By and large, Indonesia is a safe destination for expats, assuming they stay informed and aware of their surroundings. While there are some aspects of safety and security that expats worth bearing in mind, most visitors and residents spend their time in Indonesia without incident.
Natural disasters, including earthquakes and flooding, can occur. Other risks to be aware of include petty crime and, in rarer instances, terrorism.
Crime in Indonesia
Petty crime rates in Indonesia are relatively high, particularly in busy urban areas. Pickpocketing is widespread, as is bag-snatching, which is often done from the back of a motorbike. To reduce the risk of being a victim of such crimes, expats can take some simple steps. This includes carrying as few valuables as possible, being aware of one's surroundings, and wearing a secure bag that cannot be snatched from the shoulder.
ATM fraud is another possible issue, although most banks have taken steps to improve the security of their machines in recent years. When using any ATM, it is essential to check for any suspicious persons in the vicinity and inspect the device before use. Credit card fraud is also a concern, and it is recommended to use cash wherever possible. Expats should take extra care to monitor their accounts and inform their bank immediately of any unauthorised activity.
Road safety in Indonesia
Road accidents are a serious concern in Indonesia. Traffic is busy and chaotic, particularly in urban centres, and traffic rules are rarely enforced. Roads are overcrowded and it is common for motorbikes to overtake on both sides. Extreme weather conditions in the wet season and poor road conditions add to the problems. Expats who can afford to hire a local driver often find this a suitable solution to these difficulties.
Terrorism in Indonesia
Indonesia is a large country spread over thousands of islands, all with unique cultures and infrastructure. This can make advice about visiting the country as a whole difficult. Visiting Jakarta will be a very different experience from visiting one of the small islands. For example, Papua and West Papua are considered more dangerous for visitors than the rest of the country due to ethnic violence and political instability.
The Indonesian government has taken steps to fight terrorism, but attacks do happen. They are unpredictable, and places frequented by tourists and expats are at risk of being hit. These include foreign embassies, shopping malls, hotels, airports and popular tourist areas. It's essential to remain vigilant, particularly around holiday times.
Natural disasters in Indonesia
Indonesia is located on the Pacific 'Ring of Fire', and earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are frequent. As an archipelago, a high percentage of the land in Indonesia is located in coastal areas, so tsunamis resulting from large earthquakes can be catastrophic.
Flooding is also a problem during the rainy season, and flash floods and landslides occur frequently. Jakarta is hit particularly badly with flooding every year.
Expats should take heed of any weather warnings and ensure that they have safety measures in place in case of natural disasters.
Emergency numbers in Indonesia
- General emergency number: 112
- Police: 110
- Ambulance: 118
►For more information about staying safe and healthy, see Healthcare in Indonesia
Are you an expat living in Indonesia?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Indonesia. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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