Frequently Asked Questions
The most direct way to reach Manado is via Singapore. Singapore Airlines offers reasonable rates from most European, North American and Asian cities. Singapore to Manado is on SilkAir, Singapore Air's regional wing, with four direct flights per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday). During summer months a fifth weekly flight can be added.
Flight time from Singapore to Manado is 3 hours and 20 minutes and many of the overnight flights from Europe and North American arrive early enough in Singapore to connect with the flight to Manado, with just a short transit (flights from Singapore to Manado depart at 9.25 in the morning).
If you'd prefer to break up the trip, you can stop over on the way or on the way back and take in the atmosphere of Singapore, this unique city-state. Singapore is efficient, clean and offers some excellent shopping and nightlife opportunities. For hotels in Singapore, ask for a "Singapore Stopover", which is a special rates deal offered only by Singapore Air. Note that you must book your "Stopover" at the same time that you pay for your flights.
Important - this can also be a popular route and you should check with your booking agent about seat availability very early in your booking process, especially if you're a group*. In high season the price of the seat can go up quite a bit and this is even more likely for last-minute bookers, so book early!
Via Jakarta and Denpasar/Bali
There are daily flights to Jakarta and Bali from many European and American cities. From there to Manado there are sometimes direct flights and sometimes a short stop is required. Please check with your booking agent about flight details and prices.
When is the best time of year to visit North Sulawesi?
You can dive year-round in Manado if you are on the right boat. The sunniest season is April to October. That's when the sunbathing is best, but you can also still get rain at any time of year. The nice thing about the rain is that it's warm.
If you're coming to visit the rainforest or go rafting, we actually prefer the rainy season (but again it is year-round) because that is when the forest and highlands are watered and are at their most lush.In-Water Protection
Not too much thermal protection is required, however we suggest a 3mm or 5mm one-piece (or dive-skin for those who don't get easily chilled) - make sure it's full arms and legs, to protect against any stinging hydroids.Land Clothing
It's normally shorts and T-shirt by day (even if it rains, because it's warm tropical rains) and at night in town the dress code is casual, nothing more than light trousers or jeans and a golf shirt is required. There is no need whatsoever for a sweatshirt.
What is your advice on malaria?
Manado is tropical and so malaria cannot be discounted. We suggest you follow your doctor's advice regarding malaria tablets. Officially, North Sulawesi is non-malarial, but if the tablets don't bother you too much it's always best to err on the side of caution. We also recommend that you spray anti-mosquito spray onto your arms and legs before going out at night.
The odd case of dengue fever has been reported in North Sulawesi, though these tend to be in the villages where rubbish is sometimes not properly cleared.
There are plenty of chemists and dentists in Manado and the general hospital has a good recompression chamber. Manado is the regional capital of North Sulawesi and around 400,000 people live here, so facilities are generally available and are decent, if not fancy.
How do I pay for things in North Sulawesi?
If paying in cash, payment should be made in Indonesian Rupiahs (IDR). Eco Divers uses as main currency EUR and accepts USD cash too, but will convert from EUR at the day's bank exchange rate. Alternatively, payment can be made by Visa or Mastercard credit card, in IDR, converted at the day's bank exchange rate.
Due to a recent change in Indonesian banking policy, you can no longer use traveler cheques in local shops, dive centers and resorts. These can now only be cashed in local banks by the owner of the cheque. (Please note that the only Traveler Cheques accepted by the local banks are American Express USD cheques.)
You can draw cash in IDR from the ATMs at the local banks using your PIN (personal identity number) and you can draw up to IDR 3,000,000 on Visa or Mastercard at the local banks but only before 2pm (you must present your passport with your credit card). Banks and ATMs offer a reasonable exchange rate.
What else can I do in North Sulawesi?
Manado is the ideal base from which to explore North Sulawesi, an area of outstanding natural beauty. After diving, there are many additional activities for you to enjoy. White-water rafting, a relaxing visit to Kali Waterfalls or to a craft center. Perhaps a stimulating trek through a lush, primeval rainforest takes your interest or a trip to the paddy fields of Lake Tondano? Wander through the markets and absorb the exotic aromas of tropical fruits and spices. Arrangements can be made for your excursions to start from Minahasa Lagoon Resort.
Although the facilities and service are often basic, the people of North Sulawesi are friendly and willing. Manado is a dive destination that's off-the-beaten-track and is not a mainstream tourism resort - that is part of its appeal. It also means that Manado doesn't offer great shopping opportunities (but Singapore certainly does!), that there's nobody trying to annoy you by trying to sell you souvenirs and there are not masses of tourists making too much noise.