Indonesia straddles the equator, encompassing over 17,000 islands, two-thirds of which are inhabited. Perhaps the most apt description for this colourful country is as ‘an attack on your senses’. Steamy, potent, exotic and vibrant; the sounds, sights and smells of Indonesia feel incredibly alien at first.

With a population of 245.5 million, the archipelago is a melting pot of creeds and cultures and is the most heavily populated Muslim country on the planet. Enjoying the best of both worlds, the country’s fertile plains and portrait-worthy landscape are contrasted by the mainland’s constant surge into modernity, evidenced by urban sprawl and development in the larger cities.

Indonesia is a developing country and with this tourists must be prepared for the usual tricks and ducking and diving expected from those who are trying to escape the restraints of poverty. For the most part the Indonesian people are trustworthy, kind individuals who are proud to host the many nationalities that visit every year. Although tipping is not mandatory, if you are especially pleased with your service it is welcome. Office hours usually fall between 08:00- 16:00 and 09:00- 17:00. Normal banking hours are from 8.00 – 14:30 from Monday to Friday. The US dollar is the most readily accepted currency, although the Indonesian currency the Rupiah is obviously worth having and absolutely necessary in more remote areas.

The Indonesian archipelago is spread over three time zones. Western Indonesia Standard Time, which covers the islands of Sumatra, Java & Madura, West and Central Kalimantan, is seven hours ahead of GMT; Central Indonesia Standard Time covers East and South Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Bali and Nusa Tenggara, and is eight hours ahead of GMT; finally Eastern Indonesia Standard Time, which covers Maluku and Irian Jaya is nine hours ahead of GMT.