Indonesians are friendly, outgoing and peaceful. Indonesians’ approach to both life and business is one that is reserved and restrained in extreme emotions, while being playful and humorous. As a culture that values saving face, it is more efficient to deal with any problem with a smile and patience than by raising your voice and arguing. In a business setting, a handshake is typically used for both a greeting and farewell. It is recommended that men be addressed as Pak (pronounced “Pa”) and women as Ibu. Visitors are expected to show respect toward religious, cultural and local values, thus do not ask for meetings on Fridays, as it is a day reserved for prayer and family, and avoid booking meetings between 12pm and 2pm, as it is prayer time. One may hear oneself being referred to as a bule – this is simply an Indonesian term for a white person or foreigner and should not be taken as an insult.
The traditional batik shirt is commonly worn in the office and considered proper business attire. A suit or white shirt, tie and slacks for men is also normal business attire, as is a suit or dress for women. Offering a business card is common.
The rupiah remained fairly stable against the dollar in the first half of 2020, fluctuating between Rp13,200:$1 and Rp16,600:$1. Exchange houses can be found in the numerous malls of Jakarta, and it is recommended to change currency there rather than at the airport. ATMs are widely accessible in cities and can be used to withdraw cash using internationally accepted bank cards. It is advised to carry dollars as they are typically accepted by banks and money changers.
Citizens from 169 nations can secure a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival. For those who wish to stay longer, a 30-day extension can be granted at immigration offices. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, all passengers – including diplomats and foreigners with resident or work permits – who wish to enter Indonesia must provide a health certificate that states they tested negative for the virus. A test is also given on arrival.
Flying is the primary and fastest means of travelling medium to long distances. There are a number of low-cost carriers that allow flying at affordable prices. In Indonesia drivers use the left side of the road and an international driving licence is required to rent or drive a car. Trains run from Jakarta to Bogor and Yogyakarta. Traffic in Jakarta can be very heavy during weekdays. Public transportation is readily available in multiple forms, such as buses (these differ from Jakarta’s bus rapid transit system and are far less comfortable); the mass rapid transit underground rail network; public vans called angkutan kota, or ANGKOT; MetroMini buses and kopaja (public mini buses); bajaj (two- or three-wheeled vehicles); and ojek (motorcycles). Fares for bajaj and ojek journeys should be agreed in advance. Taxis are affordable, and it is recommended to take registered taxis with brands such as Bluebird or Express. There are also a number of ride-hailing apps both for motorcycles and cars, including Gojek and Grab.
Food & Drink
Nasi (rice) remains the primary ingredient in dishes of many types. Mi or mie (noodles) is the second-most common staple food. The spice level of dishes varies, but can often be quite hot. Using the words tidak pedas (not spicy) can solve that problem for sensitive stomachs. Gojek and Grab offer food delivery. Moreover, although the country has the largest Muslim population in the world, alcohol is readily available, particularly in hotels, restaurants and bars. However, public displays of drunkenness are frowned upon.
Stomach upsets and dehydration can affect visitors to Indonesia. It is recommended to drink only bottled or boiled water. Health insurance that includes emergency repatriation cover is strongly advised. Adequate routine medical care is available in all major cities. However, outside of the main urban areas emergency services are generally inadequate and medicines can be expensive. Travellers who are visiting rural areas should carry plenty of repellent to protect themselves from mosquitoes, which can carry malaria and dengue virus.
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