Visas for Indonesia
The following advice is intended to provide guidance regarding visa and entry requirements in the destination country for UK nationals. This is not intended to be exhaustive or complete; visa requirements and the application process do change from time to time so we strongly advise visiting the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office website and checking for their current advice.
Visas are not required for UK or US nationals entering Indonesia for short stays up to 30 days.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS FOR VISA-FREE SHORT VISITS
- Passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 (six) months as from the date of entry into Indonesia.
- Onward or return tickets are compulsory.
- No compulsory vaccinations.
- Visitors on Visa-Free Short Visits must enter and exit from certain airports and seaports in Indonesia.
Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of departure from Indonesia. Entry to Indonesia will be refused and airlines may not carry passengers holding passports with less than six months validity. You are required to retain you arrival card for presentation to Immigration upon your departure.
Overstaying your visa
Overstaying without the proper authority is a serious matter and visitors can be held in detention or refused permission to leave the country until a fine of Rp. 200,000 per day is paid. After overstaying for 60 days, you will be detained and possibly imprisoned for between six months and two years.
If you stay in private accommodation in Indonesia (not a hotel) you must register your presence with the local police or you could face a fine. If you stay in a hotel you will be registered automatically.
Travelling with children
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. They may want to see birth certificates, a letter of consent from the other parent or some evidence as to your responsibility for the child. Contact the Indonesian Representation in London for further information.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 9 months of age coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission.
Will I Be Able to Contact Home While I Am Away?
Indonesia spans three time zones from UTC +7 to UTC +9 hours. Indonesia’s country code is +62. For making calls back home, international rates can be quite expensive, we recommend downloading WhatsApp, a free internet-based calling service, for getting in touch with loved ones. Another alternative is to pick up a local SIM card and use data to contact home. Wi-Fi is available in most hotels in major cities, although expect it to be much slower than at home. In rural areas, there will likely be no WiFi.
Cellular service is reliable in major cities and in most villages. However, in remote areas, cellular service is often unreliable, especially in dense jungle. Expect to be unplugged and off the grid for part of your journey.
What vaccinations do I need?
Since we are not health professionals, we advise that you seek professional advice on which vaccinations are right for you during your travels. Your health professional can give you all the information you need.
We also advise that you bring any current prescriptions and any other medications you make regularly take with you. There are pharmacies in Indonesia, however the medicine might not be what you are used to. In rural jungle areas, getting medical help can be difficult, so be sure to bring anything you think you may need.
Malaria is present in Indonesia. Prior to travel, we advise that you meet with a health professional to discuss your options for malaria prevention.
What is the Quality of Medical Facilities in Indonesia?
Indonesia is a developing nation and many medical facilities do not meet western standards. The best medical facilities are located in Jakarta, and it is highly recommended to visit private facilities instead of local clinics.
Although we do not anticipate any problems during your adventure with us, accidents do happen. We require that you carry traveler’s insurance that covers a helicopter evacuation for the activity you are doing. For more information see our Travel Insurance page.
Will I have Access to an ATM in Indonesia?
ATMs are widely available in most larger towns and big cities in Indonesia. It is advised you take cash out of an ATM prior to departing for rural areas. Money can be taken out in up to two million Rupiah quantities. Do not forget to take your card with you before leaving the ATM. In Indonesia, the money comes out first, then your card. Always cover your hand when entering your pin to avoid any fraud.
Credit cards are accepted in major cities and at major establishments, however, most transactions happen with cash in Indonesia. Try to have small bills on hand for rural areas or small shops, as change is difficult to come by with larger bills.
Currency exchanges can also be made in country, but be sure to check rates prior to changing. Keep in mind that the Rupiah often uses notes in the tens of thousands and it is very easy to get scammed. Always count change and do the math when making purchases.
What can I Expect from Toilet Facilities?
In hotels, most toilets are western style with proper plumbing. However, when out and about anything goes. Toilet facilities vary widely across Indonesia. In restaurants in tourist areas expect proper facilities with either western or eastern squat-style toilets.
In rural areas where there is no plumbing, squat style long drops are the most common. These are often outhouses and vary in cleanliness. There might be a proper toilet, where “flushing” is done via dumping water down the hole.
Either way, we advise that you bring your own toilet paper when traveling in Indonesia. Hotels will provide paper, but do not expect to see it anywhere else. Often times, there is a hose or bucket of water that is used to clean yourself.
For ladies, consider utilizing a wee-rag or “Shewee” device to help if you need to go number one. A wee-rag is a small bandana or cloth that you use when you go. Simply wipe when you are finished and attach it to the outside of your pack to dry and disinfect in the sun. A “Shewee” is a device that enables females to wee standing up, certainly handy during a trek. For feminine hygiene products consider investing in a moon or diva cup. A menstruation cup is reusable, after being cleaned per manufacturer instructions.
Never flush toilet paper down the toilet while in Indonesia. Plumbing facilities are not as robust as they are at home, and this could cause serious clogs. Always use the dustbins provided for your waste.
What is the Water Quality in Indonesia?
You should always treat any tap water while in Indonesia. There are many methods for purification. A SteriPen is a good option, however, be sure to bring plenty of extra batteries. Another option is to use a backcountry or wild camping water filter. If you are opting for the cheapest method, using iodine and chlorine tablets will do the trick, however, this does make the water taste and smell slightly strange. Whichever method you choose it is important to also bring a backup method as well.
The water in Indonesia is unfit to drink, brush your teeth, rinse your mouth, etc. It will need to be purified using a method described above.
As a sustainable trekking company, we do not condone the use of disposable plastic bottled water while in Indonesia. There is no way to dispose of the waste in Indonesia and trash is often burned in the open.
Laws in Indonesia
The following advice is intended to provide a brief outline of any laws in Indonesia that are directly applicable to travelling there. This is not intended to be exhaustive or complete and laws do change from time to time so we strongly advise visiting the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office website and checking for their current advice.
In general the laws of any country will be based on the same values as at home but significant differences can be present subject to the prevailing cultural, religious and political environment in the country. These four basic factors can be your main guide to how to act in unfamiliar situations. If you have any doubt as to what to do in a given situation it is usually possible to identify the "safest" fallback option and go with it. For example, not buying something, not taking a photo of a government building etc.
Basic Laws in Indonesia
You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
You should be aware of offending Islamic sensitivities. Westerners have occasionally been harassed by fundamentalists in bars and nightclubs, particularly around major Islamic holidays such as Ramadan.
Do not get involved with illegal drugs. Possession, trafficking, and manufacturing of such drugs are serious offenses in Indonesia. Those caught face lengthy prison sentences or the death penalty, usually after a protracted and expensive legal process. Police often raid locations (particularly in Bali) known to be frequented by foreigners and may require an individual to take a urine or blood test where they have reasonable suspicion that drugs have been taken. Drug use or the possession of even small amounts of drugs such as marijuana or ecstasy can lead to prison sentences longer than four years. Convicted traffickers or users of hard drugs such as cocaine or heroin face the death penalty in Indonesia.
Gambling is illegal in Indonesia. There have been cases where tourists have fallen victim to organised gambling gangs, resulting in the loss of large amounts of money.
You must show evidence of your identity if it is requested by, for example, the Police. You should carry photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport and your arrival card to avoid losing the original, which should be kept in a safe place.
Travel Facts Indonesia
The local currency is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). Informally, Indonesians also use the work “perak” (‘silver’ in Indonesian) when referring to the rupiah. The rupiah is subdivided into 100 sen, however due to inflation the sen is no longer widely used. There are approximately 15,300 IDR to £1.
The Indonesian archipelago geographically stretches across three time zones from GMT+7 in Banda Aceh to GMT +9 in Western Papua. The Indonesian government recognises three time zones: Western Indonesian Time GMT +7, Central Indonesian Time GMT +8 and Eastern Indonesian Time GMT +9.
Western Indonesia includes Central Kalimantan, Java, Sumatra and West Kalimantan
Central Indonesia includes East and South Kalimantan, Lesser Sunda Islands and Sulawesi
Eastern Indonesia includes the Maluku Islands and Papua and West Papua
Electric supply is on a 220-volt 50-Hz cycle system. The plug types are C and F. The type C is the “Europlug”; a two-pin unearthed plug. The type F plug and outlet is commonly known as a “Schuko” plug and has two round pins with two earth clips on the side. The F socket will accept Type C plugs.
International Dialling Code
Except in the high elevations, the climate is tropical throughout the year, with seasonal variations associated with the northeast monsoon. Papua has two seasons, the ‘wet’ and the ‘dry’ season. The ‘dry season’ falls between May and September and the ‘wet season’ falls between October and April. However, you should be prepared for rain all year round in Papua!
There are also variations in climate across Papua, for example at sea level the temperature rarely strays far from 25-30C, however temperatures decrease into the mountain ranges, which contain permanent equatorial glaciers on the highest peaks. Coastal areas also tend to be more humid than the highland areas.
Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian) is the official language and this is taught universally in schools, therefore it is spoken by the almost every Indonesian, however there are also approximately 742 further different languages and dialects spoken. Most Indonesians will speak at least one of these local languages and dialects, often as their first language.
Although Papua has a population of just 2.9 million and a population density of 9 people per square km, the Papuan culture is incredibly diverse and has evolved some of the most distinctive and long isolated cultures in the world. The Papuan people are thought to be descended from the first inhabitants of New Guinea, who arrived at least 40,000 years ago.
The dense forests of Papua are rich with an intricate mosaic of different tribal groups; there are approximately 255 indigenous groups in Papua alone, including some groups who have remained uncontacted. Each group has their own language, some unrelated to any other in the world, and most groups are made up of just a few hundred people. This huge diversity has contributed to approximately 25% of the world’s languages being spoken in New Guinea. This diversity has been created by the endlessly varied landscape Papua has to offer; from coastal areas to mountainous regions the environment has shaped the way of life and development of these groups.
The central mountainous region of Papua is home to the highland people who cultivate the land with sweet potatoes, yams, canes and other plants. The tribes who live within the famous Baliem valley are included here, the Dani, Lani and Yali; all still practice their traditional cultures and customs, celebrated at the annual Baliem Valley Festival. The people who live in the central mountain ranges and the Jayawijaya Highlands, including the Baliem valley are famous for wearing koteka, the penis gourd. These koteka vary greatly between different tribes and are often an identifying feature of the tribe.
Groups of people living in the more lowland areas tend to process sago trees for their staple food, fish in downstream rivers and in the sea, and cultivate the land, to some extent. Tribes living further upstream of the rivers also process sago tree but they hunt boars and other non-heard animals. These groups tend to not cultivate the land, but rather hunt and occasionally fish in the rivers.
Some tribes living in the coastal regions have been more greatly influenced by foreign cultures due to interactions through trade, missionaries and the greater accessibility of the region. Foreign influences have largely avoided the interior tribes, due to the inaccessibility of the region. In addition, it was only discovered in 1938 that interior areas, such as the Baliem valley were inhabited. Even now there are some tribes in the interior regions of Papua who have remained uncontacted.
Religion in Papuan Culture
The Dutch introduced Christianity to Papua in the 1850s, however, this was not really accepted until the early 20th century, and this was generally isolated to the northern coast and islands of Papua. The Christian church of Papua was established in the 1950s. In the Southern areas of Papua Catholic missionaries introduced Catholicism in the 1890s. The efforts to introduce Catholicism were largely unsuccessful until the 1920s when the first Catholic schools were built.
Generally speaking the indigenous groups today tend to be Christian or Animist, and migrants, particularly from elsewhere in Indonesia are Muslim. Papua is one of two Protestant-majority provinces in Indonesia.
Protestantism is the majority religion in Papua, with Roman Catholicism following. Islam is the next most prominent religion, followed by Hinduism and Buddhism, however both Hinduism and Buddhism represent a very small proportion (less than 1% of the population practice these religions). However, in many areas, such as the interior regions animism and traditional beliefs are still practiced.
Flora and Fauna - Papuan Culture
While Papua is one of the areas with the greatest biodiversity in the tropics it is also one of the least studied and understood. New Guinea occupies an area of 0.5% of the Earth’s surface, but contains 5-10% of the total species on the planet, roughly equivalent to that found in the United States or Australia. Reflecting this biodiversity, Papua shelters a host of rare and endemic species including the Salvadori’s teal, Macgregor’s Bird of Paradise, Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo, the Papuan Hornbill, the long-beaked Echidna, the Papua monitor and the Dasyuridae, often known as the ‘tiger cat’. Papua is also thought to be home to the New Guinea Singing Dog, one of the rarest species of dog in the world. The rivers and wetlands also host salt and freshwater crocodiles, flying foxes, osprey and bats. This great biodiversity is possible due to the multitude of different ecosystems and landscapes stretching across Papua, from coral reefs, to mangroves, to rainforests, alpine tundra and equatorial glaciers. Unfortunately, these little-explored equatorial glaciers have been in retreat over the past 80 years.
Stretching through the southern lowlands of Papua, Lorentz National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, is one of the most ecologically diverse national parks in the world, and weaving through the northern lowlands is the “Amazon of Papua”, the Mamberamo river, whose huge valley forms the “lakes plains region” and is home to some of the world’s last remaining uncontacted peoples and vast and fascinating biodiversity. Beyond these lowlands, stretching out to the oceans is the rich underwater world of beautiful coral reefs in the warm ocean environment.
Papua History and Culture
New Guinea is the second largest island in the world after Greenland and is split, politically, into two halves. The western half of the island comprises two Indonesian provinces; Papua and West Papua. The eastern half forms the mainland of the country of Papua New Guinea. Geographically, New Guinea lies in the southwest Pacific Ocean, to the east of the Malay Archipelago and north of Australia, New Guinea is part of the same tectonic plate as Australia and is part of Melanesia, a subregion of Oceania.
New Guinea is the world’s tallest island, containing the highest point between the Himalayas and the Andes and is the largest tropical island on Earth; the size, geography and vast altitudinal range give rise to some of the world’s most extensive ecosystems and biodiversity. New Guinea occupies an area of 0.5% of the Earth’s surface but contains 5-10% of the total species on the planet, roughly equivalent to that found in the United States.
Stretching for hundreds of miles from the underwater world of the coral reefs to the equatorial glaciers on the peaks the endlessly varied landscape contains some of the world’s most extensive and diverse mangroves, lake and river ecosystems, wetlands and savannah grasslands, lowland and montane rainforests and alpine tundra.
Through the centre of the province of Papua extending into Papua New Guinea, the New Guinea highlands stretch for over 1,000 miles. Papua boasts the highest mountains in Oceania; Puncak Jaya or the Carstensz Pyramid at 4,884m (16,024ft), Puncak Mandala at 4,760m (15,617ft) and Puncak Trikora at 4,750m (15,584ft). South of this mountain chain is the Lorentz National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site. This is the largest protected area in South-East Asia and is the only protected area in the world to incorporate a continuous, intact transect from snow-cap to tropical marine environment, including extensive lowland wetlands running between.
Lorentz is one of the most ecologically diverse national parks in the world and shelters a host of rare and endemic species. Weaving through the northern lowlands is the “Amazon of Papua”, the Mamberamo river, whose huge valley forms the “lakes plains region” and is home to some of the world’s last remaining uncontacted peoples and vast and fascinating biodiversity. Papua and West Papua has been the home of the indigenous peoples for tens of thousands of years and has evolved some of the most distinctive and long isolated cultures in the world.
Papua is governed by a directly elected governor and regional legislature. The MRP, Majelis Rakyat Papua (Papuan People's Council), was formed by the Indonesian Government in 2005 as a coalition of Papuan tribal chiefs, whose job is negotiation and speaking on behalf of Papuan tribal customs.
The central government of Indonesia, based in Jakarta, has a strong influence in Papua. During the colonial era Papua was known as “Netherlands New Guinea”, after which it was known as “Irian Barat” (West Irian), then “Irian Jaya” (which roughly translates as “Glorious Irian”) which was the official name until the name “Papua” was introduced in 2002. West Papua was created from Papua in 2003, initially called “Irian Jaya Barat”, but renamed to “Papua Barat” (West Papua) in 2007.
Baliem Valley Festival - Papuan culture
The Baliem Valley is nestled in the central highlands of Papua lying at an altitude of about 1,800m, surrounded by a crest of steep green mountains and home to three of Papua’s interior tribes: the Dani, Lani and Yali tribes. The Dani live in the centre, the Lani tribe in the west and the Yali tribe in the south east. Although this is one of the most densely populated areas of Papua, and these groups have lived in this area for thousands of years, the Baliem valley has only recently been discovered by Westerners when American Richard Archbold noticed beautiful terraced fields dotted through the valley from his plane in 1938. The Baliem valley is bisected by the Baliem river which flows from Mt. Trikora, through the Baliem Valley before reaching the Arafura Sea.
Every year these three tribes gather together in Wamena for the annual Baliem Valley Festival, one of the significant cultural events in the history of the Indonesian people. This festival is a wonderful opportunity to experience an event central in preserving and celebrating the cultural values of three of Papua’s remarkable interior tribes.
This spectacular event highlights many of the unique cultural values and traditions of the Dani, Lani and Yali tribes. One of the main features is the mock battles between the tribes, an event which is held over two days with about 26 groups of 30-50 people. These mock battles are accompanied by the sound of the traditional Papuan Pikon.
In addition to these mock battles other celebrations include traditional dancing and music, Puradan (rattan spear throwing), Sikoko (spear games), pig racing, earth cooking and the pig roast feast. Visitors can also take part in the Sege throwing and archery competition.
You can see a short film of the highlights of previous years' festivals here.
Etiquette in Indonesia
The people of Indonesia are, in general, reserved and friendly. It is hard to generalize such a diverse group of people making up one country, so when in doubt, follow the locals. If the mood is quiet, don't talk loudly, if someone hands you something with two hands, receive it with two hands. Women are seen as quiet and reserved, it is not common to show signs of affection, or for women to engage in physical contact with men outside of their family. A way of greeting in the Muslim part of Indonesia is to touch your hand to your heart as a sign of respect. Same sexes may extend hands, while
Women are seen as quiet and reserved, it is not common to show signs of affection, or for women to engage in physical contact with men outside of their family. A way of greeting in the Muslim part of Indonesia is to touch your hand to your heart as a sign of respect. Same sexes may extend hands, while oppisite sexes may not. Remember, in much of the world, the left hand is seen as unclean
Remember, in much of the world, the left hand is seen as unclean so do not handle food, shake hands, or open doors with your left hand.
Dress in Indonesia and Papua
Most Indonesians dress conservatively, especially women. In Papua, the penis guord is far from conservative by western standards, but outside of tribal areas, people tend to cover up. As a visitor, it is advised that you cover yourself, especially if you are female. Do not show any midriff, plunging necklines, or wear short clothing. At the very least cover your shoulders. When traveling in jungle areas it is best to wear lightweight pants, to avoid getting bitten by bugs and scrapped by thorny branches.
Food and Drink
Due to the diversity of cultures in Indonesia and Papua, the food and drink varies widely. In Papua wild game, fish and various native root plants dominate the menu. Pork is typically not present in the rest of Indonesia (with the exception of Bali) because pork is non-halal and considered unclean. Tempe or pressed soybeans, is a staple food in much of Indonesia. The island of Java is known for its spice and special blends of chili and oil, called sambal, is a popular treat. So popular that there are restaurants dedicated to this extremely hot paste.
The island of Java is known for its spice and special blends of chili and oil, called sambal, is a popular treat. So popular that there are restaurants dedicated to this extremely hot paste. Satay, or meet on a stick, is a popular street food treat. Options range from your typical meat cuts, to snail, intestines, and even skin. Indonesia is also well known for its coffee. From regular coffee to the famous Kopi Luwak, or cat poop coffee, there is something for everyone's taste.
Alcohol, although legal in Indonesia, is not widely consumed. Imports from Singapore, Australia, and the Philippines are common. There are also a few local beers available for purchase in tourist restaurants, clubs, grocery stores, and some convenience stores.
Tipping isn't entirely common in Indonesia. Leaving 10% at restaurants or rounding up your taxi fare is considered fine, but otherwise there is no tipping required. Tipping a guide, however, is encouraged but not required. You can read more about tipping at Adventure Alternative here.
At Adventure Alternative, we promote sustainable travel. We expect people to use treatment methods instead of disposable plastic bottles for drinking water. Also, we encourage travelers to avoid creating excessive waste when they travel. Bring a cloth grocery bag for any shopping and do not litter.
Indonesia is a large island nation located between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. With over 17,000 islands there is a lot of cultural and ecological diversity.
Where is Indonesia located?
Indonesia straddles the border between South East Asia and Oceania, wrapping around peninsular Malaysia and stretching east towards Australia. Indonesia contains over 17,000 islands. With so many islands come an immense cultural diversity. The country is the 4th largest in population in the year, with over 260 million people. Over half of that population lives on the main island of Java.
What Currency is Used in Indonesia?
The Indonesian Rupiah is the official currency of Indonesia. For up-to-date currency exchange rates click here. For more information regarding ATMs and credit cards please see our Practicalities Section.
What is the Time difference in Indonesia?
Indonesia spans three different time zones from UTC +7 to UTC +9 hours. Check out the current time in Indonesia. The international dialing code for Indonesia is +62. For information regarding internet connectivity and cellular service please see our Practicalities Section.
How Do I Charge My Electronics While in Indonesia?
Indonesia uses a Type C and F Europlug. The voltage is 220-240. Electricity is widely available in larger cities and small towns throughout Indonesia. However, in extremely rural areas, electricity may be harder to come by. Generators are sometimes available at night, although their availability to charge your electronics cannot be guaranteed. If you are concerned about not having enough battery to last a jungle trek, be sure to bring along a battery pack or solar charger just in case.
What Language is Spoken in Indonesia?
Although there are several different native languages scattered throughout the different island chins, Bahasa Indonesia is the official language of Indonesia. Bahasa Indonesia is very similar to Bahasa Malay in neighboring Malaysia. English is spoken, at least in a limited capacity, by those in the tourism industry of Indonesia. All of our guides speak English, however do not expect to hear a lot of English in rural areas. Fortunately, the characters in Indonesian are the same as the English alphabet, so things are easy to read.
It is always a good idea to learn a few words of the local language before you arrive at your destination. Even if you can only say hello, it goes a long way in the minds of the local people. Check out this list of Indonesian phrases.
What is the Climate in Indonesia?
Indonesia is split by the equator. Therefore, expect a tropical, humid climate year-round. The exception is on the higher peaks of Indonesia, where temperatures can swing wildly and there may even be snow. The biggest concern in Indonesia are the monsoon seasons.
The dry season runs from June to September and the rainy season is from December to March. However, rain falls year-round in Indonesia. You will welcome it, it’s an excellent break from the heat of the jungle.
Papua books and maps
New Guinea: Irian Jaya, Periplus Editions, Eiseman Jr Fred, ISBN-13: 978-0945971061
New Guinea: An Island Apart, Neil Nightingale, BBC Books, ISBN-13: 978-0563361619
Indonesia, Ryan ver Berkmoes, Lonely Planet Publications, ISBN-13: 978-1741048308
Link to free Papua visitor’s guide and map
NY Times articles
Papua New Guinea, Hema Maps International, 1:2 167 000, ISBN-10: 1875610014, ISBN-13: 978-1875610013
Indonesia - Papua, Maluku, 1:1500 000, Nelles Travel Map, ISBN: 9783865740458
Climbing, Exploration and Rainforest
Descent into Chaos: Doomed Expedition to Low's Gully, Connaughton, Brassey's, ISBN-10: 1857531477, ISBN-13: 978-1857531473
Into the Heart of Borneo, O'Hanlon, Penguin, ISBN-10: 0140073973, ISBN-13: 978-0140073973