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: 252 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)
Where should you stay?
Just 15 minutes away from Borobudur, built in the 9th century and the largest Buddhist temple in the world, Villa Borobudur is a luxury villas with fantastic views (and fantastic ratings on TripAdvisor). The aim was to give an authentic Javanese experience, from the architecture to the staff and cuisine.
It’s a suitable destination both for a romantic trip for two or a trip with friends and family. Aside from the temple experience (our tip: book the early morning visit to Borobudur to beat the crowds), there’s hiking, mountain biking, rafting, art, cooking, jeep safaris – even a reptile rescue centre! The best times to visit are the drier months from June to August and October and November.
Borobudur. email@example.com | villaborobudur.com
The waters around Indonesia’s North Sulawesi are home to vibrant coral reefs and a huge variety of ocean critters. Stay at Thalassa is a five-star PADI dive resort and training centre. The best season in North Sulawesi is from the middle of May to the middle of October, The wettest months are January and February, but the cooler water temperatures bring in more sharks and whales.
Can we bring the kids along too? North Sulawesi is safe and child-friendly. While you’re enjoying your underwater dives, the resort can provide a free-of-charge babysitter service to keep an eye on them on the boat or at the resort. Older children can try snorkelling or the PADI Bubble Maker programme, which teaches how to dive safely in the pool.
For more information on bookings and diving, visit thalassamanado.com.
Four Season Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
Location: Spread across 14 hectares of oceanfront on Bali’s Jimbaran Bay, with direct access to the beach at sea level.
Lowdown: The award-winning Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay has completed a two-year renovation, launching Bali’s most exclusive beachfront villas and upgrading facilities and services across the resort.
All 147 pool villas have received new landscaping, interiors, décor, furniture, electronics, thatch-roofing, wooden flooring and customisable beds. The Deluxe and Premier villas now have 50 percent bigger bedrooms, additional living rooms, and bigger plunge pools, while the impressive three-bedroom Imperial Villa offers an ocean-edge venue for hosting private celebrations and weddings for up to 80 people.
There’s also a new ocean-front venue for spa treatments and yoga; an artists-in-residence programme for guests to learn woodcarving, weaving, painting and dance; heli-surfing, sunset cruise and water biking adventures; and a unique dining concept at restaurant and beach club Sundara. Existing programmes such as cooking classes, spa rituals and temple tours continue to be available.
Logistics: For more information and bookings, visit fourseasons.com/jimbaranbay
In Borobudur & Amanjiwo…
Location: Central Java
Lowdown: From Mount Bromo’s smouldering summit to the ancient temples of Borobudur, and from lush green coffee plantations to the frenetic capital of Jakarta, Indonesia’s island of Java is a land of contrasts that are best explored at a leisurely pace. The temple complex of Borobudur will no doubt be a highlight with its 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues that for centuries were covered in volcanic ash. Complement your visit to Borobudur with a stay at the magnificent Amanjiwo. This stunning property rests within a natural amphitheatre boasting a picturesque backdrop of the Menorah Hills. The swimming pool, built from smooth limestone blocks, also offers breathtaking views of the surrounding paddy fields.
Special offer! Book your stay at Amanjiwo with luxury tour operator Lightfoot Travel, and receive an exclusive complimentary upgrade when travelling between 1 September and 21 December 2017.
Logistics: Call 6690 3252 to speak to an Indonesia specialist, or visit lightfoottravel.com/offer/complimentary-upgrade-amanindonesia/ to start planning your bespoke journey now.
For more ideas on where to stay click here
Like this? Read more stories on Indonesia and our travel section.