I get asked all the time, Is Indonesia safe? Compared to your hometown? The most straightforward answer I can provide to you is, “In my experiences, yes, Indonesia is safe to visit”. If your reading this post you have probably come here looking for reasons that Indonesia is not a safe place. You can find plenty of reasons not to visit the country by searching for “tourist Indonesia crime” in the news section of Google. Google News page.
So there you are, plenty of reasons not to go to Indonesia.
However, I would ask that you do the same activity for your hometown. For example, Cleveland, Ohio is the largest city where I grew up. The Google News page from my area of birth looks like a place no tourist should ever visit, or a local have a safe life. The truth is plenty of people live there, and travellers come from all parts of the world to visit its various attractions.
All I would ask, as you consider visiting somewhere is that you do your research but also compare it to what your own “normal”.
Is Indonesia safe? My experiences.
I have visited Indonesia four times in the last five years, and during that time I have had zero issues of any nature. I generally walk everywhere during my travels, use public transportation or catch a Uber-like service (In Indonesia GOJEK is my preferred ride-hailing service). On the last trip I walked up to 20km a day by myself, with no knowledge of the area, and with no purpose. The cities I traveled to were Ubud, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Kumai, and Jakarta.
What I will admit to is that while you may be “safe” in my experience, it does not mean you won’t feel another set of adjectives. Overwhelmed, scared, fearful and confused to name a few. So in deciding your travels, I would worry more about those types of feelings than your overall security question.
Visiting Surabaya overwhelmed me, and you can read more about that here. I have often found myself playing out “what if” scenarios in my head in Indonesia. What if there is an earthquake, a tsunami, a poisonous bite of some kind and so on. These are all reasonable fears in Indonesia.
I always remember one thing; this is the world’s fourth-largest population. If they can do it, I am surely overreacting.
These are a few steps that make me feel comfortable as I explore.
Overwhelmed: Plan to stay somewhere that is a little opulent, like a five-star hotel. In Indonesia, this may be an affordable luxury depending on your budget. Places like the Hyatt Regency in Yogyakarta have been a sanctuary as I grow comfortable with Indonesia.
Safety. More than dealing with safety-related issues, you are going to need to deal with your own “what if” mind going into overdrive. Plan to manage your anxiety. Alcohol if that is your usual method may not be available everywhere so you may need to plan for another method. Also, most of the tourists incidents in Indonesia revolve around two things: Scooter incidents and drugs. With drugs just don’t do them in Indonesia. It’s that simple as the fine can often be the death penalty.
Is Indonesia safe to get around?
In regards to scooters this again is a part of life here. If you don’t drive one if heavy traffic every day in your hometown, why would you jump on one here? Everyone does it, but just be safe and go slowly (Hati-hati in Indonesian). You will also want to look into your travel insurance as many don’t cover motored bike incidents.
Fearful. I was once picked up in a doggie looking car at 4 am by some equally rough-looking people to go on a sunrise tour of Borobudur. I was panicked when my now wife at the time said: “Hi, I’m Sade are you here to pick us up”. We made a rule that we now let the driver speak our names first before just hopping into a car. The truth is my fear had more to do with my overactive mind than the reality of the situation. Having a few simple rules agreed on between you and your partner can help to manage this anxiety.
Easing anxieties to make Indonesia safe to visit.
Confused. Too often I see perfectly reasonable people become monsters when they travel. Just chill out and expect that nothing will make sense. If you want to have trouble in a foreign country or anywhere, start throwing a hissy fit because something didn’t go the way you expected it or live up to your standards. Throw in a non-native speaker and different cultural expectation you have yourself an excellent shot of ending up in a tough situation. Don’t be this person.
If your a worrier, do know that in all of my travels, both solo and with my partner I have never had a single thing happen that would constitute Indonesia not being “safe”. Do your research but also plan to be overwhelmed, scared, fearful and confused. If you can find a way to deal with your anxieties, you can logically make good decisions to keep yourself out of any trouble.
Finally, things happen as they do in your home town. There are some scenarios that you are merely going to have to stop worrying about as they are entirely out of your control. In reading my hometown newspaper, there are indeed a lot more concerns I would have walking down the streets alone than in Indonesia. To each there own.