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Ultimate Indonesia Backpacking Travel Guide 2020

This Southeast Asian country is undoubtedly the world’s largest island country with almost 18,000 islands. This archipelago is like a continent on its own and so diverse in a culture that hopping from one island to another you will feel like you are visiting different regions of the world. You will find colorful and rich history, vibrant ethnicity, exotic waters, quasi-active volcanoes, pristine beaches, and many outdoor experiences, all this makes a travelers paradise. Each island is full of beautiful places and it is difficult to narrow down a few places to visit in the region. But if I were to suggest where to start, it would be in Bali.

Indonesia at a Glace

Language

Indonesian

Currency

Indonesian Rupiah-IDR

Best Money Exchange

Central Kuta Money Exchange

Local Dishes

NASI GORENG

Drones Allowed

Yes

Is water safe to drink

Yes

Vaccinations

Check CDC

Power Plug Type

C, F

Car Sharing Options

Blue Bird Taxi

Peak Season

mid-June to mid-September

Backpacker Friendly

Yes

Hitch hiker Friendly

Yes

Credit Cards Accepted

Yes

Preffered Payment Method

Cash

Low Season

November through April

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Indonesia

1. Denpasar

Explore the capital city and The Pura Blanjong Temple and Bali Museum.

2.Komodo-National-Park

Home to about 4,000 dragons. Dive in the waters of seagrass beds and mangrove shrublands and explore the amazing coral reefs.

3.Yogyakarta

Visit the Javanese cultural hub to witness the 18th century's traditional art and cultural heritage.

4. Semarang

Visit the old quarter with Dutch colonial architecture at the north coast of Java.

5. Lovina-beach

Explore the resort area at the north coast of Bali famous for the magnificent coral reefs, black sand beaches, and dolphins, along with waterfalls and Hot Springs.

Other Things to See and Do in Indonesia

1. Raja Ampat Island

Raja Ampat is an archipelago, meaning four islands and is given the name because of four major islands it comprises of, apart from the 1500 minor ones. Due to marshy lagoons, and densely forested islands, the region is famous for having the most diverse marine life on Earth.

2. Tanjung Puting National Park

Home to the largest population of adorable orangutan, the huge tropical jungle also contains many other wildlife species like clouded leopards, crocodiles, gibbons, sun bears, macaques, and pythons. The mystical morning fog, fresh air, chirping birds and gushing rivers make this place a popular natural destination.

3. Chiang Mai

One of the most visited places of Indonesia, Mount Bromo is an active volcano that blew off its peak in an eruption. Take a hike up the volcano early in the morning and be rewarded by a beautiful sunset. Surrounded in green mountainsides and waterfalls, many tourists take the day trip from Ubud to see this wonder.

4. Mount Bromo

Go island hopping around this group of islands. Ko Phi Phi Don is the largest island with the higher population while many others dwarf in comparison. The island group is easily accessible through speedboats from the town of Krabi or Piers. Witness the beautiful beaches, go snorkeling, enjoy lagoons and kayaking.

5. Ubud

In addition to being one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of the archipelago, Ubud is considered to be the art and cultural hub of Bali province. Numerous Hindu temples and shrines, terraced rice paddles and rainforests are the most famous landscapes.

6. Lake Toba

Located in a caldera, the natural wonder of Lake Toba has a volcanic origin. Explore the traditional dance and captivating tradition and culture, the Batak culture in TB Silalahi Museum or relax over the beaches surrounded by mountains.

7. Mueang Chiang Rai

Famous for their funeral tradition, the majestic highland has lush green tropical jungles, ornate villages, burial caves, and more. Start by watching the sunrise come out from the clouds and get fascinated by the charming villages and hills.

8. Tana Toraja

Mainly famous for the tropical coral reefs, this small island is home to many species of whales, sharks, green turtles, rays, and hawksbill. The sweeping view of this scenic mountain with its beautiful valleys and snow-covered mountain peaks are a major attraction here.

9. Doi Suthep–Pui National Park

The pristine beaches and landscapes of Lombok have the same glorious beauty as Bali, minus the the huge crowds and commercialism. Due to a lower tourist ratio, the island is considered to be one of the most worth visiting places in Indonesia.

10. Lombok

This amazing beach side town is a perfect place to relax with your friends and family. This royal resort was once a minor fishing village which still manages to keep its small-town vibe. The downtown of Hua Hin is full of luxurious accommodations, high-rise condos, stylish bars, art galleries, and worth visiting night markets.

11. Bukittinggi

With its splendid hilltop landscape and refreshing fresh air, the town of Bukittinggi is the tourism hub of West Sumatra. Not only full of insta worthy views but the cultural and historical sights of the town attract a huge number of tourists every year.

12. Wae Rebo Village

Located in Flores, this village has recently gained immense popularity mainly because of its unique cone-shaped houses. The adorable beauty of its tropical landscapes, thriving orchids, wildlife, and magnificent mountains are widely appreciated by the tourists.

13. Mount Krakatau

Located at the island of Anak Krakatau, this huge active volcano is famous around the world for having the largest eruption of the world in 1883. It still keeps on erupting huge amount of smoke and lava on the island and is one of the most exceptional wonders of nature in Indonesia.

 

Typical Costs

WPCS 2.1.4

Typical traveling cost in Indonesia may vary depending how you travel. Like if you choose a private car hire instead of local bus services, the cost may be high, eating local food instead of international food chains will be the best way to save.

Transportation

Flying can be the easiest and most economical way to hop from island to island. 70 major airports in the country make it convenient for air travel around the nation. You can get an economical domestic flights between $40.00$70.00, depending on the destination.For travel by land, cheaper options are buses or trains. Buses have a separate route system that save you from getting stuck in road traffic and may take you around or between two cities for as little as $10.00. Trains are even cheaper than the buses with an economy class ticket costing about $5.00 –$8.00 . Renting a car can be convenient but more expensive, costing you almost $100.00 per day. 

Accommodation

Accommodation costs in Indonesia are not very high and you can get a comfortable dorm rooms for $5.00$14.00  a night, depending on the location. Like in Sumatra you can get a room in as cheap as $5.00  per night but for major tourist areas of Bali like Ubud, Legian and Kuta, lodging can be as expensive as $100.00  if you opt for luxurious hotels. Guesthouses and hostels are the  cheapest options that will let you spend more on experiences than on just a place to sleep.

Food

Enjoy the local food while traveling in the region. You may get a single meal or noodles for about $1.50. If you go for grilled fish, you may get a meal for $3.00. A  meal in Indonesia will be in the range of $3.00$7.00 for a local restaurant while western-styled food chains will cost $7.00 –  $11.00 per meal.

Activities

Coming Soon

Suggested Budget

Your budget depends on many things, like which places you intend to visit, what kind of accommodation you use, what type of food you go for. The average accommodation cost for a trip to Indonesia is about $8.42 per night for a single person in an dorm room or hostel. Daily meals may cost you about $5.00. Using local transport, buses and taxis can get you around for about $1.48 per day on average. If you intend to hire a car then you will have to increase your budget a bit. I always rent a scooter for days that I know I will be driving around and for the freedom, usually $10.00 a day.

Travel Style Accommodation (per night) Food (3 Meals) Transportation Activities (Per activity) Daily Cost
Backpacker
$5.00 - $10.00
$5.00
$10.00
$10.00
$35.00
Mid - Range
$15.00
$15.00
$15.00
$25.00
$60.00
High - End
$40.00 - $50.00
$30.00
$20.00
$50.00
$140.00

Budgeting Tips

As always here are some tips to save you some money.

1. Book In Advance

Many airlines offer promotions and discounts for specific times. Check with available and seasonal offers before planning your trip.

2. Bargaining

The key to save money in Indonesia. There will always be another vendor with that souvenir for a better price, if you think its too much then it is, walk away. You will find most of the time they will come chase you down to make the sale.

3. Go in the off season

To save some money from housing go in the off season i.e. February, March, September, and October is when there are less tourists and you can get a hotel room at almost half price compared to peak season.

4. Free Festivals and events

Keep an eye for free festivals and tourist destinations. You can always ask for some help from your hostel or just search online for upcoming festivals or must-see destinations around your location.

5. Food

Avoid the tourist hang-out spots because the food could be expensive, instead eat from local markets!

Where To Stay

Here is a list of places I have stayed, I was happy with my stays here!

TBD

Coming Soon

Ubud

New Ubud Hostel

Ubud

Six Degrees

How To Get Around

Car Rentals

Car rentals are available in almost all major cities of Indonesia and you can drive with an international driving permit. But the road and traffic conditions are not very friendly for tourists. So, it is better that you hire a car with a driver who is aware of the local roads and routes.

Ride Sharing

For most of the tourist areas, you will find metered taxis. There are also prepaid taxis at important points like airports, where you have to pay at a payment booth in advance. If you hire a taxi without a meter make sure to negotiate a fare before starting your ride.

Motorcycle taxis are also available in many towns and cities which you can find at markets, bus terminals, and road junctions. The driver will give you a helmet and cost before starting the ride, you can do this via grab (asia’s uber).

Go-Jek and Grab are two online taxi services popular in major Indonesian cities. You can easily order a car or bike through the app and pay the calculated fare. No need to bargain or worry about being scammed.

Trains

The train network is very well connected especially for the big cities. However, they might be crowded and dirty. There is a government rail line website to help you with train booking services or you can book your tickets online at 12go.asia by paying a small surcharge. Check out my post about 12go.asia, it will save you a lot of hassle. 

Bus

More popular than trains, the bus network of Indonesia is convenient and offers more departure times and punctuality compared to trains. There are three travel classes in the buses; the non-air-conditioned economy, air-conditioned executive and luxury class. Pay a bit extra for the luxury class ones, you will thank yourself when you have a/c, wifi and a toilet.

Airlines

Land on one of the three major airports; in Jakarta, East Java and Bali, and easily get connected to the rest of the region. These cheap budget airlines in Indonesia have increasingly become the most popular mean of domestic transport. Some popular airlines, like AirAsia Indonesia, Citilink and LionAir, compete directly with ferry services.

Hitch Hiking

The ferry network is very popular for inter-island travel in Indonesia. Pelni is the largest state-run company and serves almost all the main ports across the country’s islands.

Resources

https://12go.asia/en : This link will get you buses, trains, taxis, ferries and flights for most major routes in Asia. 

When To Go

Being a tropical region, the weather in Indonesia is warm almost all year with an average temperature of 28°C. The weather is generally divided into two seasons, dry and wet. For most of the regions in Indonesia, the dry season is from May to September while October to April have heavy rainfalls. However, due to being located at the equator, some regions like Sumatra have different seasonal patterns. North Sumatra has a wet season from October to January while in the south it rains from November to February. Peak tourists seasons are from mid-June to mid-September, and then again near Christmas in December. Many people prefer to visit before the school’s summer vacation time to avoid tourists.

How To Stay Safe and Aware of Scams

Generally, Indonesia is a safe country to travel but like every other place, it has some hazards ranging from natural disasters to petty theft. Most of these problems can be avoided by using common sense. Here is some advice about how you can travel safely in the region.

1. Motor Bike Scam

Always take pictures of your motorcycle and inspect it well, a common scam is an owner claiming you broke something or scratched the bike and requests payment before releasing your passport. Some places give you the option of leaving a passport or a large cash deposit.

2. Taxis

Taxi scams are very common where the drivers drive off before you can take off your luggage or charge you higher than the actual fare.

Some taxis will not use their meters and ask you for a large “flat rate” be aware of this scam.

3. Credit Cards and Fraud

ATM and Credit card fraud are also very common. Before using an ATM check your surroundings for suspicious people or activity and inspect the ATM properly before using it. To avoid credit card fraud use cash wherever you go. Take extra care to monitor your account and inform your bank immediately in case of any suspicious activity.

4. Driving

Traffic conditions in Indonesia are not very safe especially for inexperienced drivers. Traffic rules are also not enforced very seriously. Try not to drive and hire a car with a driver instead who is familiar and experienced in driving the country roads.

5. Drugs

The country’s law has zero-tolerance policy towards drugs and a law violation may lead to high-profile convictions and arrests. So, avoid anything related to drugs completely.

6. Petty Crime

Petty crimes like pick pocketing and snatching are very common in Indonesia. Leave your valuables at home and carry with you as little as you can. Keep your valuables in under belt wallet and be careful about your belongings especially in crowded places like a train or bus station, etc.

Packing List

What to pack

Depending on the length of your stay your list may be a little different but here is a small outline of what items you may want to pack.

2 Pairs of Shorts

1 long sleeve

8 pairs of underwear

Medicine: Tums, Aspirin, Pepto , Antibacterial Cream, Hydrocortisone cream

1 Pair of jeans

Flip flops

Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, floss, shampoo and body wash

Locks: Some hostels provide locks for a fee, so bring your own

Swim Trunks

Comfortable Sneakers

Quick dry towel

Laundry Bag

5 shirts

8 pairs of socks

Dedorant

Hand Sanitizer

Power Bank

sarong

Sarong

Sun Glasses

Sun Screen

Light rain jacket

Did I Miss Something? Let Me Know In The Comments!

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