Mobile phones
Getting around

Part 1: Introduction

11.06: Kuala Lumpur -> Bali
12.06: Bali
13.06: Bali
14.06: Bali
15.06: Bali -> Kuala Lumpur
16.06: Kuala Lumpur -> Yogyakarta

17.06: Borobudur, Dieng plateau
18.06: Prambanan, Yogyakarta
19.06: Yogyakarta -> Mt Bromo
20.06: Mt Bromo -> Surabaya
21.06: Surabaya -> Johor Bharu -> Mersing

Overview and overall impression
This has been my second time to Indonesia, after my first visit in 1997. I used to be a bit nervous about visiting the country due to the unstable situation, but it appears that Indonesia is reasonably safe.
Lots of things to see, will probably visit Indonesia more often in the future. The level of harassment in the streets is quite high if you are a western tourist (by comparison, in Malaysia you get bothered by people very rarely).
In Indonesia there is this huge differences in prices. Some things are incredibly cheap in a place, elsewhere almost the same stuff costs a multiple of what you paid.

In the tourist zone in Bali where we stayed (Nusa Dua) prices are relatively high compared to the rest of Indonesia, especially for what concerns food and hotels, but you pay less than what you would spend in Europe. A rented car + driver is quite cheap though. Elsewhere in Indonesia things are very cheap, for instance I paid 18000 rupiah (1.40 Euro) on Mt Bromo for a dinner with two dishes and a drink. Transportation can be very cheap if you use public transport, more expensive if you travel comfortably. Inexpensive flights with AirAsia to cover larger distances.  Overall it should be possible to travel on a very budget, although I used to travel comfortably on a higher budget.

Food is ok in Indonesia, although unremarkable. The quality standards are lower than in Malaysia and there is less variety.

We stayed in a four star hotel in Bali, booked with an Airasia package. The hotel must have cost the equivalent of around 60-80 Euro/night. Elsewhere in Java I stayed in mid-range places costing 300000-400000 rupiah per night (20-30 Euro). Comfortable but no luxury.

Money  / Exchange rate (June 2009)
1 Euro = 14000 rupiah
1 Euro = 1.40 USD
For current exchange rates check the Universal Currency Converter.

ATMs are everywhere, so that you can easily get cash with a Cirrus/Maestro ATM card. You won't need traveller cheques. Max. amount of 2000000 rupiah per withdrawal with my card (but you can make several withdrawals on the same day), annoying if you have to pay a fixed 4 Euro fee per withdrawal to your bank.

Mobile phones and prepaid cards
Prepaid cards for GSM phones are available apparently everywhere, although I didn't buy one. I should, as I later realised when I saw my mobile phone bill back in Germany (expensive roaming calls).

Internet access
Plenty of Internet cafes everywhere. I relied however mostly on Internet access in the hotel room using my notebook, more comfortable than having to walk in the evening to the next internet cafe.


June apparently is the dry season in this part of the earth. It was mostly sunny with blue skies and dry. Very little rain and cloudy only every now and then. Tropically hot.

Health / Vaccinations
You'll need to usual set of vaccinations for tropical countries. We didn't renew them, as our immunisations were still valid. Concerning malaria I tried to avoid mosquito bites and relied instead on mosquito repellent (applied it twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening). I had almost no mosquito bites in Indonesia.
Swine flu screening in all airports in June 2009, although the risk of catching swine flu is low in Indonesia due to the hot and humid air.

VISA / Entry requirements
Visa on arrival for citizens of "developed" countries. USD 10 for one week, more expensive if you stay longer. ASEAN citizens need no visa. Swine flu screening in all airports when we travelled.

Indonesia seems safe enough to travel, although occasionally once a year or so a bomb explodes somewhere.
A problem are the scams, for instance at the bus station in Probolingo where a travel agency specialises in ripping off tourists. The amount of money stolen is usually low, but these scams can be irritating.

Recommended things
  • Breathtaking sunset on Mt Bromo.
  • Borobudur in the early morning.
  • The temple complex of Prambanan is also impressive.

Things to avoid
  • If you are staying in the extreme south of Bali (Nusa Dua), doing daytrips to the major sights of Bali can be very tiring, as you will spend literally hours in cars or minibuses.
  • The bus station in Probolingo.

Getting around
For longer distances the best option is to take a flight, although the Indonesian airlines don't have the best safety track record. Within Java the train is a comfortable option to get from A to B. Taxis are inexpensive and renting a car + driver for a daytrip is also relatively inexpensive.

Copyright 2009 Alfred Molon