Budget Travel

Indonesia on a tight budget: The very best methods to take full advantage of your money across the island nation

You'll be transformed into an immediate millionaire as soon as you arrive in Indonesia. Having a million rupiah currently comparable to around US$70, just a little can go quite a distance in this country, and if you're careful you can get by on just one million rupiah a week.

You can pick the straightforward beach-bumming lifestyle, or live our prime life with a few of the very most luxurious five-star hotels on the planet at low-season prices that are a small fraction of the price elsewhere. Listed here are our trips for visiting Indonesia on a budget.

Take your select from 13,466 islands

Bali is substantially more expensive than neighboring Java, that is consequently slightly more expensive than Sumatra, but the sheer amount of competition vying for the tourist dollars means you can live for astoundingly little, even on Bali. A couple may potentially live the Bali dream on around $20 a day, together with a private room, meals and scooter rental.

In general, along the way farther from the beaten track to other islands, the cost of living diminishes. Keep in mind though that at the extremes of the world's greatest island nation – in the Alor archipelago, for example, or perhaps in the distant Maluku islands – costs are higher due to the transportation costs of having goods (and vehicles and fuel) to remote regions.

Choose the cheapest time to go

October to April is rainy season in Bali and central Indonesia, and the cheapest season to travel here. Unless you are going far off the beaten track – jungle trekking or volcano climbing, for example – this is sometimes a lovely time to be in Indonesia. The rains are usually short and sharp, and interspersed with blissful sunny days. (Avoid Christmas school-holidays and New Year though.)

Find an inexpensive flight

Sign as much as Jack's Flight Club for prompt updates about cheap flights to Jakarta or Bali. Within Indonesia, national carrier Garuda Indonesia, Air Asia or Lion Air link the rest of the main islands. For a rough concept of flight prices, you can travel one-way between Jakarta and Bali from around $45, or from Bali to Labuan Bajo (use of Komodo) from around $35.

Book the best-value accommodation

You can book ahead of time, of course, but when every dollar counts, consider booking just the first night or two, since the best prices – in hostel-packed Kuta for instance – are often found by asking around. With private rooms offered by as little as $2 in some areas of Indonesia, dorms are rare.

It can often be more cost-effective to rent a long-term bungalow or villa through a site like Airbnb than to purchase a nightly accommodation. A great air-conditioned double room in Bali will definitely cost $8 an evening (breakfast included), but a self-catering bungalow in the central Ubud area with its own garden and kitchen might cost you under $6 an evening should you book a full month.

Get around on the budget

Public transport is cheap but erratic, so most travelers opt to rent an automobile. To help keep costs at a minimum, consider renting long-term. Scooters are cheap (often around $2 a day should you rent for any week or more), but for the sake of safety and security, consider upgrading to some car, that will set you back around $10 each day – especially affordable if traveling with friends. With petrol costing under $0.50 per liter ($.13 per gallon), self-driving in Indonesia is relatively cheap.

Driving in Indonesia – particularly in Bali using its swarms of motorbikes – is not for the fainthearted, so if you prefer not to drive yourself, you are able to hire a car and driver for $20 to $30.

Hail a cab for less

Bluebird Taxis has 23,000 vehicles throughout Indonesia, and, while convenient, they can be about twice the price of Grab, the Singapore-based company that acquired Uber in Asia.

Before staying away, download the apps for Grab and Gojek, which states have Two million motorbike-taxis across Southeast Asia. These delightfully democratic solutions mean you'll pay only local rates for transport, so no unnecessary haggling any time you need to take an automobile or motorbike taxi, with no need for complex multilingual conversations trying to confirm destinations or give directions.

Ferries, buses and trains are good methods to hang out with local people

Ferries connect some of the islands, and they're inexpensive, though erratic and time-consuming. Take the trip from Labuan Bajo to Bali, for example: the weekly ferry costs less than $20, but it's a 33-hour ride, compared with an hourlong flight!

On larger islands, long-distance buses connect all the main cities, but only on Java and areas of Sumatra can you count on getting around by rail. Typically, you can figure that a seat on a train will cost you about $1.50 for each hour of travel, and you can book through Kareta Api Indonesia. A bus ticket is generally slightly cheaper, and almost always faster than Indonesian trains.

Eat close to eat cheap

While Indonesia lacks the culinary variety of smaller Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, you are able to rely on finding hearty local food at spectacularly reasonable prices. Unless you are inside a tourist center, you can usually find a single-plate meal – normally nasi goreng (fried rice) or mie goreng (fried noodles) – for less than $1. Since they're cooked at that moment, ingredients are usually fresh and frequently delicious.

The West Sumatran town of Padang has exported its fine gastronomic traditions, and you will find Masakan Padang (literally Padang-style cooking) eateries – typically a buffet where you're given a plate of rice and just indicate whatever extras you fancy – in just about any town throughout the country. You can often grab a veritable feast for around $2; attempt to pick establishments that appear to possess a constant about face diners.

Stay off the booze

The the easy way keep costs lower in Indonesia is just to avoid alcohol. A bottle of Bintang, the standard local beer, is all about $2, a bottle of 'cheap' wine starts around $10 and a bottle of imported gin or whisky will probably cost you $30 or even more. Those are supermarket prices – the figures are likely to triple inside a trendy bar. If you wish to have the ability to party without breaking the financial institution, look out for the ubiquitous 2-for-1 sundowner happy-hour deals.

Embrace the haggling culture

Haggling is really a life-style in Indonesia, and out of doors of big fixed-price malls and supermarkets, you will be likely to haggle for many things. Although many travelers are uncomfortable about bargaining for purchases, you'll soon find that a smile, a tale along with a couple of reliable stock phrases can modify a boring shopping trip into a chance to bond with residents. At its best haggling turns a mere business transaction into something far more human.

Remember, though, that the haggling should only be driven towards creating a fair price that is good for both parties. Some travelers pride themselves on their tough haggling skills, believing that the street vendor will always be creating a profit regardless. This isn't always true: most store-holders will prefer to sell at a loss if it's the only method that they can feed their family that night.

Daily costs

  • Local coffee in a streetside warung: US$0.30
  • Cappuccino in a fancy café: US$2.50
  • A hearty plate of fried rice / noodles in a local eatery: US$1
  • The same meal inside a tourist venue: US$4
  • Cocktail at a happy-hour beach bar: US$5
  • Beer in a hotel bar: US$3
  • Glass of house wine at a resort: US$6 (sometimes up to US$25!)
  • 1.5-liter bottle of water: US$0.25
  • Surfboard rental: US$3.50/session
  • 90-minute yoga class: US$10 (less when you get a package-price)

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