Indonesia, a Southeast Asian nation made up of thousands of volcanic islands, is home to hundreds of ethnic groups speaking many different languages. It’s known for beaches, volcanoes, Komodo dragons and jungles sheltering elephants, orangutans and tigers. On the island of Java lies Indonesia's vibrant, sprawling capital, Jakarta, and the city of Yogyakarta, known for gamelan music and traditional puppetry.
A vast chain of volcanic and tropical islands, each with its own history and unique culture, travelling through Indonesia is an endlessly fascinating experience. On a Rickshaw holiday to Indonesia, you’ll journey from the deep jungles of Sumatra to the legendary islands of Komodo, where ancient dragons dwell. Venture through the ancient temples of Java, lush green rice paddies in Bali or mighty volcanos of Sumatra. There is enough here for a lifetime of adventures. Throw in some unique wildlife, such as the charming Orangutans, delicious food and world-class beaches, and it makes Indonesia very difficult to resist.
Capital : Jakarta
Country Code : 62
Credit Cards & ATMs : Credit cards are only acceptable in big hotels, restaurants, shops and traveling agencies. ATM's are available but not reliable. Some may work but will have a low limit each day.
Currency : Rupiah (RP1 = 100SEN)
Departure Tax: Domestic RP80000 (Approx. CAD$13, US$10); International RP200000. (Approx. CAD$16, US$12)
Drives on the : Left
Electricity : Generally 220 volts AC, 50 Hz, but in some rural areas 110/220V AC, 50Hz
Ethnic Groups: Javanese 45%, Sundanese 14%, Madurese 7.5%, coastal Malays 7.5%, other 26%
Location : Southeastern Asia, archipelago between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean
Official Language(s) : Bahasa Indonesia (official, modified form of Malay), English, Dutch, local dialects, the most widely spoken of which is Javanese.
Religion : Muslim 88%, Protestant 5%, Roman Catholic 3%, Hindu 2%, Buddhist 1%, other 1% (1998)
Time Zone : UTC+7 - +9
Tipping: You are not obligated to tip your tour guides in Indonesia, but a small amount is always appreciated. Some restaurants will include 5-10% service charge to their bill. But if they don't levy any service charge, you can tip between Rp10,000 to 10% of the total bill. Taxi drivers do not expect tips either, but we suggest your round up to the nearest Rupiah.
The whole archipelago is tropical with temperatures always between 21˚C and 33˚C although cooler in the mountains. The year divides into a wet and dry season, although sometimes It is often hard to tell the difference. Very roughly, in much of the country, November to April is the wet season with rainfall occurring in short, heavy bursts with January and February the wettest. May to October is the dry season. In some regions the difference between the two seasons is not extreme. For example, Bali and Kalimantan are relatively unaffected by the season change. However, as you travel east to Lombok and beyond, there is a greater difference.
The best months for diving off the coast of Bali, Lombok or the Komodo National Park are April to September. To climb one of Indonesia's many volcanoes, such as Mount Bromo or Mount Rinjani, the dry season is recommended. The temperature will cool off as you climb.
The months of May, June and September are possibly the best time to visit Bali when the weather conditions are at their best and visitor numbers are not at their highest. Ubud and Mount Batur experience cooler temperatures and higher rainfall than the coastal areas of Bali. Orang-utans can be spotted in the Tanjung Puting National Park throughout the year, although during rainy season they tend to be more elusive, preferring to shelter.
Ubud, Island of Bali
Ubud is situated in the centre of the island and is cooler than the beach areas. It is known for its relaxed atmosphere, lush surroundings and its arts and crafts to be enjoyed on Bali vacations. The Ubud Monkey Forest, also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal, is home to a number of grey long-tailed macaques near the town centre. You can watch playful monkeys in their natural habitat as well as take a stroll through leafy forest footpaths where there are attractive ancient temples. The Ubud Art Market is open daily and you can find beautiful silk scarves, lightweight shirts, handmade woven bags, baskets, hats and other hand-crafted merchandise. The Ubud Royal Palace is one of the outstanding buildings in Ubud built in the early 1800’s. It has well-preserved Balinese architecture and a charming garden. It is one of the main places to enjoy Balinese evening dance performances.
Tanah Lot Temple, Island of Bali
Tanah Lot Temple is famous for its unique offshore setting and sunset backdrops on a Bali vacation. It is an ancient Hindu shrine perched on top of a rock where the waves constantly crash against it. It was established to honour the sea god, Baruna. The site is dotted with smaller shrines has a cultural park presenting regular dance performances. At high tide, waves flood the causeways making it impossible to cross from the mainland. At low tide, you can cross to view the rock where the legendary ‘guardian’ sea snakes dwell in crevices around a fountain.
Mount Batur, Kintamani, Island of Bali
The active volcano on Mount Batur surrounds the large Batur caldera lake. You can view Batur's rugged features of dark lava slopes and black molten rocks from the nearby village of Toya Bungkah which also has lakeside hot springs known for their curative mineral water. The village is a popular choice among trekkers to spend the night before hiking up Mount Batur in time to watch the sunrise. The lush green vegetation and the blue-green coloured lake serve as a stark contrast to Mount Batur. Kintamani is known as the largest bamboo producer on the island which is used for making traditional furniture items. The best times to enjoy the Mount Batur volcano are from 10 am to 3 pm.
The Komodo Dragons
Komodo Dragons is the name for the very large lizards that can be found on 4 islands in Indonesia. These are Komodo, Rinca, Flores and Gili Montang which are all close together. Out of these four islands, Komodo is the one that is populated the most. It is the largest living species of lizard growing to a maximum length of 3 metres/10 feet and weighing up to approximately 70 kilograms/150 pounds. They live in caves, burrows and trees. Dragons have also been found living in Mangrove swamps although they prefer dry places. Komodo Dragons are mostly active during the daytime and are very solitary animals, only coming together to feed and breed. They are capable of running rapidly and very fast in very brief spurts and can run up to 20 kilometres/12miles per hour. To see the Komodo Dragons on an Indonesia vacation, you go on a guided trek which is imperative as these creatures are dangerous and can bite.
Borobudur Temple, Java
This is the world's largest Buddhist temple built in the 9th Century AD and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is Indonesia's single-most visited tourist attraction and is not far from the city of Yogyakarta. It is made from two million stone blocks in the form of a massive symmetrical stupa (Buddhist shrine). It has six square terraces which are topped by three circular ones, with four stairways leading up through carved gateways to the top. It is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa. Borobudur has the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world. It is popular for pilgrimages. Once a year, Buddhists in Indonesia celebrate Vesak at the monument.
Prambanan is a Hindu temple compound near Yogyakarta. It was built to honour God as the Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu) and the Transformer (Shiva). The temple compound, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia, and one of the largest in south-east Asia. It consists of around 244 temples erected in the middle of the 9th Century AD, about 50 years later than Borobudur. In the middle of the 16th Century, there is said to have been a great earthquake that destroyed many of the temples. It was not until 1937 that reconstruction began to restore them to some extent. Prambanan suffered extensive damage in the 2006 earthquake. Though the temples survived, hundreds of stone blocks collapsed to the ground or were cracked. Today, on an Indonesia vacation, the main structures have been restored.
Lombok is a good alternative to Bali on Indonesia vacations with its excellent beaches. It is known for trekking to Indonesia’s second-highest volcano, Gunung Rinjani, through jungle-clad slopes. On arrival at the summit, you are rewarded with amazing views of the whole island. The small offshore island of Gili Trawangan is internationally renowned for beach parties, bars and beachside cocktail lounges. Fishing is a popular pastime as is surfing.
Tanjung Puting National Park, Kalimantan, Borneo
This is the place to see free-roaming orang-utans. It is accessed from the town of Kumai by speedboat. The park was founded in the 1930s for the protection of the orangutans and proboscis monkey and was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1977 and a national park in 1982. It is also home to other animals such as gibbons, leopards, wild boars, porcupines and deer. Other creatures include crocodiles, monitor lizards and some bird species. The best way to view all this is on a boat tour stopping to engage with semi-wild orang-utans at the three main feeding stations and also visit a research centre. Feeding times are generally fixed and scheduled to allow visitors to enjoy all three.
Mount Bromo is an active volcano in East Java. At 2330 metres/7,640 feet, it is not the highest peak in this range of mountains but is the most well known. A massive eruption once created a caldera with a diameter of more than 8 kilometres/5 miles. One of the attractions of Mount Bromo, on an Indonesia tour, is sunrise. Clouds that cover the sky slowly clear burnt by the sun. The colour changes to a golden hue. The usual way to visit Mount Bromo is from the nearby mountain village of Cemoro Lawang. From there it is possible to walk to the volcano in around 45 minutes. It is also possible to take an organized jeep tour, which includes a stop at the viewpoint on Mount Penanjakan. Depending on the degree of volcanic activity, the Indonesian Centre for Volcanology sometimes issues warnings against visiting Mount Bromo.
Lake Toba, Sumatra
Lake Toba is a large natural lake occupying the caldera of a volcano about 100 kilometres/62 miles long, 30 kilometres/19 miles wide and up to 505 metres/1,660 feet deep. It is the largest lake in Indonesia and also the largest volcanic lake in the world. It is the site of the largest-known explosive eruption on earth in the last 25 million years, some 70,000 years ago. It has been accepted that the eruption of Toba led to a volcanic winter with a worldwide decrease in temperatures. Most of the people who live around Lake Toba are ethnic Bataks. Traditional Batak houses are noted for their distinctive roofs and their colourful decor.
Indonesia is a diverse country and thus, enjoys a rich culture and tradition. This country is a home for more than two hundred and thirty million people with various religious and cultural backgrounds. This huge population makes the country a mixture of a lot of festivals, cultural events, and ceremonies. Indonesia is populated with different ethnic groups, languages, and religions. Even the minorities have a huge list of their local celebrations.
You will never be short of choices regarding days for celebration, throughout the year there is some or the other kind of special or important day that needs to be celebrated or has some kind of religious belief attached with it. Come around and take a look at the different religious beliefs of this beautiful country.
Rambu Solo Ceremony
This festival is also known as Toraja Funeral Ceremony, Rambu solo ceremony is one of the best festivals in Indonesia. Usually, between July and September, this is celebrated all over Indonesia by a group of people called Torja. Tana Toraja is the land of Toraja, a highland situated in Southern Sulawesi. Toraja is a group of minor people who believe in a lot of rituals and ancient rites, this place is also known as “the land of heavenly kings”. These people perform quite fascinating funeral rites to send the spirit of the dead or mark their new journey to the afterworld in order to prevent any kind of miss happening to the deceased family.
Nyepi: “The day of silence”
This is the day that marks the beginning of the new year according to the Balinese calendar. The Saka new Year, commemorated every Isaaawarsa base on Balinese calendar, is mostly celebrated around the month of March but might change every year. This observes a day of fasting and meditation, so, you will find everything is closed in Bali that day. Many rituals, ceremonies, prayers are done on the days preceding it. This is celebrated by all the people of Bali, together.
Jember Fashion Carnival
As by the name we all can sense that this festival marks the fashion trend of Indonesia. This festival is known to be the icon of east Java’s contemporary culture. This day fashion parades can be seen, as spellbinding as ever, and marking the spectacular modern costumes that define the root of multiple traditions and cultures across Indonesia.
Around 1,000 participants from all over Indonesia starting from kindergarten students to general public come together to acknowledge this amazing carnival. Drums, flutes and many instruments power up one of the enchanting music festivals in Indonesia.
Baliem Valley Festival
This festival is celebrated around the month of August. This is celebrated by different groups of tribal people. There is a belief that streams in the heart of these people that “war is not just a conflict but also a symbol of fertility and prosperity.” The festival is about the mock war between the local tribes, around 30 to 40 people from 20 different tribes come in their traditional dress and fight against each other.
Since Indonesia is the place and home for Buddhism, this festival is counted as one of the most important festivals here. This marks and acknowledges the birth, enlightenment, and death of Lord Buddha. The whole of Indonesia is decorated very beautifully. This is celebrated at the time of May and June. It is a huge day for all the Buddhist monks and pilgrims.
An important Hindu festival in Bali, it is celebrated for welcoming the gods, inviting them as well as the ancestral spirits to dwell in the homes of their descendants. During this festival, incantations and firecrackers are used as a symbol to drive off evil spirits, while expressing gratitude to the Gods by inviting them down to earth with celebrations, offerings and dancing.
The extensive shopping opportunities in Indonesia are a good reason in itself to visit. Whether you are looking for furniture, fashion, antiques, art or jewellery, the archipelago is renowned for producing exquisitely crafted goods, many of which can be bought straight from the craftsman. The island of Java is a good shopping base. Jakarta in particular has an array of mega, air-conditioned malls; jam packed with every international brand known to man. The world's fashion capitals are well condensed into upscale shopping malls, compact with sharp Italian tailoring, romantic French ensembles and innovational Japanese labels. It is easy to get sidetracked by these shops but it would be a serious mistake not to become acquainted with some of the homegrown produce of Indonesia. Highly-skilled artisans produce painstakingly beautiful textiles, silver goods, dynamic ceramics and furniture pieces that are unique in style and of an admirable standard of quality. Perfect presents for loved ones or a well deserved treat for yourself. Shopping hours usually fall between 09:00-21:00.
The islands of Indonesia offer a variety of cuisines to suit a wide variety of tastes. Food and cooking styles differ between islands and regions, but have been greatly influenced by Indian, Middle Eastern, Chinese and European involvement throughout the centuries.
Fresh fruit is a staple of the diet found in Indonesia and East Java is known as the “Fruit Bowl”. Coconuts, apples, avocados, mandarins, lemons, bananas, mangos and pineapples are among the favourites and are eaten raw or in desserts, or made into drinks or snacks. Rice is also an important ingredient in many dishes and has been used since around 2,000BC. Indonesia is known world wide as the “Spice Islands” and the use of many spices has played a big role in shaping the nation’s culinary identity.
Although each island has its own specialities, there are many dishes that are popular across the country. They include:
Ikan pangang: a whole broiled fish is marinated and basted with spices, coconut, chili, lime and ginger and is usually served with a sauce accompaniment.
Gago-gago: a mixed vegetable and tofu salad that is covered in a peanut sauce dressing.
Satey / Sate: this is a marinated and skewered meat or fish dish that is either grilled or barbecued over a wood or charcoal fire. It is then served with spicy seasonings.
Nasi goreng: this is fried rice that is sometimes served just as an accompaniment or can also be served as a one-pot dish with spice, eggs, vegetables, meat and seafood.
Tea or Teh is a favourite drink amongst Indonesians. Teh manis is a sweet tea that is quite common in most homes. Popular variations include Jasmine and green tea. Coffee, or Kopi is also popular with kopi tubruk being a hot, sugary coffee. Wine and other alcoholic beverages are not particularly in demand in Indonesia as it is a predominately Muslim country, however they are available.
Things to know:
If a service charge has not been applied to a bill than 10% is a standard tip.
L H Travels, recognized as the most experienced Destination Management (DMC) and Event Production company in Bali. LH Travels is renowned for creating imaginative events coupled with unparalleled execution. We specialize in handling MICE, FIT, EVENTS and now also started with Weddings in BALI. We have executed functions at Villas, By the Beach, Private Clubs, in addition to the many other venues that Bali has to offer. Our event expertise ranges from the most private of corporate retreats and board meetings to exclusive VIP social gatherings in a penthouse. Our creativity and sense of style, regardless of venue, enables us to produce unforgettable experiences for the clients we serve.