Indonesia is a relatively safe place to travel and violent crime is
almost unheard of, but petty crime is on the upswing. Pay close attention
to your belongings, especially in big cities. Use a small backpack or
money belt for valuables: shoulder bags can be snatched. Bags have been
snatched by thieves on motorbikes, so be vigilant. Be especially wary
on crowded bemos, buses and trains; this is where pick-pockets lurk.
They work in groups and are very clever at slitting bags and extracting
Be sure that the door and windows of your hotel room are locked at night,
including those in the bathroom, as thieves are adept at sneaking in
while you are asleep. Big hotels have safety boxes for valuables. If
your hotel does not have such a facility, it is better to carry all
the documents along with you. Make sure you have a photocopy of your
passport, return plane ticket and travelers' check numbers and keep
them separate from the originals.
Don't take valuables to the beach. Period. Bring your camera only if
you're not going to swim or if you are in pairs and one can swim while
one watches. You can ask other tourists to mind your gear while you
swim, but they may decide to leave while you're in the water.
The Indonesian spelling of geographical features and villages varies
considerably as there is no form of standardization that meets with
both popular and official approval. We have seen village names spelled
three different ways, all on signboards in front of various government
offices. In this guide, we have tried to use the most common spellings.
There are three overlapping and concurrent address systems for any given
location: old street name and number, new street name with new numbers,
and kampung (neighborhood) name with block numbers. Every town now has
its street named after the same national heroes, so you will find General
Sudirman Street in every city throughout the archipelago.
The names with the new house numbers are the preferred designations
for postal purposes. However, when tracking down a hotel address you
may find that the old street names, the kampung names, or local landmarks
more helpful. You will also find number 38 next to number 119 and the
streets referred to by different names, such as Jalan Diponegoro (an
Indonesian hero), Jalan Abdi Dongo (from local history) or Gajahan Gang
II (the kampung name and alley number).
Westerners are used to finding things using telephone directories, addresses,
and maps. But in Indonesia, phone books are incomplete, addresses can
be confusing and maps little understood. The way to find something is
To ask for directions, it's better to have the name of a person and
the name of the kampung. Thus 'Bu Murni, Banjar Kalah" is a better
address for asking directions even though "Jalan Hanoman 14"
is the mailing address. Knowing the language helps, but is not essential.
Immediately clear answers are not common, so be patient. You are likely
to get a general indication of direction without distance or specific
instructions. The assumption is that you will be asking lots of people
along the way. Begin by asking three people. Usually two point toward
the same general vicinity. Proceed, then ask again.
Maps can be useful, but introducing them into discussions with Indonesians
may cause more confusion than clarity. More than likely the north arrow
on the map will be turned to real north before a reading. Periplus Travel
Maps provide detailed and accurate maps of major tourist destinations.