Indonesia Currency; The Rupiah 

Although the Indonesia currency is the Rupiah (IDR) many hotels especially in Bali, publish their prices very often also in US$. Restaurants and other services also start to publish the thousand as one and scratch the last three zeros. I suppose this makes it easier for guests to understand and convert costs. An example is: if something cost IDR 45,000 they would write it as IDR 45, which is about US$ 4.- (today’s exchange rate) any which way. 

I can remember when the Rupiah was exchanged at IDR or Rp.250 per 1$. This is a long time ago, I admit. Under the second president Soeharto it then went to Rp. 750 per 1 $ and when we moved to Jakarta, it was about Rp 2,500. During the political and economical upheaval at the end of the 1900 and beginning of 2000 the currency went to 15,000 and higher, then settled at around 10,000 for many years. You can see the current exchange rate here.

Do You Need Rupiah in Hotels?

Big and luxurious Bali Hotels will take most credit cards for payments including rooms and anything else you pamper yourself with on their premises. Only very small home stay and low quality accommodation will insist on cash payments. Beyond Bali, in big cities you will be able to use your plastic card a lot too. But as soon as you travel through rural areas you will need much more cash or Rupiah to pay. 

Another reason to have small change with you at all times is the culture of expecting and giving tips. Whatever you do and wherever you are, if you are given a service locals will count on your generosity. Many small eatery employees, sales people, beauticians, masseuse and soon receive only very small salaries and depend on tips to survive. 

I once had the chance to visit the factory where the Indonesia currency the Rupiah is printed; it was an enlightening and interesting excursion.

Facts about the Indonesia Currency, the Rupiah  

  • The meaning is derived from the Sanskrit word rūpya, which means "wrought silver, a coin of silver" (Wikipedia)
  • The paper is not really paper; it is white cotton sheets grown in Malang. That is why notes left in your husband’s trouser pocket will survive a good washing.
  • Every bank note also needs to have a serial number and this is stamped on, just before the large sheets of newly printed cotton are cut into individual notes.
  • The watermark has been known and used to safeguard paper money since a long time. In the Rupiah notes they are faces of Indonesian heroes.
  • The more intricate the design and the more colors used the more difficult to imitate or copy.
  • Some of the colors are pounded into the paper with a force of 1200 pounds. This is why the color will protrude after it’s dry and we can feel it with our fingers.
  • The higher valued notes also have one more safety feature; a sign made by a new breed of ink that changes color depending on the angle you are looking at it. This of course is new technology that is extremely difficult to replicate.

Interesting Piece of Information that You Probably do not Know

Most of the colors and the technology come from a small Swiss family run company that exists since almost a century. 80% of all bank notes or paper money in circulation all over the world uses some of the safety colors of this particular company. Switzerland itself is using 34 different colors in its francs; Indonesian currency uses about half of this amount. 

Who are the People Depicted on the Money?

  • IDR 100.000 note: First President of the Republic of Indonesia Soeharto and his Vice President Muhammad Hatta and between them is the declaration of independence of 17 August 1945. The international airport outside of Jakarta is named after them, SukarnoHatta.
  • IDR 50.000 note: I Gusti Ngurah Rai commanded Indonesian forces in Bali during the uprising and war for independence. The international airport of Bali is named after him. On the reverse side you can see a water temple in Bedugul.
  • IDR 20.000 note: Oto Iskandar Di Nata, he served as a minister in the first cabinet of the republic. Streets are named after him in many cities to commemorate his services.
  • IDR 10.000 note: Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin was the 8th Sultan of Palembang and is commemorated as an Indonesian hero; the international airport in Palembang is named after him.

You can still find coins in Indonesia, although in today’s economy there is not much you can get for them. The general Indonesia currency for payments is still the Rupiah.

Other information on money matters and traveling 

Here are hotels in Jakarta we have visited:

HARRIS Suites FX Sudirman, accommodation on top of a mall 

For this Villa Tunas Alam Mutiara Puncak just outside Jakarta you will need cash. From there visit the Safari Park

Need an idea on how to budget your Bali vacation? 

Here Bali Hotels where you only need a plastic card to pay

The Four Seasons in Bali Jimbaran  or this Golf Resort in Tanah Lot

Indonesia Currency

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