As the largest country in Southeast Asia, Indonesia is definitely appealing to any globetrotter who wants to experience the beauty of this continent. Not only is it interesting when it comes to its location, but also when it comes to its environment. It has an impressively diverse environment that society that make every tourist perceive this archipelago as a must-see part of the world. Composed of 17,500 islands, Indonesia combines forested volcano mountains with shallow seas and coral reefs, offering its tourists amazing and unique experiences that tend to last forever in their hearts and minds.
If you’re thinking of planning a trip to this wonderful country, you might have already jot down names such as Java, Bali and Sumatra, which you are eager to explore and enjoy. Apart from that, you might also wonder how safe is Indonesia for tourists, as one of your main concerns when embarking on such a journey should be making sure that you’re all prepared to embrace its local color and unique locations without worrying too much that your trip can be compromised. In case you want to know more about what Indonesia might expose you to and how to stay safe in Indonesia, you’ve come to the right place. Check out our Indonesia safety guide and decide for yourself if this wonderful archipelago is indeed worth visiting.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Indonesia
Any country you think of visiting must be planned in advance, with proper care and proper information at hand. This is why, before booking your accommodation and plane tickets, you should get well-informed first, so as nothing could come between you and your dream destination. Check out this Indonesia safety guide and keep in mind all the risks you might get exposed to and our Indonesia safety tips that could keep you out of trouble. Getting informed is actually one of the most important steps you can take in order to make sure your trip will be amazing!
Overall Risks in Indonesia: MEDIUM
From petty theft and credit card fraud to terrorist attacks, Indonesia can come with some dangers that can be avoided if you know the proper safety tips. What is more, the location of this archipelago comes with many disadvantages when it comes to natural disasters and weather and this is why the risk of encountering some form of natural disasters can be higher than you might have assumed. On the whole, Indonesia does not involve any high risks and with the proper information researched ahead, you can make sure you will be safe in Indonesia during your stay there. Any visitor is advised to exercise a normal degree of caution when visiting this country and follow a few simple steps that will make his/ her journey pleasurable.
In order to make sure everything will be fine during your stay in Indonesia, you should not forget to pack your common sense, along with a good knowledge of the continent and country that are going to be your home during your stay. Therefore, get informed about the local customs and laws, read some things about the local people and make sure you’re well informed about the dangers this country may bring.
The next steps are easy to follow, as they are simple tips to make sure your valuables, your travel companions and yourself are all protected during your stay. Do not leave any valuables unattended, do not plan night walks alone and do not forget to be alert during your journey.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Indonesia: MEDIUM
Street crime, petty thefts and pick-pocketing are pretty common on the streets of Indonesia, especially because the others might perceive you as a target victim when they notice you are a foreigner. Apart from that, there have been incidents of credit card fraud, so you might want to watch out for scammers as well. Apart from that, the usual incidents can be avoided with proper care and the right measures taken.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Indonesia?
Do not lose sight of your valuables and stay vigilant during your transactions at ATMs. You need to take sensible measures such as leaving your valuables in the luggage, keeping only copies of your documents in your purse and protect yourself and your travel companions during your stay and especially during evening walks.
Scam Risk in Indonesia: HIGH
When it comes to scams, there are more than just a few for you to be aware of - to be more specific, there are around 40 scams that are known to be quite common in Indonesia. There are scams involving tourist activities, transport, and some miscellaneous scams.
In terms of tourist activities, there are a few that involve certain locations - such as the Domas Crater at Tangkuban, Jakarta Istiqlal Mosque, Jalan Malioboro, Kraton Palace, Kuta beach, markets such as Ubud Art Markets and Kuta, and Uluwatu temple. These scams usually involve tour guides that overcharge or turn into sellers once you reach the end of the tour, or just sellers that will try to scam you when buying something from them.
Most reports tell of unlicensed/ fake tour guides and temple touts - obviously, these people will claim that will provide you with the tour you want and with historical information and such as well, charging you way more than the price of an actual tour.
When it comes to transportation, we have the classic taxi scams as well as a few other that involve local transport, such as buses. In the miscellaneous category fall a number of other quite ingenious scams, such as money changer scams, corrupted police, fake drugs and fake police, SIM card scams, beggars and buskers, currency confusion, ATM skimming, donations, and many other.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Indonesia?
With so many scams you may think that avoiding them is impossible - well, in some cases is, but you can help yourself prevent them. As most of them involve money/ currency, it is important that you get familiar with the local currency, as well as with the costs of various things, such as taxi rides, entries, and the cost of tours.
Also, when it comes to ATM, we recommend you to not use them - reports tell that credit card fraud is quite common. Thus, you should always withdraw money from within a bank and never from the outside. When it comes to transportation, taxi companies such as Silverbird, Bluebird, and Express are known as reputed and trustworthy. However, keep in mind that some competitors copy their looks and you might have a hard time identifying the right taxi company.
If in doubt, rely on your accommodation's staff for more information. Of course, do not hail taxis on the street. It is recommended that, before you travel to Indonesia, you prepare an agenda with taxi company numbers and such that you can rely on in need. You could also have a guide accompany you through the city and flag you when you're about to spend more than you have to on certain activities or items.
Kidnapping risk in Indonesia: MEDIUM
As a consequence of terrorist attacks, kidnappings might occur especially at sea or around the waters of Indonesia. There are reports of some unpleasant incidents and you need to make sure you will not become a target victim. Hostage-taking is usually a way to receive ransoms, even if the governments do not encourage these attitudes. Make sure you keep away from such rare, but possible incidents.
- How to avoid being kidnapped in Indonesia?
In order to avoid being a victim of kidnapping, you must know that this can only occur if you are not vigilant enough to act fast and know how to get away efficiently from attacks. As soon as you notice something unusual, try to get away from the crowd and take shelter in the nearest safe place. This can only be done if you’re well informed about the surroundings, which is an easy thing to do if you keep up with the news, explore a map and take some walks during day time. What is more, hiring a local guide can be amazingly helpful in order to know what places to avoid and how you can stay safe in case such unpleasant events occur.
Terrorism Risk in Indonesia: MEDIUM to HIGH
With the global threat of terrorist attacks, authorities do not hesitate to rule out the possibility of encountering one wherever you might decide to travel. When it comes to Indonesia, recent history has shown that this country is a target location for terrorist groups to carry out attacks. Therefore, terrorists are very likely to carry out attacks in this country. Among the most common types of attacks, we mention small-arms fires and suicide bombs which have been taking place lately in public places which are usually crowded with tourists. Many deaths and casualties have been registered during the last years and this is why the threat is high and you should consider it carefully and decide for yourself if this country is suitable for you.
- How to avoid terrorism in Indonesia?
In order to stay safe in Indonesia and avoid getting involved in such unpleasant events, make sure you keep in touch with the news and that you are well informed about the threats of this country. Since the target places to carry out attacks seem to be public places such as bars, beach resorts, restaurants, hotels, markets and similar places visited by tourists, you should make sure you are attentive to the people around you and that you are vigilant enough to notice sudden attacks that might arise without any warning.
Make sure you have the right security arrangements, be vigilant especially during holiday periods, when large gatherings of people can be found and your holiday will definitely be safe and enjoyable while you are there.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Indonesia: MEDIUM to HIGH
Depending on your habits, Indonesia can be a nice experience or a rather dangerous one if you’re a woman traveling solo in Indonesia. This is because incidents of sexual assaults and violence towards women have been registered, always related to alcohol and drugs, drink spiking and methanol poisoning. With the proper precautions, you can still be safe in this country, but you need to make sure you follow our simple pieces of advice.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Indonesia?
Since drinks in the Indonesian bars seem to be stronger than the ones you might be used to, you might encounter people who have overdrank and therefore might get violent and put your life in danger. Make sure you avoid walking alone at night, especially in isolated areas and in this way, you’re all set to have a trouble-free journey.
Apart from that, you should be very vigilant when you find yourself in a public place, especially if you want to enjoy a drink. Always make sure your drinks are prepared in your sight and be careful about the strangers you’ve just met. Any danger can be avoided if you are vigilant enough.
Rape Risk in Indonesia: MEDIUM
Back in 2015, the rape rate of Indonesia was of 0.7 cases per 100,000 population - however, reports and articles tell that around 90% of the rapes that occur within the country are not reported, while others also tell of a certain Indonesian rape culture. It also seems that the aforementioned rate has been slowly increasing, as there have been reports of drink spiking in clubs and bars that resulted in sexual assaults.
In short, while you may not be assaulted on the street, during the day, the chances that you are drugged or assaulted in a club or in remote areas are quite high.
- How to avoid getting raped in Indonesia?
In order to avoid getting raped in Indonesia, it is recommended that you do not travel alone and try to avoid clubs and bars, especially during the night. You should also keep an eye on your drink at all times and to not accept any from strangers. Basically, you'd want to limit your contact with the locals in remote areas, pubs and bars, bad-reputed neighborhoods, and during nighttime.
Risks for People Traveling with Children in Indonesia: MEDIUM
Given the current crime rate of Indonesia, the country might not be the best place to bring your children into. Remember that you have to keep an eye on many things while traveling through the country - scams, beggars, authorities, possible criminals - and, on top of that, you'll have to take care of your children as well. It may not seem so big of a responsibility, but it can be very hard to care for yourself and for your children as well.
Still, there are no reports of tourists' children being assaulted or abused in Indonesia, so you shouldn't worry about anything serious happening to them.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
While traveling with your children, avoiding unwanted scenarios can be difficult - keep in mind that they are just children and will perhaps try to explore their surroundings without your knowledge. In this respect, you must have someone keeping an eye on them at all times - you might want to consider traveling with your friends or relatives in order to ensure the safety of every single traveler accompanying you.
You should also pay attention when traveling through highly populated areas, as your children can get lost easily if left unattended.
Natural Disaster Risks in Indonesia: MEDIUM to HIGH
Going to Indonesia is a decision you must measure carefully, after you’ve made sure you are well informed about its climate and the changes you expose yourself to. This Indonesia safety guide aims at making you consider every aspect of your journey and get very well informed about the ways in which you can avoid any possible danger. Natural disasters are risks that you must take into account when deciding to embark on a journey to Indonesia.
Therefore, you must know that Indonesia sits along a seismic strip called ‘The Ring of Fire’ in the Pacific Ocean, which makes the volcanic eruptions and the earthquakes common and usual for this country. What is more, these ones might also imply a potential threat of tsunami.
Recent history has registered many unpleasant events that Indonesia was forced to go through, so natural disasters need to be carefully considered by evert tourist who wants to experience this Asian adventure. This is especially because in July and August 2018, significant earthquakes led to the death of 500 people, not to mention the damage to buildings and infrastructure this area suffered.
The FCO advises against travelling to areas which were affected by such significant earthquakes and also avoid those ones where the active volcanoes threat to harm the life of those who are curious enough to go near them:
- Mount Agung, Bali- because it still shows signs of volcanic activity, this area should definitely be avoided. The changes may occur suddenly and this is why you should not take this risk when you plan your must-see places in Indonesia.
- Mount Sinabung, North Sumatra- authorities still advises tourists not to get closer than 7k of the crater, as Mount Sinabung continues to show signs of volcanic activity.
Apart from these two listed above, there are still many other active volcanoes in Indonesia, which can erupt without any warning and ruin your holiday- not to mention the dangers it might bring to your health. This is why you should always make sure you monitor the local media for any news that could save you a lot of trouble.
Take extra care in following the advice of the local authorities and respect the exclusion zones set by the authorities.
The only way to make sure you are well prepared for such cases is to monitor the local media regularly, avoid areas where such events were registered and exercise caution when dealing with such events.
Transportation Risks in Indonesia: MEDIUM
In terms of transportation, be aware of the fact that traffic discipline is rather poor in Indonesia and, if you happen to be involved in a traffic incident, you might be exploited by either locals or authorities. It is recommended that you rent a car with a driver or hire a personal driver during your stay in this country. If you still want to be the driver during your trip, keep in mind that you need an International Driving Permit issued in Indonesia - IDPs issued by other countries might have to be endorsed by the Indonesian licensing office, in Jakarta.
When traveling, you should rely on the services of a reputable and reliable guide only - in case of incidents, the authorities might not be able or refuse to help you; if, for example, the guide vanishes or robs you. It is also recommended that you have someone know your plans/ itinerary for the day and contact them when you reach a checkpoint or location - furthermore, most official sources recommend you to travel within a convoy and to always have a reliable mean of communication with you.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Indonesia: HIGH
As mentioned before, cases of drink spiking and such are quite common in Indonesia. You should also be aware of the fact that most of the drinks you will come across in this country are usually stronger than those in UK or USA. There have been reports of foreigners who, due to alcohol and drug consumption, as well as lack of sleep, have suffered psychiatric problems.
In terms of drink spiking, such incidents usually result in robberies, injuries, and assaults - as well as sexual assaults. Areas such as Bali, the Gili Islands, and Lombok come with the majority of reports involving drink spiking. In this respect, you should always make sure that what you are going to drink is prepared under your supervision, so to say. Always keep an eye on your drink and do not leave them unattended - if you suspect your drink has been tampered with, it is recommended that you return to your accommodation as soon as possible.
There have also been multiple cases of methanol poisoning - criminal gangs manufacture replicas of well-known alcohol brands that contain considerable amounts of methanol and serve them to strangers. Methanol poisoning can cause serious illnesses and even death. Thus, you should be careful when ordering spirit-based drinks, as the bottle may look genuine, but in fact be just a counterfeit.
This is one more reason for you not to travel alone as, when it comes to drink spiking and methanol poisoning, medical attention should be offered to the person in need as soon as possible.
In short, while in Indonesia, you should keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum - moreover, you should drink only in reputed places, such as bars and clubs that are located inside restaurants or your accommodation, for example.
Health Risks in Indonesia
Medical facilities in Indonesia are mostly in poor condition and a variety of medical tests cannot be done reliably here - moreover, it is also known that psychiatric and psychological services are quite limited throughout the country. If you are in need of good medical care, so to say, it can be quite expensive - if you happen to get injured in a remote area, you might not have access to any form of medical care.
If you are in a remote area and require medical care, you might have to be evacuated - in this case, medical evacuation can cost you up to tens of thousands of dollars. Therefore, besides the proper travel health insurance and funds to cover any treatments/ medicine, it is recommended that you prepare for any trips into remote areas and that you pack a first-aid kit with you. You should also try to avoid any activities that might cause serious injuries.
Air quality is another health risk that you have to prepare for in Indonesia - in its major cities, air quality is labeled as unhealthy and, thus, you might want to pack a couple of air masks with you. Also, keep in mind that tap water is not potable in throughout the country.
You should also take precautions against dengue fever and Zika virus - the risk of dengue fever increases in the rainy reason that usually runs from October to April.
List of Vaccines You Need in Indonesia
Your preparation for this journey should start at least one month before deciding on going to Indonesia, as it might be a new continent, with a new climate and new experiences that you should be ready to enjoy without any other troubles involved. This is why, before leaving for Indonesia, you should make sure you pay a visit to your medical care provider before travelling to this Asian country. You should also make sure you have the right medical assurance and do not forget to get the right vaccines at least 6 weeks before embarking on your journey, respectively the routine vaccines against: measles and rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella, influenza and others.
Because healthcare facilities in Indonesia tend to be rather limited, you must be aware of everything you expose yourself to before deciding to embark on this adventure. Public hospitals are usually crowded, the standards of medical care can be rather poor and therefore, you should make sure in advance that you’re all set to stay healthy during your stay in Indonesia. Getting ready for this journey means that you’re already set to stay safe in Indonesia.
Dangerous Areas to be Avoided in Indonesia
Even if, on the whole, Indonesia is not a country you should avoid visiting because it comes with many dangers, there are still parts of it you should be reluctant to visit. This is especially because local travel may come with some unpleasant experiences you might want to avoid during your stay. Try hiring a guide if you still plan to travel to these places, always carry a means of communication with you and make sure you have the right telephone numbers at hand in case you find yourself in the middle of a dangerous situation:
- Central Sulawesi Province- due to its unsettled political situation, this area might come with some dangers. Politically-motivated gatherings might turn violent very suddenly and you might get involved in such unpleasant events without even realizing it. Stay away from the crowds, especially if you are in Palu, Tentena or Poso.
- Maluku Province- Religion and tribal groups cause significant trouble in this area and may come with violence as well. Take care if you are in Ambon or Haruku Island.
- Aceh- Even if violence directed against foreigners is rare, it can still spread out of nowhere and this is why you should be extra careful when you find yourself in this area. Large gatherings and political rallies need to be carefully considered and, if possible, avoided.
- Papua and West Papua- Armed attacks and violence are also connected to the political tensions existing in Papua and West Papua. If you still desire to travel to this area, make sure you follow the advice of the authorities and avoid the demonstrations which tend to take place in this area.
Concluding Remarks: Is Indonesia Safe to Visit?
You’ve read about how safe is Indonesia for tourists and now you’re the only one who can decide if this is destination suits your needs and taste. With our Indonesia safety travel tips, you’re already half equipped to enjoy this experience. Keep your common sense along the journey, and do not forget to:
- Be aware of your surroundings;
- Never leave your valuable goods unsupervised;
- Monitor local media and keep up with the news;
- Do not physically resist the possible attackers;
- Be skeptical about the people you’ve just met;
- Have a proper travel insurance and the right vaccines;
- Avoid isolated areas, especially at night;
- Be equipped with the right telephone numbers of the authorities.
- Always monitor the local media for any possible information about the natural disasters that might occur;
- Get well informed about the areas you should avoid;
- Make sure you follow the advice given by the authorities;
- Keep away from areas which are dominated by political turmoil and violence;
- Have good knowledge of this country’s profile before deciding to visit it.
Follow these instructions and your stay in Indonesia will for sure be trouble-free. Experiencing the Asian adventure in this amazing archipelago can be amazing if you are equipped with the right information.