For those planning an island-hopping itinerary for a trip to Indonesia, our friends over at Jolly Good Loans have put together these tips on how to travel around this incredible country on a budget. This amazing archipelago has a rich history, stunning landscape, and vibrant culture, which means there are plenty of opportunities to experience both adventure and relaxation during your stay here. Today, we’re explaining how you can do this on a budget.
First things first, get ready to haggle. It’s something we’re not all comfortable doing, however, in Indonesia, it’s entirely acceptable in certain situations. While you shouldn’t be haggling in restaurants that have set prices, it’s the norm to do so when shopping in local markets or independent shops. You’ll likely find that the locals will inflate prices at first because they know you’re a tourist, but you can soon come to an agreed price that both parties are happy with if you put your bartering skills to use.
In almost every situation, the starting price will never be what you end up paying – and if the price still seems too steep even after you’ve tried to talk it down, then it’s ok to walk away; the locals will typically prefer to lower a price than lose a customer, so it’s not likely you’ll walk away empty-handed. However, remember to have fun with the haggling and don’t take it too seriously – show respect and kindness to the shop owners and they’ll show you the same in return.
Whenever you can, avoid booking through an agent, especially if you’re staying in a chain hotel – as it’s inevitable that you’re going to end up paying a higher price by using one. To get around this, look to book direct and use private vendors, as you’ll not only pay a better price, but you may have a better experience, too.
For example, if you book an organized trip through a hotel, you’re going to be stuck in a set schedule for the day, but if you go to a private vendor you’ll have the freedom to pick and choose what you want to do. Your tour guide will almost certainly be happy to create an itinerary based on the activities that you want to do – and that’s just one of the many benefits you’ll discover when exploring this famously friendly country.
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The same goes for booking a hotel. Although there are dozens of online booking sites that make it simple to reserve a room in seconds, you’ll be paying inflated prices, especially when booking accommodation for Indonesia. It’s not always the quickest option to go directly to the hotel because you have to do the research yourself, but social media makes this easier for us. Find their pages and contact the hotel through their social channels, inquiring how much your booking would be, room availability and nearby attractions.
Take public transport where possible
The key thing when getting public transport in a foreign country is to be confident, act like you’ve done it before and don’t ask how much your journey will be – as it’s likely you’ll pay way more than needed. On the island of Java, travel is usually paid at the end of your journey, so you can get away with walking on the bus and heading straight to a seat. Check out the rules around the public transport for other islands you’re staying on as they can be a little different depending on where you are.
You’re bound to meet locals and other tourists during your stay who have had some incredible experiences on their travels through Indonesia – so spark up a conversation with them as they’re bound to have budget-friendly recommendations for you. They may also be able to advise you on the sort of prices you should be paying when using public transport, which means you can avoid being overcharged. Don’t let the conversation stop here, though – ask as many tourist questions as you want, as it’s more than likely that they have contacts who organize the sort of activities you’re looking for, perhaps even at discounted prices.
Consider a tour guide
Hiring a tour guide might not be thought of as cheap, however, if you barter and secure the right deal they can be. In Indonesia, many of the tours will include inexpensive lunches, discounted ticket entries and cheap travel fares within the overall fee that you’re paying them, potentially making it a more cost-effective option overall.
Plus, because they’ve likely lived there their entire life, they can often take you to places that aren’t widely known – which, in turn, means you can capture a glimpse of the true heart of Indonesia and experience everyday life as a local. Plus, having a local with you can keep prices down, especially in the marketplaces – as prices are far less likely to be inflated if you’re being shown around by a local face.
Go local when eating out
Traveling around Indonesia without a doubt means eating out – it’s too hard to say no when there’s so much on offer! When looking for a place to eat, we suggest staying away from the touristy resorts and hotels, as they’ll almost always charge a premium. Instead, ask your tour guide for the inside scoop on the best local eateries to visit – as that way, you’ll not only pay less, but your Indonesian culinary experience will be as authentic as you’d hoped for.
With so many different delicacies on offer such as nasi goreng, rendang, and nasi padang, you absolutely do not want to miss out. Explore the side street restaurants and places that are in residential areas, rather than down on the seafront where all the tourists go for a drink to watch the sunset. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant will set you back a mere $2-3, whereas a three-course meal at an upmarket restaurant could set you back $6-8 – so budget for your stay accordingly.
Happy hour is also a BIG thing in Indonesia; you’ll rarely come across a restaurant or bar without special offers on – and they’re almost always an absolute bargain. Take note of the happy hours at bars and restaurants near to where you’re staying so that you can take advantage of them.
With Bali being by far the most well-known destination in Indonesia, it tends to be the only island in this archipelago that many of us think of traveling to – but did you know that Indonesia is made up of over 17,000 islands? That’s 17,000 islands of pure paradise for you to go and explore on your travels in the region – so look beyond Bali to find Indonesian’s hidden gems.
And with the tips from today’s post, you’ll be able to stretch your budget further, and your trip farther. Enjoy your time in Indonesia!
Keith Harrison is a content creator and writer for Jolly Good Loans, your online personal loans and holiday finance encyclopedia
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