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What You Need To Know Before Traveling To Indonesia

Steam rises from Mount Bromo's crater (in the foreground). It is one the most active volcanoes in the world. Mount Semeru stands tall at the background.

Indonesia is a massive country spanned out over a large chunk of the Indian and Pacific Ocean. Being home to somewhere over 17,000 islands it can be a bit tricky to navigate how to get place to place when wanting to explore everything it has to offer. Below you can read some basic tips to consider before booking your flight!

What’s the visa situation in Indonesia?

There are plenty of visa options when it comes to visiting Indonesia. For citizens of most countries, you’re allowed a free 30 day tourist visa. If you want to stay a bit longer than 30 days, you could opt for a visa on arrival ($35 USD) giving you 30 days initially and then you can extend with immigration for an extra 30 days. If you plan to stay even longer, you could go to an Indonesian Embassy beforehand to apply for a 60 day tourist visa ($50 USD) which could then be extended every month for a total of 6 months. A lot of local expats still do the visa on arrival and leave every 60 days experiencing no issues with immigration. Be sure to check on this in regards to your country specifically. Since Indonesia welcomes so many tourists a year the immigration department is really strict and an overstay fee can be costly!

Why is Bali different from the rest of Indonesia?

The most well known of Indonesia’s islands is Bali, which is unique for many different reasons. For starters, Bali is the only island in Indonesia where the locals practice Hindu religion. The rest of Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, with other religions representing a small percentage also. With that being said, you can still get a great feel for the culture here as you witness locals giving daily offerings, preparing for ceremonies in the temples or celebrating special holidays like Nyepi (when the ENTIRE island observes a day of silence and no one is allowed to leave their home. Even the airport shuts down!) The Balinese have a reputation of their own for their warm welcoming smiles, friendliness and ability to keep their culture so strong despite tourism taking over the island.

What can you expect from the locals?

Pendet traditional dance from Bali, Indonesia. Offerings are made to purify the temple or theatre.

The locals are beyond welcoming. In fact this a huge reason why so many people fall in love with Indonesia and never leave. If you’re willing, the locals are more than happy to share their life and culture with you. Indonesians in general are really social and family oriented, considering everyone in their village their brothers and sisters and taking care of one another. As far as treatment towards tourists, they’re pretty grateful to have the tourism industry funding their economy so their happy to welcome you and learn from you.

What can you expect from the food?

Delicious Indonesian cuisine

Tourists might rave about nasi goreng (fried rice) or nasi campur (mixed rice with vegetables and meat), but there are so many tasty cuisines to try off the beaten path. Fair warning, Indonesians love spicy food so be warned if this isn’t your style. At home, the locals eat a lot of fresh vegetables picked up from the market cooked with their unique blend of spices (chilis, shallots, garlic, tumeric) and served with rice. Make sure to try tempe - it’s an indonesian staple you can find anywhere else!

What can you expect from the health system? (and more importantly, what to do if you get sick)

Surfing a wave in the warm ocean during a sunset

If you get sick there are plenty of doctors, clinics and hospitals that can treat you. Very few Indonesians have insurance themselves, so most people pay out of pocket for services (which by Western standards is fairly inexpensive). There are plenty of pharmacies so you shouldn’t have any issues picking up medicine should you need it!

Is Indonesia safe?

Overall, Indonesia is extremely safe. You need to keep in mind all the basics just as you would when traveling in any other country. Lock up your belongings at your hostel or guesthouse, keep your valuables safe when exploring about, don’t walk home alone at 3 in the morning when you’re drunk, you know, just the basics. The amount of petty crimes are similar to anywhere in Southeast Asia, but as long as you use your common sense to keep yourself safe you won’t have any issues.

What if you fall in love with Indonesia?

There's just so much to see in Indonesia

Indonesia is unlike any other so it’s no wonder why so many people fall in love and stay forever. Many people will go out of their way to fly to a nearby country every 60 days just to be able to call this amazing country home. With over 17,000 islands hosting their own unique charm for you to explore it’s safe to say you will never run out of new adventures! The rest is unexplainable, you just have to come find out for yourself!

Now that you know the basics, here's where you should go when you're in Bali, Indonesia! Click here.

About the author:  Melissa Giroux is a full-time traveler who decided to base herself in Bali, Indonesia. You’ll probably find her in Southeast Asia while she is enjoying her life and sharing it with the world on her travel blog.


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