Travel Advice and FAQ: Komodo, Indonesia
The Republic of Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago with 17,700 islands stretching 5,120km (3,200 miles) between Australia and the Asian mainland. Indonesia's 80,000km (50,000 mile) stretch of coastline is surrounded by tropical seas that contribute to the country's high level of biodiversity making Indonesia a must on every divers wish-list! Indonesia is more than just diving however with around 300 ethnic groups each offering tourists their unique cultures, elaborate textiles, architectural influences and of course, sumptuous cuisine.
Lying just to the east of Bali, at the start of the Nusa Tenggara-Timor island chain, is the pristine Indonesian island of Lombok. A haven for those seeking the Bali of old, Lombok is one of Indonesia's best kept secrets. Indeed the Lonely Planet Travel Guide describes Lombok has having "better beaches, a bigger volcano and more varied landscapes" than neighbouring Bali, drawing many travellers in for "intoxicating diving" and "intriguing endemic culture".
For up to date tourist information see the Official Site for Tourism in Indonesia.
In the centre of the Indonesian archipelago, between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores, is Komodo National Park covering 1,817sq km and comprising of Komodo, Rinca and Padar as well as numerous smaller islands. Komodo Island itself is quite barren (with just one tiny fishing village) but continues to draw in visitors to see the prehistoric Komodo dragons, considered the last of their kind in the world today. Furthermore Komodo is part of the only equatorial region in the world where there is an exchange of marine flora and fauna between the Indian and Pacific oceans providing some of the best diving in Asia and the World.
Run by the Komodo National Park Office, the Official Website of the Komodo National Park is a highly recommended web site that will offer you accurate and up to date information on what to expect from Komodo itself.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I get to Indonesia and Lombok?
- Do I need a visa to enter Indonesia?
- Do I need to arrange a hotel in Lombok?
- What is the electricity supply in Indonesia?
- What is the currency in Indonesia and how do I pay?
- Where can I eat and how is the food?
- What will the weather be like during my visit?
- What are the air and water temperatures in Komodo and will I need a wetsuit?
- What should I wear?
- What about health precautions?
- What is the religious stance in Indonesia?
- Are there any rules of etiquette I should know about?
- What time zone does Komodo lie in?
- Is there a postal service?
- Can I make international calls and access the internet?
- How much crime is there in Indonesia and how useful are the police?
If your questions about Indonesia have been answered but you want to know more about diving from MV Philkade then see our MV Philkade FAQ.
If you are interested in joining MV Philkade after answering your Komodo questions, why not take a look at the Diving in the Komodo National Park or check out the MV Philkade Schedule and Price Komodo 2009?
Flying to Indonesia and Lombok
Please note that we can help you with your flight bookings, please call, or contact Aquamarine Divers by mail.
As MV Philkade is sailing out of Lombok there are actually several combinations of routes to choose from when planning your flights. You can fly into Singapore, with a great carrier being Singapore Airlines who have multiple flights to Singapore daily from many world-wide destinations. You can also fly into Kuala Lumpur with Malaysian Airlines who have a very good reputation. Further options are provided by the many international carriers that offer flights straight into Jakarta.
If you choose to fly to Lombok on an international route then you can fly direct from Singapore on Monday, Thursday, and Saturdays with Silk Air. Guests can also fly daily from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with Merpati Nusantara Airlines.
Internal FlightsIf you fly directly into Jakarta or combine your liveaboard cruise with a larger trip to one of Indonesia's many islands then there are daily flights to and from Lombok via Bali, Surabaya, and Jakarta with the following airlines:
Note 1: It is strongly advised that you arrive in Lombok at least one day prior to boat departure in order to avoid potential problems and to allow you time to acclimatise before heading out on the trip. Also remember the '24 hours after diving' rule when booking your return flights.
Note 2: When booking flights it is worth noting that Mataram Selaparang Airport in Lombok is sometimes listed as Ampenan, or simply Lombok. The airport handles international arrivals and has full Visa-on-arrival facilities.
All travellers to Indonesia must have a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of entry into the country. There are several levels of visa for entering Indonesia based on your nationality.
For nationals of the following countries a Free Visa on Arrival service is available at all international airports. Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. This is liable to change so see 'Visa - free short visits for tourists' for up to date information from the Indonesian consulate. This also will show you all other requirements for the Free Visa on Arrival.
For most other countries (currently 63 in all) including many from Western Europe, North America, and Oceania there is a Paid Visa on Arrival service that currently stands at $25 US. See 'Visa - paid short visas for tourists' for full details of what is required, countries this refers to, and valid ports of entry.
Nationals not included on the previous two lists are required to obtain a Visa on Approval prior to entering Indonesia. Please contact your nearest Indonesian Embassy closer to your trip date to confirm the above information.
Accommodation upon Arrival in Lombok
It is highly recommended that you arrive at least one day prior to your cruise. There are several resorts in Lombok, with more in Bali and other local islands. Aquamarine Divers can help you organise accommodation both before and after your trip, as well as accommodation on other islands if you are planning on extending your trip. Simply contact Aquamarine Divers if you require assistance.
In Indonesia 220Volt/50Hz is standard with 2/3 pin sockets as used in most of Europe (except the UK). To avoid confusion or disappointment we suggest guests bring at least one travel adapter. You can check the socket system visually at this World Wide Electricity Guide.
The local currency is the Indonesia Rupiah. Most larger hotels, restaurants, and shops accept major credit cards and cash machines are available in larger tourist areas. Banks will readily exchange US$, Euro, and GB Pounds as well as travellers cheques. You can check current exchange rates if you click here.
Eating out and Indonesian Food on Lombok
In the main Tourist areas of Senggigi, the Gili Islands, and Kuta Beach there are plenty of restaurants available serving Western, Indonesian, and Chinese food. In Mataram and in some remote area on Lombok, Indonesian food, Padang food, and Chinese food dominate. Rumah Makan (traditional eating places) can be found easily in Mataram, Ampenan, and in most main streets. Traditional food tends to use white rice served with vegetable curries or soup, chicken, beef, fish, and hot chilli. As with most of this area you don't see much in the way of pork. In Bahasa Indonesia, the word Lombok means 'chilli pepper' and it is used liberally in local cooking though this does not result in as much fire as you might expect.
Lombok has basically two seasons - wet and dry. The wet season generally occurs from November through to February, with heavy monsoon rainfall and cloud. During this time it can be quite humid but still hot. The dry season from March to October (when MV Philkade is running it's Komodo schedule) can still experience rain but is generally fine, clear, and hot with average temperatures around 28°C. Around August and September it can also be quite breezy.
For up to date weather in Lombok and Komodo see Yahoo weather.
Air and Water Temperatures
Air temperature: 23°C - 30°C (73°F - 86°F), days can be very hot and humid, nights sometimes a little cooler.
Water temperature: This will vary depending where you are on the itinerary of the trip. The northern section tends to be between 25°C and 29°C (77°F - 84°F), while the cooler southern section is between 22°C and 28°C (72°F - 82°F). The northern section, being a little warmer, is normally comfortable dived in a 3mm short wetsuit, while the southern section is more likely to require a full length wetsuit with 4 dives per day. Please contact the office a week or so prior to the trip for current water temperatures if you are concerned.
Clothing and Dress Codes
In all tourist areas shorts and T-shirts are acceptable attire, though women should not wear bathing suits around town. This is also acceptable at night though smart casual is appropriate for finer restaurants. Jacket and tie is not required anywhere. Ladies are expected to dress appropriately when visiting temples, for example, cover your shoulders and wear dresses or trousers below the knee at the very least. Aside from this, light natural fibers are advised as they are comfortable and allow the air to circulate, man made fibres can cause you to sweat in this humid climate and can cause heat rash or worse.
There are hospitals and clinics in most cities and towns, respectively but health care in Indonesia is not what people from developed countries have come to expect. Malaria is found in some parts of Lombok, though it is considered safe around the Senggigi region. We recommend you check the status of your vaccinations and seek your doctor's advice on inoculations and medication. Normal sensible precautions with food should keep you out of trouble, and be sure to drink lots of bottled drinking water to prevent dehydration (especially if your best laid plans have still left you with a bout of diarrhoea). DO NOT drink tap water in Indonesia! Also, be sure to wash regularly and wear light, loose clothing made from natural fibres as heat rash and fungal infections for visitors are not unusual in this humidity. For detailed information on disease in Indonesia check with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) .
The main religion of Lombok is Islam although there is also a Hindu population particularly in the tourist areas. It is very common for Indonesians of any religion to ask about your faith. They are not looking for a disagreement but to answer, 'atheist' or 'none' will produce a frown or uncomprehending look from the person.
As mentioned in the clothing section, beachwear off the beach is considered impolite. Dress modestly in villages and religious sites; long pants or sarongs are suggested and a blouse that covers the woman's bust and shoulders are fine. This should save you and onlookers from embarrassment.
As in many Muslim countries, the left hand is considered unclean as it is used to wash after visiting the toilet. Always shake hands with your right hand and only offer and receive things with your right hand.
Local time in Lombok through to Komodo is GMT + 8 hours. There is no daylight savings time.
Small post offices in resorts are usually open from Monday to Friday 8:00am until 3:00pm and Saturday mornings. In Mataram the main post office usually has extended hours. The Indonesian postal service is reputedly unreliable. Important items can be sent by express mail service (EMS). This is faster and safer but the cost is higher.
Telephone and Internet Services
International dialling is available from most larger hotels, though Kantor Telkom has offices in most cities and towns. Many of these have 24hr opening and are the cheapest places to make international calls. For international calls use 001 plus country code plus area code plus phone number. Mobile phone signal is available in most areas but expect to lose signal in more rural areas.
As in all tourist areas internet cafes are now very popular, even in Lombok, though connection speeds are not up to western standards. Skype calls should pose no real problems.
Crime and the Police
In the areas accessed by MV Philkade most locals are honest people who have a very well developed sense of right and wrong, after all, religion here is much more adhered to than in the majority of the west. Tourism itself however does have the power to attract crime, and the biggest problem (though by no means widely spread) is pickpocketing and petty theft. In order to avoid this, use common sense, be aware at all times and do not leave your valuables unattended.
Police corruption is widespread in Indonesia, as it is in many parts of Southeast Asia, however you are unlikely to come across the law unless you are a victim of crime or are involved in some kind of spurious 'traffic offence'. In both cases remain calm and as cheerful as the situation allows. This will always help since anger only makes things work slower. If you receive a 'fine' this is likely to go towards supplementing the officer's income. You can choose to pay (what is likely to be a relatively small amount), or argue your case and expect to lose a day of fun and frolicking to a lengthy paperwork-heavy procedure in a police station