Indonesia is located in Southeast Asia, between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is the world's largest island country, with over 17,000 individual islands, with some of the most well known being, Bali, Lombok and the capital of Jakarta.
The Indonesian motto “Bhinneke tuggal ika” (Unity is diversity) makes reference to the extraordinary diversity of the Indonesian population, with the confluence of languages, religions and cultures (the country has more than 300 different ethnic groups). Indonesia is not only culturally rich, but it is also visually stunning, from white sandy beaches and bright blue oceans, to imposing volcano's, vibrant green rice paddies, dense jungles and idyllic mountain towns.
Indonesia is a magical place, and often once you have been graced by her beauty, there is no turning back.
Helpful Indonesian Phrases
Selamat Pagi - Good Morning
Selamat Siang - Good Afternoon
Selamat Sore - Good Evening
Apa Kabar? - How are you?
Tolong Aku - Help me.
Terima Kasih - Thank You.
Sampai Jumpa - Goodbye.
Sampai Bertemu - See you Soon.
Hati-hati - Be careful.
Climate In Indonesia
Indonesia’s climate is determined largely by its island structure and their position to the Equator. But generally they experience two seasons, wet and dry. Dry season tends to run from April to September/October with the rest of the months experiencing downpours of rain. Regional temperature depends on elevation, with temperatures highest along the coast, ranging from low 20s to low 30s °C. Areas above 600m are significantly cooler with temperatures dropping below 10°C
Currency In Indonesia
The Indonesia Rupiah (IDR) is the currency of Indonesia. At the time of writing the conversion rate from IDR to euros and dollars is as follows:
18,000 Rp = €1.14 / $1.27 USD
ATMs in Indonesia are common in bigger cities and tourist hot-spots but if you are heading into Indonesia’s smaller towns or to the smaller islands, make sure you have enough Rupiah to take with you.
Local bank ATMs to look out for include:
- Bank Mandiri ATM locator
- Bank Rakyat Indonesia ATM locator
- Bank Central Asia ATM locator
- Bank Negra Indonesia ATM locator
If you are arriving by plane, you can easily get Indonesian Rupiah in the airport. Do this before you head to your first place so you have some cash on you.
Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Indonesia, but only in the bigger cities and towns and tourists hot-spots. Outside of these, many places will only take cash so make sure you always have some to hand.
Limits on individual transactions vary and depend on the bank, but generally it is 3 million Rupiah (€190 / $200), although some set the maximum limit to 1.5 million Rupiah. Check also with your home bank, as they may also set a withdrawal limit with your account.
Go Travel and Talk Top Tips:
- Always let you bank know beforehand that you are travelling abroad. This will notify the bank and prevent them from freezing your card which they will do if they think it has been stolen.
- When withdrawing cash, or paying for something using your card, always choose to pay in the local currency (not your home currency) to avoid hidden charges from inflated exchange rates.
- ALWAYS take a second card from a different bank with you, so then if you lose one or your bank cancels / freezes your card, you have a back up.
- When withdrawing money, be aware that the money is dispensed first and your card is released after a few more minutes - making it very easy to forget your card!
Getting Around Indonesia
It is possible to get internal flights to different areas of Indonesia, although we advise choosing land travel to keep your carbon emissions to a minimum. As the country’s main air transportation hub, Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is the nation's busiest airport. Other airports that serve the nations regional hubs are: Juanda (Surabaya), Ngurah Rai (Bali), Sultan Hasanuddin (Makassar) and Kuala Namu (Medan).
Indonesia has four unconnected railway systems. One in Java and three in Sumatra. Trains are fairly basic and they can be overcrowded and not overly clean. They also run late - most of the time. Air conditioned cars and female only cars are available and can often be found near the front and end of the train. On the whole, fares are cheap and it is a great way to make long distance journeys if you are in or around Java and Sumatra. It is advisable to book your tickets online beforehand. You can do this from Tiket.Com or use the Man in Seat 61's website - it offers a wealth of information for travelling by train in Indonesia.
Taxis can be found at shopping malls and hotels as well as ‘pangkalan’ (taxi queues). You can also flag them down in the street with a wave of your hand. Or you can use the taxi app ‘Grab’ or ‘Go-Jek’ or all a taxi company and they will send a taxi to where you are (although this takes longer). If you are picking up a taxi on the street, make sure the meter is on beforehand or decide on a price before you get in.
There are many bus companies working throughout Indonesia, most of which have a set price. If you would like air conditioning, you will pay a little more but they are much more comfortable. Air-con buses vary in price depending on the facilities; whether you choose a reclining seat, if their is a toilet onboard, snacks, TV etc. These buses should be booked in advance which you can do from most hostels and hotels or at the bus terminal.
The government owned DAMRI bus company serves the airport on the main islands (Java, Lombok, Bali) and they can drop passengers off along the toll roads. These buses are safe, air-conditioned and relatively comfortable.
All public buses have set routes and fares which you pay to the conductor as you get on the bus. He or she is usually hanging out the back door. Make sure you have the correct change or smaller notes because often they will not have change. It is important to note that the buses don’t have set schedules and they often run late! Please also be careful when on public buses as they are a target for pickpockets and beggars. Also, the drivers don’t always drive in a sensible manner - stay clear of Metro Mini, they have the worst reputation for poor drivers. As a solo female traveller it is also important to be aware at all times - if you feel uncomfortable, the Transjakarta buses have a female only section at the front of each bus. Important to note - buses don’t always come to a complete stop when they pull up at bus stops, so be careful when you jump off!
The beginning and endpoints of each bus route can be found on the front and back of each bus, along with a route number. If you do not know which bus to take, just ask the people at the bus stop and they will help you.
Go Travel and Talk Top Tip: Download Maps.me!
Public minibuses operate around cities and towns and used for intercity runs. They are known as bemos, angkot or taksi in many parts of Papua and East Java. Most minibuses operate a standard route, picking up and dropping people off along the way. Ask your hostel or hotel staff beforehand how much a fare should cost, as foreigners are often overcharged. Don’t expect comfort on these journeys and get ready to get up close and personal with your neighbour as drivers tend to over pack the minibuses.
Renting a Scooter:
Renting a scooter is incredibly popular in the small towns and larger cities and it is a great way to get around if you have experience driving a scooter. Roads can be dangerous, due to their condition and the other drivers, so make sure you are confident driving one and rent a scooter from a reputable individual or local business. If you are staying at a hostel or hotel, they can help you with this.
Hiring A Driver:
It is possible to hire a driver to look after you for the duration of your stay. When I travelled around Bali I had a driver pick me up and take me to different places on and off throughout my trip. If you are going to Bali, you can contact Gede via Whatsapp here: +62 813 3715 7459. Tell him Cj gave you his number :)
Whilst this sounds like a luxury, the price was incredibly cheap for the service I received. For example, a journey of 2 hours costs us the equivalent of £15. The care was comfortable, air conditioned and Gede was so accommodating and happy to take us to places, wait for us and then take us back to our hostel.
Travel Insurance for Indonesia
You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries and it is the only travel insurance we will ever use! It is designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
WorldNomads.com is backed by a suite of strong and specialist travel insurers who provide you with great cover, 24 hour emergency assistance and the highest levels of support. The WorldNomads.com prices are some of the most competitive online and if you need to change plans, you can buy more cover or claim online while you are still away. You can even buy a World Nomads policy if you're already travelling. They also offer travel safety advice and tips online through the World Nomads Travel Safety Hub and WorldNomads.com members can learn the local lingo through a series of iPod & iPhone Language Guides and can stay in touch with family and friends with an online travel journal. You can find out more about why travel insurance is important for your trip. If you have any questions about your travel insurance or travel safety in general, please contact WorldNomads.com directly.
Medical Considerations For Indonesia
When planning a trip to Indonesia, make sure you visit your doctor beforehand to discuss travel vaccinations. They will go through your travel plans and suggest the appropriate vaccinations. Some of the vaccinations may just be boosters for you (if you have had them before) which will bring the overall cost down.
In the UK, some of the vaccinations will be free of charge through your doctor’s, and some will cost. To keep the cost down, you can always visit a travel centre instead, where the injections are slightly cheaper. When thinking about vaccinations for your trip, the following website can be really helpful: Fit for Travel.
What To Pack For Indonesia
- Dresses / shorts / light clothes
- Light trousers for hiking
- Sarong to cover up when visiting temples
- Swimwear / beach items / quick dry towel
- Good walking shoes / sandals / trainers
- Jumper or light jacket for the evenings for when it cools down
- I found packing cubes really helpful when I was away.
- First aid kit
- Battery pack / electronics
- Zip lock bags – perfect for carrying food that has been opened or protecting liquids from spilling
- Money belt
- Padlocks x2 or 3
- Ipod / music for the long bus journeys
- Sunscreen and bug spray
- Travel Pillow
- Water purification tablets
Safety Advice For Indonesia
As with any country, it is important to take precautions when travelling abroad.
●Always keep your valuables hidden or locked away. Don’t wander around with your Iphone in full view when travelling on long bus journeys.
●Always keep your valuables in your small backpack and wear it on your front, with your big backpack on your back and padlocked.
●You can never be too safe when withdrawing money from an ATM. Always choose an ATM inside of a bank rather than on a street. Put your cash in your money belt, under your top straight away. If you feel really nervous about withdrawing money, go with someone else.
●If you are travelling on buses, do not store your little backpack overhead or in the back of the bus, keep it on you at all times. For extra security: put your passport, money and phone in a money belt around your waist, under your clothes.
●When travelling on buses, always padlock your big bag and try and put your rain/protective cover over it for extra security as it will be going in the boot under the bus.
●Do not walk around at night on your own, always take a taxi, even if it is a short distance.
●Always ask your hostel about the area and for safety advice.
●Keep your two bank/credit cards separate, so if anything does happen, you have a second source of money.
●Always have at least one photocopy of your passport, again, so if you lose your passport, you still have a copy of it and bring another form of identification with you (driver’s license).
Budget For Indonesia
Your budget for Indonesia completely depends on what type of trip you are taking but it is incredibly cheap in most places. There are plenty of budget accommodation options available in the form of hostels and homestays and you can also rent a room or entire apartment through Air bnb, and with this you get the added bonus of hanging with the locals and getting a real insight into Indonesia and places you should explore. If you would rather stay in a hotel, you can find rooms in the mid-range for around €40-60 per night.
Bus transportation is super cheap and very accessible. Food prices are also cheap especially if you eat from local street side stalls which we highly recommend. Expect to pay around €1 for a meal!
Depending on what type of trip you are wanting, your budget will vary. However, we suggest that in order to enjoy the occasional treat and nice meal, budget for around €25 per day - although you could absolutely do that cheaper, and survive on €15 per day.