Indonesia is a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 tropical islands stretching across South East Asia, from the island of Sumatra in the far west to the province of Papua (formerly Irian Jaya) in the east, almost 5000km away. In between is a beautiful and hugely diverse country of stunning volcanic scenery, lush terraced rice paddies, pristine beaches and ornate temples, each island with its own distinctive character to discover.
Official Language: Bahasa Indonesia
Religions: 90% Muslim, with Hindu (mostly on Bali), minorities of Christian, Buddhist and tribal animist (on Papua).
Voltage: 127/230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs used are European-style with two circular metal pins and British-style with two flat blades and one flat grounding blade
You will need to obtain the following visa for your tour:
Nationals of most countries can apply for a tourist visa on arrival, which is valid for 30 days.
You need at least one empty page in your passport for the stamp. Passports must be valid for 6 months and you should have proof of your return journey.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of the correct visas for your holiday and onward travel. The Imaginative Traveller cannot accept responsibility for anyone who is refused entry to a country because they lack the correct documentation. You should check this with your nearest embassy or consulate in case rules change.
Important Note: When applying for the visa you should not mention that you intend to visit Papua. The Indonesian Embassy may refuse to issue one if you do. Once you are in Indonesia, however, it is easy to obtain a permit (Surat Jalan) to travel to Papua.
You need at least one empty page in your passport for the stamp. Passports must be valid for 6 months and you should have proof of your return journey.
Permit (Surat Jalan)
You will need a permit (Surat Jalan) to visit certain parts of Papua. You will need to bring 2 spare passport photos and a photocopy of your passport and Indonesian visa. The Tour Leader will obtain the permit for you, which usually takes around 5 hours. You will need to give the Tour Leader the money to pay for the permit – most recent costs are around 60,000 rupiah per person.
The monetary unit in Indonesia is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). Approximate exchange rates (as at May 2008) are as follows:
Visit XE.com for the latest exchange rates.
Imtrav Travel Tip - You should try to carry at least some of your money in small denomination traveller’s cheques or cash so that you can change only the amount you will actually need.
Generally we recommend that you carry the majority of your funds (around 70%) as traveller’s cheques for security reasons. Do carry some cash as a small amount is often useful in more remote regions. If possible, it is often a good idea to obtain a small amount of the currency of the country you are visiting prior to arrival as this can be very useful for any immediate expenses upon arrival. If you can’t obtain currency in advance, you will find banking services in the Arrivals Hall of the airport, port or border post though these won’t necessarily be open 24 hours. Both traveller’s cheques and cash should be a major currency: US Dollars, Euro and Pounds Sterling are all widely accepted. Other currencies may not be so easily exchanged. Coins, damaged notes and Scottish notes cannot be exchanged. Some countries are also reluctant to exchange Canadian or New Zealand Dollars though Australian Dollars are becoming more widely accepted.
You should try to carry at least some of your money in small denomination traveller’s cheques or cash so that you can change only the amount you will actually need. This is particularly important near the end of your holiday as it is sometimes difficult to change back surplus local currency. We regret that regional Imaginative Traveller offices cannot accept traveller’s cheques as payment for services booked while on tour.
ATMs are available but quite sparsely located around Bali and Lombok and in Papua. You can also get cash advances from your VISA and Mastercard credit cards but expect to spend a little time in doing this. Costs are in general low in Bali and Lombok. A meal in a local restaurant will cost just a few US dollars. If you go out to a nicer restaurant in the evening, expect to pay between US$5-7 for dinner.
The Imaginative Traveller Recommends: In Papua, rates in Jayapura are about 5% better than in Wamena or elsewhere when changing money. Some travellers’ cheques may not be accepted so to be on the safe side carry two kinds.
The Pre-Departure Information contains general information about the things you will need to consider when budgeting for your holiday. Below are some specific notes relevant to our tours in Indonesia.
Please allow US$20 for all sites listed as part of the itinerary in the Trip Dossier.
All of our itineraries include some free time, the amount of which usually depends on the style of tour you are travelling on (Adventurer trips generally have more than Traveller). If you wish to take optional excursions your Tour Leader will be able to advise you of the possibilities in each area.
You will find the meal plan for your tour clearly indicated in the brochure and on your Trip Dossier. Breakfast is provided each day on most tours, and many tours also include a number of dinners. Lunches are rarely included to give you more freedom. Approximate costs for meals and snacks not included are shown below:
There are many places to eat out in both Bali and Lombok that have good vegetarian options.
Papua is not the best place to be a vegetarian. In Jayapura it is usually possible to find vegetarian food but in the highlands it can be difficult. If you have dietary preferences, please make them known to your Tour Leader who will do their best to ensure that your requirements are met.
Please note: Unfortunately we can give no guarantee that special requirements can always be met.
If you have food allergies or preferences, please make them known to your Tour Leader who will do their best to ensure that your requirements are met.
Tea and Coffee are always provided with breakfast. All other drinks (i.e. bottled water, soft drinks) are at your own expense.
Taxis are available in almost every sizeable settlement in Indonesia. Bus fares are low but they cane be very crowded. There are two kinds of rickshaw: bajaj, which is motorised, and becak, which is pedal-powered. Bemos are small pick up trucks with benches attached running fixed routes.
Most people think of this region as just one long beach, but in actual fact the area is full of history and diverse cultures. Your visit will most definitely involve visiting some important religious sites. Therefore you would be expected to dress appropriately for such visits, generally with shoulders and knees covered.
On the beach all you really need is good sunscreen and sunglasses. Those doing the challenging Mount Rinjani trek on Lombok should expect cold temperatures especially at night and in the morning whilst camping on the slopes of the mountain. You will definitely need comfortable hiking boots with good traction and ankle support. Most hotels provide towels for use in the hotel rooms but not always for taking to the beach so you should either bring your own or rent or buy a beach mat or sunlounger.
The Pre-Departure Information that you will receive once you have booked your tour contains a comprehensive list of items that you should consider bringing with you. For trips visiting Bali & Lombok you will need:
For the highlands of Papua, we recommend:
Contact your doctor for advice regarding anti-malaria pills. Strong insect repellent is advised, as well as anti-histamine or Tiger Balm for when you get bitten. Take a high SPF sunscreen with you. Antiseptic wet wipes are useful.
As a general guideline, clothing should be lightweight, loose fitting, hard-wearing and easily washed. In hot weather cotton clothing is much more comfortable than man-made materials like nylon. It can get cold at altitude, so take something warm like a fleece. Long sleeves are useful to protect from insect bites at dawn and dusk. A hat to keep off the sun is always a good idea in the tropics. Footwear should be comfortable and a pair of sandals gives your feet a chance to dry out after hiking. It can rain at any time of year, so a waterproof is essential.
Whilst few of our tours can be described as physically demanding you will find all activities more enjoyable if you are reasonably fit and active.
We operate trips between Bali and Lombok primarily because even though they are neighbouring islands, culturally and geographically they are oceans apart. Bali is home to the only Hindu society in South East Asia. It has stunning Hindu temples, spectacular festivals, emerald green rice paddies and fine sandy beaches with pounding surf. The Balinese are noted for their peaceful demeanour and hospitality. Lombok, on the other hand, is wild and volcanic. The people are predominantly Muslims, the scenery dramatic and in some places barren. The central focal point of the island is Mt Rinjani, a volcano that was thought to be extinct until it suddenly erupted in 1994.
Papua is home to tribes who have only just made contact with the outside world. It is thought that there may still be some groups who have not yet been discovered. In the Baliem Valley, tribes like the Dani, Lani and Yali lead an existence that appears to have changed little since the Stone Age.
The men of the Dani tribe wear penis sheaths made out of gourds and the women wear grass skirts. Headdresses made of fur and feathers are worn by the men and sometimes a pig tusk through the nose. Most Dani live in small villages where the women do the bulk of the agricultural work, with the men building huts and organising fences. Seashells were used as a unit of currency in the past. Today the Dani are part of the monetary economy due to the markets in highland towns such as Wamena, where they buy tools and axes. However, wives are still paid for with pigs.
Occasionally outbreaks of ritual warfare break out among the tribes, usually in disagreements over pigs or women. Large scale battles no longer occur, but skirmishes with spears and arrows are not unknown. Battles are a special occasion, when the men anoint themselves with pig fat and soot. Cannibalism is no longer practiced officially, but it is thought to still occur in some isolated areas. The practice of amputation is another tradition outlawed by the Indonesian authorities, and today largely abandoned. Women whose relatives had died had a finger amputated for each death; today you can still see older women missing several fingers.
The Imaginative Traveller Recommends: Often people will ask for money in return for a photo so you should carry a supply of small notes if you intend on taking lots of 'people' shots.
Haggling is a way of life in Indonesia. In the shops and markets there is often no fixed price so the shop keeper will start with a high price which you are then expected to haggle down until you reach a fair price. Never get annoyed - bargaining should always be relaxed and can be a lot of fun.
If you would like to arrange an arrival/departure transfer in advance please visit www.imtravextras.com/transfers.html
If you do not have an arrival/departure transfer arranged below are some approximate costs for taxis in Indonesia:
Java - Yogyakarta to Hotel 50,000 to 60,000 Rp
Sumatra - Medan to hotel 50,000 Rp
Maninjau to Padang airport (end point) 450,000 Rp (due to 4 hour drive)
Bali - Denpasar to Seminyak 85,000 Rp
Most people find their visit to Indonesia to be completely trouble-free. However, as with any country you are not familiar with, it is recommended that you exercise more caution at night and generally take taxis rather than walk especially if you are a lone female. You should also be aware of strangers standing near you or behind you at ATMs. Be aware that Indonesia has had a volatile political environment for many years and there are several seperatist movements in existence around the country, including in Papua. As a result we would advise not discussing politics with anyone, no matter how innocuous the conversation may appear.
Your Tour Leader's role is to ensure all aspects of the trip run smoothly. He/she will share their local knowledge, advise on how to fill your free time and co-ordinate the day to day running of the tour – although occasionally he/she may need your understanding if things do not go according to plan. If you have any problems on the tour, please let your Tour Leader know so that steps can be taken to put it right. Tour Leaders are supported by our regionally based office staff and, in most cases, a locally based manager.
Our main criterion for choosing hotels is cleanliness. On Adventurer tours hotels are simple, but comfortable. Bathroom facilities may sometimes be shared and rooms may sometimes be multi share rather than twin. Hotels on Traveller tours almost always have private bathrooms, air conditioning and bar / restaurant facilities. Please bear in mind that hotels can sometimes suffer from minor problems and technical difficulties.
At each hotel your Tour Leader will try to organise the rooming arrangements to suit everyone's requirements. If you are travelling alone you will be allocated a room with another group member of the same sex (unless you have paid a single supplement). If you are travelling as a couple please note that we cannot guarantee the availability of double beds.
Note: Single supplements are only applicable to single travellers who wish to have their own room. Single supplements are also only available on Traveller tours and are not applicable on overnight boats, trains and while camping.
There are laundry facilities available in most hotels we use, and also several streetside laundries which are considerably cheaper. In remote areas, like the highlands of Papua, you'll have to do your own laundry.
There are internet cafés in all major settlements, although they are less common in Papua.
State operated phone booths are found across the country, called 'Telkom or Wartel.
A letter to North America, Europe or Australia usually takes around 10 days.
Take plenty of film. Local film processing is not of a good standard, so wait until you return home to have the film developed. If you have a digital camera ensure you take an adequate amount of memory cards as burning to CD is unreliable.
When to go
Many people consider the best time to visit Indonesia to be between May and October, during the dry season. However, it is possible to visit throughout the year and the temperature is consistently hot. If you are visiting during the wet season (November – May) the best advice is to take an umbrella.
Due to the mountainous interior of Papua, the weather is subject to a great deal of variation. Lowland temperatures average around 27°C with little change over the course of the year. The weather is generally hot and humid along the coasts and cool to cold in the highlands.
From November to April the north coast sees heavy rains. In the highlands the monsoon is between December and March, with another peak in August. The least amount of rain usually falls in either July or September. In the south-east the monsoon is between May and October with a rainfall of nearly 6,000mm.