INDONESIA RICE TERRACESIndonesia is the fourth largest country in the world is home to more than 195 million people. Mainly Muslims — with substantial Christian, Hindu and Buddhist minorities. Indigenous tribes still exist in Borneo to Irian Jaya in Eastern Indonesia. The presence of their pagan ancestry can still be seen, heard and felt by those who dare to breach the tourist frontiers.

While much of Indonesia's allure lies in its rich cultural tapestry and untamed wilderness, its cities and resorts are also famed for world-class visitor facilities. Divers are a fast growing breed of special visitors to Indonesia's many shores.

Indonesia is situated between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, between the continents of Asia and Australia. Its total land area is 1,905,443 square kilometers with over 80,000 kilometers of coastline.

Over 195 million people live in Indonesia's 27 provinces. The population is made up of Malay, Polynesian, and 100 distinct ethnic groups.

The official language is Bahasa Indonesia with numerous regional languages and dialects. English is widely understood particularly in Jakarta, Bali and other major cities.

Mainly Islam with some Hinduism, Buddhism and Christian areas.

Tropical equatorial with temperatures ranging between 21 and 33 degrees Centigrade. Average humidity is 60-90% and the rainfall is heaviest between November to February.

Time Zones
GMT + 7 hours (West)
GMT + 8 hours (Central)
GMT + 9 hours (East)

Currency & Money Exchange
The Rupiah is the currency used in Indonesia in notes 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000. The most commonly used note is 50,000 Rupiah (about $5 US). There are many places available to exchange your dollars. You'll get a better exchange rate for crisp, clean US $100 bills. Old or dirty bills may not be accepted. As with any foreign country, it is advisable to understand the exchange rate before you go to exchange your money so you should have a good idea of how many Rupiah to expect for your US dollars. For currency conversion at current rates visit Travelang's Currency Exchange Web Site.

Two months' entry visa free for tourists from major markets. All visitors must have passports valid for at least six months and proof of onward passage.

Airport Taxes
Airport tax levied on passengers for international travel is Rp.21,000. for travel within Indonesia regional variations occur. Expect to pay an average of about Rp.8,000.

International health certificates for smallpox and cholera are not required, except from travelers arriving from infected areas. Bottled water is provided everywhere, even in the smallest villages. It is never advisable to drink tap water anywhere in Indonesia. Be sure to travel with Immodium AD since it is not easy to find there and you don't want to discover that when its too late.

Indonesian customs allows on entry a maximum of two liters of alcoholic beverages, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 100 grams of tobacco and a reasonable amount of perfume per adult. Cars, photographic equipment, typewriters and tape recorders must be declared to Customs upon entry and must be re-exported. Prohibited from entry are TV sets, radios, narcotics, arms and ammunition, printed matter in Chinese characters and Chinese medicines. Advance approval has to be acquired for carrying transceivers and all movie films and video cassettes must be censored by the Film Censor Board. Fresh fruit, plants and animals must have quarantine permits. There is no restriction on import or export of foreign currencies. However, the export or import of Indonesian currency exceeding Rp.50,000 is prohibited.

Credit Cards
Major credit cards are acceptable in most hotels along with American dollar travelers' checks.

Normal banking hours are from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm from Monday to Friday. Some bank branches in hotels, however, keep longer hours. Jakarta has several international banks but money can also be changed at hotel cashiers, and authorized money changers. Daily exchange rates are published in newspapers. The US dollar is the most readily accepted currency. Most major tourist destination areas have foreign exchange facilities, but for travel to remote areas it is advisable to change money and travelers cheques in advance.

Major hotels usually add a 10% service charge to bills. Where it is not included a tip of between 5% to 10% of the bill would be appropriate if the service is satisfactory. Airport porters expect Rp.2,000 for a small bag and Rp.3,000 for bags weighing more than 20 kg. Tipping taxi and hire-car drivers is not mandatory, but if service has been satisfactory a basic Rp.1,000 tip is sufficient for a taxi driver, Hire-car drivers would normally expect a larger tip.

Keep your valuables in the hotel safe deposit box or a similar safe place and your passport close to your body.

Being aware of local customs and taboos is very important when traveling in any foreign land. In Indonesia you will always be ensured of having a pleasant time if you act with decorum and dress appropriately. On greeting someone it is customary for both men and women to shake hands. This should only be done with the right hand because to shake hands, give or receive, or eat with the left hand is considered impolite. Pointing or summoning someone with your index finger is considered impolite and care should be taken not to climb over places of worship or local monuments.

Light, airy, casual clothes are the most practical and you'll find natural fibers like cotton or linen are the most comfortable in Indonesia's often humid conditions. Indonesians are very clothes conscious and it's particularly important to be properly dressed when visiting government offices such as the immigration offices. Indifference to local customs, scanty clothing is not advisable in public places, shorts are not permitted in mosques and women should have their head and arms covered. In Bali, waist sashes should be worn when visiting temples.

Power supply is 220 volts/250 cycles in large cities, but 110 volts is still used in some areas. Normal outlets are plugs with two rounded pins (see photo). It is advisable to check electricity supplies before using any appliances.


Internet Services
You'll find internet cafes in most the major cities. On Bali they are everywhere and you can comfortably get online for anywhere from less than 10,000 Rp to 30,000 Rp ($1-3 US). The connections can be slow so don't expect to do too much web surfing in that hour, but its great for anyone who wants to keep up on email and/or stay in touch with friends and family back home.


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