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Travelling Indonesia for 2 months - HELP with itinerary!! :)

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Hello,

Me and my partner are planning for 6 months round Asia, with 2 months ideally in Indonesia.

Its all very estimate at the minute as we realistically cant afford it until 2014 - so if you cant help us at this stage I understand.

So far based on flight costs with the countries we want to see we'll fly in to Java from Japan and back out from Java to Vietnam.

So my questions are (and quite vague I apologise):

- How safe is Indonesia in general? Theft/violence/illness etc... We're new to travelling and still quite naive to be honest...

- Whats the accommodation like in general? (We're thinking either cheaper hotels or more expensive hostels, we'd really like private rooms for most of it)

- Does it tend to be cheap like Thailand or expensive like Japan? (Our Japan leg so far is costing a lot!)

- Where to go and where not to go (interested in culture- shrines and temples etc, nature- trekking etc, beaches, scuba diving and shopping. Not big drinkers really, going more for a different way of life than to drink and party! I'm a divemaster in the UK so really interested in what Indonesia has to offer in diving/snorkelling.

- How easy/cheap/comfortable it is to travel within Indonesia

- And how easy/expensive is it to obtain the required visas?

We'll be really out of our comfort zone as we're used to our lovely little flat, nice car, easy life - but we're bored and what adventure! Its going to be a shock....

Any advice or past itineraries/tours you've done that you think may be of interest would be great - I've planned Japan quite well, but I'm struggling with where to start with Indonesia!

Thanks a bunch!

Charlie

P.S. I've kinda put together the below as a rough itinerary based on the cheapest flights. Just so if you see a ridiculous looking itinerary you can tell me :P
I know I may be going back and forth a bit but getting rough prices (based on this year however) this seems to be the cheapest. See what you think anyway

UK - JAPAN - INDONESIA - VIETNAM - PHILLIPINES - SINGAPORE - MALAYSIA -(Maybe Cambodia?)- THAILAND - UK

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    First step is to minimize air travel costs, and the standard advice is to fly into one city and out of another to minimize backtracking. Bali Indonesia is a major tourist destination so you can fly into Bali and out of Jakarta (or vice versa.)
    If you plan on visiting several other countries, you might research circle-Pacific ticket combinations available from several long-haul travel agencies. These outfits usually bill themselves as around-the-world specialists but will do regional combos too.

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    If you want to stay two months in Indonesia, you'll have to get a visa in advance. For 30 days or less, you can get a visa on arrival. Indonesia is relatively inexpensive, actually less expensive than Thailand. Indonesia has an incredible variety of things to do & see. It has some of the best dive sites in the world. I am recently back from two weeks in Java, and even though I had been there before, two weeks really wasn't quite enough to cover the limited things we wanted to do/see. Here is my report: www.fodors.com/community/asia/kathies-return-to-jogja.cfm
    and here is a link to our photos: www.marlandc.com/Java2012/index.html Do get the Lonely Planet's guide to Indonesia to start going your research.

    To minimize travel costs, you will likely want to use some of the low cost airlines. The largest low cost carrier in Asia in Air Asia. It's main hub is Kuala Lumpur, but it has smaller hubs in Bangkok and Jakarta.

    In terms of your outline, take a look at a map. You are doing a fair amount of backtracking. Geographically, it makes more sense to go from Indonesia to Singapore (a very expensive destination) to Malaysia to VN and then to Thailand to fly home. The Philippines would fit best between Japan and Indonesia.

    Decide what the most important things you want to do/see/experience on this trip and plan your itinerary around these.

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    Two months in Indonesia sounds great! You will find everything you're looking for and meet some wonderful people along the way. In answer to your questions:

    Indonesia is generally safe and violent crime rare. You have to use common sense with your belongings, especially electronics, and beware of scams in touristed areas.

    In the areas that get a fair number of foreign travelers hostel accommodation is available at a very low price. Most offer private rooms. In the outer islands there are homestays which are even cheaper. Lonely Planet is a good resource.

    Indonesia is one of the best values in Asia. Parts of Bali and Jakarta can be expensive but otherwise cost of living is very low. The exception is alcohol -- wine and spirits -- which is exorbitant.

    Indonesia's a big country so you'll have lots of choices for culture, nature and especially for diving. In two months you could cover a lot of geography. I'd definitely cover Central Java, East Java, Bali, Central Sulawesi and North Sulawesi. After that there are several good choices -- too many really to list. Ambon, West Papua, Sumba/Subawa would be on my list. Also Kalimantan, Sumatra.

    Start with some guidebooks to get oriented. As mentioned, Lonely Planet is good. I really like Periplus guides too.

    Because of the scope of your choices you might want to connect with an adventure travel agent who could arrange the logistics in some of the off the beaten track places.

    Diving is excellent, worldclass! I'd recommend North Sulawesi -- Bunaken and Lembeh -- but there are many, many other good sites throughout Indonesia.

    The most painless and time efficient way to get around the archipelago is by air. There are several budget airlines that connect the farflung parts of the country. There are trains on Java which are acceptable. Generally speaking you should avoid the long distance ferries as they are notoriously unsafe. Overland there are long distance buses which are both uncomfortable and dangerous, but sometimes the only choice.

    You can obtain a visa on arrival for 30 days at about USD25. Once in country you can extend for another 30 days, though it may not be so easy to do so outside of the well traveled areas. The cost of extension -- through an agent -- is about USD75. If you are near an Indonesian Embassy you can secure a 60 day visa prior to departure, but the process is complex.

    I would mention that in 2014 the fasting month of Ramadan will start at the end of June. Following that are ten days of celebration which the Indonesians call Lebaran. If you can avoid the Islamic parts of Indonesia during this time. Also, be sure to take out medical evacuation insurance.

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    Thank you so much! Your replies have been really helpful.

    So as 2 months seems like a decent amount of time, hypothetically what sort of itinerary would you suggest for one month? I'm still deciding on my itinerary, and my partner suggested instead of 6 months away (and then never being able to afford to do it again) going for 3 months but being able to save and do a similar thing in a year or two after. Still not sure though....

    And I do see I'm backtracking slightly flight-wise, it is slightly frustrating as that itinerary has made the best financial choice. It would be more expensive to do it in order, but I am only looking at this year, closer to the time it may make more sense to re-jiggle it slightly.

    From experience, do you plan and book everything before you go, or just book flights and then do it all as you go along?

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