Indonesia is a huge country that is made up of a massive archipelago of over 17,000 islands. Each island offers an incredible natural environment and a diversity of cultures, traditions and ethnic groups.
In a country where you are able to relax on pristine islands, see Orangutans in the wild, climb volcanoes, and visit ancient historical sites, the cost of travel in Indonesia ensures it will continue to be a good deal for budget travelers.
Indonesia uses the Rupiah (IDR) currency – $1 = 8,710 IDR
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Cost of Accommodation
Accommodation in general is quite affordable, if not outright cheap! Hostels are set up more as guest houses, it’s often easier to find double rooms than dorm beds. Some double rooms come en-suite, while other have communal bathroom facilities. Guest houses in the major cities or tourist areas, like Jakarta or Bali, have inflated room prices but prices are still decent.
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As an example, along with a friend, I paid 50,000 IDR ($5.74), 25,000 ($2.87) each for a double room in the city of Medan, Sumatra, but on the beautiful shores of Lake Toba we only paid 30,000 IDR ($3.44) for a double room. At first thought, it almost seemed outrageous when the cheapest guest house we could find in Jakarta was 70,000 IDR ($8.04) per night, but then I realized it wasn’t too much when split by two. Accommodation prices in Bali or the popular tourist oriented islands of Indonesia are generally slightly more pricey.
A step above the cheapest rooms, that come with air condition can cost around 100,000 – 150,000 IDR ($11.48 – $17.22) per night for two.
Food & Drink
Street food in Indonesia is a great value. Simple single plate meals or noodles cost anywhere from 5,000 – 15,000 IDR ($0.57 – $1.72), while a giant plate of food with all kinds of assorted side dishes (nasi campur) costs 15,000 – 20,000 IDR ($1.72 – $2.30). Eating street style fulfilling meals like entire grilled fish and fancier dishes can cost in the range of 25,000 – 35,000 IDR ($2.87 – $4) per person.
Indonesian sit-down restaurants are priced in the 20,000 – 50,000 IDR ($2.30 – $5.74) realm. If you eat at more Western style food chains or fancier restaurants, meals can cost 50,000 – 100,000 IDR ($5.74 – $11.48).
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Large 1.5 liter bottle of water goes for 4000 – 5000 IDR ($.046 – $0.57).
Going Out / Drinking
In relation to cost of living and eating in Indonesia, drinking and going out is relatively expensive.
Local beer such as Bintang, at cheap convenience stores costs 10,000 – 15,000 IDR ($1.15 – $1.72). At bars or clubs, drinks can go for 20,000 – 50,000 IDR ($2.30 – $5.74). Some upper class or nightclubs that cater to tourists charge cover.
Indonesia, as a chain of islands, sometimes presents a challenge when it comes to transportation. For getting from major island to island, there is a choice of ferry or flight. Indonesian style buses navigate the streets, but roads are often in poor conditions. Trying to get from Medan, Sumatra to Jakarta on the island of Java, there was a choice of bus and ferry combination, or taking a flight. The journey by road would have taken 4 days and the flight about 2 hours. With only a 1 month visa for Indonesia, I scooped up an Air Asia flight for 450,000 IDR ($51.66).
On the island of Java, the train is a great transportation option. Economy class overnight train from Jakarta to Yogyakarta cost me 110,000 IDR ($12.63). I also took the train from Yogyakarta to Surabaya for 65,000 IDR ($7.46).
If train is not available, bus is the only option left. I took a 12 hour, very nice bus from Cemoro Lawang (Mount Bromo) to Probolinggo, Java and across a ferry to Denpasar, Bali at the cost of 165,000 IDR ($18.94).
Within cities, there is the possibility of taking local buses, tuk tuks, rickshaws, or renting your own motorcycle or car. At Lake Toba, I rented a motorcycle for a day for about 60,000 IDR ($6.89) including petrol. In Bali, a few friends and I rented a micro Suzuki SUV that cost 200,000 IDR ($22.96) for 24 hours. It can be worth it to be able to go anywhere on your own time.
Sample Cost of Indonesia Attractions
2 Day All-Inclusive Orangutan Trek in Bukit Lawang – $85 – One of the reasons this attraction is so expensive is due to the high fees that the national park charges for tourists.
Jakarta National Monument Entrance – 7000 IDR ($0.80)
Indonesia National Museum – 2000 IDR ($0.23)
Borobudur Temple Entrance – $15 ( (half price for students)
Prambanan Temple Entrance – $13 (half price for students)
Mt. Bromo Park Entrance – 25,000 IDR ($2.87)
Tanah Lot Temple – 12,000 IDR ($1.38)
Mt. Batur – 6000 IDR ($0.69)
Elephant Temple – 7000 IDR ($0.80)
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Upon leaving Indonesia, there is a departure tax of 150,000 IDR ($17.22).
For my total month of traveling in Indonesia, I spent a total of about $18 USD per day.
This included a plane flight, quite a lot of transportation, a lot of food, and all the attractions I wanted to see including the expensive Orangutan trek. I did save a bit of money by not drinking often and by couchsurfing for free about 1/3 of the time.
If you stay at accommodation with air condition and party many nights, the cost of traveling in Indonesia might hover from $25 – $30 per day. If you go super tight on the budget, you can get by in Indonesia for even $15 per day.