Home Facts For The Visitor Money
Rupiah (IDR or Rp) is the official currency of Indonesia. Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, hotels and money changers in major tourist destinations; US dollars is the most accepted currency. Cash often yields a better exchange rate than travelers cheques, which are not always accepted. It is recommended that travelers cheques also be in US dollars. Most major credit cards are accepted at hotels, restaurants and stores catering to the tourist trade. ATMs are available in the main centres. Small change is often unavailable so keep small denomination notes and coins for items like bus fares, temple donations and cool drinks.
Banks and money changers are widely available on Java, Bali and Lombok. Money changers are very picky about bill condition, pre-1999 dollar bills or imperfect bills (ripped, wrinkled, stained, etc) will often be rejected. Banks frequently deny the exchange of 1996 dollars. Counterfeit US dollars are a huge problem in this country and as a result the older your dollars are, the lower the exchange rate. You will get the highest exchange rate for dollars issued in 2001 or later and the exchange rate drops for 1999 and 1996 dollars. There are even different exchange rates according to the serial number for dollars from 1996.
To check current rate, please click to http://www.xe.com/
Counterfeit notes are another problem in Indonesia. Very few Indonesians will accept Rp 100.000 or Rp 50.000 without first checking to see whether or not it's fake. Indonesia has several methods for checking the notes, including checking the watermark, the drawn line (more distinct in fake notes) & colour (more pronounced in counterfeit notes). The texture of a fake note also tends to be smoother than authentic notes. Examine large denomination notes if given to you as change by street vendors; they could well be dumping a forged banknote on you that even themselves didn't know about.
Take Travelers Cheques with you. You should have no problem cashing them in Indonesia. Not only will they protect your money against theft or lose, but the exchange rate for travelers cheques is higher than cash (around 2% higher). You can make a large saving, especially if you have paid no commission for your travelers cheques in the first place. If cashing at banks, aim for the larger banks such as BCA, Bank Mandiri, BNI, BII, Bank Niaga, etc. Bear in mind that most hotels will only cash the cheques from their guests. Keep your exchange receipts so you can change your money back to its original currency when you leave. VISA & American Express travelers cheques are quite acceptable in Indonesia.
For up to date information about exchanging money and other bank services you can click on any of the Indonesian leading bank websites listed below:
BCA - http://www.klikbca.com/
Bank Mandiri - http://www.bankmandiri.co.id/
BNI - http://www.bni.co.id/
Bank Niaga - http://www.bankniaga.com/
A money belt is essential (for larger sums of cash and your credit cards). Be alert in crowded places such as packed markets and buses. Split up your money and leave a small stash of money (say US$100) in your hotel room or buried in your backpack, with a record of the travelers cheque serial numbers and a photocopy of your passport.
How much will a trip to Java, Indonesia cost? It depends on how, where, and the duration of your travel. Generally, keeping costs down to US$20 per day is not too difficult if you're a backpacker. While others that might be thinking of a mediocore vacation, spending US$50-US$60 in average.
Food costs remain reasonable throughout Java, as long as you're not dining at some fancy restaurant in the big cities. Expect to pay around US$5 per day for food.
Tipping & Bargaining
At most hotels a service charge of 10% is added to the bill. In restaurants where a service charge is not additional, a tip of 5 to 10% would be appropriate depending on the service and type of establishment. A hotel or airport porter expects Rp.5,000 per bag.
Tipping taxi drivers Rp. 2,000 or leaving the change is appreciated but not mandatory. It is advisable to carry small change as taxi drivers are often short of change.
The big cities have shopping complexes, supermarkets and department stores where prices are fixed. They stay open from 9.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. everyday and some even on Sunday. Meanwhile at the smaller shops, bargaining might be necessary but don't expect too much since their price is usually much lower than in department stores.
Big hotels & top-end restaurants will add 10% government tax & service charge that vary between 5%-11% maximum.