One of the best value countries in Southeast Asia, Indonesia has it all – great weather, great beaches, great food.
It’s also enormous, with hundreds of different cultures and customs. We spent a full month there and while we didn’t cover as much ground as we would have liked, we loved it and would definitely go back.
Jakarta, Java – 3 nights
Yogyakarta, Java – 3 nights
Jimbaran Bay, Bali – 1 night
Gili Air, Lombok – 3 nights
Ubud, Bali – 2 nights
Seminyak, Bali – 4 nights
Ubud, Bali – 4 nights
Sanur, Bali – 4 nights
Kuta, Bali – 4 nights
Overall we were happy with our route considering the circumstances (see costs). Ideally we would have liked to have moved on from Bali and explored Lombok but money constraints and the fact we just felt burnt out stopped us from moving too much. Whatever we might think now, it was the right decision at the time. But it does leave vast swathes of the country unexplored and we will need to return.
For most countries, visas are available on arrival. For UK citizens they currently cost 35USD per person. They may accept rupiah but we had dollars ready anyway. At Jakarta airport you first need to pay, then queue for the Visa. It’s a slightly strange way of doing it and can take quite a while.
Accommodation – £449.20
Transport – £412.38
Eating Out – £329.91
Groceries – £91.07
Alcohol – £59.26
Miscellaneous – £54.49
Attractions – £48.30
Coffee/Drinks/Snacks – £21.68
Shopping – £15.30
Laundry – £6.07
Petrol – £3.83
Total – £1495.46
Per Day – £49.85
So what happened? Indonesia is supposed to be a cheap country right? Well for the first 2 weeks of the month, friends from home visited on their holiday. Time being precious, they obviously needed to move quite fast, which involves planes (and a fast boat to Gili). We wanted to join them for everything, so we ended up with the very high transport budget above. We also of course wanted to eat out with them, stay near them etc. We don’t regret a penny.
The second half of our month was just me and Katy staying in Bali. Here we stayed at very cheap places and averaged under £30 a day most days which is the only reason it ended up averaging less than £50 per day – I was quite happy with this as it looked like it may be far higher for a while!
Decent hotel room – £18-25
Budget guesthouse/homestay – £9-14
Standard warung (local restaurant) meal (per person) – £0.75 – £2
Tourist restaurant meal (per person) – £3 – £5
Large beer from convenience store – 22k – 27k
Large beer from bar/restaurant – 25k – 40k
Cocktail at a bar – 45k – 100k
Bottle of coke from store – 5k – 10k
Large water – 5k
Motorbike rental – almost always 50k per 24 hours
Litre of petrol – 3k – 4k
Short taxi ride in Jakarta – 12k-20k
On the whole Indonesia is very, very cheap. Delicious food can be had for less than £1 usually and snacks/drinks are affordable. The one thing that surprised us in alcohol – for somewhere so on the holiday/party circuit, beer is expensive compared to most of Southeast Asia. Then again as most visitors are from exorbitantly expensive Australia, it does probably feel like a bargain.
Overall Indonesian food is delicious and cheap but can get a tiny bit repetitive after a few weeks. That isn’t to say there aren’t many dishes – there are hundreds, but most local warungs specialise in the simple things – Nasi Goring (fried rice), Mie Goreng (fried noodles), Soto Ayam (chicken soup) and Nasi Campur (rice with ??). The latter was our favourite go to meal – for 12-20,000IDR you get a portion of rice and up to 5 small portions of food to go with it – sometimes you choose them, sometimes not, but it always tastes SO good.
In Bali the majority of the population is Hindu so pork is available – there is little to no sign of it in the rest of Muslim majority Indonesia. Babi Guling is the Balinese speciality, roast suckling pig, served on rice with skin and various fried ‘parts’ of the pig, depending on where you go. The more tourist friendly restaurants just tend to serve the meat and skin.
Yogyakarta was home to some different dishes, Gudeg Jogja (jackfruit curry) being particularly tasty.
But my favourite food in Indonesia wasn’t any type of meat. It was tempeh (known as tempe in Indonesia), made from fermented soy beans and moulded into a firm block. It is commonly deep fried or stir fried with chilli and garlic and tastes incredible. I’ve never been and never will be the biggest fan of tofu, so to find a meat alternative I adore was great news – I will be seeking it out when we get back home!
From Jakarta airport to the city we got a bus to Gambir station, right in the centre of the city. From there taxis or buses are available.
In Jakarta, use Blue Bird taxis. They’re dirt cheap and reliable. Seeing as there is incredibly no metro service, whichever method of transport is going to be on the roads, and the Jakarta Busway is just too crowded and chaotic to be worthwhile unless you’re really trying to save.
Yogyakarta had few taxis and plenty of very slow cyclos. It’s best to rent a motorbike if you can.
No transport required in Gili once you have arrived, as it is all walkable!
Bali is a headache to get around, for the congestion as much as anything else. The lack of bus services, even tourist buses, between popular areas is frustrating and bewildering. Instead everyone relies on taxis, which cost a lot when you go long distance and adds to the congestion even further.
Between Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Bali we flew with Air Asia, each flight roughly costing £30 per person.
The most popular beer by far is the ubiquitous Bintang. Bali Hai and Anker are also popular. Beer is not cheap in Indonesia by Southeast Asian standards, probably only Malaysia and Singapore are more expensive.
Local arak grain spirit is very cheap, and cocktails are available fairly affordably. However there have been a number of deaths from methanol poisoning from fake alcohol in Indonesia, especially in Bali and Lombok, so we really tried to avoid mixed drinks as much as possible, aside from higher end cocktail bars.
I’d highly recommend sticking to beer as much as possible in Indonesia, the chance of poisoning may be small but it’s frightening to think that you wouldn’t know anything about it for a few days until you become blind and then possibly die.
We bought some duty free spirits in Singapore airport and used them for the times when we fancied a drink.
Jakarta aside, rooms are great value for money in Indonesia. Bali is naturally more expensive but the quality for your money everywhere is very, very high, probably on a par with Thailand.