The archipelago of Indonesia is varied to say the least. The metropolis of Jakarta is a world apart from Aceh, which is distinctly different from Sumatra, Java and Bali. Closer to Singapore, the island of Batam offers a getaway for Singaporeans looking for a weekend retreat.
From developing towns, to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, active volcanoes, surfing destinations, rice paddies, beaches and mountains, Indonesia offers travellers a lot of variety.
Jakarta is easily accessed by several international carriers. Aceh, Bandung, Yogyakarta and Bali are all served by carriers that typically fly from South East Asian airports.
The islands of Batam is best accessed via ferry from Singapore.
Visitors to Indonesia may need a visa. Some passport holders are eligible for visa waivers at particular ports for tourist purposes.
When in Indonesia, getting around between islands is best done by domestic flights. Within the islands themselves, road transport is quite cheap. You can rent an entire taxi with a driver at your disposal for the entire day for about USD100.
Indonesia uses the Indonesian Rupiah. It is a high denomination currency. The easiest way to operate is to remove the last four zeroes in the price to arrive at the Singapore or Australian dollar equivalent.
Because of the nature of its currency, some hotels provide prices in US Dollars.
While credit cards are accepted in hotels, restaurants and several well developed tourist spots, local business tend to be cash based. There is an increasing acceptance of mobile payments.
Indonesia has good mobile and data coverage. Telkom Indonesia is the primary provider. Singapore residents will find that their roaming plans offer them easy access to voice and data. If you’re travelling from Singapore, you might choose to go with a portable Wifi Router from Changi through Changi Recommends.
Best time to visit
Indonesia straddles the equator, and while mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, has a few parts of it above the equator. While the region does have seasons, they aren’t very well defined. The period between November and February is the rainy season, while summers last from June through to August. Summers tend to be the peak tourist season.
In a hot climate, it is best to wear light, breathable clothing. Indonesia is a generally conservative society. Particularly when visiting temples and other religious places, women should keep both their shoulders and their legs covered. It’s a good idea to carry a sarong to cover up when entering some of these sites.
Always carry your hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Regardless of the time of the year, you will need it.
Indonesia uses the type C and type F plug types, and operates on 230V at 50Hz.
What else should I know
Indonesia has great coffee. This is a coffee producing part of the world, and there is a coffee culture that has grown with it.
Due to its proximity to the equator, morning and evening storms are common. You may wake up to a downpour in the morning, only for it to clear up. The sun will make the environment hot and humid, and just as you feel like you’re getting uncomfortable, it will rain again.
Massages are really cheap in Indonesia. Reputed spas should be booked ahead of time and are worth every minute. It is customary to tip your massage therapist at the end of your session.