Indonesia is fairly safe compared with many places in the world. There are some hassles from the avaricious, but most visitors face many more dangers at home. Petty theft occurs, but it is not prevalent.
Outside of reputable bars and resorts, it's best to avoid buying arak, the locally produced booze made from rice or palm. It can contain poisonous methanol, which is produced during the fermentation process and is not always burned off. Deaths and injuries do happen – especially on Bali and the Gilis – when unscrupulous vendors substitute arak for other spirits like vodka, gin or whisky. If the price of drinks in a bar seems unnaturally low, pause to consider what you might be drinking.
Indonesia has a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs and there have been many high-profile arrests and convictions. The execution by firing squad in 2015 of two Australians convicted of drug offences as part of the 'Bali Nine' should serve as a stark warning.
Security in touristed areas increased after the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings but has since been relaxed. The odds you will be caught up in such a tragedy are low. Luxury hotels that are part of international chains tend to have the best security, though they also make the most tempting targets, as shown in Jakarta in 2003 and 2009. Suicide bombers did strike a bus terminal in East Jakarta in 2017, killing three policemen, and churches in Surabaya were targeted in May 2018 in attacks that killed 28 people, but such incidents remain rare.
Security issues in Indonesia are often exaggerated by foreign media, who portray rambunctious protest rallies and minor incidents of civil unrest as nationwide pandemonium. Foreign governments add to the hype with heavy-handed, blanket travel warnings. While it's true that small sections of Indonesia experience flashes of conflict, overall the archipelago is safe.
As in many developing countries, some people are out to relieve you of your money in one way or another. It's really hard to say when an 'accepted' practice like overcharging becomes an unacceptable rip-off, but plenty of instances of practised deceit occur.
Violent crime is uncommon, but bag-snatching from motorbikes, pickpocketing and theft from rooms and parked cars occurs. Take the same precautions you would in any urban area. Remember that other travellers will sometimes steal things. Other commonsense tips include the following.
It is always worthwhile to check with official government sources before visiting Indonesia in order to check current travel conditions and the overall safety situation. But bear in mind that government sources generally take a conservative and overcautious view. Follow reputable news sources in order to get a more realistic picture.
Government travel advisories include the following: