Skip Navigation

Travelling around Indonesia- worried about safety

Travel Forums Asia Travelling around Indonesia- worried about safety

1. Posted by nattan (Inactive 25 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

My boyfriend and I will be travelling around Indonesia and am planning to go to the major cities, travel via trains and stay for around a month in total.

We're from Australia and am just wondering as to the safety level of being obviously tourists in Indonesia? One of my friends is from Indonesia and even he is very worried that we're going to Indonesia as he considers it a dangerous place, especially for people who don't know the language etc.
Now I'm starting to get a bit nervous...can anyone tell me how it's like, whether I should have good reason to be nervous, or tips?

Thank you

2. Posted by risk_ska (First Time Poster 1 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

hi nattan,
So far as I know, indonesia still confident to visit. But, you must prepare some information about transportation and hotel as well before you come. can you mention what city that you will visit? So I can suggest which places you should come.
Not every citizen can use English language but in big city many people can used it.
So don’t worry to travel in Indonesia ;)

3. Posted by Yvekes (Respected Member 266 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Of course Indonesia is safe, last year I travelled for three months in this vast country. I've been to Sulawesi, Lombok, Bali, Java and Sumatra and I never felt unsafe, not even a single second.
We always used public transport (trains, busses, boats,...), stayed in cheap guesthouses and ate in local restaurants and however I only spoke a little Bahasa (an easy language for me, because it is closely related to Dutch), it was easy to travel.
But if you say you'll go to the major cities, I guess you'll probably will go to cities like Jakarta, Jogyakarta, areas like Bromo etc, so you'll encouter any problems there if you only speak English!


4. Posted by pPamela (Full Member 158 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Hi Nattan,

I am so sorry your Indonesian friend is scaring you so much. Indonesian people are like that- so caring and worried about my welfare when I travel from island to island.
Sorry to say but your friend is completely WRONG.

I have travelled to Indonesia 8 times over the past 12 yrs and have stayed for periods of up to 5.5 months.
Even as a solo female I have never experienced anything but friendly happy Indonesian people.
And I DO NOT speak any Indonesian much to my Indonesian friends' frustration. I just know some words and with the help of charades- always get by.
I have travelled right up through Aceh from Ketambe with no maps, no guide books just on the word of a guest house owner in Ketambe and had the most wonderful time.
I had told everyone in Medan I would be back in 3 days from Ketambe, but actually stayed 18 days in Aceh.
Of course I smsed my Indonesian friends in Medan to let them know I was ok.
Even sat out in the street at 12 midnight eating food with about 300 Indonesian men and no problems at all.
Even found a guy wandering around- (a parking man and his friend staying in town overnight) who could speak English, fed him and his friend for a total of $3AUD and then got them a room in my hotel for $7AUD so I could pay hire him to be my guide the next day ( after a good night's sleep) to walk around the beautiful Lake Tawar in Takengon.

And I can tell you for sure you DO NOT need to book accomodation ahead- that is the fun part of travelling.
I would say the third poster is a travel agent in Indonesia- beware.
And if you use local transport within a place you just jump on and off.

And any place you wish to visit will be on the tourist trail and of course guides etc speak English they are dealing with travellers all the time.
( please please please AVOID those horrid noisy full of trafffic jam big polluted cities-most travellers avoid them as much as possible.)

If you would like extra information- I have Word Documents on Sumatra and some maps send me a private message with your email address.
I can also look at itineraries you may have in mind and help you with times between places in Aceh, Sumatra, Java, Bali and Lombok and south Sulawesi or whereever you wish to go.
Sincerely, Pamela.

[ Edit: Edited on 01-Jul-2009, at 15:19 by pPamela ]

5. Posted by nattan (Inactive 25 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Thanks so much for all your help! It's reassured me (a little bit).

Our very vague itinerary would probably be to arrive in Ketapang on the east point of the mainland from Bali (we heard that there's a boat from around Gilmanuk to there) and somehow make our way to Surabaya- I see on Google maps that there's a train line- we'd probably go by train as it's easier and I get travel sickness on long bus rides. Is this possible?

Then spend a few days in Surabaya before somehow (maybe by train again?) making our way to Semarang, Bandung and Jakarta. Then up to the north island before catching a boat to Singapore (I heard that we can do this).
We'd also like to do Borneo as well as any other places that you guys suggest- we're very open in our itinerary and have purchased a 60 day visa so have plenty of time.

So it's possible to get on and off the train through this journey and find accommodation in the various towns we pass? How would we find accommodation- would there is random places advertised in the towns? I've just been looking for the internet and the cheaper ones listed there are mainly backpacker hostels which start from around $13 per night and never as low as $7 per night. We'd love to stay in guesthouses but again, on the internet there don't seem to be that many. Would they just have banners and things outside them? Any you'd recommend?

As you can maybe tell, I'm not a fan of turning up at places without having booked accommodation but if you say that it's definitely possible to find accom on the night, then I'll feel more confident! :)

6. Posted by Aegisint (Budding Member 13 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Sounds like you are planning a very intersting trip.

Couple of things to consider.

1. Indonesia is incredibly safe. The people are generally very poor but an integral part of Indonesian culture is the care of travelers. No matter where you are in Indonesia if you need a drink, a meal or somewhere to sleep you can find it. Nobody expects anything in return and you will find that the local taxi driver will help you find the right place, you may even be invited to his home for the night. If you get that chance, take it. You will never find warmth and hospitality the same anywhere in the world like it. If you want to give something in return, teach their kids some english, buy some chocolate, take some photos of them and get them developed at a local Fuji Film processing.

2. Accommodation is usually basic once you get below the 4 star hotels. Even 3 stars hotels in Indonesia are very very basic. You will see many other backpackers and Caucasians everywhere in Indonesia, so if you need advice just ask, all of us who spend a lot of time there will help you no matter how busy we are. Indonesia is that sort of place.

3. Help. The police generally are not helpful. If you are lost of just need to know something, look for a mosque. There is always someone at the mosque and they will let you rest, give you a drink or food and find someone who speaks English to help you. Again, the police are NOT helpful.

4. Language. You will be amazed at how many people, especially the younger ones, speak English in INdonesia. But language is not an issue to communicate with Indonesians, life is made up of very simple elements. And there is always someone close by who can speak enough English to help you.

5. Transport. The train is ok, but its unreliable, incredibly slow. It will certainly be an experience. but dont book too cheapop or you may end up having to stand up for 12 to 15 hours. You can usually hire a Kijang (like a MPV but rougher) for a reasonable fee. Whereever you are staying someone will know someone who is traveling somewhere and you can usually hitch a ride for a few dollars and a promise to buy dinner for everyone, it will cost you about $2 each person.

6. Places to visit. Surabya has nothing offer apart from ease of transport. You want to go to Jogjakrta and Borobudur if yuo are in that part of Java, avoid Surabaya. Jakarta is worth going to just for the experience, its huge. Not a lot to see but a couple of days is enough. Plenty of tourist information and a great nightlife. East Java is very beautiful too, but not a lot of time is needed there. If you get a chance to visit Sumatra you will be very pleased to see how different it is, Padang, Palembang and then up to Danau Toba, you will love it. And if you are feeling adventurous try Aceh, dont believe the crap on the government websites., Aceh is one of the safest and most friendly places in the whole world. They actually speak better English there than the rest of Indonesia and its really really beautiful with Orangatans, monkeys, all sorts of wildlife and maybe even a Sumtran tiger (there is about 300 left in the wild).

Boat from Batam to Signapore, yes its possible but you have to fly to Batam first, probably cheper to just fly from wherever you are to Singapore, Batam is not going to be of interest to you after seeing everything else.

Good luck, go with an open mind and a big smile on your face. You will never regret it or expereince anything like it again

7. Posted by pPamela (Full Member 158 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Thank you so much for such a well written and spot on report. You are 100% correct in all you said.
How true is this comment

Good luck, go with an open mind and a big smile on your face. You will never regret it or experience anything like it again

Yes, you will experiece it again if you keep going back like myself and hundreds like me.

8. Posted by nattan (Inactive 25 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for all the tips, people :)

So travelling by train isn't recommended, eh. I guess if they are very slow or running late all the time, then that could be a problem if it wastes a lot of time. Might have to think about it. My main concerns are safety and cleanliness of them- are they safe? Neither of us will be getting an international drivers licence- would the buses be better?

That's the second person that's recommended not going to Surabaya so we might skip that too if there's not much to look at there.

So we actually have to fly to Batam to get the ferry to Singapore? Oh must be pretty isolated then. Do you know how much it costs to fly there and the ferry to Singapore, compared to just flying to Singapore? It's just that I'm not a big fan of flying so was sort hoping to see how the ferry crossing would be lol!