Warm Welcomes in a Land of Cultural Diversity
For centuries, Indonesia sat at a crossroads of maritime commerce, where influences from the Far East, Asia and the Middle East blended with the already rich diversity of cultures and languages that spread across this island of nations. Today, the country is an intriguing mixture of the modern and the traditional. While the skyscrapers of Jakarta and the resorts of Bali showcase the cosmopolitan dimensions of Indonesia, outlying islands provide an authentic glimpse into simpler ways of life. On islands such as Sulawesi, nature takes center stage, with towering peaks and lush tropical forests that are home to some of the planet's most intriguing wildlife.
- Best for: All travellers, from beach lovers to adventure enthusiasts
- Best season to visit: Year round
- Weather: Indonesia has a tropical climate with two seasons, wet and dry. Most regions, the dry season spans from May - Sep, with rain from Oct - Apr. Indonesia straddles the Equator. Areas near the coast remain in the 80s during the day
Cultural Activities in Indonesia Overview
Some of the most authentic cultural interactions take place on the island of Sulawesi, where traditional ways of life still prevail. In addition to providing a window into rich traditions, this region is also home to some of Indonesia's premier natural attractions, from visits to nature preserves and historic sites to hikes in nature preserves and the mountains of the Minahasan Highlands.
Cultural Activities in Indonesia Tips
The best way to experience the true cultural diversity of Indonesia is to go beyond the cities and tourism centers and immerse in village life. Indonesian people are known for their warm and welcoming attitudes towards guests, who are greeted with a smile and the traditional greeting of “Selemat,” which is a wish for peace and happiness.
Best Places for Cultural Activities in Indonesia
Watch the artisanal craftsmen of Woloan create traditional Minahasan 'knock down' houses.
Immerse in the sights and sounds of the Tomohon market and explore caves that were a Japanese stronghold during World War II. Hike to a steaming volcanic lake in the crater of Mount Mahawu, witness the amazing color changes of Lake Linow and discover the world's smallest primate in the Tangkoko Nature Reserve.
What to Pack for Cultural Activities in Indonesia
When touring lowland nature preserves and parks, you'll want to include lighter-weight and looser fitting clothing that provides natural ventilation. Treks into the highlands may require a light jacket, as temperatures can drop at these higher altitudes. For any walking tour, a pair of sturdy shoes will provide traction on dirt trails. Bring a daypack when visiting the village markets so you can carry your acquired treasures home.
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Passport and/or Visa Requirements
U.S. citizens require a valid passport to enter Indonesia. The passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the date of entry into the country. Two blank pages are required for the endorsement page stamp upon entry, which is a full-page stamp. This stamp acts as your visa which is valid for a 30-day stay for tourists. There is no charge for the stamp. There is a departure tax of 200,000 IDR approximately $16 U.S. which is paid at the airport upon departure.
There are no immunizations required by the Indonesian government. Please, check with your doctor or visit the website of the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov for a listing of immunizations recommended for travel to Indonesia.
Culture and Customs
Indonesia is a nation of islands, and of blended cultures. Centuries of maritime trade have spread influences of Indian and the Far East, but individual island groups have also developed their own traditions and languages. The region is home to more that 300 distinct native ethnic groups, and 742 different languages and dialects. One trait that is common to all of these disparate communities is a tradition of hospitality and acceptance for travelers. The attentive service lavished on guests of resorts and liveaboards is not an affectation, but an integral element of a national psyche that take pride in playing the welcoming host. Equally apparent is a sense of tolerance, which allows the traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam and Christianity to co-exist. Indonesia is also a land of contrasts. Jakarta's steel and glass towers soar to heights of more than 1,000 feet in one of the most modern commercial centers in the region. A thousand miles away, islanders living in traditional villages still observe local traditions of ancestor worship and animism such as Kebatinan. And then there is the food. Indonesian cuisines are among the most vibrant and flavorful in the world, mixing intense spices and subtle overtones that draw from the culinary traditions of India, Holland, the Middle East, China, southeast Asia, Polynesia and Melanesia. Equally savory is the lively street food scene, where the rich aromas of bakso or gila fill the air.
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50 Hz. The standard outlet is a two pin round socket. If your appliance is not labeled 100-240 Volt, 50-60 Hz input, you may need a step down transformer as well.
Check with your cell phone provider for international plans which may include text, data and voice. WiFi is available at most hotels, restaurants and cafes. The internet speed is slower, so in some cases, streaming and large file transfers might not be an option.
Tap water in Indonesia is largely not safe for drinking. Sealed bottled water is advisable and available for purchase.
Language & Currency
The official language is Indonesian Bahasa. English is widely understood and tourist resorts. There are over 300 languages spoken in Indonesia, with most Indonesians being bilingual in their local dialect as well as Bahasa Indonesia. Many Indonesians are multi lingual, also speaking English, Chinese and Japanese.
The currency is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) or recognized locally as Rp. Money may be exchanged at money changer offices which usually offer the best rate, with banks offering the next best rate and exchanging at hotels is often not the best rate. Money changers prefer newer undamaged bills and may refuse damaged currency. ATMs are available and credit cards are accepted at most resorts. Traveler's checks are not recommended.
Indonesia spans three time zones. Western Indonesia Time called Waktu Indonesia Time (WIB) including Java, Jakarta and Sumatra are 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+7 GMT). Central Indonesian Time or Waktu Indonesia Tengah (WITA) including Bali, Sulawesi and Lombok are 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+8 GMT). Eastern Indonesian Time or Waktu Indonesia Timur (WIT) including Irian Jaya is 9 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+ GMT). Indonesia does not observe daylight savings time.
Location, Size and Population
The Republic of Indonesia is a nation of islands in southeast Asia that lies between the Indian and Pacific Ocean. The name Indonesia is derived from the Greek words “indus” (India) and “nesos” (islands) and is the world's largest archipelagic nation with over 18,000 islands. It is bordered by the nations of Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Malaysia and encompasses over 735,000 sq miles.
Approx. 260 Million people (2016).