Indonesia has one of the strongest economies in the region, and it is expected to continue growing for the foreseeable future. Consumer spending is a driving force in the growth of Indonesia's economy, with cars and electronic goods being some of the most popular items. Consumers also demand a variety of services, including banking and finance, education, healthcare, travel and leisure, and business services.
Australia is a popular partner for business operations in Indonesia. Australia is a major supplier of meat and grain to the region, and Australia's expertise when it comes to agriculture, infrastructure and resource management makes those with experience in these areas in high demand.
Indonesia is made up of over 300 distinct cultures, but the two predominant ones are Javanese and Sundanese. The vast majority of the population is Muslim, so alcohol and pork, while available in some establishments, are not widely consumed. Out of respect for the culture of your hosts, it is best to steer clear of these items when conducting meetings over lunch or dinner. When meetings are scheduled around meal time, it is customary to provide food.
Traffic can be heavy in Indonesia, particularly in Jakarta, so don't expect meetings to always start on time. In general, early meetings do not actually accomplish any business; it is customary to have several informal meetings before getting around to business discussions. Indonesians prefer to meet face-to-face, but many will often tell you what they think you want to hear, rather than what they actually believe.
Negotiations tend to proceed slowly, as Indonesians do not like to be forced into decisions. More likely, a group consensus must be reached in order to finalise any decision-making.
A handshake is the typical form of greeting for both men and women. Indonesians are avid users of business cards, so be sure to have plenty at the ready. In handing your card or any other item to someone else, always use your right hand. When receiving others' business cards, always treat them with respect.
Batik shirts are considered formal wear, often substituting for a suit and tie in business environments, although suits are still worn. For women, a business suit or a dress with sleeves is considered appropriate business attire.
Most businesses in Indonesia operate from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday. On Fridays, businesses typically take a longer lunch break than usual, as it is the Muslim prayer day. The majority of businesses are closed on weekends. Shops and restaurants typically remain open until 10:00 p.m. every day, especially in Jakarta, where many 24-hour options are also available. Indonesia ranges from one to three hours behind Australia's eastern time zone.
The currency in Indonesia is the Rupiah and it includes coins and notes. Travellers can exchange money at the airport and in major cities throughout the country. Supermarkets, department stores and shops in tourist-heavy areas accept most major credit cards.
Banks are open until 3:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday, with some banks in Jakarta operating on Saturdays as well. ATMs are located in bank branches and throughout public areas, shopping malls and office buildings.
Indonesia has a tropical climate, with temperatures ranging from 21 to 38 degrees, except at high altitudes, where the weather is cooler. The region experiences high humidity, typically from 60 to 100 percent. Indonesia has two monsoon seasons. The time between June and September brings dry weather, while December to March is the time of heavy rains. Thunderstorms strike seemingly without warning throughout the year, often resulting in flooding and road closures.
Indonesia's electricity is 220 volts, 50Hz and typically uses European-style plugs. However, outside of major cities, power can often come in at 110 volts. Blackouts are common outside of cities, although most properties have backup generators.
It is important to be aware that the tap water in Indonesia is not drinkable. Travellers are advised to drink bottled water only when visiting the region.
Typically, visitors from Australia do not need to obtain a visa prior to travelling to Indonesia. The visa can be obtained upon arrival in the country.
The Jakarta International Airport handles most flights to and from the country. It offers plenty of flights in the domestic market, although international flights are somewhat limited. Be aware that the airport charges a departure tax, so you'll need to have local cash available. For international flights, the tax is IDR 150,000. Domestic travellers should budget IDR 25-60,000 for this purpose. Traffic can become highly congested in Jakarta, so be sure to allow at least an hour for travel time to and from the airport.
Public transportation is also available in the form of city buses and taxis. When taking a taxi, it is usually a good idea to have a general sense of where you are going to aid the driver in finding your destination's address.
Tipping is considered optional in Indonesia, but be advised that restaurants and hotels typically add a 10 percent service charge to your bill. When taking a taxi, it is customary to add a tip of about 10 percent.
Hotels in Indonesia run the gamut from budget-friendly to five-star accommodations, with many options available between the two as well. Cities tend to have more variety in hotel choices, while rural areas tend to have accommodations on the lower end of the luxury spectrum.
Visitors to Indonesia should not miss the variety of temples and cultural structures throughout the region, including the Borobudur Buddhist temple, Prambanan Hindu temple and Baiturrahman Grand Mosque.
The area is home to natural wonders as well, including Mount Bromo, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The Raja Ampat Islands offer opportunities for diving and snorkelling, and travellers can see orangutans and Komodo dragons back on dry land.