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INDONESIA TRAVEL TIPS

Time Zone

Jakarta: GMT +7 hours

Bali: GMT +8 hours

Eastern Indonesia: GMT+9 hours

Language

The official language in Indonesia is Bahasa Indonesian.

There are over 250 recognized languages spoken throughout the country, including Javanese. A few people speak Dutch from Indonesia's colonial days, and the substantial resident Chinese community speaks a variety of Chinese dialects. English is the most widely used foreign language for business and tourism, and many people in the more remote areas have a basic command of English.

Currency

The national currency is Indonesian Rupiah, however US dollars are also widely accepted.

Religion

In Indonesia, approximately 88% of the population is Muslim and 10% are Christian, while the remainder are Hindu or Buddhist. Animist beliefs are held in some remote areas.

Weather

The climate of Indonesia is generally warm and humid throughout the year as the archipelago straddles the equator. There are only two seasons: rainy and dry. While there is significant regional variation, the dry season is April to October in most parts of the country, including Java and Bali, while the wet season is November to March.

The islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan in Borneo are humid year round, while the islands that trail east from Bali, such as Lombok, Sumba, Flores and Timor, become progressively drier. In the highlands, temperatures are generally cooler, particularly at night and in the high mountain areas of Irian Jaya.

Arrival and Departure Formalities

All travelers must show proof of an onward or return ticket upon arrival or at the time of boarding the flight to Indonesia.

You are required to complete an arrival/departure form for immigration upon entering the country. The forms are usually available on the aircraft; please check with a flight attendant so that you can have them ready before landing. Upon arrival, the immigration officer takes your arrival card and returns your stamped departure card. You are required to present the same stamped departure card to immigration officials at the time of departure. The departure tax should be included in the price of your air ticket.

At international airports in Indonesia, passengers cannot be met inside secured areas. This includes immigration, customs halls and baggage claim. Please make your way through the entry formalities, following all necessary procedures, and meet your guide or driver upon exiting the restricted areas.

The following items are strictly prohibited under Indonesian law: weapons, illegal drugs and pornography. The punishment for infringements can be severe and may include the death penalty. It is also forbidden to import alcohol in excess of one liter per person over 18 years of age.

Cameras and recording equipment must be declared on arrival. Video cameras, radio cassette recorders, binoculars and sport equipment may be imported provided they are exported on departure. Motion picture film, videotapes, video laser discs, records and computer software must be screened by the censor board.

While we do our best to provide the most up-to-date information, visa requirements may change at short notice. Obtaining the correct visa is the responsibility of each passenger and the company will not be held accountable for any refusal upon entry. Therefore, we recommend that you check with your consulate or embassy for current visa information before leaving home.

Money Matters

Normal banking hours are: Monday - Friday 08:00–15:00 and Saturday 08:00-13:00.  Some banks may not exchange money in the afternoons or on weekends. ATMs are found in all major cities. 

Major credit cards can be used for transactions in hotels and larger shops that are frequented by tourists. Generally, credit cards cannot be used to obtain cash advances in Indonesia. It is recommended to carry cash in small denominations when traveling to remote areas.

Traveler's checks are not widely accepted, but can be exchanged at some banks and larger hotels.

Tip: Exchange currency only at authorized outlets such as banks and hotels, and exchange only what you think you will spend in-country. Save all receipts from any currency transaction. You may be asked to produce them when you exit the country, and they are required if you intend to reconvert local currency.

Tipping

Tipping is generally expected in Indonesia. You are traveling on an independent itinerary and the cost of your program does not include gratuities. Tipping is a very personal matter and should only be considered when the staff have gone above and beyond for you. Should you feel you would like to acknowledge their service, please consider the following as a rough guide, per person per day.

Type of Service / USD ($)

Group Size (Number of People)

1

2

3

4

5-9

10+

Tour Director

15.00

12.00

10.00

8.00

6.00

5.00

Guide

15.00

12.00

10.00

8.00

6.00

5.00

Driver

8.00

6.00

5.00

4.00

3.00

2.50

The above tipping guidelines are recommendations only and are not compulsory. Please use your own discretion in tipping, based on quality of service.

Restaurants: Most restaurants add a 5-10% service charge and 10% government tax to your bill. You may wish to add about 10% to the bill to show appreciation for the service.

Taxis: Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped but they appreciate the fare being rounded up.

Porterage: If you are being transferred by our representative to a hotel, then porterage and tipping of porters is already included. You are not expected to tip our representative.

Clothing

Comfortable, casual clothing in natural, "breathable" fabrics such as cotton or a cotton/synthetic mix are recommended. Choose versatile styles that can be layered. Indonesia’s varied topography and high altitudes create weather conditions which can change radically in the course of the day.

Conservative dress is required when visiting temples, mosques and other religious sites. You may be asked to remove your shoes and/or socks when entering certain religious buildings. The shoulders should be covered and short skirts or short shorts should be avoided.

A lightweight (preferably non-plastic) raincoat or poncho may be useful, but not necessary. If traveling to mountainous areas, the nights and mornings are cool, so warm clothing such as a sweater or lightweight jacket is recommended.  A pair of good sunglasses and a hat may also be useful.

Electricity

The voltage supply in Indonesia is 220v 50Hz. Sockets are fit for two round prongs. It is recommended to bring along a universal travel adaptor as it may be difficult to find one along the way. 

Health

Please consult your doctor for the most up-to-date advice about vaccinations. A yellow fever vaccination is required to enter Indonesia only if you are arriving from or have transited through a yellow fever endemic area in South America or Africa. If vaccination for yellow fever is necessary, you must carry an International Certificate of Vaccination provided by your physician; without it, you may be denied entry. If your physician advises against receiving the vaccination because of your personal medical history, he or she can provide you with the necessary documentation.

Do not drink tap water in Indonesia and avoid ice in your drinks unless it is made from mineral water. Also, bottled water should be used for cleaning your teeth. Even “purified” water in open containers should be avoided. It is always preferable and safer to use bottled water only.

Exercise caution when eating and drinking outside reputable hotels and restaurants and avoid uncooked vegetables, peeled fruit, unpasteurized milk and milk products. Milk is unpasteurized and should be boiled. Powdered or tinned milk is available and is recommended, but make sure that it is reconstituted with pure water.

If you are on prescribed medication, ensure that you take a copy of your prescriptions in case of loss of supply. Be sure to pack enough medication in your hand luggage for the duration of your trip as it may not be available locally. It is important to keep it in its original packaging. Check with the relevant embassy or consulate that your medication is legal in the countries you plan to visit and find out whether you need to take a doctor's letter with you.

Photography

Unless you are shooting a crowded public scene, it is considered courteous to ask permission before taking pictures of local people, especially small children. Please be considerate of a desire not to be photographed.

Photography is not permitted in government buildings, airports or areas of military importance. These areas are usually clearly marked. If in doubt, please ask your guide to avoid having your camera confiscated.

Local Handicrafts

Indonesia has a wealth of crafts from all its various regions including beautiful batiks, charming silverware, woodcarvings and paintings from China. Most shops are open between 09:00 and 21:00, Monday to Sunday. Some articles have a fixed price and others are open to bargaining. Shops that work on a fixed price basis rarely offer reductions in price. However, in many places, bargaining is permitted and even expected. However, please bear in mind that playing at bargaining may offend some vendors, so only begin negotiations if you intend to make a purchase. In general you can expect to pay 50 – 70 percent of the initial asking price. An exception to this may be antiques and handicrafts where reductions may only be 10 – 15% due to rarity of items and high demand.

Please note that the export of ‘national treasures’ is strictly illegal. Any museum quality work of art that has an archaeological, religious or folk artifact value only requires an export licence. Prehistoric and Hindu-Javanese antiquities can be cleared through the offices of the Archaeological Service.  Porcelain can only be cleared through the offices of Porcelain at the Central Museum. It is often worth getting a certificate saying that a reproduction is a reproduction to avoid any confusion on departure.

Local Food

The basis of an Indonesian meal is rice, which is called nasi in Indonesian. This is served with a variety of meat and vegetable dishes complemented with sauces and pastes. The influences are many and varied – Indian and Arab through the early traders who brought new spices, later the Chinese and the Dutch added their own particular flavors. 

National favorites include:

Gado gado, a lightly cooked vegetable salad which includes bean sprouts, cabbage and potatoes covered with a rich peanut sauce

Satay, skewered meat or prawns grilled over a charcoal fire and served with a spicy sauce

Soto, rich coconut soup delicately spiced and full of noodles, chicken, bean sprouts and other vegetables

Nasi goreng – the quintessential Indonesian fried rice topped with a fried egg

Javanese tea is usually very fragrant and similar to Chinese tea in flavor.  Served hot or cold, manis (with sugar) or pahit (without) it is delicate and refreshing. Javanese coffee is a delight for real coffee lovers; it is served in a similar way to Turkish coffee that is, thick with the grounds at the bottom. Fresh fruit juices are popular and they can be served either hot or cold. Another popular beverage is an unusual avocado drink made with rum and coffee essence, while palm sugar and tinned milk are blended to make a thick rich liquid called Apokat. Among the many cordials, called Stroop, are Zirzak, made from soursop, and Markisa, made from passion fruit. A good local beer is also available.

Tropical fruits in Indonesia include delicious pineapples, bananas, papayas, mangoes.  Rambutans, hairy red skinned fruits with sweet white meat are delicious, as are mangosteens, a purplish black skinned fruit with a very sweet, juicy white meat inside. Durian is adored by local people in Indonesia, although some people may object to the fruit’s unusual odor.

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