I should be applying for jobs right now, however, I’ve had a few questions recently on backpacking Indonesia. Whilst I was there, I whisked out my travel diary every now and then to jot down a few tips that came to mind. I’ve already written an article for the website Travelicious called How expensive is Indonesia? which you might also find useful.
Before we get into it, I have a great offer for you guys! If you fancy getting £30/$50 off your first stay in an Airbnb, then use this link! You’re welcome 🙂
Whilst I was backpacking Indonesia, I generally felt safe most of the time. Just use your common sense and keep your wits about you and you’ll be fine!
Follow your gut
It’s Asia guys and that means one thing. Scams are around every corner. My travel buddy, Annie, used to laugh at me all the time as I was on constant red alert for scams. Jump in a taxi? BAM this could be a scam. Wanna go see some wild herons? It’s GOTTA be a scam! Okay, I was a little excessive and that probably didn’t make any sense to you. But the truth is, there will be a lot of scams, just follow your gut instinct. Don’t be walking down dark alleys on your own, don’t eat at a restaurant that’s empty and don’t get on the back of a guys moped that says he’s from your hostel and is here to pick you up… (I’m kidding that actually did happen and he was genuinely from our hostel.)
Stick to BlueBird taxi’s
Here’s a scenario for you. You’ve flown in from the U.K, Australia or wherever you’ve come from and you’re not feeling fresh. You throw on your rucksack, stumble through arrivals and into a pit of taxi men vultures. They know you’ll be tired and know you’ll most likely have no idea what taxi’s should be charging. You’re the perfect target! Walk out of the arrivals, ignore the vultures, walk through the carpark and you should see a Blue Bird taxi rank. Either that or arrange an Airbnb/hotel pick up. Blue Bird taxi’s operate pretty much around all of Bali I think? The main cities anyway. Ask if they have a meter, watch them turn it on and then get in the taxi. Local taxi’s you’ll have to haggle for or if you want to be extra quirky then get a moped taxi. Everyone will think you look so cool and cultured.
Grab is a fantastic app! It’s a lot like Uber but we found Grab works a lot better whilst we were backpacking Indonesia. We took over an hours trip from Seminyak to Ubud and it cost us 120,000 rupiah ($12AUD £6) which is really not that bad. You can select to pay in cash so that it doesn’t have to come off your credit card. The downside is that you need the internet for it to work but just stand outside of a restaurant and connect to their wi-fi if needs must. I’d also recommend the app’s maps.me and currency converter that I wrote about in Four travel apps I couldn’t live without.
We used Perama Tours to get from Ubud to Padang Bai. They are a tour company that offers everything from day trips to bus transfers. It cost us 70,000 rupiah each ($7AUD £4) for a 90-minute journey on an air-con bus. They offer bus transfers to a lot of destinations around Bali and it’s a quick and easy option to get around the island.
Hire a moped
Hiring a moped is a fantastic way to see the local areas. We hired mopeds in near enough every new place we stayed. We would use a town as a base, such as Jimbaran, and then use the moped to drive to the surrounding areas over a few days such as Uluwatu and Nusa Dua. Scooter rental should cost between 50,000 – 60,000 rupiah. Just please be careful! My friends recently fell off their scooter and their injuries were not pretty.
Not all temples are the same, but at some, you could get caught out. The most common one that we encountered whilst backpacking Indonesia was needing to wear sarongs to enter a temple. Before you reach the temple entrance, you may be bombarded with street vendors literally wrapping you in a sarong. Once you’re wearing it, it’s harder to say no to buying it. They will insist that you need one to enter the temple, which is true. However, they will be free at the temple entrance. Politely decline and see what the deal is when you buy your ticket. When you’re in the temple, someone may approach you and ask if you want some information about the temple. These are most likely uncertified tour guides and will want you to pay them at the end. Obviously, that’s completely up to you.
Don’t get caught up with International fee’s
It’s such a pain but you’re going to be charged international withdrawal fee’s regardless. If you can find your own bank’s ATM then that’s brilliant! I was using Commonwealth Australia ATM’s in Seminyak, Ubud and Gili T which only charged me $2 per withdrawal. However, random ATM’s charged me as much as $12 per withdrawal which is just crazy. There’s no real way to get around it. What I used to do is withdraw as much as possible each time I needed cash. I’m talking 1.5 – 2million rupiah per withdrawal. That way you will have more cash and pay less fee’s in the long run.
Eat at Warungs for cheap eats
Warungs. Fantastic little places that allow you to save money whilst backpacking Indonesia. These are local run restaurants where a lot of the locals will go to eat. The perks for us travellers is that the prices are considerably cheaper than your average restaurant. Think 25,000 rupiah for a large portion instead of paying 70,000 rupiah. Just use your common sense with warungs, some are small huts on the side of the road and some look like fully-fledged restaurants. Some classic Indonesian dishes that you must try are Gado-Gado, vegetables and tempeh with a peanut sauce, Nasi Goreng, a stir fried rice with vegetables and optional meat, Mie Goreng, stir fried vegetables or meat with noodles and Nasi Campur, a delicious platter of around 5-7 different curries and stir-frys with rice. Nasi Goreng and Nasi Campur are my favourites!
Check service and tax additions
Before you eat at a restaurant, check the menu outside to see if it includes or excludes tax and service charge. This means that you have to add a certain percent onto your bill. The highest we paid was 21%. It’s useful to check this otherwise you’ll go in thinking you’re getting a cheap eat when really you’ll pay the same, if not more than the restaurant next door which includes tax and service in their menu prices.
Agoda is by far the best booking app that we used whilst backpacking Indonesia! No, this isn’t sponsored. It also worked really well in The Philippines. We often found that Agoda was the cheapest for accommodation, often cheaper than booking.com and hostelworld! You will also earn rewards the more you use it, such as 10% discounts, $8 off your next booking and so on.
So there we have some of my best tips for backpacking Indonesia! Honestly, I absolutely loved it. The food is amazing and you can really get a lot for your money with accommodation. It’s so easy to get around, either by bus or scooter and I can promise you’ll have a fantastic time.
Let me know if you have any other tips that worked for you whilst you were backpacking Indonesia. Any good restaurants, key places to see etc.
I’ve also done a YouTube video on Indonesia so go and check out my channel! Subscribe if you haven’t already for new videos every Saturday.
Thank you so much for all of the recent support with my website and YouTube channel. It feels great that I can help so many of you.