The best time for an initial business trip is September through June, as school holidays and vacation time in the summer months can impact on the availability of many business people. Visitors should check the local holiday schedule before traveling to Indonesia. The normal business attire is a lightweight business suit or white shirt, tie and slacks for men, and a business suit or dress for women.
Indonesia is a very diverse country, with more than 300 different ethnic groups. Some Indonesians are traditional in culture, others may be considerably “Westernized.” Many Indonesians do not conduct business transactions or make decisions in the same direct fashion Americans do, so U.S. business people should be prepared to spend a good deal of time with clients before getting down to the business transaction. Traditional Javanese culture emphasizes harmony and the word “no” is rarely used. This can make it difficult for a Westerner to ascertain exactly how a business proposal is being received. Patience and the development of personal relations is the key. Because Indonesians do business with “friends,” people that they know, developing a rapport is crucial. While quality and price are important, they are secondary to the personal interaction of the business partners.
During business meetings, tea or coffee is almost always served and should be accepted. However, it should not be consumed until the host invites you to do so, which may not occur until the end of the meeting. Generally speaking, it is best to use the right hand in receiving or eating. Although hand shaking is a common practice, avoid hearty handshakes and other physical contact. Do not show the soles of your shoes when seated.
A publication that may be of use to some business executives is “The Guide for Business Representatives,” available for sale by contacting: Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, tel.: (202) 512-1800, fax (202) 512-2250. Business travelers to Indonesia seeking appointments with U.S. Embassy-Jakarta officials should contact the U.S. Commercial Center in advance. The U.S. Commercial Center can be reached by telephone at (62-21) 526-2850 or by fax at (62-21) 526-2855. More extensive contact information is available in Chapter XI.
0800-1600 Monday to Friday* 0800-1630 Monday to Friday*
0800-1600 Monday to Friday* 0900-2200 Monday to Saturday
*Moslems are released for prayers every Friday from 1100-1200.
When making a business trip do not expect to schedule meetings for Friday afternoons or Saturdays.
Travel Advisory and Visas:
Entrance and Residence Requirements: Tourists and business visitors from the United States may obtain a 60-day short visit pass upon arrival. All visitors must have at least 6 months validity left in their passports and a round-trip or onward ticket. To extend this pass a trip outside the country is usually required. Visitors to Indonesia should reserve enough funds to pay the Rp. 50,000 airport departure tax.
A 6-month to 1-year temporary residence visa may be obtained from the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, for either single or multiple entries (See Chapter XI for contact information). When requesting residence visas, one should allow sufficient time to meet whatever requirements may be imposed (e.g. sponsorship letters). All residents must pay a Rp. 1 million fiscal tax at the airport every time they leave the country.
Employment is not allowed without a work permit from the Ministry of Manpower. In addition, foreign and domestic investors must submit an employment plan to the Capital Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) to obtain approval for expatriate employee work permits. Permits are issued only for positions that cannot be filled by Indonesian nationals.
Travel advisory: Although travel within Jakarta and other major Indonesian cities is generally safe, one should exercise caution to avoid becoming a target of petty thieves and pickpockets. As a result of the economic crisis and increased unemployment, the amount of petty crime is on the increase, particularly in the popular tourist areas. Demonstrations in cities across Indonesia are on the increase as well, and visitors to Indonesia should avoid these gatherings and other situations that could become violent. Please see note about taxis in the “Transportation” section below.
Up to date travel advisories may be obtained from the U.S. Embassy or Department of State, or on the U.S. Embassy home page (http://www.usembassyjakarta.org).
Business Infrastructure and Environment
Transportation: In Jakarta, taxis are inexpensive and widely available except during morning and evening rush hours and Saturday nights during the peak social season, when they become scarce. In Jakarta, make certain the taxi meter is turned on. In other cities it may be common for drivers to negotiate a price rather than use the meter. However, one should also exercise extreme caution while using taxis. The number of patrons reporting thefts and assaults in taxis has increased in recent months, and has prompted many expatriates to use only the most reputable taxi companies, opting to summon taxis by telephone rather than flagging them down on the street. In Jakarta, Blue Bird taxis (and the sister Silver and Golden Bird luxury taxis) are considered to be the safest and most reliable and they can be summoned by telephone (794-1234).
Business travelers may wish to hire a private car which can be arranged through their hotel prior to arrival. Rates for this exceed $100 per day. Alternatively, arrangements can also be made with a taxi driver. Taxi and private limo drivers may not speak much English or be particularly knowledgeable about the city, and visitors are occasionally taken on roundabout routes. Allow plenty of time between meetings to accommodate Jakarta traffic jams; one half hour between locations in the central city is recommended.
Train and air services are usually used for domestic travel. Domestic flights are the most convenient way to travel to most in-country destinations, but the train from Jakarta to Bandung is perhaps an exception, as it is highly recommended. For intercity train service, book a first-class (Eksekutif) seat if available, which can be done by travel agents or at the train station one week in advance. Ferry services for people and vehicles link the major islands and many of the smaller islands.
Language: The national language of Bahasa Indonesia is spoken all over Indonesia, in addition to local languages. English is widely spoken and understood in Jakarta by most business people, although much less so in other cities. Most of the better hotels have English-speaking staff, as do the shopping centers which cater to expatriates. International telephone operators also speak English. However, the level of English can vary. Indonesian firms hoping to conduct business with foreigners generally try to employ some English speakers.
Telecommunications: Telephone services vary between areas in Jakarta. They depend largely on the local telephone exchange’s capacity to handle traffic. Phone service is good along the main business thoroughfares and the newer residential areas, which are served by fiber optic trunk lines. In the older residential areas service is less reliable, extra phone lines can be costly, and obtaining them can be time consuming. International direct dial (IDD) lines are available and will allow connection to an AT&T, Sprint or MCI operator, but rates are considerably higher than calling from the United States. Cellular services are readily available but the quality of service varies.
Internet: A number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) operate in Indonesia. The following are some of the largest and most established ISPs in Indonesia:
from US Embassy Country Commerical Guide