Cautions & Warnings

Medical (travel) insurance – mandatory to have

It is vital that you have insurance to cover any incidents requiring medical treatment during your stay. There have been past cases of students developing serious illness which has required hospitalisation. On one occasion, a student needed to be flown home. Two of the most serious past cases were related to heart problems and DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis). If you are not a student at an Australian university, approval of registration will be conditional on the confirmation of medical (travel) insurance. It is expected that students at Australian universities will be covered by their institution.

Conflict/restricted areas – do not visit

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Smart Traveller Travel Advice usually has the list of regions to be avoided due to safety reasons (i.e. not safe because of ongoing or potential conflicts). Likewise, the Indonesian government occasionally prohibits foreigners to visit some regions. The consular or visa section of the website of the Indonesian Embassy or Consulate usually has such information. Please do not visit those areas: it may invalidate your visa conditions and your insurance cover and most importantly it may endanger your life.

Drinks spiking – beware

The deadly consequence of spiked drinks is obvious. There have been several reports of tourists becoming seriously ill and suffering permanent damage to the kidney and liver, permanent loss of sight, and permanent disability after the consumption of certain drinks which had been mixed with unknown ingredients (including the deadly methanol). Only consume drinks from unopened bottles of well-known brands such as bir bintang or anker bir. Do not accept drinks from strangers.

Illicit drugs – do not carry or consume

The death penalty is enforced in Indonesia for those who use, possess or sell illicit drugs. Unfortunately, Australians are among many foreigners on death row because of their association with drugs. RUILI has a zero tolerance policy towards the use and possession of all illicit drugs, including ‘traditional’ drugs such as magic mushrooms. Please do not involve yourself in any way with illicit drugs.

Traffic accidents – be alert and vigilant

Traffic regulations may not be followed strictly by many local motorists and this has led to confusion and accidents. If you plan to drive or ride motorbikes in Indonesia, due to the unfamiliar conditions and different practices, you have to know all the relevant regulations, be alert and take extra precautions. There have been several cases of injuries from motorcycle crashes. Motorists do not always observe the right of way of pedestrians on the pedestrian crossings. Be vigilant and alert when crossing any road, and only cross when you are sure that it is safe to do so.

Common illness – beware

Tap water in Indonesia is generally not potable: it is essential to boil tap water before consuming. There are also a few health problems such as stomach bugs (usually diarrhoea) associated with foods and/or flu associated with a lowering of the immune system. Factors contributing to this include living in a different environment (weather/different bacteria), poor eating habits or hygiene (food vendors), drinking to excess, stress and anxiety over study or culture shock or missing home. Dengue fever, hepatitis, typhoid, malaria, rabies and a few other diseases not common in Australia are endemic in Indonesia. Please visit the Travel Doctor for information on the required vaccinations.

Safety and security – be vigilant

Regardless of gender, avoid travelling alone at night time. If you are planning to have a drink in the evening make sure you have fellow students to accompany you. Also, do not leave friends behind alone. There has been a report of a female student who found herself, after recovering from indulgence of alcohol from the previous night, in a strange and cheap hotel. There has also been a case where a male student on a motorbike was chased by several local thugs. These two examples occurred at night time, but you will also need to take a similar precaution if you travel alone during the day time.

Arguments with the strangers – avoid

While generally Indonesians are welcoming and kind, situations can quickly spiral out of control if you are arguing with the ‘wrong’ crowd. Avoid arguments with the strangers/local people.

Demonstrations – do not participate

Demonstrations are a quite frequent occurrence in contemporary Indonesia. Many of them are related to employment conditions or economic conditions in general; others are related to issues of religion, autonomy, decentralisation, human rights, and other political issues, including demonstrations against foreign (i.e. Western) intervention or influence. Do not participate in demonstrations.

Theft and pickpocketing – be vigilant

There have been numerous reports of theft and pickpocketing. Past students have lost wallets, bags, cameras, mobile phones, and even a surfboard. Please take care of your valuables and money. Make sure to lock your door and windows before going out.