Arrival in Indonesia
On board the plane you fill out a two-part Immigration Card with your Passport details and intended Hotel. Tourists from Australia, USA, UK, NZ and most surfing countries get a FREE 30 Day Visa On Arrival. The Visa can now be extended an extra 30 days, but requires 2 trips to Immigration wasting valuable holiday days - it’s much easier to get a 60 Day Single Entry Tourist Visa in advance from the Indonesian Embassy in your home country. The heat and humidity will probably knock you in the face, so change into light weight clothing on the plane before you get off. Immigration will need to see your Passport and Airline Ticket out of the country, or proof of enough money to pay for your stay and flight out (US$1,000 minimum). Your Passport must be valid for 6 months after your trip ends. Store your Immigration Card safely as you must show this on leaving. Don’t have too many alcoholic drinks on the plane - if you arrive drunk you will be kicked out onto the next plane back home.
Most hotels offer free pick up at the Airport and transfer to your hotel. Advise them in advance that you will be bringing surfboards (especially 9 foot longboards). Their driver will be waiting outside the Arrivals hall with either the Hotel name printed on a board, or your name (mis-spelt) on a piece of scrap paper. Offer to buy the driver a cold drink, start making friends. The fun part of your adventure starts now! Revel in the warmth and humidity.
P.S. That delicous sweet smell is clove cigarettes!
Taxis are available if you don’t have a hotel transfer arranged. In Bali there is a fixed price Taxi Counter just outside the Arrivals Hall. You need to pay in Rupiah, so get some first from the Money Changers nearby. The exchange rate is the worst in Bali, so we suggest you cash no more than $100. A taxi from the airport to Kuta or Legian costs around $20. Losmen rooms cost around $25, a meal costs around $15, bottled water $1, so $100 in Indo currency should easily get you through to the next day.
Pay a Porter to carry your bags for you. You’ll get through the Customs and Baggage Check much quicker. It will only cost you a few Dollars. Tip at least Rp 5,000 per bag (around 50 cents). If you don’t have Indonesian money yet, no worries, Porters are usually happy to accept $1 or $2 coins in your currency. They will probably ask for more, but just smile and say “This is enough sir”. Your first bargaining experience!
The Customs Officer will probably look at your bags and ask “Anything to declare?” Reply with a smile “No, nothing sir.” He’ll quickly check your bags anyway. If he asks “How many surfboards?” reply with a smile “Only one sir.” Any more than 3 boards and they will try to charge you “surfboard import tax”. The tax is just a scam, no receipt will be issued, and the amount is highly negotiable. But you can’t get out of paying something. So be prepared.
Try to pack all your boards into one bag. If you get caught with more than 3 boards, be sure to have placed $20 inside your Passport. Hand it over to the Customs officer who will most likely go into a small room for a moment and then return the Passport to you (without the cash of course) and let you through with a discreet smile. This is the “Indonesian way” and we’ve all just got to cop it. Remain calm and courteous. Some guys who complained loudly have been stung for hundreds of dollars
Hotel Check In
The Receptionist will need to see your Passport and Ticket. Never give your Passport to anyone to keep. If they need to show it to the Police to register you for example, suggest they take a photocopy. Immediately deposit all your valuables in the Hotel Security Box, taking a note with you of what is in the box. I suggest you relax around the hotel the first few hours, rather than charging out to the night spots or searching for waves – you may never find your way back to the hotel. Just laze around the pool, eat and drink at the hotel or close by while you get your bearings. Try to meet other tourists staying at the hotel to ask about good places to eat nearby and where the surf’s been happening – they’ll probably have hundreds of hair raising stories that will help you avoid the pitfalls experienced by most new arrivals. Don’t buy any souvenirs in the first few days. Learn how to bargain first.
Remember to keep Rp 150,000 for your Airport International Departure Tax, plus at least Rp 200,000 for a Taxi to the airport and a last drink or two while you wait to fly home. Any left over Rupiah can be given as a tip to your room boy, taxi driver, or deposited in Red Cross donation tins inside the airport.