Flying to Indonesia and you're
likely to go to Jakarta or Bali (Denpasar). Jakarta
is serviced by more airlines but, thanks to its huge tourist trade, Bali gets
almost as much traffic.
Garuda and Lufthansa are
always worth checking out for cheap flights. You could even be
imaginative and fly to Singapore and get the ferry to Sumatra or
go to Kuala Lumpur and get a ferry from Malacca or Penang, again to
Sumatra. There are also flights from Darwin.
Departure tax from Jakarta and
Denpasar is around US$6 and from other airports about US$3.
The only open land crossing is at
Entikong, between Kalimantan and Sarawak. Visas are not required and a 60-day visa pass is issued on the spot.
connections are on comfortable high-speed ferries running between Malaysia,
Singapore and Sumatra (to Pekanbaru, Medan and Dumai) and there is also a service between Manado in northern Sulawesi and
Davao in the Philippines.
Citizens of Britain, Ireland, most of Europe, Australia, New Zealand,
Canada and the USA do not need a visa to enter Indonesia if
intending to stay for less than sixty days, and if entering and exiting
via a designated gateway. There are currently around forty of these air
and sea gateways into Indonesia, at which you can get a free,
non-extendable sixty-day visa on arrival; "sixty days" includes
the date of entry. You'll be fined US$20 for every day you overstay
your visa, up to a maximum of fourteen days. After that you'll get
blacklisted from Indonesia for two years. The best way to get yourself a
sixty-day visa is to leave the country for a few hours and then come
straight back in through a designated port of entry (Singapore is the most
popular for this).
If you want to stay more than two months, or are
entering via a
non-designated gateway, then you must get a visa from an Indonesian
consulate before travelling. Tourist visas are initially valid for
four weeks, and cost US$25. They can be extended for up to six months at immigration
offices (kantor immigrasi) in Indonesia, but this is never
Check out the British
government Foreign and Commonwealth Office website - FCO.
a kit list?
When to Go
Travel in the dry season
can be a nightmare so you may want to avoid the wet season. In general, the best time to visit is in the dry
season between May and October.
The Christmas holiday period
brings loads of Australians and
there's an even bigger tourist wave during the European summer holidays. The
main Indonesian holiday period is the end of Ramadan, when some resorts are
packed to overflowing and prices skyrocket.
Air travel is still relatively
cheap compared to the rest of the world but much more expensive than in the
past. It is essential to reconfirm on
domestic flights in Indonesia, otherwise you may be bumped from the list.
You may also have problems getting a seat due to not being a local - be
warned. Departure tax on domestic flights fluctuates between US$1-3.
Sea transport can
be good, variable and terrifying. High-speed ferries are usually
just that. The ferries connecting major islands such as Bali and
Lombok are also pretty good and reliable; however, there were dozens of
deaths on one which sank between Java and Bali so hopefully you can
swim. Boats offering tourist trips are normally pretty good.
Rail travel is restricted solely to Java and Sumatra.
Indonesia's trains are
pretty much a mixed bag: slow, miserable and cheap or comfortable and expensive.
It's advisable to buy train tickets a day in advance to assure a seat.
The train from Jakarta to Yogyakarta is very good value - travel
business class whenever possible.
motorbikes and bicycles can be rented in the main cities and tourist centres.
You are supposed to have an international driver's licence.
Indonesia's main roads
have reasonable surfaces in part but areas of Sumatra, Flores and other
islands are appalling and terrifying. Distance transportation is
on ekonomi buses. The fare you are offered will often be
more than the locals, a better strategy is to know in advance how much
it should be and give the correct money. You will be crammed on,
you will worry about your bags and it will be a stressful experience -
but also highly entertaining.
There are also express
buses and air-con buses. What you pay for and what you get
may differ, however, an air-con bus is usually the best bet for the
Local transport includes the ubiquitous
bemo (pick-up trucks with rows
of seats along each side), opelets (minibuses), bajaj (auto
rickshaws), becaks (bicycle rickshaws) and dokars (horse-drawn
carts); most are ridiculously cheap but you may well pay twice the rate of the
locals. Many towns have taxis, but agree on a fare