Written by Naina Mangtani

Offering a melange of cultures, people, sights and food, travellers need look no further than the irresistible charm of Indonesia. Stepping off the plane into Indonesia, you are immediately greeted with a blast of warm air, towering palm trees, smells of fresh food, (especially Nasi Goreng, the traditional dish) as well as plenty of friendly faces shouting in a mixture of languages, offering taxis and transport to wherever your heart desires. A destination that offers a perfect mix of lively evenings, family fun, romantic sunsets and some of the most breathtakingly beautiful sights, Indonesia is widely considered one of the most welcoming countries for tourists. However, it is incredibly important to pay attention to the local laws and customs in Indonesia in order to ensure your travel is both enjoyable to you, and respectful to those around you.



Few can resist the charm of the off land islands, offering up perfectly curated smoothie bowls, local beers at less than £2, and beautiful beach clubs to watch world renowned sunsets. Transport is mostly in the form of mopeds, owned by locals who offer taxi services. Mopeds are also widely available to rent, as long as you own a valid driving license. However, prudence on mopeds is recommended - recently two Exeter university students were forced to pay up to $300 USD each after a moped collision. First check your travel insurance covers any moped accidents, otherwise you could be forced to shell out a hefty fine as well as jail time if you accidently inflict injury on others around you. Check out FCO’s Travel Aware pages for advice on travel insurance and your holiday destination.



Indonesia’s mix of cultures means several different religions are practiced around the country. The traditional temples of Bali are often some of the most beautiful and frequently visited sights, such as Pura Tirta Empul, where the full experience requires you to rent a traditional sarong, and fully immerse yourself in the streams. Make sure you do your research in advance in order to maximise your experience, as often giving an offering to the gods is customary in some locations. Disrespecting the culture, especially whilst visiting local temples could land you in serious trouble. As Indonesia is a religious country, travellers are often asked to cover themselves with sarongs either provided by the temples, or dress modestly in order to avoid offence to residents or trouble with the local police, more information can be found here.



Being caught in possession of drugs in Bali is considered a serious offence. Possession of drugs such as marijuana and cocaine can land you with more than 4 years in prison, and conviction of drug trafficking can result in life imprisonment, or even the death penalty due to Indonesia’s zero-tolerance policy. Police often frequent venues that boast a high tourist turnover, and you may be asked to take a urine or blood sample to verify there are no drugs within your system. Make sure you avoid any experience or interaction with drugs or dealers, which will often result in complicated and expensive legal processes. Instead, stick to Bintang, the local beer, recommended by all travellers! Gambling is completely illegal in Indonesia, and organised gambling gangs operate in various areas around Indonesia. The same advice holds true here too - stay completely clear, as the games are often rigged against tourists, and gangs often use violence against tourists who owe large amounts of money. Participation in any illegal gambling can also result in large fines, or prison sentences if you are found guilty.


Bali and Gili islands are considered some of the most beautiful sites in the world. Offering dolphin tours and sunrise hikes up mount Batur, the islands are unmissable. Surfing lessons along the beach in Seminyak offer a chance to meet and interact with the locals, who will often invite you to join them for a drink and watch the sunset. Capitalise on happy hour at the local bars to enjoy the sunset views, but make sure you’re drinking in moderation to avoid getting lost in unfamiliar surroundings. Whilst shopping for those back at home, silver jewellery is both popular and cheaper in Bali. However, Indonesia is part of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which means purchasing ivory and tiger parts is illegal, and taking them back to the UK is a criminal offence. Make sure you choose your purchases with a keen eye...

And one final point – It goes without saying that you need to keep your passport and ID super-safe, but when travelling in Indonesia, you must keep your identification on your person at all times. Invest in a money belt and make photocopies of your important documentation just in case.

Keep your travels safe and happy by checking the FCO Travel Aware page before you go for more information on all destinations, as well as following @FCOTravel on Facebook and Twitter and @TravelAware on Instagram for regular updates.