Indonesia Backpacking Budget

backpacking budget Indonesia

(Map of Indonesia from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Indonesia on a Shoestring Budget

US$25 | 330,000 Rupiah

Like many large countries, there is a fair bit of regional variation in prices in Indonesia that you should consider so how much you spend will largely depend on where you go. We have received comments from many travellers suggesting we always place Indonesia too high in our budget travel table and that it is in fact as cheap or cheaper than most of mainland Southeast Asia. However we suspect they have spent a lot of time away from the islands of Bali and Java, which are a bit pricier. The other islands are considerably cheaper places to visit.

It is true that typical costs are cheap almost everywhere but getting from one island to another although relatively inexpensive can still quickly eat into your budget if you are moving around and entrance fees to major sites of interest can be high so we believe US$25 is a realistic overall Indonesia backpacking budget. If you try to pack a lot in and are moving around every couple of days including visits to multiple islands in a relatively short space of time, you might want to allow for a bit more. If you stick predominantly to one of the cheaper islands such as Sumatra, then it’s possible you can get by on US$20 or less.

See where Indonesia ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all Southeast Asian countries


More Comfortable Indonesia Backpacker Budget

US$35 | 470,000 Rupiah

Adding an extra US$10 to your daily travel budget in Indonesia will allow you to do quite a bit more no matter what kind of trip you want to have. If you are planning to spend a lot of time in Bali then it will allow you to really get into the party culture whilst perhaps doing the odd daytime activity like surfing. In Java it will allow you to take a few more organised trips up volcanoes and suchlike which are difficult to do independently. While on the cheaper islands you can probably fork out on some pretty good accommodation on this budget that would fall closer into the realm of luxury travel than budget.


Sample Prices in Indonesia

Flight from Jakarta to Bali (1 hour 45 mins) when booked 1-2 weeks in advance – 530,000 Rp (US$40) + baggage

Public ferry from Padang Bai, Bali to Lembar, Lombok (4-5 hours) – 40,000 Rp (US$3)

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – 20,000-30,000 Rp (around US$2)

Large local beer in a bar or restaurant – 25,000 Rp (US$2)

Dorm Bed at Kuta, Bali – from 75,000 Rp (US$5.50)

Private Double or Twin room in Bali – from 120,000 Rp (US$9)

Private room in Sumatra – from 50,000 Rp (US$4)

Entrance fee for Borobudur Temple Complex near Yogyakarta – 280,000 Rp (US$21)

Compare Indonesian prices with the cost of travel in the Philippines.


Money

Currency – Indonesian Rupiah

£1 = 19266 Rupiah

€1 = 15180 Rupiah

US$1 = 13376 Rupiah

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)


MFT Recommends

If you head to Bali, which most travellers do then we suggest staying at CX Hostel Kuta Raya at Kuta Beach. It’s well located close to the beach and nightlife and is of a much higher standard than most of the budget accommodation in Kuta.


street art in Indonesia

street art in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (via pwbakerCC BY-NC 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Indonesia recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for an overview of budget travel in the region.


Top 10 Tips For Living in Southeast Asia on a Budget

A guest post by Jyotsna Ramani

Let’s get one thing straight; the best way (as per me) to experience life is living on your own in South East Asia. I have lived in Indonesia for almost a year (for work) and I ensure that I get to travel around beautiful and tropical Southeast Asia. I was a bit sceptical at first about living in an unknown country all by myself – but, hey I did it and loved every bit of the experience that followed!

It sounds really nice while you are just travelling but living in a new country can be a daunting task – even for an avid traveller like me. Since, I knew that I would be in the country for a long duration; I had to plan my expenses accordingly. I found that there were some pretty easy ways to living in Southeast Asia on a budget.

Top 10 Tips For Living in Southeast Asia on a Budget

Here’s my list of tips for anyone living in a SE Asian country for a year, based on my experience living in Bandung, Indonesia and travelling around SE Asia

Accommodation

Accommodation in Bandung
One of the six houses I stayed in while in Bandung.

I was given company accommodation initially for a month which was paid for (by the company) but after that the expense would’ve been mine. So instead of living there, I found shared accommodation (with an Australian teacher) at a cost of merely US$100 per month. All that asked of me was helping around with the household chores (nothing unusual). Guest houses are readily available which are dirt cheap, but make sure to get the review from locals first as not all areas are ideal for expats. Best way to find shared houses and great deals are joining local expat groups on Facebook and posting your query there – that’s how I found all the neat places plus got to meet some great expats.

Food

A little change in food habit is all that is required to save on major expenses. Instead of going out to eat every night, try cooking at home occasionally as that would be healthier, safer, more hygienic and of course cost effective. Best of all – you cook whatever you feel like eating (simple). This will also be helpful towards inviting friends/colleagues over for a nice dinner party at home without splurging.

Transportation

Since I was already in contract for a year, I decided to hire a bike taxi for exclusive use. The driver would come and pick me up from wherever I wanted to and drop me off wherever I wanted to go; all it took was a phone call. Total cost was around $100-200 per month (including driver and fuel). Compared to using a taxi every time or a self driven car, it was the most viable option – cheaper & safer than driving myself in a new country. The only drawback was getting drenched when the heavens open up without any warning. Carrying a foldable rain jacket always helps (found out the hard way).

Local gym - cheaper than Gold'sFitness

Being fit is one of my top priorities in life; hence wherever I travel to, I make sure to have my daily workout (whichever way it’s possible). A morning jog in the fresh air, a swim in any one of the many public pools, organised runs, etc. I also found that membership in hotel gyms were much cheaper compared to a regular gym.

Attractions

There are a lot of places to see in Indonesia and almost all of them charge anywhere between 3 – 10 times for expats visiting them. So instead of visiting these places alone, I would suggest tagging along with locals and keeping your voice low as the guards are constantly looking out for expats. This is the best way to see all the touristy places like a local.

Eating Out

Living in Indonesia
Typical Local Indonesian Cuisine.

I know that I said cooking at home would be cost effective but that does not mean not going out to eat ever. Although I must say that even eating out can be cost effective if you know the right places to look or if you don’t mind street food. The best ways to find out about these places are through locals and (thanking my good luck), I did find some of the best people to guide me around and also join me for meals.

 Wellness

I strongly believe in small and simple luxuries like a good massage after a day of hard work (as if I work hard!). But the massage centres in Indonesia will try to rip you off when they come to know you are an expat. So instead of visiting these centres, it’s best to get some home spa numbers from locals and invite them for a nice massage right at your home. People are nice and friendly there so you will never feel uncomfortable doing so.

Insurance

I cannot insist on how important medical insurance is until I got ill due to food poisoning. I had my travel insurance which covered most of the regular medical ailments related to travel. It is a wise idea to invest in wholesome travel/medical insurance especially in SE Asia where the stomach bug or flu can attack without notice.

Credit/Debit cards

When living in a SE Asian country, it is advisable to open a local bank account and use the credit/debit cards for expenses (if possible). This way you don’t have to run the risk of being pick pocketed, mugging, etc. These sort of problems exist all over the world (no exception). It is much better than carrying cash for 1 year or worrying about losing your international card (which happened to me and I had to wait 3 weeks to get it re-issued from India and sent to me in Bandung).

Drinking in IndonesiaDrinking out

Indonesia is a Muslim country and alcohol in Bandung is not readily available – and when it is, it’s not cheap. Find out the local drinking holes (which would be far less expensive than high end clubs/pubs). 

All in all I can say with a certain amount of authority is that living in SE Asia is a ‘rite of passage’ and once you are through it, you can live anywhere in the world (almost anywhere).

 


About the Author

Jyotsna Ramani is a passionate globetrotter who loves to let her hair down and maximize her trips. How does she do that? By traveling on a budget and exploring new places. She travels far and wide (Well, Europe counts, right ?) and then comes back to her blog- WanderWithJo.com to share her experiences. Pretty nifty, eh?

So, don’t you want to uncover some secret drinking holes and see awesome new places through her eyes ?

Follow her adventures on – http://WanderWithJo.com

You can also follow her on social media:

instagram | facebook | twitter | pinterest

 


This article was published in March 2016.

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for a summary of budget travel in the region.


 

Backpacking in Yogyakarta

Temples, Lava & Gangs: This is Jogja!

yogyakarta train stationAs well as having a really cool name, Yogyakarta has much to wow even the most unimpressionable traveller. Vast ancient temples and ridiculously active volcanoes surround this friendly city which lies in the heart of Java, Indonesia’s most populous island. It’s easy to reach with good plane, train and bus links to the rest of this vast country and nicely breaks up the popular but long journey from Jakarta onwards to Eastern Java and Bali.

JOGJA!

Jogja (as it is affectionately known) may be first and foremost a base for exploring the surrounding area but it is also one of Indonesia’s most culturally and intellectually significant cities. It is also one of the oldest in the country and has various monuments and palaces from bygone eras that remain in good condition. The main attraction in town is the giant Kraton Complex, which includes the plush palace of a bloke known as Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X. There are various other Islamic sights and a few remnants of the colonial period when the Dutch ruled in Java. There are also many impressive art exhibitions and galleries that are worth a visit but they do sometimes try to pressure you into purchasing their items.

TEMPLES!

borobodurThere are two popular temple trips that you can do from Jogja. The enormous Borobudur temple (left) is the largest Buddhist monument in the world and probably the most visited sight in Indonesia. Further east are the equally impressive Hindu temples of Prambanan. There is also an open-air theatre inside the park with regular Javanese dance performances.

You can either leave at dawn or in the afternoon on organised trips or find your own way to the temples. The dawn trips may involve getting up ridiculously early but you’ll beat the crowds and the heat and will also see the temples at their most spectacular as the early morning mist rises. If you’re pushed for time it is possible to take a trip that includes both temple sites on the same day.

Be warned there is a somewhat extortionate extra $20 US fee for foreigners at Borobudur and $18 US at Prambanan that isn’t included in any tickets you buy in Jogja. You are also likely to be asked for photos with dozens of friendly if a little bit persistent Indonesian teenagers and children!

borobodur backpacking

LAVA!

One of the highlights of backpacking in Indonesia is the chance to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most violent volcanoes. While not everyone will agree with this sentiment (in case you hadn’t heard, they can be a bit dangerous), this is simply the best place in the world to witness a bit of volcanic activity.

There are several active volcanoes in the region but the most spectacular has to be Mount Merapi which can be viewed from the town on Kaliurang on its southern slope or Ketep, a pass that dissects the mountain and it’s near neighbour Mount Merbabu. Merapi erupted as recently as 2010 killing over 300 people and lava is almost constantly flowing down its slopes. It is possible to climb the mountain yourself but it’s safer to take the organised night-time trip from Jogja when the lava is most visible.

GANGS!

Yogyakarta’s backpacker area is conveniently located by the main train station and is just off the city’s main boulevard, Malioboro Street. The going rate for a cheap room here is around Rp100,000 and most of the accommodation is located off Jalan Sastrowijayan on two gangs (sidestreets & very safe) that run off it. They are imaginatively named Gang I and Gang II.

jogja gangsThere are various travel agencies on Sastrowijayan that all pretty much offer the same trips at the same price. Many of the guesthouses will also be able to hook you up with the temple/volcano trips. There’s also no shortage of pesky trishaw and moto-taxi drivers who congregate at the entrances to the gangs and will happily transport you anywhere around town. Agree a price before setting off! Another option is to rent a scooter which can work out cheaper than taking any of the organised trips.

There are a few decent bars and restaurants along Sastrowijayan, some of which offer really good live music but it’s not really a place for wild partying with many travellers setting off before sunrise on trips to the surrounding areas. It is however a biggish city so you can head off to other areas of town if you want to extend your night beyond midnight.

 

You can find up-to-date info and loads more things to do in and around Yogyakarta on Yogya Backpacker.

 


This article was published in January 2013.

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for a more up-to-date summary of budget travel in SEA.


Best Places in Gili Trawangan to Get a Drink

Best Places in Gili Trawangan to Get a Drink

A Guest Post by Heather Sinclair

gili Trawangan beach

Gili Trawangan is the largest of three small islands off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia. Backpackers have flocked to this island since the early nineties, where the sound of screeching bike brakes and the clip clop of horse-drawn carts replaces honking horns and screeching tires.

During the day, tourists SCUBA dive, stand-up paddle board, or relax on a white sand beach. At night the island changes: backpackers know Gili Trawangan as a party island, and there is no lack of places to wet your whistle.

Finding a place to drink on Gili Trawangan’s main street isn’t a problem, because every other building is a bar. To help you narrow your choices, here are three of the most happening places with cheap drinks to get you started:

Tir Na Nog the Irish Bar

irish bar Gili T

Sunday is Ladies Night, which means it’s half price drinks for everybody (figure that one out). Tir Na Nog (called “Irish” by locals) is notoriously expensive (ha!) at 47,000 IDR ($3.75 USD) for a local Bintang beer. Besides Bintang, you can get imported beers and spirits that aren’t available at other establishments. The place is huge, and hugely popular, not just on Sundays.

Lava

Bumping up against the beach, this venue is basically a wooden platform with a bar and some tables and chairs. Relax on a stool at one of the tables, or ease into one of the bean bag chairs near the firepit. When you get bored of watching the movie screen continually showing indie music videos and Red Bull stunts, look up and see if the fire dancer is doing his thing on the roof of the bar.

Sama Sama

On Gili Trawangan Bob Marley tunes come out of restaurants, convenience stores, and…well…anything that plays music. If you’re not tired of reggae tunes, Sama Sama has live reggae bands and a dance floor for when you’re feeling energetic. It’s guaranteed you’ll hear more Bob Marley, but this time it comes with a performance. Find a table near the dance floor or hop up on a stool at the long tables closer to the bar and suck down some Bintangs while you make new friends.

gili t main street

Main Street on Gili T


heather sinclair

Author Bio

Heather’s passion for travel compelled her to change careers, and start writing to encourage anyone who feels stuck in their life to find their fulfillment with travel. Among Heather’s loves are yoga, scuba diving, and exploring the world.

Come on over and say hi at thetraveltype.com or find me on Facebook or Google+.

 

 


This article was published in March 2015.

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for a more up-to-date summary of budget travel in SEA.


Backpacking Budget for Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia Backpacking Budget

This page aims to give you a rough idea of what a typical shoestring backpacking budget for Southeast Asia might be.

southeast asia

(Map of Southeast Asia from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Daily Travel Costs in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is one of the cheapest parts of the world to travel in and your money really can go a long way! Here’s an idea of shoestring travel costs in South East Asian countries. Click on the links for more detailed info on each country including a shoestring & more comfortable backpacker budget as well as sample prices for thing like buses, beds and beers:

$20/day : Cambodia, LaosVietnam

$25/day : Thailand, Malaysia, IndonesiaMyanmar

$30/day : The Philippines

$45/day : Singapore

(The US Dollar is the reserve currency in most countries and often accepted)

These figures are all based on staying in cheap hostels and eating/drinking in budget or local restaurants and bars. It allows for a bit of partying but if you’re going out getting drunk almost every night you will end up spending more than this!

There are big regional variations in some countries particularly Malaysia and Indonesia. Away from Java and Bali, Indonesia is as cheap as anywhere in the region but the large amount of travelling needed to get around and the island nature of the country makes it a bit more expensive to travel around. Mainland Malaysia although much richer and more developed is cheaper than Malaysian Borneo for the traveller due to the poor infrastructure in Borneo which makes life more complicated and more expensive for getting around.

Monthly Backpacking Budget for Southeast Asia

A realistic shoestring monthly backpacking budget for Southeast Asia, allowing for a few connecting flights in the region but not your main flight to/from SE Asia is therefore around:

1 month – £660, €760, $800

2 months – £1320, €1520, $1600

3 months – £1980, €2280, $2400

4 months – £2640, €3040, $3200

5 months – £3300, €3800, $4000

6 months – £3960, €4560, $4800

(Exchange rates are correct only as of January 2017. Use Dollars as a guide & convert to your currency on current exchange rates if in doubt.)

This is still designed as a shoestring budget and if you don’t have experience of travelling on the cheap you might want to allow for a little more. If you wish to go to the Philippines or parts of Indonesia that will require extra flights, you might want to increase it a little bit too. Everywhere else is accessible by land or short ferries and getting around in the region is typically very cheap. Think $1-2/hour of travel if you take the cheapest available option. If you’re just visiting Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and/or Vietnam then you can get by on a bit less if you’re smart but these countries have a big backpacker party scene which can eat away into any travel budget.

Remember there are still going to be quite a few extra expenses on top of this in terms of sorting out flights to/from the region, vaccinations and travel insurance. The latter can be quite costly but is important. We recommend World Nomads for excellent travel insurance packages for backpackers.


More on Budget Travel in SE Asia

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for an overview of budget travel in the region.

If you have a slightly larger budget than suggested above but are limited on time, you might want to check out Stray Travel’s Southeast Asia Flexi Tours. They will help you cram a lot into a short time and are also a nice idea for anyone who’s a bit nervous about travelling alone.


The Cost of Travel in Other Regions

South America | Central America | Europe


How much did travel in Southeast Asia cost you?

If you have travelled recently in the region then please use the comments section below to share with us your experiences of backpacking costs in SE Asia. Budgets really do vary considerably amongst travellers here so there will never be a definitive right figure for each country but the more people who comment, the easier it is for us to keep this page as accurate as possible. Thanks!


 This page was last updated in January 2017.


Popular Backpacking Route in Indonesia

asia/oceania routes

southeast asia | thailand | myanmar | vietnam | indonesia | india | australia | new zealand


Backpacking Route in Indonesia

Before you start planning a backpacking trip in Indonesia let’s get one thing straight. Indonesia is humongous. Its size is more reminiscent of a continent than a country and although it is still classed as part of South East Asia, this vast array of islands is a world away from the standard South East Asian backpacker trail. If you were to visit a new Indonesian island every day it would take you a little over 49 years until you had seen them all. Presuming you’ve not got half a century of your life to spare on the trip, you will need to pick and choose where you would most like to visit.

Our route begins in Java, the beating heart of the nation before heading east to the islands of Bali, Lombok and Flores. It includes ancient temples and fiery volcanoes on Java before experiencing the stunning beaches, great nightlife and thriving Hindu culture of Bali. After that things get more chilled out on the lazy Gili Islands and Lombok before getting up close and personal with the famous Komodo Dragons and volcanic craters on Flores.


TIME NEEDED – 5-6 WEEKS

Could be done in a month or less if you don’t want to spend long on the beaches of Bali/Gili Islands.


POSSIBLE BUDGET – £825 €950 $1000

Figures are based on January 2017 prices and exchange rates. They don’t include the cost of flights to or from Indonesia nor other pre-trip expenses like getting travel insurance.

Read more on the cost of travel in Indonesia.

For tips on how to travel on as little as $10/day, get Will Hatton’s backpacker bible.


VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR INDONESIA

Indonesia has loosened up its visa requirements considerably in recent years and it is now one of the easiest places to visit in the world. Citizens of 169 countries can now get 30 days visa-free including every European country, every country in the Americas (except Colombia for some reason), Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea and every other Southeast Asian country.


TRAVEL INSURANCE

We recommend World Nomads who specialise in insuring young people on backpacking trips and have huge experience in covering Indonesia.


FUNKY GUIDES – BACKPACKERS GUIDE TO SOUTHEAST ASIA 2017-2018

Ebook – £2.99 | €3.49 | $3.79

Paperback – £4.99 | €5.49 (+ VAT) | $5.99


Indonesia Backpacking Route


JAVA


Jakarta

The Indonesian capital is a chaotic mega-city home to over 10 million people with another 20 million living in surrounding towns and villages. It’s not worth staying much more than a day or two unless you happen to be a lover of ridiculous amounts of traffic and polluted smelly streets. Starting your Indonesian adventure in Jakarta is more akin to being thrown into the middle of the Pacific Ocean than the deep end of a Swimming Pool but it does have its charms.

As the capital there are many important museums where you can educate yourself on Indonesian history and culture. Unlike other destinations on the route, the city attracts few tourists which means you are likely to be something of a fascination to locals. It also boasts probably the most raucous nightlife in the Islamic world with giant 24 hour night clubs packed with ecstasy-fuelled ravers. The best tactic is to accept the madness of the place and try to understand the day to day lives of local people who for the most part are extremely friendly and eager to engage with you.

Many travellers fly here from the nearby but much more glamorous Singapore.

Dieng Plateau

As your train or bus heads east from Jakarta you begin to get a better feel for the real Java. The island is home to 65% of Indonesia’s 250 million population but is still dwarfed in size by the neighbouring islands of Sumatra and Borneo. However it is not too difficult to get away from the hot modern cities and the Dieng Plateau couldn’t feel more different than the bustling capital. At 2,000 metres above sea level, the Plateau is much cooler and the scenery includes some mysterious lakes, hot springs as well as temples that offer insight into early Javanese religion and culture. Wonosobo is the main town on the Plateau and from there cheap trips can be organised or you can rent a motorbike and see it alone.

Yogyakarta

Jogja, as locals call it is in many ways the cultural capital of Java. A lively city in its own right with a thriving arts scene and a busy little district that caters for the hordes borobodur backpackingof travellers that come through these parts. The vast palace known as the Kraton Complex is home to the fabulously named Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono and is the main attraction in the town. The reasons why Jogja has become such a popular backpacker hub however lie an hour or so bus ride outside the city. The temples of Borobudur (right) and Prambanan are easily among the most spectacular in all of South East Asia.

Read our dedicated article on Yogyakarta and the surrounding temples.


MFT RECOMMENDS – ABRAKADABRA!, Yogyakarta 

Artistic Homestay. A good place to chill out and the staff are very knowledgeable on the best trips to do.


Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park

A popular stopping point on the lengthy trip from Yogyakarta to Bali. Java is an island full of highly active volcanoes and Mounts Bromo and Semeru are two of the most accessible. Both volcanoes constantly spew out steam and smoke with major eruptions not an uncommon occurrence. The surrounding landscape is spectacular and at times truly unworldly. There’s plenty of budget accommodation available around the park and it’s probably best to base yourself in a village such as Cemoro Lawang or Wonokitri. Camping is possible inside the park but it does get rather cold at night.


island hop- JAVA to BALI

From the national park head to Banyuwangi on the Eastern tip of Java. This port has ferries to Gilmanuk in Bali that run every 20 minutes, 24 hours a day. The ferry crossing is only about half an hour and will set you back just 6,000Rp (as of 2014). There is little to do in Gilmanuk so it’d be a good idea to get on a bus somewhere.


bali hindu cultureBali

Bali is a relatively small island and you can reach any point in the space of two or three hours, however you can easily end up spending weeks on the island. Most travellers base themselves in the South with Kuta Beach the most popular and liveliest choice. For many visitors to Indonesia, Bali is all they see and some of those don’t even leave the beach resorts on the Southern tip of the island. While the beaches, surfing and parties are fantastic, there is much more to Bali than this.

There are numerous laid back traditional fishing villages and sleepy beaches if the pace of life at Kuta gets too much. There are diving and snorkelling opportunities on Nusa Lembongan, a beautiful small island just off the coast of Bali. Although most foreigners think of Bali as a beach destination, the central region is really the cultural heartland and where most of the action happens for locals. Unlike other parts of the country, Bali is dominated by Hindu culture and customs, and there are many fascinating markets, arts and crafts shops, temples and museums to visit in the mountainous towns and villages.


MFT RECOMMENDS – CX Hostel Kuta Raya, Kuta Beach, Bali 

There is a lot of budget accommodation in Bali, most of which is pretty rank. This is one of the better places, a short walk from Kuta Beach and the best of Bali’s nightlife whilst also being surprisingly clean!


island hop- BALI to LOMBOK

Regular fast boat services run from Benoa, Serangan Island, Padang Bai and Amed on Bali to the Gili Islands. If you don’t want to visit the Gilis the boats continue onto the coast of mainland Lombok.


Gili islands

The Gilis (below) are small and extremely laid back and a large contrast to the mass tourism witnessed in Bali. Gili Trawangan has been a huge hit with backpackers since the early 1990’s and continues to attract a steady flow of budget travellers. Diving is popular in the Gilis and Trawangan is your best bet for this. Of the three this is the main party island and a big attraction for some travellers is the total absence of police presence which has led to cheap and easily available weed, mushrooms and other drugs.

Read this guest post on Gili T’s best places to drink!

Gili Meno, is a peaceful and idyllic desert island and the perfect place to spend a few lazy days. Gili Air, the closest to the Lombok mainland is similar but with more local residents..

gili islands

Senaru (for Mount Rinjani National Park)

Senaru is a pleasant village on the fringe of the Mount Rinjani National Park and has probably the best choice of budget accommodation in the area. Here you can learn about the unique cultural beliefs on this island of Lombok. Close by are beautiful waterfalls and for the brave you can take on the challenge of hiking up Mount Rinjani, which as the second highest volcano in Indonesia looms large over the entire island.

South Lombok

The quiet beaches and bays of South Lombok are the perfect retreat after an active few days on the North of the Island. Surfing is popular here and you won’t have to battle with anything like the crowds you find on Bali. Kuta and Tanjung Aan are decent places to base yourself but budget accommodation may be hard to find as the area doesn’t attract much of a backpacking crowd.


island hop- LOMBOK to FLORES

This can be the most troublesome of the trips between the islands. In between Lombok and Flores lies the island of Sumbawa which is very remote and receives very few visitors. A company called Perana does the trip from Lombok to Flores and includes a few sightseeing stops including the Komodo National Park but we can’t vouch for whether they are good or not! The trip takes 2 or 3 days. Alternatively you can take a ferry to Sumbawa and a bus to the other side of the island and the port of Sape which has ferries to Labuan Bajo on Flores but they are not exactly regular.


Komodo National Park

komodo dragon backpackingFor many travellers, a trip to see the menacing looking Komodo dragons is an essential part of backpacking in Indonesia. The dragons are fast, can jump to quite a height, are capable swimmers and are not unknown to have a taste for human flesh so it’s best to seek a guide who will show you around for around 60,000Rp (as of 2014).

The national park consists of three islands just west of the main island of Flores and is home to an abundance of animal life. As well as the famous dragons the area is home to wild horses, boar, deer, water buffalos, monkeys and some very dangerous snakes. The tropical waters are inhabited by whales, dolphins and various other forms of marine life so diving, kayaking and snorkelling trips are also popular. The nearby town of Labuan Bajo is probably your best bet for budget accommodation from where you can easily reach the islands that make up the Komodo National Park.

Ende (for Mount Kelimutu)

Ende is the biggest city on Flores and has a fair bit of history both in town and in the surrounding areas. Nearby there are various caves, hot water pools and lakes, many of which hold bizarre ancient myths and beliefs. The highlight of a visit to these parts is Mount Kelimutu and it’s incredible crater lakes which regularly change colour and apparently can appear anything from bright turquoise to red and even chocolatey looking brown. Nobody is quite sure why this natural phenomenon takes place but it is likely to have something to do with volcanic activity.

kelimutu crater lakes

Maumere

This is the main transport hub on Flores and isn’t far from Ende. There are some decent restaurants and the opportunity to do water-sports but there isn’t much to hang around for. The airport has regular flights to other parts of Indonesia including flights to Denpasar on Bali which is likely to be your best bet for flying home or continuing your travels in a different part of Asia.

 

pics courtesy of woonsa (bali boys) & simmo333 (komodo) on sxc.hu



Budget Accommodation in Indonesia

Accommodation doesn’t really need to be booked in advance and most of the real cheap places don’t have an online presence. Places like the Gilis are small enough to explore on foot and find a bed or room. In Jakarta is a good idea though as the city is enormous. 


Extending your trip

Of course this route misses out very large chunks of the country. You could easily spend several weeks or even months in Sumatra or the jungles of Borneo such is the vast size of those islands. For the most part they are rarely visited by travellers and with something like 18,000 islands making up Indonesia it isn’t hard to get off the beaten track.

If you’ve had enough of Indonesia then from Denpasar you can fly to numerous international destinations including Australia, New Zealand and many major cities across South East Asia and the Far East. If you have six months to a year on hand, then you could combine this trip with our backpacking route for South East Asia or alternatively our Ultimate Thailand Itinerary.

Indonesia appeals to some because it doesn’t have the massive crowds of young drunk travellers that you find in other parts of SE Asia. If that’s you then our Myanmar route might also be right up your street and it is much easier to visit now then it has been in recent years.

If you’re from Europe or North America and haven’t been to Australia or New Zealand, then you’ve probably never been closer to it than you would be at the end of this route. Bali is very well linked up to Australia by air so you can get good deals on flights and therefore it’d be easy to combine this with our Australia route.

 



Backpackers Guide to southeast Asia

For a more detailed overview of budget travel in the region, get our full 2017-2018 Backpacker’s Guide to Southeast Asia. It includes routes for Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar & the Philippines. You’ll also find more detailed info on vaccinations, visa rules and border crossings for all countries as well as the best festivals, adventure destinations, party towns, full moon party dates and historical sites plus the answers to FAQ’s from first time travellers in Southeast Asia.


This article was last updated in January 2017.