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With easy visa policy, Indonesia is a top draw for Chinese visitors

By Fang Feiyue | China Daily | Updated: 2015-07-01 09:50

With easy visa policy, Indonesia is a top draw for Chinese visitors

Bali is the most popular site among Chinese visitors to Indonesia. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Indonesia has emerged as a top vacation destination for Chinese this summer, along with Thailand's Phuket island and the Maldives archipelago.

Encouraged by growth in Chinese travelers to Indonesia, the government in Jakarta has recently relaxed its visa policy.

Since June 10, Chinese tourists can enter Indonesia through nine appointed locations, including the Soekarno Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali and the Kuala Namu International Airport in Medan, by just getting their passports stamped on arrival. Officially, it is called the "free-visa" scheme.

The new policy also means Chinese tourists can save $35 on visa fees, which will likely make trips to Indonesia more alluring.

While such an arrangement allows Chinese visitors to stay up to 30 days for the purpose of traveling, those seeking extensions will need to get paid visas from that country's missions in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou or Hong Kong, according to an official at the Indonesia embassy in Beijing.

Santo Darmosumarto, head of the embassy's information, social and cultural section, says the new policy is aimed at strengthening people-to-people contacts between the two countries.

Dai Yu, marketing director of Ctrip, a major Chinese online travel agency, says: "We've seen a nearly 50 percent growth over the previous month in the number of Chinese tourists to Bali since the policy was announced."

During his trip to China in March, Indonesian President Joko Widodo proposed that his country and China aim to increase two-way visits to a maximum of 10 million people in the next few years.

The Indonesian government has set their sights on greeting 2 million Chinese tourists by the end of this year, according to the official.

"The Indonesian government hopes that Indonesian nationals would also be given preferential treatment while visiting China," says Darmosumarto.

In 2013, the number of Chinese tourists who visited Indonesia stood around 807,000. Last year, it increased to 959,000, he adds.

Bali remains the most popular site among Chinese tourists.

In February, more than 92,200 Chinese tourists made trips to Bali, ranking first among overseas visitors, the Bali Times reported. Last year, the island witnessed more than 586,000 arrivals from China, an increase of 51 percent over 2013.

"Bali isn't just for sightseeing, but also for weddings, honeymoons, golf and many outdoor activities," says Fan Wenqing, a marketing executive at Garuda, Indonesia's national airliner.

Garuda offers three nonstop flights between Beijing and Bali, and four each week between Beijing and Jakarta. There are daily flights from Guangzhou, in Guangdong province, and Shanghai to Jakarta as well.

It takes from six to eight hours on a nonstop flight to reach Indonesia from China.

Indonesia is home to more than 17,000 islands. Tourists can tour Yogyakarta to see Prambanam and Borobudur, two historical and religious sites, and explore the local handicraft markets. The base of a volcano, Bandung, which is also known as the "Paris of Java", is ideal for adventure-seekers.

Many ecotourism destinations, such as Toba Lake in Sumatra, Tanjung Puting National Park in Kalimantan and Bunaken in Manado, are places the embassy official recommends for tourists. Indonesia boasts world-class surfing facilities along the shores of Sumatra down to Nusa Tenggara Islands.

Recently, Lombok, a sister island east of Bali has gotten so much attention from Chinese travelers that some travel agencies are offering twin packages for Bali and Lombok. The best time to visit Bali is from May to October, when it doesn't rain much and the weather is cool.

At press time, a weeklong package from Shanghai or Guangzhou to Bali was a little more than 3,000 yuan ($480) on Ctrip's website.

Chinese tourists have taken a shine to rafting in Ubud, sightseeing in Tanah Lot, and surfing and diving in Nusa Lembongan, says Dai.

Civet coffee, essential oil and woodcarvings are among the most popular products for Chinese tourists in Indonesia, she says.

Indonesian food is also something that visitors shouldn't miss. Local cuisines feature many spices, including peppers and cloves, and coconut pulp. Fried rice, "dirty duck" and roast suckling pig are recommended.


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