Papua Travel Information - Getting There & Around

Papua: Getting There & Around


Papua is easily accessible by air from the rest of Indonesia. Most flights come from Java via Sulawesi, with the towns of Sentani (for Jayapura), Biak and Sorong receiving most.


Even within Papua, flying remains an important way of getting around, especially to the interior. Remember that many airstrips are small and are served by tiny planes, therefore booking in advance could be a good idea - but often hard to do!
The very remotest airstrips are only served by missionary flights. These don't usually accept tourists, but their planes may be chartered if you have the cash.

Pelni ships come to Papua all the way from Java. Most serve the north coast route to Jayapura via Sorong and Manokwari and either Biak or Nabire and Serui. The south coast is served by smaller ships, less frequently.
Smaller ports along the coast, and up major rivers in the South, are served by irregular Perintis ships that can't be counted upon. These may run once a month or so.
Longboats do some coastal runs, but usually you will have to charter them. This will cost much more in Papua than in the rest of Indonesia.

In the lowland areas of Papua, the lack of roads will often mean you have to use river transport.
There will rarely be any bigger boats travelling up and down Papua's rivers, though a few boats carrying cargo, even Perintis ones, do travel upriver various distances both in southern and northern Papua.
However, the most common means of river transport are longboats. On some popular routes, these will run as public transport, with more or less set fares charged per person.
More often, and definitely to reach the more remote settlements, you will have to charter one, which is likely to be a rather expensive business.

The road system on Papua is extremely limited.
Roads usually fan out of the cities to nearby villages, but don't link up with roads from other regions.
Proper buses only serve a few routes - elsewhere you will find cramped shared taxis.


  Papua shares a long border with neighbouring PNG (Papua New Guinea), and it is usually possible to cross the border between the two on the north coast, just east of Jayapura.
  Unfortunately, this is a somewhat unreliable crossing.
Sometimes you are allowed to cross by land (cheap), sometimes you are told to go by boat (expensive) and sometimes the border is closed altogether.
  Also, you may have to get your exit stamp for Indonesia in the Immigration Office in Jayapura, not at the border itself - this has become less common in recent years, but people who have entered Indonesia on a Visa On Arrival (as opposed to a visa issued by an Indonesian embassy abroad) have had such problems, and even been asked for a bribe to be stamped out! It is better to get a Visa In Advance if planning to exit Indonesia this way.
  PNG visas are also available in theory from the PNG Consulate in Jayapura, but again, in practice they sometimes give you a visa the same day, sometimes not at all! Recently, the most common scenario has been having to wait for sg like a week. They may ask for proofs of onward travel arrangements or even a sponsor in PNG. Failing to have these, you may have to pay a lot of money (ca 170 USD) for a business visa. Coming the other way, you can get an Indonesian visa from the consulate in Vanimo. Note that if you arrive in Jayapura by boat, rather than through the land border, you are eligible to get a 30 day Indonesian visa on arrival - go to the immigration office in the centre of the town.
  I have done this crossing 4 times, and the only thing I can say with certainity is that nothing is certain, but it is always worth a try. Most people who are keen enough get through somehow eventually.