Dry Season: Indonesia is a vast country with over 17,000 islands in existence. The country's massive size contributes to the many climate zones that can vary depending on the region you’re visiting. Peak season is generally May - September, when tourists flock to popular destinations like Bali, Java, Lombok, and Komodo Island. During these months, the climate is typically hot and dry, with very little rainfall. The temperatures during this season can get up to 30° degrees Celsius (86° Fahrenheit), and typically cools down to a more comfortable 25° Celsius (75° Fahrenheit) as the day passes. When tourism is at its peak, visitors can expect prices to also go up due to the increased demand for travel. Booking accommodations and flights in advance is crucial to secure the best deals when traveling to Indonesia. In recent years, tropical storms and occasional showers have become the norm, even when the weather is expected to be sunny. However, don’t get discouraged, as the rainfall generally lasts no more than a few hours regardless of the season. For this reason, a growing number of travelers are choosing to visit Indonesia during the rainy season, as prices are lower and local beaches and attractions are way less crowded.
Rainy Season: The weather in Indonesia is not separated into fall, autumn, winter, or summer, instead it classifies its seasons as dry and rainy. The latter typically starts in November and goes into March, where you can expect sporadic and heavy rainfall that, luckily, doesn't last long. This allows space for a pleasant experience to be had if one goes in with the right expectations. Since temperatures are still high and the weather conditions can change rapidly, there are plenty of opportunities for sightseeing, excursions, and day trips around the Indonesian archipelagos during this season. The northern parts of the country generally experience less rain, making an expedition here an ideal choice for those seeking the maximum amount of sunshine. Prices during this season are much more affordable, which is an appealing factor for travelers with a budget. A con with the winter season is that the water visibility can be low in some locations. Another drawback of this season is the strong ocean currents that, at times, bring sizable amounts of trash to the Indonesian shores. This is mostly the case for the area around Java as well as islands like Bali, which have been struggling with this problem for years.
Visa Process In recent years, the visa process has changed frequently, especially after years of the borders closing and reopening due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In early 2022, Indonesia officially lifted its entry restrictions to international tourism. That being said, there are still factors to keep in mind before traveling to Indonesia. For most international travelers, Indonesia requires that your passport be valid for more than six months before its expiration date; it’s also recommended to have 1-2 blank pages in your passport in order to get through customs with no fuss. Travelers will be required to provide proof of an onward ticket out of the country which needs to be booked prior to arrival. Another requirement as of August 2022 is that all incoming tourists have travel insurance in order to pass customs. Agencies such as SafetyWings is a good platform for securing affordable and reliable travel insurance in case of an emergency. There are several visas to choose from depending on your country’s origin.
Citizens from certain countries are able to come to Indonesia without a visa and stay for 30 days before having to depart. The majority of passport holders will need to apply for a visa on arrival (VoA), which can be obtained at the airport and is priced at approximately $30 USD per person. This can be extended only once for a total duration of 60 days, after which, visitors will need to leave Indonesia and reapply should they wish to stay in this beautiful country any longer. Those seeking an extended trip to Bali have the option to apply for a social visa (often called a business visa) which is valid for 60 days and can be extendable twice. It is possible for those seeking a more permanent residency in Bali, however, one should visit the embassy website to clarify any specific requirements for your country of origin. The process is best tackled with the help of a professional visa agent who will be able to guide you. You can contact visa agencies such as Bali Zero or Bali Solve for professional advice and assistance before your travels.
Currency: The official currency of Indonesia is called Rupiah. The conversion rate is approximately $1 USD to 15,000 IDR. The majority of local stores, restaurants, and bars in Indonesia only accept cash payments, making it essential to carry a sufficient amount of rupiah with you at all times. Tourist islands like Bali have begun to accept debit and credit card payments; however, to be on the safe side, cash is still king in this country. When obtaining cash from ATMs in Indonesia, it’s best to seek major banks such as Mandiri, BNI, or Bank Negara as they are safer to use and less likely to involve hidden fees or scams. Always save your receipts when withdrawing cash in case there are any issues during your trip. Generally, one should stay away from exchanging foreign currencies in local shops to avoid inflated fees or unfavorable exchange rates. Airports in Indonesia generally have trustworthy ATMs where you are able to receive Rupiah on arrival before heading to your desired location. Tipping in this country is not expected but appreciated. The smallest amounts really do result in the biggest smiles.
Captured by: Skylar Talley
Music by: Cinematic Orchestra - To Build A Home
Accommodation: Indonesia is known for its eccentric variety of accommodations, making this country a suitable travel destination for those hoping to find a cost-friendly, social, or luxurious housing experience. Rooms are best located on booking platforms such as Agoda.com, Expedia.com, HostelWorld, Booking.com, and Airbnb, which boasts an impressive catalog of upscale villas or tropical homestays offered by local families. Budget travelers will also appreciate Indonesia’s choice of hostels, where prices for a dorm bed can be as low as US$3 a night. Double rooms in some guesthouses can be priced closer to US$15 per night, and for around $30 USD, one can enjoy a stay at a beachfront hotel with a pool and complimentary breakfast. Bali has seen a steep price increase as it is one of Indonesia's most sought islands. Accommodation in Bali can range from $3 to US$150+ per night, depending on what you’re wanting to experience. In this case, it’s encouraged to book your accommodation, itinerary, and transportation as far in advance as possible, especially when visiting during the high season.
Captured by: Manuel Gussmann
Music by: Low Sonar - Dust & Drop
Transportation: in the country of Indonesia comes in many varieties, as the options of planes, mopeds, ferries, and ride-share apps are easily accessible in helping people reach their next destination. If you’re traveling between major cities such as Jakarta, Yogyakarta, or Denpasar it’s most convenient to fly with an affordable airline like Air Asia, Batik Air, or Wings Air where tickets can be bought for less than $10 USD if purchased in the right season. Moped riding is the most common way to discover Indonesia, especially when exploring islands like Bali, where rental options are at every corner for just a few dollars a day. The train system in some regions like Java provides easily accessible and scenic routes that won’t break the bank. Imagine passing by towering volcanoes and tiny villages as you recline in comfortable seats, enjoying some delicious Indonesian cuisine along the ride. Those with a local sim card from a reputable cell phone provider are also able to utilize the popular ridesharing app such as Gojek, Grab, or Klook, which is similar to how Uber operates and is a low-cost alternative for getting around cities and other touristic areas.
Making Friends: Solo travelers will be glad to hear that Indonesia is one of the meccas in South East Asia for meeting other international travelers, digital nomads, and backpackers. People come from all over the world to explore and experience this multi-faceted country. Paradise destinations like Bali, Nusa & Gili Islands are among the most sought-after, where making friends in these locations is almost second nature. A good vantage point for comradery in Indonesia is joining Facebook groups like Backpackers Indonesia, Bali Travel Community, and the Bali Travel Forum. These avenues present recommendations for great places to eat, and explore and offer excellent opportunities to meet other like-minded travelers. On platforms like these, visitors entering Indonesia or planning their upcoming trip into the country will frequently post their interest in search of potential travel buddies, and new friends, or to meet up with groups of explorers to share accommodations and experiences with during their trip. If you’re more of a shy individual and find discomfort in putting yourself out there, consider joining courses where everyone starts off “new”. Activities such as cooking classes, surf lessons, or language exchanges are great options to start off, where you’ll encounter both friendly locals as well as open-minded international nomads, coming from all walks of life. Indonesia is a multi-cultural melting pot with its different dialects, religions, and landscapes; where you are almost guaranteed to find like-minded people to create memories with.
Cellphone Providers: Having an unlocked phone with a local sim card is a must when maneuvering the country of Indonesia. You’ll find this especially convenient when it comes to communicating with loved ones back home as well as navigating public transport, utilizing rideshare apps, or researching your upcoming excursions. Luckily, data plans are relatively cheap in Indonesia, costing as little as 80,000 IDR or 5-6 USD for 7GB. First-time Indonesia visitors should avoid purchasing a sim card at the airport, where prices are generally placed at a premium. Head over to a local phone shop or convenience store where you’ll be aided by a friendly local who can recommend the best sim card to use as well as assist you with installation. Telkomsel and XL is widely considered to be the best network provider in Indonesia, with great reception in many of the country's regions. “IM3 and SmartFren” are also credible options to be considered. As of 2018, all sim cards need to be registered with a passport number, and although this rule is not consistently enforced, you might be asked to present your ID (or a picture of it) when obtaining cell phone service.
Plug Adapters: in Indonesia are Euro plug type C, and for most European travelers you will not need to purchase an adapter. Should you be visiting multiple locations in Asia, it’s encouraged to purchase a multi-use adapter that can convert to different socket types & outlet voltages. Some places may provide inbuilt USB ports, which are especially useful for anyone traveling with several electrical plugs. Be mindful of the voltage you are using which might not be the same as what you are used to in your own home country and could cause damage to your devices. Should you forget to purchase an adapter before arriving in Indonesia, there is always the option of buying one from a local shop which will likely be well-stocked on any items a visitor may need.
Do's & Dont's
Respect Culture: Indonesia is a diverse country, where cultures and traditions differ depending on the region you’re exploring. While the majority of the country is predominantly Muslim, some islands, such as Bali, have their own Balinese practices which are significantly different from the rest of Indonesia. Visitors should always make it a point to educate themselves on the customs and traditions of the area they’re exploring prior to arrival. It is worth researching holidays that take place during your travels to be informed on current events in case the hours of local businesses are affected. Educating yourself about the traditions will make a considerable difference or your time here in Indonesia. In doing so, this could also present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience an authentic and unbiased part of this beautiful country, its inhabitants, and their day-to-day lifestyle.
No Shoes In Homes
No Shoes In Homes: When visiting Indonesia, you will commonly notice a row of shoes lined up in front of small shops and outside of locals' homes. Wearing shoes inside the house is considered a big no-no for many Indonesian families. This custom is placed in an effort to keep local homes clean from mud, dirt, and other unwanted residues from the outside world. On rainy days some shops may especially encourage this, to avoid mud tracking into their establishment. While this might take some getting used to, you’ll soon find yourself in the habit of taking your shoes off before entering a home or business. A good tell sign to determine whether you should be taking off your shoes is to keep an eye out for pairs of slippers and other footwear gathered by the entrance door. Should you spend time with a local family in Indonesia, it’s important to follow their example as a sign of respect and support for their traditions and livelihood.
Strict Drug Laws
Drug Laws: Indonesia is notorious for its unforgiving drug laws, where harsh punishments have been given to any who breaks them. In some cases, international travelers have received lengthy prison sentences, forced rehabilitation, or in extreme cases, capital punishment! Substances that are legal in many countries like weed can still lead to severe prison time. Parts of Indonesia, such as the island of Bali and specifically the Kuta region, are known for it's heavy nightlife scene, where the use of drugs is a commonality. Along the beach, it’s not unusual to be offered drugs by local vendors, hoping to strike a deal with uninformed tourists. It goes without saying that purchasing illegal substances is never advisable, especially in a country as narcotic restrictive as Indonesia. It’s highly encouraged to not take any risks and abide by local laws at all times to ensure a safe and uninterrupted visit while exploring this fascinating country.
Watch What You Drink: Tap water in Indonesia is generally not safe to drink, especially in rural areas or on small islands. Toward the beginning of your trip, you should consider brushing your teeth with bottled water to avoid possible contamination and giving your immune and digestive systems plenty of time to get acclimated to the new pathogens and bacteria. In addition to utilizing bottled water, mindfulness should also be taken when consuming all types of beverages, especially alcohol. Although uncommon, some local unlicensed producers contaminate their alcoholic drinks with methanol which can be highly poisonous to the human body, oftentimes causing blindness, seizures, or worse. This is not to say alcohol in Indonesia is dangerous; it's only to emphasize that when enjoying the nightlife in this country, make sure only to consume freshly opened beverages such as brand-name beers, seltzers, or pre-mixed drinks. Ordering cocktails at reputable bars and establishments is also a good way to avoid the consumption of anything unwanted, which will protect you from not only potential low-quality alcohol but also stomach problems or illnesses.
Bali Belly: Is a common occurrence for those who visit this popular tourist destination. While it’s perfectly safe to eat local foods in most scenarios, one should do so with mindfulness, avoiding raw, unwashed vegetables, homemade ice cubes, or raw meat. Instead, prioritize cooked food or meals from restaurants with good ratings and a stable customer base. Should you still fall ill with a case of Bali Belly, it’s best to head to the pharmacy, where you’ll be supplied with the necessary medication as well as electrolytes to rehydrate your system and speed up your recovery process. It can also be helpful to come prepared and purchase medication at home before departing to Indonesia, saving you from a trip to a local doctor should you have symptoms. Usually, digestive issues rarely last more than a few days, during which eating easy-to-digest foods such as rice and saltines accompanied by lots of water is recommended.
Captured by: Victoria Heinz
Wear Helmets: Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, often coming down to inexperienced drivers, bad visibility, or confusing traffic situations. To avoid injury, wearing a helmet is essential when driving a scooter or motorcycle in Indonesia, even when going at slow speeds or short distances. Those staying in Indonesia for longer periods of time should consider buying their own helmet as those provided by rental companies are often ill-fitting or low quality. Remember that when caught without a helmet on, drivers and their passengers might face hefty fines, in addition to risking their own safety.
Crazy Traffic: As the world’s fourth most populated country, Indonesia has no shortage of busy streets. Mopeds, tuk-tuks, cars, and buses all attempt to share narrow roads that are generally not in the most ideal condition. In most cases, for those who are not comfortable, it’s advisable to leave the driving to the locals who have considerably more experience. In recent years, more and more tourists have been renting scooters on islands like Lombok, Bali, or Nusa Penida, which can be a fun way to explore destinations independently while putting safety first. Make sure to research whether you need an international driver’s permit to be able to rent a bike in Indonesia. If you’ve never operated a motorcycle before, it’s not advisable to do so in Asia for the first time. Driving under the influence or without a helmet is, of course, strictly forbidden and should be avoided at all costs.
Captured by: Sophie Buckard
Bargaining: in Indonesia is almost a guaranteed experience for all those visiting this captivating country. Whether it's negotiating prices for souvenirs, outdoor excursions, or taxi transportation, one should always know how to read a situation well enough to know when there’s an opportunity for bargaining. This ideology is important to avoid overpaying for a service, especially in touristy areas like Kuta, Seminyak, or Ubud. Some exceptions to bargaining are establishments like grocery stores, fashion boutiques, or restaurants that generally have fixed prices that cannot be altered. Be confident when negotiating; however, be reasonable and respectful by not putting too much pressure on local vendors who might struggle to make a profit and depend on sales to make a living for themselves and their families. Always compare prices of different shops to determine what the average value for a product or service should be before determining if the price can be lowered.
Captured by: Sophie Buckard
Stray Animals inhabit many areas in Indonesia. Visitors will come to find stray dogs roaming the streets very common. These dogs are often fed by restaurants and families, conditioning them to linger around certain areas in expectation of food. While this is part of normal life for many locals, it can be shocking for tourists to see the living conditions of these animals. There are animal rights organizations that have made it their goal to tackle this problem, but progress is often slow due to a lack of funds or volunteers here in Indonesia. As a visitor, it’s highly advised to avoid touching any stray dogs and to keep one’s distance should one act aggressive or territorial when you’re around. Those wanting to help out with the long overdue issue can donate to a number of credible organizations such as BAWA, the Bali Dog Association, and Bali Paws. Some may even consider adopting/fostering an animal in need if you’re in the country for an extended period and are responsible enough to do so. Should you be bitten by a stray dog or monkey in Indonesia, immediately seek medical attention from a doctor or medical center to treat the wound and potentially receive a rabies vaccination which needs to be administered asap following the incident.
Vaccinations: All visitors coming to Indonesia should double-check that they have their vaccination shots up-to-date for common illnesses, of course, including covid-19 shots, which is essential to avoid mandatory quarantine. Consult with your doctor a few months before your travel to determine which vaccines you need and how much time is required to be administered them. Should you be missing one on arrival, there is a possibility of obtaining it locally from a modern hospital in larger cities such as Jakarta or Denpasar. Illnesses like Dengue Fever, the Zika Virus, or Hepatitis are also in existence but not nearly as common and shouldn’t cause much concern. Still, visitors should come prepared and cover themselves with reliable health insurance before their trip.
Travel Insurance: Purchasing travel insurance prior to arriving in Indonesia is essential for those seeking to maximize peace of mind during their trip. Look into companies like Safety Wing or World Nomads, which are ideal for those who travel frequently. In case of any emergency, it’s best to avoid even the smallest possibility of an expensive medical fee. Insurance doesn’t necessarily have to be pricey, especially for less lengthy trips. Some travel insurance agencies have add-on features such as coverage for delayed/canceled flights, compensation for lost or damaged baggage, or even refunds for stolen valuables. The travel insurance plans that are feasible will depend on your country of origin, and what policy best suits you and your needs. Most plans have small monthly payments and are generally sufficient to guarantee coverage for travelers. It’s best to secure insurance when traveling to countries like Indonesia, guaranteeing you and your travel companions are protected, and at ease while making the most of your trip in this country.
Captured by: Aldila Putri
Captured by: Aldila Putri & Max Pater