Indonesia Travel Guide

By Admin | Last Updated August 30, 2019

Indonesia is a country in South East Asia located within the Indian and the Pacific Ocean. The area covered by the country measures 1,904,569 square kilometers. It is made up mostly of islands and is the largest archipelagic country in the world. Indonesia stretches 1760 kilometers from north to south and 5120 kilometers from east to west. 

Indonesia is made up of 17,504 islands (as per Govt. Statistics). About 6000 of these islands are settled in by people. The biggest islands are: Java, Borneo, Sumatra, Sulawesi and New Guinea. Indonesia’s neighbors by sea include Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Australia, Philippines and Palau. Some of the Indonesian islands are shared with other countries. For example, Borneo partly belongs to Indonesia and partly to Malaysia and Brunei. The islands of Indonesia are scattered above and below the Equator. Most of Indonesia has a tropical equatorial climate.

 The population of Indonesia as of 2018 is 266,794, 980. It has the third largest population in Asia and fourth in the world. But the population is mostly young, with only 8% above 60 years. The island of Java contains more than half of the Indonesian population. Majority of the people follow Islam here, making it the biggest Muslim majority country in the world. About 15.8 million tourists visited Indonesia in 2018 with Malaysians leading the pack, followed by the  Chinese. Indonesian government encourages tourism and earns 8% of its GDP from this sector.

Indonesia is a travelers’ paradise with lush green forests, active volcanoes, pristine beaches and plenty of culture to soak in. The tropical forests of this country are second only to the Amazonian jungles. The islands of Indonesia are home to nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Sumatran rainforests, Borobudur temple complex, national parks and even a coal miming site.

Indonesia – Quick Facts

  1. Official Language:  Bahasa Indonesian. Over 700 languages are spoken in the country, important ones being: Javanese, Sundanese, etc.
  2. Capital City: Jakarta
  3. Currency: Indonesian Rupiah
  4. ISD Telephone Code: +62
  5. Major Religions: Islam. Other practiced religions are Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Confucianism - Total Six Religions only.
  6. Constituent regions: Java, Kalimantan, Maluku Islands, Lesser Sunda Islands, Western New Guinea, Sulawesi, Sumatra.
  7. Government: Indonesia is a presidential republic with a President at its head. 
  8. Jakarta, the capital is the largest city by size, followed by Surabaya and Bandung.
  9. Indonesia is made up of 17,508 islands of which just over 6000 are inhabited by humans.
  10. Mount Carstenz in Irian Jaya is the nation’s highest mountain peak at 4884 meters above sea level. It is the highest peak in Oceania.
  11. Portuguese colonists and explorers were the first Europeans to come to Indonesia. The country was colonized by the Dutch later.
  12. Jakarta airport is the biggest airport in the country.
  13. Indonesia’s main exports include oil and gas, electrical appliances, rubber, textiles and plywood.
  14. The climate of Indonesia does not vary much across its length and breadth. It enjoys tropical climate.
  15. Traditional Indonesian food includes satay, fried rice, beef rendang curry, Indomie noodles, siomay and more.
  16. There are 127 volcanoes in Indonesia.

Indonesia Tourist Visa

The tourist visa for 30 days to Indonesia is allowed free of cost to citizens of 160 countries. The list of countries which allow this facility is available here https://www.bali.com/visa-indonesia-entry-requirements-bali.html 

The applicant’s passport should be valid for a minimum duration of 6 months from the date of visa issuance. This free 30 day visa is granted for social and tourism purposes. This period is not extendable. For tourists who want to stay longer than 30 days and less than 60 days there is provision of a visa on arrival that costs 500,000 Indonesian Rupiah.

A few important points to note:

  • Beware the long queues in the airports at Bali and Jakarta. 
  • The day of arrival counts as day 1 when calculating your 30 days in Indonesia
  • The day you depart from the country is also counted as a full day

Customs

Indonesia prohibits visitors into the country from bringing commercial or merchandised products with them. Prior licenses are mandatory for Chinese medicines and printings, narcotics, firearms and ammunition, pornography, fresh fruit and cordless telephones. Without proper licenses these products may be confiscated at the point of entry into Indonesia. Pet animals being brought into the country also require import permits and health and rabies vaccination certificates. You are allowed:

  • A maximum of 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 100 grams of tobacco product per person are allowed
  • Not more than 1liter of liquor is allowed into the country
  • Perfume of reasonable quantity
  • Allowance for other goods worth up to 500 US$ per person only

Airport Tax

As of now, all the major international airlines and Indonesia's official carrier has done away with airport tax. But the small carriers still levy the tax. The airport departure is tax levied on all flights departing from Indonesia. Airlines have to include this fee within the ticket price. Also called the Passenger Service Charge, this fee is levied on both domestic and international departures. The passengers who are exempt from paying this tax are

  • Children below 2 years age.
  • Passengers travelling onwards to an international/domestic destination and having less than 24 hours to spend in an Indonesian airport.
  • State guests travelling in an official aircraft with official paperwork.
  • Passengers who are in an Indonesian airport in an unplanned transit/transfer due to technical problems or bad weather conditions.

How to Get In & Around in Indonesia

Getting In

Indonesia can be reached by air from the world all over and by boat from Malaysia and Singapore. You can reach Indonesia by road from the shared areas of East Timor, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. 

By Air: Indonesia is well connected to rest of the world. Flights operate between Indonesia and Europe, North America, Middle East, Australia and Asia. There are three main International Airports in Indonesia: Jakarta, Bali, and East Java. Other than these three, a few other international airports have opened in Indonesia. Many Indonesian cities have direct air connection with both Malaysia and Singapore.

By Ferry: Ferries are another way of getting into Indonesia. But the ferry service is limited to neighboring countries of Malaysia and Singapore only, with services between a few islands only. 

By Road: You can get into Indonesia by road also. There are islands which are shared by Indonesia with East Timor, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. Regular bus services are available. 

Getting Around

You can travel around Indonesia by flights, ferries, trains, cars and buses. 

By Flight: The best way to travel in Indonesia is the aerial way. Indonesia is a vast country in terms of length and breadth. Other than the official carrier of Indonesia, there are many other carriers, many low-cost, crisscrossing the  island nation. 

By Car: You can opt for renting cars, both self-driven or driver-driven. There are many car rental agencies. Choose after necessary checks. Cars can be driven to others islands as cars are ferried over. But road conditions vary and traffic is bad with two wheelers abounding.

By Train: Only Java and Sumatra are serviced by trains. Centrally located stations and reliable schedules make train travelling a good choice.

By Ferry: With over hundreds of islands, Indonesia has a good network of ferries. Wooden boats to steel ferries – there are numerous options.

By Bus: The cheapest but reliable option is the bus service. Here also, there are a many options. 

Indonesia Climate

The climate of Indonesia is hot and humid. There is not much change in temperatures around the year. Indonesia does not have a marked summer or winter. There is just the rainy season which covers the months of November and March. The remaining months of the year (April to October) count as dry season. Most of the country has tropical climate with mild geographical variations. The mountainous regions with an altitude of 1500 meters or more have an oceanic or subtropical highland climate. Here are a few statistics for the top tourist places in Indonesia.

City/Town Average Max Temp in ºC Average Min Temp in ºC Average Annual Rainfall in mm
Jakarta 30 23 154.6
Bali 32 22 67.5
Yogyakarta 31 25 179.75
Raja Ampat 31 25 166.67

 

Indonesia is one of the world’s seventeen most megadiverse countries. This means that it has a wide variety of flora and fauna with many unique species. It is 2nd only after Brazil.

Indonesia – Attractions by Region

Indonesia is sub-divided into the following regions each of which has their own extraordinary attractions for visitors to enjoy.

  1. Java
  2. Maluku and Papua
  3. Sumatra
  4. Sulawesi
  5. Kalimantan
  6. Bali and Nusa Tenggara

From active volcanoes to lush forests….from culture-packed ancient cities to pristine beaches and coastlines…Indonesia has something to offer for every kind of traveler.

Top 6 Places to See in Java

  1. Yogyakarta: Seat of Indonesian civilisation, famed temple complexes of Borobudur and Prambanan, Keraton Sultan’s Palace, shopping at Malioboro Road
  2. Jakarta: Capital city, National Monument, Istiqlal Mosque, merdeka Square, parks, zoos, museums, galleries, Chinatown
  3. Bandung: largest city in West Java, scenic beauty, weekend getaway from Jakarta, coffee plantations, Royal Palace cliff, Farm House at Lembang
  4. Serang: capital of Banten province, Ujung Kulon National Park, Sawarna  Beach, Karangantu fishing village, Banten Islands
  5. Bromo Tengger National Park: East Java, largest volcanic region in the province, Mt. Sumeru active volcano, Mt. Bromo crater smokes, nature
  6. Surabaya: Modern industrial city, Brantas River, capital of East Java, second most populous city in the country, submarine museum, Madura Island

Jakarta is the Most Instagrammed city in the world

Top 4 Places in Maluku and Papua

  1. Manokwari: White Sand Beach, Bird’s Head Peninsula, Koawi Church – Christian history of Papua, coral reef, snorkelling and swimming
  2. Raja Ampat Islands: Beaches, coral reefs, lush green forests, tropical resort paradise, underwater marine life, tribal culture
  3. Banda Neira: One of ten islands of an archipelago in Maluku province, Myristica trees: nutmeg and mace producers, diving haven, coral reefs
  4. Baliem Valley: Altitude 1600 meters, Baliem River, home to the Dani tribal people, natural beauty, lush green forests

Top 6 Places in Bali and Nussa Tenggara

  1. Kuta: Quintessential holiday town, swimming, sunbathing, beach activities, parties and nightlife, shopping, great seafood
  2. Seminyak: luxury beach destination, 10 kilometers from Denapasar, laid-back sophisticated vibe, upmarket hotels and restaurants
  3. Gunung Agung: Mount Agung is Bali island’s highest point, 3031 meters high, Pura Besakih temple complex, volcanic peak, trekking and hikes
  4. Ubud: Terraced rice farming, Central Bali, cosmopolitan melting pot, Ubud Monkey Forest and the holy spring, Kanto Lampo waterfall
  5. Lombok: West Nussa Tenggara, pristine island, Mt. Rinjani, trekking and volcanic mountain biking, Segara Anak Crater Lake
  6. Komodo Island: Home to Komodo Dragons, Komodo National Park, popular diving sites, pink sand beach

Top 3 Places in Sumatra

  1. Banda Aceh: Westernmost point of Indonesia, hub of industry and education, historical value, Ulee Lheue beach
  2. Medan: Capital of North Sumatra, bustling metropolis, cosmopolitan environment, and amazing food options, Maimoon Palace.
  3. Berastagi: Highland town, altitude results in cool temperatures, view of volcanic peaks, weekend destination from Medan, famous for markets.

Top 4 Places in Kalimantan

  1. Derawan Archipelago: Total of 31 islands in the archipelago. Site for endangered hawksbill turtles and giant green turtles, snorkelling site
  2. Tarakan: Shares border with Malaysia, World War II historical sites, mangroves, museums, orchid gardens, beaches
  3. Balikpapan: Oil mining center, Kemala and Seggara Sari Beach, endangered sun bears, crocodile farm, reserve forests
  4. Singkawang: Strong Chinese influence, Chinese temples, festivals celebrated with pomp, Chinese ceramics, street food fusion style

Top 3 Places in Sulawesi

  1. Kendari: Unique shaped island, handicrafts and arts, eco tourism, diving and snorkelling spots, white sand beaches
  2. Makassar: Capital of South Sulawesi province, cosmopolitan town, Fort Rotterdam, Dutch colonial history, Losari Beach
  3. Manado: Both mountains and beaches coexist, warm local hospitality, natural beauty, unique authentic culture, food and culture

Highlights of Indonesia

Wildlife The stunning equatorial forests of Indonesia are home to a wide variety of wildlife. If you are a nature buff come to the forests of this country to see herds of wild elephants, exotic and colorful birds and amazing creatures like the Komodo dragon. The country has plenty of animals and birds which are considered endangered species like the Giant Green turtles.
Melting Pot of Cultures This archipelago country has many tribes and communities living side by side in harmony. The largest Buddhist temple complex in the world, Borobudur is located here. The country is also home to the largest Islamic population in the world. You can find Hindu mythological references in Balinese dances and Chinese festivals being celebrated with aplomb in Singkawan.
Travel for Every Budget Whether you are a budget traveller heading to Bali or a luxury seeker bound for the Oberoi resort in Seminyak, Indonesia offers an unforgettable experience for everyone. Street food and cheap travel are very do-able in this part of the world. The locals are known for their hospitable nature towards foreigners. Overall, visiting Indonesia does not burn holes in the pocket.
Colonial Heritage Indonesia was a Dutch colony for many years and remnants of this colonial past are evident in many cities and towns. The history buff in you will revel in the museums and galleries of the major towns while the port cities and mining communities have their own stories as well.
Water Sports Combine your love of the sea and your love of activity in multiple places like Bali, Seminyak, Raja Ampat and more. Diving spots and snorkelling havens call out to you in Indonesia. The coral reefs and amazing marine life has enthusiasts coming back again and again to this country. 
Indonesia exports 3000 tons of frogs’ leg to France every year.

Best Time to Visit Indonesia

Unlike most other tourist destinations, Indonesia does not have four seasons. It just has two: the wet season and the dry season. Needless to say, the wet season is not ideal for travelling. Best time to visit this awe-inspiring country is between May to September. Expect to have hot humid weather all through your stay in Indonesia.

Places like Bali, which is possibly the most-visited part of Indonesia, see tourists coming in all year round. Peak season times are between April to October.