Indonesia Travel Information
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Introduction || History || Population || Climate || Passport and Visas || Health Certificates || Customs || Accommodations || Currency || Transportation
Electricity || Tipping || Clothing || Office Hours || Food || Shopping || Tiime || Communication || Traditions and Culture || Public Holidays || Map

The name Indonesia has its roots in two Greek Words: "Indos" meaning Indian and "Nesos" meaning island. This is an excellent description of the archipelago, as there are an estimated 17,508 islands, some nothing more than tiny outcropping of barren rock, others as California or Spain and covered in dense tropical jungle. Approximately 6,000 of these islands are inhabited, with five main islands and 30 smaller archipelagoes serving as home to the majority of the population.

Indonesia is made up of more than 13,000 islands which so far only less than 1,500 having a name. The heart of the archipelago is Java; it is not only the location of Jakarta, Indonesia's capital and largest city, but it also puts up a very big part of the population. Actually, Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country after China, India and the United States. Indonesia is also the largest Muslim state. Although the islands are home to more than 100 ethnic groups, most Indonesians are of mixed Malay origins and practice Islam.

Be sure to visit at least Bali and if you have some more time, try to make it to Sumatra, with its impressive natural beauty. The smaller islands of Indonesia include Madura, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores and Bali.

Indonesia's greatest distance from north to south is about 1,900 km (about 1,200 mi) and from east to west about 5,100 km (about 3,200 mi). The country's total land area is 1,904,443 sq km (735,310 sq mi).Be sure to check out our guides on Jakarta, Bali and the green and lushy island of Sumatra as well.

Adventure looms large in this vast and steamy archipelago, where the best of southeast Asia's spicy melange simmers tantalisingly. Heady scents, vivid colours, dramatic vistas and diverse cultures spin and multiply, their potent brew leaving your senses reeling.

Indonesia's cities are in a constant state of urban evolution, where dense populations, technology and construction live in hectic symbiosis. But most of the archipelago's territory remains unexplored, concealing a wealth of cultures and a myriad of landscapes.

Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago state, consisting of about seventeen thousand islands stretching from mainland South-East Asia in an arc down to Papua New Guinea and the Australian continent. It has a coastline of about 80,000 kilometers. The islands range from small, uninhabited islands a few square kilometers in size to New Guinea and Borneo, which are one of the largest islands in the world. The main islands are Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan (on Borneo), Sulawesi, Bali, Nusa Tenggara, Maluku and Iran Jaya (on New Guinea).

Most of Indonesia consists of rain forest and swampy land, with very little land for agriculture. The distinctive feature of Indonesia's highlands is a string of volcanoes stretching in an arc throughout the islands, many of which are active.

Straddling the Equator, Indonesia's climate is uniformly hot and humid throughout the year, with temperatures ranging from 68 to 89 degrees. Humidity ranges from 60 to 90 percent. The wet season is from November to April.

Although the island of Bali is world-renowned as an idyllic tourist spot, there are a lot of areas in Indonesia that remain untouched by mass tourism. Unfortunately, the country has been troubled by internal strife, secessionist movements and more recently, devastating terrorist attacks, and some areas are not save to travel in.

Indonesia achieved independence from the Netherlands in 1949. Post independence, the country has seen decades of an authoritarian government, corruption and military excesses and gross violations of human rights. The economy still does not inspire investor confidence.

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history history history view

Human fossil skulls excavated in Indonesia during the 19th and 20th centuries point to the island of Java being the home of primitive man. Fossils of Homo Erectus - an ice-age near man, and Solo Man, a brain eating cannibal are indications of human inhabitation on these islands some five million years ago. The earliest known Homo Sapiens, the Wajak Man inhabited the Indonesian islands in more recent times - about ten to twelve thousand years ago.

The earliest records of Java are to be found in Indian chronicles from as far back as 600 BC, and Indonesia even finds mention in the great Hindu epic, the Ramayana. Indian influences came to Indonesia with traders in the 2nd century AD - and Indian culture and religion, then at the height of its golden period, found a fertile home in the feudal ruling classes of the Indonesian islands. Hindu dominance lasted for a period of fourteen hundred years, from 200 AD to 1600. Southern Indian scripts and Sanskrit had an influence on language, and astronomy, navigation techniques, the art of pottery and textile dying, sculpture, arts, architecture, philosophy and metaphysics were absorbed and integrated, as were the Hindu hierarchies of social structure.

By the 5th century, Hinduism was well entrenched in Java, with Brahmanist cults worshipping Shiva. The 9th century saw a fusion of beliefs, where Buddha and Shiva were worshipped as incarnations of the same being. However, the influence of Hinduism had no significant impact on the rural people, who practiced animism, some of whom continue to do so today. Buddhism found its roots in island of Sumatra and the two religions co-existed and developed peacefully.

The Indian era in Indonesia saw the rise and fall of many kingdoms - the Sriwijaya, Pajajaran, Sailendra, Kediri, Singosari, reaching its peak with the Majapahit Empire - considered the Golden Age of Indonesia. This period (1294-1398) saw Indonesian sculpture and architecture move away from Indian influences and move towards the establishment of more indigenous forms of culture.

Islam saw an entry into Indonesia as early as the 4th century, and was accepted in the areas of Indonesia which were least influenced by the Hindu kingdoms. The egalitarian and revolutionary concepts of Islam were embraced by the people as an alternative to feudal bondage, and had a greatly democratizing and civilizing influence on Indonesian society.

The Portuguese period in Indonesian history, though short (1512 - 1662), had a deep impact - Portuguese was imposed as the lingua franca, and the Portuguese influence still exists in language, music and architecture. In the 17th century, with the British busy setting up trading posts and concentrating on Singapore, Indonesia was left to the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch started out as traders, and slowly extended their colonial tentacles over lands, production and political life, which saw a complete Dutch hegemony over Indonesian life.

Dutch colonial rule came to an end in 1949 - when the sovereign republic of Indonesia was formed. The first president of Indonesia, Achmed Soekarno started off with a shaky parliamentary democracy, but soon reverted to an authoritarian style of government, which led Indonesia into economic starvation and political chaos. In 1966 General Soeharto, whose regime, overthrew Soekarno in a political coup till 1998 saw Indonesia further slide into political chaos, internal rebellion and anarchy, and economic instability.

Today Islamic extremism, corruption, military excesses, separatist movements and violence in the name of religion foment Indonesia.

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The islands and people of Indonesia constitute the fourth most populated nation in the world, with about 200 million people.The majority is of Malay descen. The population is predominantly Moslem. Nevertheless, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianisanother religions are freely practice

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Situated completely in the tropics, Indonesia is known as the "belt" of emeralds across the equator. It has warm tropical weather with mostly sunshine and intermittent rain. The dry season lasts from June to September, and the rainy season from December to March. The transitional period between these two seasons alternates between gorgeous sun-filled days and occasional thunderstorms. Even in the midst of the wet season temperatures range from 21 degrees (70°F) to 33 degrees Celsius (90°F), except at higher altitudes which can be much cooler. The heaviest rainfalls are usually recorded in December and January. Average humidity is generally between 70% and 100 %.

A tropical country, with humidity ranging from 69% - 95%, there are two seasons: Dry Season, from May to October and Wet Season, from November to April. It should be noted that occasional showers do occur during the dry season; similarly, during the "rainy" season it is more likely that heavy tropical down-pours are interspersed with sunshine. Average temperatures range f rom 68° to 86° or 20° to 30°C

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Passport and Visas

viewVisitors must arrive in Indonesia with passports valid for at least six months after arrival and with onward or return tickets. Visas are not required for nationals of: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, New Zealand, Singapore,South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States of America and West Germany.

All visitors to Indonesia must be in possesion of passport valid for at least six months with proof of onward passage, either return or through tickets. Visas are waived for nationals of 11 countries for visits of no more than one month (non-extendable). The countries are: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Phillipine, Hongkong Special Administration Region, Macau Special Administration Region, Chili, Marroco, Turkey, and Peru. For those who are not nationals of the above-stated countries and not entitled for free visa facility, the tourist visa can be obtained on the day of arrival according to the valid procedures and rules. Please note that a small fee will be charged. Please consult with Indonesian embassy or consulate for further information on visa.

The visa requirement is also waived for other nationals from friendly countries, attending a conference which has received official approval.The visa free entry is for maximum of 30 days and is not extendable. Entry and departure must be through the airports of Polonia in Medan, Simpang Tiga in Pekanbaru, Hang Nadim in Batam, Tabing in Padang, Soekarno Hatta in Jakarta, Husein Sastranegara in Bandung, Juanda in Surabaya, Adisumarmo in Solo, Ngurah Rai in Denpasar, Eltari in Kupang, Supardjo in Pontianak, Sepinggan in Balikpapan, Sam Ratulangi in Manado, Pattimura in Ambon, Hasanudin in Makassar (Ujung Pandang), Selaparang in Mataram, Frans Kasiepo in Biak, and the seaports of Belawan in Medan, Batu Ampar and Sekupang in Batam, Tanjung Priok in Jakarta, Tanjung Mas in Semarang, Tanjung Perak in Surabaya, Benoa and Padang Bai in Bali, Bitung in North Sulawesi, Ambon in Maluku, and Tanjung Pinang in Bintan. There is only one land gateway, Entikong in West Kalimantan. For other ports of arrival and departure, visitors must have visas.

iconThe following nationalities will not require a visa for short visits (30 days) to Indonesia:

Brunei Darussalam Chile Hong Kong SAR Macao SAR Malaysia Morocco Peru Philippines Singapore Thailand Vietnam

iconThe following nationalities can obtain a short visa (3 or 30 days) on Arrival:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, China, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Surinam, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirate and United States of America.

The Visa on Arrival fee for a stay of up to three days is $US 10 and for up to thirty days is $US 25. This visa is not extendable and not convertible into other types of visas. This is availiable at all international airports and all major borders. If you are crossing at a non recognised entry post you will need a visa.

Single entry visas (60) days, Multiple Entry Business Visas and Temporary Stay Visas are available on application prior to departure at the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the Republic of Indonesia.

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Health Certificates

International certificates for smallpox and cholera are not required and yellow fever vaccination are necessary only for visitors coming from infected areas.

It’s a good idea to ensure you are up to date with all basic vaccinations like hepatitis, tetanus and typhoid. Malaria isn’t a major issue in Jakarta, but it does exist, so wear long pants and socks after dusk to protect yourself from getting bitten by mosquitoes. Should you get a stomach upset, a local pharmacy can prescribe you medicine.

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Each adult is permitted to bring, on entry, a maximum of two litres of alcoholic beverages, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 100 grams of tobacco and a reasonable quantity of perfume. Photographic equipment and typewriters must be declared and are admitted provided they are taken out on departure. Prohibited from entry are the fol lowing items: narcotics, arms and ammunition, TV sets, radio and radio casette recorders, pornography, fresh fruit, printed matters in Chinese characters and Chinese medicine. All movie films and video casettes will have to be deposited for review by the Film Censor Board. There is no restriction on import and export of foreign currencies and travellers cheque; however, import or export Indonesia currency exceeding Rp 50,000,- is prohibited.

Airport Tax:Airport tax levied on passengers for international travel is Rp 17,000,-. While for travel within Indonesia it varies from one region to another with an average of Rp 3,500,- for each departure.

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viewIndonesia offers supperb luxury hotels and resorts along the beach on secluded mountains or in city centres across the country. Medium sized, three stars hotels can be found in many cities as well as in holiday resorts. For those who travelling on shoestring budgets, clean and friendly homestays or losmen are available.

In Jakarta, the small losmens at Jalan Jaksa, near the Gambir train station is a favourite with students and backpackers. While businessmen will go for the deluxe hotels. Medium sized three and four star hotels are spread out in this vast city. Near the Soekarno Hatta Airport there are two airport hotels available; one located outside the airport and another inside the airport terminal.

In Bali, there are hotels along the beaches, and in the hills overlooking lush valleys. From three storied buildings to Balinese styled villages, all offer comfort and luxury service. There are of course smaller hotels with cheaper rates. All are available, but during peak season in July, August, September or around Christmas and New Year, make sure to book early.

In Yogyakarta, comfortable and clean homestays as well as medium and luxurious hotels welcome visitors to this cradle of Javanese culture.

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The local currency is the Rupiah. Major world currencies, either banknotes or travellers cheques, are easily exchanged at banks and moneychangers in major tourist destinations. It is advisable to carry sufficient amounts of Rupiah when travelling to smaller towns or outer provinces. Banknotes are available in denominations of 500, 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000, 100000, while coins come in denominations of 25, 50, 100, 500 and 1000. (You'll need to show your passport to exchange money, and make sure you count what you're given). Major credit cards are accepted at most hotels and restaurants in main cities.

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viewIndonesia has several international airports. Besides the Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta which serves both as gateway to the country and hub to all of Indonesia's provinces, international flights also arrive at and leave direct from Bali and Surabaya. There are direct regional flights from Singapore and Malaysia to several destinations including Medan, Padang, Pekanbaru, Solo, Lombok, Makassar (Ujung Pandang), Manado, and from Australia to Kupang and Bali.

Roads on Java, Bali, Lombok, parts of Sumatera, Kalimantan and Sulawesi are good for inter-province travel by car or coach. Rail travel is available all across Java, short distances in North and South Sumatera. Metered taxis or cars can be hired in all large cities. For a leisurely and quaint sight-seeing drive, try the andong or becak in Yogya or other types of horse-drawn carts.

Pelni shipping lines operate large inter-island ferries which offer deck-class to first class fares. For short hops there are local prahus with or without outboard motor.

In most bigger cities and some towns as well, taxis are available, though only in Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang, Surabaya, and Bali metered taxis are commonplace. In other cities and tourist areas one can hire cars, usually chauffeur-driven and paid by the hour or for each one-way trip. Taxi reservation stand is available inside the International arrival hall. An airport surcharge, plus toll road fees will be added to the metered fare.

An airconditioned airport-hotel shuttle service, operates frequently scheduled trips to/from major hotels to coincide with flights from Jakarta's international airport at a cost of approx Rp 4,000,per person. Taxis at a higher rate, are also available with metered taxis operating only in Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Semarang and Solo. Elsewhere, other forms of transportation, which required setting the fare in advance, include minicars for two passengers, "bemos" or small buses covering regular routes and "becaks" powered by human energy. Trains operate in Java and parts of Sumatra. Garuda Indonesia has an extensive networkof dailyflights toallcitiesinthe 27 provinces. These flights are supplemented by domestic air services on Merpati, Nusantara, Mandala and Bouraq .

At any railroad station as well as bus terminal there will be public transportation available of one kind or another. For Taxis the flag-fall rate is RP 3000 and for buses fare are various from RP 1200 or RP 1800 (Non Air Conditioned Buses) and RP 3300 or RP 3500 (for Air-Conditioned Buses).

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Most hotels use 220 volts 50 cycles and two-pronged plugs. However it is not uncommon to find some hotels using 110 volts, particularly in the provinces. Check before using an appliance. Some hotels supply adaptors on request.

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Major hotels add a 10% service charge to bills. Where it is not included a tip of between 5% to 10% of the bill would be appropriate if service is satisfactory. Airport poterage is Rp 500,- for a small bag and Rp 1,000,- if weighing more than 20 kg. Tipping taxi and hire-car drivers is not mandatory, but Rp 500,would be sufficient for a taxi driver, but more for a hire-car driver.

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Dress is generally informal in Indonesia. Light fabrics are recommended due to the warm, humid climate. For men, a jacket and tie is considered appropriate when making officials calls or non formal occasions. Or, follow local custom by wearing a long-sleeve batik shirt. It is recommended to bring a sweater or light jacket for travel to mountain areas. Shorts and beachwear are not considered appropriate except at sports facilities and on the beaches, and never appropriate for visits to temples, mosques and other places of worship.

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Office Hours

Government offices:
Monday - Thursday 8 am to 3 pm
Friday 8 am to 11.30 am
Saturday 8 am to 2 pm
Business offices Monday - Friday 8 or 9 am to 4 or 5 pm Some offices are open half day on Saturday.
Banks: Monday - Friday 8 am to 3 pm

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foodThe main staple food of the majority of the population is rice. Coconut milk and hot chili peppers are popular cooking ingredients nationwide. Tastes range from very spicy dishes of meat; fish and vegetables to those that are quite sweet. The most popular dishes are "nasi goreng" (fried rice) which is otten served for breakfast, lunch or dinner, "satay" barbequed meat or chicken on skewers and "gado-gado", a vegetable salad with a pean ut sauce.All are most compatible with internationaltastes. Inthemaintouristcenters and cities, restaurants catering to international visitors are many, from fine continental grill rooms to Japanese specialty restaurants. Chinese restaurants are found in all towns throughout Indonesia. Tropical and subtropical fruits are available yearround. Bottled drinking water can be purchased everywhere.

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Many of Indonesia's main cities have department stores, supermarkets and large shopping complexes. Retail hours vary considerably, though most shops open from 09.00 AM to 21.00 PM, seven days a week. All department stores and many shops have fixed price policy, however, bargaining is expected in traditional markets and smaller shops.

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Indonesia streches across three time zones: Western part of Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, West and Central Kalimantan) + 7 GMT, Central part of Indonesia (Bali, South and East Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara) + 8 GMT, Eastern part of Indonesia (Maluku and Irian Jaya) +9 GMT.

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Long distance calls within Indonesia are by direct dial.through International Direct Dial (IDD) in major cities or through operator-assisted calls. Telex and fax services are readily available in major hotels and larger cities. Public phones counters are available in coins, cards, chips and (in some tourist areas) credit card. There are also some “WARTEL” or Telecommunication Kiosk where you can do IDD, long distance call, sending fax, etc. In big cities, you can also find some internet kiosk.

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Traditions and Culture

Indonesians are a very friendly and polite people. Handshaking is customary, for both men and women, on introduction and greeting, smiling is a national characteristics. The population is predominantly Moslem. Nevertheless, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and other religions are freely practiced. Traditional customs form a major part of family and community life. The use of the left hand to give or receive is considered ill-mannered. Likewise crooking your finger to call someone is impolite.

Indonesian culture has inherited an interesting blend of its Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic and Portuguese history. While its arts, crafts and architecture are distinctive in their historic diversity, today there is a definite Indonesian identity, which has been fostered in the 20th century, partly by government promoted nationalism and mass education and communication. The legal system is based on the Dutch penal code; however, social and religious duties have been formulated into a code of behavior called 'adat', or common law.

Indonesia's early Hindu influences gave it many of its traditional textile based craft techniques, of which Batik is the most famous. It is the art of applying wax to cloth to make intricate patterns based on mythology and nature, and then dying the material in colorful hues. Motifs and style of the Hindu period are evident among Indonesian art, Java Islamic mosques and cemeteries have Hindu style gates. Other popular textile crafts are the 'ikat' - a type of weaving with tie-dyed threads and 'songket' - where silk cloth is woven with gold and silver threads.

Islam has also deeply affected the arts, especially literature. The influence of Islam can be seen in the uniqueness and intrigue in Indonesian art forms - since Islam forbid the reproduction of portraits of living creatures - some characterizations will have wings of birds or the antlers of a deer, but not the animals themselves.

The influence of Portuguese colonialism is clearly evident in music - the popular folk music called 'kroncong' has the distinctive strumming of the guitar. Portuguese words are part of the Indonesian language.

Indonesian dance is also rooted in religion and ritual, and are dramatic with deliberate dance movements. The 'topeng' (mask) dance performed in some areas in Bali is one where a single performer changes from one persona to another with the aid of masks on a stage. Some of the dramas are accompanied by a full 'gamelan' orchestra with xylophones, drums, gongs, and string instruments. Puppetry is another art form - the 'wayung kulit' performed in Java are folk tales performed by skilled puppeteers on a white stage backlit by lanterns. The religion and culture of Bali, the gamelan orchestra and the five-note scale in music are also inherited from India.

Indonesian food is also a blend of its cultural influences. Most Indonesian food is moderately spicy, with a predominance of ginger, garlic and fresh turmeric. For especially spicy dishes, one has to sample the Panjung cuising from Sumatra. Rice is the staple with most meals . .nasi goring. is a popular export to the western hemisphere. Sate, which is skewered barbequed meat and .gado-gado., a peanut sauce based salad, which is sold at every street corner.

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Public Holidays

January 1 New Year
Feb 20, 21 Idul Fitri Festival
March 21 Seclusion Day / Saba New Year
April 5 Good Friday
April 28 Idul Adha Great Day
May 16 Ascention day of Christ
May 19 Hijriah New Year
June 2 Waisak Day
July 28 Maulid of Prophet Mumammad
August 17 National Independence Day
Dec 8 Isra Miraj of Prophet Muhammad
December 25 Christmas Day

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Map of Indonesia




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