Country guides Asia
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. A variety of plugs are in use, including the European two-pin.
Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, but many dialects are spoken. English is widely understood in Jakarta and tourist resorts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Passport & Visa
Passengers to Indonesia of most nationalities can obtain a 30-day visa on arrival, provided that they arrive at a major Indonesian airport, their passport contains at least one unused visa page for the visa-on-arrival sticker, they are holding return or onward tickets, and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination, and 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 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. Travellers should 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. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Indonesian Tourism Authority: www.indonesia-tourism.com110 (Police); 113 (Fire); 118 (Ambulance)
Embassies / consulates in other countries
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.
Embassies / consulates 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.