The most common scams to tourists in Indonesia

Indonesia is one of the most popular tourism destinations today. I went there to check what precautions every visitor to Indonesia has to take to not leave frustrated.

In 2016, there were 4.6 million visitors, and in the first half of last year alone, there was an increase of almost 19% in the number of tourists in the country compared to the previous year, according to Tempo Report.

Australians, Chinese, Japanese and British together already account for more than 50% of this total annual volume. During my visit to Indonesia, I talked to many travelers and they came and went from the almost inevitable visit of Bali and other more touristy islands in the Indonesia, and the majority declared themselves very satisfied, but I couldn't help but notice that there were many tourists leaving the country somewhat disappointed.

When I visited I understood why and I will give you tips here to help you overcome disappointments and make the most of what Indonesia has to offer.

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The most common scams to tourists in Indonesia

Kelingking Beach, em Nusa Penida

The most common scams to tourists in Indonesia

Visiting the Komodo Dragon on Komodo Island.

Go there prepared to pay attention to your steps and decisions. THE Indonesia is flooded with those people who are just waiting for the right time to make a tourist pay up to 5 times more than he should for anything.

After leaving there you will probably feel that your mind needs a break from researching prices, bargaining and thinking about a thousand and one ways to not get caught in any possible scam that may be applying to you in the most varied situations.

Of course, not everything is a rule, and yes, there are wonderful people who are not only interested in sucking your budget all the time, but you should double your attention in these following situations.

The most common scams to tourists in Indonesia

Angels bilabong, em Nusa Penida

1 – Online transport apps

Uber, Grab, GoJek are controlled by the transport mafia all over the country (except Jakarta, where you can and should activate these apps whenever you need to get around). mainly in Bali, you can get in trouble if they find out you took a “taxi” like Uber. The mafia does everything so that you only have the option of boarding one of their countless vans, which are also absurdly expensive.

I risked asking for a Grab a few times, but several times the drivers themselves canceled the race for fear of being caught driving on the streets. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. At the “rodoviária” terminals they are also completely prohibited, and often even the public buses themselves cannot even get close to the lake, which leaves tourists with no option to leave the bus station other than by van.

On several occasions I chose to walk a few kms away from the bus station and ask for help from locals to board a public bus. In others, I'd ask a local friend to order a Grab on their cell phone (when the person's name is local, rather than a gringo name, chances are better to get it). Get ready because this will consume a lot of your energy and patience.

The most common scams to tourists in Indonesia

View from the trail at GIli Laba, near the island of Komodo

2 – Chip and internet plans

Do not buy the internet chip right at the airport. They take advantage of the fact that newly arrived tourists don't know the real prices for an internet plan, and they charge up to 3-4 times more than if you buy it outside the airport. Control your anxiety and ask at the hotel which chip best suits your needs, which include internet without restrictions on hours and type of tool used and where to buy (prices may differ from one store to another).

In Indonesia, some chips have internet “credit” for limited hours of the day, for example, they are sold as “20gb internet for 1 month”, but in reality, you can only use 3gb from 8:00 to 20:00 and 17gb from 20:00 to 8:00. Other types of chip also have tool restrictions: 1gb for facebook + 2gb for whatsapp + 15gb for youtube, for example, totaling what you think would be “18gb of internet for 1 month”. Keep an eye out for all of this!

The most common scams to tourists in Indonesia

In the crater of Bromo volcano in Java

The most common scams to tourists in Indonesia

Dawn at Bromo Volcano

3 – The price of transportation

When using a bus, ferry or public transport, they may also try to overcharge you because you are a tourist. To avoid, ask other passengers how much they are paying for the same journey and put your foot down to pay the same. Do not accept “help” from absolutely anyone at the bus stations to take you to the next destination or take you to the bus you need to board (they will probably tell you the cost of the bus already with a commission for themselves).

The most common scams to tourists in Indonesia

4 - Rent

Before renting a motorcycle, take a picture of everything: tire, scratches, bumps, gas tank. Find all possible damages that you can then be held responsible for. A day's rent, with a full tank of gas included, shouldn't be more than 70.000rp (paying dearly), or nearly 5 dollars.

The most common scams to tourists in Indonesia

Tour to swim with the manta rays, in Nusa Penida

5 – “Help”

Do not accept the “help” of locals to show you the inside of the temples and tell you a little about the history of the attraction, or invite you to “pray” with them. In the end, you will be charged dearly for “help” and you could face problems if you enter a restricted area for locals to pray.

6 - Payment

Pay absolutely nothing in advance, much less for a tour.

The most common scams to tourists in Indonesia

Gili Trawagan's Swings and Overwater Hammock

7 – Ask for a discount!

Bargain on everything you buy. Usually the first price they show you is almost double the actual price. Bargain also for tours and tours that apparently have a single closed price. If you are going to take a cruise from Lombok to Flores – or vice versa – do not buy directly online with the cruise company. Go to a local agency and bargain. The price can drop from 2.000.000rp to 1.500.000rp.

The most common scams to tourists in Indonesia

Sunset on Komodo Island

The most common scams to tourists in Indonesia

Broken Beach, em Nusa Ceningan

8 – Entrance of tours

Research the cost of admission to temples and attractions online before you go. I have heard many cases of people who have paid to go to the rice terraces, Tagalalang, in Bali, for example, where the visit is actually free.

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