Indonesia Travel Guide for 2023: Visa Info & Trip Essentials

Photo of author
By Visaly
Photo of mountain in Bali with person standing in front

Our comprehensive Indonesia travel guide is tailored to answer your burning questions if you plan on traveling there shortly. From discerning do US citizens need a visa for Indonesia to uncovering often-overlooked safety tips from locals, we've got you covered. Whether you're a backpacker who wants to explore Bali or a solo traveler who dreams to dive into the pristine coral reefs of Raja Ampat, this Bali and Indonesia travel guide ensures a memorable trip !

What Can You Expect When Visiting Indonesia?

Indonesia is an archipelago of over 17000 islands ! It’s a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be uncovered. You’ll absolutely love its rich cultural heritage and its diverse landscapes. As you delve into this Indonesia travel guide, you'll quickly realize the greatness and allure of this Southeast Asian country.

Here's a snapshot of what awaits you in the Indonesian islands. And, trust us, by the end of this section, you'll be itching to explore every nook and cranny. Don't have time now ? Bookmark this guide for a comprehensive read later. Every bit of information here is really important for your upcoming adventure.


Indonesia is a melting pot of diverse traditions, religions and arts. Every island has its very own and unique identity : Bali and its captivating dances, Java and its ancient temples dotting, Lombok and its real authenticity. The nation's festivals, music and crafts offer a deep dive into its rich cultural heritage. The country really is a haven for culture enthusiasts.


With its equatorial location, Indonesian islands enjoy a tropical climate. It has two main seasons : the wet monsoon from November to March and the dry spell from April to October. But given its extensive archipelago, there are a lot of weather nuances across regions. Don’t hesitate to check specific island forecasts before you pack your bags.

Is Indonesia Dangerous

Safety Indonesia is comparable to many other popular destinations. It’s a safe country for tourists. Of course you’ll have to be vigilant against petty theft and occasional scams and make sure you understand how the driving works there, as traffic can be mad in bigger cities. Remmember that cars navigate in the left lane.

Do I Need A Visa For Indonesia

Visa regulations in Indonesia are tourist-friendly. Many nationalities, including US citizens, can avail of a visa on arrival. But, as with all international travel, the tourist visa is only for tourism and short stays.

How Long Can I Stay In Indonesia On a typical visa on arrival

As a tourist, you can enjoy a 30-day stay in Indonesia. There's an option to extend this for another 30 days. If you wish to stay longer or work there, you’ll have to choose a different type of visa.

Can You Drink In Indonesia

Alcohol is accessible in most parts of Indonesia, especially in tourist-centric areas like Bali. However, in some more rural and remote regions, especially in those influenced by religious beliefs, there might be some restrictions on alcohol consumption. Remember to always respect local customs and regulations.

Seeing It All Isn't Possible

Indonesia's vastness means your trip won't be enough. From the white sand beaches of Bali to the jungles of Sumatra, there's too much to explore for one life, so even more for one trip ! Use this guide to prioritize, and remember there's always a reason to return.

So, why visit Indonesia ? Because every visit offers a new discovery. And with this guide, you're well-equipped for the journey ! Whether you're wondering is Indonesia cheap to visit or the specifics of visa requirements, we've got you covered. Bookmark this Indonesia travel guide and let's embark on this Indonesian odyssey !

Key Advice From Indonesian Locals Before You Go

Indonesia is a land of different and multiple cultures, landscapes and experiences. To make the most of your trip and ensure a smooth journey, the best option is to heed advice from those who know it best : the locals. Here's a compilation of invaluable tips straight from the heart of Indonesia for our best Indonesia travel guide.

  • Be respectful : Indonesia is a melting pot of cultures, religions and traditions. Always show respect to local customs, people and nature.
  • Currency : the official currency is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). We recommend you to have some cash on hand, especially when you travel in remote areas.
  • Credit cards and ATMs : major cities and tourist spots have ample ATMs and accept credit cards, but some remote areas might not. Always carry a mix of cash and cards.
  • Time zone : Indonesia spans three time zones : Western (West coast, Sumatra, Java, West & Central Kalimantan), Central (South Coast, Bali, South & East Kalimantan, Sulawesi) and Eastern (Papua, Maluku).
  • Sockets : Indonesia uses European-style two-pin round plugs (types C and F). Voltage is 230V so ensure your devices are compatible or bring a converter.
  • Budget : depending on your travel style, you can aim to spend around $30 to $50 per day.
  • Traffic : Indonesian roads, especially in cities like Jakarta, Bandung and Medan, is very chaotic. If you plan on renting a scooter, ensure you're familiar with local traffic rules and remember they drive on the left lane !
  • Scams : overpriced fake taxis are common. It's safer and more convenient to book online airport transfers in advance.
  • Street food : Indonesia's street food is a delight. Try the Nasi Goreng and the Satay, they’re absolutely delicious ! Make sure the food is freshly cooked and the stall maintains basic hygiene.
  • Learn a few words : pick up basic Bahasa Indonesia phrases that can enhance your travel experience. A simple "Terima Kasih" (Thank you) can go a long way in building relationships with locals.
  • Dress modestly : especially when you visit religious sites. Carry a sarong for such visits.
  • Stay hydrated : the tropical climate can be dehydrating. Always carry a bottle of water and stay hydrated, especially when you explore outdoors.
  • Negotiate : bargaining is common in local markets, but do it respectfully and remember that a small amount to you might mean a lot to the seller.
  • Connectivity : major cities have good internet connectivity, but some remote areas don’t. Consider getting a local SIM card.

Requirements To Enter Indonesia

This section of our backpackers travel guide Indonesia provides a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know to enter the country.

List Of Documents You Need to Enter Indonesia

Before you set foot in Indonesia, ensure you have the following documents at hand :

  • a valid passport with at least six months' validity from the date of entry.
  • A return or onward journey ticket.
  • Proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay (bank statement or similar).
  • Visa (if applicable based on your nationality).
  • Hotel booking or invitation letter if staying with friends/family.
  • Travel insurance (recommended, though not mandatory).

Types Of Visas for Indonesia

Indonesia offers various visa types to cater to different travel purposes.

  • Tourist visa : wondering “do i need a visa for Bali” ? Most nationalities do and this visa is easy to obtain and allows a 30-day stay.
  • Visa on Arrival : can i get a visa on arrival in Indonesia ? Here again the answer is yes for most nationalities. This visa is valid for 30 days and can be obtained directly at some airports and seaports.
  • Social visa : if you intend to visit family or friends.
  • Business visa : for individuals who visit for business purposes but not take up employment.
  • Retirement visa : for retirees looking to spend an extended period in Indonesia.

If you’re seeking a more extended stay or specific purposes like work or study, other visa categories are also available. If you’re wondering "can I travel to Indonesia without a visa ?" or "do I need a visa for Indonesia from US ?", the answer depends on your nationality and the duration of your stay.

How To Get Indonesian Visa (Step By Step Application Process)

Here’s a step by step guide on how to apply for Indonesian visa :

  1. Choose the type of visa you need based on your travel purpose.
  2. Visit the official website of the Indonesian embassy or consulate in your country.
  3. Fill out the visa application form. Attach the required documents, including passport-sized photographs, passport copy and others as specified.
  4. Pay the visa fee. How to pay for Indonesia visa on arrival ? You can pay for the Indonesia visa on arrival at the designated counters by cash or payment card.
  5. Submit the application either online or at the embassy / consulate. Once approved, you'll receive a visa stamp or sticker in your passport.

Overstaying And Penalties

Overstaying your visa in Indonesia is a serious offense. For each day you overstay, there's a penalty of IDR 1 000 000 (around $63). So be aware of your visa's expiration date and take necessary actions either by leaving the country or applying for an extension.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Indonesia

Indonesia enjoys a tropical climate year-round. The best time to visit will depend on your preferences. The dry season, from April to October, offers clear skies and is ideal for beach activities and exploration. It’s the peak tourist season. The rainy season, from November to March, sees fewer crowds and allows for a more intimate experience, though you might encounter occasional heavy showers. If you're looking to strike a balance between good weather and avoid the t

How To Plan A Trip To Indonesia

Whether you're planning a short 4-day getaway or an extended stay of several months, Indonesia is one of the most popular destinations for solo female travelers as well as scuba diving enthusiasts. Here's a concise guide on how to travel Indonesia effectively.

Decide On Your Itinerary

Given Indonesia's size, prioritize destinations. Bali, Java and Sumatra are amongst top choices for travelers, but you might also consider hidden destinations like Flores or Sulawesi.

Budget To Plan

Indonesia can either be budget-friendly or luxurious. For backpackers, $30 to $50 per day should be enough, but upscale travelers will easily spend $100 to $200 per day.

How To Get To Indonesia

Major international airports like Jakarta and Bali cater to global flights. Numerous airlines offer convenient routes to visit Indonesia.

Transport Around Indonesia

There are a lot of options on how to visit Indonesia : buses, trains, domestic flights, boat trip… For shorter distances, you can rent scooters or use ride-hailing apps. Public transportation is well developed.

Cost Of Living

Cities are pricier than rural areas. On average, expect to spend around $800 to $1000 per month for moderate living. It’s a great country to save money !

Packing Things

Pack light but versatile. Include beachwear, hiking gear and modest clothing for religious sites. Don't forget rain gear for sudden showers, especially if you travel during the wet season.

Research Visa And Entry Requirements

Make sure you're aware and comply with visa norms. We've touched upon this earlier, but pay a visit to our detailed section for comprehensive visa information.

Get Travel Insurance

You never know when something bad is going to happen. Travel insurance will cover medical emergencies, trip cancellations and lost belongings. A great peace of mind !

Where To Stay

Indonesia offers a vast range of accommodations. Hotels provide comfort, hostels are budget-friendly and Airbnbs offer a local experience. For an authentic touch, consider homestays with locals ! They're often safe, affordable and provide a great cultural immersion. Always check reviews and ensure your chosen accommodation aligns with your comfort and safety preferences.

Safety Tips from Locals Often Overlooked by Tourists in Indonesia

Indonesia has its own set of local customs and safety concerns. We gleaned insights from our Indonesia surf travel guide and local sources and here are some often-overlooked safety tips : 

  • Avoid Arak : this popular local drink has had instances of contamination leading to health issues. Consume with caution or opt for well-known beverages.
  • Respect nature and culture : Indonesia's rich heritage and pristine landscapes deserve respect. Avoid littering and always adhere to local customs.
  • Wear a helmet : given the hectic traffic, especially in cities, always wear a helmet when riding scooters.
  • Ask before photographing : some locals might find it intrusive. Always seek permission before you capture moments, especially in religious sites.
  • Avoid driving : if you're not accustomed to Indonesian traffic, it's safer to use public transport or hire a local driver.
  • Learn basic phrases : familiarize yourself with simple Bahasa Indonesia phrases and it will save you in tricky situations.
  • Beware of strong currents : if you're here for the surf, always check with locals about safe spots, especially if you're a beginner.

Most Amazing Destinations In Indonesia & Things To Do

From bustling urban centers to serene hidden white sand beaches, Indonesia offers multiple experiences. Not sure where to travel Indonesia ? Here we guide you through the must-visit spots and ensure you know where to travel in Indonesia and where to go in Indonesia for both city vibes and peaceful retreats.

Indonesia's Top Urban Destinations

Dive into the heart of Indonesia's urban life amongst the most amazing cities and top attractions.


The capital city is a melting pot of cultures. With its towering skyscrapers and historic sites, it's where Indonesia's past and future converge ! Learn more in our Jakarta Indonesia travel guide.


More than just beaches, Bali offers a vibrant nightlife, bustling markets and a rich cultural scene. It clearly is a must in every Bali Indonesia travel guide.


A hub for Javanese culture ! Yogyakarta boasts ancient temples and a thriving arts scene, so it’s a top choice for cultural enthusiasts. Learn more in our Java Indonesia travel guide.


Nestled amidst volcanoes and tea plantations, Bandung offers a blend of colonial architecture and contemporary Indonesian design. Learn more in our Bandung Indonesia travel guide.


East Java's treasure. Surabaya is a testament to Indonesia's maritime heritage with its beautiful port and rich colonial history.

Indonesia's Lesser-Visited Places

Venture off the beaten path and discover Indonesia's hidden treasures.

Raja Ampat

A diver's paradise ! Raja Ampat boasts pristine coral reefs and a rich marine biodiversity, so it’s a haven for scuba diving and underwater exploration. It’s also home to some of the best beaches in Indonesia.

Komodo Island & Komodo national park

Home to the legendary Komodo dragon, this island offers amazing wildlife experiences amidst stunning natural landscapes. The Komodo national park is great for a day trip !

Toraja, Sulawesi

Known for its unique funeral ceremonies and traditional houses, Toraja offers a deep dive into Indonesia's indigenous diverse cultures.

Mount Bromo, East Java

A majestic active volcano ! Mount Bromo's sunrise views are nothing short of magical and offer a surreal landscape.

Lake Toba, Sumatra

Resting in the caldera of a supervolcano, Lake Toba's calm waters and the rich Batak culture make it a great retreat away from urban hustle.

Important Dates In Indonesia

In this section of our travel guide to Indonesia, we've decided to highlight some world-famous events and important holidays to help you plan your journey better.

World Famous Events In Indonesia

  • Bali Spirit Festival : held annually in May in Bali Ubud, this event celebrates yoga, dance and music, and attracts enthusiasts from around the globe.
  • Java Jazz Festival : hosted in Jakarta each June, it's one of the largest jazz festivals in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Raja Ampat Underwater Photo Contest : a paradise for scuba diving enthusiasts, Raja Ampat hosts this event and allows photographers to capture the marine biodiversity.
  • Bali Arts Festival : a month-long celebration in June in Bali that showcases traditional Balinese arts, crafts and performances.

Most Important Holidays In Indonesia

  • Nyepi (Balinese New Year) : a day of silence observed all over Bali, where even tourists are encouraged to participate and stay indoors.
  • Waisak (Buddha's Birthday) : mostly celebrated in Borobudur, it marks the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha on May 23d.
  • Hari Raya Idul Fitri : the end of Ramadan. It's a significant Muslim holiday celebrated with feasts and prayers.
  • Independence Day (August 17th) : commemorating Indonesia's independence from Dutch colonial rule. It's celebrated with parades and flag-raising ceremonies.
  • Hari Raya Haji : an Islamic holiday marking the end of the Hajj pilgrimage, observed with prayers and animal sacrifices.

Things You Simply Must Experience in Indonesia

In this section of our Indonesia Travel Guide, we've distilled the essence of Indonesia into a few must-try foods, activities, and souvenirs that won't break the bank but will leave an indelible mark on your memories.

3 Foods You Must Try

  • Nasi Goreng : dubbed as Indonesia's national dish, this fried rice, seasoned with sweet soy sauce and accompanied by a variety of side dishes and steamed vegetables, is a real delight.
  • Sate : skewered and grilled meat served with peanut sauce, it's a street food favorite that varies from region to region.
  • Rendang : originating from the Minangkabau ethnic group of Sumatra, this slow-cooked dry curry deeply spiced with turmeric and ginger is a must-try.

3 Things You Should Do

  • Sunrise at Mount Bromo : experience the beauty of sunrise over the mist-covered Mount Bromo, a moment that will stay with you forever.
  • Traditional dance performance in Ubud : witness the rich cultural tapestry of Indonesia through its traditional dances. Ubud is a prime spot !
  • Dive in Gili Islands : whether you choose Gili Meno, Gili Air or Gili Trawangan, you will for sure find your diving haven in Gili islands amongst tropical fishes and manta rays.

Few Useful Tips For Solo Travelers In Indonesia

Traveling solo in Indonesia will be a transformative experience, but it comes with its own set of challenges. We've compiled a concise solo Indonesia travel guide with essential tips to help you : 

  • Stay connected : invest in a local SIM card to ensure you're always connected, especially when you explore remote areas.
  • Dress modestly : respect local customs, especially in religious sites.
  • Join group tours : it's a great way to meet fellow travelers and share experiences.
  • Trust your instincts : always prioritize your safety. If something feels off, it probably is.

14 Etiquette Tips for Your Indonesian Trip

To ensure you tread respectfully during your Indonesian trip, we've compiled an etiquette guide for travelling in Indonesia. Here are some key etiquettes to keep in mind :

  1. Respectful greeting : slightly bow or place one's hands together in a prayer-like gesture to greet people.
  2. Remove shoes : always take off your shoes when you enter someone's home.
  3. Dress modestly : especially in religious sites and rural areas, it's best to wear clothing that covers shoulders and knees, no matter if you’re a man or a woman.
  4. Temple etiquette : maintain silence in temples and always follow local customs. You’ll probably have to wear a sarong.
  5. Eating and drinking : use your right hand to eat or drink as the left hand is considered impure.
  6. Avoid pork : avoid consuming pork in Muslim areas.
  7. Hand gestures : avoid using your index finger to point ; instead, use your thumb with fingers folded.
  8. Feet etiquette : don’t point your feet at someone or an object of reverence. It would be considered disrespectful.
  9. Tipping : not mandatory, but a small tip is appreciated for good service.
  10. Public displays of affection : limit public displays of affection, especially in rural and religious areas.
  11. Accepting invitations : if invited to someone's home, it would be polite to bring a small gift.
  12. Patience : Indonesian time really is more relaxed ; so be patient and avoid showing frustration.
  13. Avoid touching heads : the head is considered the most sacred part of the body.
  14. Negotiate with a smile : if you haggle in markets, always keep it friendly and light-hearted. Never insist.

Are digital nomads welcome in Indonesia?

Indonesia, and especially Bali, is now a hotspot for digital nomads thanks to its scenic beauty, affordable living and huge community. The Indonesian government has recently introduced the Bali digital nomad visa to ease longer stays for remote workers. This Indonesia digital nomad visa allows professionals to reside in the country while working for overseas employers.

Can I Travel To Indonesia Without Vaccine ?

Check if you do you have to be vaccinated to go to Bali as it will all depend on your nationality. No vaccine is mandatory but entry requirements regularly change based on global health situations and government policies. Covid-19 vaccine isn’t mandatory anymore.


Do US citizens need a visa for Bali ?

Yes, US citizens require a visa to enter Bali, but you’ll probably qualify for a visa on arrival.

Is Indonesia friendly to tourists ?

Absolutely ! Indonesians are known for their warm hospitality and welcoming nature towards tourists.

How long can you stay in Bali without a visa ?

Most tourists can stay up to 30 days without a visa.

Is it safe to drink tap water in Indonesia ?

No, there might be hygiene issues so it’s best to drink bottled water to avoid potential risks.

What's the best time of year to visit Indonesia in terms of weather ?

The dry season, from April to October, offers the best weather to travel to Indonesia.

Are credit cards widely accepted in Indonesia ?

In urban areas and tourist spots, yes. But it’s always good to carry cash in remote regions.

Are there any specific clothing or dress code requirements for visiting religious sites in Indonesia ?

Yes, you will have to cover shoulders and knees with a sarong in religious sites.

What is the tipping culture in Indonesia, and when is it appropriate to tip ?

Tipping isn't an obligation but it’s appreciated for good service, especially in restaurants and hotels.

Wrap up

Traveling to Indonesia requires preparation and respect. You’ll have to understand the visa requirements and embrace local etiquettes to fit in. This local guide has aimed to provide a comprehensive overview for travelers. With the right knowledge, your travel to Indonesia will be both enriching and seamless !

Stay informed

Subscribe to our newsletter