Travel Tips

Health - Although no vaccines are required for travel to Indonesia, visitors are advised to update vaccinations against cholera, hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and Japanese encephalitis before travel. Other diseases that are present in the country are malaria, schistosomiasis (found in fresh water), dengue fever, toxoplasmosis, HIV, and tuberculosis. Diseases that can be acquired from monkey bites include rabies and herpes B, so you should be wary of feeding these animals. Large cities suffer from air pollution and it’s wise to wear a mask if you have asthma. Wearing mosquito repellent and long pants and shirts will help to keep you protected from getting diseases like malaria and dengue fever. If you will be out in the wilderness, then it’s wise to take an anti-malarial drug. Avoid drinking non-treated water: only drink bottled water, which is widely available. Make sure you only eat peeled fruits and cooked vegetable to avoid getting diarrhea. Never go barefoot as some parasites can enter through the soles of your feet. If you are prone to an upset stomach, it’s best not to eat from roadside stalls or drink beverages containing ice. It’s unwise to swim in fresh water, as it carries many parasites. When participating in risky activities like scuba diving, make sure you are properly trained and have good equipment. The medical care in Jakarta and Bali at international clinics is good, but in the rest of the country it is often not up to Western standards.

Language - Bahasa Indonesia is the national language however English is spoken in all tourist areas. Some Dutch and French are also spoken in the big cities. Altogether, around 583 languages and dialects are spoken in Indonesia, including those of the many ethnic groups of the nation. Some of these include: Acehnese, Batak, Sundanese, Javanese, Toraja, Buginese, Ceramese, and several Irianese languages. These languages are further subdivided into dialects.

Currency Exchange - The best places to exchange currency are banks and money exchangers, which can easily be found on Java, Bali and Lombok. However, if you plan to travel elsewhere, be sure you change money ahead of time. US dollars are the easiest the change and should not be dated from before 1999 or dirty, wrinkled, stained or torn. Higher exchange rates are offered for bills issued after 2000.Visit this website for further information about Banking in Asia. ATMs can be found in the large cities on the islands of Java, Bali and Lombok and offer a good way to acquire rupiah. Use of credit cards is not advised as fraud and cloning is common. Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted, but American Express is not. Surcharges of 2 to 5 per cent are common when using a credit card to pay for something.

Customs - Visitors entering the country can bring in a maximum of two liters of alcoholic beverages; 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 100 grams of tobacco; and a reasonable quantity of perfume for personal use. Photographic equipment and laptops must be declared. Many items are banned including: narcotics, firearms and ammunition, TVs, radios, tape recorders, pornography, fresh fruit, printed materials in Chinese and Chinese medicine. All films, video tapes and DVDs must be deposited for review by the Film Censor Board. Import or export of Indonesia currency exceeding Rp50, 000 is also prohibited.

Etiquette - Greetings in Indonesia are typically formal with the handshake being the most common greeting along with the word ‘selamat’. After shaking hands with someone, it is normal to bow slightly or place your hands on your heart. When introducing people, it’s best to introduce the eldest first and to use titles if you know them. Many Indonesians only have one name, which can be very long, so they commonly use a nickname.

It is considered polite to verbally refuse a gift before accepting it in order to show you are not greedy. You should never give any cutting materials like knives or scissors as a gift, as this is an indication that you want to sever the relationship. You should never give a Muslim alcohol or non-halal food items. Never give leather to a Hindu, as cows are sacred.

Gifts are offered and received with the right hand only, and should never be opened in the presence of the giver. It’s best to wrap gifts in red, yellow or green paper or other bright colors as these bring good fortune; never wrap a gift in black. Pointing with your forefinger is rude: you should use the thumb of the right hand with four fingers folded under.

Dining Etiquette

If you visit someone’s home, it is polite to call first. Shoes should be removed before entering the home and it’s always polite to accept drinks that are offered. The right hand is used for eating or giving and receiving objects. Toasting is not a common practice and the Muslim population does not drink alcohol.

Dining etiquette is generally relaxed. If dining at someone’s home, you should wait to be shown your seat. Food is often taken from a shared dish that is placed in the middle of the table, with each diner helping themselves. In formal situations, men are served before women. Sometimes food is eaten with a fork and spoon, but mostly just with the right hand.

Visa and Passports - Indonesia has recently extended the list of countries who are eligible for a free visa upon entry. Please note that visas are valid for a 30-day stay only and cannot be extended or converted to any other type of visa. This law took effect on 13 June 2015 where such visas are issued for the purpose of business, cultural, family and social visits.

Eligible countries are as follows: Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Morocco, Mexico, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.

Cautions - Indonesia is prone to earthquakes, such as the one off the coast that resulted in the 2004 tsunami and another large one in May 2006.

Although visitors shouldn’t overly concern themselves with this threat, it is important to keep up-to-date and avoid travel to areas that have been affected. Currently, travel to the west coast of Sumatra is advised against in the aftermath of a forceful earthquake in September 2007.

There have been some terrorism-related warnings from Western governments with regards to travel to Indonesia and visitors should check the latest travel updates from their consulates.

There are also many active volcanoes in Indonesia and from time to time there are eruption warnings followed by evacuations of nearby villages. Visitors should check ahead of time if any warnings have been issued for the destinations they are headed to before travelling.

There is crime in some of the major cities that might go beyond pick-pocketing and it’s advisable to avoid downtown
areas of Jakarta at night.

Electricity: 220 to 240 volts AC at 50 cycles per second.


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