Ubud, Bali

Indonesia Quick Guide

  • Population: 248.6 million (4th largest in the world)
  • Median Age: 28.5 years
  • Capital: Jakarta
  • Government: Republic
  • Size compared to US: Three times the size of Texas
  • Language: Bahasa Indonesia (official, modified form of Malay), English, Dutch, local dialects (of which the most widely spoken is Javanese)
  • Religions: Muslim 86.1%, Protestant 5.7%, Roman Catholic 3%, Hindu 1.8%, other or unspecified 3.4% (Bali is a predominantly Hindu island, compared to most other islands in the archipelago that are muslim)
  • Ethnic Groups: Javanese 40.6%, Sundanese 15%, Madurese 3.3%, Minangkabau 2.7%, Betawi 2.4%, Bugis 2.4%, Banten 2%, Banjar 1.7%, other or unspecified 29.9%
  • Currency: Rupiah
  • GDP: $846.8 Billion (2011), ranked 16th in the world
  • GDP Growth: 6.5% (2011 est.)
  • Visa Requirements: US citizens can get a 30-day single entry tourist visa-on-arrival at any major airport. It is $20 payable in a variety of currencies, but I know for sure that USD is accepted. According to the State Dept website, “Visas-on-Arrival are also available at a limited number of seaports, including the Batam and Bintan ferry terminals opposite Singapore, but they are unavailable at any land border crossing.” More information about entry/exit requirements can be found on the State Dept’s website.
  • Transportation: We flew to Denpasar, Bali from Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific and we used a travel agency called Perama Tours to arrange our transportation to Java once we were already in Bali. We traveled by mini-van to Mt Bromo in Java and then onto Yogyakarta also in a mini-van. There are no highways on those routes, so we were driving on single-lane roads the entire way. Mileage wise it isn’t very far, but it took 5 times as long because of the inefficient road network. The air conditioning in the mini-vans was also really poor, so we were basically drenched in sweat for most of the drive. Between the heat and motion sickness from the jerky and bumpy roads, it was a pretty miserable ride. And lastly, from Yogyakarta we flew to Kuala Lumpur on Air Asia.
  • Weather: February is still the rainy season in Indonesia, although I’m not sure how much the seasons actually change. It seems like it’s always pretty tropical. We had great weather while in Bali and it didn’t rain a single day. The temperature was generally in the high 80s-low 90s, although it felt hotter. We slept comfortably with just a fan. However, I’m not sure if that’s typical weather for that time of year or if we just got lucky. In Bromo the temperature was about 40-50 degrees at night and mid 60s during the day. Yogyakarta was very hot with temperatures in the 90s with very high humidity. It rained every afternoon, which cooled things off a bit, but I was still happy we splurged for the A/C room.
  • Food: Overall we really liked Indonesian food, particularly nasi goring, which is a fried rice dish usually made with shrimp, chicken or beef. Like all Asian cultures rice is definitely a staple in most dishes. We also found a good selection of western restaurants when we were craving pizza and the like. We didn’t get sick off of anything, which I consider to be a good indicator as to the freshness of the ingredients. All of the fruit salads were amazing too!
  • People: The Indonesian people we met were incredibly kind, hospitable and generous. Most people were really friendly and loved talking to foreigners. I was also amazed at how many people spoke English, not just people who worked in the tourism industry. I think English is an important part of the curriculum in school.
  • Dress: In Java most women wore headscarves with jeans, but I also saw plenty of women without any headscarf so I think it’s a personal choice. In Bali most women wore western clothes (Bali is a Hindu island). I dressed a little more conservatively in Java, wearing skirts or shorts down to my knees and no tank-tops. You can wear anything you like in Bali, including beach cover-ups around town.