Name: Republic of Indonesia
Population: 261 million
Language: Indonesian (official)
Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
Time Zone: UTC +8
Indonesia, a Southeast Asian nation made up of thousands of volcanic islands, is home to hundreds of ethnic groups speaking many different languages. It’s is known for its beaches, volcanoes and jungles sheltering elephants, tigers and Komodo dragons. On the island of Java lies Indonesia’s vibrant, sprawling capital, Jakarta, and the city of Yogyakarta, known for gamelan music and traditional puppetry
Dubbed the Island of the Gods, Bali is one of the more than 17,000 islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago. Due to its location off the coast from the mainland and unique culture and religion from the rest of the country, Bali is often treated as a destination of its own, “if you’ve only been to Bali, you’ve never been to Indonesia”.
With its pristine beaches, its unspoilt waters ideal for surfing and diving, its lush mountains, its never-ending rice terrace and volcanic hillsides, its spiritually-infused culture and more, Bali has quickly become a must-visit and it often makes its way on everyone’s bucket list.
Temperatures are pleasant, varying from 20-33 degrees celsius year-round. The monsoon season strikes in November and makes its way until march, bringing in humidity and a significant amount of rain. However, this usually does not stop people from visiting as the rain usually begins in the late afternoons and evenings, meaning the daytime remains sun-filled. From June to September, weather is dry and there is not too much humidity in the air.
Indonesia is a haven for customs and this can be seen in every corner of the islands. A good example of this are the small offerings containing flowers, rice and even cigarettes (sesajen) found in every house, restaurants, stall and even at the check-in desks at airports. The offerings are set with burning incense sticks and sprinkled with holy water three times a day before every meal.
There are roughly 20,000 temples spread around the Bali island and, because the Balinese are masters of sculpture, the temples are guarded with statues of gods and goddesses.
Keep, in mind, however, that the Hinduism you will see in Bali is often different than the one seen in India, for example.
The food in Bali is very different than that of the rest of Indonesia due to ingredients such as pork (not eaten by the rest of Indonesia’s large Muslim population). Notable dishes include Babi guling, a ceremonial dish, which is roast suckling pig served with rice, Bebek betutu, duck topped with herbs and roasted banana leaves, Lawal, a range of Balinese salads, usually served with chopped vegetables, meat, coconut and spices, and Uruatan, spicy sausages.
Perama buses is the most famous company that will transport you around Bali and other parts of Indonesia. Another popular company is Trans Sarbagita, which are comfortable and air conditioned and stop on bus stops on road curbs. We highly recommend booking at least one day in advance to make sure there is a seat for you. Moreover, there are shuttle buses (called “Bemos”) between Bali’s most popular destinations.
Taxis are a common way to get around. Blue Bird/Bali Taksi are regarded as one of the most reliable companies. Taxis are metered and the drivers are often able to speak good enough English to understand you. They also have waiting service, which means they will wait for you while you go sightseeing and take you back home (for an extra charge, of course), if you wish to.
The Indonesian currency is the Indonesian Rupiah. US$1 is the equivalent of approximately 10,000 Rupiah and there are exchange bureaus where you can change your money. ATMs accepting international debit and credit cards are widely available throughout Bali, check with your issuing bank to find out if your debit card will be accepted internationally otherwise you will require a credit card to withdraw Rupiah. Our recommendation is to take a small amount of cash (such as US$200) for “emergencies” but ideally take a debit or credit card (such as MasterCard or Visa) and withdraw money from ATMs as needed. This is the easiest and most cost effective way of withdrawing money and much safer than carrying a large amount of cash with you to Bali. You may also want to inform your bank that you will be traveling so that the bank does not limit or stop use of your card after seeing withdrawals and purchases in a foreign country.
For more information on Indonesia check out the Indonesia Tourism Board website here.