Sim cards, power plugs, visas and travel money in Bali and Indonesia


Visas, vaccinations, phone, internet, power adapters, money, travel insurance, handy apps and more.

Bali and Indonesia travel guide: what you need to do


How to get the best cash rate, phone rates, phone apps for maps and which power plugs you need - download the Bali and Indonesia travel guide.

Money

Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (RpIDR)

Check xe.com for the latest exchange rates.

Important: Tell your bank about your travel plans two weeks before you leave. Card activity in a foreign country could be mistaken for fraud and you could find your account frozen.

Credit cards and ATMs

Pack your credit card, but you'll probably only be able to use it in the more high-end hotels, shops and restaurants. Most businesses prefer to deal in cash.

ATMs are common in towns and cities, and you'll have no trouble finding them in Bali. When ATMs detect a foreign card, they'll offer you the choice of instructions in English or Indonesian. Remember that you'll be charged a foreign exchange fee and a withdrawal fee for every transaction - which can add up to as much as $20.

Money changers

You'll have no trouble finding money changers in tourist areas. Most will exchange Australian dollars, US dollars and Euros for Indonesian Rupiah. Once you go off the beaten path, your options become more limited so you'll need to make sure you have plenty of Rupiah already on you (hide it well).

Banks and official exchange outlets are your best bet. Avoid changing money at the airport - it's unlikely you'll get a good rate. Avoid changing money with shopkeepers - your chances of being fleeced are much higher.

Travellers' cheques are becoming a thing of the past and you'll have trouble finding many places in Indonesia that will cash them. If you're concerned about money security, read our advice in the travel money buying guide.

Looking for a travel money card?

See our travel money comparison.

Travel Money reviews

Tip: Carry at least two credit/debit cards and more than one currency (Australian, US, and the currency of your destination). Split your money and cards between separate bags. That way if you lose one, you have a back-up.

Phone and internet

Global roaming and coverage

Australian mobile phones should work in cities and towns using Indonesia's GSM networks, but the global roaming costs (and in particular the data roaming costs) are likely to be astronomical.

Check with your telco for roaming prices:

Tip: Switch off data roaming on your phone before you leave Australia. Likewise, switch off your voicemail and ask friends and family to text you rather than calling (you'll be charged if you answer incoming calls).

Local SIM

Local SIMs are a much cheaper option if you can't live without a phone and you don't mind having a different number while you're overseas. Indonesia's main GSM carriers are Telkomsel (Simpati), Indosat, XL and 3. Avoid Smartfren, Esia, and Flexi as they run on the CDMA standard and are incompatible with Australian GSM handsets. To check that your handset will be compatible, read this guide to taking your phone overseas.

You can buy a SIM pre-loaded with credit from a convenience store or kiosk - look for the word 'pulsa' (credit) on shop signs. Set-up is simple and doesn't require ID or creating an account - simply pop the SIM into your phone and you're good to go as long as your phone is unlocked. To top up your credit, look for that pulsa sign again, pay the vendor and give them your mobile number - they'll send the credit to your phone.

Tip: 50,000 Rp of credit should be enough to last you a week or two, but if you use the internet or make international calls you'll need to top up your pulsa more often.

Travel SIM

Pre-paid travel SIMs are another option, particularly if you're travelling to a number of countries or you like to be organised before you go. Rates are unlikely to be as cheap as on a local SIM.

Remember: Your phone will need to be unlocked to accept a SIM from another network.

Beat global roaming bill shock - our guide to unlocking your phone and changing your global roaming settings.

Wi-Fi

An internet connection is fairly easy to find in tourist areas. Many coffee shops and hotels in Bali and Jakarta offer free Wi-Fi, although connection speeds may be slow. In rural areas, however, you'll be lucky to get a phone signal, let alone access to the internet.

Check wificafespots.com for maps showing free Wi-Fi hotspots in Indonesian towns and cities, or download an app such as WeFi (Android or PC) or Wi-Fi Finder (Apple or Android).

Visas and passports

As of March 2016 Australian tourists no longer need a visa to visit Indonesia for up to 30 days. 

  • Your day of arrival counts as day one of the 30 days.
  • Your day of departure also counts as a full day.
  • The 30-day period is not extendable.
  • You'll still need an up-to-date passport to enter Indonesia.
  • Cruise ship passengers arriving in Benoa will still need to apply for a visa on arrival as there is no visa-free facility at the port.

Staying longer than 30 days?

If you plan to stay longer than 30 days, apply to the Indonesian embassy in advance for a 60-day tourist visa.

Alternatively, you can pay for a 30-day visa on arrival in Indonesia (this is not to be confused with entering the 30-day visa-free period) then apply to extend it your visa for an extra 30 days.

If you want to stay for just a little longer than 30 days you could apply for a 30-day visa then opt to pay the fine of IDR 300.000 per day for overstaying your visa.

Visa rules and prices may change. For up-to-date information check the Indonesian embassy website: kemlu.go.id

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is essential - don't leave it until the last minute. Buy insurance at the same time as you book your trip; that way you'll be covered if you have to cancel for some reason before you go.

For more information read our buying guide and to choose the best cover, see CHOICE's travel insurance reviews and comparisons.

Common exclusions:

  • Most travel insurance policies won't pay out if you make a claim for something that happened while you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. So, if you're planning a Bali bender, bear in mind that you may not be insured for much of your holiday.
  • Standard travel insurance policies may not cover you for motorbike or scooter accidents. Check with your insurer.

Tips:

  • Keep a print-out of your travel insurance details with you at all times while on your trip. Some hospitals may refuse to treat you if you can't pay up front or show proof that you're insured.
  • Share your insurance details with family or friends before you leave.

Vaccinations

Recommended vaccines depend on your health status, which part of Indonesia you're travelling to, and how long you plan to stay. Website traveldoctor.com.au recommends you make sure your standard vaccinations are up to date, and consider shots for rabies, Japanese encephalitis, typhoid and hepatitis A and B. See its Indonesia fact sheet or Bali fact sheet for advice, and speak to your doctor.

Tip: Some vaccinations need to be given four to six weeks before departure, so get in early.

Power plugs

Standard voltage: 230V
Frequency: 50 Hz

Indonesia's voltage and frequency is the same as Australia's, which means you can use Australian appliances safely without a power converter or transformer (ie. they won't catch on fire or melt!).

Power sockets:

Indonesia's power sockets and plugs are different to Australia's, so you will need a power adapter. Since the country uses two different types of socket, a universal adapter is recommended.

Handy links and apps

Consider adding these links and apps to your phone, tablet or laptop before you go.

Tip: If possible, choose apps that work offline so they won't chew up your mobile data or stop working when you're in remote places.

Tip: To save a map onto your mobile device for offline use, select the area on Google Maps then select 'Save offline map' from the menu and follow the directions on the screen. Your GPS positioning will still work on the saved map, even when you don't have access to the internet.

Alternatively, download the Google Maps app, go to 'Offline maps' in the menu and select a city. Search for free Wi-Fi hotspots on wificafespots.com, or download an app such as WeFi (Android or PC) or Wi-Fi Finder (Apple or Android).

Websites

Got a travel tip about Indonesia? Or spotted something in our guide that needs updating? Add a comment below.

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