Over 17,000 islands spreading between the pacific and Indian Ocean; More than 200 ethnic groups with over 300 spoken languages bridging the continents of Asia and Australia; a multitude of amazing landscapes and biodiversity stretching along the equator line; this is Indonesia, a land of endless spectacular wonders!
ULTIMATE IN DIVERSITY
As the largest archipelagic country in the world, Indonesia is blessed with so many different people, cultures, customs, traditions, artworks, food, animals, plants, landscapes, and everything that made it almost like 100 (or even 200) countries melted beautifully into one. Every island here is a unique mixture of natural splendors and different cultures of people who live upon it; from the vibrant tourists’ paradises of Bali and Lombok to the mysteriously shrouded cultures of the Asmat in Papua and those who dwell the highlands of Toraja in South Sulawesi.
Situated at the heart of the world’s precious coral triangle and along the Ring of Fire, Indonesia’s countless wonders stretches from mountain tops all the way to the bottom of its vast seas. Along the diverse landscapes, various unique wildlife made the archipelago their only natural habitat including the legendary Komodo Dragons, the gentle giant Orangutan, the majestic Cendrawasih Bird of Paradise, and so much more. Beyond the surface of the sea, Indonesia’s extensive coral reef is regarded as the richest and most diverse in the world; simply the ultimate paradise for divers and underwater enthusiasts.
With rich history that dates back for centuries, Indonesia also holds some of the most fascinating monuments of human civilization. Among these is the imposing Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Central Java which the largest Buddhist monument that still stood majestically today with all its spectacular features. Equally fascinating is the Prambanan Temple Compounds which is one of the biggest in Southeast Asia.
The ever-intriguing, ever-intoxicating land holds some of the greatest adventures you will ever experience on the face of the earth. With all its abundance splendors, it would take a lifetime to explore all the wonders of the archipelago, and still left you craving for more. As the country of the ultimate in Diversity, there’s sure everything for everyone here.
Welcome to Wonderful Indonesia!
The history of Indonesia can be marked as the dawn of mankind since it is where the remains of the early man were unearthed. During the ancient age of kingdoms and empires, Indonesia saw the rise of the great empires that ruled over almost the entire South East Asia and regarded to play a key role in the history of the region. After gaining independence from foreign colonization and the wave of both World Wars, Indonesia emerge as one united country and continue to thrive among the nations of the world to this very day.
Dawn of Mankind
Fossilized remains of Homo erectus and his tools, popularly known as the “Java Man” found in the archeological site of Sangiran in Central Java, suggest the Indonesian archipelago was already inhabited by “the early man” at least since 1.5 million years ago. Recently, the fossil of Homo floresiensis or nicknamed as ‘hobbit man’ was discovered in Liang Bua, Flores Island and also believed to be one of the ancestors of modern humans.
Age of Kings and Sultans
Chinese chronicles mention that trade between India, China and the islands within what today is the Indonesian Archieplago was already thriving since the first century AD. The powerful maritime empire of Srivijaya in southern Sumatra that ruled over the Sumatra seas and the Malacca Straits from the 7th to the 13th century was the center for Buddhism learning and famous for its wealth. In the 8th- 9th century, the Sailendra Dynasty of the Mataram kingdom in Central Java built the magnificent Buddhist Borobudur temple in Central Java, and followed by the construction of the Hindu Temple Prambanan.
From 1294 to the 15th century the powerful Majapahit Kingdom in East Java held suzerainty over a large part of this archipelago. Meanwhile, small and large sultanates thrived on many islands of the archipelago, from Sumatra to Java and Bali, to Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Ternate and the Moluccas, especially following the arrival of Islam in the 13th Century.
The Colonial Era
Following the arrival of Marcopolo in Sumatra, successive waves of Europeans – the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and British – sought to dominate the spice trade at its sources which is at the Moluccas or Maluku Islands of Indonesia began in 16th century. In 1596 the first Dutch vessels anchored at the shores of West Java. Over the next three centuries, the Dutch gradually colonized this archipelago until it became known as the Dutch East Indies.
The Emergence of Indonesia and the Declaration of Independence
Revolt against the oppressing colonizers soon built up throughout the country. The Indonesian youth, in their Youth Pledge of 1928 vowed together to build “One Country, One Nation and One Language: Indonesia”, regardless of race, religion, language or ethnic background in the territory then known as the Dutch East Indies.
Finally, on 17 August 1945, after the defeat of the Japanese in the Second World War, the Indonesian people declared their Independence through their leaders Soekarno and Hatta. Freedom, however was not easily granted. Only after years of bloody fighting did the Dutch government finally relent, officially recognizing Indonesia’s Independence in 1950.
PEOPLE & CULTURE
Living on more than 13,400 islands, the Indonesian nation today counts some 200 million population comprising over 200 ethnic groups with their own languages and dialects range in population from the Javanese (about 70 million) and Sundanese (about 30 million) on Java, to peoples numbering in the thousands on remote islands. After gaining Independence in 1945, inter-marriages among people of different ethnic groups have welded the population into a more cohesive Indonesian nation.
The majority of the population embraces Islam, while in Bali the Hindu religion is predominant. Whereas in areas like the Minahasa in North Sulawesi, the Toraja highlands in South Sulawesi, in the East Nusatenggara islands and in large parts of Papua, in the Batak highlands as well as on Nias island in North Sumatra, the majority are either Catholics or Protestants. On the whole the Indonesian people are religious in nature.
And, true to the Pancasila, the five principles of nationhood, – namely Belief in the One and Only God, a Just and Civilized Humanity, the Unity of Indonesia, Democracy through unanimous deliberations, and Social Justice for all – Indonesian societies are open and remain tolerant towards one another’s religion, customs and traditions, all the while faithfully adhering to their own. The Indonesian coat of arms moreover bears the motto: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, “Unity in Diversity”.
WEATHER, CLIMATE & SEASON
The climate of Indonesia is almost entirely tropical. The uniformly warm waters that make up 81% of Indonesia’s area ensure that temperatures on land remain fairly constant, with the coastal plains averaging 28°C, the inland and mountain areas averaging 26°C, and the higher mountain regions, 23°C. Temperature varies little from season to season, and Indonesia experiences relatively little change in the length of daylight hours from one season to the next.
The main variable of Indonesia’s climate is not temperature or air pressure, but rainfall. The area’s relative humidity ranges between 70 and 90%. Although air temperature changes little from season to season or from one region to the next, cooler temperatures prevail at higher elevations. In general, temperatures drop approximately 1°C per 90-meter increase in elevation from sea level with some high-altitude interior mountain regions experiencing night frosts.
Being a tropical country, Indonesia does not have spring, summer, autumn, or winter, instead just the two seasons of Rainy and Dry, both of which are relative. While there is significant regional variation, in most of the country (including Java and Bali) the dry season is April to October, while the wet season is November to March. However, global warming has made the seasons less predictable.
Bahasa Indonesia is the national and official language of Indonesia and is used in the entire country. It is the language of official communication, taught in schools and used for broadcast in electronic and digital media. Most Indonesians also have their own ethnic language and dialect, with the most widely spoken being Javanese and Sundanese. Some ethnic Chinese communities continue to speak various Chinese dialects, most notably Hokkien in Medan and Teochew in Pontianak.
While generally is not widely spoken, an acceptable level of English can be understood in a number of major cities and tourists’ destinations including Bali, Batam, Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, and Yogyakarta. Moreover, most hotel and airlines staff can also communicate in English on a basic to moderate level.
Indonesian pronunciation is relatively easy to master. Each letter always represents the same sound and most letters are pronounced the same as their English counterparts.
VISA & IMMIGRATION POLICIES
Another important thing to know before you travel to Indonesia are these types of visas which has specific requirements. More info, read here ..
GETTING TO INDONESIA
Prior to Departure
Before departing on your exciting adventure across the various wonders of Indonesia, be sure you have all the necessary travel documents that you will need to bring along on your trip. It will also be wise if you are well aware of all the policies regarding immigration and visas to Indonesia from your home country to avoid all the unnecessary inconveniences.
Please refer to our Visa and Immigration Policies page to learn about the entry policies to Indonesia and other related information.
The principal gateways for entry to Indonesia are Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang (just at the outskirt of Jakarta) and Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport. Both have undergone massive expansion and are now equipped with the latest and most convenient facilities. Other Airports that also serves international flights includes Juanda Airport in Surabaya, Hasanudin Airport in Makassar, and Kuala Namu in Medan. The recently established West Java International Airport in Majalengka, West Java Province about 68Km from Bandung will also serves numerous international flights.
Travel to Indonesia from the Americas can take as little as 20 hours and requires at least a transit at East Asia, Europe or the Middle East. Travel from most of Europe will take less than 20 hours. While there are direct flights to Jakarta from Amsterdam, London and Istanbul, for other cities at least a transit is required. Australia, though, is just 4–7 hours away. There are several flights from various cities in the Middle East to Indonesia. There are also short flights from Indonesian cities to nearby Malaysian cities, such as from Pontianak to Kuching, Tarakan to Tawau, and Pekanbaru to Malacca.
Garuda Indonesia, the flag carrier of Indonesia, serves flights to several cities in Southeast Asia, East Asia, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Amsterdam and London in Europe. The airline also has extensive code-sharing agreements (Sky Team) and this assists in providing quite good flight frequencies from airports in countries near Indonesia.
Other international Airlines that serves to and from Indonesia includes: AirAsia. Cathay Pacific Airways, China Airlines, Emirates, Eva Air, Firefly, Japan Airlines, KLM, Korean Air, Lion Air, Luftansha, Malaysia Airlines, and Qantas/Jetstar Airways.
Ferries connect Indonesia with the neighboring countries of Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Most connections are between ports in Sumatra and Riau Islands Province and those in Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia. The close proximity between Batam Island and Bintan Island in Riau Islands Province to Singapore and Malaysia has made the twin island the third and fourth main entrance to the country. There is also a ferry service between Malaysia’s Sabah state and East Kalimantan. Onward boat connections to Jakarta and other Indonesian islands are available from these ports. Meanwhile, Roll On Roll Off (RoRo) ships connect General Santos and Davao in the Philippines with Bitung, in North Sulawesi.
Frequent ferries connect Singapore to various ports in Batam, as well as Tanjung Pinang and Bandar Bintan Telani Lagoi (Bintan Resorts) in Bintan. There are also daily ferries that connect Singapore with Tanjung Balai in Karimun Island. In Peninsular Malaysia, daily and frequent ferries depart from various ports including Johor bahru and Port Kland Near Kuala Lumpur to Batam, Bintan, Tanjung Balai, as well as Dumai and Pekanbaru in Riau Province, and Tanjung Balai Asahan in North Sumatra.
Cruise Ships and Yachts
Cruise ships call at 5 ports: Tanjung Priok (North Jakarta), Tanjung Perak (Surabaya), Belawan (near Medan), Makassar and Tanjung Benoa (Bali). There are 24 schedule of regular cruise ship from Singapore, visits Java and Bali, whereas irregular schedule cruise ship visits Bali and Nusa Tenggara. You may take a cruise and stop at specific locations along the way with everyone else, in which case Immigration will be handled on your ship. It may be possible to end your cruise here, in which case you’ll need to visit an Immigration office after disembarking.
Committed to make it easier for yachters and cruise ships to enter her waters, the Indonesian government has implemented a number of policies that simplify procedures. These include the waiver of cabotage so that cruise ships are able to embark and disembark passengers at the appointed ports. The government has also eased the CIQP (customs, immigration, quarantine, and port authorities) procedures and simplified the sailing permit application from one month to just one day.
Furthermore, the Clearance and Approval for Indonesian Territory (CAIT) policy has been abolished, which means that yachters can now register online via http://yachters-indonesia.id.
Indonesia share land borders with three countries: Timor Leste in Timor Island, Malaysia in Borneo, and Papua New Guinea in Papua. From Timor Leste, The border crossing to Indonesia is located at the town of Atambua with the main border post of Mota’ain. In atambua, there are also the border posts of Matamauk and Napan.
From Malaysia, Regular buses between Kuching (Sarawak, eastern Malaysia) and Pontianak (West Kalimantan) pass through the border post at Entikong. The Aruk Border Post in Sambas Regency, connect West Kalimantan Province in Indonesia to Sarawak, Malaysia. The Nanga Badau Sanggau Border Post also connects West Kalimantan and the State of Sarawak in Malaysia.
The only land crossing that connect the Indonesian province of Papua and Papua New Guinea is the Skouw Border Post situated at Muaratami District which is about 60Km from Jayapura, the capital city of Papua Province.
The official currency of Indonesia is Rupiah which is Issued and controlled by the Bank of Indonesia. The currency code for Rupiahs is IDR, and the currency symbol is Rp. By law, all transactions are required to be conducted in rupiah, and Information of daily exchange rate can be found in newspapers or from the internet and online apps. Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, large restaurants, and large stores.
Indonesian banknotes come in denominations of IDR1000, IDR2000, IDR5000, IDR10000, IDR20000, IDR50000, and IDR100000. Coins in circulation include IDR1000, IDR500, IDR200, IDR100, and IDR50.
You can exchange foreign currency in major cities throughout the archipelago at banks and money changers. Most tourists’ resort has money changer facilities; however if you are travelling to a more remote areas it is advisable to exchange your money beforehand. If you need a large amount of foreign currency, and you don’t have a foreign currency account at your bank, it is best to order the money the day before. Local banks keep a limited amount of foreign currency in their smaller branches.
ATMs on the international Plus/Cirrus or Alto networks are common in all major Indonesian cities and tourist destinations. Limitation withdrawal is depending on your respective home bank. Machines are loaded with IDR50,000 denomination notes or IDR100,000 denomination notes, as indicated on the machine; however keep in mind that the bigger notes can be harder to split, especially in rural non-tourist areas. It is also best to withdraw some money from ATM in major cities before venturing into more secluded destinations.
TELEPHONE & IMPORTANT CONTACTS
Telephone numbers in Indonesia have different systems for land lines and mobile phones: land lines use area codes, while mobile phones do not. For land line area codes, the digit “0” is added in front when dialing domestic long distance from within Indonesia, but is always omitted when calling from abroad. Instead, callers would use the Indonesian country code +62, followed by the area code, without the “0”. To make a phone call to Indonesia from abroad via landlines, callers dial +62, followed by the area code and subscriber’s number, omitting the ‘0’. For calls to mobile wireless phone (GSM) from abroad, callers dial +62, followed by the subscriber’s number, omitting the ‘0’.
- Police/General Emergencies: 110 or 112(From Satellite and Mobile Phones)
- Ambulance and Medical Emergencies: 118 or 119
- Firefighter: 113
- Search and Rescue (BASARNAS): 115
- Natural Disaster Assistance: 129
- International Phone Number Information: 102
- Local Phone Number Information: 108
- Domestic Call Operator: 100 and 106
- International Call Operators: 101 and 107
Bureau of Public Communication of the Ministry of Tourism: +62 21 3838899