Bali and Java FAQ

Frequently asked questions about Bali, Java and the tour.

Q. How do I apply for an Indonesian visa?
A. Here’s a handy link where you can find those details.

Q. Will bottled water be readily available?
A. Yes it will. However, we strongly urge our tour participants to carry their own reusable water bottle and bring a water purifier, such as a SteriPen, so as to cut down on the number of plastic water bottles that get thrown out daily in Indonesia. It’s believed that on Bali alone, more than 30 MILLION plastic bottles get disposed of every month.

Q. What is the WanderTours Giving Program?
A. This is a program we have developed for all of our international trips, where a portion of your tour cost goes toward supporting a project or non-profit organization in the country where the tour is taking place. Read our blog post on this topic.

In Bali, we support the R.O.L.E. Foundation and visit them toward the end of the tour.

Q. I need some suggestions of gifts to bring for the guide(s) and driver(s). What might I bring that they don’t have there?
A. We would suggest something from your region. Something that is popular like a food item or something representative of where you live (a coffee mug with the Space Needle on it, for example). There will one driver and one guide for each of Java and Bali—so a total of two drivers and two guides.

Q. I know I should pack light with perhaps just a carry-on but I can’t because of other travel commitments.
A. While you will be more comfortable moving around with fewer bags, you likely won’t be the only one with more than a carry-on bag.

Q. How much is the International Departure Tax for Indonesia?
A. Effective February 9, 2015, all airlines will include the Passenger Departure Tax in the ticket price and you will no longer have to pay it as you’re leaving Indonesia.

Q. I’m going to be stopping in Australia on my way to/from Indonesia. Do I need an Australian visa?
A. Yes, you do need a visa to enter Australia if you are staying longer than simply transiting. Most U.S. and Canadian passport-holders traveling to Australia as a tourist for fewer than 90 days can obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). If you don’t qualify for an ETA, information on acquiring a Visitor Visa can be found here. While it’s not technically necessary to obtain an Australian visa if you’re simply transferring planes (and not stopping over), you may want to do so in case there are delays and you end up in Australia for longer than anticipated.

Q. Do I need to worry about mosquitoes and/or malaria in Indonesia?
A. Yes, there is malaria in Indonesia. But since we are not doctors, we suggest you check with your doctor about malaria prophylaxes. Here’s an excellent article on TravelFish about malaria in SE Asia – it’s a good place to start your research.

Q. Is it necessary to spray my clothes with an insecticide?
A. You will likely encounter mosquitoes throughout the trip. To avoid them, you can wear clothing with permethrin or wear some sort of mosquito repellent.

Q. Shall I bring a bathing suit?
A. Most of the hotels will have pools. It will be quite warm on both islands so a bathing suit is suggested.

Q. Will the hotels have a laundry service so that I can pack light?
A. Hotels will definitely have laundry service at a reasonable rate. You’ll want to consider having it done at one of the hotels where the group is staying for more than one night. Alternately, you can rinse your clothes out in the evening and let them dry out overnight. For this, you’ll need clothes made from quick-drying material.

Q. Do I need to learn any Bahasa Indonesia?
A. It isn’t necessary as many people speak English but it might be fun for you to learn a bit of the language in advance. Being able to say “hello,” “goodbye,” “thank you” and “excuse me” will go a long way. Lonely Planet has an excellent phrase book that will get you started.

Q. Can I use my cell phone in Indonesia?
A. It depends. First, your cell phone must have GSM technology in order to tap into the local network. If you plan on bringing the phone that you use on a daily basis at home, CHECK WITH YOUR PROVIDER to determine what they will charge for calls and texts – both outgoing and incoming – and for calls within Indonesia and for international calls. These calls can be exorbitantly priced per minute unless you have purchased a data/cell plan in advance.

Consider carrying an old phone that is unlocked – meaning that it doesn’t have a call plan attached to it. Remember that it has to have GSM technology in order to tap into the local network. When you arrive in-country, you can purchase a SIM card for that phone and then be able to tap into the local network. Domestic and international calls will likely be far cheaper than using your own phone on your current plan. When you add the new SIM card, this phone will be assigned a phone number that you can then share with your family at home and they can call you directly (sometimes you’re not charged for incoming calls).

Here’s a blog post about cell phone usage abroad.

The above also applies to iPads with 3G. If you are under contract to an internet provider at home you will probably not be able to change out the SIM card in your iPad. The iPad must be “unlocked” in order to use the 3G capabilities without paying huge roaming fees. Please check with your provider before leaving home. You might also consider signing up for Skype and putting money on your account so that you can call home using this technology. Skype to Skype calls are free while Skype to cell or land lines have a nominal per minute charge.

Q. What should I use write and journal while traveling?
A. A journal is great because you don’t have to plug it in. But you might consider carrying a small netbook or iPad with a keyboard.

Q. Are ATMs available? Do vendors take credit cards?
ATMs are ubiquitous and that will be your best way to access local currency.

We suggest you change a small amount of cash at the airport upon arrival and then hit an ATM when you get into the first city in which you arrive. Carry enough cash with you in case you can’t access your bank account with a debit or credit card. It depends on your spending habits as to how much money you might bring with you.

The larger/more expensive shops take credit cards but smaller vendors at the markets will want local currency.

Q. Are travelers checks accepted in Indonesia?
A. Fewer and fewer places around the world are taking travelers checks but it’s not a bad idea to have these as a backup in case you can’t find an ATM that will accept your card(s).

Q. How much should we be prepared to bring extra for tipping?
A.  Your WanderTours guide/escort will be handling tips for the guides and drivers so there’s no need to budget for that. However, we find that our tour participants love our guides (and drivers) so much that they do like to tip a bit extra if you’re so inclined.

Q. If I bring US dollars, are Indonesians fussy about them being perfect?
It’s a good idea to have newer/crisper bills as sometimes the money changers won’t take ones that aren’t in perfect condition.

Q. I have a moneybelt that goes under my pants or skirt in which I carry my passport. Do you recommend getting something more substantial?
A money pouch that you can discreetly tuck underneath your clothes is a good way to carry your money and passport.

Q. Are short skirts (slightly above the knee) acceptable in the temples? How about calf-length skirts? Just pants?
A. It’s best not to wear above the knee skirts to temples, you will likely not be allowed in. Calf-length skirts are fine.

Q. Would you recommend taking a rain coat? Something more than one of those flimsy “emergency” ponchos?
A. It could very well rain during our time in Bali and Java and at least a light rain jacket is recommended.

Q. Should we bring our own toilet paper? Do they have the “squatty potties” of China fame?
A. No need to bring toilet paper as it will be available at all hotels. Most toilets are western style though you might come across some squatty potties (on the train and at some rest areas, for example).

Q. Can I bring my laptop?
A. Of course, you will have power at all of the hotels. Free WiFi is available at many hotels and also in cafes.

Q. What sort of power adaptor do I need?Type C Adaptor
A. Indonesia uses the same sort of adaptor as other parts of SE Asia (pictured right). It’s a two-pin adaptor also common in Europe.

Q. Are there hair dryers at the hotels?
A. Sometimes but don’t count on it. As mentioned above, there will be power at all hotels. Just remember that no one’s going to be looking their finest, so if you don’t have to have the hair dryer, consider leaving it at home. 🙂

Q. Do I need any dressy clothes?
A. Nope.

Q. What kind of shoes should I hike/walk in?
A. It depends on how much ankle support you need. Hiking boots may not be necessary but consider light hikers or even something like Keen or Teva sandals that have a grip on the bottom. These will come in handy as you walk up to the volcanoes, around the temples and through the rice fields.

Q. I have been researching new luggage and took to heart your message of going LIGHT. Is it safe to assume we are going to be responsible for moving our luggage around every day, and also that we may be needing to pick it up more than wheel it, due to fairly uneven and unpaved terrain?
A. You’ll have very little interaction with your luggage other than moving it from the van to your room and there’s hotel staff to help with that. You might consider a small roller bag that is carry-on size (under 22″).

Q. What tricks do you use to fit all that stuff into a carry-on and still have room for souvenirs?
A. It’s true that if you pack light, you’ll have to do more laundry. But I’d rather live with rinsing out some clothes every four or five nights than lugging around a big bag. Check out this article on secrets to packing light. I sometimes purchase a small bag at my destination in which to carry souvenirs.
Q. Will we need an overnight bag for anything?
A. As a matter of fact, yes! On Day 4, we will be leaving most of our luggage behind when we board the train. We’ll be traveling and overnighting with just a duffel or small overnight bag and then meeting up with our bus (and our luggage) the following day. Please be sure to have a small-ish duffel or overnight bag for this purpose.

Q. Do you recommend taking a drivers license with you on trips where you aren’t planning on driving? Or just rely on your passport, or get an International Drivers License as another form of ID?
You definitely won’t need your drivers license but if you feel more comfortable carrying it, by all means, do. Your passport is really the most important ID you’ll need.

Q. Will you be sending an updated itinerary with our overnight accommodations so we can leave it with folks at home?
A. You’ll receive the hotel information one or two weeks before departure along with emergency contact information.

Q. Do I need insurance for this tour?
Although we don’t require trip insurance, we definitely think it’s a great idea – not just for unexpected cancellations, but also for health issues and medical evacuation while you’re abroad.We highly recommend evacuation insurance for this and all international WanderTours. For all your insurance needs, consider Insure My Trip. They have a wide range of options, good customer service, an easy to navigate website and they offer numerous affordable options including travel, medical and evacuation insurance.

Q. Will I receive a refund if I have to cancel my participation in the tour?
A. Whether or not you receive a partial refund depends on how far in advance of the tour you cancel. Our refund policy is covered in our Booking Terms and Conditions and is also outlined on the Registration form that you’ll receive within 24 hours of booking. Refunds will be sent by check within two weeks of our receiving written notification of your cancellation (email notification is fine). If Beth is traveling when you cancel, it may take longer than two weeks to get your refund check out to you. She’ll mail it as soon as she can upon returning to the U.S.!

Q. Will we have internet access?
A. Nearly all of the hotels now have free WiFi either in the rooms or, at the very least, in the lobby area.