From volcanoes in Java to the lush forest of Sumatra, the archipelago of Indonesia attracts world travellers. Most are surprised by the melting-pot of cultures and religions, not to mention completely stunned by the beauty of the landscapes and the marine life of Indonesia.
Indonesia, the largest archipelago in the world, stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
Amongst the 17 000 islands, a few major ones stand out. Java hosts the capital, Jakarta. Sumara is known for its rich flora. Bali, and its white sandy beaches, is a popular scuba diving destination. In a similar way, the world-class diving sites of Sulawesi, formerly known as the Celebes, attract scuba divers from around the world. Finally, Komodo in Nusa Tenggara fascinates world travellers with its spectacular lizards and its stunning underwater sea life.
Money and ATM
ATM can be found in most tourist destination and in large cities. However, be aware that there may be withdrawal limits per transaction. Paying with credit cards is equally easy, however some places may charge extra fees.
We will find most of the foreign exchange counters in Java, Bali and Lombok. Bill condition is a major issue as employees in foreign exchange counters may prove to be very picky. There is usually no commission fee.
Visa and Embassies
Most Asia nationals can enter the archipelago for up to 30 days without any visa. Most westerners will usually obtain a visa-on-arrival in Indonesia. As of 2013, the cost of such visa is US$25. Please be sure to have the exact change. It is also necessary to be able to present a return or onward ticket.
You will be able to extend this visa by an extra 30 days at any bureau of immigration in the country. To be on the safe side, it is recommended to apply for extension about 10 days before the expiration of your visa.
Health in Indonesia
As throughout most Southeast Asian countries, mosquito-borne diseases are the most common health concerns. Although malaria may be rare, dengue fever on the other hand is a much more common disease. Be sure to apply mosquito-repellent generously.
Food hygiene does not usually meet western standards and may expose you to hepatitis A. It is recommended to get vaccinated before your trip.
Finally, most medicine may be found over-the-counter. As long as you know the name of the active ingredient, you will be able to find a similar drug manufactured under a different brand name.
Best time of year to visit Indonesia
The archipelago of Indonesia sits across the Equator. Therefore, there is no such thing as summer, winter or spring. Travellers encounter two distinct seasons : dry season in Indonesia starts in April and ends in November, when the rain season takes place up until March. Since the islands of Indonesia are so widely spread, there may be some slight variations.
Temperature-wise, it rarely drops under 20°C (68°F ). Most days, temperatures will vary from 25°C (77°F) to 35°C (95°F).
How to get there?
There are three main international airports in Indonesia : Soekarno-Hatta (CGK) near Jakarta, Denpasar (DPS), in Bali and Juanda (SUB) at Surabaya, East Java. Most flights operate a stopover in one of the nearby asian city such as Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia or Singapore.
Diving in Indonesia
Indonesia is home to a large number of the world’s best scuba diving spots. Indonesian tropical waters are usually warm all year round. Expect between 20-28°C/71-85°F. Bali is ideal for wreck divers which may explore the US Army Transport Liberty Wreck. Swim with turtles, mantas and the occasional yellow fin tuna while diving in Komodo.
Scuba divers looking for large fish will head to Sulawesi (formerly Celebes), and in particular Bunaken Marine Park. Diving in Sulawesi, you may be lucky enough to spot a killer whale. Lombok and the Gili islands offer a wide variety of hard and soft corals.