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15 Things You Need to Know Before Travelling to Indonesia and Bali

Be Prepared when you are going on a trip to Indonesia

Indonesia - travel tips
Indonesia - travel tips

After travelling for 3 months in Indonesia I am ready to share my experiences and tips, which will make it easier for you to travel this country. 15 answers to 15 questions – let’s jump right in!

DON’T MISS IT: Our local travel tips of Indonesia (Bali, Gili, volcanoes, Sumatra, Komodo Islands…). Check them out!


What is the power system in Indonesia?

The power system in Indonesia is the same as on mainland Europe: The power sockets used are of type C and F with a standard voltage of 230 Volt and a standard frequency of 50 Hertz.  Type C is the so called “Euro” plug and Type F the “Schuko” plug. So if you come from Spain, France, Germany etc. you don’t need to carry any adapters (even though I always do, in case you make last minute changes to travel to a different country).

If you come from the US, Canada and most South America countries, where approx. 110 Volt are used, you need to bring a voltage converter (or a power plug adapter with an integrated voltage converter. You can find cheap adapters on Aliexpress.


How safe is Indonesia?

Indonesia is pretty safe for travelers. I was prepared to use all my safety precautions and strategies I have developed when travelling other countries. After the second day I completely forgot to put them in use. I walked the streets with my passport, wallet, credit cards, camera etc. without being concerned about being robbed at all.

I did experience some situations, where I felt a bit unsecure, however, this is more due to previous experience than anything else. For example, you might being told to change your private taxi just short of your final stop. You will feel odd (at least I did), but that’s without real reason.

Many Indonesians are very helpful and depending on the places very curious about you. You will encounter them to smile at you a lot, ask you where you are from and what’s your name.

That being said, you should also behave street smart – in any country you visit! Keep your valuables in safe places and at least two credit cards in different places in case on gets lost or stolen.


What is the Uber of Indonesia?

What the world knows as Uber is “Grab” in Indonesia – actually Uber merged with Grab, so it’s prettz much the same. Besides Grab there are other apps, such as GoCar or Go Jek. While Go Jek is the exclusively for rides on a motorbike, with which you will be much quicker at your destinations especially in large cities, Grab is the most popular app for taxi services.

The app is sometimes not working correctly (not showing where you are for example). In that case just close it and open it again and you will be fine. You can try to order a Grab even at airports, as there is always free WiFi (more about this later).

Transportation in Indonesia is very cheap. Taxis are cheap already, but you will definitely find the best offers on Grab.


Where to book cheap inland flights?

If you are looking for flights within Indonesia, find the cheapest flights on Skyscanner. From there choose the offer from Tiket.com. Usually they have the best deals for inland flights. The best advantage by booking via Tiket.com is the possibility to easily change the flights for a very small fee. If you have to change your plans (and that is most likely to happen), you go best with using Tiket.com. You can also directly download the app and book and manage your flights from there.

Generally we advice to take planes if time is valuable. Flights are cheap and Indonesian airports are well connected. Road transport is very cheap, but it does take a long time to travel, as the infrastructure is not very well developed. Do you have to book flights well in advance? Not really. Cheap flights are also available about 3 to 7 days in advance, also during high season. However, do not leave leave it to last minute, as prices will definitely go up. But again, you can also book the flights and later change it, in case your plans do so.


What is the general cabin baggage allowance?

The general cabin allowance is 7kg. However, this is usually not enforced. Usually! Sometimes and out of the blue they will weight it and make you check in your luggage. In case you won’t to travel with cabin baggage only, keep that in mind. You can also bring two pieces of luggage – a smaller backpacker and a bigger one.


What is the national beer of Indonesia?

The national beer is Bintang. Due to the fact that the main religion in most parts of the island state is Islamism, alcohol is not broadly consumed (don’t worry, you will get your beer, especially in Bali).


Exchange money or using Credit Cards?

Money exchange offices offer very good exchange rates of foreign currencies. Try to exchange a minimum amount at the airports only, because the rate they offer is not as good (although it could be worse). In bigger cities and tourist places you find very favorable rates.

Before going to remote places, for example to see Orang Utans in Bukit Lawang, make sure you travel with enough cash, as the exchange rates in such places are very low.

If you decide to use your Credit Card mostly, businesses charge most of the times a fee of 3%. You will be better off by exchanging money for a good exchange rate. However, it is not recommended to rely solely on Credit Cards, as some places won’t accept it.


How to find cheap Hotels and Hostels in Indonesia?

The best way to get superb hotel deals in Indonesia is to make last minute bookings on Booking.com. Make your bookings a day or even the same day of your stay and you will find great deals! You can do so also during high season and you will always find an offer that suite you best. By doing so we found hostels, bungalows and villas for little money and even managed to stay in luxury hotels while staying within our backpacker budget.


Wi-Fi in Indonesia

You can find Wi-Fi pretty much everywhere in Indonesia. However, that doesn’t mean that the Wi-Fi is working well everywhere! Sometimes you need a lot of patience and sometimes you just give up.


Getting from the airport to your hotel

All airports offer free (and working) Wi-Fi – at least those we visited. That’s not only great to make last minute arrangements (for example a very last minute booking of a hotel), but also to order a cheap transportation to your final destination online.

Make sure you download Grab, before you come to Indonesia and try to order a Grab at the airport. Depending on the airport, you will have to look for your Grab driver between all the cars. It happened to us that we didn’t and just took a taxi instead. However, the application will show you a price, which will give you a very good idea, about how much you should be paying for the taxi.

We have the theory, that at some airports taxi drivers accept your ride on Grab and you will start to look for their car by the number of the license plate shown on the app. It shouldn’t be so difficult, but sometimes it is. You order a different Grab 2 or 4 times without succeeding and that is when you decide to just take a taxi.

By the way taxi: On some airports you will find an official taxi stand, where you can pay your taxi at official rates. This safes you from having to negotiate with cab drivers or listening to the people shouting “taxi, taxi, taxi” just when you exit the airport.


Getting around in Indonesia – public or private transport?

Depending on the location, public transport can be quite bad in Indonesia – even in very popular places such as Bali. The internet gives you quite some results if you want to use public transport to get to touristy places.

We found that the most convenient and sometimes even cheaper way are shared taxis/shuttles organized by your accommodation. It happened to us so many times that we just mentioned that we would like to go somewhere and the accommodation immediately offered us to organize a shared taxi for a prices that oftentimes was less than alternative transportation. If not cheaper, you just pay a little premium for the convenience. You can always try to negotiate with your accommodation for a better deal (they surely get also a commission of the final price).


What is the best navigation app?

Ok, this is not explicitly for Indonesia but for pretty much all of the world. Download the app Maps Me! If you still haven’t, you are not going to regret it. You can download the maps you need and use it offline. It is much better than Google Maps for travelling, because it shows you even hiking trails. Check it out!


How bad is the traffic in Indonesia?

Short answer: Really bad! Most of the times the big size of the country is not the reason of the long travel times (at least not when travelling by land), but the really bad traffic. Take for example the island of Java: It is not that huge, but getting from A to B takes ages. The same is true for Bali: The island is small but traffic can slow you down incredibly. You will be much faster with a scooter – although also slow. This is especially important to know, so you don’t miss a plane because you are stuck in a traffic jam. Take it into account!


What should I know about visiting Indonesian cities?

The only thing you need to know is that they are not really worthwhile to visit. That’s the short answer. The long answer is that you don’t want to visit Indonesia to see cities. Indonesia is nature, beaches, rainforest, animals and tropical fruits. Cities are chaotic and (said to say) dirty and congested by traffic.

Sure, if you stay long enough you will find nice areas. Nevertheless, we believe that your time is better spent in other parts of this beautiful country. We spent time in Indonesian cities, so you don’t have to.


What are the best places to see in Indonesia?

The last, but definitely not the least of the questions in this post. This is only a short list of some of the places you should visit while in Indonesia – for more details just click on the links.

  • Bali: Everyone has heard about Bali – this is what you need know.
  • Gili: Three tropical island easy to reach by ferry from Bali.
  • Komodo Island: The home of the only real dragons of the world – the crocodiles on land.
  • Temples near Yogyakarta: The famous Borobudur and Prambanan in one day.
  • Orang Utans in Bukit Lawang: Sumatra is one of two places in the world, where you can observe Orang Utans in the wild.
  • Volcanoes: Indonesia is the country with the highest density of volcanoes – these are the most popular ones. Read here about the most popular volcanoes in Indonesia.
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