Ambon, the provincial capital of Maluku, is built on a hillside overlooking the bay. It has a number of interesting historical and cultural sites, among them the remnants of forts built by the Dutch East Indies Company during the heyday of the spice trade. The ruins of the Portuguese fort at Hila are almost entirely hidden beneath the contorted roots of a giant banyan tree. The ANZAC War Cemetery near Ambon town is the site of services held every year on April 25, to commemorate the Allied soldiers who died in region during World War II. The museum Siwa Lima has a fine collection of local arts and crafts. Ambon is at the Maluku end of the annual yacht race between Darwin, Australia and Ambon. The race usually takes place in July and August.
There are daily flights from Jakarta to Ambon, either direct or via Makassar or Surabaya. There are also daily flights from Sorong. Garuda Indonesia(GA), Lion Air(JT), Sriwijaya(SJ) and Batavia Air(Y6) all serve Ambon Airport.
Alternatively there are boats from various parts of Indonesia. Schedules change frequently, but any travel agent in Jakarta or a major Indonesian city can arrange this.
Bemos (public transport minivans, locally called angkutan or angkot) with pre-ordained routes take people around the island. There are no fixed stops, just flag one down in the street. Look at the sign on top of the bus to make sure it's the route you want. Each costs 2,000Rp -- pay when you get out. Sitting up front is fine, if it's empty and you'd rather not squish into the back. To stop where you want to get out, say "minggir".
Becaks (bicycle rickshaw) are good for shorter distances downtown.
There are many ojeks (passenger motorcycles) around the island.
Taxis are also available for hire and can be found mostly in major hotels.
A map of the city is available on the second floor of the bookstore Dian Pertiwi, at the corner of Jl. P. Diponegoro and Jl. Said Perintah, by the tall white Trikora monument.
If you want to going to city from the airport you can use the DAMRI bus, it's located on the right side of the arrival hall and will only cost you Rp. 25,000 — cheaper than taking a taxi which can cost you approximately Rp. 150,000/trip. the DAMRI bus stops on the Merdeka Court on the heart of Ambon City.
- Siwa Lima Museum
- Commonwealth war graves
- Namalatu beach area
- Pintu Kota
- Waii eels
- Liang Beach
- Tulehu Hotwater
- Natsepa Beach
- Martha Christina Tiahahu statue
Snorkeling / Diving on Latuhalat or Liang beach. Just ask your Hotel/Inn how to get there.
Eat Nasi Kuning(Yellow Rice) on morning, noon, night time. It's every time Ambonese meal. Be careful it's spicy
- Asmat Souvenir, Jl Sam Ratulangi (just across from CIMB Niaga Bank). Book exchange, money changer, tourist information, souvenir shop and great conversations. Pak Wisar speaks fluent English, and will help you in any way he can.
Various seafood, Batu cake (which translates "rock cake"; best to be had with tea or coffee).
Kohu-kohu is a delicious local specialty: green salad with tuna, shredded coconut and lime.
- Cafe Sibu Sibu, Jl. Said Perintah No. 47A. Serves traditional Malukan food and drink, and is a great spot to chill, with a big open front. Very popular with locals. Cafe has wifi, albeit slow. The owner, June, speaks English. Cafe serves beer, coffee, baked goods and light meals. It was recently expanded to double its size.
- Citra Supermarket Canteen, Tulukabessy St, ☎ +62 911-353345. 08:30-21:30. Affordable and delicious Indonesian and Chinese food. Also serves non-halal food. 10000-40000.
- D'Ocean Seafood(Was : Restoran Tantui Seafood), Jalan Tantui (Hygienic Market or Pasar Higenis). 08:00-22:00. Lots of seafood—yellow soup fish, rica-rica, Balado shrimp, black pepper crab, black pepper lobster, bitter melon with fish, papaya flower. Local speciality fish in almond sauce is a favourite. Rp.25,000-100,000.
- Imperial Resto, Jln. Diponegoro no. 53, ☎ +62 911 315333. 11.00-23.00. Clean and comfortable environment to have lunch or dinner, offering best fresh seafood in town, with speciality menu: Ambon traditional food (papeda, fish yellow soup with walnut), Hong Kong-style steamed fish, sweet and sour fish, black pepper beef, fresh crab in "Sze Chuan" style. All food is halal.
Most people only transit in Ambon on their way to the Banda Islands or Key Islands, even though the countryside has plenty of charm. You basically have 3 options:
- Sleeping in the city (Kota Ambon). Though relaxed for an Indonesian city, it has little to show, and is relatively far from both the airport and Telehu harbour, and thus may not be the best option, unless you have some shopping or administrative things to do.
- Beach cottages around Natsepa (east of Kota Ambon) or Hila (north of Pulau Ambon).
- Homestay near the airport: much better than it sounds, as the airport is far from being busy, and located near nice villages (Laha).
- Aston Natsepa Ambon Resort & Spa, JL. Natsepa No 36 Suli Salahutu, ☎ +62 911 362257, fax: +62 911 362256, e-mail: DOS@astonambon.com.
- Imperial Inn, W.R. Soepratman Gang Kedondong, ☎ +62 911 355047. Decent inn with various types of room and the price is also affordable. Has free internet access in every room.
- Manise Hotel, Jl. W.R Supratman No.1, ☎ +62 911 341445, fax: +62 911 354145, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM. A family-owned hotel. Average $40.
- Mutiara Hotel.
- Baguala Bay Resort (Baguala Bay), Jl. Raya Waitatiri (20 minutes from Ambon City & Airport - on the way to Tulehu Ferry port to Seram & Saparua island), ☎ +62 911 362717, e-mail: email@example.com. Friendly atmosphere, large garden with pool, scenic sunset view overlooking the Bay, great for families with children USD 50.-.
Ambon has been wracked by ethnic and religious violence since 1999. While tensions between the main Muslim and Christian factions have been slowly waning, there were still scuffles in spring 2004 and caution is advised. In 2007 there were minor bomb blasts in March and April.
- Banda Islands. A small archipelago with a great history of "Spice wars" over the power of nutmeg.
- Kei Islands. Perfect white sand beach setting for doing absolutely nothing.
- Kupang. Popular destination in West Timor.
- Sorong. Awesome diving in Raja Ampat.
Traveling by boat requires patience and a relaxed schedule. Delays and breakdowns are just part of the experience.
Current schedules can be had from the Pelni office near the Ambon City Park (look for the big statue of the guy with the Machete). The ticket office (loket) is easy to miss in the back of the big glass-front Pelni building.
- "NBA" has weekly flights to Banda Islands on Wednesdays. There are rumours of flights on Saturdays during the high season, but it's unclear when high season actually occurs.
- "Wings Express" (subsidy of Lionair) has daily flights to Kei Islands.
P.T Mattras Abadi tour and travel, Jl. A.Y Patty (Halfway between the port and the shopping centre). Sells tickets for all of the above and has a few English speaking staff.