It’s Finally Going to Get Easier to Visit Indonesia

Indonesia travel

Indonesia has long been near the top of the list of the cheapest places to live in the world, having a starring role in all four editions of The World’s Cheapest Destinations. The visa policy there has always been baffling to me though. You have to buy a visa on arrival, which increased to $35 last year, plus you’ve been limited to a paltry 30 days. It’s as if they were trying to say they didn’t want your money and that they didn’t want you to stick around long enough to see more than a fraction of the country.

This anti-tourism attitude has resulted in several ugly realities. The physically ugly one is that Bali has become a crowded package holiday spot, with the over-development and short-sighted planning policies that are usually a byproduct of that. Few places on Earth have gone from pristine to traffic-choked as fast as that island and the water table is in serious trouble. (This crisis report is from 2012 and the situation has gotten worse since then.) Bali has become the Cancun or Phuket of Indonesia, drawing an inordinate amount of the country’s tourists each year.

And compared to its smaller competitors in the region, Indonesia doesn’t get all that many tourists. “In 2013, 8.8 million foreign visitors came to Indonesia, according to official figures, compared with 25.72 million in Malaysia and 26.55 million in Thailand.” (Source Yahoo Australia)

That many change now as the government just announced it will waive its tourist visa for 30 countries. The big media story is that Australia was snubbed, but the USA, Canada, and several European countries are on the list. So now we’ll be able to just fly in and fly through immigration. No word yet on how long we’ll be able to stay though, even in the local media. It’s odd they’re ignoring that part of the equation in trying to get to 10 million then 12 million visitors. A whole wave of long-term travelers would love to stick around a while without having to fly to Singapore or take a ferry to Malaysia and back just to get another month in the country.

Tana Toraja Sulawesi

There’s so much to see and do in this long archipelago that it’s a shame to have to rush through and tick off the highlights. It would be a terrific journey to start out in Sulawesi, take a boat from island to island across to Lombok and Bali, visit the prime parts of Java, then spend weeks in Sumatra. I did all that but on two different visits and those are some of my best memories from the backpacking days.

Regardless, this latest news makes for a great convergence of positive reasons for travelers from the USA to head to Indonesia. The country’s economy has been faltering recently and “the economic woes have seen the rupiah sink to a 17-year low against the dollar in recent days.” Start making your island-hopping plans now!

Top Flickr Creative Commons photo by Laurent KB, second by Charles Wiriawan

Comments
  1. Dale Reardon

    Hi,

    A disappointed Aussie here. Seems our PrimeMinister has annoyed the Indonesian Government and we are now suffering through things like this.

    We are going to Bali later in the year and staying 35 days so have to get our Visa extended.

    Dale.

    • John Wilson

      Are you serious?
      I suppose that the previous Australian Government didn’t upset the Indonesians by bugging the Indonesian Prime Minister…and we won’t mention the sudden banning of “Live Meat” exports to Indonesia which caused a heap of hardship to Indonesians and Australians alike.
      If you want to holiday in Bali…that’s your prerogative but I for one wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole. Bali is for “BOGANS”

  2. Saah

    Aussies are disgusting in Bali. and the Indonesians are rather pissed off with over the Bali nine drug heroin traffickers and Schapelle Corby the pot smuggler.Not to. Mention our prime minister who has been rude to the Indonesian government telling them not to execute (2) of the Bali nine heroin traffickers. So no wonder they don’t like us Aussies . I’ve been to Bali once (under duress) With a friend and we were disgusted at the behaviour of our fellow Australians. We also found the Balinese rude and annoying. I blame this on western influence over-running and spoiling their perhaps once tranquil island. It’s dirty too hot and forget a peaceful holiday in Paradise The Balinese continually harass yiu to buy stuff they’re rude and pushy. And the place is full of bogan white people behaving like trash. Other parts of INdonesia are probably quite different. Alas Bali because it’s such a cheap holiday all Cheap bogans flock there. You couldn’t pay me enough to ever to go there again.

  3. Hannah

    We hope to get to Indonesia in 2016 and nice the visa is now waived!

  4. Cassie Seen

    nice!.. :)

  5. Chris Edwards

    Tim: just returned from two months in Indonesia- bad news is the visa fee has not been relaxed and the word is it likely won’t be anytime soon- Indonesian government has a habit of making grand pronoucements then failing to implement- the otheR piece of bad news is this blog is blocked by the Indonesian web filters so no Cheapest Destinations while there….and one piece of good news is that the recent knucklehead decision to ban beer sales in warnings and small shops in Bali will be rescinded…FYI

    • Tim Leffel

      Thanks for the update Chris! Yeah, this blog has long been blocked in Indonesia and I have no idea why. You can pull it up fine in China!

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *