Saturday May 6, from Singapore to Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia
It is good to be back after a while. Unfortunately there was not much action for few months (too much work as it is the case for most of you I guess). The good news is that I am back to action, and a serious one: a liveaboard the New White Manta (first time).
First I had to get there. So for you to go to Manado, regardless of where you come from, the easiest route will be via Singapore (or Jakarta, Surabaya if you travel within Indonesia). If you wonder where it is, here is a map.
From Singapore its a 3h50 journey (direct flight). For SQ lovers, I am afraid you will have to manage expectations and go for Scoot instead (the low cost entity of Singapore Airline). Be ahead of time at Changi (Singapore Airport) please. Scoot doesn't offer the level of service SQ does (there is a reason why a low cost carrier is cheaper than a proper airline...). I don't blame the staff (they do what they can with poor resources) but I always Scoot a bit cahotic. The self checkin counters are pretty useless since most of the time you still need to go to a counter with a human for a "documents check"...and the kiosks for self luggage checkin also requires, often, staff support. So I ended-up queuing a the "human" counter ultimatelu (almost 30mn). Scoot has like five counters for multiple flights. The manager in charge of the whole process should revisit that one day.
Anyway I flew on Saturday May 6 and we were 15mn ahead of schedule. On a positive note, Scoot planes are rather new, seats are reasonably spacious (compared to Jet Star for example).
On arrival you may or may not need a Visa on Arrival. If you do, have USD 39 cash ready (they claim not having change so make sure you have the right amount). Or you can also pay in various currencies (e.g. INR 500k). It is a small desk before the immigration counter. Don't miss it. I had friends travelling with an e-visa. They skipped the visa on arrival office but I met them right after at the immigration counter so it doesn't seem to save you a lot of time.
Before the immigration you -stilll- have to clear the health section: show your vaccine certficate and the Satusehat app (to be downloaded on Play Store or Apple equivalent). It is an app from the Ministry of Health. Don't ask me what for: I don't know. The staff checked I had it as well as my vaccine certificate.
Then the fun part: immigration. I have been to Indonesia several times and never had issues. But it is the first time it took so long to clear that stage. Not that the queue was long (nothing compares to Bali) but the officers tons of questions to each passengers. So it took a good 25-30mn waiting plus almost 10mn being questionned and check documents.
Done? Not yet, you still have to collect your luggages. And....one more form to fill-in: the custom one. It takes 1mn so that's fine. A staff will collect it and yes, now you are done!
I didn't booked a taxi agead and took a blue bird at the exit. From the aiport to Bitung it took almost an hour and I paid INR 226'000 (about USD 15). Why Bitung? Because it is close to the peer where we'll have to board on Monday. Also, the area seems popular for mud diving (which I am not going to try but please share with us if you did).
Here you are. Was at SG airport a 7ish, reached the hotel in Manado a bit before 3pm (same time zone).
We will see next week if it was worth it....
Remember to check-in your luggage with the fragile tag...it only cost you a smile to the crew and ask for it.
To reach Manado: Scoot flights from Singapore
Stop over: none, direct flight.
Flight time: 3h50.
Price of the ticket: SGD 204.20 (one way ticket since I will return not from Manado but another island) with 20kg checked-in luggage and front seat selection.
Admin: Passport, vaccine certificate (hard copy e couraged) and Satusehat app (for now), hotel reservation(s), itinary and return ticket handy.
Hotel idea: Favehotel Bitung (not many options there so most of the group staying in Bitung stay there). Alternatively, Lembeh if you want to go for beach dives waiting for the boat.
The Diving Bear