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Qs and tips for 2-3 months in Indonesia

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Hi!

I am working on planning a (last minute) trip to Indonesia-- December and January, although I am free through February (was thinking maybe of visiting some other countries then, but who knows if I'll be able to drag myself off of Bali). I am in need of some restoration and change, and I think spending some time by the ocean will be just the trick! I have been to Bali once before, right after high school. I absolutely loved it, and although I don't remember all of the details of where I visited, I distinctly remember feeling like I was in the best place in the world and this funny feeling of being "home". Nothing has ever compared.

I am hoping to base myself out of Canggu where I can do Yoga, Crossfit, attempt to surf, eat some healthy food and read some good books. I would definitely like to do some excursions to some other islands and other areas on Bali as well and would love to hear any "musts" that you have. I did go to a lot of the typical spots in Bali on my last trip, so I would like to see some of the other parts of the country especially. I love hiking, beaches, and staying away from anything too chaotic or touristy (yes, I know Canggu is full of expats).

I am hoping to take advantage of the month-long discounts on AirBnB by staying in one place for at least a month or two. I've been reading that prices online are higher than in person. Would you reccomend just planning a few nights somehwere to start and then finding a rental while actually in Canggu? I'm definitely on a budget and am fine with something simple, but would like to be comfortable (I have about $5000 absolute max to spend over three months, but would prefer to spend much less).

I am trying to get a 60 day Toursit Visa, except that I live in Wyoming and am nowhere near the LA Consulate to which I am assigned. Not sure if I really have to mail them my passport but that's kind of what I am reading? I'd rather get a 60-day visa to start, and then if I want to extend, deal with the immigration stuff or making a visa run. If I were to leave the country after 60 days, would I be able to re-enter and get a Visa Free or do you have to do the visa application outside of Indonesia as a lot of people seem to do... I wouldn't need more than another 30 days at the most.

Do you have any reccomendations of how much cash one should bring initially? I know I need to look into money transfer/ATM/credit card stuff, but I am thinking of bringing a chunk of cash right off the bat...
I also need to look into unlocking my phone and getting a local sim, as I hear that this is the best way to be connected, although I wonder what happens when I come back to the US.

If anyone has any answers to some of the questions/ramblings I have posed, please don't hesitate! And any other advice, encouragement, tips or ideas are welcome! What do you wish you had known/done/prepared for before you spent time in Bali?

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    Visas - we faced exactly the same issues last year. We wanted to stay for a couple of months and did consider trying to get the 60 visa from the consulate in KL. Apparently it takes a day. In the end we decided to get the 30 days visa on arrival and then fly out on a visa run for another thirty days. Unfortunately we were there over Ramadan and had had enough by then so we moved on! The availability of the 60 day visa seems to vary tremendously by location and who you ask. Basically I think it is easier and safer to do a visa run.

    BTW have you looked at the weather at that time of year. Not the be all, end all, but it is rainy season. It probably doesn't rain all day but it could restrict beach and surfing time.

    Money - we travel for extended periods and so rely on pre- loaded travel debit cards for cash and credit cards fro flights. I understand that the former may not be great value in the US though. Check with your own bank for charges and the need to notify them of where you are travelling. Definitely take more than one card in case one gets lost/stolen/cloned. We had no problems in Indonesia but I have read on tripadvisor that phantom withdrawals are a problem with cards in Bali. ALWAYS use ATMs attached to banks during opening hours just in case of problems.

    Taking large amounts of cash on a long trip can be risky and there are limits to how much you travel insurance policy will cover in the event of theft. I always carry a supply of cash for emergencies but rarely use it. $500 is IME is about right - enough to cover the cost of a flight to an embassy and a few nights accomodation.

    Taking an unlocked phone is a great idea. PAYGO SIM cards are cheap. An alternative, if you are not attached to your smartphone, is to by a cheap phone there. Do check that your phone has the correct bands for the region. A quad or tribals phone will be fine. We found a tablet to be more useful as wifi is everywhere. Easy to make calls on Skype or similar.

    Packing - travel light! It is a lot cheaper, quicker and easier to travel with Carryon only, especially if moving around a lot. No lost bags, no waiting in queues for bags, no extra fees on budget airlines etc.

    Budget - I think $5k would be enough. It is possible to find decent accomodation in Ubud where we stayed for a while for around $20-25 PM. Food is inexpensive if you avoid the tourist places and even more so if you have your own kitchen. We used Airbnb in a few places this year and didn't really find that it was cheaper to organise locally. That said, there are huge numbers of places that are sold on any website. A few days in a hostel would enable you to suss out a few places on arrival.

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    Sounds like a wonderful trip!

    Getting a 60 day visa in advance is a good option. Failing that, you can enter Indonesia on a 30 day tourist visa, then extend for another 30 days while in Bali. In order to do this you must buy a visa on arrival: don't enter visa free. I believe the visa fee is USD35 now.

    There are many good agents that will arrange visa extensions. The cost is around USD75 and you'll be without your passport for about a week. You can also go to immigration and handle the procedure yourself for a fraction of that, but it entails more than one trip and a lot of waiting around.

    Either way, once your visa expires, you can leave the country, return immediately and enter visa free for another 30 days. Singapore on AirAsia is the cheapest option for a "visa run." I would mention, however, that lately we've had reports that Singapore has not allowed same day turn around so enquire more about this when you are in Bali.

    You can also arrange a 6 month social visa, but the procedure is is outside my area of expertise.

    Canggu is a big area and not so easy to get around unless you rent a motor bike, as many areas are off limits to taxi pick ups. The Brawa, Batu Bolong and Pererenon are the main beach communities with a lot of good restaurants, spas, yoga pavilions and clubs. Brawa, Old Man's (Batu Bolong), Echo beach (Pererenon) are the most popular surfer beaches, but a bit scruffy and not the best for swimming or walking.

    If the idea of getting around by motor bike is not appealing, then consider staying in Petitenget or Batu Belig which are on the north end of Seminyak. From there you can take taxis everywhere or walk for miles along Petitenget beach, all the way to Kuta.

    AirBNB is inconsistent in Bali, so I wouldn't over commit unless you're sure you like the place or have a reliable recommendation. Beware of locations that are too isolated and avoid anything on Sunset Road! The period between Christmas and New Years and a few days on either side will be quite busy so definitely cover yourself at that time.

    I'm sure you'll want to spend a major chunk of time in Ubud (look at Nyuh Kuning and Penestanan). Amed is also a nice beach getaway. The Gili Islands and Nusa Lembangan are also popular beach locations. I would highly recommend a few days in Central Java, in Yogyakarta or in the area around Borobudur. AirAsia flight are very cheap.

    As mentioned you can expect rain from December to January. Rain shouldn't impact your trip overall, but unfortunately the West Coast beaches can get terribly trashy after big storms.

    ATMs are mostly okay in Bali, though there are a few that are particularly dodgy. Fellow travelers will tell you which ones to stay away from.

    Be aware that January 28 is Lunar New Year which will also be a busy time in Bali. Make sure you take this holiday into account if you do a visa run, as the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore will be closed for several days at that time.

    I would strongly encourage you to get medical evacuation insurance. PADI has a good, cheap plan. And wear a helmet!

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