A land that is both in the Northern and Southern hemisphere, Indonesia is a unique mixture of some of the most magnificent natural wonders in the world. Its thousands of uninhabited islands, vast rainforests, impressive mountains, diverse culture, and foods will captivate any traveler who sets foot upon the country.
Made up of about 18,000 islands, Indonesia is, by far, the largest island country in the world. Because of its unique configuration, Indonesia is home to different terrains of rainforests, beaches, mountains and volcanoes, which has resulted in many wildlife hotspots and marine biodiversity.
This vast archipelago has given birth to a very diversified culture, food, and languages across all its six regions. Java is the heart of the country and Bali is world-renowned for its beautiful sandy beaches. Sumatra and Kalimantan are hosts to many endangered wildlife while Sulawesi and Nusa Tenggara are legendary dive sites. Maluku and Papua are frontier destinations that reward the brave with pristine culture and nature experiences.
Most nationals can visit Indonesia with or without a visa for up to 30 days upon arrival. However, it is important to note that visitors holding either of these types of visa can only enter the country through certain ports.
Depending on your intended destination, there are a number of entry points into Indonesia. The three main international airports are in Java and Bali. Ferries connect Indonesia with Malaysia and Singapore while overland crossing is available from Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and East Timor.
Also note that Indonesia requires visitors to have a ticket out of the country.
Indonesia's official currency is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). Although other major currencies might be accepted at tourist areas, this is not always the case and will usually come at a very unfavourable rate. ATMs that take major credit cards (except for American Express) are only available in big cities and can sometimes experience network problems. Therefore, carrying cash in the local currency is recommended for shopping and purchases.
The official national language is Indonesian, though there are thousands of dialects spoken across the large island country. English is not widely spoken here except in touristy areas like the island of Bali. However, English is taught in schools nowadays, especially in large cities so youngsters might be able to speak it though they could be rather shy.
Indonesian cuisine is extremely varied because the country consists of so many islands separated from one another, with Javanese cuisine that usually contain peanuts, sugar, and chillies, being the most popular. And since the country is the most populous Muslim country in the world, most dishes are halal with a few exceptions such as the Balinese and Batak (North Sumatra) food that are usually made from pork. People in North Sulawesi are known to eat almost anything, including lizards, dogs, and rats. Most Indonesian dishes are generously spiced, and are usually accompanied with rice and chilli sauces that can be extremely spicy.
Traveling in Indonesia
Many local airlines fly between the islands of Indonesia though they are prone to delays and cancellations. Another option is via ferries and boats that connect almost all inhabited islands in the country.
Within cities, there are many ways to get around. A cheap mode of transport for short distances is by tricycle coaches called “becak.” Taxis and air-conditioned buses are available in the main cities. A Dutch-built railway system connects most of Java and some of Sumatra.
It could be challenging to travel within Indonesia, especially if you go off the beaten track. Public transportation is not always punctual and seem disorganised. Some places are almost inaccessible except via chartered planes or without enduring an arduous journey. However, you will be rewarded with splendid nature and unspoiled cultural experiences.