Can I use US dollars in Makassar, Toraja and other places in Sulawesi?
Yes the US dollar is accepted in Indonesia. However, while in Indonesia, it is always cheaper to use Rupiah rather than US Dollars. This is because the merchant will apply an exchange rate to convert your US Dollar to rupiah. He may not be giving you the best rate available at banks and authorized moneychangers .
Where’s the best place to get money exchanged in Makassar?
For some reason, although the exchange rate is currently hovering around USD 1 = Rp 9,000, a one dollar bill is only worth about Rp 8,000 at the banks / money changers. The higher denomination bills (20, 50 and 100) are worth the actual exchange rate as published.
It is tough to find banks or money changers willing to accept hundred dollar bills from 2003 (1996 notes are particularly difficult due to the Indonesian market being flooded with counterfeit 1996 bills a few years back). People are simply not willing to take the risk in exchanging notes that they consider have a high chance of being forgeries. If you think you might be doing some serious shopping, make sure you bring with you crisp, clean, newer notes–it actually does make a difference!
ATM machines are the best way forwards for taking money (exchange rate wise) as these will use the exchange rate at your home bank, and this will favor your home currency.
However, machines here are limited in the number of notes they can spit out at one time, and this can mean that you have to insert your card repeatedly to withdraw a worthwhile amount of cash. With most currencies, the machines here dispense the equivalent of 2 dollar bills, 5 dollar bills or 10 dollar bills! Depending on how your bank charges you for use of ATMs overseas, you could end up paying large bank charges to withdraw fairly insignificant sums of money, thus negating the benefit of the higher exchange rate.
There is an ATM machine within the Domestic Arrivals Hall, and also just outside the Arrivals Hall.
Money changers abound. There are money changers at the airport, at your hotel in Makassar and at the banks. The rates at the airport and the hotel are unlikely to be the best you can get, but as we’re talking about 1 or 2 percent, the convenience cancels the slightly lower rates.
The Authorized Money Changers (displaying signs) in specialist money changing shops and kiosks are the best way to change cash to save time and get a good rate.
Important Note: Some money changers are a little less than scrupulous. You should always count your money before leaving and not just rely on watching them count it.
Do I need a passport or visa to visit Indonesia?
Your passport will need to be valid for at least 6 months after your entry into Indonesia and must have at least one totally clear page for the visa sticker.
The current regulations in full are thus:
11 countries and territories are eligible for a “Visa Free” facility. Those holding valid passports from the following countries will be granted a non-extendable 30-day Visa-Free Short Visit Permit upon arrival at an Indonesian international gateway without charge:
Nationals of the following 63 countries are now eligible to purchase an extendable visa on arrival for USD 25 (for a maximum of 30 days). All Wakatobi and Pelagian guests require a 30 day visa.
If you are staying in Indonesia for longer than 30 days, you can extend the 30 days visa-on-arrival for another 30 days at the nearest immigration office for IDR 250.000 (approximately USD 25 depending on the exchange rate) which has to be paid in local currency. Alternatively you can also apply for a 60 days tourist visa in advance of your arrival in Indonesia.
All other nationals should apply for visas in their home country before departure for Indonesia. There will be no leniency for nationals of countries not listed above should they arrive without a valid visa – they will be sent home immediately.
US citizens are entitled to buy a visa upon your arrival for 30 days for $25 USD.
Since visa regulations change quite frequently, we strongly suggest that you check the above requirements with your travel agent, or with the airline you intend flying with.
Although many taxes and security fees will be included in the cost of your air ticket, Indonesia levies an international departure tax of Indonesian Rupiah 150,000 (about US$15.00) at Denpasar airport. Please ensure that you have enough Indonesian currency available to pay this fee on the day of departure from Indonesia.
What is the time zone at Sulawesi?
GMT UTC +8 hours (Bali, Nusa Tenggara, South & East Kalimantan and Sulawesi)