Indonesia Travel Information for the First-Time Visitor

Visas, Currency, Holidays, Weather, What to Wear

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••• Image courtesy of Getty Images

As of April 2015, the Indonesian government has expanded visa-free access from 15 countries to over 40 countries. That's good news for the traveler who wants to squeeze as many adventures as they can into a single entry pass: your average Indonesia itinerary allows plenty of room for the imaginative tourist, from exploring the exquisite Hindu culture of Bali's countryside to trekking through the country's many active volcanoes.

The following article provides information you can use when applying for your Indonesia visa (at home or via visa-on-arrival), assuming your country isn't one of the new visa-free countries to begin with!

Visa and Other Entry Requirements

You’ll only be allowed into Indonesia if your passport is valid for at least six months after arrival, and must show proof of onward or return passage.

Citizens from the following countries are allowed to enter Indonesia through Non-Visa Short Term Visit. Visitors arriving under these terms are allowed to stay for up to thirty days.

  • Austria
  • Bahrain
  • Belgium
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Cambodia
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kuwait
  • Laos
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • Myanmar
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Qatar
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Vietnam

Citizens from the following countries can get a Visa on Arrival (VOA) with a validity of 7 days (US$10 fee) or 30 days (US$25 fee). For a list of airports and seaports where VOAs are issued, visit this Indonesia Foreign Ministry page.

  • Algeria
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Fiji
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Latvia
  • Libya
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Maldives
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Panama
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Suriname
  • Taiwan Territory
  • Timor Leste
  • Tunisia

Tourists whose nationalities are not included in the lists above need to apply for a visa at an Indonesian Embassy or consulate in their home country. Along with your accomplished visa application and visa fee, you must submit the following for review:

  • valid passport
  • proof of onward or return passage
  • two 4 x 6 cm photographs
  • proof of, or written guarantee of, sufficient funds for living expenses during stay

For more visa information, visit the website of the Indonesian Embassy in the United States (offsite).

Customs. Adults are permitted to carry a maximum of one liter of alcoholic beverages, 200 cigarettes/25 cigars/100 grams of tobacco, and a reasonable quantity of perfume for personal use. Cameras and film are to be declared on arrival, and will be allowed in provide you bring them out of the country with you.

The following are prohibited from entry: narcotics, firearms and ammo, transceivers, cordless phones, porn, printed matter in Chinese characters, and Chinese traditional medicines (this must be registered by Depkes RI before you can bring it in). Films, prerecorded video tapes and DVDs should be checked by the Censor Board.

Indonesia does not restrict the import or export of foreign and travelers checks.

Prohibitions apply to the import and export of Indonesian currency exceeding Rp100 million.

Airport Tax. The airport authority levies an airport tax on international travelers and selected domestic fliers. The following fees apply to travelers leaving from the following airports:

IDR 200,000

Denpasar (Bali), Sepinggan (Kalimantan), Surabaya

IDR 150,000

Jakarta, Lombok, Makassar

IDR 115,000

Banda Aceh

IDR 75,000

Maluku, Biak (Papua), Batam, Yogyakarta, Medan, Manado, Solo, Timika (Papua)

IDR 60,000

Bandung, West Sumatra, Pekanbaru, Palembang, Pontianak

IDR 50,000

Kupang, Bintan

Domestic fliers pay the following fees as they leave from the following airports:

IDR 75,000

Denpasar, Sepinggan (Kalimantan), Surabaya  

IDR 50,000

Makassar

IDR 45,000

Lombok

IDR 40,000

Jakarta

Airports not listed here charge airport taxes ranging from IDR 13,000 to IDR 30,000.

Read more about money in Indonesia.

Health & Immunizations in Indonesia

You’ll only be asked to show health certificates of vaccination against smallpox, cholera, and yellow fever if you’re coming from known infected areas. More information on Indonesia-specific health issues are discussed at the CDC page on Indonesia.

Safety in Indonesia

Most places in Indonesia may be relatively free of violent crime, but not of theft. You will run the risk of getting your pockets picked, so use one wallet with just a little money in it, and keep a larger amount in your shoe or on a security belt. If you’re keeping belongings safe in a hotel, get a receipt.

These safety tips for Bali travelers apply to travel throughout Indonesia. The following governments retain information pages on the safety situation in Indonesia:

Indonesian law shares the draconian attitude to drugs common in Southeast Asia. For more information, read about drug laws in Indonesia and drug laws in the rest of Southeast Asia.

For more general tips on staying safe in the region, check out this list of safety tips in Southeast Asia.

Money Matters

Indonesia’s currency is the rupiah (IDR). If you need to change your foreign currency or traveler’s checks, you may safely do so at major banks or authorized money changers. Some banks will charge a stamp duty or transaction fee.

Watch money changers carefully while they’re counting your cash, to ensure that they’re not shortchanging you. Always count your money before you leave.

For more tips on using Indonesia's currency, read this article about money and money changers in Indonesia.

Indonesia's Weather

Indonesia is a tropical country, with high humidity and temperatures ranging from 20° to 30°C (68° to 86° on the Fahrenheit scale). Therefore, dress for the climate – lightweight cotton clothes will suit the sunny outdoors. Bring a raincoat or umbrella, in case of rain.

In case you need to make a business call, a jacket and tie is appropriate. Don’t wear shorts and beachwear outside the beach, especially if you’re planning to call on a temple, mosque, or other place of worship.

Women would be wise to dress respectfully, covering shoulders and legs covered. Indonesia is a conservative country, and modestly-dressed women will get more respect from locals.

When/Where to Go. The best time to go would be on July through September, avoiding the rainy season and its typical hampered transportation. (Flooded roads and high sea swells will make certain routes impassable.)

Travelers headed for Bali would be advised to avoid Nyepi season – this holiday is particularly sacred for the Balinese, and the island grinds to a complete stop. For the rest of Indonesia, avoid the month of Ramadan – most restaurants in the West of Indonesia will be closed during the day.

Find out more about weather in Indonesia.