29 Top Indonesia Travel Tips

Travel in Indonesia can be incredible. I have put together a list of wry insights about travel in this beautiful country. These 29 Top Indonesia travel tips might help:

  1. Indonesia airline carry-on baggage allowance is more generous than other places. 
  2. Watch out for things that bite because many of them carry diseases or never clean their teeth.
  3. Budget hotels won’t have many sockets – take a splitter plug. They are cheap here.
  4. Bring a head-torch – unless you like buggering about in the dark looking for stuff. 
  5. Don’t expect a consistent phone, wi-fi or electricity, even in top hotels.
  6. Many Indonesians enjoy heavy smoking – from people, cars, trash burning and forest fires. 
  7. Buy a local SIM card and have your phone unlocked before you leave home. Telkomsel probably has the best national coverage. Other providers are cheaper. 
  8. Your attempts to communicate might cause laughter or even scare away the target even in shops and banks. 
  9. Don’t be afraid to say “No” – most people are hospitable to the point of embarrassment, but it’s your trip after all.
  10. Inside tourist hotspots, you will be approached by herds of kids with school assignments or wanting to take photos. Pretending you don’t speak English might help, or just get into the spirit of things.  
  11. Outside tourist hotspots, you will be anything from a minor celebrity, to an object of curiosity or even annoyance. Watch out for police, immigration and military installations in particular. Be prepared for autograph requests. 
  12. Learn some asian style selfie poses. Get a selfie stick. 
  13. Middle aged ladies might get very excited by your arrival/appearance. 
  14. Your European face will probably scare small kids and make babies cry. Your body hair will be a source of fascination. 
  15. Don’t be surprised if you see people sleeping in unusual places. 
  16. Don’t bother queueing unless there is a ticketing system in place, especially if time is tight. Watch other people and follow their lead. 
  17. Don’t assume that ‘Yes’ means yes (or ‘No’ means no). In Indonesia, I’ll try to be there/do it means probably yes. I might do it/be there probably means no. 
  18. Watch out for low doorways, shop awnings or anything else that you will bang your head on. 
  19. Watch out for holes in the ground. Small holes may contain rats, snakes or other beasties. Large holes may contain lava, poisonous gases or even the entrance to hell itself. 
  20. Noise pollution is a unknown concept. Ear plugs can moderate public performances. 
  21. You’ll be invited to sing at some point. Having a working knowledge of the tune and words of a popular song will amaze people. If it’s an Indonesian popular song, you’ll be given the keys to the village. 
  22. Tiles and sand can be bloody hot or/and damn slippery!
  23. You might find it hard to understand why Indonesian people like to decorate their villages, and around their homes with brightly coloured plastic. 
  24. Don’t be surprised if a minor injury or illness is treated like the end of the world. 
  25. Your humour won’t travel as well as you think it might. Be especially careful if using sarcasm, irony or deadpan humour. 
  26. Avoid expressing opinions about religion, local politics or anything else beyond your ken. 
  27. Mens police and military uniforms can be incredibly tight fitting. They are almost certainly not gay, so don’t laugh. 
  28. Indonesian nationalism can be a powerful force. Don’t awaken it. 
  29. The local delicacy might be something bizarre. Toxic beans, foul smelling fruits or vegetables and unusual animal parts are surprising popular. Try them…live a little! 


Remember, most of all, these 29 top Indonesia travel tips are meant as a fun guide. Keep your sense of humour with you! Let me know what you think in the comments. 

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