Indonesia travel advice
Whether you choose to fly into the capital of Jakarta and work your way through the country by road, rail and boat, or fly from one main city to the next, Indonesia has a huge diversity to offer.
Planning your trip
We recommend that you visit as much of this amazing country as possible taking short flights between the islands and exploring with a private guide and driver to show you the most important and interesting aspects.
A two week itinerary might combine some time exploring the main island of Java and its ancient monuments and living culture, with a week enjoying the cuisine and beaches of either Bali or Lombok. A short visit to Kalimantan or the more remote islands of Sulawesi, Komodo or Sumba can easily be combined with Bali or Java.
Unique wildlife of Indonesia
We are one of the few operators in the UK to offer visits to both Gunung Leuser National Park in Sumatra and Tanjung Puting National Park in Kalimantan which are two of the only places in the world where you can see orang-utans in their natural habitat.
We also offer a wide range of cruising options for visiting the islands of Nusa Tenggara where you can see the unique Komodo Dragons.
Being a chain of volcanic islands - some of which have faced extraordinary destruction - Indonesia is history in motion. The most famous volcano is Krakatau, between Sumatra and Java, but its dramatic explosion in 1883 has left little to be seen above water.
The most active volcanoes are Ijen, Merapi and Bromo on Java and Agung on Bali, whose explosion in 1963 was interpreted by the local Balinese as anger from their gods. Dormant but still dramatic is Lake Toba, a crater lake the size of Singapore located on the island of Sumatra.
Lush jungle and open plateau are common vistas throughout the islands and on a good day you are likely to be able to spot temples and monuments in the distance.
The Indonesian language is very similar to the Malaysian one and for this reason many workers travel daily over to Penang in Malaysia for work and head back to Medan in northern Sumatra at night. English is not spoken widely but everyone is usually very interested in trying out the little English they do know. The language is phonetic and therefore easily learnt and easy to pick-up the odd words here and there to get by.
Food and drink
Indonesia is a country where the food is varied and interesting and you will most certainly eat well in most places. In tourist areas like Bali you will find more variety than in the quieter off-the-beaten track areas. Most of the restaurants have waiter service. Bars/cocktail lounges often have table and counter service. There are no licensing hours and many of the bars now do 'Happy hours' with discounts on drinks but again mainly in the tourist areas. Although most of the country is Muslim alcohol is readily available in most towns.
Tipping is generally expected in Indonesia for most situations:- 10% in restaurants; 5-10 USD per day for guides and half for drivers; rounding up in taxis etc.
Money and expenses
The Indonesia Rupiah (Rp) has a reputation of being volatile. At the time of writing £1 was worth Rp16,000. Most people now only deal with notes and nearly all the coins have disappeared.
Automatic cash dispensers are available everywhere but the maximum you can withdraw is Rp1,000,000. Most machines take all credit cards, as well as Cirrus, Maestro and Plus cards. Visa and MasterCard are accepted. If you would like to bring traveller's cheques they can be in US dollars, GB sterling or euros but must be with American Express. Indonesia is an inexpensive destination, except Bali where the prices have been pushed up due to tourism.
Allow £15 to £25 a day for basic day-to-day expenses (drinks, meals etc). You can eat noodles for as cheaply as 50p a bowl.
Ethical and environmental issues
Please take the normal environmentally friendly steps you should take anywhere in the world. Use water and electricity supplies carefully, re-use towels in hotels and try to use recyclable goods such as water carriers rather than plastic bottles, choose locally produced goods where possible etc.
Our certified country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the State Department website.
When to go to Indonesia
You'll find temperature and rainfall information, together with a month-by-month guide on visiting, on our guide for when to go to Indonesia.
24 hours 30 (New York to Jakarta)
UTC +7 to UTC +9