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Indonesia Travel: A handbook from A to Z

Indonesia is a mix of various races, religions, together they attract millions travelers from all over the world. In addition, the island is also famous for its lush greenery, the vast green sandalwood forests, the beautiful island paradise of Bali, the exquisitely carved temples and majestic mountains. This place deserves to be an ideal destination for those who love culture, experience and tradition.

1. Where is Indonesia?

Indonesia is an island country locates between the two continents of Southeast Asia and Oceania. This country is made from 13,487 islands, include some large island such as Java, Sumatra and Borneo.
Made up of 18,307 islands, Indonesia is the largest island nation in the world, with an area of nearly 2 million km2. This land is nicknamed “the nation of ten thousand islands”. Although Indonesia has so many islands, tourists mainly flock to Bali.

Indonesia Travel A handbook from A to Z
Vulcanoes in Indonesia

2. Vulcanoes in Indonesia

The country has the third highest number of volcanoes in the world, behind the United States and Russia, with 139 volcanoes, according to the American Museum of Natural History.

3. Languages in Indonesia

Bahasa Indonesia is the official language in the country of 260 million people. In major cities and English tourist destinations are also very popular. Each island has its own language such as Balese, Javanese.

4. Nature

According to the International Conservation Organization, Indonesia is on the list of 17 countries that are considered “megadiverse” (super diverse countries). Most animals in the world live here. People even find species that don’t exist anywhere else.

5. Best time to visit

Indonesia Travel A handbook from A to Z
Coast on Bali Island

Indonesian climate is divided in 2 seasons: rainy and sunny. In the eastern islands, monsoon brings hot and dry climate from June to December. In the West from December to March, monsoon usually causes heavy rain.
The ideal time to visit Indonesia is from April to October, when the weather is pleasant and the humidity in the air is low. It is also the season of festivals and travel events in Indonesia.

Indonesia Travel A handbook from A to Z
Sun icon is the sign of good weather for you to visit. In contrast, rain icon is the months that not very good.

6. International flight to Indonesia

There are a lot of flight from Europe to Jakarta the capital with Qatar, Emirates or Singapore Airlines. Jakarta is connected to other famous tourist cities of Indonesia such as Surabaya, Medan, Bali with some local airlines such as Air Asia. Garuda, Tiger or Lion Air. However, Air Asia and Lion Air will be the best choice because of the low price and convenient flight.

7. Transportation in Indonesia

• Flights: In Indonesia, the domestic air network is quite popular, linking the capital Jakarta to most islands in the country. Airlines operating inland routes include: Garuda Indonesia (GA), Indonesia AirSia (QZ) and Merpati Nusantara Airlines (MZ).

• Seaways:
Main ports: Padang Bai and Benoa (Bali), Taniung Priok (Jakarta), Belawan (Medan) and Sekupang (Batam).
Popular agencies:
– PELNI: A state-owned, high-class shipping company which has service in almost domestic ports.
– ASDP (Kapal Ferry Cepat): Operating mainly fast-moving ships on close routes.

• Railway: The only railroad carrier in Indonesia is PT Kereta Api

• Roads: In Indonesia, people drive on the right side of the road. Road systems on big islands such as Java, Bali and Sumatra are well developed. You can drive motorbike with international license. However, in other small islands, the road system is still underdeveloped and you have to use local tuk tuk.

• Bus: Bus fares are low and quite stable. Large and air-conditioned buses are more expensive than regular buses, which is useful for traveling around and around major cities, but often times late due to frequent traffic jams, especially during rush hour.

• Taxi: Taxi systems are quite popular in cities and towns, so it is easy to travel by this vehicle.

• Bemos and Opelets: are the names of mini bus in dialect which runs short distances in the city, so carefully ask for the price before boarding. In addition, you can also rent a car to drive yourself, the form is quite popular and is operated by many domestic and foreign companies (requires tourists to rent a car to have an international driver’s license).

• Becak: This is the name of a tricycle used in Indonesia since 1936. Today, they are popular across the streets, for both locals people and tourists.

8. Currency

When buying goods, most stores only use local currency. Therefore, you need to bring US dollars to exchange. Don’t exchange money on small shop on the street, just doing it in airport. The Indonesian currency is the Rupiah (Rp or IDR) and has denominations of:
• Banknotes: 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, and 1,000,000 IDR
• Coins: 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 IDR.

Indonesia Travel A handbook from A to Z
Prambanan Temple

9. Telephone in Indonesia

• The national telephone code is “62”
• Area codes in Indonesia: Bali: 361, Jakarta: 21, Medan: 61, Surabaya: 31, Bandung: 22.
• Calling to Indonesia is: 00 + 62 + area code + phone number
• Sim card price in Indonesia ranges from 5,000 – 20,000 IDR/card.

10. What to visit in Indonesia?

Jakarta

Indonesia Travel A handbook from A to Z
Old Batavia in Jakarta

Jakarta is the pride of Indonesia for containing many interesting things, because behind the modernity of buildings and streets, Jakarta also hides the strange traditional beauty that rarely exists in somewhere else. The Old Town and Old Batavia is the must-visting place in Jakarta with old Dutch colonial buildings.

Bali island

Indonesia Travel A handbook from A to Z
Ubud rice terraces

Being the jewel of Indonesia, Bali not only attracts tourists for its natural beauty, but also has many sacred cultural values. Religion is an integral part of the people here. Bali is unique place in South east of Asia in which Hinduism is still the main religion.

Yogyatarta

Indonesia Travel A handbook from A to Z
Borobudur Temple

Yogyakarta was the capital of Java kingdom in IX century. Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, but before Islam invaded this country, Buddhism and Hinduism were also very influential here. The two evidences of golden area of Hinduism and Buddhism in Yogyatarta are the Prambanan temple and the Borobudur complex – today recognized by Unesco as two world cultural heritages.

Gili Islands

Indonesia Travel A handbook from A to Z

Located in the Lombok Strait, about 35 km in west of Bali, the Gili Islands is known as the most beautiful paradise in Asia. This place is covered with the perfect white beaches, cool blue water, beautiful coral reefs. The islands almost no cars, motorbikes or dust and noise, which ruin the the neighbor Bali. Prices here are also much more lower than  Bali.

Sumba Island

Sumba is a remote island in Indonesia, about 55 minutes from the famous island of Bali. Although not as well known as Bali, anyone who has ever been to Sumba is impressed by the beauty of this place. Different from major part of Indonesian islands, Sumba Island is quite different with pristine grasslands and low limestone hills. Here, you can experience various marine sports such as swimming, surfing, scuba diving, fishing.

Lombok Island

Indonesia Travel A handbook from A to Z
Pink beach on Lombok island

Lombok is a “neighbor” from Bali to the West by the Lombok Strait and Sumbawa to the East by the Alas Strait. Thanks to its beautiful location between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, the island possesses endless beaches, of which “Pink Beach” is an extremely popular destination on Instagram. Lombok is 2 hours from Bali by train or 30 minutes by plane.

Komodo National Park

This is a national park located in the Sunda Islands including three large islands Komodo, Padar, Rinca and 26 small islands. This place is hometown of more than 1,800 Komodo dragons. Currently, the entrance fee for this park is 10 USD/person and is planning to raise in the near future. Komodo Island is not only a place to see famous Komodo dragons but also a beautiful diving spot.

11. Indonesian Cuisine

• Nasi goring: In addition to the color of the fried rice grains, Nasi goring also fascinates visitors with a variety of side dishes such as raw vegetables, sauces, eggs, shrimp, cabbage, traditional meat. In particular, because of being fried with tamarind, chili, the fried rice Nasi goring is very sour and spicy.

Indonesia Travel A handbook from A to Z
Nasi goring

• Babi Guling: Originating from the beautiful island of Bali, this specialty is made from roasted suckling pig and rice. After the pork is roasted, crispy, fragrant, the chef or seller will cut the pork into bite-sized pieces, mixed with rice, shallots, garlic, ginger, turmeric, pepper, herbs, galangal , chili, lemongrass then continue to roast over the heat for 5 hours, so that the sweetness, aroma of meat and spices are absorbed into the rice. The highlight of the dish is the crispy, golden pig skin that is put on the plate as a decoration.

• Nasi Kuning: Kuning is a dish made from a special kind of golden rice often used by Balinese people on festivals and sacrifices. After skillfully cooked with coconut milk, chicken broth, aromatic spices, the rice is molded like a tower. Nasi Kuning is usually served on a large plate and arranged quite harmoniously according to the ratio of meat, eggs, fish, vegetables. So at first glance, the dish looks like a vivid picture and full of life.

• Nasi Uduk: also known as coconut milk rice, this name comes from the processing of the dish. In addition to the special aroma of rice cooked with coconut milk, Nasi Uduk also invites visitors with a range of other side dishes such as spiced meat, fish, chicken, boiled eggs, chili sauce and crackers. The indispensable spice of Indonesian rice dishes is mixed with fried onions.

Indonesia Travel A handbook from A to Z
Nasi Uduk

• Tempeh: Tempeh is a cake made of fermented soybean and rice flour that is usually deep fried and has a dark gray color, served in fresh or frozen. In addition to the traditional Tempeh, to suit the taste of visitors, the seller also modified this dish to the taste of Westerners such as Tempeh Burgers, Tempeh with salads and tomatoes.

• Satay: A dish that tourists can find anywhere in Indonesia. The meat used in this dish is usually beef or chicken. In particular, the process of slaughtering animals is made in Halal standard.

• Beef rendang & sambal: Rendang is a dish derived from the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia. The dish quickly became a famous dish all over the world.

• Java fried noodles: Stir-fried noodles are the favorite food of Indonesian people. In general, the noodles are made from cereals grown from Indonesia such as rice, glutinous rice, green beans, soy beans, etc. The noodles are soft and strong, soaked with stir-fried flavors with typical vegetables and fruits.

Indonesia Travel A handbook from A to Z
Java fried noodles

12. Indonesian coffee

Indonesia is the first coffee-growing country in Southeast Asia. Yellow bourbon coffee bean is used widely and has highest quality in the world.

Charcoal coffee

Indonesia Travel A handbook from A to Z
Charcoal coffee

Kopi joss or charcoal coffee has become a specialty of Yogyakarta city (Jogja), on the island of Java, Indonesia. Although sold on “angkringan” (mobile stalls), this coffee is made of best coffee beans of Klaten and Jogja. Unlike Vietnamese coffee, Indonesians do not use filters, rackets or any other things to make. They just put coffee powder directly into a cup. Coffee cooking water must be from a large tin pot. It is thought that cooking with charcoal will create a different flavor than cooking with regular gas stoves. Boiled water is added directly to a glass containing coffee powder and a moderate amount of sugar. After that, people will stir to dissolve the coffee with sugar. The burnt lumps of coal were put directly into the coffee cup making a ‘josssssssssss’ sound. This kind of sound you can only feel when you’re near. This is also an explanation for the name “kopi joss” of Indonesian people. After adding coal, the seller will use a small spoon to dip the charcoal in the glass. The lump of coal in coffee is only used once during combustion. Kopi joss appeared more than 30 years ago. To explain the origin of this particular coffee, it is said that an old man used it to boil water but unfortunately dropped a lump of coal into a half-empty coffee cup. After tasting and feeling the coffee taste different when there is charcoal inside, he decided to trade it.

Weasel coffee

Kopi luwak is made from coffee beans eaten by luwak – Asian palm civet, digested and discharged. Coffee beans in civet luwak will be washed and used to made the most expensive coffee in the world. Price is around US $35 – $100 a cup. Kopi luwak is no longer a wild civet coffee. Most luwak civets are captured and caged in cages on giant coffee plantations. “Similar to foie gras, civets are forced to eat coffee beans,” Suwanna Gauntlett, founder of wildlife Alliance, told Globalpost. In 2013, coffee expert Tony Wild called for an end to civet exploitation to exploit kopi luwak. The civets are stress when they live close to each other. Cause many health problems because of a coffee-only diet, many can eat their feet and die.

9. Some Taboos

• Do not shake hands with Muslim women when they are not active and should shake with both hands.
• Shoes must be removed before entering homes or places of worship. Drink water if invited by the host.
• Do not point your finger at people, things or somewhere.
• Use your right hand to give or receive gifts.
• Ask permission to take photos at sacred places.

About Jason Nguyen

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Contents1. Where is Indonesia?2. Vulcanoes in Indonesia3. Languages in Indonesia4. Nature5. Best time to visit6. …

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