Settling-in Indonesia

Indonesia Destination Guide

The Basics

Let’s Talk About Culture

Settling in Tips

Let’s Have Fun

Need Help?

The Basics

About Indonesia

Ever since prehistoric times the Indonesian archipelago has been inhabited. The Java Man or pithecanthropus erectus (upright ape-man) is the oldest known inhabitant here, having lived over a million years ago.

In the 13th century, Islam entered Indonesia through the trade route by way of India, and today, Islam is the religion of the majority of the population.

Marco Polo was the first European to set foot on Sumatra. In 1596 the first Dutch vessels anchored at the shores of West Java after a long voyage. Over the next centuries gradual three centuries, the Dutch gradually colonized this archi-pelago until it became known as the Dutch East Indies.

On 17 August 1945, the Indonesian people declared their Independence through their leaders Soekarno and Hatta. Freedom however was not easily granted. Only after years of bloody fighting did the Dutch Government finally relent, officially recognizing Indonesia’s Independence in 1950.

Today, after six decades of freedom, Indonesia has become the third largest democracy in the world. Despite facing today’s global financial crisis, the country has managed to show positive economic growth, and is internationally respected for her moderate, tolerant yet religious stance in today’s global conflict among civilizations.

Indonesia offers visitors and residents both the richness of a long history of cultural heritage as well as the comforts and life style of a modern metropolis. Whether you are interested in art and culture, nature, sightseeing, shopping, nightlife, or sports & fitness, you will find that Indonesia has a lot to offer!

Indonesia's Facts & Figures

Land Area: 1.905 million sq. kilometer
Population:About 264 million from than 200 ethnic groups
Density144 people per sq. km
GovernmentRepublic based on the 1945 constitution providing for a separation of executive, legislative and judicial power
Time ZoneWestern Indonesia Time (GMT +7),
Central Indonesia Time (GMT +8),
Eastern Indonesia Time (GMT +9)
Religion87.2% Islam ; 9.9% Christianity ; 1.7% Hinduism; 0.7% Buddhism ; 0.2% Confucianism and others
LanguageBahasa Indonesia (official modified form of Malay), English, Dutch, local dialects (the most widely spoken of which is Javanese)
WeatherTropical, hot, humid, more moderate in highlands. The average mean air temperature of Indonesia is about 33 degree Celsius.
Important Laws & Regulations

Do not bring:

  • Firearms, ammunition & explosives (unless licensed
    in advance)
  • Obscene, literature, photographs or films &
    politically “undesirable” literature
  • Prohibited drugs, misbranded & adulterated drugs &
  • Gambling machines & paraphernalia
  • Transceivers
  • Satellite Equipment

Let’s Talk About Culture

Local Culture

Indonesian people are generally friendly and polite and while they understand that western culture is different to their own. Indonesians tend to communicate in a sub- dued and indirect manner. They do not always say exactly what they mean. Punctuality is not always observed, as Indonesians do not like to feel hurried and do not have the western sense of urgency. The Indonesian attitude towards time is reflected in that, to them, time is not money. They may show less interest in profit or material success but rather building relation- ships.

Living on more than 17,000 islands, the Indonesian nation today counts some 200 million population comprising more than 200 ethnic groups. The majority of the population embraces Islam, while in Bali the Hindu religion is predominant. True to the Pancasila, the five principles of nationhood, namely Belief in the One and Only God, a Just and Civilized Humanity, the Unity of Indonesia, Democracy through unanimous deliberations, and Social Justice for all – Indonesian societies are open and remain tolerant towards one another’s religion, customs and traditions, all the while faithfully adhering to their own.

Weddings and wedding receptions in Indonesia are a great introduction to Indonesia’s many and diverse customs and traditions. On 2 October 2009, UNESCO recognized Indonesia’s “Batik” as World Intangible Cultural Heritage, adding to the earlier recognized Indonesia’s “Keris” (the wavy blade dagger), and the “Wayang” shadow puppets.

Religious customs should be respected, particularly during the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the month of fasting, intensive praying for the Muslims. The fast consist of total abstinence from food and drink from dawn to dusk. Eid al-Fitr is the Festival of Fast Breaking.

It is considered impolite to use left hand for passing or accepting things. Appropriate dress is important in places of worship and women should dress conservatively, especially in Muslim area. The concept of ‘saving face’ is very important and public display of anger and personal ridicule and blame are considered vulgar.

Cultural Do’s & Don’ts

More information on Indonesia Cultural Do’s & Don’ts is available in your AT Mobility Welcome Kit. Your AT Mobility Consultant will be happy to provide any details in the materials.


Greet someone by shaking, not grasping, both hands.

Respect religious customs, particularly during the month of Ramadan.

Wear appropriate attire, especially in Muslim areas.

Shoes must be taken off before entering a house or place of worship like mosques.

Pay attention to body language and gesture as Indonesian speak in subtle tone.

Important to address colleagues with the proper title, either “Bapak” for males or “Ibu” for females followed by his or her academic title, given name and family and finally his/her business title

Be careful with motorcyclists, people walking (also jaywalking) on the streets, and public transportation cars or buses which stop and cut you in an unpredictable manner.


Don’t use your left hand for passing or accepting things; it is considered unclean.

Don’t offer Muslim Indonesians alcoholic drinks or pork.

Don’t display anger or ridicule/blame towards another in public; the concept of “saving face” is very important.

Don’t forget to take into consideration that Muslims pray five times a day when scheduling business meetings with your Indonesian counterparts. Prayer usually last fifteen minutes and time should be allocated for them.

Don’t be afraid recap what you have discussed in your meeting. It may be necessary to explain yourself in a different way. Indonesians will never indicate if they do not understand something so it is wise to summarize in order to avoid any misunderstandings.

Don’t take other taxi than Blue Bird. The Blue Bird Group is highly recommended.

Settling in Tips

Getting Around

Air Travel

Air travel is the quickest and most convenient way of getting around Indonesia, and sometimes the only way to reach certain parts of the archipelago. There are an ever-changing number of domestic airlines, and flights are generally inexpensive. Bear in mind that flights to remote destinations are prone to cancellation, as well as delays, especially in periods of bad weather.

Almost a dozen major airlines fly domestically.

Batik Air ( Full-service subsidiary of Lion Air.

Citilink ( Budget subsidiary to Garuda Indonesia that links major cities.

Dimonim Air ( Flights in Papua.

Garuda Indonesia ( Serves major destinations across the archipelago. Tickets are easily bought online.

Indonesia AirAsia ( Fast-growing budget carrier that is a subsidiary of it’s Malaysian-based parent.

Train Services

Train travel in Indonesia is restricted to Java and a small network in Sumatra.

In Java, trains are one of the most comfortable, fastest and easiest ways to travel. In the east, the railway service connects with the ferry to Bali, and in the west with the ferry to Sumatra. Sumatra’s limited rail network runs in the south from Bandarlampung to Lubuklinggau, and in the north from Medan to Tanjung Balai and Rantau Prapat.

Bus Services

Buses are the mainstay of Indonesian transport (excepting Papua and Maluku). At any time of day, thousands of buses in all shapes and sizes move thousands of people throughout Indonesia. The ‘leave-when-full’ school of scheduling applies to almost every service, and ‘full’ sometimes means the aisles are occupied too.

Taxi Services

Taxi can be found in pangkalan (taxi queues) at shopping centers and flagged down off the street with a wave of your hand. It is customary to send your household staff or Satpam to a nearby street, and they’ll take a taxi back to the house for you. Alternatively, you can call the taxi company or utilize their mobile app to a request the service. A taxi will be sent to your home or the area that you ask. There is regularly a minimum charge for taxi requested by telephone.

It depends where you live and the time of day, requesting by telephone or App may not be as quick as flagging one down off the street. In any case, if you are willing to wait for the taxi, you can be assured of getting a taxi from a reputable company.

If you can figure out which taxi company has its “pool” nearest to your purpose of take-off, you’ll most likely get a taxi faster.

At the wave of your hand, the taxi driver may flash his lights, slam on the brakes or stop dead in the middle of the way to pick you up. Others give you calm, curbside service.

Ordinarily, particular treatment is given to expats who have a reputation for tipping well; if there are a few Indonesians nearby to wave to a taxi, the driver often chooses to pick up the expats instead. It is not fair, but helpful when you’re rushing home to your family after work or trying to escape from the rain/heat!


Indonesian food is one of the most colorful cuisines with different intense flavor in the world. It is eclectic and diverse as Indonesia is composed of roughly 6,000 populated islands of the total 17,508 in the world. More than 300 ethnic groups are calling Indonesia home. Many different styles of cuisines exist. They are often based on indigenous culture and foreign influences. Indonesia has about 5,350 traditional recipes, with 30 of them considered the most essential. Indonesia’s food may incorporate rice, noodle, and soup dishes in local restaurants to the street-side snacks and top-dollar plates.

Indonesian cuisine fluctuates greatly by different areas and has various impacts. Sumatran cooking, for instance, regularly has Middle Eastern and Indian influences, featuring curried meat and vegetables, for example, gulai and curry, while Javanese food is generally indigenous, with some trace of Chinese impact. The food of Eastern Indonesia is like Polynesian and Melanesian food. Components of Chinese food can be found in Indonesian food: for example, noodles, meatballs, and spring rolls have been completely assimilated.


Even though generally rehearsed in the United States and other Western countries, the social custom of tipping isn’t as broadly practiced in Indonesia. Some feel that “Tips” is derived from the abbreviation “To Insure Prompt Service.” There is mixed opinion about the reality behind that claim. Tipping is a personal act in any case and regularly subject to the service received.

In general, most expats usually tip at too high a rate, until the point that they have in Indonesia here for some time and understand the actual amount of money that people are making, who is expecting a tip, and who is expecting a “bribe.” It is also worth to mention that no matter where you go, there are always some “helpers” would like to help you. They will offer to rent you an umbrella, carry your bags or stop oncoming traffic so your car can get in, even if you don’t need the assistance! They expect a “tip” as well.

There are circumstances where tipping will be expected. These generally include service personnel, for example, manicurists, taxi drivers, and servers and ought to be determined by three conditions: the level of service provided, the rupiah value of the tip to the individual (not to yourself) and the relationship you have with the person.

Medical Care

Private and Int’l Clinics & Hospitals

Indonesia has world class medical professionals and facilities:

SOS Medika Klinik
Cipete Antasari, Jakarta Selatan
+62 21 750 5980

Global Doctor
Kemang, Jakarta Selatan
+62 21 719 4565

Transferees may also contact:
Medic One EMS
Medical 911
SOS Alarm Center
+62 21 750 6001

Expat Housing in Indonesia

Most expats prefer to live in the apartment and houses. Available both furnished & semi furnished, pool included. The most popular area for the expats is in the South of Jakarta with offices in SCBD area.

After your arrival in Jakarta, you and your family will spend an enormous amount of energy to set up your new lives. There are different tasks you need to deal with. For example, finding a house/apartment, getting your kids enrolled in school, buying a car, learning your way around town, hiring a domestic helper, getting involved with your community and making new friends.

Your company may advise or require you to stay in a hotel or serviced apartment until you can locate suitable housing. If this is the case, temporary accommodation would be perfect for them.

International Schools

There several International Schools in Indonesia, however, there are only three most prestigious International School: Jakarta International School (JIS), British International School (BIS) and AIS (Australian International School). JIS is an outstanding educational experience for children of more than 60 nationalities living in Jakarta. JIS is using American curriculum, whereas AIS & BIS are both using the same curriculum, which is English National Curriculum.

As in every search, it is very useful to narrow your preferences. Think for example on what makes a school appealing to you and your children and what is acceptable and what is not when coming to your children’s education. Curriculum details, the medium of instruction, extracurricular activities, school’s facilities, the percentage of English native speakers in the classroom, whether the school is new or has some tradition, and school’s fees are all significant points you want to consider. Additionally, it is also important to consider the prospective school’s location in conjunction with your new home’s location.

Let’s Have Fun


Indonesia is a country located in South East Asia which is known for its large size and high population. With Jakarta as the center of business and industrial activity and Bali as one of the most popular tourist destination, Indonesia is slowly increasing pace as far as growth and development are concerned. Housing a large population of about 238 Million people, Indonesia is a place which never sleeps and is constantly hustling and bustling with life.

Every place has a different definition of entertainment and fun. With great diversity among the people, religions, cultures, and lifestyles in Indonesia, entertainment’s definition also differs from town to town and city to city in this Asian country. The way people entertain themselves in this country can be considered to be a well-blended mix of modern entertainment, non-local entertainment and traditional form of entertainment. Some conventional forms of entertainment include puppet shows called Wayang, traditional dances and comic shows etc.

Nightclubs and bars
While most areas in Indonesia are still rural, the main cities such as Jakarta and Bali have many options for clubbing for youngsters. On weekends, many people like to visit popular bars and restaurants for a time out of their normal routine. Eating and drinking out is a popular activity for most and is a form of relaxation for Indonesians. Since most places have many beaches, beach parties and shack events are common too for drinking, conversation and social meetings.

Eating out
If you wish to go eating out in Indonesia, then you must be aware of some of the common costs beforehand. Let’s take a look at some general prices or costs:

A meal for two at an inexpensive restaurant can cost somewhere around 20000 Rp in Indonesia.

A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant in Indonesia can cost around 150000 Rp.

A combo meal at a fast food restaurant such as McDonalds can cost 38500 Rp.

Domestic beer of 0.33 liter quantity can cost 23000 Rp whereas an imported beer of same quantity costs 40000 Rp.

A bottle of mineral water of 0.33 liter quantity costs 2680 Rp.

Need Help?

Emergency Contacts


Emergency: 112
Ambulance: 118
Police: 110
Firefighter: 113
SAR / Search and Rescue: 115
Command Post of the National Vigilance: 122
Information and repair
the damage and disruption of phone
: 117
Information and repair the damage
and power failures (power company)
: 123
Red Cross Indonesia or PMI: 021-4207051

Copyright @ Asian Tigers Ltd • 15/1/2019

We make every effort to ensure the information contained in these destination guide is accurate and up-to-date. However, do keep in mind that the rules, regulations and other material in these guides change from time to time, so we cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. We suggest that you contact the appropriate Asian Tigers office if you have any questions. They will be glad to help you.