The Cost of Traveling in Indonesia
What is the cost of traveling in Indonesia? The answer to that lies in your travel style, where exactly you wish to travel in Indonesia, your accommodation of choice in Indonesia, what you want to eat in Indonesia and how far you want to travel across Indonesia. All these factors will contribute significantly to the cost of traveling in Indonesia, which is a massive archipelago of islands where, sometimes, the only practical means of transport is taking a flight.
Our four months in Indonesia were characterised by lots of secluded beaches and lush local scenery on remote islands, sprinkled with some adventure and excitement, and punctuated with some distress every now and again, all of which, in some way or another contributed to our cost of traveling in Indonesia.
Whilst traveling across the more popular Indonesian islands of Java, Bali and Lombok is very easy and affordable, traveling to more remote islands such as Sumba, Kei, and above all, Papua, is more complex and can be more expensive, even prohibitive to some budget travelers.
Since we are traveling full-time, we tend to travel on a pre-determined budget, usually aiming to comply with a target daily average of €60/day for the both of us. So far along our trip, we have successfully adhered to this average in Malaysia and Timor-Leste. We also almost managed this budget in the Philippines, but we spent a lot more in Singapore!
We have noted down every single expense we made during our four months in Indonesia, and we have now sorted them out, so as to publish and share a full breakdown of all our costs and at the same time give you an idea of the cost of traveling in Indonesia, including travel to the more remote (and less touristy) parts, where we spent quite a lot of time!
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Cost of Traveling in Indonesia in 4 months
Our most significant Indonesia travel expenses were made on the eastern side of the archipelago, where costs tend to be higher than those on the more popular tourist islands. Although local food is still pretty cheap on many of the eastern Indonesian islands, the islands themselves tend to be remote, resulting in higher transportation costs.
We found Papua to be very expensive throughout, with our average daily travel expenses in Raja Ampat and the Baliem Valley being double of the expenses incurred in the rest of Indonesia! In this post we shall show you our daily average expense in Indonesia, for our whole stay, inclusive of the more expensive Papua.
Since Papua is often promoted as a separate destination, in the later parts of this post we have indicated the separate cost of traveling to Papua (Baliem Valley and Raja Ampat), the cost of traveling to Raja Ampat only, as well as an adjusted overall (lower) expense figure to exclude the cost of traveling to Papua from the rest of Indonesia.
Cost of Traveling in Indonesia (including Papua):
€59.35/day (for two people)
This figure includes our Indonesia travel expenses with every single activity (including Papua), means of transport and destination included. It is literally the sum of every single expense we incurred divided by the number of days we spent in the country.
Now here’s a breakdown of that figure:
Accommodation – €14.04/day (for two people)
Although budget accommodation costs in Indonesia tend to be low, hotels and hostels in the more remote islands, where options are very limited, are pretty expensive when compared to the more popular islands.
Our accommodation requirements are based on a clean room with a private bathroom. By spending an average of around €14/day, we almost always managed to fulfil this, although we had to do with a shared bathroom a couple of times, and clean can be a very relative term in some places in Indonesia! We do not sleep in dormitories.
Hotels in Java, Bali and Flores, typically cost between €8 to €15 a night (per room), whilst those in Sumba, the Banda Islands, the Kei Islands, Alor Island and the Baliem Valley, Papua, cost between €15 and €25 a night, for the same type of standard room. Accommodation in Raja Ampat was higher but included meals and water.
One of our favourite places to stay was Guesthouse Home 46, Bali (in Bali of course) which cost less than €14/night per night. With a very large room and bathroom directly facing a pool and access to a small kitchenette, we felt we could stay in this little guesthouse comfortably for quite a while, although unfortunately our plans changed unexpectedly and we had to leave sooner than we would have liked to!
Transport – €19.60/day (for two people)
The cost of traveling in Indonesia was greatly increased because of our transport costs, which, when compared to the transport costs incurred in other Southeast Asian countries, were high. We found that this compares well to the cost of transport in the Philippines, another country which is an archipelago is spread over a vast territory.
Air transport in between different islands
Just like the Philippines, Indonesia is made up of thousands of islands, and although local ferries (called Pelni) transporting goods and people between some of the remote islands are sometimes available, they are not frequent and we did not find their schedule to be practical many a time.
We resorted to using flights as our main means of transport between islands, resulting in a total of 19 flights during our 4 months’ stay in Indonesia. Fast ferries to some of the islands are also available but a fast ferry journey does not come cheap. In the Banda islands, using a ferry was more expensive than air travel.
Land transport in between different regions
When traveling in between different towns along the same Indonesian island, we found minivans and buses to be convenient although incredibly uncomfortable sometimes. Traveling for 17 hours in an overcrowded minivan between Lake Toba and Bukittinggi on Sumatra was our worst transport experience in Indonesia, and we most definitely do not advise any of our readers to make the same journey.
Land transport within the same region
The most convenient way of covering short distances in Indonesia, is surely by using a scooter or a motorbike. Although you will be rarely asked to show your license when you rent one out, we strongly recommend that you obtain a valid international license and become familiar with a bike prior to your travels in Indonesia. The quality of the roads leaves much to be desired most of the time.
We rented a scooter in most of the towns and islands we visited in Indonesia, and we have paid anything in between €3 – €6/ day for a scooter, with costs usually being negotiable according to the bike condition, type (semi-, auto or manual) and the duration of the lease.
In the Baliem Valley, we paid €15/day for a scooter which, although sounds like an outrageous expense when compared to the scooter costs in other places, is ‘normal’ for Papua. In return we got a flaming new scooter!
This essentially refers to the same type of old, often rusty, vehicle (think glorified toaster), found on most islands in Indonesia and is the most common way for locals to get around town. Fares are typically very low, around €0.30 for a ride, but the journey is made very uncomfortable by the fact that people are squashed together like sardines in a very hot and stuffy vehicle with very low roofs.
Animals and all kinds of goods often take up any kind of foot space on the ‘aisle’, resulting in passengers having to twist their limbs around in incredible positions. If you are into yoga you might actually enjoy this. If you’re carrying a heavy backpack or luggage, which will take up the space of a paying passenger, you might be asked to pay an additional fare, unless you can stuff every one of your bags on your lap. Using this type of vehicle is a very affordable way of traveling and a good alternative to more expensive taxis, but only recommended for short trips.
During our four months in Indonesia we traveled across the islands of Sumatra, Java, Sumba, Alor, Flores, West Timor, Bali, South Sulawesi, Moluku (Banda Islands and Kei Islands) and Papua (Raja Ampat and the Baliem Valley).
If you limit your travels to fewer islands, you will of course spend a lot less on transport since you will be traveling shorter distances and boarding less flights, so transport costs can very easily be reduced by traveling shorter distances and staying longer in each place!
Food – €13.32/day (for two people)
We love to eat, and food sometimes turns out to be our largest travel expense, but not in Indonesia, where local food is extremely affordable and where a bowl of Soto Ayam (chicken soup), Mie Goreng (fried noodles), Nasi Goreng (fried rice) or Bakso (meatball noodle soup) often costs less than €1.
Even though the food is so cheap, we still managed to spend just over €6.50/person/day mostly because we would eat more than one dish at any time since… well… we just love to eat! Truthfully, if you’re on a very tight budget, food costs can easily be halved and might not contribute significantly to your cost of traveling in Indonesia.
Those who follow us on facebook know that after traveling on the rough for months, we took a short travel-break in Bali, where all we did was eat at western-style restaurants feasting on American burgers, experiencing some great churrasco dinners, sampling Georgian food and enjoying barbeques. There was lots of wine involved too!
This type of food was of course a lot more expensive than that served at the local eateries we had become accustomed to during the rest of our trip, and the time we spent there has significantly contributed to our travel expenses in Indonesia. But, we certainly do not regret it, as we enjoyed that ‘food holiday’ from our travels so much, that we still look back fondly on our 2-week travel-break in Canggu!
Connectivity – €0.71/day (for two people)
Considering just how much data we were using and all the sim cards we bought during our four month of travels in Indonesia, we believe that this cost is rather low when considering that we often spent twice as much in other countries for a similar service.
As the mobile data structure of the providers in Indonesia is exceptionally complex, with each island/province charging different rates, we found that the most economical way of having ‘high-speed’ data available, was to buy a new sim card every time we used up all the data in one card, resulting in the purchase of around 20 sim cards during our four months in the country! Yes, we did use a lot of data!
As is the case with most other services, sim cards and data are more expensive in the provinces of Maluku and Papua, than they are in the rest of the country. Our provider of choice was Telkomsel, due to the fact it was the only one with the most widespread coverage, particularly on the more remote parts of Indonesia.
In Canggu and Makassar, where we stayed in the same place for a while, and needed fast internet speed, we used XL, since the speed was better and the packages slightly cheaper than Telkomsel in that area.
Entrance Fees and Excursions – €10.63/day (for two people)
This expense includes any excursion and entrance fees we paid for during our four months in Indonesia. Entrance fees to attractions are typically low in Indonesia, however the entrance fees to national parks tend to be rather high, with the highest being the Raja Ampat Marine Park Entry Permit which costs about €60 per person (valid for a year).
The Komodo national Park fee in Komodo and the Kelimutu National Park fee in Flores are around €9 on weekdays and €14 on weekends, whilst that for the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park in Java is also around €14 on weekdays (higher on weekends). A combined ticket to Borobodur and Prambanan Temples in Java costs just over €30.
Diving in Indonesia is affordable (when compared to diving expenses in some other countries), with dives typically costing around €30/dive inclusive of equipment. Indonesia is home to some of the best diving in the world, and Nikki had some great experiences on his seven dives in Alor Island, Komodo National Park and Raja Ampat, during which he observed a multitude of fish and corals, turtles, sharks and even the elusive swimming wobbegong.
Other Indonesia Travel Expenses – €1.30/day (for two people)
These include purchases we had to make during our four months traveling in Indonesia including, but not limited to, toiletries, medicinal products, laundry services, stationery and more.
Most items and services in Indonesia are very affordable so this was not a major expense.
Cost of traveling in Papua (including Raja Ampat)
As mentioned earlier, we found Papua to be way more expensive than the rest of the country. We are thus also sorting out the above costs specifically for this region, particularly for those readers who are especially interested in this area only.
We have divided these as follows:
1) total cost of traveling to Papua only (Raja Ampat and Baliem Valley) over a period of 18 days
2) total cost of traveling to Raja Ampat only
3) total cost of traveling in Indonesia, when excluding Papua – for the information of those not intending to travel in Papua
Cost of traveling in Papua Only – €104.93/day (for two people)
(Raja Ampat and the Baliem Valley)
Raja Ampat is not technically a budget destination. In our post dedicated to Raja Ampat, we show you how to make the most of your trip whilst trying not to break the bank, but even so it is unlikely that you will be spending less than €30/day when you are staying at guesthouses.
Accommodation and hiring a scooter in the Baliem Valley are also a lot more expensive than similar options on other islands in Indonesia, so during our 18 days in Papua, we were spending around €105 for 2 people, which is way beyond our targeted €60/day budget.
Was it worth while? You bet is was!
We sincerely wish that we had more time to explore other areas of Papua, but we had to leave the country due to visa restrictions! There is little doubt that we will go back to Papua to travel the more remote areas at some point!
Cost of traveling in Raja Ampat Only (in 8 days) – €100.40 / day (for two people)
A full breakdown of the costs of traveling to Raja Ampat can be found in a separate post, but as you can see, we spent about double of that we were spending in the rest of Indonesia, more so because this cost does not include any flights to Papua but includes only costs incurred on the Raja Ampat islands.
Cost of traveling in Indonesia excluding Papua – €52.23 (for two people)
This figure is lower than the € 59.35/day for the whole Indonesia trip. It goes to show that if one had to exclude Papua, it is very possible to travel across most of Indonesia (in relative comfort just like we did), on a budget of about €26/person/day.
This cost of course, can be greatly reduced by sleeping in less comfortable accommodation, eating cheaper (and less) food, and in general experiencing a little less of what the country has to offer (less exploration and activities). Alas, it is not the way we enjoy traveling, but hey, it can easily be done!
What was your cost of traveling in Indonesia? Let us know in the comments!