In the most popular tourist destinations (i.e. Bali, Lombok and parts of Java) travel is very easy and cheap. There are different modes of transport available and the locals are very friendly and helpful. In these areas most people speak a small amount of English. In other isolated of Indonesia, travelling is much more difficult but that will not stop travellers who usually prefer offbeat destinations. They are used to overcoming such difficulties.
There is hardly any serious crime in Indonesia but beware of pick pockets and fraudsters. They are rife in the tourist areas. So, keep an eye on your belongings and don’t fall for some stories they might weave for you. Women tourists might be eyed and eve-teased, as they are considered exotic beauties, especially if they don’t dress conservatively and if they travel alone. Serious crimes against women are again extremely rare.
From time to time, there is political and religious unrest in Indonesia. Though it is not in the popular tourist destinations, you should find out the situation before you leave and once you get there. Problems arise normally in the Aceh province of northern Sumatra, Ambon in Maluku and parts of central Sulawesi. Before visiting these areas, take advice from the embassy. Sometimes, certain areas are evacuated due to suspected volcanic activity too.
Northern Indonesia is mostly warm and wet. Low lying areas have an average temperature of about 28OC (82OF). Higher-up, the temperature is a few degrees less. In southern Indonesia (where most tourist destinations lie) the temperature is quite similar but there is lesser rainfall. The beach areas are mostly sunny and hot.
Most of Indonesian cuisine is designed to be cheap and filling, not necessarily tasty. Their diet mostly consists of rice, noodles, chicken, and fish. These could fried or served in a soup. The food could be very sweet or very spicy, so you can make enquiries before you order. In fancier restaurants, you will get very good food. Try some specialities such as duck stuffed with spices and cooked in coconut husks and banana leaves or the famous chicken satey (succulent skewered chicken served with spicy peanut sauce). These restaurants would cost probably three times more but due to the low value of their currency, a dish would still amount to about 3 USD. In the popular tourist spots, you can easily find western cuisine as well.
Indonesia has three different time zones: Western Indonesian Time = GMT+7 (in the areas of Java, Sumatra, West and Central Kalimantan); Central Indonesian Time = GMT+8 (in the areas of Bali, Nusa Tenggara, Sulawesi, South and East Kalimantan); Eastern Indonesian Time = GMT+9 (in Papua and Maluku). There is no concept of Daylight Savings Time.
Absolutely! Indonesia is a warm and friendly place. Of course, as in other Asian countries, some areas may be a bit more conservative so one should try to not offend people’s religious or cultural sentiments.