Getting there & away
Check your passport expiry date. Indonesia requires that your passport be valid for six months following your date of arrival. Before passing through immigration you will fill out a disembarkation card, half of which you must keep to give to immigration when you leave the country.
At the time of research, nationals and passport holders of Israel were not permitted to enter the country unless special authorisation had been granted from the Immigration Office in Indonesia.
With a bit of research – ringing around travel agents, checking internet sites, perusing the travel ads in newspapers – you can often get yourself a good travel deal. Generally, there is nothing to be gained by buying a ticket direct from the airline, unless it’s via the internet. Many airlines, full-service and no-frills, offer some excellent fares to web surfers. They may sell seats by auction or simply cut prices to reflect the reduced cost of electronic selling.
Generally the cheapest deals for simple one-way and return flights can be found on online travel sites. These booking agencies are best if your dates are fixed and you are unlikely to need any changes. They are, however, no substitute for a travel agent who knows all about special deals, has strategies for avoiding stopovers, can change your dates and times quickly and easily and can offer advice on everything from which airline has the best vegetarian food to the best travel insurance to bundle with your ticket.
Full-time students and people under 26 years (under 30 in some countries) have access to better deals than other travellers. You have to show a document proving your date of birth or a valid International Student Identity Card (ISIC) when buying your ticket.
Reputable online booking agencies:
Airline Consolidator (www.airlineconsolidator.com)
Cheap Flights (www.cheapflights.com) Informative, US-based site.
Cheap Seats (www.cheapseats.com)
Cheapest Flights (www.cheapestflights.co.uk) Cheap worldwide flights from the UK.
Hotwire (www.hotwire.com) Good site for US and Canadian departures.
Orbitz (www.orbitz.com) Excellent site for web-only fares.
SideStep (www.sidestep.com) Compares a huge range of fares.
STA (www.statravel.com) Prominent in international student travel, but you don’t have to be a student; site linked to worldwide STA sites.
Travel.com (www.travel.com) US-based site but with global variations.
Travelocity (www.travelocity.com) US site that allows you to search fares to/from anywhere.
Trip Advisor (www.tripadvisor.com) US-based.
Zuji (www.zuji.com) Excellent site for departures from Australasia and the Pacific.
It’s still possible to hop on yachts around Southeast Asia, but luck is a major factor. Yacht owners frequently need crew members – you’ll usually be required to contribute for food too. As for where to look – well, yacht clubs, and anywhere that yachts pass through. People have recently sailed to Indonesia from as far afield as Perth and Hong Kong.
There are three possible land crossings into Indonesia. In all instances you must have obtained a visa before you get to the border.
Regular buses between Pontianak (Kalimantan) and Kuching (Sarawak, eastern Malaysia) pass through the border post at Entikong. They take around 10 hours and if travelling from Pontianak, stop at the border in the wee hours until it opens at 9am. You need to get off the bus and clear immigration on either side.
Entering Indonesia by air is relatively simple and straightforward, particularly if you’re eligible for a VOA (visa on arrival). Numerous sea ports are similarly easy, and if you’re arriving by land you’ll have no problems as long as you have a valid visa.
Tours will not run while there are security risks. Most tend to be of the standard packaged variety, but some focus on adventure and trekking in places such as Papua, Kalimantan and areas of Java. There are so many tours that it’s impossible to list them here.
Prices vary according to the standard of the accommodation. Some try so hard to maximise luxury and minimise hassles that participants are hermetically isolated from the country. Small groups that provide some independence generally also provide a more worthwhile experience.
Imaginative Traveller (800-316 2717; www.imaginative-traveller.com) UK-based company emphasising sustainable, low-impact tourism.
Intrepid Travel (1300 360 887, 03-9473 2626; www.intrepidtravel.com.au) Australian-based company with similar focus.
Indonesia is well connected to the rest of the world by numerous international airlines. Flights from neighbouring countries also stop in several Indonesian cities. Singapore has some of the cheapest flights to Indonesia so it may be cheaper to fly there and then enter Indonesia by air or ship. From Penang in Malaysia, you can take a short flight or ferry to Medan in Sumatra.
The principal gateways for entry to Indonesia are Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta international airport (021 550 5179; email@example.com), which sits 35km west of the city centre, and Bali’s smaller Ngurah Rai international airport (0361-751011; www.angkasapura1.co.id/eng/location/bali.htm; Jl Raya, Denpasar), which is about 15km south of Denpasar.
Indonesia’s national airline, Garuda (Garuda Indonesia; 021-23519999 www.garuda-indonesia.com) flies to various destinations throughout the world.
Airlines servicing Indonesia:
Air Asia (airline code AK; 0361-760116, 0804 1 333333; www.airasia.com)
Air France (airline code AF; 020-6545720; www.airfrance.com)
Cathay Pacific Airways (airline code CX; 021-5151747; www.cathaypacific.com)
China Airlines (airline code CI; 021-2510788; www.chinaairlines.com)
China Southern Airlines (airline code CZ; 0211-5202980; www.cs-air.com/en)
Continental Airlines (airline code CO; 021-334417; www.continental.com)
Eva Air (airline code BR; 021-5205363; www.evaair.com)
Japan Airlines (airline code JL; 021-5723211; www.jal.co.jp/en/)
Korean Air (airline code KE; 021-5212180; www.koreanair.com)
Lufthansa (airline code LH; 021-5702005; www.lufthansa.com)
Malaysia Airlines (airline code MH; 021-5229690; www.mas.com.my)
Philippine Airlines (airline code PR; 021-5268668; www.philippineairlines.com)
Qantas Airways (airline code QF; 021-2300277; www.qantas.com.au)
Silk Air (airline code MI; 0542730800; www.silkair.com)
Singapore Airlines (airline code SQ; 021-57903747; www.singaporeair.com)
Thai Airways International (airline code TG; 021-2302552; www.thaiair.com)