Indonesia is one of the most diverse countries in the world in terms of culture, natural attractions and cuisine. Straddling the equator, this archipelago of over 18,000 islands contains beautiful white beaches, smouldering volcanos, lush green jungles, exotic animals and friendly locals. While Bali is its most popular and famous island within Indonesia, venturing to the other islands will provide many great experiences that are an alternative to the well-worn tourist trail.
Reflecting this incredible diversity, traditional Indonesian food varies greatly across the islands – from spicy hot cuisine in Sumatra, to the more sweet based food in Bandung on the world’s most populous island, Java. When compared to Western style dishes, Indonesian food can be considered hot and spicy. But if you ask the chef ‘tolong jangan pakai cabai/sambal sama sekali’ (please do not mix chilli sauce) or simply tidak pedas (not spicy) if you can’t manage very spicy food, you will still find Indonesian food packs in a lot of flavour.
If you’re looking for food that’s the real deal, trying ‘hawker food’ found on the street is the most authentic available, as most Indonesians can’t afford to eat in restaurants. Some dishes to try include gado-gado (cubes of dense sticky rice combined with peanut sauce), kerak telor (glutinous rice fried with duck egg, and topped with shredded coconut, fried shallots and dried shrimp) and roti bakar (thick toast topped with strawberry, banana, cheese, pineapple and chocolate).
Indonesia is still largely a cash society as most places outside of the large shopping malls will not take credit cards. Where possible, try and withdraw money from an automatic teller machine. If you need cash and need to exchange Australian or US dollars for Indonesian Rupiah, use official moneychanger’s outlets which look like a small bank. If you see an exchange rate that seems too good to be true, it most likely is – buyer beware. When exchanging cash, always count your money as while not common, some unscrupulous dealers will mix up notes of different value that look the same.
Indonesia also provides some unique shopping experiences. Souvenirs such as batik fabric are popular and creators use different traditional dyeing techniques to create styles unique to each region. Other textiles like silk and western style clothes are popular items. Exploring local markets is a great way to find all sorts of footwear like shoes, sandals and boots. These goods are often authentic or great ‘genuine imitations’. Indonesian art and craft is also popular and include canvas pieces, wood carvings and other trinkets. Many places will package these pieces for you, enabling them to be taken back home as carry-on luggage.
advises that you exercise a high degree of caution in Indonesia. The country has been subject to previous terrorist attacks and threats in the past, especially at places of worship, tourist areas and during significant holiday periods. Take the usual precautions against theft, bag-snatching and pickpockets, especially in crowded areas such as markets or busy stores.
Indonesia is located on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ - aptly named due to the high levels of volcanic activity which include eruptions and earthquakes which may cause tsunamis. Volcanos can produce large ash clouds which can often ground numerous flights. If you are located near an erupting volcano, listen to emergency workers and bulletins and follow all instructions. Being a tropical country, Indonesia can also experience fierce storms and unexpected weather. The wet season occurs between November and March, with flooding often experienced in some areas.
The usual precautions in developing countries regarding avoiding water that has not come from a sealed bottle, including ice in your drinks and for brushing your teeth, apply to Indonesia too. Most travellers recommend if you are going to eat street food, going to a street store or restaurant rather than a stall generally better facilities for hygienic food preparation. If you do eat from the stalls, choose one that is popular to ensure the food turns over quickly and is freshly cooked.
warns of the potential for lethal methanol poisoning from spirit-based drinks, including those in brand-name alcohol bottles. Symptoms include fatigue, headaches and nausea or pronounced vision problems. Only drink in reputable licensed places and avoid home-brewed alcohol.
If hiring a motorcycle or car, make sure you are legally licensed and select a vehicle you feel comfortable with. Reckless behaviour such as speeding and drink driving may affect cover for medical and other bills in your travel insurance. Indonesia is a developing country, so the hospitals may not have appropriate medical equipment, vaccines or be up to the same western standards you are used to if you require access to these health services. Call your travel insurance provider as they may be able to recommend a good hospital.
Be aware of local animals as while they may be cute, they can carry diseases. Monkey and dog bites are common and require treatment in case of diseases like rabies. Avoid patting or getting too close to these animals.
Theft does occur in Indonesia, and while local laws exist, policing can be relaxed around tourist districts. The beach is a popular destination in Indonesia. Don’t leave your items on the beach unattended while you go for a swim, as your travel insurance provider may not cover unsupervised items.
- Halo - Hello
- Terima Kasih - Thank you
- Tidak - No
- Dari Mana? - Where are you from?
- Pedas – Spicy.
Visitors to Indonesia are also advised to use common sense and caution while travelling to avoid the potential risks.
Being a smart traveller by getting vaccinated before you leave Australia and by taking precautions to minimise the risk of illness, accident or theft while overseas can help improve the chances of your trip to Indonesia being memorable for all the right reasons. However, some things are outside even the most cautious traveller's control; ensuring you have adequate travel insurance is an essential way to minimise the costs of an illness or misadventure in Indonesia.
Whether you have to change your travel plans for health reasons, have your new camera stolen or even suffer an injury that requires medical evacuation, Allianz Travel Insurance can help minimise the financial impact. Allianz offers Basic Travel Insurance, Comprehensive Travel Insurance and Multi Trip Travel Insurance for your trip overseas. Get a quote from Allianz today!