Things to know before visiting Indonesia
Are you planning to visit Indonesia? Do you want to know how to plan the international tour in cheapest way? I have seen many people visits Bali/ any international tour for South East ASIAN countries for 3-4 days, giving the travel agents/ spends at least 30-45 thousand per person, however if you use these tips and plan yourself, you can save at least 20 thousand. I searched in many blogs for those information, some I have learned from reading blogs, some I have learned from my experience. So I thought to put those points through this post- Things to know before visiting Indonesia or any of your first international trip.
- For Flights: I started searching the flight deals almost one month before my travel date. Don’t try to book before two months, as the price can be same or even more if you book too early. You can search in makemytrip.com , www.easemytrip.com , however I got best deals in www.via.com and found that for international flights www.via.com is better option where you will get lot cheaper flight than MakeMyTrip and goibibo or easemytrip. Thanks to Scoot Airways that offers cheap flights to many international destinations, I got the return tickets for 12500/-. You can request your lowest fare option with flexible date option in Google flights. You will get email notifications when the price will decrease.
- Forex: As you might know the currency in Indonesia is Rupiah. As per current rate from INR to Rp is approximately Rs.200. That means with one INR you can buy Rp.200. You must be very happy to hear that but wait!! Though the conversion rate is – with the exchange of 100 INR will get Rp20.000 but the value of the money is not similar to India. For understanding the value you can consider that the money is almost valued as Rs 20 in India. That means Indonesia is actually costlier than India for some of the products/services. I have heard most people saying that South east ASEAN countries are cheaper (of course the people who spend in $ or £,€, for them it is cheaper), but for Indians it’s not. All the things are priced as thousand. E.g a bottle of 500ml water is 5,000 Rp. You can consider removing the thousand and consider only.
Anyway before visiting, you have to estimate your expenditures (approx per person Rp100.000 for 3 times food, for travel and other activity Rp 50.000). It’s better to book your stay from India, as you can pay in INR.
After you decide how much will be the total expenditure, take a cushion of 20% and convert the total Rp to USD. (With the conversion rates available in newspapers/ money exchange website). Now the 50% of the USD you keep and convert the rest 50% USD to Rp. As and when required you can convert the rest of the USD.
Now the next question is from where to do the exchange. In India, you have 2-3 options, in that I found best one is www.Bookmyforex.com . They offer best exchange rate and they will even deliver it to your desired place with minimal charge. I checked in Axis bank and Airport also but I got almost 2 Rs. More per USD in bookmyforex, also only bookmyforex offer you the Indonesian Rupiah, which you will not get through other online options, not even from Banks. Banks can offer you only major currencies ($,£,€ etc). However you better issue 70% of your needed money in major currencies and 30% of the same in Rupiah. You will get better conversion rate from USD to Rupiah in Indonesia than in India. E.g. I got 1300.000 Rp in the exchange of ₹8500 in India, whereas I got 1350.000 Rp in exchange of $100 (which is approx ₹ 6500).
- For Visa: This is another information which I could not find in available resources in internet. All I knew was for Bali (DPS airport) the visa free entry is possible for Indian but for other airport, nowhere it was mentioned whether it will be Visa on arrival or Visa free entry, not even on the embassy websites. When I have booked the flight ticket to Indonesia, the price was higher (almost 3-4 k INR) for Bali airport than Jakarta airport, so ai decided to pay VISA on arrival fees and booked the ticket up to Jakarta airport. Although I was prepared for paying $30 for Visa on Arrival (as mentioned in embassy websites and other available sources), as soon I reached Jakarta airport, I saw the queue for Visa on arrival and another way for Visa free entry. There was a poster for the list of countries to which VISA free entry is offered! I went to check (I thought that no harm checking once) but to my surprise India was on the list. Yes you have read it correctly, if you are not traveling for business purposes and stay less than 30 days in Indonesia then you need not to issue a Visa. To get further clarification I asked Immigration officials but they were also not sure. I refereed the poster and show the return ticket, and they allowed the Visa free entry!!
- For Travel Insurance: I recommend you to take a travel insurance if you are planning the international tour by yourself. Anything can happen in the unknown places, so better to be secured. The travel Insurance will not cost you more than Rs. 800 for a one month trip. You can compare online for the cheapest rates vis-a-vis the benefits. I got mine from ICICI Lombard at 750/-
- Airport transfer: I have chosen Jakarta airport to enter Indonesia, as it was the cheapest flights available from Chennai International Airport, However based on your requirement you can choose between Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Bali, Lombok or any other. I was in search of cheapest option to reach my destination from Jakarta Airport. It is the Busway. From airport the AC buses are leaving in every 5 min to every corner of the Jakarta city, the only thing you have to ask Hotel/ host is the name of the bus which will go to the locality of your hotel. As the availability of the buses are quite frequent, so it is not even crowded.
If you traveling with family and kids, then also the busway can be considered to reduce your trip cost.The bus fare for almost 30 Km of ride took Rp 35.000 and in contrast to this after dropping from bus, the last 3 km Taxi took Rp40.000, so now you can guess. The second best option is Uber Two wheeler, but if you travel with family you can take Uber Taxi, it will be cheaper than normal Jakarta Blue Bird Taxi.
- Mobile Sim Card in Indonesia: If you would stay more that 3-4 days in Indonesia, it is cheaper to take a local sim there than the international Roaming. There are 2-3 main service provider in Indonesia, in that Telkomsel & im3 are most popular. I have heard that the network coverage is best for Telkimsel, so I took that one. I bought one sim card with 10 GB data at Rp170.000. The Sim card for im3 with 6 GB data would cost you Rp130.000 at airport. That may be even cheaper in local stores.
- Stay at Jakarta/Bali: You have many options to book cheap stay e.g booking.com or airbnb.com. You can choose based on your budget/ locality preference or review of the host. I generally give priority all three and try to put balance between three. You can get good option in booking.com. Another benefit of Booking from this website is, you may not have to pay before you stay, and there is no cancellation charge, so I prefer to book from this website. For getting Rs. 700.00 discount, you can book using this link. (https://www.booking.com/s/27_8/goswam92)
- Intercity transport in Indonesia: The intercity transport is different in each place. Obviously the most convenient and costly option is Car. However if you want to do it in low budget, in Jakarta you can book Uber Taxi/ Bike. Uber Bike is very cheap. However the cheapest option is Busway. For details of Busway, (how to book the tickets, how to see the popular places in Jakarta by Busway) please read my next post.
If you will have 2-3 days of stays on Jakarta and you would want to travel the city (for major attractions in Jakarta please read my next post) you can check-http://www.holidayjakarta.com.
In Bali Uber is not operating. There, you can download Gojek App. It is same as Uber. They also have GO-jek Bike and Car option, which very cheap compare to hired Car. (For the same distance if hired Car takes Rp. 300.000, by Go Car you can do it in Rp. 60,000 and by Gojek Bike you can do it in RP. 25.000). In Bali and other tourist places in Indonesia, you can hire a bike at very less price and explore the place at your own way. Do you want to visit a lonely island, where you can experience lots of adventures, check my post about Nusa Penida. Click here.
- Foods in Indonesia: Foods are not very costly, and you will get many options if you are non vegetarian. You will get decent rice, noodle option at Rp 20.000-40.000. Juices are around Rp 10.000-30.000. Street foods are safe and you will get varieties if barbecue within Rp 40.000- 60.000. (If you use my formula to see the value of product as compare to India, multiply by 5 after removing the thousand, as discussed earlier section you will find food is almost same price as in Indian Restaurant). However the price of the foods varies across the islands. The popular tourist places (Bali) are costlier than the small towns of Java.
That’s all the suggestions I want to let you know before planning a budget trip to Indonesia. Do you have any tips like that, please comment below. To know about places to visit in Central Java please read “Places to see in central Java, Indonesia”. To get updates of my future post please Subscribe.