International Travel

You will most likely enter Indonesia through the Jakarta (CGK) or Denpasar/Bali (DPS) airports. Sometimes open jaw tickets (eg flying in to CGK and out of DPS) is the same price as flying in and out of Jakarta and sometimes not so price shop. There are other international points of entry in smaller cities with service usually from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. The CGK and DPS airports are described here. Remaining airports are described in the City Guide at the end.

Other ways to arrive in Indonesia are by ferry (especially Singapore-Batam) or land crossing (Near the border with Papua New Guinea or in Borneo). NOTE that Visa on Arrival service may not be available at some of the land/ferry crossings. Also, it may be difficult to leave Indonesia for a day visit to the adjacent country and return.

Denpasar, Bali Airport (DPS)

Newly built terminal. Interestingly the domestic terminal is much smaller than the international side so specify is you are ‘Internasional’ or ‘Domestik’. It used to be you had to negotiate a taxi rate to your hotel and there’s still negotiating tactics used by Bali taxi drivers so often a driver is arranged before arrival unless you are with a local. Ask usintec for help. Note that traffic in some tourist areas can be one way and extremely slow moving, so be sure to budget more time than you think for returning to the airport. Tourist information for Bali can be found below in the City Guide.

Travel time to hotels: Kuta/Legian/ Jimbaran 30mins, Seminyak/Denpasar City/Sanur/ Nusa Dua 45 mins, Ubud 90 mins, Singarajah 210 mins.

Jakarta (CGK) Airport

Note that 5% of domestic flights to Jakarta are served by Halim Airport (HLP) – a great alternative to CGK if you’re flying domestic because of its proximity to city center. See a description of this airport in the City Guide below.

Most visitors to Indonesia arrive through Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK), Jakarta, which has 3 terminals. The airport is named after the first President and VicePresident of Indonesia and is in the suburb of Cengkareng (that explains why the airport code is CGK) whose residents have disappeared after being swallowed by the airport. CGK is building all the time, so this description is subject to change.

All international flights (except Air Asia and Garuda) Arrive and depart from Terminal 2. Garuda Airlines flights (international and domestic) operate from NEW Terminal 3. Air Asia flights operate from OLD Terminal 3 (eventually the new will replace the old so at present there are two buildings with the same number). Tell taxi drivers your airline and destination to help direct the driver to the right drop off location. Therefore, after you receive your ticket, if you are on an international carrier (other than Air Asia) and you are connecting to a Garuda flight, you will transfer from T2 to T3New. If you are connecting to a different carrier, such as Batik, Merpati, Sriwijaya, Citilink, Lion, or Wings, mostly they operate out of Terminal 1, except for some Lion flights which operate out of T3 Old. Check your itinerary.

There is a shuttle bus between terminals that operates from around 05:30 to 24:00. If you arrive at another time, take a taxi. Some people take a taxi anyway to avoid waiting for the bus. The bus operates from curb side about every 20 minutes on the upper level / departures. It is a 3 minute drive between terminals but it is too far to walk and there are no sidewalks.

– Passengers arriving Terminal 2 will exit the plane, and as soon as they see the first signage will note the sign that reads ‘VOA’ (Visa On Arrival) in 1 foot high letters. If you are arriving as a tourist or are on a Study Abroad trip you do not need a visa so skip the VOA line and proceed directly to Immigration. If you are attending meetings you need a visa. At the first kiosk (it looks like one of those Bureau de Change money booths with the exchange rates listed) you will pay $35 USD for your Visa so bring US Cash.

– At the second kiosk located 2 meters away, is Indonesian Immigration. Here you present the boarding form given to you on the plane, and if you bought a visa you will present it. They will return to you your receipt. They rarely ask questions but may ask your length of stay and your purpose of visit. If you do not have a visa say ‘tourist’. If you have a visa, say you are attending meetings. Do not say anything to suggest you are employed or that ‘you are teaching’. You are not employed, will not be set up on salary, and do not have a government ID number all of which is required for employment. So, your status is that of tourist, friend, helper or meeting attendee.


Tourists cannot extend their stay beyond 30 days. If you have a VOA it is good for 30 days. If you arrive at 23:55 and leave 10 minutes later at 00:05 that counts as 2 days. There is the possibility that some people will have a stay exceeding 30 days which is not allowed under Indonesian immigration law. Therefore, on your entry form I recommend you enter under ‘Duration of Stay’ the number ’30’ or less. VOA holders can extend their stay one time for 30 days at the Immigration office prior to expiry of the first VOA. Some people have been known to fly to Singapore for the weekend and return rather than wait at the immigration office.


After completing immigration gather your bags from the belt – it’s up to you if you want a porter – it’s usually $1 – $2 a bag. Also, opposite the baggage belt you will find ATMs = here you can get some cash. All ATMs have an English option. The withdrawal limit is never more than 3.000.000 Indonesian Rupiah, usually less. Think of the red 100,000 notes as $10 (It’s actually worth more like $8). ATMs dispense 100,000 notes or 50,000 notes so look on the front of the machine and it will say what the atm dispenses – most people prefer a machine that dispenses 100,000 IDR notes.

When you left the USA you likely had a 50 lb (22.5 kgs) bag limit but when you r e-check on a domestic carrier the limit will be lower, usually 20 kgs or on Lion 15 kgs. Therefore, it is helpful to pack a bag that does not weigh more than 20 kgs to avoid excess baggage charges.


Exit the baggage hall through customs and turn in your customs form. Nothing to worry about here.


For travellers going to the city of Jakarta, stop at a resto and ‘break’ your 100,000 IDR note by buying some Aqua or water. Taxi drivers NEVER carry change. Indonesians call smaller bills ‘small money’.

Then continue past the friendly but persistent people offering you a ride (tidak, pronounced Tee-DOK, means ‘no’) and take only one of two taxi services: the economical Blue Bird or the upscale Silver Bird. Ask for those taxis by name, settle for nothing less, and look for the clearly marked cars about 100 meters to the left of international arrivals. After entering, its helpful to have your destination written down, and to have the telephone number so the driver can call if he is not certain. Taxi meters are a function of distance and time, so when traffic is stopped the meter is running. Fastest and cheapest ride to city center (30 minutes) in Blue Bird is about 130,000. Most expensive ride in heavy traffic (90 minutes) in Silver Bird is about 320,000. Worst ride in Silver Bird, at 6PM during Ramadan in the rain during wet season (think flooding – 3 hours) and 500.000. If there is a long line for Blue Bird consider taking the more expensive Silver Bird which will likely have a shorter line. Departing the airport on just arriving in Indonesia is the time you are most vulnerable. Your phone is probably not working, you’re exhausted, and everything is new. Do these 2 things:

  1. Have the destination written, including the telephone number and maybe a small sketch type map (not every taxi driver can read). Also have the number of a local contact. Have the dispatcher tell the driver where to go. Have small money to cover the taxi bill. BE CERTAIN the driver turns on the meter. If he does not, point to the meter and say ‘meter’. Do not travel more than 50 feet without the meter being turned on. If it is not say stop, or open the door.
  2. If the driver seems lost look for a large hotel – something that will be open 24 hours. Then point to it and say the name of the hotel. Pay the driver and get your bags. Once you go to a hotel, even the wrong one, you can find a hotel clerk who can get a new driver for you and give the right directions.

Generally, taxis in Indonesia are cheap cheap = a 20 minute ride may be only $3 – $4.

In terminal 2 near Departures Door D is the newly renovated Jakarta Airport Hotel  and on the Airport grounds but requiring a taxi are the Ibis, SwissBell and Orchardz Hotel and the Sheraton Bandara (bandara = airport) hotel. is a helpful hotel booking site.

For Connecting travellers, use the lift to go to the Departures level and take the shuttle bus to the other terminal, or re-enter terminal 2. Security will require you to show your itinerary and have bags screened to get into the airport, and again at the gate.

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