Travel Indonesia on a budget

The number one thing holding back people from traveling is Money. You do not need to be rich to travel Indonesia. Travel Indonesia on a budget is really fun. Traveling cheap is all about being out of your comfort zone. A backpacking budget in Indonesia will go around 15-20$ USD per day. Covering your stay in a Hostel, having street food, using Gojek ( local transportation) and few entrance fees to some national parks.

How to travel Indonesia on a budget ? 

Let me take you trough my experience. In 2017, after resigning from my position as a Marketing manager in Jakarta. One day I put IDR 6million (400$) cash in my waller and packed my backpack  and decided to take a trip from Jakarta to the farthest I can by using only Ferry and train. 

My first stop: The soul of Indonesia, Yogyakarta

Travel Indonesia on a budget, Yogykarta

It took me 7 hours and 30min to arrive at Yogyakarta, the ticket cost me IDR125K (8$). I spent 2 nights and 3 days sleeping in my friends place. Yogyakarta is the second cheapest city in Indonesia after Solo. Yogyakarta is known to be the soul of Indonesia, the center of art and culture. You will experience ballet, batik textiles, drama, literature, music, poetry, silversmithing, visual arts, and wayang puppetry. Wherever you go to Indonesia get yourself a rental scooter and explore the surrounding. Borobudur –Prambanan temples – the Malioboro street are the most well-known spots for tourists in Yogyakarta.

Second spot: visiting the wonderful BanyuwangiTravel on a budget in Banyuwangi, Indonesia

After greetings my friends and thanking them for everything. I took a bus to go to Banyuwangi. (cost me 110k) It took me 14 hours to get there. I always wanted to see the blue fire. There are only two places where you can see the blue fire phenomenon in the world. The first one is located in Banyuwangi and the other one is located in Iceland.

The bus ticket cost me 110k (7$). After spending 14hours in a packed bus, I arrived at Banyawngi. Fryda and Imran picked me up from the bus station. I met them trough couchsurfing application. An app that host travellers from all around the world for free. They took me around the city. On the first day I went to some coffee plantation, and had some local food. On the second day, I went to the national park of Baluran (IDR110k =7$ the entrance). The next day I start the hike of Ijen crater to watch the blue fire by night.

My third stop : the most famous island on the planet, BaliTravelling cost in Bali, Indonesia

Imran took me on his bike to the port. The ferry was waiting for me to get to the famous island that doesn’t need an introduction “Bali”. The ticket price cost only IDR 15k (1$). And only 30 min to get from Jawa Island to Bali.

Back in 2015, I used to live in Bali. I decided to stay only for one night. And one day meeting one of my favorite balinese friend : RAMA. After crossing half of Bali, he was waiting for me at Denpasar where he lives, he host me for a night.

Bali is mostly crowded in the southern area. I won’t recommend you to spend too much time here. You will surprised and shocked by the beauty of Flores, Maluku and Papua with less crowd. If you want to visit Bali I recommend you, to go to south Bali. Check my travel guide for Bali.

The next day Rama took me to Padang port. Arriving in the lovely fishing village of Padangbai, ready for the next ferry. Next step heading to Lombok.

My fourth stop : Lombok, my first major hikeTravelling cost in Lombok, Indonesia

Taking the ferry cost me 40k (2,8$) to cross the sea between Bali and Lombok island. 4 hours of enjoying the blue sky and the blue dark sea. A friend of my friend that I never met was waiting for me to pick me up. You can tell how Indonesians are kind and friendly.

He waved at me with enthusiasm and he greets me in a good manner. He took me on his bike, an hour to get to his friend place. I was really fortunate to meet such awesome people whom share the same passion as mine. Along with my friend Fathur who joined me for climb of Mount Rinjani mountain and Sumbawa exploration.

I meet some great people from Batam, in Lombok that had the same goal : hiking Rinjani. We decided to share the cost of transportation and the cost for food. The hike for me as a foreigner cost me : ticket entrance IDR250k (14$) the food : 6$.

Mount Rinjani its 3,726 m above sea level, towering over the entire island, if you enjoy hiking, climbing, adventures, Mount Rinjani is a must, the view on top of it is breathtaking. Keep in mind that Mount Rinjani is a volcano and the hike is quiet challenging. Make sure you are well equipped and prepared physically, sand-like slopes and uneven grounds could make your climb difficult.

My fifth stop : Sumbawa, the hidden paradiseTravelling cost in Sumbawa, Indonesia

I think I wasn’t prepared for the next adventure and that was perfect. Sumbawa was different, notcrowded with tourist like Bali. It was wild and authentic. I felt alive by the scenery surrounding me and the warmness of the people. The price of the bus and ferry cost us 90K (6$) to get from Mataram (Lombok) to Sumbawa besar. 7 hours of bus and ferry sharing with my dear friend Fathur. When you travel in Indonesia on a budget ; it leads you to met amazing people and experience unexpected things.

Swiming in the wild pulau Moyo, Indonesia

At 1pm we arrived Moyo Island after 2 hours on the boat. At Labuhan Aji we decided to walk to get to the waterfall. Arriving at the waterfall, I was amazed by the beauty of what I was seeing, I thought i was in heaven. The place was empty, it felt like it was our own waterfall, the color was blue and green. The scenery left me speechless. Definitely a destination to travel in your lifetime.

Discover the beautiful tiny island of Kenawa

From Sumbawa Besar we decided to travel Kenawa island. Ending the day on a tiny island with a superbe sunset. We took a speed boat from Sumbawa Besar to Kenawa island. It cost us 80k ( return tiket). In Sumbawa we met a nice lady, Stephanie from Surabaya and she agreed to share the cost with us.

Travel on a budget in Indonesia by using the app couchsurfing

The end of my unforgettable backpacking Indonesia trip on a budget

Sumbawa was the farthest I could travel from Jakarta. The adventure ends here. It was time for me to travel back to Jakarta. My visa will expire in a week. From Mataram I took the ferry directly to Banyuwangi it cost me IDR110k (7$) for a trip of 12 hours. Imran has welcomed me again to stay at his place for a night. The next day I took the train 100k (7$) to Surabaya. Stoping by to discover by curiosity; after nights I booked a ticket to Jakarta 150k (10$).

The recap of my journey

5 weeks of freedom and pure happiness in the country I particularly love. While I was packing, I just realised what I just made, what it was like to walk for miles with no reason, other than to witness the accumulation of trees, mountains, streams and roads, peoples, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It’s all still there in my heart and soul. The walk, the hills, the stars, the solitary pain and pleasure, they will grow in the years to come.

Budget for a 1-month trip in Indonesia

A backpacking budget in Indonesia is about 15$ per day. If you are looking for luxury vacation or on honeymoon, you should spend around 50$ per day on your vacation in Indonesia.

1. Get around Indonesia on a budget

Take advantage of the local transport; use Ferry and train.

Average daily cost :

Rental bike – Renting a bike is very cheap : you can easily rent a bike for 50k to 80k a day ($3,5 – $7,5)

Ferry – traveling between islands, cost around 7,000 IDR ($0.50) for a ticket from Java (Banywangi) to West Bali. From Bali (Padang Bai port) to Lombok is about $5.

Bus – Buses are the main way for locals and international travelers to get around Indonesia. Prices vary by the length of the route. Above 10 hours it will cost you around 110k to 150k ($7,11). Less 10 hours around will cost you around 80,000 IDR ($5,5).

Train – In Indonesia, the cities of Java are well linked by train, it will be very easy for you to travel in java with train. If you travel from :

  • Jakarta to Surabaya it will takes 15 hours and costs around 104k IDR ($7) economy class
  • Jakarta to Yogakarta it will take 12 hours and cost around 100k ($6,5) economy class

Flying – Garuda Indonesia is the main airline of Indonesia providing international and domestic flights. Beside for cheaper flights, Lion Air (I wouldn’t advise traveling with them), Citilink, batik air, sriwijawa air are safe to travel with. The average cost will be around 300k-800k ($20-$57), prices vary by the length of the route and the date.

2. Find a free/ affordable place : Where to stay in Indonesia on a budget

Do you have friends or family who live in destination you are heading to ? Most backpacker use the app CouchSurfing, where you can find a free couch, bed, or space on the floor to sleep, the best part about staying with a local, is to travel and see the country as a local. This is the best way to travel on a budget in Indonesia. If you feel not comfortable sleeping in people’s house try hostels. They are really affordable with good cheap accommodation option.

Average daily cost per day : staying accommodation

  • on couchsurfing : free
  • in a hostel : from 100k – 200k ($7-14$)
  • hotel 3 star : from 600k-800k ($42-$60)
  • a nice aribnb : from 150k-300k ($10 – 20$)

3. Food cost in Indonesia

The travel cost for food in Indonesia is quiet affordable. Use the kitchen to cook, you will save money on eating and drinking out. Get to know the local cuisines. The street food in Indonesia is extremely cheap. Street food cost around 10k IDR ($0.70), For a meal at a local restaurant, prices could start around 14k ($1). Fast food like McDonalds, burger king will cost around 45k IDR ($3.20).

In every corner of each city in Indonesia you will find these main Dishes that must be on your Foodie’s List :

  • Nasi Goreng : The most popular food in Indonesia: 10 000 rupiahs.
  • Satay ayam : is the emblematic food of Jakarta, and Indonesia. It is often served with peanut sauce topped with garlic flakes: 15 000 rupiahs
  • Nasi Padang : Perhaps one of my fav food in Indonesia, do not miss this culinary experience, steamed rice with beef rendang or fish.
  • Mie Ayam : looking for breakfast, try this chicken noodles tossed in with loads of other vegetables, garlic, chilli and peanut sauces.
  • Martabak : Martabak is the Indonesian version of a pancake stuffed with a ton of toppings like Toblerone, peanuts, Nutella, chocolate sprinkles, butter, cheese and condensed milk : 25000 rupiahs

4. The sightseeing budget

4. Activities : split the costs

If you’re a solo traveler and on a budget, you can split the costs of the activities, transport, rental equipment (if hiking). I advise you to use couchsurfing app, there is always travelers hanging out and having activities to do around the city you are heading to.

Entertainment and activities in Indonesia like snorkelling trip, ticket to museums or national park and other attractions will cost around 120k ($8,5) per person, per day.

  • 3-day, 2-night trek on Mount Rinjani on Lombok island: 150 $ per person (admission, camping gear, guide and food included).
  • 1 day Trek to Mount Batur: 150 000 rupiahs per people 
  • 3-day, 2-night to visit Ijen and Bromo: 700k rupiahs per person all include

5. Choose the cheapest time to go to Indonesia

Definitely avoid to go there during the pick season which is between June to September. If you want to optimise to travel Indonesia on a budget go from October to April. The raining season occurs during that time, the rains are usually short and sharp, and interspersed with blissful sunny days. 

6.Find an inexpensive flight

If you are not into trains, ferries or perhaps not having enough time, cheap flight is another. Within Indonesia, you have Garuda Indonesia, Air Asia or Lion Air that link all the other main islands. To give you a rough idea of flight prices, you can travel one-way between Jakarta and Bali from around $45, or from Bali to Labuan Bajo from around $35.

Daily costs 

  • Local coffee in a warung: US$0.30
  • Cappuccino in a fancy café: US$2.50
  • A plate of fried rice/noodles in a warung: US$1
  • The same meal in a tourist venue: US$4
  • 1.5-liter bottle of water: US$0.25
  • An Indonesian visa costs US$ 35

Hope this post will help you give you a good overview on how you can travel Indonesia on a budget. If you need additional informations, please do not hesitate to contact me. Enjoy your trip to Indonesia, and stay safe. Bless you !