can fly direct to Indonesia from just about anywhere. Most people traveling
from Europe and the US arrive on direct flights to Jakarta, while those
coming from Australia usually go first to Bali. The main international
entry points are Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta, Ngurah Rai airport
in Bali, and Polonia airport in Medan. There are also non-stop flights
from several Asian cities, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul,
Nagoya, Fukuoka and Osaka.
Direct flights connect Bali with many major cities in Asia and Europe.
Air fares vary depending on the carrier, the season and the type of
ticket purchased. A discount RT fare from the US costs from $1,000-1,200
and from Europe costs $800-1,200; about half that from Australia or
East Asian capitals.
An excursion fare return ticket from Singapore to Bali with stops in
Jakarta and Yogyakarta, good for a month, is available in Singapore
for around $300. Buy through travel agents-check the classified section
of the Straits Times for details.
Note: You need a return or onward ticket to get a visa-free entry upon
arrival in Indonesia.
Air tickets from Batam and Bintan are also inexpensive. These Indonesian
islands just off the coast of Singapore can be reached via short ferry
hops from Singapore's World Trade Center. Ferries to Batam cost $12
single, $17 return and to Bintan $32 single, $45 return. Inquire at
travel agents in Singapore for latest fares, then compare with direct
Singapore to Bali discount rates.
Garuda offers a visit pass to foreigners purchasing outside of Indonesia.
A minimum of three coupons can be purchased for $300. Additional coupons
are $100 each, up to 10 coupons. One coupon is valid for one flight
and you can not return to a destination already covered. If the flight
is not directly to your intended destination, you are charged one coupon
per stop. This program is good value for long-haul travel within Indonesia,
Medan to Jakarta for instance or Bali to Biak, which otherwise is quite
arrived in Indonesia, your choices for onward travel depend, as always,
on time and money. Travel on Bali ranges from boats, self drive and
chauffeur driven cars, to both slow and fast buses, bicycles and motorbikes.
Hiring a car or minibus with or without driver, is one of the most rewarding
ways of getting around.
In many ways, Indonesia is an easy place to get around. Indonesians
are, as a rule, hospitable, good-humored, and willing to help a lost
or confused traveler. The weather is warm, the pace of life relaxed,
and the air is rich with the smells of clove cigarettes, the blessed
durian fruit and countless other wonders.
However, the nation's transportation infrastructure does not move with
the kind of speed and efficiency that Western travelers expect, which
often leads to frustration. Bookings are often difficult to make; flights
and reservations are sometimes mysteriously canceled.
It is best to adjust your pace to local conditions. What seems like
nerve-wracking inefficiency is really so only if one is in a hurry.
If you have to be somewhere at a particular time, allow plenty of time
to get there. Check and double-check your bookings. Otherwise just go
with the flow. You can't just turn off the archipelago's famous jam
karet-"rubber time"-when it's time to take an airplane and
turn it on again when you want to relax. You will get there eventually.
Peak periods around the Christmas/New Year holidays and during the June
to August tourist season are the most difficult. It is imperative to
book well in advance and reconfirm your bookings at every step along
the way. Travel anywhere in Indonesia (except Bali) during the week
prior to the Islamic Lebaran holiday is practically impossible. Find
a nice spot and sit it out.
The golden rule is: things will sort themselves out. Eventually. Be
persistent, of course, but relax and keep your sense of humor. Before
you explode, have a cup of sweet coffee or a cool glass of kelapa muda
(young coconut water). Things might look different.
first thing to do is to be easy on yourself and not plan an impossibly
tight schedule. Things happen slowly here, so adjust to the pace. Better
to spend more time in a few places and see them in a leisurely way,
than to end up hot and hassled. You'll see more this way.
Wherever you are, keep in mind that the tropical heat takes its toll
and you should avoid the midday sun. Get an early start, before the
rays become punishing (the tropical light is beautiful at dawn). Retreat
to a cool place after lunch and go out again in the afternoon and early
evening, when it's much more pleasant.
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