Indonesia uses the rupiah as its official currency, although you may also hear the currency referred to as the perak. This is basically a colloquial term for the currency. It is an example of a world currency that is decimal and is divided into 100 units as such, but the subunit is no longer used owing to inflation. The subunit is called sen but you are unlikely to see it on your travels now. East Timor also uses the currency but this is on an unofficial basis.

What coins and notes are available for this currency?

There are quite a few banknotes used for the rupiah but not as many coins. The only coins used now are in denominations of 100, 200, 500 and 1,000. There is also a 50 rupiah coin but this is quite rare now and it is not used very often at all.

There are also banknotes in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 rupiah.

From past to present – the history of the rupiah

When the Republic of Indonesia came into being in 1946, the rupiah came into existence as the currency the Republic used. Currencies are ditched and new ones come into being for many reasons, and in Indonesia the reason was quite simply one of independence. This is not to say the rupiah has not been through troubling times since it was first introduced: it has been devalued, the subunit has disappeared and the country has struggled through inflation as well. However it is still going strong today and shows no signs of disappearing.

How to get hold of the Indonesian rupiah

Although you may want to get the rupiah prior to boarding the plane in your own home country, you can get it quite easily once you touch down in Indonesia itself. The airport has money changers and you can get your first batch of rupiahs here if you wish. You can also use cash machines at the airport, and indeed throughout the country. Just make sure you know how much the charges will be prior to doing so. You may also want to bring more than one card with you in case one of them is not accepted. Cover your hand when you enter your PIN too, in case the machine has been rigged to record the PIN number you enter.

Another point to note that is worth sorting out before you leave home is to call your card issuers. Many of them will put a stop on your card if they see it is being used in another country, so by telling them you will be going there before you leave home, you could prevent your card from being blocked. When you do use your card don’t let anyone wander off with it to take your payment. There is no need for them to do this so don’t be fooled into thinking there is a reason for it.

Many people who are familiar with getting cash in this country also advise you to be alert when using bureaux de change of any kind. Keep your eyes firmly on what is going on and make sure you are not cheated in any way. It may not be as honest as people are at home, so bear this in mind.

How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Indonesian rupiah

This can be done online prior to travel. If you want to collect your rupiahs at home, make sure you shop around for a good exchange rate. Knowing what the current exchange rate is between your currency and the rupiah will help you figure out where to go and how much you can get for your money. Go online and choose the most frequently updated currency converter you can find. Bureaux de change do add commission to the conversion of course, but at least you can use the information to compare and contrast the best deals.

If you want to learn more about Indonesia you should take a closer look at the website for the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia. This is located at

Travelling safely with the Indonesian rupiah

According to the UK government website over 200,000 people from Britain visit Indonesia on an annual basis. Fortunately most tourists have a great time and return from the country with nothing but good memories. However it is wise to be careful and to find out the latest information about the situation in the country prior to visiting.

The main risks you will need to consider are those of pickpocketing and petty crime. There will always be criminals that try to grab bags or dip into pockets that could have cash in them. If you can focus on dividing up your cash and storing it in different places you will minimise the risk to your funds. Furthermore it is a good idea to minimise the amount of jewellery you wear and other valuables you have on your person. Make sure you use the hotel safe where you are staying so you don’t have to rely on carrying everything with you all the time.

If you go into a restaurant or café don’t keep any valuables in your jacket if you sling it over a chair. Keep your bag with you too – don’t hook it over a chair. Try hooking it around your foot instead. It is much harder for someone to take if you do. Most people will look for an easy target so make sure you don’t provide one. With that said though, you shouldn’t resist if someone does try to snatch your bag or possessions. Crimes can turn violent and you could be injured in such a situation.

Where to spend your rupiah in Indonesia – and what to spend them on

Indonesia is situated in Southeast Asia. It is not strictly a country per se, but rather an archipelago. This means it is a series of islands and parts of islands; for example it shares one land mass to the east with Papua New Guinea. The latter takes up the right hand side of the island while Indonesia takes up the left hand side. Indonesia also takes up much of the island Malaysia can be found on, with Malaysia taking up some of the northern part of that particular land mass.

While the name of the capital of this country may not come to mind immediately, it will be familiar to. This is Jakarta, and it boasts many landmarks that encourage the rise of tourism in the area. One of the highlights – and one that helps you familiarise yourself with Indonesia as a whole – is Taman Mini Indonesia Indah. This basically translates into a miniature park and it has a miniature version of the archipelago and all its islands sitting in the middle of a lake. The park also features many insights and much information on the various different parts of the archipelago. Elsewhere in the capital you can also visit Old Jakarta, otherwise known as the Old Town. This is a great place to visit and reveals much about the beginnings of the capital city.

With literally thousands of islands making up all of Indonesia, it can be difficult to decide where to go once you have seen the capital. One thing you can do is to take a boat journey along the Sungai Kapuas. This is the longest river in Indonesia and with mangrove swamps and even villages dotted around in the area, it is definitely an experience in seeing how other people live.

If you like the idea of seeing a volcanic lake, Lake Toba might also beckon you. This can be found on Sumatra and the lake was only created due to a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. When you see the size of the lake you will realise just how massive the eruption was. It is supposed that few survived it due to its size. So when you see it for yourself, just imagine how it came to be.

Speaking of volcanoes, you must see Gunung Bromo. As you may now have realised, Indonesia is a volcanic area of the world and Mount Bromo is the most famous volcano it has to offer. This volcano emits white smoke on a continual basis, providing a startling and quite amazing sight that is well worth seeing.


Indonesia has plenty to offer its many visitors. With so many islands dotted around this part of the world, and dramatic landscape on every single one of them, it can be pretty difficult trying to decide where to go. Indeed you could book a holiday to Indonesia every single year and never go to the same place twice. Whether you love beach holidays or you want to focus on seeing volcanoes and going on nature trails, you will find destinations and activities that will suit your requirements when you go to Indonesia. Where will you begin?

Indonesia Rupiah – IDR

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