The republic of Indonesia, independent since 1945, consists of more than 17,000 islands.
The islands are subdivided into several groups of islands. Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of Borneo) and Sulawesi make up the Greater Sunda Islands. The Lesser Sunda Islands are comprised of Bali and the islands further to the east, Maluku and West Papua New Guinea. Indonesia is the world's largest insular State with a surface area of 1.9 Mio. km².
Measured by population, Indonesia is, with 210 Mio. Inhabitants, the fourth biggest country in the world (after China, Indian and USA).
Bali belongs to the Lesser Sunda Islands. With approx.5.500 km², Bali is twice as large as Saarland. The distance from East to West is 140km, from North to South 80km., with a population of approx. 3 Million.
The religion from most Indonesians is Sunnite Islam, making it the nation with the most Muslims.
Bali, however, is a Hindu enclave. This can be explained by the history of the islands. Following a large number of power struggles between the diverse Javanese rulers, who were followers of either Hinduism or Buddhism, and with the influence of Islam steadily increasing, many inhabitants of Java fled to the neighbouring island of Bali, where a large part of the natives were followers of a local religion, Bali Aga.. . This religion, mixed with the religions from India resulting in the local form of Hinduism which is mainly practised in Bali today.
This relatively self contained social and religious community life is one of the main characteristics of the Balinese which is of great interest to visitors. Furthermore may of the people of Bali are especially creative in arts and crafts. Dance, music, wood carving, painting, basketry, weaving are common skills.
Tourism has become the main economic factor in the otherwise agricultural country. Although the travel industry is concentrated into a few main tourist areas, the constant flow of visitors and the regular contact to foreign cultures influences the everyday life of the islanders to a large extent.
Meanwhile, the influences of the tourist boom are being evaluated and the direction in which tourism will take in the future is being considered. The tour operates are realising the necessity of conservation and protection to ensure that Bali will continue to be attractive to visitors in the future. Additionally the awareness of the importance of socially responsible tourism is becoming more obvious.
Usefull informations from A to Z
Accommodation is available for all requirements from luxury hotel to simple cabin or guesthouse. By package tours the accommodation is selected by booking and individual travellers will have no problem finding somewhere to stay.
The conservation movement of the industrial countries on the one hand and the difficulties of constant expansion on the other have led to a different approach to tourism. Tourism which is gentle, ecological, socially correct and with regard to the future is the answer to the development of the mass tourism, which was a product of the last century. This means to travel keeping in mind that you are a visitor in a strange country.
Prudent travellers can offer a constructive contribution by travelling in such a way as to do the least damage possible to the environment. Most Tour Operators are open to suggestions.
Indonesia has a tropical climate with high humidity.
The average yearly temperature in Indonesia is between 25-30°C (77-86°F) Nights are not much cooler.
The seasons are defined by the monsoons and consist of dry season and rainy or wet season.
The rain falls in short, heavy showers, after which the sun shines again. The climate throughout Indonesia varies considerable depending of the area.
The Indonesian currency is the Rupiah (Stand November 2008: 1 Euro = ca. 15.286 Rupiah, 10.000 IDR = 6,64 EUR), with the smallest denomination of 500 Rp being a coin and all other denominations from 1000 to 200,000 being notes.
Travellers cheques in US$ and credit cards are widely accepted but it is advisable to always have enough cash with you. It is possible to change traveller cheques or your home currency into local currency. It is often worthwhile comparing the exchange rates of the banks and money changers.
NOTE: When paying with credit cards a charge will sometimes be added. Prices are often written in US$
By the departure from Indonesia, an airport tax of 150.000 Rupiah will be charged. This can only be paid in local currency directly at the airport.
220 Volt, an international adapter is necessary!
The fauna consists of a variety of tropical animals including monkeys, water buffalos, snakes, lizards and numerous birds and insects, but also oxen, pigs and dogs.
Recently conservation has also become an official matter, for although the Balinese farmers use ecological and economical methods, conditions are changing due to influences such as tourism.
Festivals and public Holidays
Although the official calendar the same is as in Europe, Bali also has its own traditional calendars, which is essential to the everyday life of the Balinese.
The Balinese Year or Wuku calendar consists of 210 days with 30 weeks of 7 days.
The saka calendar is based on another calculation and is approx. 80 years behind the western Gregorian calendar, so that 1925 is the equivalent of 2003.
Beside the specific Balinese time calculations the Muslim-Arabian, the old Javanese and the Chinese calendar also apply. Although this sounds very complicated, the traveller is not affected.
Because of the various calendar in use, there are a large number of public holidays and festivals in Bali, having information about the Balinese calendar is helpful when planning to visit one of these festivals.. Independent of the official public holidays following local festivals are celebrated almost daily: funerals/cremations, temple festivals, tooth-filing ceremonies, temple offerings and prayer ceremonies.
Contrary to European habits, travellers are always welcome to take part in these festivals and ceremonies (including cremations) but the proper respect and behaviour is expected.
Bali lies in the tropics south of the equator and the climate is influenced by the monsoons. The main agricultural product is rice and large areas of land are rice fields.
To the west is a rainforest national park, to the southwest large areas of palm trees combined with mangrove swamps, to the east there are mountains right up the coast and in the north it is mainly flat with numerous lakes. This region is dominated by the volcanoes, along whose slopes little grows.
The Banyan- or Waringin tree is a conspicuous characteristic of each village.
The flora is dominated by useful plants, either as food: fruit, vegetables, coffee, cacao or tobacco, bamboo and palm trees. Flowers such as the bougainvilla are used as offerings or decoration by certain festivals. Grapes are also grown in north Bali and used in the production of wine.
A variety of direct flights to Bali are available from Europe.
For those who prefer to take a more indirect route it is also possible to fly to Medan in North Sumatra or to Jakarta in Java and take the overland route. Another possibility is with the shipping traffic between the islands.
Alternatively it is also possible to arrive by travelling over Singapore of Surabaya. From there it is possible to fly to Mataram on the neighbouring island of Lombok, and then travel on to Bali.
When planning your trip it is important to consider your main interest while visiting Bali - culture, water sports or just relaxing. In any case it is relatively simple to spend several interesting and varied weeks on the island. For those wishing to experience the diversity of Indonesia, a tour including visits to other islands is recommended. Because of the long distances within Indonesia it is advisable to make use of the well developed network of national airlines. There is also a train service operating on Java, for example from Jakarta to Surabaya. Otherwise there are also the hoards of buses available from Sumatra to Bali.
The strain a trip to the tropics put on your health should not be under estimated.
Alone the flight from central Europe takes up to 20 hours and the change in climate is extreme.
The average yearly temperature in Indonesia is between 25-30°C (77-86°F) and humidity is high.
In general special vaccinations and precautions are not necessary but tetanus, polio and Hepatitis A are recommended. The decision to take Malaria prophylaxis should be made individually, but it is important to protect against the mosquitoes with sprays and appropriate clothing. The risk of HIV-Aids In Bali is the same as everywhere else in the world.
Although medical care is easily available in Denpasar and other large tourist areas, further inland and in more remote areas western medicine is not so common. It is also possible to be treated by the traditional healer (Balian), the massages are especially beneficial by sprains or broken bones. The traditional medicine in Bali is passed on though generations and is, in many cases, officially supported.
There are no special travel facilities for handicapped people or people in wheelchairs. More information can be obtained from special tour operators for handicapped people.
A personal first aid kit should be included in your luggage and you should check the terms and conditions of your health insurance before leaving home. If necessary take out an additional travel health insurance, including transport back home in medical emergencies.
We recommend that all travellers take out insurance to cover cancellation, lost or stolen luggage and medical or hospital costs.
Divers are advised to join DAN or a similar organisation.
Bahasa Indonesia, a Malaysian language, is the language spoken in Indonesia and the official language in Bali is Indonesian.
English is common enough in the main tourist areas, that communication is possible.
However, the mother tongue of the inhabitants is Balinese, which is rooted in Sanskrit, with a separate written language. Tourists are most likely to encounter this language during ritual festivals.
As small tip:
Bahasa Indonesia is the easiest language in the world to learn , and it is possible to learn a couple of words within a short time with the help of a travel dictionary.
The official measurement system is metric, although traditional measurement are also still in use.
Passport / Visa
European tourists require a passport which is valid for at least 6 months.
As from 01.02.2004 all tourist require a visa, which is valid for 30days and costs 25,- US$ by arrival in Bali. This must be paid in new bank notes.
Passports must be valid for at least 6 months after leaving Indonesia.
All details given here are for information only and we take no liability for changes in the requirements. Please inform yourself by the consulate of the latest requirements.
Apart from the possibility of telephoning from the larger hotels, there is also a reliable telephone service from public telephones and fax machines: WARTEL. To use mobile telephones it is advisable to buy a local SIM card
There are three time zones in Indonesia. Depending on if we have winter or summer time, the time difference to west Indonesian time is +6 or +7 hours. Between Java and Bali there is a time difference of 1 hour (middle Indonesian time) meaning there is an additional hour difference to England. (+7 or +8 hours).
The Balinese society follows strong rules collectively known as „adat". These include general rules of behaviour and daily life according to the Hindu religion. Although the Indian caste system is not practised on Bali, differences can be seen in the names.
The Brahmins (Ida Bagus / Ida Ayu) belong to the priests, the Satrias (Ratu/Anak Agung/Cokorde) are the aristocracy and the Wesia (Gusti / Si Luh) are the warriors and traders, the Sudras - the majority of the population - do not belong to any caste. By the children of the Sundra caste, their names also indicate the order in which they were born, the first born is called Wayan, followed by Made, then Nyoman and Ketut. By the fifth child the sequence begins again with Wayan, etc.
Ritual regulations determine the daily routine and the religious and social duties of the Balinese.
38 Grosvenor Square
London W1K 2HW
Tel. (020) 7499 7661
Fax. (020) 7491 4993
Jl. M.H. Thamrin No. 75
Tel. 00 (62) (21) 315 6264
Fax 00 (62) (21) 315 4061
Deutsche Bank Building , 19th Floor
Jl. Imam Bonjol 80
Tel. 00 (62) (21) 390 7484
Fax 00 (62) (21) 316 0858
Indonesian Tourist Office
Kanwil X Depparpostel
Kompleks Niti Mandala
Jl. Raya Puputan
Denpasar 80235 Indonesia
Tel. 00 62 (3 61) 22 56 49
Fax 00 62 (3 61) 23 34 75
When arriving from Europe no special vaccinations or precautions are necessary.
Bali is free from malaria but in Irian Jaya, on the small Sunda islands and in the rainforests of Kalimantan malaria is widespread.
Consult your local doctor, vaccinations against tetanus, polio, hepatitis A and B are recommended.
Wining & Dining
Western, or international cuisine is more widespread than local food in the tourist areas.
Various international specialities are available, not only in the large hotels, but also in numerous restaurants. Even sausage and mash or Black forest Gateaux are available - although it seems a shame to go all the way to Bali for such things. Even fast-food-chains are represented, although it should not be necessary to take quick meals whilst on holiday.
Balinese food includes Roast Pork (babi guling) or rice wine (brem balik). Balinese specialities such as fried banana (pisang goreng) or Fish ball-soup (Bakso) are offered at the snack bars and on the beach. Fresh fruit juices (jus) give a impression of the variety of fruits available and a young coconut, direct from the tree, is a refreshment unlike anything obtainable in Europe.
For those who have no special dietary needs, Bali has more than enough culinary variety to offer.