Travelling to Indonesia

Language

Bahasa Indonesia, or Indonesian, is the official language, but with a total population of nearly 242 million there are over 300 different local languages in the country. English is spoken in major cities and tourist areas.


Climate

Indonesia is a Tropical country and the amount of rainfall is the major difference throughout the year. Temperatures do not change and the annual average during the day is 28 ºC. The dry season happens during the European Summer time, between May and September.

July takes the credits for the best month for surfers but during this time you should beware with the crowds. Probably this month is the best for trips inside the country to more secluded surf spots such as the Mentawai or Northern Sumatra. The European Summer time is also the best time for boat trips in Indonesia. Nevertheless, many surfers prefer to travel to Indonesia during the Wet season when there are less crowds and surf is on the East coast.


Cuisine

Apart from the fact that is really affordable, you can have street food for 2 USD, the Indonesian cuisine is very appreciated by foreigners. It usually includes rice, noodle and soup dishes. It has regional flavours and presence of other cuisines from Middle Eastern to Indian and Chinese. Many popular dishes include spicy curries, plenty of fish cooked in banana leaves, fried chicken and tofu, spring rolls and meat balls.

Seafood is particularly impressive.


Time

Local time is GMT +7 (same as Thailand).


Electricity 

Indonesia uses the most popular two-pin round plugs that is also used commonly thorough Europe. Voltage is at 220 V 50 Hz.


Health

It is unsafe to drink tap water which is a major cause of diarrhoea, also make sure you avoid eating salads if you are not sure about the health conditions of the restaurant.

There is dengue fever, dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) and avian influenza.

It is highly recommended the usual vaccines (Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis and Rabies) and antimalarial tablets. There are three malaria regions in Indonesia: Nusa Tenggara Barat, Nusa Tenggara Timur, and Maluku and Papua. The Indonesian government is targeting to rid of malaria by 2030.

Cases of ZIKA virus infection were reported being spread mostly by mosquito bites. In order to reduce the risks of some of these virus it is highly recommended to use anti-mosquito repellent through the entire day and night including when you go to the beach and when you go sleep.

The air quality is highly affected especially during the dry season due to the fires bursting in many of Indonesia forests.


Safety

Compared with many places in the world, including major cities like London or NYC, Indonesia is much safer and most tourists face more dangers back home than here. The major annoyances are:

Alcohol Poisoning – may happen outside of reputable bars so avoid buying arak, the locally produced fermented booze made from rice or palm that is sometimes mixed with poisonous chemicals.

Drugs - Indonesia has a drug zero-tolerance policy leading to death penalty. Be careful as Balinese local police may do some raids on nightclubs in Jakarta and Bali and mandatory urine tests for anyone found with drugs occur regularly (entrapment schemes are not unknown, that dealer may be a cop). Also there are daily news about raids on private house parties. The law does not differentiate between methamphetamines, weed or cocaine, small or large amounts do not buy or consume drugs when offered since it may happen that it's a scam. Go surf dude!

Theft - Violent crime is uncommon, so be careful with the usual bag-snatching from bikers and pickpocketing. Don’t leave your belongings unattended at the beach, surf spots, etc.


Entry requirements - VISAs

Depending on your passport you may need to apply in advance for a VISA. The majority of the countries have a VISA FREE policy for 30 days that is not extendable. For a Visa on Arrival it costs 35 USD valid for a period of 30 days and you can also extend it for another 30 days.

It is a legal requirement for foreigners to show some form of identification on request. You need a valid passport or identity document for entry to and exit from Indonesia.  

Law keeps on changing so you should check prior to your trip but at the time we wrote this page, a minor under the age of 18 travelling to Indonesia must either: be accompanied by a parent or carry a letter of authorisation to travel from a parent or guardian.


How to get there

You can get to Indonesia by plane or boat from nearby countries such as Singapore, Philippines and Malaysia.

Many regional flight companies, including low-cost, operate several flights a day to Indonesia main International airports. The country has more than 230 airports, +20 of which are international airports.

You can check here all the flight companies flying to Indonesia.

The last way from the airport/station to the surf camp can be done by bus, taxi or transfer. Surfinn always sends costumers all information about "how to get there" between the arrival point and the selected surf camp. Surfinn transfers must be booked in advance.


Communications

The international access code for Indonesia is +62. There are no area or city codes required. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Indonesia is well covered by all modern mobile phone networks. Internet cafes are available in most towns and surf camps.


Emergency phone numbers

Police and emergencies: 110 / 112 (SMS 1717)

Ambulance and rescue: 118

Fire: 113

Medical emergencies: 119

Tourist Police in Bali: (0361) 754 599 / (0361) 224 111

Tourist Police in Jakarta: (021) 526 4073


Other useful tips

  • Sumatra is still a paradise and a great option for surfers if you want to surf without the crowds of Bali.
  • If you’re new to surfing, do not worry as there are sur lessons and plenty of surf schools in our network. Also there are sandy beach breaks.
  • There are not many surf shops so you should bring some spare fins, wax, leash, fin keys, ding repair kit or a second board, etc… Do not bring more than 2 boards or the police at the airport might suspect you are attempting to sell them.
  • In your “what to bring to Indonesia list” you should include a basic medical kit for reef cuts, antibiotics, band aids, antibiotic cream, anti-histamines, and other assorted medicine;
  • Make full travel insurance for the duration of your stay. Emergency care is available but very expensive.
  • Take money out on the airport or banks as sometimes ATMs are not that frequent and you might end up paying higher fees.
  • Indonesia is a Muslim country but beer is available yet you should avoid drinking on the street at all times.
  • The same applies to the dress code, especially for women. If you’re not at the beach then do not show above the knees and cleavage. Wear long sleeves too.
  • Don’t mess up with locals and always smile.