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Traveler's Guide to Indonesia

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03:01 AM 12.09 Friday Jakarta, Indonesia

Top 10 things you need to know

Money

The Indonesian Rupiah is the official currency. US Dollars are almost never accepted, except for very large purchases and for investments. It is difficult to find an exchange outside of the large tourists destinations like Bali, and most of the exchanges are very picky about the physical condition of the bank notes. You should try to avoid using credits cards in Indonesia because cloning and fraud are common occurrences.

Public Transportation & In country Travel

Air travel is the fastest mode of transportation between all of the islands of Indonesia. Ferry service is available at a much cheaper cost, but is significantly slower. Travel is also available by train and by bus, but you should be aware all modes of public transportation are typically overcrowded and do not adhere to the safety standards you are likely used to. If renting a car, an International Driver’s permit is required.

Language

The official language is Indonesian, which has some influences from Arabic, Dutch and Sanskrit. You will find that some English is spoken by airline crew members, hotel staff, and in the tourist destinations, but otherwise very few people speak English.

Best time to travel

Because of the large Muslim population, the majority of the country is affected by the Ramadan holiday. It would be best to avoid travel during that month, since fasting is encouraged even of travelers. Based on the wet, hot climate of the winter months, it is best to travel there between April and October.

Hospitality

There is a wide range of accommodations available in Indonesia, from hostels to luxury resorts. All hotels are required to post a list of prices, but longer stay rates can be negotiated.

Safety

Indonesia is a very large country, and can experience all sorts of natural disasters as well as issues connected to terrorism and transportation accidents. But the majority of crime in the country is petty crime, such as theft.

Food and Drink

Because of the various ethnic groups and the size of the country, the cuisine varies regionally. Choices range from simply spiced dishes, to extremely spicy ones, many raw produce options as well as deep fried meals. Most foods are considered Halal (do not contain pork) due to the large Muslim population. Most drinks are not served cold, so you should indicate if you wish to receive ice, first making sure it is purified water, as tap water is not drinkable in Indonesia.

Diversity

Indonesia is made up of many ethnic groups, the three largest of which are the Javanese, Sundanese, and Madurese. Their culture is mostly based on Hinduism, however, Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world.

Accessibility

Only about half of the population has access to electricity, and the majority of people still rely on wood as cooking fuel. International SIM cards are available at a relatively cheap cost for mobile phones, and internet service they call warnet can be found in many shops. Many hotels also have WIFI hotspots.

Cultural customs

When meeting someone, a light handshake is customary. Most Indonesians dress fairly conservatively, and it is customary to remove your shoes when entering somebody’s home.

Things not to do

  1. Never use your left hand for anything.
  2. Never point with your finger; instead gesture with your whole hand.
  3. Try not to cross your arms; it is seen as a very hostile gesture.
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