Indonesia Travel Advice - Operation Wallacea

Expedition Information

Indonesia Travel Advice

Please read each of the sections below carefully. They provide important information relevant to your Operation Wallacea expedition in Indonesia, including travel recommendations prior to your expedition commencing. Of course, should you require further assistance please do not hesitate to contact your nearest Operation Wallacea office.

School groups that have chosen a fully inclusive expedition package do not need to book their own flights or in-country travel as these will be provided by Operation Wallacea.

Updated: August 2017

Start and Finish Information

The Indonesia research assistant expeditions have a variety of start and finish locations and dates, depending on which expedition you join. All expeditions start on the Tuesday and finish on the Monday (see expedition descriptions for the start and finish points of each option). Dissertation students need to start either on the  19 or 26 June. For school groups the forest/marine combination expeditions start on a Tuesday at 0800hrs in Ereke village or Labundo village (dependent on allocated forest camp), and finish on a Monday at 0600hrs in either Wanci (if your last week is in the Wakatobi) or Bau Bau (if your last week is at the South Buton marine site). The school marine only expedition starts on a Tuesday at 1130hrs in Bau Bau and finishes on a Monday at 0600hrs in Wanci.

Booking International Flights

School groups will need to book international flights to arrive in Makassar (also known as Ujung Pandang on international flight schedules) on the Sunday before your expedition starts.

University volunteers will need to book international flights to arrive in Makassar (also known as Ujung Pandang on international flight schedules) before 0900 on the Monday before your expedition starts.

School groups and university volunteers need to book flights to depart from Makassar after 13:00 on the Monday your expedition ends.

Packaged School Groups

Operation Wallacea will be in contact with the group leader directly and will provide you with a fully inclusive quote for your international flights, internal travel and expedition costs.

Non-Packaged School Groups (Booking Your Own International Flights)

If you are booking your own international flights departing from a country other than the US, then we recommend that you contact the following air suppliers who are all familiar with the Operation Wallacea expedition programme and will be able to provide you with a competitive quote.

Travel Nation
Tel: 01273 964 034

STA Travel
Tel: 0161 667 0083

When you have booked and confirmed your flights you should enter all the details through the Opwall portal and email a copy of your itinerary or E-ticket to


Once you have booked your expedition with us you will be contacted by our preferred travel partner Travel Nation who will provide you with competitive quotes for your international flights.

Travel Nation
Tel: 01273 947 313
International Contact: +44 (0) 1273 947 313

When you have booked and confirmed your flights you should enter all the details through the Opwall portal and email a copy of your itinerary or E-ticket to


Booking In-Country Travel

The internal travel package* between Makassar Airport and the expedition start and end points will be arranged by our Internal Travel team and is not included in the expedition cost, unless you have chosen a fully inclusive expedition package.

When you have confirmed the details of your international flights you will receive a quote for your internal travel package, which will include airport meet and greet, any required travel and accommodation, as well as full representation.

Indonesia internal travel packages start at £260 depending on your particular requirements.

*Includes airport meet & greet, any required travel and accommodation and full representation.

Medical and Travel Insurance

Opwall has insurance in place to provide medical and repatriation cover up to £1 million for all participants on the expedition.  We do this through Cover-More who are a global insurance company covering in excess of a million travellers every year. Detailed medical and evacuation plans are sent to Cover-More’s medical emergency team in advance of the expeditions.  If there are any medical issues on the expeditions all plans have been agreed in advance so there are no delays in providing any medical support that might be needed.  The medical and repatriation cover provided by Opwall also covers travel to and from the site.

In addition to this medical and repatriation cover provided by Opwall, it is strongly recommended that you have top-up insurance (which can also be provided by Cover-More) to cover the following items:

  • If you have an existing medical condition that may be exacerbated by the expedition and require additional medical treatment in hospital other than that provided by the Opwall medical staff in the field at each site, or may even require repatriation in severe cases, then the Opwall medical and evacuation cover will not cover the costs of this additional medical treatment and evacuation. For pre-existing medical conditions then specialist insurance cover can be obtained from Cover-More.
  • Need to cancel the expedition and flights because of illness to you or a close family member, call for jury duty or other insured conditions making it impossible to reach the departure point for the trip.
  • Costs of re-booking connecting flights, boat or overland transfers to the start and from the finish points of the expedition in the event of delays caused in connecting flights or overland transfers due to delayed flights, ferries or buses because of mechanical breakdown of transport or adverse weather conditions, strikes, industrial action, riot or civil commotion, bomb scares, criminal or terrorist acts, etc.
  • Loss of personal baggage, clothing or items such as cameras or electronic items or the costs of having to buy replacement items if baggage is delayed.

For participants who depart from and return to the UK, a special policy which dovetails into the medical and repatriation cover provided by Opwall can be obtained from Cover-More. If you wish to purchase a ‘Top-Up’ travel insurance policy to cover additional benefits such as cancellation and baggage please contact the Customer Service team at Cover-More Insurance Services on 01245 272408 quoting reference CMU0009.

Note for Canadian volunteers joining the expeditions all the travel insurance elements described above are included in the package provided by Victor Travel.

Visas & Travel Documents


Please be aware that your passport must have at least 6 months validity (period before expiry) from the date of your departure from Indonesia. Failure to have at least 6 months validity on your passport will ensure denial of entry into Indonesia.


Whether you will need to obtain a visa in order to enter Indonesia will in most cases depend upon your planned length of stay in-country. If you are planning to stay in Indonesia for 30 days or less, most nationalities are eligible for a Visa Exemption (also known as Visa Free Entry). For stays of longer than 30 days two types of visa are available; Visa On Arrival and Social Visa. Once again, the appropriate visa for you will likely depend upon your length of stay in Indonesia. As a general rule, if travelling to Indonesia and staying for 60 days or less, you will NOT need to arrange a visa prior to your arrival into country.

Please read the information below carefully. Obtaining the correct immigration documentation for your planned travel to Indonesia is your responsibility. You may also wish to refer to the link for a complete list of countries elegible for Visa Exemption as well as a more detailed explanation of the Indonesia visa process. Finally, should further information still be required, please feel free to contact our Indonesia office (

Please Note : When calculating your days spent in-country, day 1 is the date of your arrival into Indonesia and your last day is the date of your departure from Indonesia. 

VISA EXEMPTION : For Stays of 30 days or less

If staying in Indonesia for 30 days or less, you do not need to obtain a visa to enter Indonesia. A Visa Exemption stamp in your passport can be obtained from the immigration counter upon arrival into Indonesia. A very small number of countries are not eligible for the Visa Exemption (please see link provided above).

VISA ON ARRIVAL : For Stays of between 31-60 days

If staying in Indonesia for more than 30 days you will need to obtain a visa. If staying for 60 days or less, the simplest option is to obtain a Visa On Arrival (VOA) upon arriving in Indonesia. The cost of this visa is USD$35 and is purchased (cash only) at the VOA counter located immediately prior to the airport immigration counter upon arrival in Indonesia. The VOA is initially valid for 30 days but can be extended for a further 30 days once you arrive on expedition in Sulawesi (please see your Site Manager regards obtaining a VOA extension). The cost of the extension is $60 and will require you to leave site temporarily in order to visit a local immigration office.

Important : Please keep your VOA receipt (ensure it is date stamped) following purchase. Show the receipt to the immigration official who processes your visa and ensure your passport is correctly stamped with the term ‘Visa On Arrival’. We have received cases of VOA being purchased but immigration officials incorrectly stamping passports with Visa Exemption (such an error will require you to return to your point of entry into Indonesia at your own cost in order to resolve). 

SOCIAL VISA : For stays of more than 60 days

If you are planning to stay more than 60 days in Indonesia you will need to obtain a Social Visa. This visa needs to be obtained from an Indonesian embassy or consulate prior to your planned travel to Indonesia. Please visit the website of the Indonesian embassy of the country where you will apply in order to understand the application process including processing time and cost. A Social Visa initially provides you with a period of 60 days in-country and is extendable for a further 30 days once you arrive on expedition in Sulawesi (please see your Site Manager regards obtaining a Social Visa extension). The cost of the extension is $60 and will require you to leave site in order to visit a local immigration office.

Anyone wishing to apply for a Social Visa will need to contact the Indonesia office ( in order to request a sponsorship letter. Please email a scanned copy of your passport (main page only) and indicate the embassy/consulate at which you will apply.

Overstay Penalty : If you overstay your allowed time in country you will be charged a fee by immigration at time of departure from Indonesia. The overstay fee is calculated at Rp.300,000 per day that you have overstayed.

This is our most up-to-date information, but you should always check the Indonesian government website for the most reliable information.

Other Documents

Please bring 3 photocopies of the main page of your passport for EACH site you are visiting. For example, if you are working at both a marine and forest site then you will need to bring 6 copies of your passport, if 2 forest sites and a marine site then you will need 9. You will also need to bring 1 passport-sized photograph for each site you will be working at. Please securely fasten each photograph to one of your passport photocopies in preparation for submission when you arrive on site. You will also need to bring a photocopy of your flight itinerary.

Cultural Advice

The lasting impression most volunteers take home from an Indonesian expedition is of the friendly, warm nature of the local people. Indonesians are typically laid back, gregarious and fun-loving and in any city, town or village people will want to talk to you or just say hello. Wherever you go in Indonesia you will be hear cries of ‘Hello Mister’, the standard greeting for any westerner (regardless of gender). This can be quite disconcerting if you have just arrived in the country but is intended as a friendly greeting and nothing more. Simply smile and return the gesture.

As with any country, Indonesia has its own cultural etiquette and most guidebooks include a list of “do’s and don’ts”. These can cover any number of potential faux-pas including eating with your left hand, patting children on the head, pointing at people etc. Though you should bear these things in mind, they should not overly concern you. People understand that you are not used to the local customs and will forgive little mistakes in day to day social etiquette. The most important thing is to be respectful and be able to laugh at yourself when you make a blunder.

After only a short period of time in Indonesia, most expedition participants feel comfortable with the local customs and begin to feel at home. It is important that you don’t forget you are in a new country, however, you must remember that while little mistakes will be forgiven a lack of respect is not acceptable. There are three areas that can potentially cause offence, especially when you begin to feel more at home. These are alcohol, dress code and relationships.

Alcohol; Though alcohol is widely available in this part of Indonesia, drunkenness is not acceptable and you should not drink in public. Though beer is available at the marine research bases, you will be asked to limit your consumption to a maximum of a couple of beers a night. Drunkenness is considered rude and creates a very bad impression of westerners. It is also important to remember that the sites are very remote and drunkenness poses a serious risk to health and safety. For this reason spirits are not permitted on any of our sites. Please note that locally brewed drinks such as “arak” are illegal in the areas we operate. If you are found in possession of such liquor you are breaking the law and will be asked to leave the expedition.

Dress Code; You should always dress conservatively by Western standards and, girls especially, should take care to cover up. Girls should keep their shoulders, cleavage, stomach and thighs covered at all times while men should keep their shoulders and stomach covered when in a social situation. Modest swimming costumes are perfectly acceptable on the beach or in swimming pools, but you should cover up as soon as you leave.

Relationships; The majority of volunteers will form friendships with local people and for many this is one of the highlights of the expedition. This is obviously a very positive thing which Operation Wallacea wholeheartedly encourages. It can also be a potential problem area. You will soon see that in Indonesia, physical contact between same sex friends is common but with friends of the opposite sex it is very unusual. Traditionally, there is a respectful distance between the sexes and you should bear this in mind when with friends of the opposite sex. Remember, what is a normal friendship in England can sometimes be misinterpreted as something more in Indonesia. If in doubt speak to one of the experienced staff members on site.