Indonesia travel advice

Tips from our friends in Indonesia

Komodo dragons

Philip Beale, from our supplier, Pioneer Expeditions, shares his Indonesia travel advice: “You could argue that the Komodo National Park it is a tourist hotspot, but that takes nothing away from how incredible seeing Komodo dragons is; it has to be slightly controlled and managed because Komodo dragons are amazing, but they’re not cute, they’re killers. Although the dragons are happy to sit around and be watched, you have to have a guide there to make sure you’re watching them safely and you will definitely see them – in that way, it’s not an experience where you feel lucky when you do, but your heartbeat rises and it’s very exciting nonetheless.”

Dealing with begging

Alan Wilson, from our supplier Ecolodges Indonesia, shares his Indonesia travel advice: “You will be confronted by local beggars across Indonesia, but please do not give them money as this will encourage the practice. It’s also advisable not to give gifts to individuals in villages as this will help prevent turning the local people and, in particular, the children of Indonesia into beggars who are often found in the city. If you would like to take gifts for villages, it’s best that they’re distributed via a community leader. Items like exercise books and pens, and sporting goods are much more useful and appreciated, than trinkets, such as balloons or sweets.”


Philip Beale, from our supplier, Pioneer Expeditions, shares his advice on avoiding overcrowded beaches: “There are some very touristy beach scenes in Bali and some areas are all about beer drinking, loud music and very large crowds. Likewise, at certain times of year, the Gili Islands can get very overcrowded and have been victims of pollution because of this. In both Bali and the Gili Islands, however, there are wonderful spots too and it is possible to have a really nice beach vacation avoiding the overdeveloped and overcommercialised areas – research thoroughly and ask your tour operator for advice on where to go.”

Advice on what to pack

Alan Wilson, from our supplier Ecolodges Indonesia, shares his advice on what to pack: “Pack lightly and remember your rainwear! Warmer clothes are needed for cool evenings and upland areas, and dressing in layers works best, so lightweight, long sleeved casual and modest clothing is recommended. It is regarded inappropriate to wear brief clothes anywhere other than the beach, pool or at sports facilities, and women should observe the Muslim dress code that requires shoulders and legs to be kept covered. Good walking shoes are essential, and mosquitoes are drawn to dark colours, so khaki, camel, bone or similar are preferable colours to wear.”

Health & safety



Indonesia is vast, so you may need some vaccinations depending on where you’re traveling. It is recommended that you consult with your GP 6-8 weeks in advance of travel. They will assess your particular health risks before recommending any vaccinations.

Malaria is also present across Indonesia, so you will need to take anti-malarial medication. Wearing long sleeves and trousers is also advised, as well as insect repellent. This also protects against dengue fever. Remember, malaria can develop up to a year after exposure, so keep an eye on any symptoms.

Dengue fever exists in parts of Indonesia and is transmitted to humans by mosquito bites. Symptoms include fever, headache, severe joint, bone and muscular pain, but there is no vaccine and prevention is through avoidance of mosquito bites, so wear long sleeves and trousers, and apply repellent as often as possible.

Tap water is unsafe to drink – also be wary of ice in drinks and unpeeled fruit and vegetables.

Avoid eating bushmeat such as monkeys or bats as these are often carriers of diseases – as well as often being inadvisable for environmental reasons.

Indonesia has some high climbs and trekking routes - make sure you’re aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness before you go.

Leeches are present in the lowland. These are more unpleasant than dangerous, but you can buy “leech socks” which are effective at stopping them, and keep your trousers tucked into your socks or boots.

Indonesia can get incredibly hot and humid, so keep well hydrated at all times.

Bring a basic first aid kit and medication for sickness and diarrhoea if planning to trek or cycle in remote regions.

If you need to be hospitalised, travel to the mainland may be necessary, so be sure you have comprehensive travel insurance, which covers medical evacuation, along with any other activities you may be doing, such as high-altitude hikes, kayaking or diving.

Forest fires in Indonesia can cause serious air pollution in June to August; travelers with respiratory problems should exercise precautions.


Indonesia is a relatively safe country but you should be aware of the risk of street crime and pick pocketing, particularly in busy tourist areas in Bali, where there has been an increase in reports of bag snatching. Avoid having bags obviously on show and carry only essential items, taking particular care of your passport and bank cards.

Credit card fraud is common in Indonesia’s cities, so be careful not to lose sight of your card during transactions.

Indonesia is a largely conservative country and you should dress modestly, particularly in rural areas, to avoid causing offence.

Homosexuality is not widely accepted and is considered taboo in Indonesia, so same-sex couples are advised to act discretely in public.

For further information on health and safety in France, please visit the FCO or the CDC websites.

Tips from our travelers in Indonesia


At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Indonesia travel advice that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
“Bring a lightweight poncho, some good binoculars, and extra strength mosquito repellent.” - Jillian Woodford

“Kayaking is hard work if you're a novice and the wind is against you, but the whole trip is well worth the aching arms. Just book it.” - Liz Calton

“Pack light, you need virtually nothing, and if you are female make sure you are not menstruating otherwise you won't be allowed to visit the Komodo dragons which would be terribly disappointing.” - Sally Jackson

“Just decide what kind of vacation you want – I'd recommend a mixture of busy and remote to get a good idea of the culture.” - Christina Lloyd

“You need to be relatively fit, however, there is not pressure to participate in any of the activities. Accommodation and transport can be very basic, but add to the whole experience. Take ear plugs!” - Tracey Lawrence

“Don't be put off going in the rainy season. Maybe we were just lucky but we didn't get too much rain and traveling in the low season meant that the national parks and other tourist attractions were very quiet - apparently places like Tanjung Puting can get very busy in high season.” - Kathryn White

“Expect to get away from it all and try new experiences. Explore the surrounding area on foot.” - Adrian Helen

“You just have to open yourself up and be willing to take it all in. The local people can offer you so much. Be willing to speak with them and learn about their lives.” - Ruth Hanson
Photo credits: [Philip Beale - komodo dragons: Bryn Pinzgauer] [Philip Beale - Gili Island: yeowatzup] [Review 1 - Michelle Alix: Indo_girl2010] [Review 2 - Christina Colley: Frank Douwes]
Written by Polly Humphris
Bali untouched, 12 day tour

Bali untouched, 12 day tour

Discover rural Bali, far from the bright lights of Kuta.

From £855 12 Days ex flights
Bali adventure vacation

Bali adventure vacation

Warm people ornate customs and welcoming culture

From US $990 9 Days ex flights
Kayaking vacation in Indonesia

Kayaking vacation in Indonesia

Sea kayaking to some of the most remote beaches on earth

From US $2295 10 Days ex flights
Bali holidays, rice terraces & beaches

Bali vacations, rice terraces & beaches

Discover Bali’s emerald rice paddies & tiny castaway islands

From £1068 14 Days ex flights
Indonesia wildlife vacation, primates and dragons

Indonesia wildlife vacation, primates and dragons

Orangutans, Komodo Dragons & coral reefs

From US $3475 14 Days ex flights
Indonesia highlights vacation

Indonesia highlights vacation

Discover our 4 favourite Indonesia islands in 3 just weeks!

From £2058 21 Days ex flights
Raja Ampat diving project, Indonesia

Raja Ampat diving project, Indonesia

Dive and conserve the stunning coral reefs of Raja Ampat

From £1095 15 Days ex flights
Sulawesi and Borneo snorkel safari

Sulawesi and Borneo snorkel safari

Small group snorkel safari to N.Sulawesi and Borneo.

From £3389 15 Days ex flights
Cultural vacation in Indonesia

Cultural vacation in Indonesia

Traditional culture, stunning scenery and unusual wildlife

From £2345 15 Days ex flights
Bali biking vacation in Indonesia

Bali biking vacation in Indonesia

Discover the real Bali on a cycling trip

From US $1440 8 Days ex flights
Tailor made vacation in Bali, Off the beaten track

Tailor made vacation in Bali, Off the beaten track

Cultural heritage, rainforest & beach relaxation in Bali

From US $1795 14 days ex flights
Photo credits: [Page banner: Jean-Marie Hullot]
Convert currencies