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Indonesia Guide & Travel Advice

Getting there

There are no direct flights from the UK to Indonesia but there are a range of connecting flights available. Singapore Airlines via Singapore have excellent timings and connections but Malaysia Airlines and Emirates also have regular flights from to the UK to Indonesia.

Flying times from UK

Depending on where you are travelling, the minimum flight time with a connection from the UK to an Indonesian airport is 14½ hours.

Time zone

Being such a large country, Indonesia is split across three time zones, GMT +7 (Western Indonesian Time including Jakarta), GMT +8 (Central Indonesian Time which includes Bali) and GMT +9 (Eastern Indonesian Time).

Visa requirements

British tourists do not need a visa to visit Indonesia for stays no exceeding 30 days. This requirement can only be met if you enter the country by air to the international airports in Jakarta, Bali, Medan, Surabaya and Batam. For stays over 30 days a pre-arrange visa is required.

Do's and don'ts

Do be wary of no-smoking areas. While these are relatively new, if smoking laws are violated a fine could be issued.

Make sure you carry your passport, or passport copy, with you at all times as this is a legal requirement for all visitors.

Where possible never use your left hand. Etiquette also dictates that you eat with your right hand.

Body language is important in Indonesian culture – never cross your arms when standing or sitting, as this shows aggression and do not point at someone with a single finger as this is considered rude.

A light handshake instigates most greetings whether with a new acquaintance or a life-long friend.

Money

The currency of Indonesia is the Rupiah (RP). It can be easily exchanged in Indonesia especially in the major destinations of Bali, Jakarta and Lombok. Aside from Rupiah, US Dollars are accepted in most destinations – although should really only be used when purchasing high value items. ATMs are common in major cities and most towns but in rural areas they are rare so you will need to carry local currency. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted in most places, especially in cities and popular tourist areas. Outside of these areas credit cards may be harder to use and cash is preferred.

Tipping

Tipping is generally not common in Indonesia. Restaurants may add on a service tax of 10% but this is not a standard rule. Taxis do not expect to be tipped but rounding up the fare is common. A guidelines for tipping your drivers and guides will be advised prior to travel.

Food and drink

With Indonesia being so large there are many different styles of foods available across the country, however, Javanese cuisine is what is usually referred to when discussing Indonesian food. The main staple is rice but soups and noodles are also prominent, with hot chillies, peanuts and sugar the main seasoning ingredients. Most cuisine is Halal, with chicken, beef and fish all common – fish especially if you are close to the coast. Food here is exciting and varied and it is well worth being adventurous with your meal choices.

Holidays, festivals and celebrations

With such diverse cultures and religions across the many Indonesian islands, holidays vary over the country. There are though a few that are celebrated nationally which include New Year on the 1st January and Independence Day on the 17th August. Chinese New Year is a colourful event on some of the islands but, as a predominately Muslim country, Ramadan is the most important with restaurants closed during the day. Usually observed during the summer months, dates for all Muslim holidays are timed to coincide with the various phases of the moon.

Shopping

Indonesia is fantastic for shopping with shops, markets and bazaars selling a range of handicrafts and knick-knacks. There is wide range of clothing available – many of the UK brands can be found here – whilst paintings, silk work, local textiles, batik cloth, bamboo items and dried spices are popular gifts. In Indonesia, Sunday is generally the busiest shopping day.

Suggested reading

The main guidebooks, Lonely Planet, Footprint and Rough Guides offer comprehensive Indonesia travel advice and a good overview on the country. If you want something that explores Indonesian history ‘A History of Modern Indonesia’, by Adrian Vickers is an excellent companion as is ‘Indonesia: Peoples and Histories’, by Jean Gelman Taylor and ‘Indonesia: Exploring the Improbable Nation’, by Elizabeth Pisani. For fiction read the brilliant ‘This Earth of Mankind’ by Pramoedya Ananta Toer and its sequels.

Health

Your doctor is the best person to advise you on staying healthy whilst abroad but current recommended vaccinations for Indonesia are Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus and Diphtheria. Yellow Fever is compulsory, but only if you have visited an affected Yellow Fever area within 5 days prior to your arrival. In some instances anti-malarial tablets may also be needed. For current information on health advice you may wish to visit the Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad (MASTA) Web Site on www.masta.org.  The NHS ‘Fit for Travel’ website (www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk) is also a useful resource.

Travel advice

For current information on Indonesia the best resource is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) which is a comprehensive resource and updated regularly. We would also recommend visiting the Safer Tourism Foundation website (https://safertourism.org.uk/) before you travel and will be happy to address any questions or concerns you may have.

Indonesia Holiday Ideas

Borneo and Burma Holiday Review

“All the arrangements in both Borneo and Myanmar worked very well - everyone was on time and even the flights in Myanmar were almost on schedule.
 
All in all a very enjoyable trip but as I'm sure you are telling your clients the sooner they get to Myanmar the better before it is overrun with tourists.”

PD - Borneo and Burma - November 2015

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