With more than 17,000 – and by some counts 20,000 – islands, Indonesia surely has something to offer everyone. From ancient Hindu temples to long arcs of white sand beaches to smouldering volcanic landscapes to lush rain forests teeming with wildlife, the world’s largest archipelago never ceases to amaze.
As you may gather from other Indonesia travel blogs, most tourists head to Bali, where surfers, yoga practitioners, art enthusiasts and anyone looking for a classic tropical getaway converge. Java, one of the largest Indonesian islands home to its dominant ethnic group, houses the capital, Jakarta, and in its centre, the largest Buddhist temple complex of Borobudur. To the east lies the smouldering attractions of Mount Bromo and the blue flames of Kawah Ijen volcano and crater lake. Read an Indonesia travel blog for more information on how to get to these popular destinations. Beyond Java and Bali, there are many other islands that fascinate: Sumatra and Borneo for its lush tropical rain forests home to mind-boggling diversity; Komodo Island for its population of the largest lizards on Earth; Flores for its Catholicism and Portuguese culture; and Raja Ampat for its diving.
Indonesia Travel Blog and Holiday Tips
Medical and Health Care
You won’t need anti-malaria vaccination when traveling to Java or Bali, but if you are departing for more remote islands, take extra precautions against malaria, dengue and hepatitis. Indonesian healthcare for the locals is not up to western standards; any serious medical concern requires evacuation to neighbouring Singapore, so make sure you have sufficient travel and health insurance coverage.
Weather and Natural Disasters
As a chain of highly volcanic islands sprinkled along the Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia has its fair share of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Because Indonesia also straddles the equator with the Indian and Pacific Oceans on both ends, the risk of tsunami is high. In major cities like Jakarta and Surabaya, air quality is poor, with the seasonal haze coming from Bornean and Sumatran forest fires from June to October aggravating the situation.
Pickpockets are common in busy places like pedestrian overpasses, markets, public transport terminals, and Internet hotspots, so keep your expensive personal effects and gadgets out of sight. Refrain from accepting drinks from strangers because they might be laced with drugs and get you in a very difficult situation. Drug offenses are treated in Indonesia severely.
All major Indonesian cities and tourist destinations have ATMS that accept international cards. With a few exceptions, major credit cards are also accepted but with a surcharge and a risk of cloning and frauds. Big bills can be hard to break in places outside of the main tourist areas, and keep a calculator handy to deal with multiple zeroes ($1 converts to about 13,000 rupiah).
With the exception of Bali, which is a Hindu enclave, Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country so dress codes, especially when entering mosques and other holy sites, need to be observed. Because the left hand is traditionally used for hygiene, never use your left hand for anything, especially when touching food or passing items to others. When in Bali during the Hari Raya Nyepi, you will have to spend the day in your hotel as the Balinese observe a complete day of silence.