Phone and internet / Money matters / Tipping / Time, Electricity
PHONE AND INTERNET
The coverage for mobile phones is rather good in Indonesia, however some remote areas are still without coverage. Prepaid phone numbers are easily available and cost less then 1 US$. It is recommended if you bring your mobile phone. The provider Telkomsel has the best coverage. Two of their brand names are Kartu As and Simpati, Indosat has also a good coverage. Two of their brand names are Mentari and IM3. Internet cafés are available in major towns, for example in Sabang.
International dialing codes:
Indonesia: +62, Singapore: +65, Penang: +60-04, Kuala Lumpur: +60-03
Arranging your money can sometimes be a bit of a hassle if you travel away from the beaten track. The most convenient alternative is ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) that accepts International credit cards and/or Cirrus cards. Bank notes do not come in high denominations and if they would, you would have difficulties in using them. They come in denominations between Rp. 1.000 and Rp. 100.000 (app. 0.10 - 10 US$).
Many areas have no money changers However, many tourist oriented accommodations accept US$, but give a bad rate. (They will get the problem of changing them at the bank.) It can also be difficult to change foreign banknotes that are soiled and looking old. Even holes from staples can be enough for a bank to refuse to change your bank notes. Banks often give a lower rate for lower denominations of foreign currencies. Less common currencies are very difficult to change, even in big cities. US$, Euros, Singapore $ and Malaysian Ringit are the most common foreign currencies in Sumatra. Beware; in many areas banks don't change money after 12.00.
Tipping is not customary in Indonesia, but does occur, mostly in "better" restaurants. Rounding off to an even sum is normally enough. Taxis dont expect a tip, except from newly arrived foreigners. Price is normally negotiated anyway. One polite way of giving some money in situations when you want to do it, but are afraid to embarrass the receiver, is to hand over some notes in a handshake. At home in a family one can give money to the children as a way of avoiding embarrassment.
Indonesia has three time zones. Western Indonesia Standard Time is 7 hrs ahead of GMT and covers Sumatra, Java, and the western half of Kalimantan (Borneo). Sumatra is one hour behind Singapore and Malaysia. The eastern half of Borneo, Sulawesi, and the islands from Bali to Timor are one hour ahead of North Sumatra, Maluku and Irian Jaya are two hours ahead.
Power supply is 220 volts. Power failures are common and the power supply often fluctuates. Electrical contacts are the same as for Continental Europe. Singapore and Malaysia have the British system. In many rural villages, electricity is still only partly or totally unavailable. Most common in rural villages is electricity from either evening to midnight or evening to morning.