Though the devastation of the 2004 tsunami and recent threats of terrorism have deterred some visitors, Indonesia remains a bastion of beauty: the wildlife of Australia and Asia come together on these island chains, making for some of the world’s most distinctive species. Indonesian culture combines aspects of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and animism to form a people steeped in unique traditions. Learn about this country of volcanoes, tropical rainforests, Komodo dragons and spices, and plan a trip using the Web.
Indonesia is the longest archipelago in the world, and its islands could stretch from Oregon to Bermuda. To get a grasp of the travel opportunities available throughout this sprawling country, begin with an introduction courtesy of the Web resources below.
- There are five “main” islands: Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulawesi (Celebes), and Irian Jaya (western part of Papua New Guinea), and about 400 volcanoes, nearly 100 of which are active, according to the U.S. Library of Congress geography section on Indonesia.
- Indonesia is known for its otherworldly wildlife and stunning natural features. To learn more about the evolution of the nation’s climate and landscape, and the emergence of many unique and strange species on Indonesian islands, visit “Wild Indonesia,” an interactive PBS site.
- Indonesia used to be called the East Indies. The West Indies are associated with the Caribbean.
For official tourism resources …
The Republic of Indonesia’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism
Web site hosts extensive information for tourists. The nation’s beaches, mountains, landscapes and activities like diving and parks are provided in a well-organized menu, putting essential travel inspiration at travelers’ fingertips. Practical information regarding hotels, currency and embassies is listed here also.
For cities and attractions …
begins its Indonesia guide with an overview of basic statistics and history, but scroll further down for colorful feature articles. Enticing places and activities are detailed like Bali’s rice paddies and Hindu temples, jungle trekking on the island of Borneo, and Jakarta’s endless skyscrapers. Photos accompany each feature to give travelers a distinct idea of what to expect from Indonesian destinations.
posts travelers’ and locals’ photos and travel diaries for numerous Indonesian regions and popular destinations. Recommended hotels are listed for each location, and Virtual Tourist also selects the “Top 5 Pages” for many destinations (check in the right-hand sidebar of each separate guide), making it easier and faster for you to find insightful travel information.
For print travel guides …
travel guides are accessible for free online, providing a complete mix of practical advice and insight into Indonesian destinations. Photos and videos of each “popular place,” including Bali, Java, and Lombok, as well as feature articles, such as this account of a Balinese yoga retreat
, are the standout components.
are great for travelers looking for detailed cultural information and advice applicable to off-the-path and well-traversed destinations. Indonesia’s diverse people and natural features are captured in this guide, including the famed Komodo Islands
and tourist-friendlyn Bira Beach
. Although the site is mostly text, the rich language paints a vivid picture of the country.
For active vacations and ecotourism …
The New York Times
Travel section reveals that Indonesia is a “golfer’s paradise,” full of exotic, jungle-laced courses designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, many of which are affordable. The author details the unique scenery and the lively scene on courses in Jakarta and Bali, and lists courses with accompanying Web sites. Be advised that you’ll have to plan your Indonesia golfing vacation on your own, as there are no golf tour operators there, according to the article.
Dive The World Indonesia
offers diving packages as well as helpful information for anyone who wants to travel to Indonesia. Find links for the prime diving locations of Bali, Irian Jaya, Komodo and Sulawesi. Each section contains information on getting there, sites to see, history, entertainment and more. Scroll down the page to find general facts about Indonesia, such as safety, weather and customs.
is a travel company that practices sustainable tourism, which benefits local people and the environment. Browse Indonesian holiday packages, such as orangutan tours in Sumatra, as well as accommodation options including a mountain eco lodge in Bali. In order to book a vacation, you must first submit an inquiry to the site (just follow the on-screen prompts accompanying each property and tour).
As with a trip to any country, it is important to perform a bit of research into history, culture and language before you take off for Indonesia. There are particular safety issues to address, and past events that could deter some tourists. The sites in this section can help you prepare and plan for a safe, hassle-free journey.
- Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, though English is often used in commerce. The official currency is the Rupiah (Rp).
- Indonesia’s dry season is from June to October, and is considered the best time to visit. During the wet season from November to March, roads are often difficult to travel. Either way, the country is warm year round though the coastal regions and mountains are generally cooler.
- Indonesia does present human rights dangers, such as homophobia, military corruption, and threats against religious leaders. Regardless of how these issues may effect you as a traveler, they are important to be aware of before you go to Indonesia. Amnesty International addresses such concerns.
For safety and travel documents …
The U.S. Department of State
provides comprehensive “Country Specific Information” on Indonesia. Find the most recent updates regarding safety concerns, entry and exit requirements, crime, health, the location of U.S. Embassies and more. This Web page is a must read before any trip to Indonesia.
The New York Times
has this insightful article about Islamic Indonesia. Certain places in Indonesia have begun to enforce Islamic law, causing concern that radical Islam is on the rise. The article suggests, however, that the growing tide of religious conservatism in Indonesia is not indicative of radicalism.
For culture and language …
is a U.K. newspaper with a thorough travel section. This guide, titled “Indonesia: essential information,” lists cultural qualities including language, food, festivals, and events. Advice for items to purchase—such as batik fabrics—as well as must-see places, and particulars concerning health and climate are provided.
Epat Web Site Association
based in Jakarta provides audio clips of Bahasa, the Indonesian language. Basic greetings and essential phrases are included. Try listening to these sound bites first, and then visiting our next pick, Digital Dialects, to test yourself with language learning games.
began as part of a dissertation on Web resources for language learning, led by a man who has studied Indonesian, Spanish and Dutch. Learning tools are illustrated and were intended to give students a break from books. Basic vocabulary as well as numbers, animals and colors are covered in several interactive teaching games.
For currency conversion …
provides the conversion rates for various currencies. Use the site to convert U.S. dollars into Indonesian Rupiah; one U.S. dollar is equivalent to roughly 9,000 Indonesian Rupiah.
For etiquette …
provides intercultural information for improved communication between businesses and individuals. Learn about everyday etiquette including proper greetings and dining etiquette, as well as business etiquette covering attire, communication and meetings.
describes some of the customs you should keep in mind when visiting Indonesia, such as letting women initiate a handshake, and accepting a drink when a host offers you one.
For news …
The Jakarta Post
is the country’s biggest English-language Indonesian newspaper. Get updates on breaking stories in the area or see the “Weekly Roundup
” for news from the previous week.
For maps …
has a map of Indonesia showing cities and national parks on each island, bodies of water and regional labels. Below the map is a brief description of Indonesia’s history, tourism and geography, as well as a list of links to additional maps, which may not be as helpful as the World Atlas map. Additional practical information and statistics are included on this page, as well.
Indonesia is on the other side of the world for those in the United States, and flights to the country require some stops. There are airports on the major islands but chances are you’ll fly into Java. If you’re in Southeast Asia, there are also ferries that could take you there. This section provides links about traveling to the Indonesian islands by plane and boat.
- There are more than 60 airports in Indonesia, but Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK) receives the most flights. Tourist capital Bali also sees heavy traffic.
- Indonesian airlines do not have the best track record, so consider avoiding flying with them. In 2007, an Adam Air flight vanished and a Garuda flight crashed. Later that year, the EU banned all Indonesian airlines from entering the country, according to the BBC. Additionally, a March, 2007 audit by Indonesia’s Transportation Ministry found that none of the country’s 20 major passenger and cargo airlines completely met national safety regulations, reported the travel blog World Hum.
- Indonesia’s three mainland crossings are at Entikong, Motoain and the road from Jayapura or Sentani to Vanimo. Visa requirements are not particularly strict, according to Lonely Planet. Ferries and speedboats from Malaysia are alternative modes of transport into the country.
For general information …
The Weather Channel
has a concise overview of getting to Indonesia by air, car, bus and rail. Find need-to-know entry information, like where to find international border crossings and how long you can stay under a temporary tourist visa.
For flight searches …
consolidates flight information and fares from hundreds of individual airlines and online travel agents (like CheapTickets and Orbitz). Enter your flight preferences to get a list of possibilities. To learn exactly which airlines and agents Kayak covers, visit the "Providers
has a clean look, simple navigation, and offers solid prices on flights. Orbitz is particularly great if you have flexible travel dates. Use the FlexSearch feature to find the best rates on weekend flights, within 30 days, or within just a few days of your chosen departure and arrival dates. Then, compare your options by using the price grid, and book your flight through Orbitz.
For boat travel …
has a good summary on how to get to Indonesia by boat. Learn about the most popular ferries, and find a list of the major routes from Singapore and the primary connections from the Malaysian peninsula.
The Langkawi Ferry
has a service connecting Penang, Thailand and Medan, Indonesia. The ferry leaves at 9 a.m. and the trip takes approximately six hours. The site advises you to check in about an hour before departure. Make reservations and find more information on the Web site.
Indonesia offers accommodation options, to say the least. Stay in a hole in the wall, or in one of the most magnificent five-star hotels in the world—the former can be found in numerous locations throughout the country, the latter is confined mainly to Bali and Jakarta. Whatever your preference, these sites ensure you’ll have somewhere to stay in Indonesia.
- Indonesia’s varied accommodation options include all budgets and personalities. For instance, breathtaking villas with private infinity pools overlooking the Ayung River, hotels surrounded by thick jungle vegetation, soothing retreats on golf courses, and an ocean resort with an inclined elevator carrying guests down to the beach. Hotel Chatter vividly presents the selections.
- Indonesia is known for haggling, and that goes for places to stay as well. You may be able to cut down the price of a high-end hotel, even to the tune of 40 percent off.
For a general hotel search engine …
directly searches more than 140 independent Web sites, including travel agents and hotel chains, to find the lowest hotel prices in the cities of your choice. Results present hotel names, their rating, price and provider in an extremely user-friendly way. Mobissimo's coverage is extensive, but it excludes the Web's largest travel agents.
For regional hotel search engines …
offers a multitude of hotel possibilities for you to choose from. Find hotels using the search tool on the left or scroll down to browse hotels by destination. Each location is briefly described along with hotels and it’s easy to book a reservation on this site.
is a great resource for finding and booking hotels in Indonesia. Choose your desired location from the map, and then enter your dates. Sort results by price, rating, name or “Top Picks.” Read the hotel profiles and guest reviews to help make your decision.
has listings for Bali, Jakarta, Bandung, Batam, Bintan, Bogor, Lombok, Surabaya, Yogyakarta and more. Find recommended hotels on the homepage and a list of hotels organized alphabetically. Read extensive information about each hotel and book on the site.
For budget accommodations …
BootsnAll Travel Network
is an extensive independent travel network with useful blogs and discussion forums. Because the Web site specializes in adventure travel, this is a good place to go for some budget options, particularly hostels. Also take a look at the site’s guide to hotels
database has a large listing of hostels throughout Indonesia. Access descriptions, reviews, and contact information, as well as comments provided by other travelers.
For camping in Indonesia …
contains a number of postings from adventure travelers regarding their hiking and camping experiences. Learn about some popular camping destinations and discover some hidden gems.
As a whole, Indonesia is not known for its infrastructure. Major cities like Jakarta have plenty of options for getting around, but smaller towns may not. Some forms of Indonesian transportation are more reliable and safe than others, as well. This section presents Web sites detailing the most dependable modes.
- Be very careful when flying in Indonesia, as mentioned in the “Getting to Indonesia” section of this guide. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration recently reported major problems with Indonesia’s aviation oversight system.
- Indonesia ferry travel has a questionable safety record that includes fires and fatal accidents, according to the BBC. Boat travel is not closely monitored, and rescue services are not up to par. That being said, Indonesia is a nation of islands and boat travel is a very important and popular element of the culture. It’s advised that you avoid travel by boat when there is inclement weather, and use a more trusted water travel service like Pelni, which has a solid safety record, according to worldsurace.com.
- To avoid traffic and have a bit of adventure, consider getting a ride with a cheap motorbike taxi. As with all forms of taxi service in the major cities, bargain beforehand.
For an overview of getting around …
guides are compiled entirely through the collaboration of their users. Here you’ll find tips and advice regarding various forms of transportation in Indonesia, including flights, ferries, buses, trains and pedicabs. Wiki guides raise a question of reliability, so use your judgment when heeding advice.
is led by backpacking travelers. This section outlines modes of transport around Indonesia with information from the Footprint
series of print travel guides. Information is brief and provides clear advice.
By rail …
The Man in Seat Sixty-One
is a unique site created by a man who loves to travel by train. Find valuable information about getting around by train and ship that he gleaned from his travels. Although the site isn’t very well designed, there are good tips and facts about traveling by train and ferry through Indonesia.
PT. Kereta Api
(Persero) is the national provider of rail services for the country. Because the site was originally in Indonesian, some of the English may be difficult to read. Use the zoomable route map
for Java and North, South and West Sumatra. Also find fares and timetables
For travel by boat …
P.T. Pelayaran Nasional Indonesia
(Pelni), the national shipping company of Indonesia, also offers passenger service throughout Indonesia. If you have to get to an island by boat, Pelni probably can take you there. The Web site leaves much to be desired; you can’t book reservations but you can view Pelni’s schedules and offices.
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