Will I need a visa before I arrive? How would I get one?
In December 2003 tightened its visa requirements to the west as reprisal for the West's tightening of visa regulations on Indonesians. Therefore only residents of the following countries do not need a visa to travel (as a tourist) in Indonesia for a duration of thirty days:
Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam
Residents of all other countries require a visa to enter the country. These can either be obtained in advance or on arrival into the country. The following countries are eligible for a visa granted on arrival:
United Arab Emirates
Visas issued on arrival are non-extend able and last 30 days. These can be obtained from all main entry points into the country e.g. Jakarta and Denpasar's airports, Medan in Northern Sumatra etc. Residents of countries not on the above list (or for those wishing to stay up to 60 days in the country) must apply in advance for a tourist visa by applying to your domestic Indonesia embassy. For this you will need to send off (along with forms, photos and 35GBP or local equivalent) a letter from your employer or education establishment stating that you intend to return, and proof of 1000GBP in available funds. Visas are single entry and are not extend-able.
For all travel passports must be valid 6 months past the date of entry into Indonesia. Check your Indonesian embassy website for further information.
Is it a problem arriving on a one way ticket?
Officially you must have an return/onward ticket booked although in reality this is rarely checked. If you do enter on a single ticket and it is discovered you may be forced to buy an onward ticket on the spot at immigration before being granted entry to the country. To avoid this either buy a return ticket or use Indonesia as a stopover to another destination. Two popular and cheap outward tickets to buy are Jakarta to Singapore or Medan to Penang.
What happens if I overstay my visa?
Indonesia embassy guidelines are quite strict on visitors who overstay their visa. You will be required to “pay a penalty of US$20.- per day (for under 60 days stay) whilst over 60 days stay will be a 5 year prison sentence or a fine of IDR 25.000.000 [$2,600]”. Take your visa limit seriously.
The only conditions for extension of visa are illness, accident or national disaster. If you overstay for one of these reasons you will need to contact the Indonesian Minister of Justice. The best way to do this is through your embassy. Expect to have to provide proof (preferably written) of your circumstances.
Can I extend my visa if I want to stay longer?
Extending your visa is almost impossible expect for in extreme circumstances (e.g. Severe illness). Other options for a longer stay are to apply for a 60 day tourist visa before arrival, or to leave the country and come back in again. Visas on arrival are limited to 30 days but can be re-granted as soon as you leave the country. Depending on where you are in the country, the closest place to do the visa run may be Singapore, East Timor, or Malaysian Borneo.
Is it a problem getting through customs and immigration?
Generally, no it's not a problem. On the airplane on the way into the country you are given a landing card and customs form. These are simple to fill in, but you will be asked for an address where you are staying in Indonesia. If you haven't booked in advance, just write down the name of any hotel. Most likely, you'll have no problems at all.
If you have your own medicines, it's worth bringing the prescription with you just in case they get suspicious.
The regulations state that a maximum of 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 100g tobacco, and 1 litre of alcohol can be brought in duty free. Goods of a value over $250 also need to be declared (or $1000 for a family). However, customs are really only concerned about people trying to import and avoid paying duty, if it is obvious you are not doing this you will have no problem. Unlimited foreign currency can be brought in though the import/export of Rupiah is limited to 5,000,000 Rp. Rupiah amounts between 5 and 10 million need to be declared.
The whole procedure can take under half an hour on a good day or much longer on a bad day, mainly dependent on the queue at Immigration.
What is the exchange rate like at the airport? Is there an ATM there? Is it open 24 hours?
There are 24 hour money changers at the airports in Jakarta and Denpasar, although they are relatively expensive. ATM's are everywhere in the airports and are the cheapest and easiest way of getting Rupiah.
What is the best way to the city from the airport?
A bus runs half-hourly between the city and the airport. This is cheap and comfortable and is probably the best option for those on a budget. The only other real option is to get a taxi into the city which will cost about 7 times as much, but is obviously more convenient.
Taxi - To catch a taxi from Soekarno-Hatta, it is best to go to one of the many taxi booths in the arrivals area. You will undoubtedly be hassled by other 'private car' drivers in the airport arrival area. There have been some reports of problems with these drivers in recent years; getting a taxi from the booths should avoid this risk. Ask to use the argo(meter) as this will be cheaper than attempting to negotiate a price.
The airport is about 30km/19 miles outside of the city centre, and a metered taxi to Jalan Jaksa (the main backpacker area) will cost about 60,000 Rp and take about an hour. You should also be aware that you will be expected to pay for the use of the toll roads which total around 10,000 Rp. A limousine service is available at the airport. This can be found in the same area as the taxi booths.
Bus - Provided your flight does not arrive in the evening, catching a bus from the airport is probably the better transport option. Damri Airport buses run every 30 minutes from 3am until 6:30pm from the airport to the city centre. The bus is generally very efficient and probably more comfortable than the taxis are.
The route to the buses is clearly signed from inside the airport terminal, but if you lose your way passers-by will know where it is. The bus stops at Gambir train station (the stop for Jalan Jaksa), Blok M and goes on to Bogor. Tickets cost 8,000 Rp to Gambir, going up to 12,000 Rp to Bogor.
Car Hire - For those brave enough to rent a car, several companies (Avis, Bluebird, Hertz) all offer this service. Car rental per day will cost from 500,000 Rp.
A complimentary shuttle bus service also runs between the international and domestic terminals. This runs from 5am until 8pm.
Taxi - It is advisable to get a taxi from one of the many counters rather than the touts who will assail you at the airport. The prices for various popular destinations will be as follows; Kuta for 25,000, Denpasar for 50,000, Sanur for 60,000 and Ubud for 120,000. These are prepaid taxis and are not on the meter. Surfers should be aware that if carrying your board with you, you will be liable for a surcharge of around 30,000 Rp.
Bemo - For a slightly cheaper option than a taxi, it is possible to get a bemo from the airport road, a few hundred meters outside the airport. These are essentially small minibuses with two padded benches in the back. The bemo route from outside the airport goes to Kuta and ends up at the bemo terminal in Denpasar. The journey by bemo is cheaper at around 4,000 Rp per person.