Sunday, January 22, 2006


Aceh travel - Pulau Weh Island

Contrary to all the reports you may here there are no special requirements for entry into Indonesia at the moment. Any reports you here of requirements of a "blue book" are no longer applicable. I just spent a month on the island of Pulau Weh and will be returning for one more month.

A one month visa can be had on arrival in Sumatra(usually need $25 in U.S currency), or a two month visa can be arranged beforehand at any Indonesian embassy.Foreigners are currently allowed to travel to Aceh. Most people recommend flying from Medan to Banda Aceh (around $35-$55 depending on time of day you fly) Flight is one hour, bus often takes 10-13 hours. I have taken both the bus and flown. The bus I took from B.A. to Medan ended up taking 14 hours and I arrived in Medan at 3 in the morning. The bus is around $7, takes a long time, and takes you through several military checkpoints, and rebel territory.

I personally feel it is not that unsafe at the moment, but you never know. (there are armed guards because of rebels on several routes in Laos as well, but it rarely keeps people from taking them)
Don't expect to stay for too long in Banda Aceh. Most hotels are booked solid for months in advance. If you come to Pulau Weh island you will pass all the devastation as you board the ferry to come to the island. Really no reason to spend a night in Banda Aceh, as you may have to go to great lengths to find a room to stay and it will be expensive. Pulau Weh island is stunningly beautiful. There is still an operating diveshop on the island and the diving is wonderful. Snorkeling is fabulous as well. Often you can see manta rays, dolphins, turtles in one area. A fresh 6 pound tuna or grouperr can be bought for $2, and you can arrange to have it barbecued for next to nothing and it will feed 5-8 people. very cheap and deelicious. No western food on the island save a banana pancake and egg sandwhich. The island was not completely devastated. About three hundred homes were destroyed.

At the moment there are very few tourists on the island. They have in the past had a fairly good amount of tourism. On the weekends employees from various NGOS take R.R on the island, but usually there are no more than 15-20 there at a time.
The tourist area of the island is about an hours drive from the ferry terminal. Previously the cost of the mini-bus to this area of the island was around $2. Now with very few tourists and big NGO money the guys are trying to charge $10-$20, but they usually have to make a special trip just to take one tourist. Pay no more than $10. If you need a ride from the terminal you can arrange a motorbike taxi ride from a guy at the following number. His name is Seid and speaks English well. Give him a call and he can pick you up by motorbike for around $5. 081360342306 If he is busy ask him if he can send someone else and you'll pay 50,000 rupiah. You WILL NOT get a ride from the terminal for less than $8-$10 by mini bus.

So getting there is a B**** but once you do it is a wonderful place to relax. Many of the locals speak English, are very fun to hang around with, and they desperately desperately need tourists to come back. Ko Phi Phi is not struggling for tourists. there are plenty there. This place is truly struggling for people to come.

Accomodation is cheap. $1-$4 for a very often very nice large bungalows. Once you are here there is nothing to spend your money on so in the long run it's actually quite cheap. Stay around for a while and you may have a chance to go fishing in the sea with the locals. A lot of fun. Alocohol is illegal on the island, but can still be found quite easily. No problem for a foreigner to drink. There is an atm on the island and itnernet access in the city. I recomend Eric's place as a nice place to stay.......In the area called Iboih beach. And trust me.......You'll like the guy.
---- From Lonely Planet Forum-----

Irwansyah Yahya Student of Economics Agra University, Agra - India


At 8:47 AM, Blogger Kathy Coleman said...

Erick rocks. He's the nicest dude ever, we just came back from a month on Pulau Weh too and Eric is a sweetheart and the j's just keep on coming. I miss that place already.


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Irwansyah Yahya. Student of Economic in Agra University, Agra - India