Indonesia is a must-see and perfect for a long weekend. Popular destinations include Bali, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Lombok, Aceh and Bintan. The eight World Heritage Sites include the Borobudur temple, Komodo National Park and Sumatra’s rainforests.
Before you head off do a bit of research and learn the do’s and don’ts from various sources, read this to help you plan your trip!
Population: 270 million
Religion: Predominantly Muslim, but Hinduism is dominant in Bali
Emergency number: 112 (standard GSM number)
• Indonesia is made up of 17,508 islands. Only about 6,000 of these islands are inhabited by people.
• Indonesia is one of the largest producers of nutmeg in the world.
• Krakatoa’s 1883 eruption may have been the most destructive in modern history, but the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa was the largest.
• Indonesia is home to the Komodo Dragon, the largest living species of lizard, growing to a length of three metres.
• There are over 700 indigenous languages.
• The word “java” has become slang for coffee, on account of the coffee beans grown on the island of the same name.
The key dates
Eid al-Fitr (referred to as Lebaran or Idul Fitri in Indonesia) – the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting and prayer. Celebrations include breakfast, brunch or lunch dishes of rendang (spicy beef), ketupat (rice dumpling), opor ayam (chicken and coconut) and more, along with snacks of peanuts, biscuits, kue and other sweets. Dates vary each year.
How to stay healthy
• Malaria and dengue fever exist in many parts of the country, so therefore use adequate protection and keep antimalarial medicine on you.
• Avoid swimming in freshwater streams and lakes as disease-causing organisms can be present.
• Unlabelled bottles of the locally distilled rice spirit called arak are best avoided because of dangerous additives sometimes used in the production process.
While you’re there, please don’t…
• Climb over monuments or places of worship; it’s highly disrespectful.
• Talking with your hand on your hip, it’s seen as impolite.
Before you go, read …
- This Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer – a love story that takes place at the end of the Dutch colonial period
- Flight 714 by Hergé – Snowy and Tintin’s 22nd adventure sees them snarled up in a kidnap plot taking place in Indonesia. Read it to your children, or yourself.
Before you go, watch …
- Laskar Pelangi (“The Rainbow Troops”) – tells the story of 10 school children and their two teachers on a Sumatran tin mining island
- The Year of Living Dangerously – Mel Gibson plays a rookie Australian journalist who gets caught up in the Indonesian civil war in 1965.
They said it
“Bali is one of the few cultures with origins in one of the great ancient cultures which is still alive.” Arthur Erickson, architect
“Long live my land, long live my state My nation, my people, entirely Let us build its soul, let us build its body For the Great Indonesia” – First stanza of Indonesia’s national anthem
“The firm tree does not fear the storm.” – Indonesian proverb
Do I need a visa?
There have been changes to Indonesia’s visa policy in the past few years. Currently, the passport holders of 169 jurisdictions do not need a visa to enter Indonesia: these include Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, the US, India and the UK. Nationals of 68 other countries can apply for a visa on arrival (30 days, US$35).
How long will it take me to get there?
2 hours (Jakarta) or 2.5 hours (Bali) flying time from Singapore. Indonesia is between 7 and 9 hours ahead of GMT.
What’s the money situation?
The official currency of Indonesia is the Indonesia rupiah (Rp). MasterCard and Visa are the most widely accepted credit cards and ATMs are common throughout the country.
When’s the best time to visit?
While the weather is warm year-round, rainfall is very common from November to March. May to September is generally considered the driest time, but parts in the north receive rain throughout the year.
What’s the lingo?
The official language is Bahasa Indonesia, but English is also widely spoken.
Here are some phrases to get you started:
Hello/Good morning Hello/Selamat pagi
What is your name? Apa nama anda?
My name is __ Nama saya __
How much? Berapa banyak
Thank you Terima kasih
No, thank you Tidak terima kasih
Is there anything I should know about meeting the locals?
Indonesians typically shake hands when greeting each other. Only shake an Indonesian woman’s hand if she initiates the handshake.
What’s a must-try dish?
Gado gado – a salad of boiled vegetables served with a peanut sauce dressing; and on the Hindu island of Bali you mustn’t miss babi guling, or roast suckling pig
What should I buy as a souvenir?
Shadow puppets (wayang kulit), or wooden doll puppets (wayang golek)
Like this? Read more stories on Indonesia and our travel section.