SAFETY AND SECURITY
There remains a high threat from terrorism in Indonesia. We believe that terrorists continue to plan attacks, which could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
Terrorists have shown that they have the means and motivation to carry out successful attacks in Indonesia. The suicide attacks on 1 October 2005, in Bali, which killed 20 people and injured a further 90, underscore the ongoing terrorist threat in Indonesia. The extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which has links to Al-Qa’ida is thought to have been responsible for this attack, as well as the Bali bombings in October 2002, which killed 202 people (including a number of British nationals), the Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta which killed 12 people in August 2003, and the Australian Embassy bombing in September 2004, which killed 11 people. Venues known to be frequented by foreign visitors and expatriates, including beach resorts, bars and restaurants, are potentially attractive targets for such groups.
If you are visiting, or are resident in Indonesia, you should exercise caution at all times. We strongly advise you to ensure that you are comfortable with, and regularly review, you and your family’s security arrangements.
The arrests and trials of terrorists in Indonesia could prompt strong reactions from their supporters, including acts of violence. Three men were sentenced to death in August 2003 for their part in the October 2002 Bali bombings. If confirmed and implemented, their execution may give rise to violent demonstrations.
You should be particularly vigilant during holiday periods such as Easter and Christmas, which can be a time of heightened tensions in Indonesia. In the past, attacks have occurred during holiday periods in Indonesia. In recent years, the Indonesian Police have announced tightened security in public places such as airports and major tourist areas over the Christmas and New Year period. You should exercise caution when visiting locations where large groups of people gather or which are known to be frequented by foreigners.
If you are planning to travel overland or by boat to Malaysia or the Philippines, you should be aware that Abu Sayaf, a Philippines based terrorist group also pose a risk and plan to kidnap foreign tourists from the islands and coastal areas of Malaysia and the Philippines, especially Eastern Sabah. Please see the FCO Travel Advice for Philippines and Malaysia.
For further information read Security and General Tips
and Risk of Terrorism when Travelling Overseas
You should beware of street crime and pickpockets. Take personal security measures such as:
Taking particular care to safeguard your passport and credit/ATM cards. We receive regular reports of credit card theft after shop employees copied card details. You are advised not to lose sight of your credit card during transactions;
Beware of thieves while travelling on public transport. We receive regular reports of extortionate fares or robberies by unlicensed airport taxi drivers. Their vehicles are usually in poor condition, are unmetered, and do not have a dashboard identity licence. When taking a taxi, use one from a reputable firm, preferably booked by phone or arranged by your hotel, or booked by a registered taxi firm inside the airport.
For longer journeys it is a sensible precaution to notify friends of travel plans, contact them on arrival and where possible travel in convoy.
We receive occasional reports of tourists who have been robbed after bringing visitors to their hotel rooms. In some cases their drinks were drugged. Ensure your passport and wallet and other valuables are secure at all times.
Developments in Iraq and on the Middle East Peace Process do affect Indonesia. You should follow news reports and be alert to developments, which might trigger public disturbances. You should take sensible precautions for your personal safety and avoid large crowds, political gatherings and demonstrations.
Indonesia Country Profile
You should ensure that you have the necessary permits when planning adventure trips in Indonesia. You should also ensure that you have a reliable and reputable guide inplace for such a trip. Failure to do so can lead to difficulties with local authorities should you need their help.
Flash floods and more widespread flooding occur regularly during the rainy season from November to March. Cities - especially Jakarta - are frequently subject to severe localised flooding which can result in major disruption, and occasionally fatalities. Previous floods in Jakarta have affected a main toll road to the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. You should allow extra time for meeting flight connections in line with the prevailing weather conditions.
Our additional advice for British nationals in Indonesia who are travelling outside Jakarta is as follows:
Central Sulawesi Province
You should avoid all travel to Central Sulawesi Province. Sectarian violence broke out in 1999 and although an agreement was signed in December 2001, which brought an end to large-scale violence the area remains tense and there continues to be intermittent violence and sporadic sectarian clashes in this area.
Tension increased in January 2007, after the Indonesian National Police conducted security operations in order to capture terrorists suspected of being responsible for a number of terrorist attacks in the region. On 13 April 2007, two bombs exploded without causing injury. Police have discovered explosive and arms caches in the area around Poso in the last six months.
Maluku and North Maluku Provinces
You should avoid all travel to Maluku, particularly Ambon, which was the scene of serious civil unrest between 1999 and 2002. The region has continued to experience violence which can unexpectedly increase in intensity. Violence resulting from civil unrest in Ambon has resulted in a number of deaths and serious injuries. On 25 April 2007, a bomb attack in a market in Ambon saw eight people injured, one of whom suffered serious injuries. The situation in Maluku and North Maluku remains unsettled.
We advise you to exercise caution when travelling to Aceh, especially if travelling to remote areas. Aceh is emerging from a long period of internal conflict. You should remain alert to the risk of politically motivated violence.
On 24 April 2007, there were two grenade attacks in Aceh. There were no reported injuries. In April 2007, there were also security threats made against Non Governmental Organisations. If you are visiting Aceh, you should make sure that you are well informed about the local situation at the time of your visit. You should avoid large crowds, demonstrations or political rallies, as elsewhere in Indonesia.
Aceh continues to suffer the after-effects of the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Reconstruction work is well advanced but the communications infrastructure, roads, medical care and accommodation facilities for visitors in the western and northern coasts of Sumatra and outlying islands are not yet fully restored.
We continue to receive reports of Shari'a (religious) police harassing foreigners in Aceh. You should therefore exercise caution and ensure that your behaviour does not offend local sensitivities.
If you are travelling to Aceh to engage in humanitarian or reconstruction work, you should do so in conjunction with a well-established and reputable organisation that has permission to operate in Indonesia. You should ensure that your organisation has a security plan approved by the Indonesian authorities, and is actively linked to the local security advice of the UN Office for Crisis and Humanitarian Affairs in Banda Aceh.
All agencies and donors working in Aceh must register with the Indonesian Government`s BRR office in Banda Aceh. Regulations regarding entry into and permission to remain in Aceh can change at any time. You should check with the Indonesian Embassy in London prior to travel to obtain the most recent information on entry requirements and registration procedures while in Aceh.
Papua and West Papua
Political tensions in Papua, including the Provinces of Papua and West Papua (formerly known as Irian Jaya Barat), have given rise to sporadic violence. Demonstrations often turn violent and should be avoided. A demonstration outside the Papua capital of Jayapura on 16 March 2006 resulted in the deaths of 5 members of the security forces and the injury of a number of demonstrators. If you are visiting Papua, you should exercise caution and seek local advice on your travel plans. You should avoid large crowds and demonstrations, as elsewhere in Indonesia.
Papuan separatists have kidnapped foreigners in the past. There remains a small but significant risk.
Permits are required to travel to Papua Regulations for entry into and permission to remain in Papua can change at any time. You should seek the latest information on entry requirements and registration procedures from the: Indonesian Embassy in London
You cannot drive in Indonesia on a UK driving licence, but are permitted to use an International licence which can be obtained in Indonesia. An International licence is obtained in the UK it may need to be endorsed by the Indonesian licensing office in Jakarta.
If you plan to hire a car, you should note that traffic discipline is poor and city streets are congested. There is considerable advantage in hiring a car with a driver, which is not especially expensive. If you break down or have a minor accident you should stay with your vehicle with the car doors locked until the police arrive.
Reports suggest that motorcyclists are more likely to be involved in road accidents.
For more general information see: Driving Abroad
You should be aware that there have been a number of major aircraft crashes in Indonesia over the last ten years, for reasons including bad weather, poor maintenance and mechanical failure. The most recent major incident occurred on 7 March 2007, when an aircraft burst into flames on landing in Yogyakarta, Java, killing over 20 people
In the light of major concerns about the reliability of safety inspections carried out by the Indonesian civil aviation authorities, the European Commission Air safety Committee on 28 June 2007 recommended an operating ban preventing 51 Indonesian airlines, including the national carrier Garuda, from flying into the European Union. The FCO has explained the concerns about Indonesian airlines to its staff and advised them to avoid Indonesian airline companies unless operationally essential.
When leaving the country by plane, departure tax varies by Airport from 60,000 to 150,000 Rupiah. You will need to pay an Airport Tax of 100,000 Rupiah if departing through Jakarta International Airport, or Rupiah 150,000 if departing from Bali International Airport.
Inter-island travel by small boats can be dangerous as storms appear quickly and navigational equipment is often limited. There have been attacks against ships in and around the waters of Indonesia. Mariners are advised to be vigilant; reduce opportunities for theft; establish secure areas onboard; and report all incidents to the coastal and flag state authorities.
There have been a number of instances of passenger boats sinking in Indonesia. Most recently, on 18 October 2007 a passenger ferry capsized off the island of Sulawesi, reportedly killing over 20 people.
For more general information see: River & Sea Safety
LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. For more general information see: Travelling During Ramadan
You should be aware of offending Muslim sensitivities. Westerners have occasionally been harassed by fundamentalists in bars and nightclubs, particularly around major Islamic holidays such as Ramadan.
Do not get involved with illegal drugs. Possession, trafficking and manufacture of such drugs are serious offences in Indonesia. Those caught face lengthy prison sentences or the death penalty, usually after a protracted and expensive legal process. Even the possession of small amounts of drugs such as marijuana or ecstasy can lead to prison sentences longer than four years. Convicted traffickers or users of hard drugs such as cocaine or heroin face the death penalty in Indonesia.
Gambling is illegal in Indonesia. There have been cases where tourists have fallen victim to organised gambling gangs, resulting in the loss of large amounts of money.
You must show evidence of your identity if it is requested by, for example, the Police. You should carry photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport and your arrival card to avoid losing the original, which should be kept in a safe place.
Visas are required for UK nationals entering Indonesia, a tourist visa can be obtained on arrival for a specific short period. You are advised to consult the Indonesian Embassy in London
You should ensure that your passport is valid for a minimum period of six months upon arrival. Entry to Indonesia may be refused and airlines may not carry passengers holding passports with less than six months validity. You are required to retain you arrival card for presentation to Immigration upon your departure.
Overstaying your visa
Overstaying without the proper authority is a serious matter and visitors can be held in detention or refused permission to leave the country until a fine is paid.
If you stay in private accommodation in Indonesia (not a hotel) you must register your presence with the local police or you could face a fine of Rp 5 million (£290). If you stay in a hotel you will be registered automatically.
Travelling with children
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. They may want to see birth certificates, a letter of consent from the other parent or some evidence as to your responsibility for the child. Indonesian authorities do not normally require such evidence, but if you have concerns please check with the: Indonesian Embassy in London
The standard of local medical care in Indonesia can be poor and some medical tests cannot be done reliably. Good medical care can be very expensive and in remote areas attention for serious injuries or illness is likely to be unobtainable. You may require expensive medical evacuation costing up to tens of thousands of pounds. Therefore you should ensure your policy covers you for medical evacuation by air ambulance. Indonesia suffers from periodic problems with air quality reaching hazardous levels because of seasonal smoke haze from forest fires. You are advised to check news reports and follow local advice.
Poor sanitation and eating contaminated food can increase the risk of cholera, typhoid and other diseases. Do not drink tap water or water that is not bottled and sealed. Wherever possible, bottled water should be bought from reputable sources. Hygiene standards in restaurants vary. Beware of food from streetside vendors, which might be contaminated.
In October 2007, poor sanitation, malnutrition and a water shortage caused an outbreak of leprosy in East Nusa Tenggara province.
Anthrax is endemic in East Nusa Tengarra province in Indonesia. Anthrax is an acute infection that usually only affects livestock, but it can be transmitted to humans who handle or eat infected animals. On 30 October 2007, three villages in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, were closed to outsiders after a number of people fell ill from eating anthrax-infected buffalo meat.
The Indonesian authorities have reported outbreaks of polio across Java, including Jakarta, and Sumatra, including Aceh province, and have instituted local vaccination programmes.
Malaria exists in parts of Indonesia and Dengue Fever is also endemic in much of the country, particularly during the rainy season (December to April) when incidences increase considerably. Since the beginning of 2007 reports have indicated a significant increase in the number of Dengue Fever cases. The authorities are taking measures to combat the disease but you should be aware that there is no vaccination or immunisation against it. The mosquito-borne disease, Chikunguya virus is also present in Indonesia.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date. NHS Direct (0845 46 47) can provide you advice on vaccination requirements for Indonesia.
For further information on endemic diseases, like malaria, health outbreaks and the vaccination requirements for Indonesia you should check the websites of NaTHNaC
and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel
Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
There have been outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in poultry and a small number of pig farms in Indonesia. Infected birds have been found in 31 of Indonesia's 33 provinces. Indonesia has more confirmed cases of human fatalities than any other country with over 90 reported fatalities. These fatalities are believed to have arisen through close contact with infected poultry. The WHO have confirmed that the deaths of seven members of one family in the TanaKaro district of North Sumatra in May 2006, were likely to be the result of limited, non-sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus. However, to date, there has been no evidence of widespread or sustained human-to-human transmission in Indonesia.
Since the end of 2003, a number of human deaths have also occurred in Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Iraq, Laos, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.
The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low. However, as a precaution, you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of the possibility that the Avian Influenza outbreaks could lead at some point to a human flu pandemic, if the virus mutates to a form, which is easily transmissible between people.
British nationals living longer term in an Avian-Influenza affected region should take personal responsibility for their own safety in the event of a future pandemic, including considering their access to adequate healthcare and ensuring travel documents are up to date.
You should read this advice in conjunction with the: Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet
Indonesia sits along a volatile seismic strip called the 'Ring of Fire' in the Pacific. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis are possible. The 'ring-of-fire' is a horse-shoe-shaped zone of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that surrounds the basin of the Pacific Ocean. It is 40,000kms long and is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, island arcs, and volcanic mountain ranges and/or plate movements.
It is understood that 90% of the world's earthquakes and 81% of the world's largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire which is a direct consequence of plate tectonics and the movement of collisions of crustal plates.
On 12 September 2007 a magnitude 7.9 earthquake affected Southern Sumatra in Indonesia, reportedly killing over 20 people.
On 6 March 2007, an earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale hit the island of Sumatra in western Indonesia, killing over 50 people.
On 17 July 2006, an underwater earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter Scale was recorded off the south west coast of Java. This caused a tsunami, measuring between two and five metres in height, which hit the southern coastal districts of Ciamis (Pangandaran), Cilacap, Kebumen and Tasikmalaya in Java. Over 500 people were killed and over 50,000 people were displaced from their homes.
The 26 December 2004 earthquake and tsunami caused massive devastation to coastal areas in Aceh and parts of North Sumatra.
Flash floods and more widespread flooding occur regularly during the rainy season from November to March. Cities - especially Jakarta - are frequently subject to severe localised flooding which can result in major disruption, and occasionally fatalities. Landslides occur in rural areas during the wet season. In December 2007, landslides in Central Java killed over 80 people.
There are numerous volcanoes in Indonesia, any of which can erupt without warning. Since August 2007 both Mount Soputan, in North Sulawesi and Mount Karangetang, on the diving resort island of Siau off Sulawesi and Anak Krakatao in the Sunda Strait have shown significant increased volcanic activity. You are advised to exercise caution, check news reports and follow local advice before travelling to volcanic areas. The capacity of the Indonesian emergency and rescue services to deal with large natural disasters is limited.
On 14 July 2007 poisonous fumes from Salak Volcano, just south of Jakarta killed six school children who were camping on the Volcano.