This is a summary (with some details) of all our expenses for the 29 nights / 30 days we spent in Indonesia during August / September 2019. You should keep in mind that if one travels at a slower pace it's easier to make savings as transportation can eat into your budget quickly, especially in Indonesia where travel between islands and even between towns on the same island, is relatively expensive. In this case, we moved around every 2-5 nights which meant that we could not take advantage of any long stay discounts. That said, we found that if one can contain accommodation costs and avoid specialised or fine-dine restaurants, Indonesia is a very affordable destination. Travelling full-time changes the way one travels and it becomes less of a quest to tick off the 'popular' sights than it becomes a way of experiencing your surrounds in a slower, relaxed fashion. Many further cost savings are indeed possible, but one should also not completely deprive oneself of uniquely local experiences that ultimately add value to your visit to a foreign country. However, more often than not, the events, encounters and connections with people that stand out, are those that you do not foresee or could even have planned for. Like most things in life, a balance between being frugal and making use of opportunities should be sought.
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(The following expenses does not include flights to and from Indonesia, but does include local flights and other transfers between islands within Indonesia.)
We found that the best site to use when searching for and booking accommodation in Indonesia was by far Booking.com. Although we also always check on Agoda, for this trip we ended up using Booking.com almost exclusively. We did not book all our accommodation beforehand and simply booked online a few nights in advance, or sometimes only once we arrived at the destination (yes, it was often cheaper for us to book online while using the free wifi in the lobby of some accommodations)!
Kuta, Bali 2 nights - Grand Bimasena Hostel
(Double Room, En-suite)
The small guesthouse is well located in Kuta, just off Jalan Legian and within walking distance to the beach. We liked the location as it is also close to some local eateries and the new Legian Foodcourt. The small swimming pool is great for cooling down and we enjoyed the breakfasts. The rooms are very basic and although the bed was comfortable, the bathroom was very neglected and could have been cleaner. For the price it was good value for money, but keep your expectations low! There is no shortage of accommodation options in this area and for about $10 more per night, there are plenty of better options to choose from.
Nusa Penida, Bali 4 nights - Penida Dive Resort
(Double Bungalow, En-suite)
The Dive Resort is located adjacent to the Nusa Penida harbour. We booked a dive package with them beforehand which included accommodation and transportation to and from Nusa Penida. We had a fantastic diving experience with them and they also have a restaurant on site and communal relaxation area. The accommodation is very basic but does have a nice little patio in front of each unit. The bathroom was dark and a bit grotty and there is only cold water for the shower - in serious need of an upgrade. There are so many new places being built on Nusa Penida, it should be easy to find better accommodation. We would definitely recommend them as a Dive Resort though as they are very professional and competent.
Gili Trawangan, Lombok 2 nights - Jati Village
(Double Bungalow, En-suite)
We really enjoyed our stay at Jati Village. The bungalows are lovely, clean and spacious and they each have a nice outside patio with relaxation area. There is attention to detail and everything was very comfortable, there was even hot water for the showers! The communal area includes a lovely swimming pool, beanbags and deck chairs. There is also free coffee and tea available throughout the day. The only thing that they could really improve on is the included breakfast, which was very, very basic.
Gili Trawagan, Lombok 4 nights - Pondok Windy Bungalows
(Double Bungalow, En-suite)
Pondok Windy has such a fantastic location on Gili Trawagan. Situated right at the north of the island, at Turtle Point, you can start your day by falling out of bed to catch the sunrise behind Mount Rinjani (Lombok), you can then walk into the shallow waters right in front of the accommodation to snorkel with the turtles (who are apparently always there!). We saw 4 turtles in the couple of hours that we spent in the water the one day. Once you have rinsed off with a swim in the fresh water pool and perhaps enjoyed a relaxing drink at their restaurant, you only need to walk a little towards the west, to enjoy magnificent sunsets with the silhouette of Mount Agung (Bali) in the background. Location doesn’t get much better than this! BUT… the accommodation is basic! Do not expect any form of luxury. The chalets are fairly spacious, with big comfortable beds and a small closet. They have natural roofing, so expect a bit of dust and cobwebs. The bathroom is also spacious, but could do with some maintenance. Cold water shower only. There is also a little patio with table and chairs for relaxing outside the bungalow. The staff are very friendly, attentive and helpful. It was perfectly suited to our needs and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay there.
Senggigi, Lombok 3 nights + 5 nights - The Inn by Sunset House
(Double Room, En-suite)
This may well be the best value for money accommodation of this trip. We stayed at “The Inn by Sunset House” which is just across the road from the main resort “Sunsethouse Lombok”. The rooms are very spacious and clean with good natural light and a desk and chair. The bathroom has a separate shower with good pressure hot water. The patio has a table and chairs and there is a swimming pool which most guests don’t bother to use as they tend to use the other swimming pool looking out to the sea. You get to use the facilities of Sunsethouse Lombok, which include the sea facing swimming pool, pool deck and loungers and other relaxation areas including the restaurant. We had breakfast include with our booking and it was absolutely delicious! There is also WiFi throughout the property which was very good. We were so happy with our stay here that we returned for a second stay before leaving Lombok. Not by any means glamorous, but definitely very comfortable and great value for money.
Kuta, Lombok 5 nights - Dewi Garden Guesthouse
(Double Bungalow, En-suite)
Dewi Garden Guesthouse is situated in the local village, a short distance away from the main road of Kuta. The location was lovely and quiet and the bungalows were clean and comfortable with good natural light. The room was very spacious, although sparsely furnished. The bathroom has a separate shower, but cold water only. Each bungalow also has a small shaded patio with table and chairs for relaxing in the lovely garden. The hosts looked after us very well, going out of their way to help us with anything they could. The breakfast was simple but tasty and water, coffee and tea are freely available throughout the day. There are a few local eateries nearby which we frequented for dinner and we would happily return should we find ourselves in the area again.
Sekotong, Lombok 3 nights - Krisna Bungalows
(Double Bungalow, En-suite)
There is more than one cluster of bungalows, so be sure you know which one you have booked for. We stayed in the Deluxe Double with Aircon and Sea-view and it did not disappoint! The 6 bungalows surround a small fresh water swimming pool which is right on the beach. You can spend your day relaxing at the pool, looking out over the sea to the small islands in the distance. You can swim and snorkel right here, but to be honest the water is not that inviting. We chose to take a boat trip to the smaller islands to snorkel there and we would highly recommend that. There is really not much else around and you are very isolated if you do not have transportation. The restuarant serves great food and although a little expensive, they are not ridiculously priced. You can walk towards the harbour for very cheap and local Nasi Campur, but you will not find anything other than that! Fantastic location and accommodation for a few days of relaxing and island hopping.
We generally try to eat like and with the locals. In Indonesia this is very easy. Most accommodations will serve a western-style breakfast of simple eggs and toast, usually also with a small plate of fruit.
Cuisine in Indonesia is diverse, and you can find western food like hamburgers and pizza almost anywhere. However, sticking to the relatively small selection of more common dishes from the local eateries (warungs) will save you a lot of money and besides being very tasty, each local eatery will have their own take on a dish. Be sure to read our guide “Indonesia - Where and How To Eat Like A Local” for all our tips!
The cheapest and most popular meal amongst the locals is by far Nasi Campur, which means “mixed rice”. This will be a plate with white rice and a few servings of whatever is available on the day, usually some vegetables, tempe, egg, chicken and of course the very spicy sambal which is signature to this dish. This was our go-to for lunches and can cost as little as 10-15 IDR. Other great dished to try at a local Warung are Gado-Gado, Cap-Cay and Tempe Goreng. For more about Indonesian food, check out our articles “Indonesian Food You Will Love” and “Indonesian Desserts”.
Breakfasts were almost always included at our accommodation and are thus generally not included in the food spending component. We ate very generous lunches and dinners everyday, including fresh fruit juices and the occasional sunset beer. We did enjoy a few western meals of pizza and burgers, which are considerably more expensive than local dishes. Being a predominantly Muslim country, although alcohol is available in most touristy areas, it remains relatively expensive.
There is not much of a public transportation system across Indonesia and unless you rent a vehicle full-time, you will most likely have to end up using “private transfers” to get from place to place. These are fairly pricey and can add up quickly if you move every few days. Poor road infrastructure and traffic conditions also result in most trips taking longer than expected. In the more touristy areas of Bali, Blue Bird Taxi Services are the cheapest way to get around, however, these are not available in many areas of Lombok. If you need to make use of water and land transport within a single trip, try to book these together as the fast boat services will often include the land transport component for free. Depending on the distance, you can expect to pay around IDR 250 - 300,000 for a 60 km trip in Lombok which will take about 1.5 hours.
Moving between islands is fairly easy, with many boat services available. The fast boat services are generally reliable and on time, but pricey. The slow ferries are VERY SLOW, but then again also significantly cheaper. Be sure to clarify exactly what you will get with regards to your transport as many “direct transfers” are actually made up of various separate modes of transport with different companies and long waiting periods in between! The cheapest way by far to get between the Gili Islands (Gili T, Gili Meno & Gili Air) and Lombok is the public ferry. One thing to note is that you will need to wade into the water to get on and off most boats, so don’t expect to stay dry!
In Lombok we rented a scooter for a few days to explore the island. Scooter rental is fairly affordable costing around IDR 50,000 - 60,000 per day.
The islands of Indonesia are so vastly spread out and travelling around and between them can easily and quickly add a significant amount to your overall travel expenses. Travelling slower would be one way to reduce your daily average cost of transportation. We recommend using 12Go website or BookAway to view schedules ahead of time and buy tickets. Skyscanner.com is a fantastic tool for finding great flight deals.
CELLPHONE & DATA
Being very dependent on data for getting around and rather heavy data user generally, this is one of the first things we investigate when staying in a country for a period of time. We found the best option for us was purchasing a local prepaid Telkomsel SIM Card (IDR 210 each) which included 10GB of high-speed national data valid for a period of 30 days. It is important to note that most “tourist” SIM and data packages sold in Bali include data that is only valid in Bali and not throughout the rest of Indonesia which will leave you without data if you plan on visiting the Gili Islands, Lombok or Java! Most accommodations and restaurants will offer free wifi but the connections are not always great.
Our "General" category includes everyday expenses like toiletries, medical, laundry & small shopping items.
We generally try to stay away from very touristy places and prefer to explore independently. However, travelling around Indonesia, there are some activities which are well worth paying for. We visited the small Bat Cave at Kuta, Lombok and also did two organised boat island hopping and snorkelling trips, one from Gili Trawangan and another from Sekotong, Lombok and also rented snorkel gear while on Gili Trawangan. You can expect to pay anything between IDR 50 000 - 150 000 per person for the rental of snorkel gear for the day or for an island-hopping boat trip with snorkelling gear included. There are also a few islands which charge an “island tax” such as Nusa Penida (IDR 25 000 pp) and Gili Nanggu (IDR 5 000 pp). Excluded from this expense summary is our scuba diving.
Public toilet facilities are few and far between, and although they are usually paid facilities, don’t expect any paper or soap. Also, keep in mind that the facilities are very seldom western-style toilets, they are usually the Asian style (hole in the ground) and the floor is usually very wet.