The Papua Blog
How to get to Papua
What's the best way to travel to Papua?
Words and photos by Marc Weiglein
YOU TRAVEL TO PAPUA BY PLANE
Flying is the easiest and fastest way to travel to Papua. Another option would be to take a ferry, but the savings are rather small and are not in proportion to the extra time spent. So unless you plan on bringing a car or two buffalo to Papua, the plane is the most convenient way to travel.
Airports in Papua are served by domestic flights only. This means that entry to Indonesia must be made through one of Indonesia’s international airports, from where you continue to Papua on a domestic flight. The Indonesian hubs of Jakarta and Denpasar (Bali) are well suited for entry into Indonesia and onward travel to Papua. Most of our clients choose to travel via Jakarta, as there are daily direct flights from Jakarta to Papua. From Denpasar (Bali) there are currently no direct flights to Papua and you have to fly to Jakarta or Makassar first and change planes there.
At which airport should I arrive in Papua?
There are three airports in Papua which are suitable as starting points for most travel destinations: the airports of Jayapura, Timika and Sorong. The best arrival airport depends on your further travel plans.
Jayapura Airport (airport code: DJJ) is suitable for travelling to the Baliem Valley but also to the Korowai and to the Asmat.
Timika Airport (airport code: TIM) is suitable for reaching Carstensz Pyramid and for tours to the Asmat.
Sorong Airport (airport code: SOQ) is suitable for holidays in Raja Ampat.
When arriving at these airports, it is often necessary to continue the journey to the final destination by plane or ship.
WHICH AIRLINE SHOULD I FLY WITH IN INDONESIA?
For domestic flights in Indonesia we recommend Garuda Indonesia. The state airline offers the best service, has modern aircraft and well-trained pilots, and is usually on-time. Although the quality has decreased a bit in the last years, we still follow the principle: If you are on a tight schedule and a route is served by Garuda Indonesia, then you should better fly with Garuda Indonesia.
But Garuda Indonesia is also the most expensive airline and the route network is relatively small. You will therefore often find cheaper tickets or (supposedly) better connections with other airlines. Thus, below you have a brief assessment of the most popular airlines in Indonesia that are relevant for your trip to Papua or Raja Ampat.
What are alternative airlines for domestic flights to Papua and Raja Ampat?
Other airlines serving destinations in Papua include Lion Air, Batik Air and Sriwijaya Air, and for short-haul flights there is Wings Air and Trigana Air.
Batik Air is also a full-service airline and therefore a good alternative to Garuda. Especially the direct flights from Jakarta to Jayapura can be recommended.
Sriwijaya Air is a medium service airline. Tickets are usually a bit cheaper but the service on board is limited and there may be additional costs for checked baggage.
Both Batik Air and Sriwijaya Air achieve good punctuality ratings.
Lion Air is the largest airline in Indonesia and flies to many destinations. With an unrivaled network, you often have no choice but to fly with Lion Air. Lion Air is a low-cost carrier. There is no service on board, many services are charged extra and punctuality is not very good. Delays are frequent, and flight schedules and departure times are sometimes changed at very short notice.
Wings Air and Trigana Air are the two airlines relevant for short domestic flights within Papua, especially for the connection from Jayapura to Wamena (in the Baliem Valley, airport code: WMX). Wings Air has the newer planes (they use ATR-72 aircraft) and usually flies two to three times a day to Wamena. Trigana Air flies up to four times daily (they use Boeing-737 aircraft) and has shown a higher reliability in the past, with fewer cancellations and higher punctuality than Wings Air. However, we usually recommend flying with Wings Air, as Trigana Air’s planes are quite outdated and have a creepy appearance/vibe.
It should also be mentioned that Wings Air, Lion Air and Batik Air belong to the same corporation and therefore you can book a code-share ticket e.g. from Wamena to Jakarta or Sorong. If there are delays on a part of the route, the airline is obliged to adjust the rest of your trip.
Needless to say, when you book a trip in Papua with us, we will be happy to advise you on the best flight connections. How about visiting the Baliem Valley on a 5-day trip?