Indonesia consists of more than 1700 islands. It is a very diverse country in terms of nature, culture, flora and fauna. With its volcanic landscape and flourishing underwater world, it is a dream destination for everyone that loves nature.
With Raja Ampat and the Gili Islands, it offers some of the best scuba diving in the world. Meanwhile, Bali offers amazing beaches and lush waterfalls that will take your breath away. You can wander through rice terraces for sunrise and then spend the day exploring one of the many temples.
Furthermore you can hike volcanos like Mount Ijen and Mount Bromo, that allow you to see a real spectacle.
Indonesia is one of my top 3 favorite Asian countries alongside Vietnam and Thailand. I absolutely love the country and its people. And in the end, I can only encourage everyone to visit at least a few of Indonesia’s many islands.
Places to see in Indonesia
Things to Know before you visit Indonesia
The official language of Indonesia is Bahasa Indonesian.
It is a so called lingua franca – a bridge language that combines elements from the many regional languages of Indonesia.
In total there are over 700 different languages. Hereby Javanese and Balinese are those you will most likely encounter if you stick to the two common tourist destinations.
The currency of Indonesia is the Indonesian Rupiah.
As of April the exchange rate for the Indonesian Rupiah is as follows: 100K IDR equals 5,60 EUR, 6.03 USD, 10,40 AUD or 5,20 GBP.
Credit Cards & ATMs
While you can pay with a credit card at most hotels and more expensive places, it is best to have cash on you. Especially if you plan to shop at local markets like the art market in Ubud, where cash is often the only option.
Finding an ATM in touristic locations is easy, but if you venture to more remote areas, you might have to search for a while.
Most ATMs I used had a maximum withdrawal limit between 1.5 and 2 million IDR. Therefore it is very likely that you will have to withdraw cash quite often. Try to get a credit card that refunds international ATM fees.
Type C (Voltage 230V; Frequency 50Hz)
Citizens of most countries can visit Indonesia for up to 30 days without a visa. You can check if you qualify for a visa exemption on the official website.
If you plan to stay longer with a maximum duration of 60 days, you have to get a visa on arrival. This visa can be extended after 30 days. It costs 35 USD and as of now, 62 nationalities are eligible.
Indonesia is a great destination for solo female travelers. The people are incredibly friendly and welcoming.
It is a rather safe destination, but like everywhere else it is best to keep your eyes open. There are some common scams and theft, so use common sense while you explore this incredible country. Try to avoid walking or driving while holding your phone. Especially in Bali, there have been cases of people on scooters snatching the phone out of the hand of unknowing people and driving off.
Stay away from a locally produced booze called arak. It often contains methanol and drinking it can easily lead to alcohol poisoning.
Medication and Drugs
If you have to bring medication with you when you travel there, it is best to bring a prescription or a letter from your doctor that states that you need this specific medication while you travel. Indonesia has strict drug laws, and some common medications of other countries are restricted.
Also, stay away from all kinds of recreational drugs that are legal in other countries. The punishments are harsh and even include the death penalty, so do not risk it. According to the national legislation, officers are allowed to pretend to sell things in order to make you commit a crime. So please do not do it. There is a time and place for everything, but in this case, it is definitely not Indonesia.
Driving in Indonesia
If you plan to drive in Indonesia, the best thing you can do is to go with the flow. Look what the locals do and drive accordingly. Keep in mind that you will have to drive on the left side of the road. So please pay attention and ask yourself if you feel qualified to join the rushing traffic. It is easy and rather cheap to hire a driver, so do not take unnecessary risks.
When to visit Indonesia
Indonesia is a great destination year-round. However there are ideal months for certain activities such as diving and hiking. The dry season lasts from May to September, while the wet season lasts from October to April.
In spite of that you can still explore the country during this time of the year, as the rain tends to be in the form of daily downpours that usually only last up to two hours. The wettest months in Indonesia are January and February.The peak season with the highest prices is July to August and from Christmas to New Year. Therefore it is best to avoid those times if you are traveling on a budget.
If you want the best prices and perfect weather, I recommend traveling there in the should season. May and September are in the dry season, but the prices for everything are normal.
The Best Time to Dive Indonesia
For divers the best time to visit Indonesia is from May to September. During these months you will experience the best conditions at all famous dive sites around Bali, the Gili Islands and Komodo.
The ideal time to dive in Raja Ampat is from September to April, as this region has different weather conditions. You can dive there year-round, but during this time the water is clearer and you will have a higher chance of seeing a large number of manta rays.