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Indonesia and Bali - Frequently Asked Questions

From local currency and visas to weather and appropriate attire, we answer all your most frequently asked questions on travelling to Indonesia.

Table of contents

  1. When is the best time to go?
  2. Do you need a visa?
  3. How can I get there?
  4. What is the local currency and what currency should I take?
  5. What is there to see and do?
  6. Where are the best beaches?
  7. What is the best way to travel around the country?
  8. What should I wear when visiting temples and religious sites?

When is the best time to go?

Indonesia's tropical climate means it experiences both sunshine and showers throughout the year depending on where and when you go. In general there is a wet and a dry season, with the driest months in Java, Lombok and Bali from May to September. Further east, islands like Papua have their dry season from October to April.

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Do you need a visa?

You can get a 30-day visa on arrival in Indonesia at international airports and major ferry crossings. For some land border crossings, you need to arrange a visa in advance. You can also apply for a 60-day tourist visa in advance from the Indonesian embassies and consulates.

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How can I get there?

Jakarta, the country's capital on the island of Java, is the main gateway to Indonesia, with international flights to and from the UK, often via Dubai or Singapore. From Jakarta airport, there are regular internal flights to key points all around Indonesia, including Bali, Kalimantan and Sumatra.

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What is the local currency and what currency should I take?

The Indonesian national currency is the rupiah (Rp). Notes come in denominations of 2,000Rp, 5,000Rp, 10,000Rp, 20,000Rp, 50,000Rp, and 100,000Rp. Coins are less commonly used but 50Rp, 100Rp, 200Rp, 500Rp and 1,000Rp are in circulation. The exchange rate is around 15,400Rp to the UK pound or 9,600Rp to the US dollar, but check for current rates before you travel. US dollars are the best currency to take if you want to exchange in the country and cash machines are available in cities and major tourist areas.

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What is there to see and do?

Historic ruins, ornate temples, intriguing cultures, breathtaking scenery and wonderful wildlife are the main attractions. You could be exploring steamy jungles inhabited by orangutans and howler monkeys one day, and relaxing on a picture-perfect white sand beach the next. Diving and snorkelling are particularly popular activities in the archipelago, while its volcanic landscapes and mountain lakes are great for scenic treks. Ancient Buddhist and Hindu monuments, as well as delicate temples, stone stupas, and traditional tribal villages all make for a fantastic brush with the country's complex culture and past.

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Where are the best beaches?

As a nation of thousands of islands, there are countless beautiful tropical beaches in Indonesia, some as yet completely undiscovered by tourism. The little Karimunjawa Islands, off the coast of Java, are part of a protected marine park that has some of the most secluded and beautiful stretches of sand in Indonesia. Lombok has gained a reputation for having some of the country's best it embodies the desert island dream with pale curves of soft sand shaded by gently swaying palms and lapped by pellucid calm waters. In Bali, the best beaches for swimming are at Nusa Dua and Sanur on the sheltered east side of the island, while the west has powerful waves popular with surfers.

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What is the best way to travel around the country?

There are domestic flights between the capital, Jakarta, and key points around the islands, as well as ferry services that allow you to hop between islands. Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sulawesi and the Nusa Tenggara islands are all connected by regular ferries. Train travel is limited to Java and Sumatra, but in Java it's one of the easiest ways to get around. Hiring a bicycle is a popular way of exploring the islands, especially in Bali.

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What should I wear when visiting temples and religious sites?

It's best to show respect for the local religions and culture, especially when you're visiting temples and religious sites, with the general advice being to dress modestly. When visiting most major Hindu and Buddhist religious sites and temples in Java and Bali you will be handed a sarong at the entrance to be tied around your waist. Clothing that's lightweight and breathable will prevent you from becoming too uncomfortable in the hot and humid climate.

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