Planning a Trip to Indonesia
Best time to travel
High season in Indonesia is during the months of July and August. This time of year is also considered to be the dry season, there is little to no rainfall in almost all areas of the country during these two months. Prices can increase by up to 50% at this time of year. The shoulder season are May-June and September-October. These are ideal times to visit Indonesia as the humidity drops and the temperatures are more moderate. The low/rainy season lasts from October to April. The benefit of traveling at this time of year is the drop in prices and the ability to go with the flow, without having to plan too far in advance.
Exchange rate and currency
The currency in Indonesia is Rupiah.
1 Rupiah = .000074USD
Budget travelers: Up to 500,000Rp/day
Mid-range travelers: Up to 1,500,000Rp/day
Top-end travelers: 2,000,000Rp/day
The visa situation for Indonesia changes drastically and often. Check with the closest consulate in your country to obtain more information on visas for Indonesia.
Traveling around Indonesia
As it is an archipelago, travel within Indonesia can be a bit tricker than in some other countries. That being said, with some planning in advance, travel within and between islands is totally doable. Here is some information about different modes of transportation that you might consider:
Flights on domestic airlines are easily the fastest mode of transportation and there are quite a few different airlines that operate with different flight times within the country. That being said, sometimes it is difficult to book a flight using a foreign card and it can be difficult to obtain much information about different flights and airlines on the internet. Using a travel agent is the most reliable way to travel by air within Indonesia.
Boats are another option for travel in Indonesia. Sumatra, Java, Bali, Nusa Tenggara, and Sulawesi all have ferry systems that operate several times a week to daily which makes traveling by boat between islands relatively easy. There is also a company called Pelni that runs boats between major ports with some degree of frequency. For shorter trips, consider hiring a fishing boat to take you where you need to go.
Cars and motorcycles are both available for hire. Legally, one must have an International Driver’s Permit to drive in Indonesia, although police will rarely ask for it in the event that you’re pulled over. Bear in mind that there can be a great deal of traffic congestion in Indonesia and the road rules and protocol probably differ greatly from what you’re used to. If you’re not up to the challenge, consider renting a private taxi.
Train travel is fast and easy in Indonesia, but, unfortunately, is restricted to the islands of Sumatra and Java.
Local transport is another option. There are bus systems on Java, Jakarta, and Bali, although fares are cheap, travelers should be wary of pickpockets. Private taxis, shared taxis, and minibuses are all other forms of local transportation that can be used. Becaks and motorbikes can also be taken between local destinations for a reasonable fare.
Dangers and Annoyances
Avoid buying local liquor, arak, unless at a reputable bar or restaurant. Vendors have been known to add poisonous chemicals in order to stretch their supply.
Indonesia has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drugs. Raids of nightclubs and private parties occur regularly and anyone in the vicinity is subject to a mandatory urine test. Hotel owners are required by law to report any knowledge of drug use on the premises. Offenders can be sentenced to death.
Violent crime is uncommon. However, petty-theft is much more likely to happen. Secure your money before leaving ATMs, use safes provided by your hotel, don’t leave valuables unattended.
Be wary of con-artists and scams. Ask at your hotel or at a restaurant how much you should be paying for certain things to avoid being overcharged. Make sure you are familiar with the exchange rate as there have been reports of short-changing money changers in recent years.
Do not overstay your tourist visa. If you do, expect to be detained or forced to pay a hefty fine.
If you find yourself in trouble with the law, call your embassy or consulate immediately for suggestions on legal counsel.
Corruption is a fact of life in this part of the world. If the police pull you over, be polite and listen to what he has to say. If he suggests a trip to the police station, offer him 50,000-100,000Rp instead.
Anyone traveling from Africa or South America within six days of entering Indonesia will be asked to provide proof of a yellow-fever vaccination. The World Health Organization also recommends the following vaccines:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis A
- Japanese B Encephalitis
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