Indonesia

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Destination Information

This vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands stretches across the equator between the Asian and Australian continental plates, hence its dramatic volcanic landscapes. The world’s largest Muslim-majority nation comprises more than 300 ethnic groups and also boasts the greatest biodiversity on the globe after Brazil. A single Hindu island, Bali, continues to hold sway over the Western imagination. Bali remains an inviting destination, although the south of the island is now excessively commercialized. The largest number of visitors now comes from China. 

Today, only about 100,000 orangutans are left in Borneo, of which around 6,000 live in Tanjung Puting National Park. There are no Borneo equivalents to the upscale safari lodges in Africa or India. Rimba Ecolodge (rimba-ecoproject.com) is the most comfortable base from which to view the graceful and impressive animals. We recommend the experience only to those who are deeply interested in wildlife.

Editor Tips

Orangutans

Today, about only 100,000 orangutans are left in Borneo, of which around 6,000 live in Tanjung Puting National Park, a 1,200-square-mile reserve that lies directly to the southeast of Pangkalan Bun. (The only other significant population, a different subspecies, is found in Sumatra.) Like gorillas but unlike chimpanzees, orangutans are peaceable vegetarians, with the bulk of their diet being made up by fruits such as lychees, mangosteens and figs. 

The most solitary and the most arboreal of the great apes, they are highly intelligent and have mastered the use of different tools for specific tasks. I loved watching the interaction of the various family members, surrounded by a vast tract of primeval forest, but I recommend the experience only to those who are genuinely interested in wildlife and who are not too concerned with personal comfort. In southern Borneo, there are no places to stay equivalent to the upscale wildlife lodges in Africa or India, but Rimba Ecolodge, situated three hours away up the Sekonyer River (a tributary of the Kumai), is the most comfortable base from which to view the graceful, extremely impressive animals.

Direct Dial Codes

To phone hotels in Indonesia, dial 011 (international access) + 62 (Indonesia code) + city code and local numbers in listings.

Currency

Rupiah (IDR). Fluctuating rate valued at IDR14,084 = US$1.00 as of November 2019. Note: Our suggested hotels quote rates in US$.

U.S. Embassy

Jakarta, Tel. (62) 21-5083-1000. Consulate: Surabaya, Tel. (62) 31-297-5300; Medan, Tel. (62) 61-451-9000. A U.S. consular agent is located in Bali, Tel. (62) 361-233-605. 

Climate

Bali is wettest from November-March. June and September are the best months for a visit.

Time

12 hours ahead of New York (EST). (Time listed is for DST in the West. Difference is one hour more November to mid-March.) 

Entry Requirements

Passport and visa. The visa application process is almost uniquely laborious. Visit travel.state.gov, and for travelers’ health information, cdc.gov.