Mount Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia

Indonesia

Indonesia is a country in Southeast Asia made up of thousands of islands.  It is known for volcanoes, rice fields, beaches, waterfalls, and wildlife like Orangutans and Komodo Dragons. While backpacking Indonesia you will notice that language and religion vary greatly depending on the area, as do the popular activities.

Best Time to Travel

May to July is an ideal time for backpacking Indonesia because prices and crowds are lower and rain is minimal. The average temperature during this time is 27-28°C (80-82°F). July to September is the next best time to visit offering similar weather with an increased number of tourists.

  • Dry season:  May to September
  • Wet season:  October to April

Our Average Daily Budget

370,000-600,000 IDR ($25-$40 USD) per person while staying in a private room at a home stay, using a motorbike as transportation, and eating mostly local food. It is possible to spend a lot more in Indonesia; but we stayed comfortably within this price range. Here is our daily breakdown:

  • Accommodation: 135,000 – 210,000 IDR ($9-$14 USD) per person based on splitting a room between 2 people.
  • Food: 90,000 – 210,000 IDR ($6-$14 USD) per day.
  • Transportation: 750,000 IDR ($5 USD) per day based on $3.75 USD for a motorbike rental and $1.75 for a tank of gas.
  • Activities & Entrance Fees: 100,000 ($7 USD) per day on average.

Currency

Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) 10,000 IDR = $0.95CAD, 0.64 Euro or $0.75USD


Haggling

Set prices include hotels and restaurant menus. Haggle 50-60% on anything you buy from a shop or a booth. You can negotiate on some local tours however big companies tend to have firm prices.


Vaccinations

The recommended vaccinations for backpacking Indonesia are: Typhoid, Hepatitis A & B, Dukoral (for travelers’ diarrhea), Rabies, and Japanese Encephalitis (because this disease is rare many people don’t get this vaccination). Malaria pills are not necessary for Bali but should be taken for Lombok and other islands. Always double check with a travel clinic before you leave to make sure all your shots are up to date.


Accommodation

Agoda was perfect for finding everything from hostels and homestays to 5 star hotels.  You can search by map or by price and they have free cancellation.

  • Budget: 80,000-100,000 IDR ($6-$12 USD) per person/night.  Breakfast is sometimes included in a hostel dorm room, you will get a fan but no A/C. For 2 people it is worth staying in a mid range private room instead.
  • Mid range: 180,000-280,000 IDR ($14-21 USD) for 2 people/night. Breakfast and A/C included with a private room in a homestay. A home in Indonesia is made up of many different buildings on one property. Our homestays were all newer buildings with a private room, washroom and a balcony which they bring your breakfast to in the morning.
  • Luxury: 375,000IDR + ($28-$100+ USD) for 2 people/night. Includes A/C and breakfast. Treat yourself for a night or two in a high end room. Luxury room and bathroom, A/C and quite possibly your own private pool. By doing some research and booking ahead you can easily stay in a 5 star hotel for under $100 USD/night.

Meals

40,000-80,000 IDR ($3-$6 USD) per person on average

We ate a lot while backpacking Indonesia because the food is SO good! You can order a local plate of Nasi Gorang for 15,000 IDR ($1.12 USD) or a 4 course feast for 200,000 IDR ($15 USD). Trip Advisor`s cheap eats section is great when you`re in a new place without any recommendations. We never got sick when eating from the street carts but followed some general rules. First; look for the street cart where all of the locals go to. A busy cart means that the same food hasn’t been sitting out all day and the locals will know the best ones. Secondly; make sure to steer clear of the street meat. You just never know exactly what it is or where it came from; so its easiest just to skip it all together.

Food while backpacking Indonesia

Some of our favorite local foods:
  • Nasi Gorang: Rice, choice of meat, and vegetables
  • Mia Gorang:Noodle, choice of meat and vegetables
  • Satay Chicken or Beef: Chicken or beef skewers with rice and a peanut sauce
  • Tempeh: A thin, deep-fried soybean patty. Most places will offer tofu or tempeh as a vegetarian option. It’s packed with protein and more firm and flavorful than tofu!
  • Fried Bananas with Ice Cream: A fairly common desert in Bali and it is so delicious
  • Pumpkin Soup: Very similar to butternut squash soup with tons of fresh spices and vegetables
  • Smoothies: Made with fresh fruit, ice, and sometimes milk or coconut milk

Transportation

Motorbike: This was by far the easiest mode of transportation while backpacking Indonesia. It costs $50,000 IDR ($3.75 USD) per day to rent a motorbike and about $1,500 IDR ($1.15 USD)  to fill up with gas. The roads can be dangerous and you do have to be careful but in our opinion its the best way to go. Here are some tips on what you can do to make sure you have a good experience: Renting a Motorbike in Bali

Hire a private driver: 40,000-50,000 IDR ($30-$37 USD) per day. Do this when you have a lot planned for a day and/or the places you want to go are far away from each other. For example; we were picked up at the airport at 7:30 am. We drove 2 hours to a temple, then to a viewpoint 1.5 hours from there and finally back to our homestay that evening. We didn’t have to man the crazy airport taxi mob, we could leave our packs in the car while we were exploring, and we ended up getting a steal of a deal for all the driving.

Take advantage of transportation included in tours: Most tours will pick you up or drop you off anywhere on the same island. We booked a Bike Tour through a company in Ubud and they picked us up in Uluwatu for no extra cost. They stored our bags during the tour and this saved us 400,000 IDR ($30 USD) on a cab ride.

Walk: We walked A LOT in Indonesia. We always felt safe and the local people were very helpful when we needed directions.

Taxi: Make sure to haggle with your taxi driver beforehand. You can offer about half the asking price. Taxi meters are becoming more popular in which case it is more difficult to haggle. Be cautious they aren’t driving you in circles or the long way to up the meter.


What to Wear

It is important to note that Indonesia is primarily a Muslim country. Dress modestly by always covering your knees and shoulders unless in a highly tourist area. A lightweight rain jacket is good to have if you are going on the shoulder season.

Bali is a Hindu island meaning that the local women follow less strict clothing rules. It is still important to dress respectfully in sacred places such as temples by covering your knees and shoulders. However I felt comfortable wearing shorts and sundresses most other places in Bali. For more packing tips check out our Southeast Asia Packing List

Budget Tips

  • Get a homestay with breakfast included.
  • Book tours on travel days to take you from city to city. 
  • Rent a motorbike for transportation.
  • Eat in smaller restaurants off the tourist streets.
  • Go to temples and attractions on your own instead of with a tour.
  • The airlines will charge you up to $35 USD per checked bag so bring a carry on sized backpack if you plan to catch any flights. backpacking Indonesia
Travel Guide: Indonesia