It’s generally safe to travel alone in Indonesia. In fact, many travelers have expressed their surprise that they feel safer than expected when exploring this country independently. However, like in every other country, there are certain localities more prone to crime, such as robberies, than others—this doesn’t mean tourists should stay away from these areas completely, it just means more caution and awareness is needed. If possible, try avoid walking alone through deserted alleys at night.
As a tourist, you should realize that you will attract attention, especially if you have different physical characteristics than the majority of locals, so it may be best to stay low-key and friendly. In most cases, the worst that could happen is being scammed. People may ask foreigners to pay for something not agreed upon or ask for more money than required. To avoid this, have clear conversations with the vendor regarding costs and ask them to notify you if anything requires extra money beforehand.
In more modern and touristy cities such as Jakarta, travelers are free to wear whatever they want. However, many cities in Indonesia are still traditional, especially the smaller towns. In those cities, travelers may wish to consider dressing more modestly than they would normally do. Although many locals (especially women) wear headscarves and clothes with long sleeves, travelers are generally not expected to do the same—pants and t-shirts will do, as long as they cover the chest and thighs.
Solo travelers will be able to find hostels in the big cities, although they may be harder to come by in less-touristy towns. Services and apps like Airbnb or Hotels.com also have abundant listings from all over the country. For those planning on a longer stay, try to find rented rooms with weekly or even monthly rates—they usually come to cheaper than prices per day.
Unfortunately, many cities in Indonesia are still non pedestrian-friendly. In bigger cities like Jakarta and Yogyakarta, there are integrated bus lines that can take travelers around the city. In other cities, travelers may have to take a public bus or angkot (a type of public transportation). If visiting Bali, it’s best to rent a motorbike, as there are very limited public transport options. Online mobility services like Uber, Grab, and the local app Go-Jek are available in bigger cities—they offer either car or motorbike options.
Just like traveling to any other country, always bring travel documents, especially passports, wherever you go. It’s also important to note that the possession and distribution of drugs are very serious criminal offenses in Indonesia, and can be punishable with death. This law very much applies to anyone on Indonesian soil.
Interacting with locals
Generally, Indonesians are very friendly and willing to help out foreigners. In fact, don’t feel alarmed if some ask to take a picture with you. If you feel up to it, just smile for the camera; if you don’t, smile politely and say no. Female solo travelers may experience annoying cat-calls, but most of the time they aren’t meant threateningly, so just ignore them and walk away.
There are plenty of things to do alone in Indonesia. It’s safe and fairly common for travelers to visit tourist attractions such as museums and beaches alone. If you’re not sure whether to travel solo to a particular place, try to join a group trip or ask your hostel/hotel management if they arrange trips to said destination. You could also take part in a guided or independent city tour and try regional foods, shop for crafts, and observe the ways of the locals.