From perfect picturesquare of ranging volcanoes, pristine beach, and wilderness of rain forest and its inhabitants, Indonesia can’t be skipped during your travel in South East Asia. Consists of 14,000 islands, hundreds of volcanoes, the diversity of people, a sketch of plan what to do where to go is substantial. Here are seven travel tips if you wish to visit Indonesia.
1. Plan your trip
Indonesia is massive. Check the maps and you will realize how huge it is. That’s why you need to specify where you wanna go unless you have time and budget to travel. There are five big islands in this tropical country. Each island has different unique things to see and experience.
Sumatera: Near Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra is perfect for you who love jungle while still want to see culture. A trip to Aceh, North Sumatera and West Sumatera can be doe roughly 1-3 months, depends on your travel style. Visit the famous volcanic lake, Lake Toba, chilling out in a very relaxing not touristy beach in Weh Island, do some jungle trekking and see Orang Utan in Bukit Lawang.
Java: Most populated island in Indonesia. This is what mainstream travelers normally do, can’t blame them but it’s the easiest place to travel in Indonesia, complete information and well-organized public transportation. See the famous temples, Borobudur and Prambanan Temple in Central Java, climb the scenic volcano like Bromo and Ijen Crater, then make your way to Bali and relax.
Kalimantan: Neighboring with East Malaysia and Brunei, Kalimantan is the right place to experience wild things. If you’re an animal lover, this place is perfect to do river cruising while trying to catch an eye on wild animals like Orang Utan, Birds, and other mammals.
Sulawesi: Always be my favorite island so far, travel from South to North by land may takes two days in a single journey but you can make stops, so in total it may take a month as well. Sulawesi is suitable for the travelers who want to try out of their comfort zone. The K-shaped island is a perfect combination of nature and culture. Less information so it’ll be more adventurous to travel here. Lots of stunning diving sites such as Wakatobi and Bunaken, see the hanging coffins in Tana Toraja, relax in Togean Islands.
Moluccas: Used to be the important port where spices trading was centralized here. Beside historical places, you can enjoy traveling like you’re the only foreigner there. Go to Ora Beach, a private resort island and also Banda Islands.
Papua: If you’re crazy enough to experience the wildness of indigenous Tribe, like Dani Tribe, live with them inside jungle, far from modernization, come to this place. It will be a totally different experience. One of the best diving site in the world, Raja Ampat is also located here. But prepare your budget because the flight and everything is expensive here in Papua.
Those are the five big islands but there’s one island where you can have a great time as well, it’s called Nusa Tenggara Timur, next to Bali and Lombok. Do boat sailing to Komodo Island then overland to the villages like Wae Rebo, Bena, and visit the tree color lake Kelimutu. If you can continue to Alor Island, it’ll be unforgettable experience.
2. Check the Weather
You don’t want your plans got distracted by the weather. Imagine when you want to lay on the beach and having sun tanned but suddenly the rain pours. Indonesia has only two seasons, dry season (March-October) and rainy season (October-March), can’t really predict because of the global warming. The sea especially on the East Indonesia (Sulawesi, Moluccas and Papua) might be rough on July-August and the boats might not operating, so check the weather and condition to enjoy your trip.
3. For Women, Dress Properly
The majority of Indonesians are Muslims and the people here are more conservative. For girls, wear appropriate clothes, don’t show your front “B” and back “B” unless you want to get attention which might lead to sexual harassment. Shirt and short are okay but not too sexy.
4. Know the Characteristic of the People
Indonesians are friendly, they’ll be very curious if you’re white, blue eyes, and blonde. It’s common for them to talk to you, asking A to Z questions. If it happens in public transportation and they ask too much and annoys you, plug you headset and close your eyes, pretending you’re sleeping.
Indonesians are very helpful but you have to distinct who offers genuinely generous help or just want to take advantage of you. Normally in big cities they’ll try to help but expect something in return. The people in less touristic area will be very nice and would love to help you even though they can’t speak English. More than half men population in Indonesia smokes, so don’t be shocked when they smoke everywhere even in public bus.
5. Learn the language.
Bahasa Indonesia is the easiest language to learn among all South East Asia Country. Same alphabets A-Z, no accent, no present past future tenses, very simple. Most of my friends can learn Bahasa and speak good Bahasa after only one month. It’ll be useful in haggling for sure.
6. Haggle and Fix the Price
Applies especially for Ojek (motorbike with driver), and becak (rickshaw). Always fix the price in the beginning or else they will play with the price and you end up paying big amount for short distance. Normally ojek costs Rp 10,000-15,000 for 5 kilometers ride, so you can estimate. For angkot (public van transport) shouldn’t cost you more than Rp 5,000 how far you go. Buy a sim card in Indonesia, it’s so cheap! For Rp 3,000 you can get a sim card. Internet subscription is very cheap as well. Simpati, XL, and 3 are the most popular one.
7. Safety of Traveling in Indonesia
Overall it’s safe traveling in Indonesia, even for solo female traveler. Just ensure to always watch your belongings everywhere you are. Pickpocket sometimes happen in big cities, also people can easily snatch your camera if you’re not careful enough. Incidents happened because they have chance to do it, so take care and travel safe.
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