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Travel Tips

Healthy Traveling Business Hours
Money Matters Bargaining
Tipping Street Wise
Phone Home Outward Bound


Healthy Traveling
Indonesia is getting better in terms of hygiene and medical facilities but it still has a ways to go. You do not want to have a medical emergency Yogyakarta. Play safe and make sure you have medical insurance before you come. Best to have insurance that will evacuate you if you get terribly sick or have a serious injury and need airlifted to Singapore or home. Here are a couple of other common sense points that should keep you in good shape and enjoying your visit.

Drink plenty of fluids (water and fruit juices) to avoid dehydration. Drink bottled water ONLY - ice in drinks, however, is not a problem. Use common sense when choosing a place to eat. Eat in established restaurants that are clean and well patronized. See our restaurant guide for a few suggestions. If you are dead set on trying the hawkers in the street stick to those not serving meats unless your system is already well adjusted.

If you are using prescription drugs bring a sufficient supply. Pharmacies (Apotiks) often can fill a prescription but the dosage may not be quite the same as your doctor has prescribed. Take prompt care of any cuts or burns - do not risk infection in this heat and humidity. If you are sleeping in the open air, use mosquito repellent and a mosquito net. Malaria is not a problem in Yogyakarta. For additional information there's a list of hospitals and clinics in the Emergency Info section. Additional information on health matters may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Telephone the CDC international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559 or visit the CDC home page on the Internet at http://www.cdc.gov


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Money Matters
You can exchange most major world currencies (cash or travelers checks) easily into the local coin, the Indonesian Rupiah. Hotels generally give less favorable exchange rates (the price of convenience). Or - and this our choice - go to a branch office of one of the local banks. However that being said, there are a squillion "authorized" money changers available. If you choose to deal with an money changer BE CAREFUL - The number of stories we hear about people being cheated are shameful and the authorities are seemingly helpless to shut these despicable characters down.

Nonetheless here are a couple of points worth remembering. First, the rate posted on the door usually is for amounts in notes of US $100. - lesser denominated notes (i.e. $50.00) will be given a less favorable rate. Next verify the exchange calculation (ask to use the calculator or - better yet - bring your own) and count your change before you leave the window. Lastly, be  prepared, if you are cashing travelers checks you will need to present your passport for identification and many money changers do not accept cash notes that have been defaced - or are in less than near mint condition. The official exchange rate posted is daily in all major newspapers.

Rupiahs come in paper and coins. Paper denominations are 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000; coin denominations are 10, 25, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000. Just a word of caution there are many styles of the same denomination and together with all the "zeroes" even we who live here get confused once and awhile.

ATMs are quite common and the ones with VISA / Cirrus logos dispense local currency at the bank's then current exchange rate. Some have the rate on the screen. (Our feeling is that this is still far better than going to a money changer considering the high probability of being short changed.) A note of caution though - you must be absolutely sure to take your card - if not and the card remains in some machines additional withdrawals may be made WITHOUT having to reenter the PIN ! Also, read the sidebar about using credit cards in Yogyakarta.


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Tipping
Tipping is relatively new in Yogyakarta. Most large hotels and restaurants will automatically add a service charge of between 5 - 10 percent to your bill which is quite sufficient. Smaller restaurants generally don't add anything extra but considering that the waiter's wage is often only $1.00 a day - a tip of 5 - 10 percent is very much appreciated.

Other. Bellmen and skycaps generally get Rp. 1,000 - Rp. 1,500 for a small to medium sized luggage and at least Rp. 2,000 for those house trailers some people carry around. For taxi drivers, rounding up to the nearest Rp. 1,000 or Rp. 5,000 (depending on the length of trip) is the norm. If you hire a car for an entire day it is good form to give the driver Rp. 5,000 - 10,000 for each meal and tip (say Rp. 20,000) at the end of the day. With tour guides and the like tipping is up to you - just remember that chances are your driver/guide has most likely already received a commission from anything you purchased during the day.


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Phone Home
All telephone numbers listed herein are local numbers. To reach any number in Yogyakarta dial: International access code + 62 + 274+ (local number). Wherein "62" is Indonesia country code and "274" is the most common area code for Yogyakarta. Be advised most Yogyakarta telephone numbers are 6 digits some are still 5. Cellular service in Indonesia is GSM. If you bring your own mobile phone you may purchase a prepaid calling chip from any Satelindo distributor (cheaper than using your home country service).

Telecommunication capabilities have improved greatly over the last few years but patience is the keyword when trying to dial overseas from Indonesia - especially during office hours. Most better hotels offer International Direct Dialing (IDD) and Home Country Direct (HCD) services. Overseas calls can also be made at state-run telephone offices known as a wartel (warung telephone).

Need to get online ? There are any number of WarNets (Warung Internet) that are reasonably quick and very cheap. Be careful of entering credit card data on public computer terminals.

For those using a laptop in their hotel room the local phone company allows anyone access to its network without having to establish an user account or pay any set fees (the telco makes its money by adding a 50% surcharge to its normal per minute tariff) making it easy to check your internet email (i.e. Yahoo mail or mail2web.com). To access dial 0809- 89999 / username: telkomnet@instan / password: telkom.


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Business Hours
Most shops and sidewalk vendors along Jl. Malioboro trade from 10 am till 8-9 p.m. daily. Street vendors and Lesehans (sidewalk food vendors) who use the shop fronts and parking areas in front of buildings start to set up around 6 pm and go to 11.00 - 12.00 pm. Established restaurants start serving from 7 a.m. or so until 10-11 p.m. Government offices and banks operate from 8 a.m. till 3 p.m., Monday to Thursday, and 8 a.m. till 12 p.m. on Fridays. Museums have their own hours and are generally open for half a day Monday - Saturday.


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Bargaining
Difficult for many first timers but once you get the hang of it you’ll never pay retail again! However, not everybody wants to bargain anymore. Many of Yogyakarta's finer retailers now refuse (price tags generally signify a fixed price) but bargaining is still the norm in the batik displays, trinket and T-shirt stalls along Jl. Malioboro. But don’t get cheesy. Nothing is more irritating nowadays than watching a well clad tourist trying to squeeze the last 1,000 Rupiah (about 12 US cents) out of a shopkeeper. Just remember how much it cost to get to Yogyakarta. So what is the value in not taking home that beautiful wood statue or silk batik? Negotiate a good price and take home a good story.


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Street Wise
The Javanese have a reputation as a very gentle and friendly people. Unfortunately, this lulls some people into becoming less than vigilant. And whilst Yogyakarta is still far, far safer than most large cities in this world, there are still those who prey on visitors. Pickpockets, car break-ins and drive by bag snatching seem to be the most common complaints.

To reduce your risk, use plain common sense and take the same basic precautions you would if you were visiting any big city. So, keep a tight grip on your purse or camera, Never leave any bags (whether valuable or not) in your car, use the hotel safety deposit box, don’t go down dark deserted gangs (alleys) and don’t count money in the open. Not so hard...

On the flip side don't even think of committing a crime in Indonesia. You are a long way from home with far fewer rights than you think. Behave yourself and be a gracious guest.


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Outward Bound
On the way out of the hotel be sure to keep a little extra money handy. All passengers leaving Yogyakarta on a domestic flight via Adi Sucipto Airport are required to pay an airport departure tax of Rp. 15,000.- Sometimes this has already been included in the ticket price - but often not - ask and be prepared.

If you are leaving Indonesia from Solo's Adi Sumarmo International Airport you are required to pay an international departure tax of Rp. 75,000.-. Tax for domestic departures from Solo is Rp. 10,000.-.

And finally be advised that it is against the law to leave Indonesia with more than Rp. 10,000,000.- in cash.


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Yogyakarta Hotels - Prambanan temple
Using Credit Cards

Credit cards are widely accepted in Yogyakarta. Cards accepted by merchants are usually displayed on the front door or near the cashier.

You are well advised to use your credit cards very selectively. Also it's a good idea to keep all receipts for verification
.

Unfortunately Indonesia and Yogya in particular is a source of a great deal of credit card fraud. Thieves insert small memory chips into those devices used to swipe the card, then return to 'service' the device, take out the chip and then start making illegal cards. Many times you will be long gone before fraudulent charges start showing up on your statement.

Most expats living in Indonesia use their credit cards in ATMs to get cash and then pay cash for all of their purchases - a good habit to get into while in Indonesia.

In addition, it is common practice to add 3% to the cost of your purchase for the privilege of using plastic. You do not have to accept this, but arguing with the shop keeper is not going to help. If you want to get this 3% back make sure the retailer or restaurant writes this surcharge down as an extra charge for using the card and then claim it from your month end billing.

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