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Key information before discovering Indonesia

Follow this practical guide to Indonesia to help you prepare for your trip! You will find in this section all the important elements and information you should know about Indonesia, before leaving on your trip.

The formalities

Free Visa for more than 160 countries, this includes a free entry, a 30-day visa exemption applies and this means no entry visa is required for stays of up to 30 days. The possibility of entry into Indonesia is limited, to certain points of entry (see the list of points of entry in Indonesia).  It is mandatory that the expiry date of your passport is at least 6 months from the date of entry into Indonesia. You will also be required to present a return or exit ticket from Indonesia upon arrival.

Foreigners can also apply for visa on arrival (VOA). This is if their nationality is included in the 68 visas on arrival countries list. A holder of Visa on arrival is given a 30 days stay in the country. It can be extended for another 30 days (without the need to leave the country, one time), hence you can visit Indonesia for a total of 60 days. This is not recommended. It will cost you 35 USD for a 30-day visa and for once again for renewable for an additional 30 days, provided you have a passport with minimum 6 months validity, return tickets and at least one free page in your passport. We recommend that you have the extra amount with you (in US dollars) to avoid unfavorable exchange rates or the currency not being returned to you.

Click on this link:
Official Indonesian immigration:


The main airports serving Indonesia internationally are Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta Airport on the island of Java and Denpasar Airport in Bali.
From USA, there are no direct flights to Indonesia. You will have to take one of the many flights with stopover(s). To go to Bali or Java, you will need to count between 16 and 18 hours of flight time.
You should be aware that many airlines serve Indonesia. Here are some of them (this list is not exhaustive):
Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Turkish airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways

Time Difference

In Indonesia, there are 3 time zones:
Sumatra, Java and West and Central Kalimantan, the time zone is GMT+7. 5 hours ahead in summer and 6 hours ahead in winter over Western Europe (France, Belgium, Switzerland...).
In Bali, Nusa Tengara, East and South Kalimantan and Sulawesi, the time zone is GMT+8: 6 hours ahead in summer and 7 hours in winter.
The last time zone is Irian Jaya and the Moluccas (GMT+9): 7 hours ahead in summer and 8 hours in winter.

Weather and geography

In Indonesia, temperatures remain summery all year round, between 25°C (77°F) and 32°C (90°F). Especially in Bali where the tropical climate is pleasant all year round. This is one of the reasons for its international success as a tourist destination.
Similar to other Asian countries, there is a dry season and a rainy season in Indonesia. The dry season is from April to October, the weather is drier, cooler, and there is very little rain. The monsoon season arrives between November and March; the weather is much wetter and often cloudy with regular thunderstorms. The sun also makes some appearances but you are not safe from a rain shower (often at night or in the late afternoon).
In Indonesia, the sun rises around 6 am and sets at 6 pm, all year round.


Indonesia is an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, making it the largest archipelago in the world.  Its capital is Jakarta on the island of Java. The other main cities are Surabaya, Bandung, Medan, Palembang, Makassar and Semarang.
This island state covers an area of 1,905,000 km (735,400 mi²), between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is a very strategic place for international trade located between continental Asia and Australia.

​​​Population and languages

The Indonesian archipelago is the 4th most populated country in the world with 268 million inhabitants of which 145 million in Java and 4 million in Bali. Its density is 140 inhabitants per km². But there are very strong disparities in the archipelago: 1130 inhabitants per km² in Java against 10 inhabitants per km² in Papua for example.

The official language is Indonesian. It is called Bahasa Indonesia, and is very close to Malaysian. It is a much easier language to learn than most Asian languages. Although most Indonesians use this language, there are many other languages: more than 250 regional languages and dialects spoken in Indonesia. Social status plays a big part in all the dialects you may encounter during your visit to Indonesia. For example, the Balinese, Javanese or Toraja have their own dialect but almost all of them can speak Bahasa and in tourist areas, English is spoken fluently. 


Here are some expressions of Bahasa Indonesia:
yes: ya
no: tidak
thank you: terima kasih
please: kembali
hello (until 11am) : selamat pagi
good evening: selamat malam
how are you? apa kabar?
my name is... : nama saya...
I just... saya dari...
toilets: kamar kecil/WC (pronounced "way say")
how much does this cost? berapa harga?



Islam is the dominant religion in Indonesia. It is indeed the largest Muslim country in the world, but with different distributions among the islands. On the island of Bali, for example, the vast majority of the inhabitants are Hindu, with an animist practice. In Java, the population is mainly Muslim.

Here is the distribution of religions in Indonesia: Muslim 87.18%, Protestant 6.96%, Catholic 2.91%, Hindu 1.69%; Buddhist 0.72%, Other 0.56%.

When to go ?

The most interesting periods to conquer Indonesia or Bali are between April and October during the dry and cool season.

Bali is a pleasant city with very summery temperatures in July-August around 25°C (77°F) at night and 30°C (86°F) during the day. In order to stay in luxury places for cheap, it is advisable to book your flight, guide or hotel months in advance in order to benefit from more attractive rates.

For those who prefer to avoid the crowds and stay quiet on holiday by the sea or by the swimming pool of your hotel, the period from November to March remains ideal. Just note that the sun will be a little uncertain but the climate will still remain warm and pleasant. As you will have understood, the best time to go to Indonesia and enjoy the sun is the summer between July and August.

Money and Electricity

The national currency in Indonesia is called Rupiah (IDR) and consists of various coins of 100 / 200 and 500 as well as banknotes of 1000 / 5000 / 10 000 / 20 000 / 50 000 or 100 000 Rupiah.

You can have your currency changed into Dollars or Euros at any time because in tourist places you can find this service without commission. It is preferable to come with USD on you anyway so that you don't run out of them if you want to make personal expenses. Please note however that traveller’s cheques are more and more accepted in large shops but the rate is less favorable to exchange.
It is also possible to withdraw cash from ATMs with a MasterCard, Visa or credit card. Commissions vary according to the points of withdrawal. You should also be aware that merchandising is common in Indonesia.

Indonesia standard electricity supply is usually 220 volts electricity and even Bali is taking full advantage of it. The power plugs and sockets are type C and F. The standard voltage is 230 volts. It is advised that you travel with a universal adaptor. The electricity cuts sometimes during heavy rainfall, but rarely, and the network works at its maximum.
Note that if you wish to venture out in the evening on trails, the lighting is low and you will need a flashlight to go for a walk.

​Traditions and customs

If Indonesians respect the travellers who visit their archipelago, it must be the same for you. You must fully respect their behavior and customs.
For example, never hold out your left hand to greet someone. It is considered unclean. On the other hand, use both hands as a sign of peace when you give something to an elder or other person to respect them. In general, the left hand should not be used to eat, receive or give anything.


Also avoid placing your hands on your hips as this represents an act of anger, contempt or aggression, it is a fighting position.

Be careful to have acceptable and non-vulgar dress, especially in sacred places such as temples (no cleavage, bare shoulders and skirts for women, no shorts for men).  Remain humble and be respectful at all levels. The inhabitants will be very grateful to you.


In order not to disrespect the Indonesians, it is important to answer their various questions even if for you, it remains discreet. For them it is a sign of politeness and interest towards you that you must once again respect such as for example:


Dari mana (where are you from)
Sudah kawin (are you married)
Mau kemana (where are you going)
If you in turn wish to show your sympathy, you can ask the same questions. They will be happy to answer you.


Don't be afraid during your first stay, if the locals touch you or even stare at you because it is a sign of friendship.

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