Many rumors spread around an ATM at Togian Islands. Anyhow, the situation is clear and all travel books are right: There is NO ATM at Togian Islands. Once you leave the mainland from Ampana or Gorontalo to the islands you are cut off cash supply. Also the possibility of changing other currencies are limited. If this service is offered then usually by the hotels and usually the exchange rate is not the best (due to limited re-exchange possibilities of the hotels). So what should you do and how much money should you bring?
WHERE TO GET MY CASH SUPPLY FOR TOGIAN ISLANDS?
The southern gateway (Ampana) and the northern gateway (Gorontalo) to the islands offer plenty of banks and ATMs to choose from and withdraw the last Indonesian Rupias (IDR) for your trip to the islands. It is also possible to exchange money in the banks. Keep in mind that banks are closed after 3pm and remain closed for the weekends.
Indonesian ATMs offer a maximum amount of cash per withdraw. The highest amount which we could ever withdraw from an ATM was 2.500.000 IDR with one withdraw. Usually the "BRI-Banks" offer this "higher" amount. The ATMs from the "BNI-Bank" or "Mandiri- Bank" usually offer a maximum of 1.250.000 IDR. This can be a problem if your credit card has some security-feature that only allows a certain amount of withdraws in a certain period of time. If this is a case you should plan ahead and it might be necessary to start hoarding cash days before you start to the islands. It might be handy to know which security-features your credit card provider uses to avoid uncomfortable problems on the ATM.
Check out this useful Google-Map of Ampana including the ATMs available here.
HOW TO CUT DOWN THE CASH YOU HAVE TO CARRY?
Most hotels at Togian Islands will ask you to make an upfront payment for your booked nights (or at least offer it) if you wish to make a booking. Of course this is not a possibility for you if you wish to stay flexible. Anyhow, if you know which place you are heading to - this is a great option to reduce the amount of cash you have to carry to the islands.
CAN I PAY WITH CREDIT CARD, PAYPAL ONLINE PAYMENT SYSTEMS?
Due to the wonderful lack of phone connection and internet, online payments are usually not offered or only a worst-case option. There are some hotels which offer payments with cards or other online payment systems. It`s best to check directly with your hotel beforehand if they offer this option. Please keep in mind that often the resorts need cash to operate on the islands as it´s not possible to pay our supplier for vegetables and so on by transfer;- )
For POKI POKI - we can only accept cash payments at the islands.
HOW MUCH CASH SHOULD I BRING?
Hard question - since of course this depends a lot on how long you wish to stay, how many tours you wish to do and how much you like Bintang. Therefore it might be necessary to make a short calculation on your needed budget before you take off.
The prices for the nights are easily discoverable on the website of the places. Tours are usually priced per boat - the more people that join a tour - the cheaper it gets. Anyhow, an average snorkeling trip should be around 75.000 IDR to 100.000 IDR per person. The prices for Diving at Togians are comparatively cheap (around 500.000 per dive) and offer high value and professional diving. You can find dive prices and packages on the websites of the dive centers.
A softdrink should be around 15.000 IDR and a beer is somewhere around 60.000 IDR for a big bottle of Bintang. The high prices for alcohol result from high tax and the expensive logistics.