What drives you crazy about Indonesia

My blog posts about Indonesia

Indonesia general travel information

tourism

Tourism is mainly concentrated on the islands of Bali, Lombok, the 3 Gilis (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, Gili Air) and Java. These islands are also considered malaria free.

Tourism can also be found on other islands, especially with backpackers, such as Flores, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Borneo or the Spice Islands.

Few indigenous people on Papua live almost unaffected by the rest of civilization.

getting there

From Germany you can get to Indonesia in about 14 hours. At least one stopover is required. For example in Dubai (Emirates), Abu Dhabi (Quatar), Singapore (Singapore Airlines), Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific) or Kuala Lumpur (Malaysian Airlines).

We always search and compare flights via Skyscanner. Most of the time we fly with Singapore Airlinesas they offer good service and are very family friendly.

The time difference is between +6 to +8 hours in the sun and +7 to +9 hours in the winter, because Indonesia extends over 3 time zones.

entry

A valid passport is required to enter Indonesia. This must be valid 6 months after the trip. A children's passport is recognized.

For business travelers very strict conditions apply, for tourists it is quite easy to enter:

  • Visa free: With a valid return or onward flight ticket, you can enter the country for 30 days without a visa. This is not possible at all border crossing points! An extension is not possible! The previously common practice of leaving and re-entering the country for a short time is no longer tolerated by the authorities.
  • Visa on arrival: With a valid return or onward ticket you can get a visa for 30 days for $ 35. This can be extended once for another 30 days to 60 days at the latest 7 days before it expires and costs> 30 $. The immigration authority (Imigrasi) in Indonesia is responsible, the processing time varies and sometimes you have to go there several times (personal experience!). It is not possible to obtain a visa for 60 days directly. A visa on arrival can be applied for again at any time when entering or leaving the country.
  • Visa before entry: The visa can be obtained from any diplomatic mission of the Republic of Indonesia in Germany for a trip of more than 60 days, if you want to enter the country with a provisional passport or if you have certain purposes of residence. The processing time can take several weeks.

If you violate the entry regulations, you face high fines and imprisonment sentences of up to 5 years.

In the case of hotel stays, nothing needs to be done, but if you are staying privately, you have to comply with the obligation to register from 24 hours after entry.

Customs regulations

Indonesia is one of the countries with the strictest drug laws in the world. For certain drugs (e.g. containing narcotics) a prescription with translation must be carried.

currency

In Indonesia you pay with Indonesian rupiah, abbreviated IDR. 10,000 IDR is about 0.60 €.

So it is important to deal with many zeros, the notes 10,000 and 100,000 should be clearly distinguished! There are virtually no coins.

climate

Indonesia is in the tropics, and lies on the equator. The climate is tropical and humid, the temperatures hardly fluctuate during the year or during the day and are on average between 25 and 27 degrees with a humidity of 95%.

There is a rainy season in winter that varies slightly from island to island. Usually it rains heavily but briefly. Roads can be knee-high for a short time.

In higher altitudes it is sometimes cooler, the Indonesians like to wear winter jackets, hats and scarfs while we Germans put on a loose knitted jacket:;)

language

Bahasa Indonesia is the official language in Indonesia. However, every island and sometimes every ethnic group has its own language.

English is not widely spoken outside of tourist areas.

The Latin script is used for writing, just like in Germany. You may still find some old signs with Arabic script.

The language seems easy to learn at first, the pronunciation is very similar to German. There are no cases and no articles, verbs are not inflected, and grammatical gender is rare.

But the language differs greatly from German in its “way of thinking”, for example there are different numerals for small round objects than for animals or people and so on. Times are formed very differently and in a conversation you really have to be careful whether you are talking about today, yesterday, tomorrow or 100 years ago 😉

kitchen

The staple foods are rice, cassava and yam roots. The cuisine is influenced by neighboring Asian countries such as India and China, and cakes and pies from the colonial times under Dutch rule are also indispensable.

Pork is only available in a few areas with a Christian majority or Bali. Chicken is the most consumed, followed by fish and seafood.

The national dish is sate, i.e. meat skewers with peanut or chili sauce. Well-known dishes are for example Nasi Goreng (baked rice) or Mie Goreng (baked noodle), Rawon (black meat soup), Soto (chicken soup), Tempe (fermented soybean cake), Gado-Gado (cold vegetable salad with peanut sauce), Babi Guling (suckling pig in Bali), Pisang Goreng (fried bananae), Krupuk (crab chips).

The trend (especially in Bali) with super healthy vegan dishes, food bowls, budda bowls and whatever they are called on Instagram are not typical for Indonesia, but are offered to tourists. More typical are "well-oiled" dishes with meat or fish and omelets.

In Indonesia, people usually eat with a spoon and fork, without a knife and not with chopsticks, except for Chinese dishes. In some places you eat with the fingers of your right hand.

health

Standard vaccinations are recommended plus hepatitis A, possibly hepatitis B, rabies, typhoid and Japanese encephalitis.

In addition to malaria, there are numerous diseases (e.g. dengue fever) that are transmitted by mosquitoes, the only protective measures are consistent measures to prevent bites:

  • body-covering (light-colored) clothing
  • Apply insect repellent (repeatedly) (day & night)
  • sleep under mosquito nets if necessary
  • stay in mosquito-proof rooms (e.g. hotel with mosquito screens and air conditioning)

We have made the experience that, especially in Bali and Lombok, the mosquito problem is not so big if you stay on the hotel premises, where mosquito repellent is usually evaporated.

Please never drink tap water! It is also better to use drinking water to wash dishes or brush your teeth outside of a large, good hotel.

particularities

The practice of homosexuality is not directly prohibited in Indonesia, with the exception of the province of Aceh, but outside of Jakarta and Bali it is hardly tolerated and can lead to major problems.

Freedom of the press is "difficult" in the country. For example, many Internet pages cannot be accessed from there either.

traffic

The infrastructure in Indonesia cannot be compared to Germany. From the outside, the traffic situation in Indonesia is pretty chaotic for Germans, especially in larger cities. Traffic accidents with fatalities are not uncommon.

The most popular means of transport are motorbikes and scooters.

I would STRONGLY ADVISE any tourist from driving in Indonesia, especially in busier areas. You can take a cheap taxi (Bluebird is considered safe) or hire a driver to take you anywhere for one or more days.

Due to the sometimes extremely poor infrastructure, parts of Indonesia can only be accessed by plane. In the past, the strong growth in air traffic led to a series of accidents that initially banned all Indonesian airlines from landing in Europe. Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Batik Air and a few others have now been approved and are considered safe.

Outside of Java and Bali, the infrastructure, i.e. internet, telephone, roads and schools, is sometimes very poorly developed.

location

Indonesia stretches along the equator. Neighboring countries are Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Palau, Papua New Guinea, East Timur and Australia.

Indonesia consists of 17,508 individual islands of which 6,044 are inhabited and is mostly on the Asian continent but also partly on the Australian continent.

Natural events

Earthquakes and volcanic activity are common. Indonesia is right on the Pacific Ring of Fire. Because of the earthquakes, tsunamis can also occur.

Flora and fauna

The biogeographical dividing line between Asian and Australian flora and fauna runs through Indonesia. That is why, for example, Bali and the neighboring island of Lombok differ considerably, as the dividing line runs between the two islands.

Indonesia is one of the largest rainforest areas in the world and around 75% of all known coral species as well as turtles, dolphins, whales, large sharks and rays live in the oceans.

This makes Indonesia a hotspot for biodiversity. Many nature conservation organizations are active on the spot, but hectares of primeval forest are still falling victim to palm oil plantations. Nowhere is more rainforest being destroyed than in Indonesia.

population

Indonesia is the world's largest island nation and one of the most populous states in the world. In addition, Indonesia is the largest Muslim country.

The capital is called Jakarta and is the financial heart of Indonesia on the island of Java, where more than half of Indonesia's residents live.

Around 360 different peoples live in Indonesia, most of them of Malay origin. There is a Chinese minority who came to the country when Indonesia was still a Dutch colony.

The individual islands are sometimes very different. Java is mainly (moderately) Muslim, with many Hindus living on Bali and Christians on Flores. The province of Aceh has a special semi-autonomous position, here the Sharia applies with the Islamic religious police. Ancestor cult and belief in spirits are very important to many Indonesians.

history

Java was settled around 1.8 million years ago. Initially, Buddhism and Hinduism gained influence in Indonesia and merged with the beliefs of the original farmers.

Trade flourished due to the favorable location by sea from China to India and various trading empires emerged. Mention should be made of the Kingdom of Srivijaya, which extended over Sumatra, Java, parts of Borneo and the Malay Peninsula. The kingdom of Majapahit followed.

From the 15th century, the influence of Islam began to grow stronger when Arab traders started operating in Indonesia.

This was followed by the almost 100-year Portuguese colonial period, after which the Dutch asserted themselves as colonial rulers around 1600. Indonesia was then called the Dutch India and existed until 1942 (the province of Aceh long resisted the Dutch).

The Dutch surrendered to the Japanese occupation that ruled until 1945.

In 1945 Sukarno became independent, but most of the islands were still controlled by the Dutch. In the Dutch-Indonesian War, the Netherlands recaptured almost the entire area, but the Indonesian guerrillas continued to fight and the world public turned against the Netherlands, also because of a terrible massacre in which an entire village was wiped out. Under American pressure, the Netherlands started negotiations with the Republic of Indonesia and in 1949 Indonesia was surrendered. However, Dutch New Guinea remained under colonial administration. A Dutch-Indonesian Union existed until 1954, but it broke up in the dispute over New Guinea.

A conflict broke out between Malaysia and Indonesia in 1963 because Indonesia refused to form Malaysia.

In 1965 there was a coup attempt by parts of the military, the uprising was suppressed and a massacre of the military ordered by General Suharto (with the backing of the USA) followed in which almost a million people were killed. The Chinese minority then also belonged to the victims. The general forced the president to resign.

When the Portuguese Timor colony gained independence in 1975, an open invasion of Indonesia followed.

In 1998 there was a severe economic crisis, the Asian Crisis, which had a severe impact on the population and led to protests with much violence (and once again the persecution of the Chinese minority), as a result of which President Suharto resigned.

Elections took place in 1999 and Abdurrahman became the first freely elected president, two years later Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of the state's founder, Sukarno.

In October 2002 there was a terrorist attack on the tourist island of Bali that left 202 dead and over 300 injured.

A tsunami devastated large parts of the Aceh province in Sumatra at Christmas 2004.

In 2006 there was a magnitude 6 earthquake in Yogyakarta that also damaged the Prambanan temple.

In 2017 and 2018, the Agung volcano in Bali showed activity.

May 2018 there were attacks on several Christian churches in the city of Surabaya on Java and one attack in the nearby town of Sidoarjo. A day later, the Surabaya police headquarters were attacked.

In July and August 2018, severe earthquakes (6.4 and 6.9) struck Lombok with over 300 fatalities. The Gili Islands are also badly affected.