10 Useful Tips for Your Trip to Indonesia
When you start planning your trip usually you search for any information and tips that might be useful during your stay. Every country has specific rules, habits, laws, different meanings and understandings about things… All in all, you need to be aware about a lot of things before you actually depart to your destination. Of course, this is not always possible and you learn some of these “lessons” when already there, but why not try to prepare int he best way?
We tried to put together a list of the most important things you need to know in advance before you start your trip to Indonesia. We were aware of some of those when we started our trip, but others we learned along the way. So here are our tips about your Indonesian travels:
Most of the nationalities can obtain visa on arrival (VOA) that will cost you $35. You can pay in cash only. If you don’t have exact change you will get your change in Indonesian rupiah. Visa is valid for a single entry and for 30 days (not one month). Calculate your stay properly and have in mind that the day of your arrival counts as day one and the day of your departure is included too. If you overstay your visa you will have to pay penalty of 200000IDR a day ($16).
Have in mind that if you fly out of any airport in Indonesia you have to pay airport tax which is not included in your ticket. For domestic flights it is 45 000 IDR ($4) and for international it is 150 000 IDR ($12). These taxes are payable only at the airline check-in desk and only in local currency. So don’t spent all your cash at the end of your trip hoping that you are leaving the country and you will not need more local money. 🙂
There are no specific vaccine requirements to secure your entry in Indonesia, except the case when you arrive from a country with yellow fever risk (mostly South America and Africa). Then you will need yellow fever vaccination proof. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and B and Typhoid are suggested when you travel to Indonesia. If you will be in touch with wildlife and especially monkeys (they are everywhere in Indonesia) you should definitely add Rabies vaccine to your list. Also, make sure you have a mosquito repellent and malaria pills since Indonesia is listed as a malaria high risk country.
Credit cards are usually not accepted so you will need cash during your stay in Indonesia. If you choose to withdraw money from ATM have in mind that withdraw limit is very low (M1.5 IDR – less than $100) and on some ATMs you may add additional fee, so you can lose a lot of money this way.
If you are not worried about safety and if you are careful with your belongings probably the cheapest option is to bring cash. Make sure that you bring big bills ($50 and $100) since small ones ($10-$20) are either not accepted at all or exchange offices will charge you an extra fee for them. Also check if the bills are in good shape, not warn, without stamps, marks, scratches or missing corners.
Be very careful when in currency exchange offices: common trick is when the officer counts the cash they drop a bill or two on the floor and tell you: Hey you gave me $400, right? Instead of the $500 you actually hand them. Always count the cash first in front of the counter if you don’t want to end up being cheated!
Bargaining in Indonesia
Bargaining is like a national sport in Indonesia. First and most important rule is: never pay what you are originally asked for! Do not bargain in convenient stores, shopping malls or gas stations where prices are labeled and fixed. But everything on the streets, tourist places, local markets can be negotiated. Indonesians see tourist as walking ATMs 🙂 and they will try to cheat you as much as possible.
Remember – if you look like a “gringo” and you ask for the price in English the price will be 3-4 times more than the actual price. The unwritten rule says: “divide everything by 4” so if you are asked to pay IDR100.000 for a wooden statue let’s say you can get it for 25.000. If you buy more than one item you can ask for even lower prices or if you already have low enough price and buy more items ask for a gift (something small) to close the deal 🙂
If the final offered price is still high just hop to the next store and you will see the vendor rushing after you and accepting the last price you offered. Always be patient when bargain in Indonesia and always smile. This helps and always pays you back. And remember – Divide everything by 4!!! 🙂
If you have valid student ID card bring it with you everywhere you go in Indonesia. You can save tons of cash on entrance fees and admissions. For example: Borodudur temple entrance fee is IDR230.000($20) for foreigners and IDR320.000($30) during holidays and weekends. Entrance fee for international students is IDR100.000(less than $10).
Indonesian government has one of the strictest drug laws in the world. Do not get involved with any king of drugs during your stay. Possession and trafficking of drugs is serious offence. If you get caught you will face anything between 20 years to lifetime sentence and even death penalty!
To be patient is very important during your stay in Indonesia. People there have all the time in the world. It has nothing to do with the busy, crazy life in the big american or european cities, so take a deep breath, relax and enjoy your stay. Things that usually take seconds or a minute can take up to an hour or two in Indonesia 🙂
For example: we had to wait for an hour and a half in the bank in Yogja to exchange $100 since there was no currency exchange in a mile radius or we had to wait for 20 minutes at a cash register to pay for a bottle of water because the three people working there had no idea how to work with it 🙂
Bluebird is a nationwide company with really cheap prices per km. Always ask to pay by meter rather than any prearranged prices.
Ojeks, becaks (pedaled tricycle for two) are even cheaper. 2-3 km ride if you bargain well will cost you 10-15000 IDR (about $1).
Trains are generally on time. Prices are little too high – almost at the price of a flight. You should book these at least week or two in advance especially during holydays.
There are tens of domestic airlines. Local flights will cost you about $30-80. Best place to check for tickets is www.tiket.com
It is very cheap to rent a scooter – about $3-5 a day. Make sure you wear a helmet and bring international drivers license with you. Can be obtained in your country or in Indonesia.
Indonesia is generally safe for travels. Still you need to be careful with your belongings in the public transportation. Don’t place any valuables in your checked luggage. Don’t withdraw large amount of money. Credit card frauds level is relatively high in Indonesia so be careful when using your credit or debit card. Don’t leave valuables in your hostel or hotel room and use locker or safe deposit if available where you stay.
We hope you will have a wonderful stay in Indonesia and our tip will help you prepare for it.
If you have anything to add feel free to comment.