INDONESIA

Volcanic energy in every islander…

Indonesia is incredibly diverse since it's home to approximately 300 distinctive native ethnic groups speaking 740+ different languages / dialects.

The Indonesian government recognizes three times zones in its territory. If you’re traveling to different cities within the archipelago, you can easily add additional destinations on your smartphone’s clock feature and it will include the time zone. For quick reference, here are the zones for a few major cities and provinces:

  1. Indonesia Western Standard Time (WIB): Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Semarang
  2. Indonesia Central Standard Time (WITA): Banjarmasin, Makassar, Bali
  3. Indonesia Eastern Standard Time (WIT): Papua, Maluku, Manokwari

For tourists, you may stay in Indonesia up to 30 days without a visa. Ensure that you have sufficient funds and a return/onward airline ticket. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months beyond your stay with at least two blank visa pages. It’s highly recommended that you confirm with your airline prior to your travel date that boarding will be permitted without a visa. For non-tourist travel, please refer to Indonesia’s Directorate General of Immigration. 

The major airports in Indonesia are Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK) and Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS). Other airports with international links include Balikpapan, Medan, Padang, Surabaya, Lombok, and Manado.

Taxis are very inexpensive in Jakarta and Bali, and tipping is not necessary (but greatly appreciated). All are metered and cost around 300Rp per 100m after the first kilometer. The driver may not speak English so have your destination written in Bahasa or show them a map.

  1. Grab is Indonesia’s ride-sharing app that offers cheap services. Per usual, you have your pick-up and drop-off locations, fixed price, car type, driver ID, and tracker.
  2. Bluebird is the most reliable taxi in Indonesia. The app offers precise pick-up and drop-off locations in English and cash payment. Minimum charges may apply to advance books via phone. Beware of taxis posing as Bluebird.

Regardless of what taxi company you use, ask for an estimated price and prepare to negotiate on an agreed fare before getting inside. The taxi industry in Indonesia is known for its tricks, such as “broken” meters and roundabout routes.

Taxis are very inexpensive in Jakarta and Bali, and tipping is not necessary (but greatly appreciated). All are metered and cost around 300Rp per 100m after the first kilometer. The driver may not speak English so have your destination written in Bahasa or show them a map.

  1. Grab is Indonesia’s ride-sharing app that offers cheap services. Per usual, you have your pick-up and drop-off locations, fixed price, car type, driver ID, and tracker.
  2. Bluebird is the most reliable taxi in Indonesia. The app offers precise pick-up and drop-off locations in English and cash payment. Minimum charges may apply to advance books via phone. Beware of taxis posing as Bluebird.

Regardless of what taxi company you use, ask for an estimated price and prepare to negotiate on an agreed fare before getting inside. The taxi industry in Indonesia is known for its tricks, such as “broken” meters and roundabout routes.

Indonesia has a tropical climate, which means it’s hot, humid, and wet. Expect high temperatures of 90°F during the day and 70°F at night. Humidity levels fluctuate between 70-90%. Sept. to March are the wettest months (monsoon season) and March to Sept. are the driest. Depending on where you are in the archipelago, the rainy and dry seasons vary. April to October is the best time to visit as there’s little rain, low humidity, and lots of sunshine.

The official language of Indonesia is Indonesian, a standardized form of Malay. Although Javanese is not recognized as official at the national or regional level, it comes in as a close second. Sundanese is widely spoken as well. Here are some key words/phrases in Indonesian:

Hello = Halo

Goodbye = Selamat tinggal

Yes = Iya nih

No = Tidak

Please = Silahkan

Thank you = Terima kasih

Excuse me = Permisi

My name is… = Nama saya adalah…

You’re welcome = Sama-sama

Do you speak English? = Apakah Anda berbicara Bahasa Inggris?

Indonesia is much more conservative than most Western countries; despite your best efforts, it’s more likely that they’ll embrace you as a guest rather than as a family member, so keep that in mind during your social interactions. It helps to have some insight on the people, so here are some tips to carry with you as you navigate the crowded streets of Jakarta and Bali.

  1. Bend slightly when meeting or greeting older folks. It’s important to show respect to Indonesians who are older than you or those in a position of authority. A slight incline at the waist will do.
  2. Never use your left hand for anything. A moment of silence for left-handed people. Don’t use it to eat, pick things up, hand stuff over, etc. Indonesians consider it as the hand you use to wipe yourself in the bathroom.
  3. Ladies, cover up. Indonesia is a conservative society and even in cosmopolitan areas, women dressed in revealing clothes will be mistaken for prostitutes. Yes, it’s hot, but instead of booty shorts, miniskirts, and a skimpy tank top, go for a nice dress or cute romper, long shorts and a tank with thick straps.
  4. Be patient. A virtue that will save you from unnecessary stress and frustration during your trip. Indonesians are a go-with-the-flow kind of people and some things might not go at the pace you’re accustomed to in the West — especially being as hot as it is. In the face of late trains and shopkeepers taking their time, slow down and be flexible with your itinerary.
  5. Be calm. If you’ve been short-changed by a vendor or a police officer stops you even though you’ve done nothing wrong, keep a cool composure. Without getting angry, explain yourself and the situation. They’ll take putting your hands on your hips as a sign of anger, too, so relax your arms.

Indonesia use the Indonesian Rupiah as its currency. 1 USD = 14,000Rp. If you’re traveling to remote areas (mostly in eastern Indonesia) like Papua or the Maluku Islands, it’s best to bring cash. Credit cards are widely used in tourist spots and you can find ATMs in most cities. Use one of these ATM-locator tools:

  1. Visa ATM locator
  2. Amex ATM locator
  3. MasterCard ATM locator

Tipping is not customary. But in popular destinations like Bali, a minimal gratuity for services is expected — around 5000Rp or 10%. Most top-end hotels and restaurants will add 21% to the bill as a tax and tip.

In Indonesia, the power plugs and sockets are type C and F (two-prong). Both types also work with plug E. You cannot use your electronics in Indonesia without a voltage converter, because the standard voltage is 230 V — higher than the US standard of 120 V. Your converter should look like this:

Tap water in Indonesia is safe for general use, such as showering and cooking. As for drinking, it’s best to go for bottled or gallon water.

Aside from upscale hotels, free and functional Wi-Fi can be a bit spotty in Indonesia. Click here to locate your nearest hotspot. Depending on your length of stay, consider buying a local SIM card with a data package so you’re not hitting up every café in hopes for a free network.

Although same-sex sexual activity is legal in most provinces in Indonesia, same-sex marriage is not. Be aware that Indonesia does not have anti-discrimination laws either. Avoid PDA, gay or straight. Although most of the gay scene is not accepted, it doesn’t mean that it’s not thriving; the LGBTQ community can still enjoy the country’s nightlife. In fact, during your barhop of the underground scene, you’ll find a miscellaneous crowd of locals and expats, transgender and straight, as well as singles and couples.

Enjoy a chilled drink or two and dance the night away at Bali’s top gay bars: Bali Joe Gay Bar and Mixwell Bar. Check out Jakarta’s Bauhau 1933’s weekly gay party night called Inside the Closet. Grab brunch and chat with locals at the elegant Oh La La Café, a popular gay-friendly café and restaurant.

Be the eco-conscious traveler you always wanted to be in Indonesia. The underlying principle of the country’s eco-tourism maintains the well-being of both people and environment. If you’re looking for activities that align with your desire to conserve the environment, here are are a couple to get you started:

  1. Get in touch with your inner Jane or Tarzan and take a walk on the wild side as you trek through the Sumatra rainforest at Gunung Leuser National Park. From 4-hour tours to 4-day tours, you’ll get to see a wide range of wildlife such as exotic birds and plants and, if you’re lucky, elephants and rhinos! You can also partake in a thrilling raft ride down Bohorok River.
  2. Swim with stingless jellyfish at Kakaban Island! The island is home to gorgeous reefs and dense forests, and the lake is surrounded by wall mangroves. So, grab your snorkeling gear and take a dive into those crystal blue waters and marvel at the little marine bells; don’t worry, their tentacles won’t harm you. You’ll come across all sorts down there: moon jelly, spotted jelly, and spotted jellyfish. The hike (including return) and swim will take about two hours.

SHOP ETHICALLY:

Indonesia packing list
A TIMELINE OF INDONESIA'S HISTORY

The Kutai Martadipura phase in East Kalimantan produced the earliest known stone inscriptions in Indonesia.

Kutai
Wikipedia
350

On his voyage from China to Persia, Marco Polo visited Sumatra and reported that on the northern part of Sumatra there were six trading ports including Ferlec, Samudera and Lambri.

Marco Polo
Silk Road
1292

Almost the entire native population of Banda Islands was deported, driven away, starved to death or killed in an attempt to replace them with Dutch colonial slave labour.

1620

First Javanese War of Succession.

First War of Succession
Revolvy
1704

A massacre of Batavia’s ethnic Chinese begins after they are suspected by the VOC of planning a rebellion. Approximately 10,000 are killed and the Chinese quarter is burned.

1740

Founding of the shipping line Koninklijke Paketvaart-Maatschappij (KPM) that supported the unification and development of the colonial economy.

oninklijke Paketvaart-Maatschappij
Wikipedia
1888

Van Heutz becomes Governor General. Kartini established a school for women in Rembang, just like Dewi Sartika, she was considered as the pioneer of women’s rights in Indonesia.

Kartini
Wikipedia
1904

First scientific description ever of Komodo dragon by Peter Ouwens.

Komodo Dragon
Pinterest
1912

Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) is founded, causing economic downturn.

1920

Indonesia became the 60th member of the United Nations.

United Nations and Indonesia
Wikipedia
1950

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