Facts for visitors: Useful information for first-time visitors


A handshake is usually the first introduction in a business setting and is used for both greeting and farewell. It is recommended that men be addressed as Pak (equivalent to Mr) and women as Ibu (Mrs). Visitors should try to use the right hand when giving money and objects to others. Visitors are expected to show respect toward religion, culture and local values. One may hear oneself being referred to as a boule – this is simply an Indonesian term for a white person or visitor and should not be taken as an insult.


Flying is the primary and fastest means of travelling medium to long distances. The country has more than 230 airports, 20 of which are international, with a number of domestic airlines offering frequent flights at affordable prices. In Indonesia one drives on the left side of the road, and an international driving licence is required to rent or drive a car. Traffic in large cities, especially in Jakarta, can be very heavy during weekdays (Fridays in particular). Should traffic be particularly severe or if you find yourself stuck in gridlock, one option is to get an ojek, a motorcycle taxi, which usually shuttles short distances down alleys and roads but will also do longer trips for a negotiated price. Ojeks are relatively safe, however, the risks of riding a motorcycle should obviously be taken into account.


The rupiah is the local currency in Indonesia. As of April 2014 the exchange rate was at around Rp11,360 to the dollar, Rp15,870 to the euro and Rp19,230 to the pound. ATMs can be used to withdraw cash using internationally accepted cards. ATMs are widely accessible, especially in larger cities. It is generally advisable to carry spare dollars as they are usually accepted by all banks and money changers.


Hotels typically add a 10% service charge to the bill on top of the 10% tax, while restaurants generally impose a 5-15% service charge. If a service charge is not applied, it is advisable to add 10-15% to the bill. For taxis and other services, tipping is appreciated, and it is common to round up taxi fares to the nearest Rp10,000 ($1). Car hire drivers may receive a larger tip.


Since January 2010 citizens from 63 countries are eligible to apply for a visa on arrival (VOA) at certain airports and seaports in Indonesia. The VOA is for leisure only and allows visitors to stay in the country for 30 days. The VOA can be extend one time for up to 30 days at a local immigration office; the applicant must bring his or her passport when applying for the extension. Failure to renew one’s VOA within the 30-day period is not recommended and a charge of Rp200,000 ($20) per overdue day may be incurred. A 30-day VOA costs $25, and the visa extension costs Rp250,000 ($25). 20 airports, 23 seaports and one land/border crossing issue VOAs. A one-year business visa can be issued for people with a work authorisation and permission from the Ministry of Manpower.

This visa must be obtained by the employer.


Stomach upsets and dehydration can affect visitors to Indonesia. If the worst happens make sure that you drink sufficient amounts of bottled mineral water. If in regional or outer city areas, it is also worth utilising bottled water to clean your teeth. High-quality health care is available in many hospitals in Jakarta, although in more remote regions and rural areas, finding a good health care service can be a challenge. When visiting rural areas, visitors should carry plenty of mosquito repellent to protect themselves from mosquitoes, which can carry malaria and dengue virus.

Food & Drink

Throughout Indonesia, nasi (rice) remains the main staple and features within dishes of many types. The spice level of these dishes does vary but can often be relatively hot due to liberal applications of chilli. Mi or mie (noodles) are the second most common staple food. A pack of mie will generally cost you under Rp1000 ($0.10) in a supermarket or approximately Rp20,000 ($2) in a restaurant. Soto (soup) and curries are also common. Although the country has largest Muslim population in the world, alcohol is available in most areas, particularly in restaurants and bars.

Public displays of drunkenness are strongly frowned upon, however. The drinking age in Indonesia is 18.

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