From Sumatra, home to Southeast Asia’s largest lake, dense jungles and the orang-utan, Indonesia stretches 5000km to Papua; the largely unexplored eastern province home to the once ‘headhunting’ Asmats, peaceful Dani and breathtaking mountain ranges. Indonesia is as varied as it is unique, from the Hindu-Buddhist monuments of Borobudur to the famous Komodo Dragons, countless deserted beaches and natural wonders grace an archipelago filled with mystique and beauty.
Bali is the jewel in the crown of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands. It is an island where the mystical and magic define everyday life in a paradise framed by sweeping beaches and natural wonders. The rich and intriguing culture is at once enthralling and hypnotic, with the island’s beauty exceeded only by the friendliness of its charming people. Sun drenched beaches and exotic temples, thrilling adventures and world class spas are all within proximity to boutique hotels, resorts and private villas, made famous by their Balinese designs.
Why Indonesia? From the primal jungles of Sumatra to the lavish luxury of Nusa Dua, Indonesia is unique in its diversity. For those of us who are searching for the true exotic, who challenge themselves with experiences that are rare and magical yet appreciate service, quality and an unique insight into a destination, Indonesia presents an opportunity to fulfill the ultimate travel experience.
The Republic of Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world comprising 13,466 large and small tropical islands fringed with white sandy beaches, many still uninhabited and a number even still unnamed. Straddling the equator, situated between the continents of Asia and Australia and between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, it is as wide as the United States from San Francisco to New York, equaling the distance between London and Moscow. Indonesia has a total population of more than 215 million people from more than 200 ethnic groups. The national language is Bahasa Indonesia.
Among the most well known islands are Sumatra, Java, Bali, Kalimantan (formerly Borneo), Sulawesi (formerly Celebes), the Maluku Islands (or better known as Moluccas, the original Spice Islands) and Papua. Then, there is Bali “the world’s best island resort” with its enchanting culture, beaches, dynamic dances and music. But Indonesia still has many unexplored islands with grand mountain views, green rainforests to trek through, rolling waves to surf and deep blue pristine seas to dive in where one can swim with dugongs, dolphins and large mantarays.
Because of her location, and geology, Indonesia is blessed with the most diverse landscape, from fertile rice lands on Java and Bali to the luxuriant rainforests of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi, to the savannah grasslands of the Nusatenggara islands to snow-capped peaks of West Papua.
Her wildlife ranges from the prehistoric giant Komodo lizard to the Orang Utan and the Java rhino, to the Sulawesi anoa dwarf buffalo, to birds with exquisite plumage like the cockatoo and the bird of paradise. This is also the habitat of the Rafflesia the world’s largest flower, wild orchids, an amazing variety of spices, and aromatic hardwood and a large variety of fruit trees. Underwater, scientists have found in North Sulawesi the prehistoric coelacanth fish, a “living fossil” fish, predating the dinosaurs living some 400 million years ago, while whales migrate yearly through these waters from the South Pole. Here are hundreds of species of colorful coral and tropical fish to admire.
Culturally, Indonesia fascinates with her rich diversity of ancient temples, music, ranging from the traditional to modern pop, dances, rituals and ways of life, changing from island to island, from region to region. Yet everywhere the visitor feels welcomed with that warm, gracious innate friendliness of the Indonesian people that is not easily forgotten.
Facilities-wise Indonesia’s hotels are second to none. In fact, many of our luxurious and unique hotels have constantly been listed as some of the best in the world, located on white sandy beaches, overlooking green river valleys, or situated in the heart of busy capital Jakarta. While Indonesia’s cities like Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, or Makassar are a hive of activities for business and leisure and a paradise for shoppers, offering upscale boutiques selling top brand names, to local goods at road-side stalls. Here gourmets can treat themselves to the many regions’ delectable spicy cuisine or dine sumptuously at international restaurants. And for sheer relaxation, Indonesia Spas are second to none to reinvigorate both body and mind.
Convention centers are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, as many top international conferences and exhibitions are held in Jakarta, Bali to Manado, ranging from the Global Climate Change Conference in Bali to the World Ocean Conference in Manado , to trade and investment exhibitions and tourism trade shows in many provincial capital cities.
Jakarta, Bali, Medan, Padang, Bandung, Solo, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Makassar are connected by direct international flights, and many regular and low cost carriers fly passengers to Indonesia’s towns or remote locations.
Traveling in Indonesia
Transport in Indonesia is an adventure in any sense of the word! With traffic moving at often breakneck speed, it is amazing how the country managed to shift 200 million people around every single day, but it somehow works!
Java, and in particular, Jakarta, has by far the most advanced and varied forms of transport in the country. With trains, Ojek (motorcycle taxi), Ojek Sepeda (bicycle taxi), Becak (rickshaw type of thing), Bajaj (known as a ‘tuk tuk’ in Thailand), Bis (bus), Dokar (horse and cart), Mikrolet (small van for up to 9 people, but often fitting 20) and finally Taxi. With all of those to choose from, you can have a different experience every day of the week and still have change!
Traveling in Bali can get frustrating at times, but the best thing to do is to hire a private driver, or take a taxi. With reasonable rates and friendly service, both of these modes of transport are the most recommended way to get around. Public transport in Bali is scarce, and does not use regular routes, so taking private transport is much easier and less stressful.
Sumatra, Java, Bali, Nusa Tenggara and Sulawesi are all connected by a regular ferry service, and these ferries are able to be used to island hop all the way from the far east of the country to Sumatra. Other sea routes are covered by Pelni, a passenger line run by the government. It can be difficult to find reliable information about traveling with Pelni, and the routes are often only run every two weeks, so forward planning is required.
In Kalimantan, the Longbot (longboat) is a long and narrow boat which is powered by outboard motors. These boats are not particularly comfortable, but they are a regular form of transport on this large island.
Prahu, an outrigger type of canoe with an outboard motor and sail. Are commonly seen in Bali and on Lombok, where they are used to ferry guests from the ‘mainland’ of Lombok, to the smaller islands.
Motorcycles are another form of transport, but you should be aware that some travel insurance companies will not cover you if you do not have a full motorcycle license in your home country. The risk of accidents is quite high, and being a non-Indonesian, you will be seen as at fault almost immediately.
Taking the more luxurious route
Luxury Yachts sail regularly from island to island, stopping off in some amazing bays and beaches. Tall sailing ships often sail from Bali to the eastern island of Komodo, on surfing safaris and diving adventures.
There are now many flights connecting what were once far removed places, to the rest of the country. If the flight schedule is not to your liking, why not charter a light aircraft or helicopter to take you? The days of ‘roughing it, or roughing it’ are well and truly over now, and even the most discerning traveler has many options for their travel in Indonesia these days.
Travel Tips & Suggestions:
THINGS TO DO
Do take small notes of Rupiah with you when traveling, especially to small villages.
Do change money in banks or authorized money changers. When changing money, check the receipt at the time of the transaction and make sure the money you receive matches the total shown on the receipt.
Do reconfirm your flight at least 48 hours prior to your next flying. We recommend making a photocopy of your airline tickets and the identifying pages of your passport.
Do leave important travel documents in your hotel safe and be careful with your belongings at all times. Make a list of your credit card details and store all it separately from your wallet. Having these details at hand will speed up the replacement time in the event of loss.
Do drink only boiled, distilled or mineral water. We do not recommend drinking the tap water anywhere in Indonesia.
Do respect local customs and traditions when visiting a temple.
THINGS NOT TO DO:
Don’t enter a temple during menstruation. When visiting a temple, always wear a sash or sarong and do not walk in front of people praying.
Don’t attempt to swim outside designated areas on the beach. There are red and yellow flags, swim between them.
Don’t collect of corals or shells or purchase of any items made from these materials. Also do not purchase any items made from endangered animal products.
Don’t deal in or do drugs. A death penalty could await!
Don’t attempt to hire a car or motorbike without a valid international driving license and full insurance. It is important to have travel insurance as it will cover you if you are involved in an accident.
Don’t attempt to get in the way of the attendees when seeing processions though it’s a good chance to take a photograph.
Don’t stand or sit higher than the offerings and the priest when visiting a temple.
Don’t attempt to use flash photography in front of the priest or people praying.
Do try to avoid stepping on offerings in the street – walk around them.
Don’t touch people’s heads. It is considered offensive.
Things to bring:
We suggest you bring the following items on your holiday trip to Bali.
- Camera. Digital camera is recommended however print processing and film is widely available.
- Sunglasses, hat and swimwear.
- A pair of comfortable walking shoes.
- Sufficient supply of prescription drugs.
- Any important items regarding your medical history, and contact information for your physician in your home country.
WHEN TO TRAVEL?
Although Indonesia is hot and humid throughout the year, there is an official wet season that is marked by short rainstorms which clean and freshen the air.
Temperature ranges year-round from 21 to 33° Celsius in the lowlands. Temperatures in the higher altitudes are generally cooler.
Being a tropical country, Indonesia is blessed with two seasons, namely dry and rainy. Dry usually occurs from June to September and the rest is rainy season. Sunshine is abundant except in rainy season when the sky tends to be cloudy. It is advisable to visit Indonesia during dry season.
Make sure that your visit does not coincide with holiday festivities such as Muslim holiday Eid (or Lebaran, like Indonesians are fond to say), because the traffic tends to be heavy especially in Java island. Unless you are interested in seeing the festivals up close and experiencing them, of course.
Indonesia’s climate can be hot and humid, so bringing along sunblocks and moisturizers during dry season is recommended. No need to bring umbrellas during rainy season because they are abundant and can easily be bought even in small shops. You might need extra clothing though, and you can purchase them almost anywhere.
Situated around eight degrees south of the equator, Bali is classified as ‘tropical’. The island has two main seasons – wet and dry. The dry season runs from April to September and tends to be slightly hotter than the wet season. The wet season runs from October to March, and tends to feel hotter than the dry season, due to the humidity. The annual temperature hovers at around 30 degrees Celsius (Mid. 80’s degrees Fahrenheit).
You should expect an exciting and vibrant culture, friendly and open people, with dramatic landscapes and idyllic surroundings as a backdrop to a lush tropical archipelago. In Bali you will experience a developed tourist infrastructure, world class hotels and some of the friendliest people in the world. Each part of Indonesia is different, so when you head to outlying Java to see the monumental Borobudur expect a very different experience to the beaches and rice paddies or Bali. A journey to Papua, Sulawesi or Kalimantan to visit the tribal peoples will give you a sense of adventure consummate with a more exciting style of travel where you may become an object of interest to the local people as much as they are to you! One thing is consistent across the country and that is the friendliness of a people who will react instantly to a desire to learn and experience their culture.
Indonesia is divided into three time zones:
Western Indonesia Time (Sumatra, Java, West and Central Kalimantan) is 7 hours ahead of GMT (GMT+7)
Central Indonesia Time (Bali, South and East Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Nusa Tenggara) is 8 hours ahead of GMT (GMT+8)
East Indonesia Time (Maluku and Papua) is 9 hours ahead of GMT (GMT+9)