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5 Ways to Travel in Indonesia while on a Budget

Indonesia is one of the most diverse and fascinating countries in the world, with each of the 17,000 islands in this vast archipelago having its own intriguing cultures, food, languages, and customs. It would take a lifetime to get to know each one! Home to the 4th largest population in the world, Indonesia is known for its beautiful beaches, dramatic volcanoes, and awe-inspiring landscapes.

Hidden away in its lush jungles you’ll find some of the world’s most elusive wildlife too – the luckiest travellers may catch Komodo dragons, elephants, tigers, and orang-utans through their lenses. All of this sounds incredibly exciting, but a little expensive too. But not to worry! Here are five ways to travel well in Indonesia on a budget so you can make your money go further on your trip of a lifetime!

1. Stick to street food

One of the most exciting things about travelling in Indonesia is discovering the wealth of flavours in its cuisine. And you don’t have to go to high-end restaurants to get the best food – you just need to head out into the street to try everything from centuries old family recipes to fast finger food, all for the equivalent of just a few dollars or euros.

Centuries-old Indonesia’s culinary influences vary on each island – in Sumatra the food has a Middle Eastern and Indian twist, whereas Javanese culture blends indigenous Indonesian with Chinese. This makes for some exciting combinations! Some of the top dishes you should try include Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice), Aneka Goreng (deep fried pastries), and satay (roast kebabs).

Indonesian Food

The best part isn’t just the food itself – the casual setting means it’s an easy place to meet locals or other travellers and make new friends as you enjoy the tantalising tastes. Stick to street food on your travels, and you’ll have plenty of cash left over as well as a load of new favourite dishes!

2. Travel like a local

Travelling around Indonesia can be quite tricky when you take into account the size, but if you follow the locals you won’t go far wrong. Sometimes taking a flight will be necessary due to the huge distance, so if that’s absolutely necessary use a budget carrier like Garuda Indonesia, Thai Lion Air, or Air Asia.

However, a much cheaper and more scenic route is by taking a ferry. There are several classes of a ticket, so if you don’t mind slumming it you can pick up a ticket for a seriously low price!

When travelling around on the islands, there’s a great way to save yourself some cash but you have to be brave and confident on the roads! A long-term rent on a scooter can sometimes be done for as little as $50 dollars a month, however, this is NOT recommended if you’re not an experienced rider! You should also check that your travel insurance covers you for riding scooters and similar vehicles before committing to this. If it does, you’re in for a lot of fun!

man on scooter indonesia

3. There’s more to Indonesia than just Bali!

Yes, Bali is one of the top destinations in Indonesia and you are pretty much guaranteed a great adventure. Just remember that although it’s a great place for partying, climbing volcanoes, jungle trekking, visiting temples, relaxing spas, and enjoying the sublime cuisine (to name just a few), everyone knows about it. A couple of downsides of this are that it can get overcrowded, but worst of all for budget travellers, it’s expensive!

There are several alternatives to Bali that are easily accessible, less crowded, and most importantly, cheaper than Indonesia’s most famous holiday destination. The ocean-blue lake Toba in Sumatra, Mount Bromo on Java, and Jakarta’s thousand islands are all excellent alternatives and will mean that budget travellers are left with a little more money in their pockets.

landscape in Indonesia

If you absolutely don’t want to miss Bali out, it’s still possible to do on a budget. Just check out the other options on our list to help you make the most of Bali on a budget!

4. Take all options into account when it comes to accommodation.

There is a huge range of accommodation in Indonesia, and although it’s tempting, staying in 5-star spa resorts with Western prices will quickly eat up the budget for your entire trip! Instead, look at hostels, vacation rentals, and even homestays. For a good hostel with a communal area and kitchen in the city centre, you should expect to pay around 10 – 15USD a night if you’re travelling solo.  

accommodation in Indonesia

Groups of friends or family might like to try out a private room in a hostel or a vacation rental, which can leave you not only saving some money but also having a home away from home or experience of local life that you wouldn’t have had otherwise!

If you take part in a bamba tour, you won’t have to worry about accommodation at all, as that’s already taken care of. Speaking of which…

5. Do a group adventure

As mentioned above, Indonesia is made up of 17,000 islands and has the 4th biggest population in the world. Add in the fact that you probably don’t speak the language, and it is starting to look like it might be quite tricky to get around on your own, right?! Not to mention, how can you possibly squeeze in all the best bits without missing something out!

An adventure tour is one of the ways you can see the best Indonesia has to offer while making the most of your budget and your time. It’s also a great way to meet like-minded travellers and create unforgettable memories.  

Group on bike in Indonesia

bamba offers a range of great tours in Indonesia that will put more in your pocket for buying souvenirs or taking that scuba-diving course you’ve always wanted to do!

For more destination guides and travel pieces, check out Trip101.

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