HINTS, TIPS & FACTS
Banda is often mentioned to be difficult to reach. This is only true if you are planning a very short visit (less than 4 days) and you need to go back and forth at a certain date without any flexibility. There is regular transport with fast ferry and planes, except for months with bad weather (January, June/July), when only Pelni ships will cover the route to Ambon every 2 weeks or so. Please click here to get the latest information about schedules, as they are subject to change. Additionally, as a last resort, there are Perintis and other cargoes going from Ambon, Key islands and Seram.
You can reach everything on Banda Neira by walking or eventually taking Ojeks (motorbike taxi, 5,000 - 10,000 IDR). To the other islands, there are taxi boats leaving from the main pier in Nusantara (to Banda Besar every 30 min, Hatta, Rhun and Ai once per day).
LANGUAGE / COMMUNICATION
You find quite many English-speaking people on Banda. However, you have an advantage if you know some easy-to-learn bits of Indonesian. You can find apps or dictionaries for your Smartphone.
INTERNET & TELEPHONE
There is now high speed internet in Banda, and some of the guesthouses have WiFi service -although Baba Lagoon hotel is probably the only one where there is a proper WiFi setup that will take many users without slowing down or stopping.
Travellers with smartphone or USB 'dongle' modem for their laptop, can buy cheap internet simcards across Indonesia (from 100, 000 IDR one month). There is now 3G service, although only in Banda Neira.
Prepaid Simcards for mobile phones are cheap and easily available. Top up credit is called 'pulsa'. Cheap international calls can be made by dialing 01017 before the foreign country code and phone number (minus the initial zero from the foreign phone number)
CREDIT CARDS & CHANGING MONEY
The ATM (Bank BRI) in Banda takes MasterCards and Visa -and sometimes Maestro. We recommend withdrawing money when in Ambon at the airport. Exchanging money on Banda is expensive as you will get a very bad rate.
Most ATM machines at Ambon airport accept Visa and Mastercard. Caution: a maximum of 2,500,000 IDR can be withdrawn at a time. Banks in Ambon give bad exchange rates for foreign cash. You are better to change money in larger centers, such as Jakarta or Bali.
To avoid adding to the local garbage problem, please use rechargeable batteries for your electronic devices. Recharge can be done at the Dive Centre
DRESSCODE / CLOTHES
Banda is not so strict, however, just like everywhere in Indonesia, showing bare shoulders and knees, or wearing low-cut tops should be avoided. It is a no-go to walk about in swimwear (but wearing pyjamas all day long is perfectly ok!) It is best to wear loosely fitting clothes made from breathable fabric. It is especially important to have a well-groomed appearance for occasions such a visit to local authorities.
SMOKING & ALCOHOL
Cigarettes are very cheap all over Indonesia. It is best to bring rolling tobacco and papers yourself, e.g. from Duty Free Shops if you have a stopover. Liquors with more than 22% vol. are very expensive and only available in some shops. Alcohol below 22% vol. such as local beer, are more reasonably priced. A 0.6L bottle of beer on Banda is around 35,000 IDR. Homemade palm schnapps (sopi) is widespread but best avoided. It is often of very bad quality, and can cause serious damage to eyes. Indonesia is extremely strict about drug use and this should never be risked.
There are no bars or clubs in Banda. However, every weekend there is a party going on somewhere, where the locals will happily invite you to.
Most toiletries for daily use are easily available and cheap in Indonesia. Caution: In Asia skin lotions often contain whiteners. You can rarely get tampons and you should bring your own condoms to make sure they are suitable for you.
We hope we gave you some useful information here so you know better what to expect travelling in Indonesia. We would like to improve this section and are happy to hear your comments and critique. What information is missing? Is something described wrongly?