International trips are always hard when you don’t know the language and have no idea about the place you are heading to. It becomes even more troublesome when you can’t find any information on the web too. That is exactly how our Indonesia trip started.
Don’t want to repeat the same mistakes as us? Then, you better read on to know more about the tips and costs to travel better in Indonesia.
You can also check out our 10-day Indonesia Itinerary to plan your own Indonesia trip!
Indonesia is one of the most popular countries in the world but people often confuse Bali as the only Indonesian place. I have heard and seen so many people claiming to have visited Indonesia while spending time only in Bali. Indonesia is much more than Bali guys! It is a huge country which has thousands of islands in its territory and Bali?
That is just one island amidst its hundreds of beautiful islands. Indonesia is more than a party or a beach place, it has a lot of culture, history and let’s not forget the main thing which distinguishes it from many other countries – Volcanoes.
Yes, Indonesia is home to several volcanoes, a lot of which are still active and tend to erupt now and then. You will find here volcanoes on top of the mountains, on plain land, under the sea, and so on. Anywhere you look, you would end up seeing a volcano, either active or dormant. So, yes, Indonesia has a lot to offer if you are willing to give it some time.
Sadly, we had just 10 days with us so we couldn’t explore to our heart’s content but we saw a variety of things in this beautiful country and we would love to share our experience with you.
Let’s start with the basics first: How to reach, How to get Visa and local currency and so on.
How to Reach Indonesia
The quickest and easiest way to reach Indonesia is obviously by flying but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have an option to make sure you pick cheaper flights. The important thing here is to know the major airports in Indonesia and choosing the right one according to your itinerary.
Do not make the mistake of choosing an airport which is miles from your real destination as it would take a lot of your time and money to reach from the airport to your desired place. So, how can you ensure you pick the correct airport and save yourself both money and time?
Flight to Indonesia
Here are a few tips to choose the least expensive and most relevant flights for yourself:
Choose the airport wisely
Make sure you plan your itinerary well in advance and then choose the airport which is nearest to it. If you are looking to spend time only in Bali, then the best option would be to book flights for Bali Ngurah Rai Airport near Kuta.
This is the Bali airport and you will directly land into Bali without needing to change a lot of transportation. From the airport, you can take a taxi to go to Kuta or Ubud but I wouldn’t advise on it as taxis are a rip off over there, especially when you take them from inside the airport.
A cheaper and better way would be to walk to Kuta and spend a night there and then take a shuttle bus from your hostel or hotel to the place you would like to visit next. We would cover more on this in our other articles.
Opt for the nearest airport
If you are planning to visit Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Bromo, etc. on your trip, then it would be advisable to take a flight to or from either Yogyakarta or Surabaya instead of booking a flight from Jakarta. While you might think that a round trip to Jakarta is cheaper, it is really not when you factor in the cost of the bus for the trip from Surabaya/Yogyakarta to Jakarta.
Round trip flight to Jakarta is cheaper: If you are planning to visit areas around Jakarta like Bandung, Kunning, Bogor, etc. or if you are planning to go to Sumatra island, only then book a flight to Jakarta. A roundtrip to Jakarta will cost you cheaper so make sure you go for it if it suits your itinerary.
Opt for Multi-City Flights
Go for a roundtrip flight ticket as it will cost you lesser than flights from different locations for starting and return. However, if you are going to be far away from your starting place, then it would be a good option to ignore the roundtrip rule and book multi-city flights. Trust me, this way you end up saving a lot of money and time and you get to enjoy yourself peacefully. For example: If you plan for a 2-3 weeks trip and are planning to include Bandung, Bogor, Yogyakarta, Bromo, Bali, etc. in your trip then it would be good to start your flight from either Jakarta or Bali and then book the return flight from your last stop instead of making it a round-trip flight.
Visa Process of Indonesia
Visa On Arrival in Indonesia
The visa process in Indonesia is quite simple and easy. If you come under the Visa Exempt countries, then all you need to do is head to the Immigration section and get your passport stamped by the officer. It takes literally 5 minutes for the entire process to get over and you don’t need to show any documents for the same. All you need is your passport and you can enter Indonesia for free for 30 days.
To check whether your country comes in the Visa exempt countries, click on this link.
Make sure that you do not exceed your stay more than 30 days, else you will be charged a penalty of Indonesian Rupiah of 300,000 for every day you overstay.
You can always get your Visa extended for another 30 days by paying a fee of US$35 or you could simply leave the country and come back after a while again. You can get your visa extended with the help of the Immigration office or with the help of an agent.
Indonesia Visa from Embassy
You would need a visa to enter Indonesia if you are from one of the following countries:
• North Korea
The above-mentioned countries are not eligible for free visa or VOA and will need to apply to the Indonesian embassy or consulate for a visa before reaching Indonesia. For more details, refer to this article: Indonesian Visa Information.
Currency Conversion in Indonesia
One of the most important things to look out for is the Indonesian currency. Now, you have a couple of options to get the Indonesian currency (Rupiah) while traveling to Indonesia:
Cash in Indonesia
Ideally, if you already have US dollars with you, then you can get it changed at multiple locations in Indonesia. Usually, you would find it hard to get Rupiah in your own country and if you do, they would charge you a hefty conversion rate so it would be better to get your currency changed in Indonesia itself.
Here are a few tips to make the most out of Currency exchange:
Get it changed at the airport
Although this is not the most advisable place to get Rupiah from, you cannot enter the city without having any Rupiah on you. If you do, you might end up paying a lot for things which would have otherwise cost you a 10th of the amount that you would end up paying.
So, get a couple of US dollars changed so that you can reach your accommodation. Then you can get the rest of your money changed at some local shop.
Check several Currency Exchange stores
Make sure you check out all the money changers shops before you go ahead with the currency change. You will find that Bali has many currency changing shops where they have different conversion rates. Choose the best one for yourself.
Withdraw a Sufficient Sum
If you are in Jakarta or Yogyakarta, you are less likely to find good options on currency exchange, so make sure you have enough amount to start with to be able to cover these cities without any need for an exchange.
Use CurrenSeek App
You can always use the ‘CurrenSeek’ app to find the lowest conversion rates around you and then get your money changed at that currency exchange shop.
Using Debit Cards in Indonesia
If you don’t have US dollars with you and have a currency which is less than the dollars, then I would recommend you do not change it into dollars. The reason being that you would be charged conversion rate twice on your currency.
In such cases, it is better to take along your Debit card and withdraw when you need to.
Check the withdrawal charges on your card
Most banks charge a nominal fee for international withdrawal in addition to the conversion charges.
Now, a lot of you might think that this would cost you more. But it actually doesn’t because you would get conversion rate charged just once instead of twice. The bank fee is usually minimal and won’t cause a large dent in your savings.
Make sure that you withdraw money from a proper ATM. If you withdraw from some shop or restaurant, they will charge a percentage fee for using their ATM.
To withdraw money from an ATM, look for an ATM which has the Visa/MasterCard sign tacked to it. Make sure that you check whether your Debit card works internationally to withdraw money or not. If not, then you would need to opt for a Debit card which does that.
Forex Cards in Indonesia
Another great way to exchange currency is with the help of Forex cards. Forex cards are traveling money cards which can be filled with a certain amount of money and they can be used to withdraw cash without any ATM fees.
While Forex cards are useful if you have US dollars, it would again be useless in case of double conversions. You would end up paying double conversion fees when you get your Forex card filled with US dollars. Because you would need to exchange the cash to get the Indonesian Rupiah.
In my opinion, if you are traveling to a Southeast Asian company and are not the primary holder of US dollars or Euros, then it is advisable to take an internationally accepted Debit card. Else you would end up paying double conversion rate at every point.
Important Things to Remember while Traveling in Indonesia
While traveling in Indonesia, there are a few things that one must keep in mind to ensure that you have a smoother and hassle-free traveling experience. Here is a list of things to look out for when traveling to Indonesia:
Avoid festive season
One of the most important things to remember when visiting Indonesia is that avoid visiting this place during Ramazan or Eid as a lot of people tend to go home at this time which makes booking train and bus tickets very difficult if not booked in advance. Also, this leads to a lot of traffic and you will find that most sites are crowded with tourists as people celebrate their 1-week holiday with friends and family.
Let me make it very clear that apart from a few popular places in Indonesia like Bali, Bromo, etc., most Indonesian people don’t speak English. So, communicating with them can be a real challenge. If you plan to tour through different parts of Indonesia, then you would need to use a Translation app. So as to be able to communicate with the locals over here.
We used Google translator app for most conversations and I cannot emphasize how helpful it was. So, make sure you have Google Translator app installed on your phone. And learn how to use it before visiting this country. You can download Google Translator from Play Store.
Local Sim cards
You might not need to buy a local Sim card in most countries while traveling. But you definitely need a Sim card when traveling to Indonesia. This is because you would need to call a cab service, hostel owners, bike renters, etc. several times for various reasons.
A good local Sim card will help you in such communications and will help you in saving a lot of time and energy.
Another frequent problem faced in Indonesia is that many places don’t have cabs or taxis waiting around. So you need to call a cab to take you to your designated place. In this case, Go-Jek and Uber are of immense help and are decently priced too.
So, download these apps and save your Indonesian numbers so that your driver can call you up easily. You can download Go-Jek from GO-JEK Play store app.
This is one of the most important things to remember when visiting Indonesia. Traveling around on a bike or Activa is more economical and quicker and will help you a lot. Also, a driving license is although not necessary to rent a bike but will be useful in avoiding Traffic police here.
If somehow you do end up forgetting your license, then make sure that you drive safely and wear your helmet at all times. This way you are less likely to be caught by the traffic police.
Lock and Key
Make sure to get your own lock and key because many places don’t provide that,
Make sure you keep all the necessary medicines for the trip and avoid buying medicines here. In case you forget, you can get all the fever, cold, etc. medicines at the ‘Alfamart’.
These shopping stores are located all over Indonesia and you are likely to find one after a 5-minutes walk. You can check out their online website too.
Indonesia has different charging sockets which can make it difficult to use your normal charger. So, make sure you get a universal travel adaptor which will make it easier for you to charge 2 or more gadgets at a time.
If you are a vegetarian, then you would have a hard time finding something to eat in Indonesia so it would be better than you bring your own snacks or cup noodles. You will find a lot of vegetarian food items but less likely to find the same in the rest of Indonesia. But do try Indonesian food on Bali. So pack your food properly.
Take warm clothes
A lot of places in Indonesia are really chilly so, a good jacket/full-sleeves T-shirt could be useful. Unless, of course, if you just want to freeze in the cold weather.
Indonesia is an amazing place to visit. With proper preparations and planning, you can avoid all the problems here. And can easily have a successful and enjoyable trip over here.
Planning to backpack in other Southeast Asian countries as well? Then check out this guide on Tips on Backpacking in Southeast Asia!