Indonesia – Travel Tips For A Hassle-free Vacation

Indonesia – Travel tips for a hassle-free vacation

Indonesia is, without a doubt, one of the most amazing countries in Southeast Asia. From the forests and lakes of Sumatra, to the nation’s cultural heart, Java, and beyond to Bali, Flores, Sulawesi, West Papua, Ambon, the Banda Islands, and West Papua – every step is a step of discovery.

Let me give you a few tips that will make navigating this incredibly diverse country, Indonesia.

cultural sensitivity

Indonesia is the largest Islamic country in the world. Although Islam is the state religion, there are parts of the country where other religions predominate. 90% of Sulawesi’s population is Christian, the Balinese are predominantly Hindu, and Muslims and Christians in Malukus and Flores live side by side – usually in peace. When visiting places of worship, be it a mosque, temple or church, please ensure that you dress modestly. Remember to take your shoes off before entering the mosque or temple. Ladies should wear long-sleeved shirts and below-the-knee skirts or long, loose-fitting pants. As far as clothing in general is concerned, please do not take kota as typical of the rest of the country. If you go to a restaurant (other than Kuta) or if you are invited to visit an Indonesian home, smart casual is fine. Locals would really appreciate it if you could use a few words of Bahasa Indonesia, the language that connects Indonesia, transcending the geographical and cultural diversity of this huge archipelago.

Visa list

To enter Indonesia, your passport must be valid for at least another 6 months from the date of your entry. Immigration officials look for the less valid passports which are among their rights to refuse you entry to Indonesia.

The 7-day visa on arrival was canceled in January 2010

30 days visa on arrival

At the time of writing, the cost of a 30-day visa on arrival for Indonesia is 25 USD, which you have to pay in cash in USD, with unmarked and clean bank coins issued after 2001. Since January 2010, this visa can be extended once, By 30 days, while here in Indonesia. To be completely honest, the procedure is tough, and if you think you may spend more than 30 days in Indonesia, get a 60-day tourist visa before entering Indonesia.

Tourist visa for 60 days

You need to obtain a tourist visa for 60 days before entering Indonesia. The good news is that since January 2010 this visa can be extended in Indonesia. If you intend to travel to the province of West Papua, or plan to extend your visa for 60 days, please bring 4-6 passport photos.

For more information on visa regulations, check the website of your nearest Indonesian embassy or consulate.


The local currency is the Indonesian rupiah (IDR). It is always a good idea to carry some small banknotes (1000, 2000, 5000 rupees) with you when you are shopping at local shops (toko) or planning to eat at warung (small local restaurant or food stall). The easiest way to handle money is to use a credit or debit card to withdraw cash from ATMs, which are found just about everywhere, other than some really remote places. If you intend to travel or stay for any length of time off the beaten track, you will need to carry enough Indonesian cash with you to pay for accommodation, food, and transportation. Please do not rely on the ability to exchange foreign currency. With the advent of automated teller machines, traveler’s checks have largely gone out of style.


Dehydration and sunburn are the greatest danger to a tourist’s health. Please try to drink at least 2 liters of water per day. Coffee, tea, beer, juice and other liquids don’t really count. Indonesia is located in the tropics, and you are likely to spend a lot of time outside, so protect yourself and use a good quality sunscreen, as well as wear a hat.

There is currently a problem in Bali with the spread of rabies by sick dogs. If your dog scratches or bites you, you need to get medical attention as soon as possible.

Water – even the locals drink bottled water! It’s cheap, so don’t take any chances.

Alcohol – There are some questionable araks sold in Bali, and there have been other deaths this year because of them.

Sex is fun, but please be sure to use a condom if you have a (very) personal encounter during your stay in Indonesia. All kinds of STDs, including HIV/AIDS, spread, so please take precautions.


Medications should be an absolute no-no. Don’t even think about bringing any drugs into Indonesia, because there are chances that you will end up in jail. Do not be tempted to take any drugs while you are in Indonesia. If you’ve been spending any amount of time around Kuta, Legian or Seminyak, you’ll likely be offered some time off – please say no. It is possible that you will deal with a police detective – which means that you will not use the ticket back home!

Personal safety

Please do not let sensational media reports stop you from visiting Indonesia. For tourists, Indonesia is as safe as other countries. As things stand today, unfortunately, it could be any public place in the world — the wrong place at the wrong time. To avoid becoming a victim of petty crime, just don’t display expensive consumer electronics, cameras, or jewelry in public. I’ve been to Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia since the mid 70’s, and have never had a problem with theft or bag snatching. Yes it can happen, so be aware, but don’t get paranoid about it.

Don’t become a virtual traveler in your living room, get second hand experiences by watching travel shows on TV – get out there and experience the magic for yourself.

packing list

Get a pack of zip-top bags from your nearest supermarket. It’s a must have if you like snacking, and want to keep ants and cockroaches away from your room/bed/backpack. I always carry stacks of them with me

Take toilet paper and soap, as they are not provided in budget accommodation. Instead of carrying around soaps and hair shampoos, I tend to use shower gels which are also ok to wash your hair.

Since digital cameras often have very specific batteries, don’t forget the charger that came with your camera

Take a torch (flashlight), as blackouts are unusual. Also, the footpath, if it exists, is notoriously uneven, often with huge potholes. So if you’re walking around after dark, and you don’t want to end up breaking a few bones, take one with you.

Take a pair of gowns, as beds often only have a bottom sheet, and you may want to cover it up at night. A mosquito coil, spray, and/or personal insect repellent is something you should definitely not forget. Remember to have bottled water in your room, you can’t drink tap water. I use tap water to brush my teeth, but if you have a sensitive stomach, I suggest you use bottled water for that as well. Before

We hope the above tips will help you have a great time in Indonesia. One more thing – if possible, bring rechargeable batteries and a suitable charger, or a spare battery and charger for your camera. There is no safe way to dispose of used batteries in this country, which leads to environmental and health hazards.

Come and have a look around, but be warned, visiting Indonesia is a health hazard – it’s addictive!