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When to go

Located in the tropics, just eight degrees south of the equator, Indonesia enjoys fairly constant year round temperatures, averaging 27 degrees C in coast areas and the hills around Ubud, but getting cooler in the Volcanic and mountainous areas.

Best time to visit is outside the Monsoon season, from May to September, though Monsoons are, like many other events in Indonesia, notoriously unpunctual.

Central Indonesian time GMT+8

 Planning where to go

If your plan is to see Indonesia- in toto- it is impossible, due to the size over area and having to travel over land, can in places, be slow and exhausting.

Tavelling from jayapura to Sumatra is the equivalent of travelling from Athens to Delhi. many people are happy to just explore Bail~ one island which accounts dor less than 1/2 a percent of Indonesia's total land area.

But if you wish to see more of the 13,000+ islands an itinery is essential. With a standard visa allowing 2 months, you can visit many of the sights- but you won't have time to see everything!!


The second factor to bear in mind is travel between the smaller islands, where there maybe 1 ferry a day or 1 a week. Flying maybe quicker, in theory, but it is often impossible to pre book and when you do, your pre booked seat may be given up for a VIP- sounds odd but it does happen!!

Java and Bali have slow but plentyful year round public transport including trains on Java, as well as buses. The relatively short distances (well by comparisonthey are!!) means that you can travel from one end of Java to the other in a day.

From the cramped 'EKONOMI' to the 'VIP' buses there are plenty to choose from. You will also find tour buses for many routes, these are geared to forgieners.

Sumatra is the 4th largest island in the world and as you might expect travelling is a bit of an ordeal. Most visitors take the well definaed route from Medan to Brastagi, Toba, Bukittinggi and Padang. Travel between the towns is fairly well catered for with tour and air conditioned buses. once you move away from these towns bus transport is less well developed.In the South of the island there is a limited rail service and regular ferries link the southern tip of Sumatra with Java. International air links with medan, Penang and Kuala Lumpur.

Kalimantan makes over land travel with is size and geography (with large swamps). But with most of the major towns being in costal locations there are reasonable road links between Banjarmasin, Balikpapan and Samarinda, and Pontianak to the East Malaysian state of Sarawak. To travel in land it is often necessary to fly or go by boat. With international connections from Banjarmasin, Pontianak, Tarakan and Palangkaraya.

Sulawesi with its unique shape means you are never far from the sea. With the all weather trans-Sulawesi highway, it is now possible to bus all the way fro0m Makassar in the south to Manado in the north. As well as international connections the main provincial towns are served by domestic airlines.

Lombok and East Nusa Tenggara, with Lombok in particular having good roads,travel here is reasonably good. As you travel east, however, the road conditions do deteriorate, although it is rare (except after a torrential storm) for the roads to be impassable. Daily ferries link the main islands but the smaller islands are served less frequently. There are air services but these are often over booked. International connections between Kupang in West Timor and Darwin Australia.

Maluku consists of a vast number of islands spread over a large area. There are air links between the larger islands but again a booked deat doe not guarantee anything!! Passenger ships serve many of the ports but may call infrequently. On the more sparsely populated or jungled islands bus travel is slow or non existent

Irian Jaya has large areas which are inaccessible to the traveller but the main towns are linked by air and sea to other parts of the country. Visitors require a 'Surat Jalan' or travel letter before venturing beyond the main towns


time table a visit

2 weeks to discover Bali

1 month to experience Java or Sulawesi

2 months to explore Maluku or Nesa Tenggara

so 2 months is not nearly enough time to fit everything in- so restrict yourself to 1 or 2 areas, rather than skimming the surface of several


Visas are required for UK and US nationals entering Indonesia, a tourist visa can be obtained on arrival for a specific short period. You are advised to consult the Indonesian Embassy.

Visas are required for UK and US nationals entering Indonesia, a tourist visa can be obtained on arrival for a specific short period. You are advised to consult the Indonesian Embassy.

A tourist visa does not allow you to work, with high unemployment job opportunities are very limited. If you are wanting to work in Indonesia, after making sure you have the right visa, teaching english is the best option, with room and board rather than cash being the normal method of payment

Passport validity

You should ensure that your passport is valid for a minimum period of six months upon arrival. Entry to Indonesia may be refused and airlines may not carry passengers holding passports with less than six months validity. You are required to retain you arrival card for presentation to Immigration upon your departure.

Overstaying your visa

Overstaying without the proper authority is a serious matter and visitors can be held in detention or refused permission to leave the country until a fine is paid.


If you stay in private accommodation in Indonesia (not a hotel) you must register your presence with the local police or you could face a fine of Rp 5 million (£290). If you stay in a hotel you will be registered automatically.

Travelling with children

Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. They may want to see birth certificates, a letter of consent from the other parent or some evidence as to your responsibility for the child. Indonesian authorities do not normally require such evidence, but if you have concerns please check with the Indonesian Embassy

Indonesia Airports

It’s not surprising that Indonesia has a multitude of airports - more than two dozen - as Indonesia is a spread out country with islands strewn all over the Java and Banda seas and the Indian Ocean. The capital of Jakarta is the main port of entry into Indonesia, while Bali also receives a huge amount of visitors.

Loaded with mountains, volcanoes and stunning beaches, Indonesia is a paradise for adventurous travellers and beach lovers, with endless opportunities for exploring the country’s islands and bustling beach resorts.

Travelling by air between major islands within Indonesia is an absolute must if you are on a limited time schedule. Air ticket prices are not cheap, but costs are lower if you purchase your ticket in Indonesia. Other means of transport within Indonesia include the slow trains on Java and Sumatra, buses networks on all of the main islands, converted pick-ups and rickshaws. You can also get to Indonesia and Bali by ferry.

Bali-Denpasar-Ngurah Rai International Airport is second in importance only to Jakarta International Airport and currently handles around five-million passengers per year, although it has the capacity to handle double this figure. Bali’s airport has two terminals, domestic and international, and is served by many international carriers including AirAsia, Australian Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas and Thai Airways.

Situated 10 miles from Bali’s capital city of Denpasar, transport to the city and the island’s tourist centres is provided by local bus and bemos, pick-up trucks with rows of seats that can be chartered to carry several people. Taxis are also available.

Road Travel

You cannot drive in Indonesia on a UK driving licence, but are permitted to use an International licence which can be obtained in Indonesia. An International licence is obtained in the UK it may need to be endorsed by the Indonesian licensing office in Jakarta.

If you plan to hire a car, you should note that traffic discipline is poor and city streets are congested. There is considerable advantage in hiring a car with a driver, which is not especially expensive. If you break down or have a minor accident you should stay with your vehicle with the car doors locked until the police arrive.

 Most roads in Indonesia, compared to the west, are of a poor condition. With the exception of a few "highways" most are all weather minor roads, which are periodically impassable due to flooding, subsidence or landslides. Large areas of Sumatra, Iran Jaya and Kalimantan are almost impassable.

But things have improved over the years and you can get a reliable, but maybe not enjoyable, bus through the entire length of Sumatra for instance.


Before travelling to Indonesia, it is important to take out travel insurance. A typical policy provides cover for medical expences due to illness or injury, the loss of baggage, tickets and, up to a certain limit, cash or travellers cheques. Plus cancellation or curtailment of your journey. Most will not cover for "damgerous sports" which may include scubadiving, Kayaking and white water rafting


The most common illness or complaint from tourists is nothing more serious that a bout of travellers diarrhoea or "Bali Belly", however accidents can happen so it is vital that you ensure you have adequate health Insurance before you travel.

Discuss with your doctor beofer travelling, although no inoculations are legally required for entry into Indonesia, hep A, polio, tetanus and typhoid are recommended.

You will find pharmacies or Apotik, village health post and doctors across the Islands, although you will only find english speaking pharmacies in the main tourist areas.

Malaria is a genuine threat in many areas of Indonesia, although there appears to be little risk in the popular tourist resorts. Updates and information on the prevention and treatment of malaira is constantly being updated so check with your doctor before travelling.

 Voltage- 220 volts, 50 cycles in the big cities; 110 volts in some areas. Plugs are normally rounded with 2 pins, some are recessed but adaptors can easily be bought in local electrical stores. More expensive hotels often have 3 pin plugs. Power surges are not common and well protected equipment such as lap tops can be used.

What to take

Travellers tend to take far too much, unless your going off the beaten track, its easier and cheeper to buy when you get to your destination.

If you are travelling around back packs or travel packs are more appropriate- do not take suitcases!!

Dress in Indonesia is relatively casual, even at formal functions- but some of the more expensive hotels do enforce a stricter dress code and men would be expected to dine in a suit.

In the muslim areas women are expected to respect the religion and 'cover up'- below knee skirts or trousers and cover the shoulders- particularly in Wesr Sumatra, North Sumatra, parts of Java and in Sumbawa.However this does not apply in most of the beach resorts.

Cotton clothes are light, quick to dry and cool- unless you are spending a lot of time in highland areas one thin jumper or sweatshirt will do. Many visitors will purchase a sarong for after bathing in public areas.

Clothese are cheep and laundry services are fast and inexpensive- so don't pack too much!!

Check list

items recommended: Bumbag, ear plugs, first aid kit, insect repellent, international driving licence, passport (valid for 6 months min), copies of essential documents, short wave radio, spare passport photo, sun cream, sunglasses, swiss army knife,torch, umbrella, wet wipes,zip-lock bags.

Other items to consider: cotton sheet, sleeping bag,money belt, padlock (if staying in budget accomodation),soap, toilet paper,towel, travel wash, tampons and a wedding ring for the single females who wish to ward off unwanted admirers.

Customs allowances

Duty free- 2 litres of alcohol, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 100 grammes of tobacco, along with a reasonable amount of perfume

Currency regulations- a limit of 50,000Rp can be taken in or out of the country. There are no restrictions on import or export of foreign currency in either cash or travellers cheques

Prohibited items- Narcotics, arms/ammunition, TV's, radio/cassette recorders, porographic material/objects, printed matter in Chinese characters and chinese medicines. Tourists normally get away with carrying photographic equipment, computers, video recorders but you should declare these on arrival.


Hours of business- This can really vary as there is no standard but here are some guidelines to use as a rule of thumb

Banks-foreign banks 0800-1200 Mon-Fri and 0800-1100Sat, Local banks 0800-1300, 1330-1600 Mon-Sat. Bank in hotels may stay open longer.

Businesses- most businesses open 0800/0900-1200,1300-1600/1700 Mon-Fri

Government offices-0800-1500 Mon-Thu,0800-1130 Fri and 0800-1400 Sat

Museums- 0830/0900-1400 Tue-Thu,0900-1100 Fri, 0900-1300 Sat and  0900-1500 Sun- closed Mon

Shops- 0900-2000 Mon-Fri, 0900-1300 Sat. Sometimes on Sundays. In smaller towns shops often close for a siesta between 1300 and 1700

Disabled travellers- as a poorer country, Indonesia is not set up to deal with the needs of the disabled traveller. Pavements are often high (nine inches or so) and normally uneven. With most shops, banks and museums being accessed by steps, with very few ramps for wheel chair access. Public transport is also difficult as they are over crowded and cramped. Some of the larger hotel do go out of their way to provide access and facilities for disabled travellers but sperak to your travel agent for more details

Gay and lesbian travellers- Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia and the legal age of consent is 16 for men and women. Although it is seen to be against the muslim and traditional Balinese religions, Indonesia is very tolorent. Bali is the only island with an established gay area in Kuta, with specifics bars, restaurant and areas being patronised by, but not exclusive to, gay people.

Student travellers- If you are in full time education you are entitled to an International Student Indentity Card- these are issued by student travel offices across the world and offer special rates on transport and other concessions and services

Women travellers- It is seen as strange to see a western woman travelling with out a partner, as young southeastern women do not travel alone. Subsequently women travellers are seen as an easy target and will be pestered a lot! To minimise this dress modestly, especially in Muslim areas and out of the way spots, where travellers are not seen as frequently. If derogatory comments are made you should just ignore them. Toiletries such as tampons, are easily avaiable n the cities but may be harder to find in more out of the way places.


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