Indonesia has a Tropical climate; there is a dry and west season. Between June and September, the East Monsoon brings dry weather. The West Monsoon sweeps in between December and March, bringing rain (and humidity). Temperatures range from 21 to 33 degrees.
When to fly to Indonesia
Indonesia is a vast country, but in general, the dry season - June to September - is peak season. Ramadan, Christmas and New Year are also very busy times. During Ramadan (the date is based on a lunar cycle and varies each year) entertainment venues close by midnight and some close altogether. During Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, all of Indonesia, or so it seems, is on the move, as Indonesians travel to spend time with family. April to September is high season as far as surfing goes.
The wet season - mid-January to March - is "low" season but this varies from island to island.
Getting around Indonesia
Cars can be rented in Bali and in the larger cities, but visitors will encounter traffic jams and some hair-raising driving. Hiring a car with a driver is a reasonable, and less stressful, option. If you are taking taxis in Indonesia, try to ensure that you fix on the price before you set off.
There are several domestic airlines flying between islands. These include Batavia Air, Garuda Indonesia and Lion Air.
The ferry service, Pelni (PT Pelayaran Nasional Indonesia), plies the waves between Indonesia's islands. Standards are high, fares and reasonable and it's a pleasant way of getting around.
As far as train services go, Java has the best in Indonesia. Trains link Jakarta with main cities such as Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Solo.
Bus services are comprehensive and cheap. There are ordinary buses, express buses and luxury coaches.
Other ways of getting around, particularly the larger cities, include becaks (three-wheeled passenger bicycles), bajajs (motorised becaks), dekars (horse-drawn carriages) and ojeks (motorcycle taxis).
Indonesia insider information
Things to do and see in Indonesia
- If you don't have time to explore Indonesia in much detail, the Taman Mini Indonesia in Jakarta offers a taster. The 120-hectare open air theme park displays the architecture and lifestyle of 31 Indonesian provinces.
- Young men on the island of Nias, off the western coast of Sumatra, have a fascinating tradition. They practise stone-jumping to prove their manhood. Stones are piled high, more than two metres. Visitors can view these performances in villages such as Bawomataluo or Hilisimaetano.
- Serious surfers should head for the Mentawais. The islands, off the west coast of Sumatra, offer some of the best surf in the world. Visit between April/May and August/September for the best chances of high-quality groundswells.
- Alor is an Edenic island in the Lesser Sundas chain, located east of Bali and north of East Timor. It offers some of the best diving and snorkelling in Indonesia. Under the sea, you may spy tunas, groupers, sunfish, manta rays, whitetips and grey reef sharks.
- When it comes to food, there's no shortage of delicious bites. While on Bali, head for the busy stalls, the one where you don't think you'll get a seat. In the streets of Kuta, Sanur, Legian or Seminyak, make a beeline for the stalls that sell chicken satays (ayam) or sticks of beef (sapi).
- Bandung is the capital city of West Java. It is renowned for its collection of Art Deco buildings. Include these in your must-see list - Villa Isola, Savoy Homann Hotel and Grand Hotel Preanger.
- Time your cheap flights to Indonesia to coincide with the Kasada festival. This fascinating festival takes place at Mount Bromo in Probolinggo, on the northern coast of East Java. Locals try to placate the rumbling volcano with offerings of money, vegetables and livestock.
- Sumba - the Festival of Pasola takes place each February and March. It's a riotous jousting competition between teams of horsemen representing their villages.