Indonesia Travel Basics

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Indonesia Travel

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 Travel Basics

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.

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  • 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.

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Indonesia Travel Requirements

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.

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  • 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.

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Getting to Indonesia

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.

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  • 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.

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Indonesia Hotels

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.

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  • 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.

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Getting Around Indonesia

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.

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  • 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.

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