Indonesia - excited but apprehensive

Travel Forums Asia Indonesia - excited but apprehensive

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1. Posted by saalten (Budding Member 3 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!


We're planning a 4 week trip round Indonesia in Mar/Apr 2010. It was on our world trip travel plans but got dropped for practical reasons, so we're now ready to address the omission! :)

Plan is to travel round several of the major islands. Of course we'll also visit Bali but we hope there is much more to see around Indonesia.

Would very much appreciate views/reactions to some of these:

- Is Mar/Apr a "good" time to visit? Timing is driven by when we can get leave from work. I believe Mar is supposed to be the end of the wet season. Will minor roads be difficult at this time?

- Safety: my view is that some common sense, a willingness to be polite, communicate (we know a few words of Bahasa Indonesia/Malaysia) and reach out to people go a long way, and that many "dangerous" travel destinations are in fact hospitable countries - depends on your perspective & approach. BUT even so ... Indonesia, "is it safe?" especially away from the main tourist resorts (though not totally off the beaten track - we're just tourists who like to think of ourselves as travellers, not explorers for National Geographic!) ;)

- Entry via sea from Singapore and getting around? Any advice?

Terima kasih! Many thanks!


Moderator comment: please see Forum Rules

[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]

2. Posted by loubylou (Respected Member 664 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hi Stefan!

Don't worry about the safety of Indonesia, just take the same precautions you would travelling anywhere else in SE Asia. We have been to Indonesia twice (and planning another visit back!) and we felt very safe there. We travelled overland through Java, Bali and Lombok and back again. Our highlights were definitely Java and Lombok - amazing!

Transportation wise - there are buses, tourist minibuses, internal flights (if you are pressed for time) and trains (on Java) which are all reasonably priced and good standards.

The Indonesian people are very, very friendly (although beware of the tourist touts in Kuta, Bali as some of those can be very aggressive!) and the food is great! March/April time is just the end of wet season, so accommodation won't be as expensive as peak season of July/August, so yes a good time to visit.

I think though entering by sea from Singapore unless you get the once weekly ferry to Jakarta you can only get to Batam, then there are no connecting boats from there to either Sumatra or Java, so you would have to fly. Maybe you could look at the ferry from Malaysia to Medan on Sumatra instead (we haven't done this as yet so can't give anymore advice on that!).

Hope this helps for now and reassures you a little bit!

[ Edit: Edited on 19-Aug-2009, at 10:34 by loubylou ]

3. Posted by saalten (Budding Member 3 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hi loubylou,

Thanks for that - very useful advice, much appreciated. Also feeling much more encouraged about Indonesia, having received posts here & on LP. I'm now thinking of adding flight from Singapore into Indonesia to "start" the trip. So either Singapore to Medan, and then returning four weeks later from another airport back to Singapore, or simply go for a Singapore-Jakarta return & start the trip round Indonesia from Jakarta. But wouldn't have occurred to me to consider that now if it hadn't been for your advice re. lack of ferry connections from Singapore to nearby Sumatra, so thanks again.

Impressive trip you guys are making - aah, reminds me of our own world trip... Can definitely recommend some places to add to your list - Canada is my top tip, have a look at our own site. Friendly moderator keeps snipping my "promo" (own web site tagged to my posts) though, but you should be able to access it via my profile (hey moderator - don't snip that bit please - that wasn't a promo now was it? [snip snip ...?] ;)

Happy travels

4. Posted by reza-tya (Budding Member 4 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hi Saalten,
in sumatra i think you should visit Padang (west sumatra), from there you can travel overland trans sumatra by bus (but take long time and the ferry service also poor between sumatra to java) or take a low cost airlines from Padang to Jakarta. so if you are planning to round indonesia, from Jakarta you can travel by train or bus to Bandung, cirebon (west java) - Semarang, solo (central java), Yogyakarta (is a must see) then Surabaya (east java) then take ferry to Bali,Lombok,Nusa Tenggara Timur, then you can consider to Maluku or Sulawesi or Papua, then last visit is Borneo, from there you can fly to Jakarta then back home. or if you are interesting to the mountains, forest, or caving there are also travel group who can arrange that kind of trip for you. So if there's anything i can help for you...just say it...indonesia welcomes you....

5. Posted by Aegisint (Budding Member 13 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hi there

one the issue of entry by sea from Singapore, that will only get you as far as Batam, which does not have anything for tourists unless you are weekending from Singapore. From there you will need to take a flight from Batam to anywhere else you were thinking of going, or boat back to Singapore Changi and fly from there. Its really just a whole lot more convenient to do it from Singapore, and the airlines that fly from Singapore area whole lot more safe than some of the LCC from Batam. Oh and probably cheaper too.

There is a ship that sails from Medan to Batam to Jakarta, it takes about 2 hours from Batam to Jakarta, but its not recommended unless you have something against flying. Again probably cheaper to fly. The LCC's out of Singapore can get you to Jakarta, Surabaya, Jogjakarta, Medan, Padang etc for around US$100 each as a rule, sometimes a whole lot cheaper.

On the issue of safety, well you will be very safe almost everywhere in Indonesia. Hanging out at bars at 2am is not a good idea anywhere, but again probably a lot safer here than in any western country. The roads are not that safe, traffic accidents are very common so if you have a driver make him drive slowly. The trains are slow, expensive and have a habit of falling off the tracks so if you want to get to where you are going on time, take a car or a plane.

If you do get off the beaten track you will have the privilege of meeting some of the most wonderful people on earth, everyone will want to practice their english on you and you will pick up Bahasa Indonesia very quickly. Get the usual language books and phrase books now and start practising, its a lot of fun. Remember that the vowels use the germanic tones not the english ones.

Always carry plenty of cash, credit cards are not easy to use and they convert the IDR to USD and then back to your local currency so you will get hit at least two times on your exchange rates. Anyway its not an expensive place. Tipping is not expected, although a driver will always look for more. You can also get almost anything you want done for about $5.00 so if you need a shoe repaired, or a parcel delivered or something else done by someone else, IDR10,000 or IDR20,000 is going to be plenty for the service plus the cost of the materials.

Food is almost always good in Indonesia. Simple tip is eat where there are the most people, even if you have to queue, although as a westerner the locals will happily give up their seats to you as they will want to make a good impression. You will find Indonesian food not as spicy as many places, indeed the spices are taste enhancers not taste blankets.

Make sure the water you buy is sealed. There are two or three main brands of bottled water, so always look for them.

If you are going to Sumatra make sure you go to Lake Toba, you can get there from Padang or Medan, although Medan is easier. Its just the most wonderful peaceful place you will ever go. forget Bali for peace, Danau Toba as the locals call it is the place to be.

Rainy season is a bit of a laugh really, its always rainy season. But yes it can be more rainy in late feb early march, after Chinese New year, but by April should be fine and getting hotter again.

go with an open mind and a big smile, you will have the best time of your life

6. Posted by tanjaradet (Budding Member 10 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hi there,
I think there is a ferry from Batam to Sumatra -Pekanberu...
My plan is going from Singapore to Batam and then further for Sumatra by ferry.

7. Posted by Llorente (Budding Member 5 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Quoting tanjaradet

Hi there,
I think there is a ferry from Batam to Sumatra -Pekanberu...
My plan is going from Singapore to Batam and then further for Sumatra by ferry.

Thats right.
The ferry services are operational over at harbourfront, which is very much accessible via public transport.
I'd say its practically quite a hassle-free experience so any worries can be placed aside.

8. Posted by bumblebum (Respected Member 5 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!


My boyfriend and I have just spent 4 weeks travelling around Indonesia and went to Bali (legian, candi dasa, ubud, lovina) Lombok (sengiggi) Gili Islands, Java (Bromo region and Jogjakarta) and Sumatra (Bukit Lawang to see the orang utans in the national park) - we loved it and have kept a blog which u might like to read for ideas!

Here are a few things that we discovered along the way that you may find useful.....

When we were in Bukit Lawang (to see the orang utans - we saw 4!!!) trying to get out again there is only one travel agent - Valentine Travel and he has a HUGE commission rate! We decided to take our chances and wait til we got back to Medan before booking anything and saved ourselves over 200,000 Rp each!

Tobali tours in Medan has an agent called Yan who is very helpful and really looked after us when we were trying to get to Bukit Lawang - he had a friend who was going that way and so organised us a lift there for just 100,000 for the 2 of us - he took nothing for himself!

We got a night bus from Lovina, Bali to Probolingo, Java ont eh way to Bromo region to see the volcanoes, the bus arrived in probo at 1.30am and there was no public transport until 7am so we got a taxi which cost 75,000 per person (4 of us) the man would not budge on the price which was odd after being in Bali and Lombok where you can bargain over EVERYTHING! Once we did the journey it didnt seem such a bad price as it took close to 2 hours and was mostly up very steep hills!

The hotels etc in Bromo region charge around 350,000 per jeep to do the sunrise over the volcano tour, if you book at the little kiosk in the village og Cermoro Lewang it only costs 275,000 - although this tour is an early start it is well worth it!

Anyway hope this helps - enjoy your trip!

9. Posted by bumblebum (Respected Member 5 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

My boyfriend and I just did a month around Indonesia - Bali, Lombok, Gili Islands, Jave and Sumatra here is the link to our blog to give you some ideas of things to see/do

Our highlights were
Gili Islands
Waterfall tour in Lombok
Bromo region in Java - watching the sun rise over the volcanoes
Seeing orangutans in Sumatra

Hope this helps :-)