Is Indonesia Safe? (The Ultimate Safety Guide)

Tall mountains, fiery volcanoes, dense jungles, and spectacular natural beauty; Indonesia is a must-see destination. Travellers from all walks of life travel their way around this breathtaking country, and it’s not difficult to see why.

But you may be curious, “Is Indonesia safe?” There are active volcanoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and the risk of terrorist attacks. If you add drunken holiday-goers into the mix, then we understand why safety may be a concern.

But there is no need to worry. We have created this guide on staying safe in Indonesia to address all of your safety concerns. At Journeying The Globe, we are huge advocates of travelling smart, and think you should be, too!

We are going to be covering a whole range of safety topics when it comes to travelling to Indonesia. From the risk of a tsunami, to the road safety, to how safe the food is – and just about nearly everything in-between. We’re going to be covering Indonesia in its entirety.

No matter if you’re a solo female traveller who is worried about your safety and the concept of travelling alone, or if it’s your first time in Indonesia and just wondering if it’s a family-friendly place. Regardless of your concern, this guide is all about discovering Indonesia…safely!

bali indonesia
Bali: One of Indonesia’s most famous islands.

Is Indonesia Safe? (Our Take)

With over 17,000 Indonesian islands scattered from South East Asia to Australia, you are truly spoilt for choice. The culture is diverse, the cities are vibrant, the scenery is stunning, and the islands… AMAZING.

Generally speaking, Indonesia is fairly safe for travellers. Over 15 million visitors travel to Indonesia every year, and that number is growing. From backpackers to families and from couples to business travellers; Indonesia welcomes all types of visitors.

However, various threats do exist in Indonesia. There are natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanoes. There are also human threats, including scams, theft, terrorism, and crime.

Although crime rates in Indonesia are relatively low, it’s still important to travel smart and to be extra vigilant.

Petty crime such as pickpocketing, theft, and tourist scams do still occur in Indonesia, particularly around busy areas such as shopping malls, airports, and bus stations.

Keep your phone and valuables in your pocket, as scooter riding theft does occur here.

The threat level of terrorism in Indonesia is high, but as long as you take precautions, you will be fine. Try to avoid areas of conflict, such as Central Sulawesi and Papua.

There are also volcanoes, which 127 of them are active. Nowadays, technology allows volcanologists to predict when an eruption may occur; however, no action can be taken to prevent them. The consequence of a volcano erupting can be severe and disastrous.

Even more dangerous than erupting volcanoes are earthquakes. Earthquakes can be even more destructive, and the damage can range from low to mass damage exceptionally quickly.

Considering the dangers, we still have no issue in saying that Indonesia is generally safe.

Is Indonesia Safe to Visit? (The Facts)

indonesia safety

Yes – Indonesia is relatively safe to travel. The country receives over 15 million visitors a year – and that number is continuously growing.

Indonesia has become more popular in recent years, and the residents are reaping the benefits of increased revenue. It’s in everyone’s best interest to keep Indonesia safe, as it’s good for the economy and reflects a positive image.

Although petty crime such as credit card scamming and pickpocketing poses a threat in Indonesia, it mostly occurs in larger cities such as Jakarta, Kuta or Bali.

In Indonesia, it’s more the natural disasters that may cause you problems.

Which raises the question…

Is it Safe to Visit Indonesia In 2020?

If you have a phobia of earthquakes or volcanoes, then you might not feel safe in Indonesia.

One of the most dangerous and active volcanoes in Indonesia is named “Merapi“, which translates to “fire mountain.” The last deadly eruption was in 2010, where 353 people died as a result of pyroclastic flows.

In 2018 alone, there were over an astonishing 2,000 natural disasters which took the lives of nearly 4,000 people. Indonesia sits along the pacific ring of fire, an area with extremely high seismic activity.

For a sense of scale, in the last 30 years, natural disasters have resulted in the toll of approximately 8,000 deaths a year.

By far the deadliest event in recorded history was the 2004 tsunami and earthquake (also known as the boxing day tsunami), which took the lives of over 230,00 people in a matter of hours.

With that said, nothing has stopped millions of tourists from flocking here every year. A natural disaster can undoubtedly affect tourism, but the country is well-prepared in the case of an emergency. Most residents still go about their lives, and visitors have an enjoyable time in Indonesia.

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It’s safe to visit Indonesia in 2020, but we advise to always check the current geological activity before visiting.

Is Indonesia safe for solo travellers? 

indonesia temple

Travelling alone can be a very rewarding experience, especially a country as wondrous as Indonesia. 

Overall, Indonesia is a safe destination to travel alone. Actually, many solo travellers have expressed how safe they have felt when visiting the country independently.

Of course, there are many things to keep in mind, as travelling alone comes with its own set of dangers.

  • Staying in hostels is a great way to make new friends and meet likeminded people. Travelling alone can get lonely, especially during the evenings. There are a plethora of hostels all around the country. Plus, they are usually cheaper than private hotel rooms.
  • Group tours are another great way to meet people. It’s very common and safe for travellers to visit attractions such as shopping malls, museums, temples, and beaches alone. Even if it’s only a walking tour, it’s a great way to see the country and to socialise.
  • Tell other people where you are going. It’s a good idea to let your family and friends know where you are going. Not only does it allow them to know you are safe, but it also allows them to alert someone if something goes wrong. 
  • We always recommend purchasing a SIM card. It’s useful for accessing maps and travelling around, but also allows you to keep in contact with friends and family on the go.

As you can see, travelling alone can be fun and safe at the same time. Travelling alone is a beautiful experience and will change your life. Everyone needs to travel alone at least once.

Is the water safe to drink in Indonesia?

The locals tend not to drink tap water, so you shouldn’t either.

The tap water in Indonesia is not safe for drinking. Stick to drinking bottled or gallon water, which is readily available across the country.

The biggest problem is pathogens emerging from inadequate water pipe infrastructure and the countries heat. Pathogens include bacteria, germs and other microorganisms that can make you ill.

For general purposes such as showering, cooking, and cleaning, the water is safe to use. If you do need to drink tap water, make sure to boil it first to remove any bacteria and other contaminants. 

Is the food in Indonesia safe? 

indonesian food

Indonesia’s delicious range of cuisines is one of the countries highlights. From local street vendors to high-end restaurants; you certainly won’t be going hungry during your stay.

There is fried rice, chicken satays, Nasi Campur (meaning mixed rice), Gado Gado (Indonesian salad), and pig roasts. Indonesia is truly a foodie’s paradise.

When you’re in Indonesia, your diet will likely change. Generally, you will be consuming more fruit, spicy food, alcohol, and fruit juices. Consequently, you must ease your stomach into the new diet change to avoid an upset stomach.

Typically, food in Indonesia is safe. However, here are a few safety principles to apply during your stay:

  • Check review sites such as TripAdvisor to read about other guests dining experiences
  • Make sure meats are thoroughly cooked
  • Try to choose a restaurant that has a high volume of people. That way, you know the food should be nice and fresh. 
  • Avoid pre-cut fruit. Instead, try to buy fruits that you can peel yourself.
  • Wash your hands before eating

You will love the food in Indonesia. It’s vibrant, mouthwatering, and full of flavours. Generally, the food is rich in spices.

But go easy. Your stomach will need time to adjust to this new Indonesian diet, and indulging in too much food will be a sure way to an upset stomach. If you’re ever unsure, check the reviews to find the best and highest-rated eateries.

Is driving safe in Indonesia?

jakarta roads

We wouldn’t advise driving in Indonesia as road safety awareness is low.

Road regulations aren’t enforced, drivers overtake dangerously, large vehicles are often overloaded, and there is often substantial amounts of traffic.

Although road safety can be worse in other areas of the world, Indonesia still has a high number of road accidents every day.

Public transport is the best means of transportation, and often much safer than driving yourself. A local driver will always know the roads much better than you.

Higher volume than cars is motorbikes. And of course, bikes can be hired all over the country.

If you do end up hiring a bike, make sure to take photos before you start using it. Occasionally, shop owners will try to charge you extortionate amounts of money for damages that were already there.

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And always wear a helmet. Not only is it the law, but it’s also for your safety.

Before renting, we recommend doing your research to find a reputable company. It’s also a good idea to have some previous biking experience, as the roads in Indonesia can be unforgiving.

Are taxis safe in Indonesia?

There are plenty of metered taxis in Indonesia, and generally they safe. 

The official taxi company in Indonesia is Bluebird taxis, which are easy to find and entirely safe to use. If you see a bluebird taxi don’t hesitate to stop it, as they are all equipped with official meters meaning no need to bargain.

Be careful of unofficial taxi’s that will try to charge a fixed price instead of using the meter. It will usually always result in a higher fare. Always ask to use the meter, and if the driver refuses, simply walk to another taxi. There is no shortage of taxis in Indonesia.

If you do get a taxi that’s not using an official meter, make sure always to agree the fare before getting in the vehicle, and remember to haggle.

Is Indonesia safe to live?

living in indonesia

Indonesia is a safe place to live when compared with other parts of the world, and many people do. 

Many digital nomads choose to live in Indonesia, especially Bali. Hot weather, stunning beaches, breathtaking scenery, and a low cost of living – what’s not to love? 

The most problematic issues are pollution and traffic, but that’s mostly in busy cities. 

Of course, there is also the threat of natural disasters. That means keeping up to date with recent geological activity and knowing what to do an emergency.

Flooding can also be a problem, particularly during the monsoon season.

Petty crime does occur, but no more or less than anywhere else in the world. 

But even considering all of that, Indonesia is still a safe place to live. Case closed. 

Indonesia Travel Insurance

Enjoy your visit to Indonesia, but always make sure to get travel insurance! Even if you are only visiting for a few days, you should always take out travel cover. Take our word for it: travel insurance can save you thousands of pounds – so make sure to purchase it before you start your trip.

We highly recommend using World Nomads, but there are many insurance providers to choose from, so make sure to shop around to find the best deal. 

10 Safety Tips for Travelling to Indonesia

indonesia bali

Although Indonesia is reasonably safe, it is still essential to have a few smart travel tips in mind for staying safe in Indonesia.

  1. Beware of natural disasters. – check recent geological activity before visiting Indonesia. It’s also useful to know what to do if in the case of an emergency.
  2. AVOID DRUGS – Indonesia carries a strict zero-tolerance to drugs. Getting caught in possession of drugs in Indonesia is a severe offence. Penalties can be as harsh as the death penalty.
  3. Make digital copies of your documents – keep digital copies of your passport and other essential documents in case anything gets lost.
  4. Exercise caution around the monkeys – monkeys can be fun, but they can also be unpredictable and aggressive. They may even have rabies. Watch from a distance and don’t get too close. If you do get bitten, seek medical advice.
  5. Don’t drink the tap water – we advise to stick to only drinking bottled water. The tap water in Indonesia is usually of uncertain quality and can contain pathogen bacteria.
  6. Keep your valuables safe – petty theft such as pickpocketing and bag-snatching from motorbikes do occasionally occur. Keep your valuables in your front pocket, or even better, locked away in a hotel safety deposit box. 
  7. Pollution can be an issue – the air quality in certain areas (especially in cities) can be terrible.
  8. Be careful of riptides – enjoy the waters, but be safe. Riptides and strong currents can be extremely dangerous. Don’t swim in red flag zones. If you get caught in a riptide, don’t swim against the current. Instead, swim parallel to the shore to escape.
  9. Wear insect repellant – protect yourself from mosquito and other insect bites by applying insect repellant. Mosquitoes can carry dengue fever and other diseases, which can sometimes be life-threatening.
  10. Don’t smoke in public areas – smoking in public spaces is not only disrespectful; in some places (Bali), it is illegal. Violators may face prison time of up to six months or a hefty fine of up to 50 million IDR.

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James Ardimento has spent the last 12 years journeying around the globe ! With its precious experiences and tips he gained around Asia, South America, Europe and the US he is a precious asset for this blog and for its readers