Frequently asked questions about Indonesia

What is the best time to travel?

The country is hot and humid all year round, but cooler inland than in the coastal regions. The monsoon from December to March brings heavy rain. The dry season from April to October is the best time to visit as some activities and road travel can be difficult during the rainy season.

What are the best festivals and when do they take place?

Some Indonesian festivals include: 1st January (New Year’s Day), 21st April (Kartini Day, roughly Mothers’ Day), 17th August (Independence Day), 1st October (Hari Pancasilia, a reminder of the five principles of Pancasilia: the belief in one god, Indonesian unity, a sense of community with your fellow man, democracy and social equality for all Indonesians) and 25th December (Christmas Day). In addition to these celebrations, there are several festivals which fall on varying dates, such as the Chinese New Year, Balinese Saka (the Balinese New Year) and Waisak Day (commemorates the birth and death of the Buddha and is celebrated in the regions of Yogyakarta and the Borobodur).

Can I pre-book transfers and extra nights?

Yes you can pre book a transfer (arrival only) and extra nights with Shoestring.You can add these to your booking form.

What about my passport?

You need a passport that is valid at least 6 months from the date of your departure. You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel.

Do I need a visa?

Visa information varies and is always subject to change. You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel. Please check your local embassy to see if you need a visa for Indonesia or check here for the current situation. Make sure you inquire at least a month before departure if you need a visa so you do not run into time problems.

Do I need vaccinations or malaria tablets?

Please click here for questions regarding vaccinations or malaria tablets for this country and then contact your GP or a specialized health clinic to make an appointment to get your injections and pills. Please make sure that you arrange this at least six weeks before departure to give you time to complete a full course of injections. Two weeks should suffice for people who already have had a few injections. You are responsible for having the right protection when going on tour.

What is the recommended currency for Indonesia?

Rupiah (IDR) is the official currency and is divided into 100 sen. Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, hotels and money changers in major tourist destinations. US dollars are the most widely accepted currency. Most major credit cards are accepted at hotels, restaurants and stores catering to the tourist trade. ATMs are available in the main towns and cities. Small change is often unavailable so keep small denomination notes and coins for items like bus fares, temple donations and cool drinks.

What kind of clothing and other stuff is practical to take?

Indonesia is a tropical country so bring thin, cotton clothes with you. For the evenings, a high-collared T-shirt with long sleeves or a thin turtle necked sweater will help reduce insect bites. It is better to bring too little rather than too much clothing, as anything you need can be bought very cheaply in Indonesia. An umbrella and waterproof jacket can come in handy (the umbrella can provide protection against the bright sun as well as the rain). A good, worn-in pair of walking shoes/hiking boots and a pair of flip flops is all you need with regards to footwear. Remember that you must remove your shoes when visiting sacred sites, so flip flips are useful for these visits. Other important items include sheets, hand towels, sunglasses, sun creams, toiletries, a first-aid kit, a roll of toilet paper, headgear/headscarves, a (video)camera with enough film, a torch, a pen/pocket knife, a lighter, an alarm clock, writing materials and books.

What kind of luggage should I take?

Pack everything into a weekend bag or backpack: do not bring a hard suitcase as this will be too difficult to transport. A shoulder bag or small backpack is useful for daily hand luggage. For storage of valuables or important documents, a thin money belt worn under your clothing is very useful.

What is the electricity situation?

Please click here to check what voltage and plugs are in use in Indonesia. You could consider taking a universal electric plug adaptor.

Which travel guides and maps?

If you want to take a travel guide or map, we suggest you click on Lonely Planet.

What is the accommodation like?

We will sleep in twin rooms with en-suite facilities. Most of the hotels will have their own restaurants and some have great gardens and terraces. Occasionally we will sleep on a boat. Accommodation in Lombok, Sumbawa and Flores will be in quite basic guest houses. The majority will have a wash basin but not all will have hot water and en-suite facilities.

How is accommodation arranged if I book alone?

If you book alone you will share your room with a fellow traveller ( from the same sex when possible ) unless you have booked a single room.

Do I need to take a mosquito net?

Yes, you may wish to bring a mosquito net and string to hang it up.

Do they cater for vegetarians in Indonesia?

It is surprising that any form of Indonesian cuisine exists in a land consisting of so many different cultures, but it does! The basic ingredient of every meal is boiled white rice (nasi putih). Vegetarians are well catered for. Some well-known vegetarian dishes include gado-gado and tjap tjoy. Fish (ikan) is also widely available.

What kind of transportation is used?

You will use many forms of transportation in Indonesia including trains, aeroplanes, ferries, boats and minibuses.

Is Indonesia dangerous?

Theft from tourists is uncommon in Indonesia, although there are exceptions to this rule so take sensible precautions. As long as you keep an eye on your belongings and you do not flash money/valuables around, you should have no problems. Don’t keep wallets in your back pocket and always carry bags in front of you when it is busy. Do not leave valuables/important documents behind in the hotel, hand in money and passports at the hotel reception and store cameras and other important equipment/items in a locked cupboard in your room.


What local customs do I need to keep in mind?

Indonesian people are generally friendly and polite. However, while they understand that western culture is different to their own, it is much appreciated if their own customs are respected. Religious customs should also be respected, particularly during the month of Ramadan when eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours should be discreet as it is forbidden by the Muslim culture.
Appropriate dress is important in places of worship and women should dress conservatively, covering the shoulders and legs, especially in Muslim areas. Do not criticise people in the company of others. Never touch anybody’s head (even children).
Indonesians do not use toilet paper; they clean themselves using water out of a bottle and their left hand. For this reason you should never offer your left hand to shake, gesture or eat. This is considered filthy.
When you visit a mosque or temple, look for signs which indicate whether or not you must take off your shoes.

Are there opportunities to snorkel or dive?

Yes. On many islands you will find coral reefs, white sandy beaches and swaying palm trees. It is an excellent spot for swimming, snorkelling and diving and you can often see sea tortoises in the depths. On one of the islands, the beach runs right the way around so you can go for a great walk around the entire island.

Are there opportunities to swim?

Yes, there are many beaches and waterfalls where it is possible to swim.

What other activities and sports could I do?

There are many activities that you can do in Indonesia such as adventure cruises, surfing, trekking, sailing and river rafting.

How are communications in Indonesia?

The international access code for Indonesia is +62. The outgoing code is 001 or 007 followed by the relevant country code. When using VOIP, the outgoing code is 017. It is not necessary to dial the first zero of the area code. City/area codes are in use, e.g. 36 for Bali and 21 for Jakarta. For operator-assisted international calls, phone 101. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international operators. Internet cafes are available in the main towns and resorts.

What is the time difference?

Please check the world clock in order to find out the exact time difference.

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