Indonesia Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Indonesia
How safe is Indonesia?
Threat level: High
The general travel advice for Indonesia is to remain vigilant and cautious due to recent and ongoing ISIS involvement in the area.
It is also adviced to avoid travelling to the Mount Agung crater in east Bali and to the Mount Sinabung crater in Kalo Regency, due to ongoing volcanic activity.
On the 22nd of December 2018, a tsunami hit the coast of Java and Sumatra, killing over 500 people. The tsunami was caused by the eruption of Mount Anak Krakatau volcano that is located in the middle of the Sunda Strait that divides Sumatra and Java.
On the 24th of May 2017, three policemen were killed in bomb explosions at the Kampung Melayu bus station in east Jakarta.
In January 2016, there were attacks upon civilians at multiple locations. These were undertaken with the use of automatic firearms and grenades, culminating at a standoff with the police on the fourth level of the Menara Cakrawala (Skyline Building) on Jalan MH Thamrin.
These attacks happened near a United Nations (UN) information centre, as well as luxury hotels and foreign embassies at the Sarinah shopping mall in central Jakarta, intersection of Jalan Kyai Haji Wahid Hasyim and Jalan MH Thamrin as well as a Starbucks cafe and a police post outside the mall.
As popular tourist locations were held up in the attacks, travellers are advised to remain on high alert at all times when visiting Indonesia. Ensure you are aware of your surroundings and avoid large gatherings wherever possible.
On the 15th of September 2016, an explosion on a boat travelling between Bali and the Gili Islands killed two persons and injured 14 others. The Boat, popular with tourists was carrying 35 passengers. Local reports say that the injured included tourists from Portugal, Germany, Austria, Korea and Britain. It is thought that this explosion was an accident and may have been caused by poor maintenance of the fuel tank.
There is the possibility of a terror attack against Western interests in the region. The last major attack was the 2009 bombings of the JW Marriot and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta which saw 7 people dead and 50 people injured.
Since those attacks, there have been a number of suicide bombings and attacks on police. The suicide bombings targeted local Christian churches and the attacks on police cannot be 100% attributed to terrorists although a Papua separatist movement has been blamed for one of the attacks.
Dates to be extra vigilant are:
- Christmas and New Year period
- Chinese New Year
- Nyepi (Balinese New Year, 9 March 2016)
- Independence Day (17 August)
It is feared there may be a reoccurrence of the 2002 Bali bombing, which left 202 people dead and 240 injured. It was believed that the attack was specifically aimed at tourists visiting Indonesia. Seen by some as a very clever attack; a smaller primary device detonated in Paddy's Bar (a night club) and as the patrons emptied out into the street, a second more powerful device in a white Mitsubishi van detonated across the street (outside the Sari Club, a renowned open-air thatch-roof bar).
General crime is an issue in Indonesia and robberies and kidnappings do take place. Gun and knife crime is an issue as much in the cities as rural locations. Travellers outside of the main cities and towns are urged to take care and be vigilant at all times.Notes:
Aceh - Visitors to Aceh must be aware that Aceh has imposed Sharia law. Visitors should be mindful to respect Sharia law and Islamic customs at all times.
Papua and West Papua - There have been some fighting in Papua and West Papua between Free Papua Movement (OPM) and the Indonesian authorities. Please take care when visiting these areas and seek local advice.
Indonesia's International Relations
Indonesia is part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) alongside Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, and Cambodia. Its foreign policy has much improved since the end of the East Timor crisis in 2000.
The police force and intelligence services of Indonesia are trying hard to deal with the issue of terrorism and have received training and co-operation from the likes of British Intelligence and the US CIA.
Travelling around Indonesia
Road travel is a problem in much of Indonesia. An International Driving Permit issued in Indonesia is required for driving in the country. The standards of the roads, driving and the vehicles are a real issue. Indonesia has a very high death rate from road traffic accidents, 42,000 in 2010 alone.
Mopeds are a popular method of transport for travellers, as it offers freedom and ease of access to destinations for a low cost. Whilst for the most part, there are few problems, there have been some incidents where reckless driving by the tourist or other road users has led to moped crashes. These can damage both the vehicle which can prove costly to fix and hurt those involved, which may require hospital treatment. You should drive with extreme caution and do not be tempted to drive erratically or race each other.
Earthquakes in Indonesia
Indonesia is subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. When these happen, it is recommended to check local media, follow the recommendations of the local authorities and familiarise yourself with safety procedures that you can find in your hotel room or on the Internet.
On the 22nd of December 2018, a tsunami hit Sumatra and Java that was triggered by the volcanic eruption of Mount Anak Krakatau volcano; killing over 500 people and severely damaging buildings and infrastructures.
Further to this, the Mount Soputan, a volcano in North Sulawesi in Minahasa, erupted last December and is still active.
A severe earthquake and tsunami hit the country on the 28th of September 2018 and hundreds of people were reported dead. The natural disaster also impacted on the infrastructure.
Emergency services in Indonesia:
Police emergency: 110
Fire emergency: 113
Medical emergency: 118
Religion: Islam, Christianity, Hinduism & Buddhism
Currency: Indonesian Rupiah
Time now in Jakarta:
Consular information for Indonesia
U.S. Embassy Jakarta
Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan L5-6,
DKI Jakarta 10110,
Telephone: +62 21 3435 9000
Telephone: +62 36 1233 605 (Bali)
Telephone: +62 61 4519 000 (Medan)
British Embassy Jakarta
Jl. Patra Kuningan Raya Blok L5-6,
DKI Jakarta 12950,
Telephone: +62 21 2356 5200
Visa requirements for Indonesia
British and U.S visitors can enter Indonesia for up to 30 days without a visa. For further advice can be found here: Visa advice Indonesia
Healthcare and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to Indonesia are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers also get Tetanus, Typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccinations.
Although there is no direct risk of Yellow Fever in Indonesia, if you have been in a country where there is a risk of the disease, you will be required to provide a vaccination certificate. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Please be aware that some medications available in your country may be illegal in Indonesia, therefore you should check with your doctor and the Indonesian Embassy before travelling to Indonesia. It is required to keep a copy of your prescription with you when you travel.
Schistosomiasis (parasitic infection also known as bilharzia) is also an issue, so contact with fresh water including activities such as swimming, bathing or paddling in fresh water lakes and streams is advised against.
In some areas of the country, Dengue Fever and Malaria pose high risks of infection. There is also a moderate risk of Zika virus transmission. There are no vaccinations for the diseases and as they are transmitted via infected mosquitoes, you should take routine precautions to avoid bites such as wearing the appropriate clothing and using mosquito nets at night time. Travellers that are at higher risk of Malaria should take antimalarials. More information on Dengue Fever can be found here: Dengue Fever facts
Personal hygiene must be paramount, the local water supply avoided at all costs and bottled water inspected prior to consumption. There have been a number of cases of bottled water being refilled with tap water and re-sold.