With this selection of tips for traveling to Indonesia, we hope to help you prepare for your trip to one of the most incredible countries in the world, which has more than 17,000 islands, most of them uninhabited and where, in addition to great cultural wealth, they come to speak more than 300 languages.
For this reason, it is essential to decide well which islands you want to visit, since each one of them has its culture, customs, landscapes, and gastronomy, making Indonesia a country that could well be 100 countries in one.
Based on the two times that we have traveled to the country, the first on a trip to Indonesia in 26 days, in which we visited Java, Borneo, Bali, and Lombok, and the second returning to the Island of the Gods, in which we were more than a month and during which we write this travel guide to Bali for free, we leave you the ones that are for us, the 10 essential tips for traveling to Indonesia. Let’s start!
1. What is the best time to travel to Indonesia?
Taking into account the size of the country, we can say that the best time for traveling to Indonesia depends largely on the islands you are going to visit.
High season (July and August): these two months are usually the most crowded, especially in Bali, one of the most visited places in the country. In addition, these months are included in the dry season, except for Moluccas and Papua, which are usually rainy months.
Medium season (May, June, and September): for us, the best time to travel to Indonesia, since it is still the dry season in Java, Bali, and Lombok and there is not as much tourism, as in the previous months.
Low season (October to April): These months include the rainy season in Java, Bali, and Lombok and the dry season in Moluccas and Papua. Despite this, the rains do not usually last more than a few hours and the sun comes out again, so if you cannot travel at another time, we would not rule out the trip.
Remember when traveling to Indonesia in the high season, it is highly recommended to book flights, accommodation, and excursions in advance, to avoid high prices and have more options available.
Currently, we can say that traveling to Indonesia is safe, especially after the attacks in Bali in 2002 and 2005 and those in Jakarta in 2003 and 2009, which increased security in tourist areas.
Despite these and taking into account the time that has passed and the current measures as we mentioned before, there is no problem to make a trip to Indonesia, either on your own or organized.
In the same way and even if it is safe, it is always necessary to travel with common sense and take certain precautions such as not carrying valuables in places you do not know, going at night to places that you are not sure is safe or leaving your luggage unattended.
In addition to this, it may be interesting to ask your accommodation if there is an unsafe area, to make sure, especially if you are going out at night.
Another thing to keep in mind is the zero-tolerance that exists in Indonesia regarding drugs, even in the most touristic places where in some cases private parties are raided. Keep this in mind, especially in areas where they can be offered to you in a very clear way, and this can lead you to the confusion of believing that it is allowed.
3. Entry requirements to the country
If you are a USA citizen to enter Indonesia you will need to present a passport with at least 6 months of validity and also a minimum of a completely blank page for each entry you are going to make into the country.
Keep in mind that the authorities are quite demanding and will not allow you entry if they see that your passport is in poor condition, does not have the blank pages you need depending on the number of entries, and if you are carrying a provisional passport.
For stays as a tourist of fewer than 30 days, a visa is not necessary, but if you are going to stay longer in the country you must apply for a $35 visa at the airport, with which you can spend 30 days in Indonesia and then extend it for 30 more. at the immigration authorities.
This is not the easiest thing since it can only be done in certain places and these sometimes have quite diffuse schedules, in addition to in some cases, needing several visits.
If you are going to travel for more than 30 days, we advise you to process the visa through the Indonesian Embassy in the USA, from where, in addition to being easier, it will be much faster.
If you have another nationality, the best advice for traveling to Indonesia is to check with your embassy to have updated information.
4. Vaccines and travel insurance
The first piece of advice for your trip to Indonesia is that you go to your international vaccination center so that it is a doctor who, according to your medical history, places you are going to visit or the time you are going to stay in the country, determines which are the recommended vaccinations.
At a general level, we can tell you that to travel to Indonesia there is no compulsory vaccination, except for Yellow Fever for travelers from Africa or South America, who have been during the last 6 months.
Despite the above, tetanus, hepatitis A and B, and typhus vaccines are recommended. Although there is no malaria in most of the country, there are some areas, such as Lombok, where prophylaxis may be necessary for addition to using mosquito repellent and coming with travel mosquito nets.
In addition to visiting the doctor, it is very important to have the best travel insurance for Indonesia, so that if you need it, you can have the best care in the best centers in the country.
We always travel insured with Mondo, with whom we carry insurance that is fully adequate to the needs that we are going to have during the trip. Hiring your insurance here with Mondo, just for being a reader of Callejeros Travelers, you have a 5% discount.
Due to the current health situation, all Mondo insurance includes medical assistance in case of coronavirus infection. In addition, the extra stay you need in case of contagion due to quarantine is also included and, of course, the test if it is necessary.
5. How to start the trip to Indonesia
The first and most important thing when traveling to Indonesia is to determine which places you want to visit, which will be associated with the time you have. After our experience, we would recommend a minimum of 21-25 days to get to know most of the essential places to visit in Indonesia and focus on a maximum of 4-5 islands at most.
For a first trip, we believe that one of the best options would be to focus on Java, Borneo (Tanjung Putting National Park) if you want to see orangutans, Bali and Lombok, spend the last days of the trip in one of the Gili Islands.
Taking this into account, the first thing would be to look for a flight to Jakarta and departure through Bali or Lombok, to save time and not have to make any extra internal flights. For this multi-destination flight and the rest of the internal flights, we recommend you use this flight search engine, where you can find all the available options.
Once you have the flight and especially if you travel in the high season, it is best to book your accommodation in Indonesia as far in advance as possible, whenever you want to have the maximum options and the best prices.
Keep in mind that internal transportation around the country will be done by taxi, private driver or flight or ferry between islands and you can hire them once you are there, except in Bali, where there is more tourism, it is highly recommended to hire them in advance.
If you want to take an excursion or tour, it can also be highly recommended to book it in advance, to ensure that there are places available. You can see all the tour options in Indonesia and make reservations here
6. Money exchange when traveling to Indonesia
The currency of Indonesia is the Indonesian rupiah and currently, the equivalence is 1 euro = 15.78 Indonesian rupiah. Although in many places you will read that it is advisable to exchange currency at the airport or a foreign exchange agency, after experience and many trips, we recommend that you pay as much as you can with a card and take it out of the ATM, to have the best exchange and avoid charging commissions.
We always recommend using the Vivid card and the N26 card. They are the ones we use, they are free and they will mean a great saving.
You can find more information in this article about the best cards to travel without commissions.
Remember that it is also necessary to carry cash to be able to make payments in stores that do not accept cards or for tips.
7. How to have internet in Indonesia?
- As in almost all countries in Southeast Asia, in Indonesia, you will also find free Wi-Fi connections in most accommodation, bars, and restaurants. If despite that, you are one of those who need to have internet 24 hours a day, then you can easily get a SIM card as soon as you get off the plane. Now, if you can live without internet for a couple more hours, avoid buying it directly at the airport because the prices are much more expensive than what you will find later in the local phone stores.
- Another option (not the cheapest) is to buy a special SIM to have internet in Indonesia before traveling and take it from Spain. Holafly is the most important company that offers this type of service (following the link you will have a 5% discount).
- Telkomsel is the most important company in the country with good packages for calls and data or even just data at more than competitive prices. The 10Gb, 30 minutes and 30 SMS package costs IDR 100,000. Remember to bring a jailbroken phone for the SIM to work. More information.
8. Route through Indonesia
Previously, in the section on how to start the trip to Indonesia when traveling to Indonesia, we told you that our recommendation would be to spend about 3-4 weeks in the country to be able to visit most of its main places. In case you have less time, we recommend you reduce the number of islands to visit to have the maximum number of places but always with the necessary time to enjoy them.
Based on the route we did, we believe that the idea is to fly to Jakarta in Java, and from there take a flight from Java to Yogyakarta, one of the cities that you cannot miss on the island, in addition to getting to know the culture of the country, visit the Prambanan Temples and visit Borobudur from Yogyakarta, two of the most impressive places in Indonesia.
All these visits can be done on your own, traveling by public transport or taxi, the last option being much faster, since public transport in Indonesia is not very reliable in terms of times, routes and routes.
The next stop, after visiting Borobudur, will be the Dieng Plateau, one of the most impressive places in Java, where, in addition to incredible landscapes, you can see a caldera in the area of the active Dieng volcano.
In case you want to know these places comfortably in addition to being accompanied by a guide in Spanish, we recommend you book this Tour of Yogyakarta and the Prambanan and Borobudur temples or this excursion to Borobudur at sunrise and Dieng Plateau.
The next stage of the trip is a flight from Semarang to Borneo, where you will be able to see orangutans in Tanjung Putting aboard a klotok or typical boat for several days, which we assure you, will be one of the unforgettable experiences of traveling to Indonesia.
After this stage in Borneo, you will take a flight from Borneo to Java, then transfer from Solo to Malang by taxi, visiting the impressive Candi Cetho and Candi Sukuh temples on the way.
Once in Malang, the trip continues with an incredible sunrise in Bromo, and after this impressive experience, finish the stage in Java, taking a flight to Bali and making the transfer from Denpasar airport to Ubud.
In case you want to do this organized part, you can book this Surakarta and Cetho and Sukuh Temples Tour or this 3 Days Mount Bromo and Ijen Tour from Yogyakarta to Bali.
Once in Bali, where we recommend you spend an average of 5-7 days, visiting the most touristic places on the island such as Tegallalang, Gunung Kawi, Tirta Empul, Lake Batur, Pura Besakih, Pera Kehen or Peglinpuran, which you can visit hiring a car with driver, to get to know Bali with a guide in Spanish or reserving excursions in Bali.
Another of the best tips for traveling to Indonesia is to visit the Pura Taman Ayun, Ulun Danu Bratan, Git Git, Jatilowih, and Tanah Lot temples, which you can also visit by car with a driver in Bali.
Other places that you cannot miss are Kuta and Playa Impossibles, which are two of the beaches in Bali, and of course, a sunset at Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of the most famous temples on the island besides Tirta Gangga and the Pura Goa Lawah bat cave.
The next stage of the trip will take you from Bali to Lombok, where we recommend you to see Pura Lingdar, Pura Suradani, Banyumulek, Sade, and Senggigi, which are part of the route you can do in Lombok by car with a driver.
The last part of the trip will begin by taking a boat from Lombok to the Gili Islands, a true paradise, where you can enjoy diving, beaches as well as making an excursion from Gili Trawangan to Gili Meno by boat, where the trip will end, flying from Lombok to the USA.
9. How to move around Indonesia?
Indonesia is one of the most populous countries on the planet with around 250 million inhabitants and has a huge area that is divided into more than 17,000 islands. With these figures you can already imagine that displacements are not always easy, nor fast, nor are they the most comfortable in the world.
Move between islands:
– AIRPLANE. It is undoubtedly the fastest and most comfortable means of transport to traveling to Indonesia. There are a good number of low-cost airlines currently operating in Indonesia with quite competitive prices, for example, AirAsia. It is advisable to take a look at the Skyscanner website to compare different airlines, and if you have doubts about the reputation of each company, check their note on the Skytrax website.
– BOAT. Taking into account that Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, it is understood that water transport is the most important in the entire country. From the simplest boats, which doubtfully meet certain safety standards and usually cover short distances, to large, more comfortable, and modern ferries for long distances.
Local ferries for short distances and where you can board your vehicle are usually quite slow, but also very cheap. For faster passenger-only journeys traveling to Indonesia, there is the somewhat more expensive option of “ fast-boats ”. In both cases and to get the best prices, you will have to buy the tickets directly where the boats depart and avoid intermediaries or online purchases… Although of course, these possibilities exist and sometimes they include
Move within the islands:
– BUS. The bus is a very common means of transport in the country when traveling to Indonesia, and you can get almost anywhere with it for very little money. The standards vary a lot depending on the company and the destinations, but it is important not to forget that travel times to travel certain distances can be eternal.
– BEMO. The bemos (or what is the same minibusses and vans adapted for the transport of passengers) are an essential means of transport for locals on short-distance trips, especially in metropolitan areas. They do not have an “official” route network but cover fixed routes. It is best to ask about the prices and the place to get off as soon as you get on the bemo.
– TRAIN. The islands of Java and Sumatra have the best rail network (especially Java). Greater comfort, central stations, and more reliable timetables are the main advantages of the train compared to the bus. On this website, you will find a lot of useful information to get around Indonesia by train when traveling to Indonesia
– PRIVATE TRANSPORTATION. For a relatively good price (it will depend on your ability to negotiate and the number of people you are), you can hire a private driver to move around most tourist places by car or minivan, without having to think about anything other than enjoying yourself.
– CAR. If we take into account the prices of other means of transport and the stress that getting behind the wheel in a country like Indonesia can generate, you probably won’t even consider this alternative. But if the flexibility and freedom of traveling with your vehicle make you decide to rent a car, remember to have your international driving license in order. Even if they do not require it at the rental office, you can get quite upset if you later meet the police.
– MOTORCYCLE. The motorcycle is the daily bread of millions of Indonesians and the preferred means of transport for travelers in places like Bali and Lombok. The rental price per day varies between 30,000-60,000 INR (2-4€) per day. As with car rental, and especially to avoid unnecessary problems with the police, it is best to have an international driving license. Do not forget that driving a scooter is not a game and if you have never done it before, Indonesia is not the best place to start. Also, don’t forget to download maps. me on your mobile, essential to know where you are at all times.
10. Bali, is one of the essentials when traveling to Indonesia
Although we have already talked a little about the Island of the Gods before, we believe that this incredible island deserves an extra section, for being one of the most incredible places, not only in Indonesia but in the world to which many travelers dedicate a trip exclusively, just as we did before publishing the guide to the trip to Bali for free.
One of the first tips to travel to Bali that we want to give you is the need to plan well, both the days of the trip and the places to visit in Bali, and based on this, decide the duration of your trip.
In our case and after the experience, we would recommend you spend at least one week on the island and 10-15 days if you later want to add a day to one of the best beaches in Bali or make a route through the best things to do in Gili, in Lombok.
11. Indonesian cuisine
Another of the great reasons to travel to Indonesia is undoubtedly its gastronomy, one of the most exquisite in the world. Although we know that it is impossible to make a list of all the dishes that exist, we want to leave you with a selection of those that are the most essential dishes and those that you should try when traveling to Indonesia
- Nasi Goreng: We would dare to say that it is the best-known dish in Indonesia. It consists of fried rice, vegetables, and chicken to which a fried egg is usually added.
- Mie Goreng: It is the same dish as the previous one, but substituting the rice for noodles.
- Gado-Gado: boiled vegetables with peanut sauce.
- Satay: the typical skewers, but in this case made of meat, fish, or shellfish and seasoned with the fascinating peanut sauce.
- Redang: This is one of the typical stews that you can eat that is based on meat and many species, with an incredible flavor.
- Pisang Goreg: fried plantain. Nothing more and nothing less than exquisite.
12. What to put in the backpack: when traveling to Indonesia?
I admit it, after a few years of traveling, I am still not able to make a backpack with nothing more than what is strictly necessary. I’m not proud of it, but my favorite phrase is “just in case…”. To prevent you from falling into the same mistake as me, these are the things that necessarily have to be in your backpack. Almost everything else will probably be expendable:
- Thin and breathable clothing
- A pareo or sarong to enter the temples and that at the same time can serve as a beach towel
- Cap to protect the head from the sun
- A light raincoat and also a sweatshirt or sweater if you plan to do an excursion such as the Bromo or visit cooler areas
- Light and comfortable shoes for walking (closed) and sandals (open)
- A basic first aid kit, mosquito repellent, and sun protection cream
- A reusable bottle to be able to fill it with water and reduce the consumption of plastic when traveling to Indonesia. In Indonesia, you will find many accommodations with hot and cold drinking water dispensers for teas and infusions
An adapter is NOT necessary, the plugs are type C, the same as in the USA.
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More tips for traveling to Indonesia
Some extra tips for traveling to Indonesia would be:
- Although it is not impossible, it is not recommended to rent a car to explore Bali if you have never driven in Asia. We rent it, to be a month and a half on the island and we assure you that driving is not easy at all. On the other hand, from what we have been told, with a motorcycle, it is much easier.
- Remember that in Indonesia Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism coexist, which is the official religion of Bali.
- In Bali, to enter the temples, you must wear a sarong, which is a piece of cloth that is tied at the waist like a skirt and worn by men and women. Normally they lend them to you in the temples themselves, sometimes for free and other times leaving a donation, but we recommend you buy one at one of the stalls so that it becomes one of the souvenirs.
- In addition to the fact that in most hotels you will have the possibility of using Wi-Fi, at the airport itself you can buy a SIM card for your free phone and thus have internet.
- It is highly recommended as an application for Indonesia to use Maps. me as a GPS both online and offline.
- In Indonesia, the voltage is 230V, the frequency is 50 Hz and the type of plugs are type C/F.
Indonesia is a republic consisting of thousands of islands, which originate from continental Asia. These islands are separated by the equator into two parts which are Indonesia and Papua. Indonesia is the world’s largest state. As tourism worldwide is on the rise, Indonesia is also gathering popularity as a tourist destination, with approximately 8.4 million visitors in 2017. Indonesia has one of the most culturally diverse populations in the world, making it an interesting place to visit.