenan, Senggigi is the most developed holiday resort on Lombok, characterised by broad bays, towering headlands and first-rate hotels and restaurants, and boasting the only real nightlife in Lombok. Being close to the airport it makes a good first or last night stop for travellers intent on exploring the island. The drive north along the coast from Senggigi to Pemenang is a great day out for those with a car, offering spectacular views of the Gili Islands and across to Bali when the weather is clear.

    Senggigi Sunset Senggigi Sunset Fery Indrawan

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    The Indonesian climate is almost entirely tropical. The warm waters of the ocean surrounding the archipelago ensure fairly uniform temperatures on land and there is little seasonal variation. There is also little difference in daylight hours from season to season. Indonesia experiences hot, humid weather throughout the year, especially in coastal areas. The inland highlands are somewhat cooler.

    The climate of Indonesia is dominated by heavy monsoon rains, which occur between November and March and often cause damage and make local travel difficult (the rainy season is also the worst time for some mosquito-borne diseases). The best time to travel to Indonesia is during the dry season, between May and September. The rainy season varies in impact from island to island and, although some areas experience extreme conditions and flooding, others are less dire and can safely be visited during the time.

    The busiest and most expensive times to visit Indonesia are in the holiday periods: at the end of Ramadan, when domestic tourists fill resorts and prices escalate; at Christmas; and mid-June to mid-July, when graduating high-school students arrive in hordes, mainly in Java and Bali.

    Ngurah Rai Airport
    Location: The airport is situated eight miles (13km) southwest of Denpasar and one and a half miles (2.5km) south of Kuta.
    Time: GMT +8.
    Transfer Between Terminals The terminals are within easy walking distance of each other.
    Getting to the city: Buses leave regularly for Denpasar city centre and the main holiday resorts, including Kuta. Metered taxis are available and passengers should insist that the driver uses a meter, even if he claims it is broken.
    Car Rental: Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt operate from the airport.
    Airport Taxis: The official taxi counter is located outside the Arrivals hall. Fares are paid in advance, then a receipt is given to the driver.
    Facilities: There are shops, restaurants, banks and a bureau de change at the airport. Other facilities include a post office, pharmacy, duty-free, tourist information and hotel reservation kiosks. The airport has facilities for disabled travellers; those with special needs are advised to inform their airline in advance.
    Parking Short and long-term parking is available in a parking lot in front of the terminal building.
    Soekarno-Hatta Jakarta International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated 12 miles (20km) northwest of Jakarta.
    Time: Local time is GMT +7.
    Transfer Between Terminals A free bus connects the terminals.
    Getting to the city: Shuttle buses run hourly to the city centre and various other destinations in and around Jakarta until about 11pm. The bus that terminates at Gambir Station passes through the city centre. Taxis are metered and will be more expensive as a single traveller, but about the same price if you are sharing with three or four people; note that road tolls may be added to the fare.
    Car Rental: Avis, Hertz and Europcar are represented at the airport, along with a number of local car rental companies.
    Airport Taxis: Official taxi booths are located in the arrival terminal, where a host of unofficial taxi drivers also vie for business with varying prices. Depending on traffic, the 12-mile (20km) trip to the city centre will take between 30 and 45 minutes, but can be as long as an hour and a half if traffic is bad.
    Facilities: Facilities are limited but the airport is clean and the staff are friendly and efficient. There are shops, banks, bars and restaurants, and tourist information and hotel reservations at the airport. There are facilities for disabled travellers; passengers with special needs are advised to inform their airline in advance.
    Parking There are more than 2,000 parking bays at the airport, all within easy access of the terminals. Short and long stays available.

    The Indonesian currency is the Rupiah (IDR). Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, hotels and money changers in major tourist destinations; the US dollar is the most accepted currency. Travellers should ensure that foreign bills are in good condition, as creased and torn notes may be refused. The best exchange rates in Indonesia are generally found in major centres such as Jakarta and Bali. Visa and Mastercard are accepted at more expensive hotels and restaurants, though smaller businesses may not have card facilities (especially in more remote areas). ATMs are available in main centres. Small change is often unavailable so travellers should keep small denomination notes and coins for items such as bus fares, temple donations and soft drinks.


    Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, but many dialects are spoken. English is widely understood in Jakarta and tourist resorts.


    Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. A variety of plugs are in use, including the European two-pin.

    Entry Requirements:

    US nationals: US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of their arrival in Indonesia. A visa is required.

    UK nationals: UK citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of their arrival in Indonesia. A visa is required and must be used within 90 days after the date of issuance.

    CA nationals: Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of their arrival in Indonesia. A visa is required and must be used within 90 days after the date of issuance.

    AU nationals: Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of their arrival in Indonesia. A visa is required and must be used within 90 days after the date of issuance. Extensions of stay are possible depending on the type of visa.

    ZA nationals: South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of their arrival in Indonesia. A visa is required.

    IR nationals: Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of their arrival in Indonesia. A visa is required.

    NZ nationals: New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of their arrival in Indonesia. A visa is required.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    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 cost of a 30-day visa as of December 2016 is USD 35. Those nationalities not permitted to purchase a visa on arrival must obtain a visa prior to their arrival in the country.

    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.

    Note that a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required, if arriving in Indonesia within six days of leaving or transiting through an infected area.

    It is highly recommended that traveller's passports have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure from their travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

    Travel Health:

    There are a number of health risks associated with travel to Indonesia and medical advice should be taken at least three weeks before departing. Yellow fever vaccinations are required for those coming from yellow fever areas. Vaccinations for hepatitis A and hepatitis B are recommended, and a typhoid vaccination may be recommended for those spending time in rural areas. Malaria is a year-round risk in much of Indonesia, but not in Jakarta or 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 the country during the rainy season. Outbreaks of chikungunya fever, also from mosquitoes, have occurred regularly in Indonesia in recent years. It is recommended that pregnant women, or women planning on becoming pregnant, should postpone their trip wherever possible, as Indonesia has recently been classed as a moderate risk zone for the Zika virus.

    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 to take out comprehensive medical and travel insurance.


    Most midrange and all top-end hotels and restaurants add 21 percent to the bill for tax and service (called 'plus plus'). Where it is not included, a tip of 10 percent of the bill is appreciated. Tipping taxi drivers, masseurs and porters is not mandatory but, if travellers do choose to, a gratuity of IDR 5,000 to IDR 10,000 is appreciated.

    Safety Information:

    There is a risk of terrorism directed against foreigners throughout the country. It is recommended that visitors contact their foreign office for the latest travel advice before travelling to Indonesia. The security situation remains unsettled in central Sulawesi and foreigners are advised to avoid parts of Maluku, particularly Ambon. Visitors are also advised to be cautious if travelling to Aceh. Religious violence and unstable politics are an ongoing problem in Indonesia and travellers should keep an eye on current affairs.

    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. Flooding and landslides occur frequently during the rainy season between December and March. The country is also located on the volatile seismic strip named the "Ring of Fire", and as a result is often subject to earthquakes, volcano eruptions and occasionally tsunamis. Not all Indonesian airlines are considered safe and travellers should do some research into reputable airlines before booking.

    Local Customs:

    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. Their religious customs should also be respected, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan, when eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours should be discreet, in accordance with 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. The concept of 'saving face' is very important and public displays of anger, ridicule and blame are considered extremely vulgar and bad mannered. Gambling is illegal. Furthermore, the Indonesian government adopts a zero tolerance approach to those engaged in illegal activities, such as dealing or consuming drugs whilst in the country, or the killing or illegal trading of endangered animals. Offenders have been faced with lengthy prison sentences, and have even been sentenced to death.


    Due to the hot and tropical climate, 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 important to present and receive them with a slight bow and in both hands, or the right hand only, as the left is considered unclean. 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.


    The international access code for Indonesia is +62. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the UK). Buying a local SIM card is a good option as international roaming fees can be expensive. Free WiFi is available in most cafes, restaurants and hotels in main cities, towns and tourist areas.

    Duty Free:

    Travellers to Indonesia over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 25 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.

    Useful Contacts:

    Indonesian Tourism Authority: www.indonesia-tourism.com

    Indonesia Embassies:

    Indonesian Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 775 5200.

    Indonesian Embassy, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Republic of Ireland): +44 (0)20 7499 7661.

    Indonesian Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 724 1100.

    Indonesian Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6250 8600.

    Indonesian Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 342 3350.

    Indonesian Honorary Consulate, Dublin, Ireland: +353 852 491 465.

    Indonesian Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 475 8697/8/9.

    Foreign Embassies in Indonesia :

    United States Embassy, Jakarta: +62 (0)21 3435 9000.

    British Embassy, Jakarta: +62 (0)21 2356 5200.

    Canadian Embassy, Jakarta: +62 (0)21 2550 7800.

    Australian Embassy, Jakarta: +62 (0)21 2550 5555.

    South African Embassy, Jakarta: +62 (0)21 2991 2500.

    Irish Embassy, Singapore (also responsible for Indonesia): +65 6238 7616.

    New Zealand Embassy, Jakarta: +62 (0)21 2995 5800.

    Indonesia Emergency Numbers : 110 (Police); 113 (Fire); 118 (Ambulance)