Indonesia is a fantastic choice for budget conscious backpackers and travellers, and this article will help you plan exactly how much to budget for a month in this awesome country.
Indonesia is an amazing destination in its own right and an absolute must on any travelers trip around south east Asia. Unlike some of its neighbouring countries such as Thailand or Malaysia which has seen prices creep up in recent years, Indonesia is still a very cheap destination, and backpackers on a budget can still travel relatively comfortably here.
All prices are correct as of January 2016 and are based on an approximate exchange rate of 19,500 IDR to £1 GBP. This of course is subject to change at any time, and prices fluctuate dependnet on season and other factors too, so adjust your plans accordingly.
I will break up the costs into different sections and then add up the general costs at the end.
Like most of south east Asia there are a range of accommodation choices in Indonesia. The lower budget end of the range is dominated by hostels and homestays, guesthouses, losmens and budget or boutique hotels dominate the mid level budget range and there are good to luxury hotels that can cater for flashpackers or those wanting to splurge.
If you budget well and minimise monthly costs on basic accommodation you can easily accumulate enough in your budget to spoil yourself from time to time. Money can go really far in Indonesia and you can get a lot of luxury for a relatively reasonable price.
- Average basic budget = £3 – £6 per person per night.
- Average mid level budget in a private double room = £7 – £20 per person per night.
- Average hotel price = £25 per person per night upwards depending on level of luxury.
Average monthly costs for ultra budget backpackers = £90 – £180 per month.
Average monthly costs for mid level backpacker/flashpacker = £200 – £300 per month.
Average monthly costs for comfortable private rooms/luxury hotels every night = up to £600 per month or more.
Food and drink.
Food and drink is great value in Indonesia and no mater what your tastes you can fill yourself up pretty well for very little money.
How much of a chunk food and drink takes out of your budget obviously depends on your own tastes, for example I personally very rarely drink alcohol so I save a lot of money on that, but then I could very easily blow a huge chunk of a daily budget if I find a good street food stall!
Local street food in mobile stalls or warungs is perhaps the cheapest and best way to eat like a king on a budget, and restaurants attached to large hotels catering to western tastes are at the top end of the scale (especially when you consider the massive mark ups for tourists and the hefty service tax), but there are a wide range of both western and local options in between.
Alcoholic drinks are relatively expensive compared to other options, with some exceptions, and are not available everywhere (especially in more rural or conservative parts), so may end up being a large part of your budget if you drink a lot.
- Average basic street food meal = £1
- Average basic Western meal = £2 – £3
- Average Indonesian meal in a sit down restaurant = £3 -£5
- Average Western fast food chain meal = £3 – £5
- Average cost of a bottled beer = £1 – £2
- Average cost of a large bottle of water = £0.50
Average monthly costs (mix of local and Western food and 1 beer per night) = £70 – £90
This section is harder to generalise as it depends how extensively you want to travel, how much distance you want to cover and what transport options you take.
Budget airlines such as Lion Air, Garuda or Air Asia have changed the game completely and have fares as low as £10 – £20 GBP sometimes, and long distance buses, trains and ferries are all relatively good value. Private taxis are the most expensive option.
Assuming a basic monthly itinerary needing 3 internal flights at around £20 each, 2 train journeys (say Jakarta to Surabaya and Surabaya to Yogyakarta in air con executive class) at £30 GBP, then a handful of local buses, tuk tuks and private taxis at £40 GBP, then we can come to a rough guide estimate. It is entirely possible you may not need this many transport options however, or you may need more. The price will obviously depend on your needs.
Average monthly cost = £130.
Again, the average costs of what you do in Indonesia completely depends on what exactly you want to do. The best thing about Indonesia is that there is so much to do at all price ranges you will never really be short of options, but the downside to that is activities will probably be the largest part of your budget. Here are the rough prices (correct at the time of publishing) of a small range of activities just to give you an idea. Remember these are a rough average and you may be able to get a little cheaper if you shop around or you may find slightly higher prices, particularly in more touristy areas.
- Massage = £3 – £5
- Mount Batur trek (Bali) = £15 – £20
- Monkey Forest day trip (Ubud, Bali) = £10
- PADI course (Gili islands) = £150 – £250
- 1 day 2 dive package = £45
- Borobudur sunrise tour (from Yogyakarta, including entrance fee) = £25
- Day trip to Komodo National Park (from Labuan Bajo) = £20
Assuming most backpackers will have a mixture of independent activities and a few local tours every week, a budget of £200 per month should account for one big must do activity such as diving, a trek or two a week and a massage or two. This is only a rough guess though and it is always a good idea to overbudget for this portion of your itinerary, as you will always find more things you want to do whilst you are there.
Average monthly cost = £200 – £300.
Again, this totally depends on the individual traveller, but most backpackers will at some point need a bit of cash for something that isn’t planned for, so it is important to take this into account when planning your budget. Things like splurging on an unplanned night out, buying souvenirs and gifts, buying a local sim card (at around £6 – £8 GBP) or even paying for unplanned emergencies such as over the counter medication for minor ailments and so on, all these things can add up. If you have a small fund on top of your planned budget for these things, you won’t find you are running short to pay for the necessities.
Average monthly costs = £100.
So how much does all this add up to for an entire month?
Average mid level backpacker expenses for a month in Indonesia = £700 – £920.
This will cover a mixture of mostly budget backpacker accommodation with the odd splurge to a private room, a mixture of cheap street food with a few nice restaurant meals and some alcoholic drinks thrown in, a good mixture of activities and transport options and of course the extra funds for miscellaneous expenses.
It goes without saying that if you want to really scrimp and stay in ultra budget accommodation, only eat at very cheap street stalls, travel by local transport only and limit your activities, you can knock a good chunk off this average budget. Around £600 a month should be adequate for this type of travel, although I’d argue you may miss out on a lot.
Of course the opposite is true as well, if you go to town with as many activities as you can, a live aboard PADI course or two, nice hotels every night and more, then this budget will obviously go up.
A lot is dependent on the individual. This budget is a simple baseline average for you to plan your own budget based around your own specific tastes and individual travel style. For example I personally like to do a lot of activities and mix backpacking with flashpacking (especially now I am not in my twenties anymore!) And my own personal budget for a month in Indonesia comes in between £800 – £900 on average.
I really hope this helps you plan your trip to Indonesia and inspires you to get out there and have an amazing time, because Indonesia really is an awesome backpacker destination!
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