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Indonesia Travel Guide: Essential Tips for Tourists


Indonesia, an archipelago of over 17,000 islands, is a land of stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and diverse experiences. From the bustling streets of Jakarta to the serene beaches of Bali, and from the ancient temples of Yogyakarta to the lush rainforests of Borneo, Indonesia offers something for every type of traveler. This comprehensive guide will provide essential tips and information to help you navigate Indonesia and ensure a memorable trip.

Understanding Indonesia

Geography and Climate

Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, stretching across Southeast Asia and Oceania. It comprises five major islands: Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan (Borneo), New Guinea (Papua), and Sulawesi, along with thousands of smaller islands.

  • Java: The most populous island, home to the capital city, Jakarta, and cultural hub, Yogyakarta.
  • Bali: Famous for its beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and unique culture.
  • Sumatra: Known for its natural beauty, including Lake Toba and Mount Sinabung.
  • Kalimantan (Borneo): Offers vast rainforests and diverse wildlife, including orangutans.
  • Sulawesi: Renowned for its unique cultures and spectacular diving spots.

Indonesia has a tropical climate, with two main seasons: the wet season (November to March) and the dry season (April to October). The dry season is the best time to visit, especially for outdoor activities and beach vacations.


Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, but many Indonesians are multilingual, speaking regional languages and dialects such as Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese. English is widely spoken in tourist areas, but learning a few basic phrases in Bahasa Indonesia can enhance your travel experience and show respect for the local culture.


The official currency is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). ATMs are widely available in cities and tourist areas, and credit cards are accepted in most hotels, restaurants, and shops. However, it’s advisable to carry some cash, especially when traveling to remote areas.

Getting Around

Domestic Flights

With its vast territory, domestic flights are often the most efficient way to travel between islands. Airlines like Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, and AirAsia offer frequent flights connecting major cities and tourist destinations. Book Your Flight Now!


The train network is extensive on the island of Java, with comfortable and affordable services connecting cities like Jakarta, Yogyakarta, and Surabaya. Booking in advance is recommended, especially during peak travel seasons.

Buses and Minibuses

Buses and minibuses (called “bemos”) are common and inexpensive, though they can be crowded and less reliable. They are a good option for short distances or budget travel.


Ferries connect many of Indonesia’s islands. Services range from large, comfortable ferries to small, local boats. Popular routes include Bali to Lombok and Java to Sumatra.

Taxis and Ride-Sharing

Taxis are widely available in cities. Services like Blue Bird Taxi are reputable and reliable. Ride-sharing apps like Gojek and Grab offer convenient and affordable options for getting around urban areas.

Renting a Scooter or Car

Renting a scooter is a popular option in Bali and other tourist areas, providing flexibility to explore at your own pace. Ensure you have an international driving permit and experience riding scooters. Car rentals are also available but consider hiring a driver due to challenging road conditions and traffic.


Indonesia offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every budget.

Luxury Resorts and Hotels

Luxury resorts in Bali, Lombok, and other popular destinations offer world-class amenities and stunning views. Brands like Four Seasons, Aman, and Ritz-Carlton provide luxurious experiences.

Mid-Range Hotels and Guesthouses

Mid-range hotels and guesthouses offer comfortable accommodations with essential amenities. Chains like Ibis, Aston, and local boutique hotels provide good value for money.

Budget Hostels and Homestays

For budget travelers, hostels and homestays offer affordable options and a chance to experience local culture. Websites like Hostelworld and Airbnb list numerous options across the country.

Must-Visit Destinations


Bali is Indonesia’s most famous island, known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and unique culture. Key attractions include:

  • Ubud: The cultural heart of Bali, famous for its rice terraces, temples, and art galleries.
  • Kuta and Seminyak: Popular beach destinations with lively nightlife and shopping.
  • Nusa Dua: Home to luxurious resorts and pristine beaches.
  • Mount Batur: An active volcano offering stunning sunrise hikes.


Indonesia’s bustling capital city, Jakarta, is a melting pot of cultures with a mix of modern and traditional attractions. Key sites include:

  • Monas (National Monument): A symbol of Indonesia’s independence.
  • Kota Tua (Old Town): A historic district with Dutch colonial architecture.
  • Thousand Islands: A cluster of tropical islands perfect for a day trip or weekend getaway.


Yogyakarta, known as Jogja, is the cultural capital of Java, offering rich history and heritage. Key attractions include:

  • Borobudur: The largest Buddhist temple in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Prambanan: A stunning Hindu temple complex.
  • Kraton: The royal palace of Yogyakarta, offering insight into Javanese culture.


Lombok, located east of Bali, is known for its stunning beaches and outdoor activities. Key attractions include:

  • Gili Islands: Three small islands offering excellent snorkeling and diving.
  • Mount Rinjani: Indonesia’s second-highest volcano, popular for trekking.
  • Kuta Lombok: A laid-back beach town with beautiful, uncrowded beaches.

Komodo National Park

Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to the famous Komodo dragons. Visitors can also enjoy world-class diving and snorkeling. Key attractions include:

  • Komodo Island and Rinca Island: Where you can see Komodo dragons in their natural habitat.
  • Pink Beach: Known for its unique pink sand and vibrant marine life.


Sumatra is an adventure traveler’s paradise, known for its rugged landscapes and wildlife. Key attractions include:

  • Lake Toba: The largest volcanic lake in the world.
  • Bukit Lawang: A village known for its orangutan rehabilitation center.
  • Mount Kerinci: The highest volcano in Indonesia, popular for trekking.

Cultural Etiquette

Respect Local Customs

Indonesia is a country with deep-rooted traditions and customs. Show respect by dressing modestly, especially when visiting temples and religious sites. Remove your shoes before entering homes or sacred places.

Eating Etiquette

Indonesian meals are often eaten with hands, particularly in traditional settings. Use your right hand for eating and avoid using your left hand, as it is considered impolite. If you’re unsure, observing others or asking for guidance is acceptable.


Tipping is not mandatory in Indonesia but is appreciated. In restaurants, a tip of 5-10% of the bill is common. For hotel staff, a small tip for services like carrying luggage or housekeeping is customary. Tipping guides and drivers is also appreciated.


A common greeting in Indonesia is “Selamat,” followed by the time of day (e.g., “Selamat pagi” for “Good morning”). Handshakes are common, but a slight bow or nod of the head can also be a respectful gesture.

Health and Safety

Health Precautions

  • Vaccinations: Ensure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines and consider additional vaccinations for diseases like typhoid, hepatitis A, and malaria, depending on the regions you plan to visit.
  • Water Safety: Avoid drinking tap water. Stick to bottled water and check the seal before consuming. Use bottled water for brushing teeth as well.
  • Food Safety: Eat at reputable restaurants and avoid street food if you have a sensitive stomach. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly or opt for cooked foods.

Personal Safety

  • Stay Vigilant: Indonesia is generally safe for tourists, but petty theft can occur. Keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded places.
  • Dress Modestly: Dressing conservatively can help you avoid unwanted attention and show respect for local customs.
  • Transportation Safety: Use reputable taxi services or app-based rides like Gojek or Grab. Avoid traveling alone late at night, especially in unfamiliar areas.

Dos and Don’ts


  • Do Carry a Copy of Your Passport: Always have a photocopy of your passport and visa with you, along with additional passport-sized photos.
  • Do Learn Basic Phrases: Learning a few basic phrases in Bahasa Indonesia can go a long way in making connections and showing respect.
  • Do Respect Religious Sites: Follow dress codes and guidelines at religious sites. Cover your head when required, and avoid taking photos where prohibited.
  • Do Bargain Politely: Bargaining is common in markets. Start with a lower price and negotiate respectfully. It’s part of the shopping experience in Indonesia.


  • Don’t Point with Your Feet: Pointing with your feet or touching objects with your feet is considered disrespectful in Indonesian culture.
  • Don’t Show Affection Publicly: Public displays of affection are frowned upon in many parts of Indonesia. Be mindful of local customs regarding physical contact.
  • Don’t Accept Food or Drinks from Strangers: To avoid risks, don’t accept food or drinks from strangers. Politely decline if offered.
  • Don’t Overpack: Travel light and pack essentials. Laundry services are readily available in most hotels, allowing you to re-wear clothing during your trip.


Indonesia is a diverse and captivating destination that offers a wealth of experiences for travelers. By understanding local customs, planning your travel logistics, and respecting cultural norms, you can ensure a safe and memorable trip. Whether you’re exploring ancient temples, relaxing on pristine beaches, or trekking through lush rainforests, Indonesia promises an adventure of a lifetime. Enjoy the journey and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of this incredible country.

This article is provided by Jive Travel, your trusted source for travel guides, tips, and inspiration. Whether you’re a seasoned globetrotter or planning your first adventure, Jive Travel offers the insights you need to make your journeys unforgettable. Explore the world with confidence and discover new destinations with Jive Travel by your side.

Jive Travel
Author: Jive Travel