written by tom / 04.08.2016 13:16

Report: PNG visa and Crossing from Jayapura (Indonesia) to Vanimo (PNG) and back

Our initial plan was to stay in PNG for 4-6 weeks, to get to know this beautiful country. But due to very high prices for food, accommodation and transportation (at least for us, as we are backpacking long term with as low budget as possible – 20-30€ per day maximum for 2 persons), we changed our plans and ditched the idea of going to hinglands of PNG. There is also the issue of safety – From the internet you can read a numerous positive experiences, but all the kind hearted locals in Jayapura and Vanimo told us, that it might not be safe, if you happen to run into wrong people at wrong time – In the end we stayed few weeks in Vanimo.

Getting PNG visa in Jakarta

Getting PNG Visa in Jakarta is relatively easy and most importantly, it is free. http://www.kundu-jakarta.com/ you can find the location in google maps. Take a bus, gojek or taxi (pretty expensive in jakarta, be aware of random taxies, who might try to rip you off) to embassy.

  1. You need passport photocopies and 1 passport photo.
  2. Fill in the form and give it in for processing
  3. It should take about 4-5 working days – probably could be done faster, but we where not in a hurry.

Workers in PNG embassy are friendly and helpful and luckily speak enough English. After 5 days I collected our passports (no papers were needed to collect both of our passports), got some fancy brochure about PNG and our adventure could begin in few weeks 🙂

Crossing border: Jayapura to Vanimo

We stayed one day and night in Jayapura, before beginning our journey to PNG (also to possibly buy some cheap sleeping mattress). Hotels in Jayapura tend to be a lot more expensive than you might expect! We found a Galpera Papua Homestay (although we did not book, and they should always have free room, it is advised to book through booking.com), that is reasonably priced and ran by extremely friendly and helpful staff.

  1. We were asking about the cheapest way to get to border, as it is about two hours drive from Jayapura. None of the locals were certain about what time the bus goes or if it even goes anymore (never did we see any buses at the border) – it seemed very uncertain, so we ditched the idea and went for pretty expensive private taxi. Yuli organized us a private car for 350 000idr (we payed 400 000 just as the driver helped us on the border). Taxi drivers could ask up to 500-600 000idr for that ride, which would be little bit overpaying. You could get cheaper taxi looking around the town (or border, when coming other way around), but we started early and were happy to have our taxi right behind doorstep, waiting for us.
  2. There is an official money exchange on the market (before border), but it opens at 10:00 in the morning – and for some reason they don´t exhange idr to kina, only the other way around. I ended up changing 100 kina for us in some random store on the market – for my surprise the rate was much better than my mobile phone application showed. For some reason the guys in the store were laughing pretty arrogant, as if they had tricked me – but the money was good on PNG side. You need some money to pay for the PMV (public moto vehicle) ride on PNG side.
  3. There is a military checkpoint before official border crossing, where they just briefly check you passport. After that there will be Indonesian immigration, where you have to get your exit stamp. So called „exit permit“, that I read from some posts, was not necessary or asked.
  4. What if you overstay your visa? Well I made the rookie mistake miscounting our stay in Indonesia and overlooked that there was 31 days in May. So both of us ended overstaying 1 day in Indonesia and were illegal from this moment on. Veronica was in the car and unaware of the situation as I went inside the immigration office alone. Officers on the Indonesian side are pretty unfriendly and never smile, but I stayed calm, apologized for about million times and tried to be as friendly as possible. Officialy the only option to fix your overstay is drive back to Jayapura, pay the fee, get check and drive back to border – that would have been really expensive taking into count of driving and another night in Jayapura. Orcourse there was an unofficial way, what was more reasonable way for us. I ended up paying 600 000idr for two of us, to get is sorted (kind of) – probably could have get away with less, but I wasn’t expecting that and unfortunately had exactly the correct amount of cash in my wallet.
  5. Walk on no mans land to PNG side. There is a big construction going on in the Indonesia side – they are building border crossing for cars – so I guess withing few years (or decades), there will be border crossing for cars (hooray). PNG side the officers are a lot more friendly and interested in your visit – You can make small talk about where have you been and how you got the idea to visit PNG. But in Indonesian side the fix to our overstay was to put an exit stamp with previous date – this meant like we stayed one night in no mans land, what made officers in PNG side suspicious. There was heavy rain last day, what meant that the border was closed most of the time, so they though we couldn’t cross because of the rain. We ended up walking back to Indonesia side, talking about the stamp, where they said it will be okay, they called a guy in PNG side and so on. Probably one guy in PNG side was aware of the situation and maybe they wanteds some „fee“ for letting us through, but in the end they also but yesterdays stamp in our passport (meaning officially we entered PNG day before we actually did). Security check was brief, no fancy equipment – A guy just looked inside our backpacks and thats it.
  6. Get a PMV from the PNG side. It should cost no more than 10 kina a person the get to Vanimo. Luckily we got a very helpful and friendly PMV driver, who helped us look around Vanimo for the cheapest accommodation (which was still 100kina or 30€ a person for one night) and in the end found a family that took us in for few weeks – crazy story about extreme kindness.

Getting Indonesina VISA in Vanimo

I’ve heard and read a lot about the complexity of Indonesia bureaucracy and how crazy it is to get or extend visa. On the PNG side it was very straight forward and could be done in one day.

  1. Go to embassy with passport copies and passport photo (two is officially needed, but you might get away with using just one).
  2. If previously you could have got 60 days visa, then now you can only get 30 day visa, paying 125kina.
  3. Pickup you passport and you can now legally enter Indonesia again.

They will issue you a B211 type visit visa in PNG, which is actually great is you are planning to stay long term in Indonesia. Compered to the VOA, – This visa will let you extend your stay in Indonesia for up to 4 times (4 months after 1 month), but will require a local sponsor (that needs to come with you to immigration office once) or you can use an agent (more on that later).

Getting back from Vanimo to Jayapura

That’s pretty much the same just other way around, but now you will have a lot more peaceful mindset, because you know that everything will most likely work out just fine 🙂

  1. Take PMV from the local market for the same price and drive back to border – also possibly as early as you can. Just bare in mind that the border opens 9:00 by PNG time – no point of being there a lot earlier.
  2. Get your exit stamp in PNG side, have few good words about your experience with the officers and you are good to cross the no mans land again.
  3. In Indonesia side you must fill out dozens of papers yet again, which takes time. Afterwards get your staff through xray and then you are good to go.
  4. We had the same taxi driver organized to pick us up from the border and get us back to the homestay, where we ended up staying for few weeks (and trekking Baliem Vallye in between, to get even for not going PNG highlands).

That’s it, we were back to Indonesia and ready for our next great adventure!