Over the past year, there has been widespread violence in the Molucca Islands and Aceh. Past violence in Aceh has sometimes targeted American companies. Travelers should consult the most recent Public Announcement on Indonesia for updated information on travel to these areas.
Violence erupted throughout East Timor after the August 30, 1999, United Nations-sponsored ballot in that province. Although stability returned to the area with the arrival of international forces, American citizens are strongly encouraged to exercise caution in East Timor.
Travelers may need permits to visit certain regions in the province of Papua. In 1996, a group of foreigners was taken hostage for several months in Papua (then known as Irian Jaya) by the Free Papua Movement (OPM). U.S. citizens should exercise caution when traveling in the province.
Demonstrations in Bali have been infrequent and have not been directed at American citizens. Violent demonstrations of short-lived duration occurred in October 1999, but did not target foreigners or the major tourist areas. In January 2000, however, serious rioting directed against Chinese and Christians broke out in the nearby resort island of Lombok, forcing the evacuation of virtually all foreigners from Lombok, including the resort areas. American citizens should consult the most recent Public Announcement on Indonesia for updated information on travel to Lombok.
For more specific and up-to-date information on the safety of travel to these and other areas of Indonesia and East Timor, please consult the most recent Public Announcement on Indonesia, which can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ home page at http://travel.state.gov. Americans can also contact the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta or the U.S. Consulate General in Surabaya for updated information. American citizens in all parts of Indonesia should exercise prudence and common sense, and avoid demonstrations and other situations that could turn violent.
Travelers and residents should always ensure that passports and important personal papers are in order in the event that it becomes necessary to leave the country quickly for any reason. Americans traveling in Indonesia should remember that much of the country, including many tourist destinations, is isolated and difficult to reach by available transportation or communication links.
One common technique involves puncturing automobile tires so that the occupants of the car can be robbed while changing the tire. The number of beggars and vagrants at intersections has increased, and thefts and robberies from cars stopped at traffic lights have been reported. American citizens are advised to keep car doors locked and windows rolled up.
Americans in Jakarta who require taxis are advised to engage a taxi either from a major hotel queue or by calling a taxi company, rather than hailing one on the street. Sporadic roadblocks and robberies have been reported on the toll roads leading to the International Airport in Jakarta.
Maritime piracy is a persistent problem in some Indonesian waters, targeting both pleasure and commercial vessels. Pleasure yachters are advised to review the current security situation with their local agent when planning itineraries and to exercise particular care when sailing in the Straits of Malacca between Riau Province and Singapore and in the waters north of Sulawesi and Kalimantan.
Poaching and illegal logging are serious problems in Indonesian parks and nature preserves. Those involved in these activities have sometimes threatened tourists and others in order to discourage travel to these areas.
In the aftermath of the August 1999 vote for independence, East Timor was swept by violence that included widespread looting and burning and, in some cases, murder. One foreign journalist was shot to death and several others were beaten. Although UN peacekeeping forces have restored a measure of stability to the region, violent incidents remain possible in border areas. Elsewhere in the territory, theft is a potential problem.
Lost or stolen passports should be reported to the local police and the U.S. Embassy or nearest U.S. consulate. Useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad, which is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, or via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Variable
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Limited
All traffic operates on the left side of the road, and most vehicles use right-hand drive. Roads in major cities and toll roads are good. Roads are narrower and may be more poorly maintained in rural areas and remote regions. Driving at night outside major cities can be hazardous. Taxis are an affordable means of transportation, but should be called directly or hired from the taxi queue at a reputable hotel. Make sure the taxi driver agrees to take you to your destination. Never get into a taxi already occupied by another passenger, and always insist on using the taxi meter.
For specific information concerning the operation and rental of motor vehicles in Indonesia, please contact the Indonesian Directorate General of Tourism via the Internet at www.tourismindonesia.com.
CONSULAR ACCESS: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. When U.S. citizens are arrested or detained, formal notification of the arrest is normally provided to the Embassy in Jakarta in writing, a process that can take several days or weeks. If detained, U.S. citizens are encouraged to attempt to telephone the nearest U.S. consular office.
The U.S. Embassy is located in Jakarta at Medan Merdeka Selatan 5; telephone (62)(21) 344-2211; fax (62)(21) 386-2259. The Embassy’s web site is located at http://www.usembassyjakarta.org. The Consular Section can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
The U.S. Consulate General is in Surabaya at Jalan Raya Dr. Sutomo 33; telephone: (62)(31)567-2287/8; fax (62)(31)567-4492; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a Consular Agency in Bali at Jalan Hayam Wuruk 188, Denpasar, Bali; telephone: (62)(361)233-605; fax (62)(31) 222-426; e-mail email@example.com.
The U.S. Consulate in Medan closed in May 1996. Negotiations are currently underway to reopen this office. There are also plans to open a U.S. liaison office in East Timor. Until there is an official U.S. presence in East Timor, Americans requiring assistance should contact the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta or the U.S. Consulate General in Surabaya.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.