Indonesia is located in Southeast Asia and it is the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world. Additionally, it is considered the largest “island-country” in the world. I have been twice in Indonesia and strongly believe that it is one of the most beautiful countries that I visited in Southeast Asia.
But, what is so special about Indonesia? Personally, I think that this country has everything that you are looking for when you come to Southeast Asia:
- Beautiful beaches
- Jungle and rainforest
- Religion and culture
- Great diving
- Nightlife and city life
- Wide variety of plants and animals such as the orangutans, komodo dragons, monkeys, elephants, tigers, etc.
Take into account that this country has become a major tourist centre in Asia and prices are only increasing. Compared to the rest of Southeast Asia, Indonesia can be an expensive country to travel around.
However, I strongly believe that its worth visiting, which is why I want to share some of my experiences around this country.
I hope this can inspire your travels!!
Here are some of the places that I visited in Indonesia (including accommodation), further down you can find my daily budget and other relevant information like prices and costs and booking companies:
Touristy, busy, and sometimes with a lot of rubbish on the beaches, Bali still makes it as the most popular island in Indonesia. This is the only island in Indonesia where Hindu religion is bigger than Islam. Despite the amount of tourists, I enjoyed Bali and still think that its a beautiful destination to visit.
Kuta. This is the place where many backpackers normally stay because its cheap, well located and you can surf during the morning and have a drink (or more) during the evening. Many people stay one night in Kuta and then runaway to a less crowded and less noisy place.
Since Kuta has a very central location, I rented a scooter and went to other areas around Bali.
I recommend visiting the temple of Uluwatu for an incredible cliff-side view of the southernmost point of Bali. Another good scooter day-trip from Kuta, Bali can be going to Tanah Lot temple. This is a beautiful Hindu temple located “in the middle” of the water. Sometimes, when the tide is high it can be difficult to access it. Nonetheless, sunset at Tanah Lot is beautiful and worth it.
Ubud. After Kuta and its surroundings, I went to Ubud for a different experience. I enjoyed the walk through the Monkey Forest although it was a bit too crowded. It has a nice scenery in the nature and its full of monkeys just hanging around (of course, the name).
The highlights in Ubud for me were the rice terraces and the Luwak coffee. I recommend visiting a place called Bali Pulina where you get a free tour and receive an explanation on how they make the Luwak Coffee (which comes from the civet). At the end of the tour, you get a free trey with different types of coffee for you to try. If you want to try the Kopi Luwak you have to pay approx USD5 for a coffee that can be shared between two people.
From Ubud you can also visit the Besakih Temple (Mother Temple). It is a nice day trip in a scooter but watch for the police because they have checkpoints for tourists and will try to put a fine on you. Beware that once you get to the temple, they charge an entrance fee and you are basically “forced” to pay additionally for a guide to show you around.
Kuta. If you are on a budget, I recommend Bedbunkers Hostel. If you stay more than two nights, the price will be Rp. 35.000 per night (approx. USD 2-3). They have WiFi, AC, three-level dorms, a nice common area and a restaurant.
Ubud. When I went to Ubud, I stayed at Lagas Hostel when it was recently opened. Prices per dorm used to be around USD 4 but now I guess they have increased. The hostel has a cozy vibe and a nice pool. The staff is friendly and is keen to show you around. Breakfast was included.
The most popular Gili Islands (Gili stands for “small”) are Gili Trawangan (party island), Gili Air (semi party/semi relaxed island) and Gili Meno (very quiet). These beautiful Gilis are located between Bali and Lombok and are great for diving, relaxing and enjoying the nightlife. I have been twice to Gili Trawangan and spent a while over there. You can go on day-trips and/or snorkeling trips to the other Gilis whilst you are there.
It does not matter if your are diving or snorkeling, you can easily spot turtles, colorful coral, lots of fish and more. Its not cheap to dive in Gili Trawangan but schools have good instructors and equipment. You will definitely have a good experience.
The best spots for sunset are located at Sunset Beach and near the swings in Ombak Hotel. Every night the art market opens with good local and cheap food for tourists. You can get delicious Indonesian food and amazing nutella and banana pancakes.
For the nightlife, the best bars are Sama-Sama, Blue Marlin and the Irish Bar. Every night a different bar organizes a party that will last until 3am, while the rest will shut down earlier.
Gili Trawangan. I recommend two places depending on your budget. If you are on a budget stay at Emis Guesthouse with amazing staff (ask for Raman/Bob and Emi of course). They have private rooms with WiFi, AC and breakfast included.
If you have a mid-range budget, I recommend La Favela. Its an amazing hostel with a pool, BBQ, breakfast included, single bed dorms with AC and toilets inside. Its a great place to meet other travelers.
If you want to visit amazing volcanoes, probably East Java will meet your expectations.
I visited Kawah Ijen, which is a volcano with blue flames located near a town called Banyuwangi. Depending on your pace and the amount of people on the way, you will probably have to walk 40-60 minutes to get to the bottom of the crater. While you walk you will see the workers carrying the rocks and sulfur collected from the volcano. Be respectful and don’t ask for selfies or make them stop just for a picture.
Make sure that you take a torch, mask and clothes that you don’t mind throwing away (you might end up stinking like sulfur if you spend a while in the crater). I arranged my transportation in Permata Indah Permai hotel (they also provide masks).
After Ijen I went to Mount Bromo, probably one of the most famous volcanoes in Indonesia. I recommend spending at least 2 days there to visit the crater during the day and watch sunrise the next morning.
Check how to do Mount Bromo without a tour in here.
One of my favorite adventures was camping at Pulau Sempu. This is an empty island located south of a town called Malang. There are no roads, vehicles or houses in Sempu (hence, no accommodation), just an amazing big lagoon in the middle of the island that will take your breath away. Getting there is tricky but “doable” and worth it.
Read how I ended getting there and camping with a group of local students in here.
Banyuwangi. There are not many budget options in Banyuwangi but I recommend Permata Indah Permai. The staff is good and they help you organize your ride towards Kawah Ijen. The price is really cheap for private rooms with AC and breakfast included.
Bromo. There are many budget accommodation options in the town where Mount Bromo is located, just walk around and ask. They are never full. I paid Rp. 75.000 for a double bed private room.
Malang. I stayed at Kampong Tourist in Malang on the rooftop of Hotel Helios. Its a nice backpacker hostel with good prices even for food and coffee. Don’t forget mosquito repelent, you will need it.
Jakarta. In Jakarta I recommend Teduh Hostel with good prices, PlayStation and breakfast included. Its a really nice place with a good vibe and a good place to relax after the chaos of Jakarta.
This is one of my favorite islands in Indonesia. Lombok is a Muslim island but still has some Hindu influence on the food and temples.
There are three main tourist hubs: Senggigi, Mataram and Kuta Lombok.
Senggigi is a cozy, quiet little town and a popular gateway to Mount Rinjani (the highest volcano in the island and second highest in Indonesia). The beach is not the prettiest one but its still good for a day trip and worth watching sunset over there.
There are a few bars with many locals, although the nightlife here cannot be compared to the one in Bali or Gili Trawangan. You can rent a scooter in Senggigi and ride around Lombok. Senaru waterfalls are just a few kilometers away and make a good day trip.
Mataram is just 30 minutes away and Kuta Lombok is two hours south, so you can easily do daytrips from here.
Mataram is the capital and busiest town in Lombok. Here you can visit Hindu temples such as Pura Meru temple and the Mayura Palace. The food is also worth trying in Mataram, specially the typical spicy chicken dish called Ayam Taliwang.
Kuta Lombok is definetely one of the most scenic and beautiful spots in the island. Just a short scooter drive south you can find amazing beaches and viewpoints. This place is worth visiting.
If you have the chance, visit Pantai Pink (Pink Beach) and/or do an island hopping trip with a local boat southeast of Lombok where they can take you to great viewpoints and stunning quiet beaches.
There is a MUST in Lombok and its called Mount Rinjani. This 3.726 m volcano is as beautiful as it is tough to conquer (specially on bad weather conditions). Do not try to hike Rinjani before May!!!!
We tried to reach the summit on April and the weather did not allow it. We only missed 300m to reach the top but the rain, wind and freezing temperature prevented everyone from going any further. It rained during 3 straight days whilst we were hiking.
As much as I enjoyed it, I have to admit that it was not that fun with bad weather. On a different circumstance, I am pretty sure that the hike would have been worth every single penny… or Rupiah.
Still, the views of the crater rim at sunrise were breathtaking and the whole hike is incredible. Worth doing it if the weather allows it.
Scroll down to see the costs of Rinjani and booking company.
Another MUST do is the boat trip from Lombok to Flores, passing through Komodo, Rinca and Padar Islands. This four day boat trip was the highlight of my last trip to Indonesia. We got to see dolphins, manta rays, komodo dragons (of course!!!!) and more amazing animals on the way. We visited waterfalls, white and pink sand beaches, snorkeled and hiked in different islands, it was insane.
The views from Padar Island have been some of the best that I have seen in years of traveling, so make sure that your boat company takes you there. I booked through Soka Tours in Senggigi. Kotasi Tours & Travel can arrange your trip. Check prices on the prices and costs section below.
Watch the video of the boat trip here.
Senggigi. I was traveling with my Colombian friend Alejandro and we shared a double bed private room with AC at Oggies Place in Senggigi for Rp. 200.000 (Rp.100.000 each). The dorm with AC is Rp. 90.000. This place has a nice vibe and great staff. Breakfast is included. There is a bar with reasonable prices and they can help you organize your travels around Lombok.
This is the place to dive with manta rays if you are in Indonesia. There are many dive shops in Labuan Bajo (the main town) that offer similar prices for the dives. Most of them will charge for an insurance and the Komodo National Park fees. The diving here is amazing. I got to see at least 10 mantas at the same time, lots of turtles and reef sharks, different types of fish and coral. Worth it. I booked through Uber Scuba Dive Shop.
If you are not diving in Labuan Bajo there are still other things to do. I took a scooter with some friends and went to the Cunca Walung waterfalls with beautiful landscapes on the way. Additionally, you can jump from a 10m cliff to test your “adrenaline” skills.
There are a few calm but dirty beaches around Labuan Bajo that are good for relaxing. The restaurant Le Pirate has happy hour every day, a pool and amazing views for sunset. The only bar that is open until late is called Paradise and has live music. A couple of nights we played our music once the band finished and created huge parties.
Unfortunately, I did not have much time to explore Flores so I only stayed in Labuan Bajo. Nonetheless, next time I will have to visit Mt. Kelimutu and surrounding the villages.
Labuan bajo. I stayed at Centro Hostel in Labuan Bajo. The hostel has many dorms for affordable prices. There is no proper front desk or reception, you just walk inside and you find the dorms. There is AC and breakfast (two slices of toast and coffee/tea).
PRICES AND COSTS
- Entrance fee Uluwatu RP. 20.000
- Entrance fee Tanah Lot RP. 30.000
- Entrance fee Monkey Forrest RP. 30.000
- Entrance fee Besakih Temple RP. 15.000 and RP. 10.000 for the guide
- Fast Boat from Bali to Gili Trawangan Rp. 225.000 to 300.000 one way, depending on the date. With return ticket don’t pay more than Rp. 500.000.
- Bus to Gilimanuk and ferry to Banyuwangi Rp. 120.000
- Transfer to Kawaj Ijen and waterfall tour from Banyuwangi Rp. 125.000
- Entrance fee Kawah Ijen Rp. 150.000
- Entrance fee Bromo Rp. 200.000. Click here to see How to Do Mt. Bromo for free
- Mount Rinjani 3D/2N to the summit Rp. 1.500.000 (includes all fees, food, water, tents and transportation). This new rate is as of April 2017. Throughout the year companies will offer different rates depending on the season. Do not pay more than Rp. 1.500.000. I met many travelers who paid more and it should not be like that. I booked the trek through Kotasi Tours & Travel in Senggigi. Phone 08175797547.
- Lombok to Flores boat trip 4D/3N or 4D/4N Rp. 1.560.000 (includes Park fees, food, snorkeling gear, accommodation on the deck, water, etc.) This is the boat departing on Saturdays. However, there is a cheaper boat that departs on Thursdays for Rp. 1.400.000. I booked the boat trip through Kotasi Tours & Travel in Senggigi. Phone 08175797547. The company that operated the boat was Soka Tours.
- Diving in Flores: Uber Scuba three fun dives fee Rp. 1.260.000 plus Rp. 170.000 National Park fees plus Rp. 70.000 insurance.
- Entrance fee for Cunca Walung Waterfalls Rp. 20.000 plus a local tour guide (prices vary depending on the amount of people that go with you).
- Scooters in Bali Rp. 20.000-50.000
- Scooters in Senggigi, Lombok Rp. 40.000-50.000
- Scooters in Labuan Bajo, Flores Rp. 70.000-75.000
Budget: For Indonesia, I estimate a USD15-20 per day for accommodation, food, transportation and a beer. This daily Budget does not include diving or tour packages so make sure that you take this into account.
Visa: I have been to Indonesia twice, which means that I have applied for the visa the same amount of times.
The first time, I applied in Singapore and got it in 2 working days. The fee is SG 70 for a two month visa. Payment is usually on cash so bring money. Make sure that you come in shoes or they will not let you in.
The second time I applied I did it in Sydney, at Maroubra. The fee for the two month visa is AUD 70. I got my visa in 4 working days.
Hope that this post helps you, make sure you leave your comments and questions below. Thank you travelers!!
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