Indonesia Volunteer Information 2014

It is probably best to read this information with a map of Indonesia beside you so you can grasp a clearer understanding from reading this information; especially in regards to the location of place names.

General Information

Indonesia is affected by Malaria, Dengue Fever, TB, Typhoid and HIV. To  minimize  your risk of becoming ill while volunteering it is worth visiting your GP (at least 8 weeks out) to secure some Malaria prophylaxis and maybe other vaccinations; such as Hepatitis A, B and a booster for Tetanus and Polio. Insect repellent with 40% DEET is the most effective insect repellent.

Travel insurance  is essential as an emergency abroad can be very expensive and what about if you needed a Medi- vac back to your home country? Make sure you are adequately insured. Registering your travel arrangements on www.safetravel.govt.nz is useful in case of needing to be contacted in an emergency. Volunteers from other countries, please register with your own country.

Visa requirements: Volunteers need a tourist visa to enter Indonesia and these can be bought on arrival at the airport of entry for USD $25 for one month (current, clean notes).

If you visit the Indonesian Embassy in your country of origin or en route through Singapore or Kuala Lumpur; you can purchase a two  month tourist visa prior  to entering Indonesia. You may need to stay overnight between two working days to secure this and you will require two extra passport photos.

If you are staying more than a month you are able to renew your visa once more while in Indonesia but this may take up to 3 days including a visit to a local immigration office with lots of form filling! Email Derek to find out more about how this is done.


Local currency is Rupiah (Rp). 6 million rupiah = $1000 approx NZD

There is NO ATM on Tello Island but there are ATMs in Medan, Gunung Sitoli and Teluk Dalam (on Nias Island). Maximum 10 million rupiah per day- retrieve 1.5 million Rp each time.

Medan Hotels will accept credit cards but all other transactions are in CASH ONLY!!

Previous volunteers have said to budget on spending NZD $30-$40 per day.

Getting to Indonesia from Singapore and onto Medan and Gunung Sitoli…….

Firstly, flying from Singapore to Medan (see your map J )…. There are flights daily from Singapore to Medan with Silk Air and some other carriers. There is a Lion Air / Wings Air in Singapore (near Orchard Rd at 61 Stamford Road, #01-07 Stamford Court), where tickets for travel within Indonesia can be bought. If booked a day or two in advance these may be able to be paid for by credit card over the phone (+65)63391922 or via the internet http://lionair.co.id/ If travelling the same day they need to be paid for at the Singapore office. Reserve the tickets over the phone before visiting the office otherwise they may be sold before you get there! Lion/ Wings fly to many destinations in Indonesia including several flights daily from Medan to Gunung Sitoli (on Nias which is enroute to Tello- see section below).

Alternatively, you may take a ferry from Singapore (Harbour front) to Batam Centre in Indonesia. The ferry takes around an hour and due to the time difference it arrives at the same time it departs!! From the Batam Centre ferry terminal (after immigration) you need to take a taxi to Batam Airport (approx. 80000 Rp), where you can then fly to Medan (or Padang, for an alternative route to Tello Island- see your map). You must book these flights in advance (Lion/ Wings Air in Singapore) and leave plenty of time to get to Batam Airport. The taxi can take over an hour depending on road conditions. Checked baggage is limited to 10kg per person but more can be purchased for a small charge.

Medan Airport is known as Kuala Namu International Airport (and is quite new). There is a train that can take you to and from the central city- the station is located not far from the domestic arrival hall in the airport and is easy to find and well sign posted. The journey usually takes about 40 minutes with no other official stops in between. There are baggage racks big enough for backpacks and suitcases. Surfboards may not be quite as easy to transport! It is easy to just buy train tickets with cash on the day. Tickets are cards you insert into a slot before proceeding through a gate.

If you have been staying in Medan and are leaving from Kuala Namu International Airport you should select a train that leaves from Medan for the airport at least 2 hours before your flight is due to leave. The 2 hour minimum would be suitable for most domestic flights (but 3 hours may be a wise choice for those departing in international flights).

Airport Departure Tax (always open to change)

Currently it is 35000 Rp ($US 3.50, € 2.50, £ 2.25) per person for domestic flights and 75000 Rp ($US 7.50, € 6, £5.50) per person for international flights. From Jakarta it is 150,000 Rp for international departure tax so keep that much Rp just in case other airports change to match that!

There is a lounge where you can wait for your flights (which costs; but is not much) and you can help yourself to food, drinks- as much as you can eat, use clean bathrooms, enjoy the A/C and get driven out to your plane J

Now …to get from Gunung Sitoli to Tello (where Derek works)….


This is a little more difficult due to flying with Susi Air however they do have a 24 hour call  center  0811 211 3080 or 0811 211 3090 but this does not  sell tickets. Tickets for their flights can only  be bought from the office at the point of departure in Indonesia (by phone booking or in person) and arrangement can be made to pay for these tickets (in Rupiah- cash) at check in. The Susi Air 24 hr call  center  should be able to advise about the Padang office if required. The numbers for the following Susi Air offices are:

Gunung Sitoli (on Nias Island) ph 08116138036

Sibolga (on the West coast of Sumatra- see why you need your map!) ph. 08116138308

Pulau Tello (on Tello Island) ph 08116138307

Medan (North Sumatra) ph 08112113081 or 08112113082

There are a number of ways to fly to Tello Island….you just need to work out your way J   a suggestion could be flying Medan to Gunung Sitoli - on Nias (stay a night at Sorake Beach- famous surf beach!)And then onto Tello Island.

Susi Air flies:

Gunung Sitoli to Pulau Tello and return Mon, Wed, Fri 157000 Rp each way

Padang to Gunung Sitoli and return Mon, Wed, Fri 224000 Rp each way

Sibolga to Pulau Tello and return Mon & Wed 253000 Rp each way currently


There may be a ferry operating from Teluk Dalam (on Nias Island near Sorake Beach) over to Tello Island but this takes 6 hours so come prepared- not sure at time of writing about reliability- sails most mornings 50000 Rp. 


In Medan:

Cherry Green Hotel www.cherryhotelgroup.com/cherry-green/ central; 10 mis from Sun Plaza Shopping Centre. Can book online

Pardele International Hotel- look online to find.

Tiara Medan Hotel – look online to find.

Hotel Danau Toba Int. – outdoor dining, swimming pool, close to Sun Plaza Shopping Centre.

On Nias (Gunung Sitoli) at Sorake Beach:

Booking accommodation at a Losmen is recommended in advance.


Sanali Losmen @ Lagundry Bay with front views to the waves- they can collect you from the airport.


Shady Palm Beach located in the centre of Sorake with front views to the waves. Contact Rick +62 81378449000

On Tello Island:

The Tello airport is not actually on Tello island, so if arriving by air there will be a short boat trip from the airport to the main wharf on Tello (this is included in the air fare). If arriving by ferry from Teluk Dalam you will arrive at the same wharf. You can either choose to walk to the accommodation (1km max) or take one of the many Becuk pedi-cabs that will be waiting. If you opt for the Becuk you must negotiate the price first - as with anything you do in Indonesia. As a foreigner you will be considered wealthy and charged a premium over the actual price. The Becuk fare actual price is probably around 2000Rp, but a reasonably generous price should be no more than 5000Rp.
Leave the wharf by the main road and continue approx 100m to the first intersection (there will be a large mosque on the corner). Here you have 2 options;you can continue straight ahead to the T intersection at the end of the road and turn right and continue around 700m keeping an eye out on the right hand side for a house with a small sign saying Megaruyu. This is a boarding house with 4 or 5 rooms with 2 - 3 beds in each. There are 2 shared bathrooms that are clean and tidy. You will need to be reasonably athletic if you want to put up your mosquito net and we recommend you carry some screw in cup hooks to put into the ceiling to attach the nets to. Ask to see the rooms and facilities before deciding. There was no air conditioning or fans last time I stayed there. This location is the furthest from the clinic (approx 1.5km away). If you can turn left, you will find the following options:
Kedai Setia on the right hand side about 500m from the corner (look for the small sign suspended from the eaves of the porch roof). This is a shop that sells soft drinks / beer / etc, but the lady proprietor usually has one room for rent in the house behind the shop that will sleep 4. The cost is around 200000Rp per night, and the conditions are very clean and tidy. I do not know about air conditioning or fans. This is a muslim house, so footwear should be left at the door when entering the house itself - it is ok in the shop. This is around 500m from the clinic.
The Wisma on the left hand side is around 150m further on. There is a faded sign saying Wisma painted on the wall beside the entrance. This is a large accommodation building for locals and tourists, on two levels around a central courtyard. Be careful on the steep stairs to the upper level. Conditions are basic but reasonably clean. There are ensuite rooms that will sleep 2 or more people. You will need mosquito nets, and as with all of these places it is advisable to burn mosquito coils especially after dusk. This is about 350m from the clinic. I am not sure of the current prices, but they will depend on the type of room. Again, ask to see them first.
First Inn on the left hand side is another 200-300m further on. There is a large stainless steel lettering sign on the upper facade of the building. This is a new establishment and is very well equipped. There are air conditioned rooms that share 3 communal bathrooms (clean) and a large common sink for ablutions, and other air conditioned rooms with ensuite. The cost varies depending on room facilities but should be no more than 200000Rp per night for a room sleeping 2. The prices are somewhat negotiable. There are no mosquito nets or facilities for putting up your own, so burning coils is a must, and flyspray advisable. This is less than 50m from the clinic.

The clinic itself. There is limited accommodation available in rooms above the clinic which is situated at the rear of the Benghong house. There is no identification on the house. It is directly opposite a small church and down a very narrow alley between two houses. The alley has a door on the street so may not be easily recognised. Any local person will be able to direct you to it. The accommodation is very basic, and rooms sleeping 2 should cost around 50000Rp per night. You will need mosquito nets and to burn coils.

Remember to take: Universal power adapter, sheet, towel, sunhat, sunblock, insect repellent, local currency, $USD for Visa, mosquito net, sarong, light clothes.

Avoid wearing swimsuits beyond the beach as revealing too much body is viewed by Indonesian people as being impolite!

Food can be purchased on Tello and toiletries and soap powder also.

A local SIM card should be purchased in Medan.

It is worth remembering Indonesians are very hospitable and it is considered rude to decline a drink.

Mosquito coils (anti nyamuk bakar) are available in many of the small roadside stores for 3 - 4000Rp a packet, and flyspray (Baygon) is available in some for around 25000Rp a can.


Updated September, 2014 with grateful input from Troppodoc supporters!




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