• travel guide
  • Travel Guides
  • Apps & eBooks
  • Community
  • Publish Apps
Travel Guide > Asia > Indonesia

Indonesia Health & Safety

  
 
Upload Photo     Upload Video

Health

The bad news is that every disease known to man can be found somewhere in Indonesia — the good news is that you're probably not going to go there. Malaria prophylaxis is not necessary for Java or Bali, but is wise if traveling for extended periods in remote area of Sumatra, Borneo, Lombok or points east. Dengue fever can be contracted anywhere and using insect repellents (DEET) and mosquito nets is highly advisable. Hepatitis is also common and getting vaccinated before arriving in Indonesia is wise.

Food hygiene

Food hygiene is often questionable and getting vaccinated for hepatitis A and possibly typhoid fever is a wise precaution. See a doctor if what seems like travellers' diarrhea does not clear up within a few days.

Air quality

The air quality in major cities, especially Jakarta and Surabaya, is poor, and the seasonal haze (June-October) from forest fires on Borneo and Sumatra can also cause respiratory problems. If you have asthma, bring your medicine and breather.

Diseases

Recent years have seen outbreaks of polio and anthrax in rural parts of Java and rabies in East Nusa Tenggara. Avian influenza (bird flu) has also made headlines, but outbreaks are sporadic and limited to people who deal with live or dead poultry in rural areas. Eating cooked chicken appears to be safe.
The local Indonesian health care system is not up to western standards. While a short term stay in an Indonesian hospital or medical center for simple health problems is probably not markedly different to a western facility, serious and critical medical emergencies will stretch the system to the limit. In fact, many rich Indonesians often choose to travel to neighboring Singapore to receive more serious health care. SOS Indonesia (24-hour emergency line +62-21-7506001) specializes in treating expats and has English staff on duty, but charges are correspondingly high. In any case, travel health insurance that includes medical evacuation back to a home country is highly recommended.

If you need a specific medicine, bring the medicine in its container/bottle, if possible with the doctor's prescription. Indonesian custom inspectors may ask about the medicine. If you need additional medicine in Indonesia, bring the container to a pharmacy (apotek) and if possible mention the active ingredients of the medicine. Drugs are usually manufactured locally under different brand names, but contain the same ingredients. Be careful about the proper dosage of the medicine.

For routine traveller complaints, one can often find medical doctors (dokter) in towns. These small clinics are usually walk-in, although you may face a long wait. Most clinics open in the afternoon (from 4 PM). The emergency room (ER) in hospitals always open (24 hour). There are clinics (poliklinik) in most hospitals (8 AM-4 PM). Advance payment is expected for treatment.
Be warned, though, that the doctors/nurses may not speak English well enough to make an appropriate diagnosis -- be patient and take a good phrasebook or a translator with you. Ask about the name and dosage of the prescription medicine, as few doctors may oversubscribe to inflate their own cut, with antibiotics handed out like candy.

Indonesia has a low HIV/AIDS prevalence rate. However, most infections are among sex workers and injecting drug users. Always protect yourself before engaging in risky activities.

Safety

Indonesia has been and continues to be wracked by every pestilence known to man: earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, terrorism, civil strife, plane crashes, corruption and crime make the headlines on a depressingly regular basis. However, it is important to retain a sense of proportion and remember Indonesia's vast size: a tsunami in Aceh will not cause the slightest ripple on the beaches of Bali, and street battles in troubled Central Sulawesi are irrelevant in the jungles of Papua.

Crime

The crime rate has increased in recent years, but fortunately it remains mostly non-violent and guns are rare. Robbery, theft and pickpocketing are common in Indonesia, particularly in markets, public transport and pedestrian overpasses. Avoid flashing jewelry, gold watches, MP3 players or large cameras. Thieves have been known to snatch laptops, PDAs and cellphones from Internet hotspot areas.

Crime is rampant on local and long-distance public transport (bus, train, ships). Do not accept drinks from strangers, as they may be laced with drugs. Choose your taxis carefully in cities (hotel taxis are often best), lock doors when inside and avoid using cellular phones, MP3 players, PDAs or laptops at traffic lights or in traffic jams.

Do not place valuable items in checked baggage, as they may be stolen by baggage handlers. Do not leave valuable items in an empty hotel room, and use the hotel's safe deposit box instead of the in-room safe.

Do not draw large amounts of cash from banks or ATMs. Guard your belongings carefully and consider carrying a money clip instead of a wallet.

Corruption

Indonesia is one of the world's most corrupt countries. Officials may ask for bribes, tips or "gifts" — the Indonesian terms are uang kopi or uang rokok, literally "coffee money" and "cigarette money" — to supplement their meager salaries; pretending you do not understand may work. Generally, being polite, smiling, asking for an official receipt for any 'fees' you are asked to pay, more politeness, more smiling, will avoid any problems.

The going rate for paying your way out of small offenses (not carrying your passport, losing the departure card, minor or imaginary traffic violation, etc) is Rp 50,000 ($5.50). It's common for police to initially demand silly amounts or threaten you with going to the station, but keep cool and they'll be more reasonable. Also note that if your taxi/bus/car driver is stopped, any fine or bribe is not your problem and it's best not to get involved. (If it's clear that the police were out of line, your driver certainly won't object if you compensate him afterwards though.)

Civil strife and terrorism

Indonesia has a number of provinces where separatist movements have resorted to armed struggles, notably Aceh and Papua. In addition, sectarian strife between Muslims and Christians, as well as between the indigenous population and transmigrants from Java/Madura, continues to occur in Maluku, central parts of Sulawesi and some areas of Kalimantan. Elections in Indonesia frequently involve rowdy demonstrations that have on occasion spiralled into violence, and the Indonesian military have also been known to employ violent measures to control or disperse protesting crowds. Travel permits (surat jalan) are required for entering conflict areas such as much of Papua and Poso and Palu in central Sulawesi.

While the great majority of civil strife in Indonesia is a strictly local affair, terrorist bombings targeting Western interests have also taken place in Bali and Jakarta, mostly notably the 2002 bombing in Kuta that killed 202 people, including 161 tourists. To minimize your risk, avoid any tourist-oriented nightclub or restaurant without strong security measures in place or where parking of cars and/or motorcycles in front of the club is permitted.
Nevertheless, you are far more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than in some random terrorist attack in Indonesia, so while you should be prudent, there is no need to be paranoid.

Drugs

Indonesia treats drug offences severely. The death penalty is mandatory for those convicted of trafficking, manufacturing, importing or exporting more than 15 g of heroin, 30 g of morphine, 30 g of cocaine, 500 g of cannabis, 200 g of cannabis resin and 1.2 kg of opium, and possession of these quantities is all that is needed for you to be convicted. For unauthorised consumption of the above-mentioned drugs plus MDMA (ecstasy) and crystal methamphetamine, there is a maximum of 10 years' jail or very heavy fine, or both. You can be charged for unauthorised consumption as long as traces of illicit drugs are found in your system, even if you can prove that they were consumed outside the country, and you can be charged for trafficking as long as drugs are found in bags that are in your possession or in your room, even if they aren't yours and regardless of whether you're aware of them.

Visitors are greeted with cheery "DEATH TO DRUG TRAFFICKERS" signs at airports and recent cases have seen long jail terms for simple possession and nine Australian heroin traffickers (known as the "Bali 9") are on death row in Bali awaiting execution. Other foreigners have already been executed for drug trafficking— but drugs are still widely available.

The most common is marijuana (known as gele or cimeng), which is not only sold to tourists but is used as food in some parts of the country, notably Aceh.

Hard drugs are common in the nightlife scene, especially in Jakarta and Bali, but also elsewhere. Ecstasy, cocaine and crystal methamphetimine are widely available and dealt with equally harshly by the Indonesian police.

Magic mushrooms are advertised openly in parts of Bali and Lombok and although the Indonesian legal position on these is unclear, purchase and consumption is unwise.

It's highly advisable to steer well clear, as entrapment and drug busts are common and you really, really don't want to get involved with the Indonesian justice system; thanks to the anti-corruption drive, you cannot count on being able to bribe your way out anymore and escape a harsh or even far worse sentence.

Natural disasters

Indonesia is a chain of highly volcanic islands sprinkled along the Ring of Fire, so earthquakes occur constantly and tsunamis and volcano eruptions are all too common. Realistically, there is little you can do to avoid these risks, but familiarize yourself with the warning signs and pay special heed to fire escape routes in hotels.

Wildlife

Crocodiles and poisonous snakes are present throughout most of Indonesia, although they are uncommon in most areas. Komodo dragons can be very dangerous if harassed, but are only found on Komodo and a few neighboring islands.

LGBT travelers

Attitudes toward homosexuality vary vastly. Cosmopolitan Jakarta and Bali boast gay nightclubs and bencong (transvestites and transsexuals) seem to have a special place in Indonesian culture. In staunchly Islamic areas such as Aceh homosexuals can be caned. As a general rule however, gay visitors should err on the side of discretion; while violence against homosexuals is a blessed rarity, you may still be met with nasty comments and unwanted attention.

Clinics in Indonesia

Hospital Rs Umum Pusat Dr. Kariadi
in Semarang
Hospital Rs. St. Elizabeth
in Semarang
 
Hospital Rs. Telogorejo
in Semarang
Hospital Rs. Panti Wilasa Cipto
in Semarang
 
Hospital Rs. Panti Wilasa Citarum
in Semarang
Doctor Ubud Clinic
On the 7 March 2012, I had a cut on my finger that required stiches. A clinic in Uluwatu charge me IDR 450,000. (reasonable) But when we were in UBUD, we went to UBUD CLINIC 24 hours at Jl Raya Campuhan 36. A lady doctor changed my dressing/p... more
in Ubud
 
Hospital Mataram Public Hospital
The islands main public hospital with UGD (Unit Gawat Darurat)-Emergency treatment room, ICU and OR facilities, laboratorium, Specialist consulting rooms.
in Lombok
Hospital Rumah Sakit Risa
hospital with UGD (Unit Gawat Darurat)-Emergency treatment room, private and VIP rooms, ICU and OR facilities, laboratorium, Specialist consulting rooms including Internist, Opthamologist, Obstetrician, Dentist.Directionsjust east of Mataram mall on the right ha... more
in Lombok
 
Hospital Siti Fajar Moslem Hospital
Specialist consulting rooms, DentistDirectionsHead west from Mataram mall, it is on the left hand side of the road
in Lombok
Hospital Anthonius Catholic Hospital
in Lombok
 
These are just 10 of 28 Clinics in Indonesia. Show more.




Users for Indonesia Health & Safety
2 0 0
Guru
The Guru

You receive points for adding & updating information
and for replying to Discussions.

You become the Guru if you are the user with
the most points for the place.
 
WikitravelUsers
Wikitrave...
has 4 points for Indonesia Health & Safety.
 
has helped
0 people with his Replies.

Make it Happen!

Our service for you - your travel checklist:

  1. Read our online guides
  2. Find a cheap flight
  3. Book a nice hotel
  4. Get travel insurance
    - even during your trip -

...and have fun!