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Indonesia travel: from white beaches to green jungle
Indonesia is one of the most varied destinations in Asia. Every island is completely different. On Sumatra you will find dense jungle, wild animals and ancient cultures. During your Bali vacation, you will discover Hindu temples and walk through green rice fields. On Sulawesi you get acquainted with the traditional Toraja people and on Flores you hike up volcanoes to find coloured crater lakes. An Indonesia travel experience has something special to offer every traveller, whether you are a real adventurer or prefer more comfort.
An Indonesia travel adventure
Relax on the Gili Islands
Are you mainly looking for peace and quiet during your Indonesia travel experience? Then head to the beautiful island of Gili Meno between Bali and Lombok. Here you will find white sand beaches, small-scale hotels and beautiful snorkel spots. If you have always wanted to watch sea turtles, this is your chance.
Sights in Sumatra
Do you dream of seeing orangutans in the wild? Are you fond of walking through dense jungle? And are you looking for peace and nature? Then a trip to Sumatra is a must during your Indonesia travel adventure. On this special island you will find the most beautiful nature parks as well as lots to experience in terms of culture. You can visit traditional villages here, for example on the beautiful island of Samosir in Lake Toba.
Bali with children
Do you want to make a trip to Bali with children? No problem! Children are more than welcome throughout Indonesia. Enjoy the beaches on the south coast of Bali, go cycling in the green countryside and take a walk through the rice fields at Ubud or Sidemen. Are you more adventurous, then you can go rafting or swimming at the waterfalls around Munduk. Looking for a child-friendly hotel in Bali? Our local travel specialist in Indonesia, Emile, knows the most hospitable small-scale accommodations for your ideal Indonesia travel experience.
Do you also want to get to know less frequented islands? Take a look at Flores. This beautiful island is perfect for both culture and nature lovers. You can visit traditional villages around Bajawa, hike to ‘the lost village’ Wae Rebo, marvel at impressive volcanoes, and at the end of your trip go searching for the infamous Komodo dragons in the Komodo National Park. Our local travel expert Emile is happy to help you to put together a tailor-made Indonesia travel experience.
Travel around Sulawesi
Sulawesi is one of the most special islands of Indonesia. In the south is Tana Toraja, where the traditional Torajas live. Their whole life revolves around funerals and their funeral rites are unique. With a bit of luck you can attend one of these ceremonies yourself. South Sulawesi also has vast mountains, rice terraces and beautiful beaches. Around the laid-back village of Bira you can find excellent snorkelling spots. Are you a diving enthusiast? Then travel to Bunaken in North Sulawesi, one of the most beautiful diving sites of Asia. A great ending to your Indonesia travel adventure!
Maluku Islands: off the beaten track
Have you seen much of Indonesia already and are you looking for a new travel adventure within the Indonesian archipelago? Then take a look at a trip to the Maluku Islands, also called Moluccas. This remote island group in Indonesia is a must for lovers of island hopping, nature, diving and colonial history. Choose a tour to Ambon, Saparua, Sawai and Amehai and discover old forts, markets full of herbs and spices and traditional villages. A must for those who want to get to know Indonesia even better.
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Know Before you Go
General Information and Insider Tips
Residents of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand do not need a visa for travel to Indonesia of 30 days or less. This “visa exemption” cannot be extended or adjusted. If you plan to stay longer, there are two different methods.
You can apply for a visa-on-arrival which is valid for 30 days and can be extended at the immigration office for an additional 30 days. The fee is $35USD. You can also apply for a visa in advance at your nearest consulate, which will grant a visa for 60 days. This one can be extended up to five times for 30 days each and costs $50. For other countries, check visa requirements here.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months prior to arrival in Indonesia. It is your own responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of valid and correct travel documentation.
Insider Tip: Unless you need to extend your trip beyond 30 days, traveling visa free with Indonesia’s visa exemption program is the cheapest, easiest option. .
There are no particular requirements for Indonesia, but make sure all routine vaccinations are up to date (MMR, polio, tetanus, etc.). Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended, and Zika is currently a risk. Check the latest information about Zika warnings. We recommend all vaccines be completed at least six weeks prior to travel.
If traveling from a country that has yellow fever, you will be required to show proof of yellow fever vaccination.
Tap water in Indonesia is NOT safe to drink. If using your refillable Dopper bottle, we recommend combining with a Steripen.
The safety of our clients is of the utmost importance to us, and our local experts are always well-informed about the current situation in Madagascar. For up-to-date information about safety, security and travel warnings, please refer to the US State Department, UK Foreign Travel Advice, or your local government resource.
Insider Tip: Indonesia has a zero-tolerance policy on drugs.
Most sockets use the European two-pronged round (Type C) or three-pronged (Type F). Occasionally 110V outlets can be found. Because power cuts aren’t uncommon, it is advisable to bring a flashlight/torch.
At Better Places Travel, you book your own international flights. Your travel expert will gladly advise you on the best option. Read here for more information and tips.
When to go
Close to the equator, Indonesia has a tropical climate with a dry season (April-October) and a wet season (November-March). Traveling between islands during the monsoon can be difficult.
Peak travel season is June-August and again during Christmas and New Year. Rooms book up far in advance and prices are at their highest. May and September are pleasant months without the bigger crowds.
The national language is Indonesian. Here are some useful words to learn:
Hello = Halo
Goodbye = Selamat tinggal (S’LAH-maht TING-gahl)
Please = Silakan (suh-LAH-kann)
Thank you = Terima kasih (Tuh-REE-mah KAH-see)
Excuse me = Maaf (mah-AHF)
Yes = Ya (EEYAH)
No = Tidak (TEE-dah)
Insider Tip: Indonesian and Malaysian are very closely related, but Balinese is completely different and much more difficult. Almost everyone in Bali also speaks Indonesian and many speak some level of English—more so in popular tourist areas.
Indonesia is comprised of more than 16,000 UN-recognized islands with a mix of jungles, beaches, wildlife, religious temples and more. The island nation has more Muslims than any other country in the world, although Bali is predominantly Hindu. Saving face and avoiding shame is important for Indonesians, and any attempt at embarrassment through shouting or ridiculing is considered rude. When visiting temples, shoulders and knees must be covered. A shawl or scarf is handy for a woman to throw over her shoulders.
Insider Tip: In Bali it is very common to name children by their birth order, so there is a large number of men and women named Wayan (first born), Made (second born), Nyoman (third born), and Ketut (fourth born).
The local currency is Indonesian Rupiah (RP)
Indonesia is cash-dominant, so always make sure you have rupiah on-hand. Getting change for larger bills can sometimes be a challenge (especially for small purchases), so keep a stash of smaller bills (Rp20,000 and lower). Break larger ones at high-end shops and restaurants or exchange at the bank.
ATMs are accessible in large cities, but may be harder to find in smaller towns. Make sure you withdraw ample cash if traveling to remote areas. Credit cards (mostly Visa and MasterCard) are accepted at higher-end hotels, restaurants and shops, but not much outside larger cities. Sometimes a service charge is levied for credit card purchases, so ask in advance.
Insider Tip: Prices are sometimes quoted in US dollars, but cash payment is expected in rupiah.
- Restaurants – If a service charge is not added to your bill, leaving 10% is standard.
- Cabs – No tipping, but you can round up the change if you want.
- Hotels – Service charges are added to hotel bills, so tipping isn’t expected, but handing a small tip to porters and housekeepers would be much appreciated.
Insider Tip: Tipping is more expected in Bali than elsewhere in Indonesia.
Because the climate is hot and humid year-round, loose, lightweight clothes are best. Although religion is prevalent, views toward clothing aren’t as conservative as one might expect, and you will likely see a wide range of styles. Shorts and t-shirts are generally acceptable, but you will need to cover yourself when visiting temples. Swimsuits are perfectly acceptable on the beach, but when walking around, it’s best to wear a shirt or cover-up.
- Comfortable walking shoes, especially for jungle and volcano treks
- Sandals or flip flips for beaches
- Umbrella or lightweight rain jacket—it can still rain in the dry season
- Mosquito repellant
- Sunglasses and hat
- Swimsuit and cover-up
- Scarf or wrap (women) for throwing over bare shoulders
- Light sweater or jacket for evenings
- Simple medical kit with over-the-counter drugs and first aid (including anti-diarrheal and stomach meds for potential food contamination)
- Hand sanitizer or wet wipes
- All prescriptions in their original marked packaging
- Flashlight/torch for possible power outages
- Tissues in case toilet paper is unavailable
Insider Tip: Beautifully colorful sarongs can be purchased in many beach areas. They can be used as cover-ups at the beach or tied around your waste at temples, and make great take-home souvenirs.