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Transport and traffic

In Indonesia there is left-hand traffic. The choice of means of transport in Indonesia depends heavily on the different regional options. Most overland traffic takes place by bus. More comfortable overland trips with transport from house to house are possible with so-called "Travel" (a type of shared taxis). In local public transport, you can use Mikrolet or Bemos. Alternatives to the taxi are Becak, Ojek and Bajaj. The number of classic taxis has been declining in the last few thanks to platforms such as Gojek and Gokar. There, trips with motorcycle or car taxis can be requested by private individuals. Whoever makes the cheapest offer then gets the ride.

Especially at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, public transport on the main routes is often overcrowded.

In Indonesia, the transport infrastructure is often very poor. This applies to both road and ship and (almost exclusively in Java) rail traffic. The total length of the railway lines is 8159 km, of which only 4,816 km are in operation. Most of the railway lines in operation are in a dilapidated condition. However, the Indonesian railway is - with the help of large state aid - endeavor to change this. Among other things, some railway lines that have been shut down for years are currently being reactivated. Tickets can now be booked online.

Road traffic in particular is characterized by a low level of risk awareness among road users. The safety requirements and precautions in the transport sector are well below the European level. Road traffic is prone to accidents. This applies in particular to the main connecting routes between larger urban centers.

In large cities such as Jakarta, road users are usually stuck in traffic jams much longer than they can drive. This applies to almost all modes of transport.

Serious aircraft and shipping accidents have also increased in recent years. The state-owned shipping company Pelni maintains a total of 24 relatively safe ships (built in Germany) that travel through the entire archipelago according to a fixed timetable. However, a boat trip from Jakarta to West Papua takes up to 7 days. Information on current timetables is best obtained from the local Pelni offices.

Indonesian airlines were not allowed to fly to EU airports for several years due to a number of serious aircraft accidents caused, among other things, by a lack of security checks. The ban was lifted in 2009. In Indonesia, if you don't have a lot of time, there are seldom alternatives to air transport due to the huge distances involved. All major airlines (e.g. Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Silkair, AirAsia, Wings Air) can be booked online and fly to the larger centers at regular intervals. The state-owned airline Merpati, which served many smaller airports, ceased its services on February 1, 2014 due to high debts.

For the period between 24.4. and on May 31, 2020, commercial air traffic was suspended due to the Covid-19 virus.

Entry requirements

Since April 2, 2020, foreign nationals have been banned from entering Indonesia.

Currently (as of April 28, 2020) travelers to Indonesia must expect to be obliged to quarantine in Indonesian hospitals or quarantine centers in individual cases during their stay in Indonesia, even without signs of a possible infection with the coronavirus. The decision criteria for the sometimes drastic quarantine measures are often unclear. The accommodation does not meet European hygiene standards. Therefore, please note the current safety information from the Federal Foreign Office.

German tourists have been able to enter Germany without a visa for a maximum of 30 days since 2015. An extension of the visa-free stay is not possible after entry. Currently (as of March 30, 2020) visa-free entry is not possible due to the Covid-19 virus.

For all other purposes (e.g. research work, study visit, participation in seminars as a speaker), information should be obtained from the responsible Indonesian diplomatic mission abroad as to whether a social, official, business or journalist visa is required. The relevant provisions may change from time to time.

At the end of 2015, among other things, a provision was passed according to which, for example, work visas are required for participation in meetings, quality controls and company visits.

You can find information in the travel advice of the Foreign Office and the homepage of the Indonesian Embassy in Berlin.

According to the Federal Foreign Office, visas or entry stamps from the State of Israel can lead to problems when entering the country. However, the Indonesian embassy in Germany told the author of this page that there are no official regulations in this regard.


In Indonesia there have been several bomb attacks by Islamist extremists in recent years, most recently in January 2016 and May 2018 in suicide attacks on 3 churches and a police headquarters in East Java. According to the safety instructions from the Federal Foreign Office, hotels, shopping centers, discos, airfields, Christian churches and western or non-Muslim institutions, especially in metropolitan areas such as Jakarta, Bandung, Medan, Makassar and Surabaya and on the island of Bali, are particularly at risk of attack . Travelers are advised to use the media to find out about current security developments.

In autumn 2019 there were violent clashes between demonstrators and the police, especially in large cities. The protests were the strongest in 20 years.

In individual regions, such as the Moluccas, Papua, Aceh and Central Sulawesi (Poso region), the security situation can suddenly tighten. Although the situation in Aceh has improved significantly since the peace agreement in 2005, there have been isolated bomb attacks since 2007.

The Foreign Office is currently advising against an unnecessary visit to the provinces of Papua and West Papua. For Papua and West Papua, special police regulations and restrictions apply to entry and residence for non-tourist stays. The last time there were clashes between demonstrators and security forces, some of which were violent, occurred in August and September 2019, and the Internet was temporarily blocked in both provinces.

In principle, however, the dangers of road traffic (also for foreigners) are significantly higher than the security dangers that threaten from religiously or politically motivated extremism. The risk of being a victim of pickpocketing is relatively high, especially in crowded conditions and on public buses. There are relatively many thieves, some of whom are organized in gangs, particularly in means of transport that are heavily used by tourists. However, violent crime against foreigners is very rare.

There have been repeated pirate attacks in Indonesian waters in recent years.

The Helmholz Center issues leaflets on how to behave properly in the event of tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

Stay healthy

In Indonesia, the same precautionary measures for health care must be taken as in many other tropical countries. For example, tap water should never be drunk.

Let an experienced tropical doctor at a tropical medicine center advise you on the necessary preventive health measures - also because the vaccination measures required depend heavily on the region of Indonesia in which you are primarily deployed. In particular, the risk of malaria varies greatly from region to region. Around 80% of the malaria cases registered by the Indonesian Ministry of Health are distributed among the Moluccas, West Papua and the province of East Nusatenggara - regions that are rarely visited by foreigners. There is a medium risk in the provinces of Riau and Lampung in Kalimantan, in the highlands of West Papua below 2000 m. On the islands of Java, Bali and Lombok, the islands that the vast majority of foreign tourists visit, there is only one a very low risk of malaria.
There are a number of reasonably good private hospitals in Jakarta and other major cities. Outside of the large centers, however, a rather patchy health care system must be expected.

For milder complaints, it can be worthwhile to try the Indonesian herbal medicine called "Jamu".

In Indonesia, an average of more than 100 people have died from illegally adulterated liquor in recent years, mainly in Bali and Lombok. Tourists were also affected.

During the dry season, especially in Kalimantan, there have been more large forest fires in recent years, which have caused breathing difficulties for many people.

In Indonesia, according to official statistics, there are only a few deaths from the Covid-19 virus in terms of population. While 165 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants were reported in Germany on December 16, 2020, the figure in Indonesia was just 18.1. The extremely low incidence is mainly due to the fact that - especially in poorer, remote regions - almost no tests are carried out. Around a quarter of the registered Covid 19 cases were recorded in Jakarta. There is a travel warning from the Federal Foreign Office.

Indonesian literature in German

You do not necessarily have to be able to read Indonesian in order to gain further access to Indonesian society through literature. Translations by writers such as Mangunwijaya, Leila S. Chudori, Mochtar Lubis, Umar Kayam, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Rendra, Ayu Utami and Armijn Pane are also available in German. There are also German translations by other authors, such as Eka Kurniawan.

Numerous Indonesian short stories translated into German can be found on the Goethe-Institut website.

Since Indonesia was the guest country of the book fair in 2015, many new publications from Indonesia have come onto the market. A large number of the writers devote themselves literarily to coming to terms with the massacres of 1965/1966.

The book "Alle Farben Rot" by Laksmi Pamuntjak received a German literary award in 2016.

Do not miss this opportunity to get to know your future host country.

Poetry is a particularly popular genre of Indonesian literature. Poetry readings by poets, often associated with a lot of pathos, are extremely popular in Indonesia and often take place in front of several hundred listeners.

The readiness to read books is very low among Indonesians. At best, shallow novels, guides and Islamic literature achieve higher editions.

Comics, in particular, are becoming increasingly popular among young readers.

German-Indonesian contacts

Numerous local associations in Germany endeavor to promote German-Indonesian contacts. The German-Indonesian society also publishes the magazine "Kita", which deals exclusively with Indonesia in German.

There are Goethe Institutes in Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya. German culture is generally perceived very positively.

The online publication "Indonesia Magazin" is particularly dedicated to Indonesian-German issues.

Around 4,200 Indonesians studied in Germany in 2017. This makes Germany the most popular study destination for Indonesians in Europe.

Among other things, the DAAD and an association of alumni who have studied in Germany endeavor to promote academic exchange. The DAAD offers scholarships for Germans who want to research in Indonesia as well as for Indonesians who want to research in Germany. There are also grants from the Indonesian Embassy.

Berlin has been twinned with Jakarta since 1994.

Probably the most influential person of German origin in Indonesia today is Father Franz Magnis Suseno, who has been committed to promoting interreligious dialogue for many years.

Knowledge of the context of German history is about as common among Indonesians as knowledge of Indonesian history is among Germans. Therefore, there is also a relatively uninhibited use of Nazi symbolism as a hip symbol. However, international protests can certainly have consequences: When Joko Widodo, Darth Vader and Adolf Hitler were exhibited in a room in a newly opened selfie museum in 2017, Adolf Hitler had to give way. The Indonesian President and the "Scourge of the Galaxy" were allowed to stay.

Internet, telephone and mail

There are often high-speed internet connections in the big cities. In the more remote regions outside the main islands, good internet connections (at least via landline) are still a rarity. Due to the widespread use of smartphones, the number of Internet caf├ęs has fallen sharply in recent years.

More than half of Indonesians are online regularly. The young urban middle class in particular uses the Internet with great enthusiasm. The need for communication via the Internet is extraordinarily great. 90% of all Indonesians who have access to the internet or a smartphone use social networks. Most of them use their smartphones to access the Internet.

Nowhere in Asia is there so much tweeting as in Indonesia. About 20 million Indonesians use Twitter. Jakarta is even the world's most active city on Twitter - which many residents attribute to the long waiting times in traffic jams.

Pokemon Go was also very popular with young and old. The National Police and the Navy had therefore officially forbidden their forces to play the game while on duty.

Estimates by the Internet service "Inside Facebook" assumed that in 2011 Indonesia had the second largest Facebook community (after the USA). Indonesia is now in fourth place with 126 million monthly Facebook users. Facebook has meanwhile also become an important medium for political protest.

Many people from the poorer sections of the population now also have a mobile phone. The number of cell phones is estimated at 182 million. Mobile connections to Germany are possible from 10 cents per minute. In the meantime, WhatsApp is used more and more to make calls.

Letters to Germany take different lengths of time, depending on where they are sent from. It is usually 3-5 days from Jakarta or Bali, but up to several weeks from remote islands.

Sea freight takes 2-3 months. In general, however, the Indonesian Post is relatively reliable.

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The contributions in the country information portal (LIPortal) were supervised by proven country experts until December 2020 in order to give an introduction to one of approx. 80 different countries. The LIPortal thus offered an orientation to country information in the WorldWideWeb - many references are still up-to-date.