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How to save money in Indonesia.

I’ve had a friend ask me about travelling in Indonesia, and I realized he made some mistakes, so I’m just going to list down everything you need to know to save a little of that hard earned cash on your trip.

1. Move in one direction.
Indonesia is a country where you should not get roundtrips from the same airport, the places you can visit goes in a straight direction. There’s 2 ways you can do this.
I. Start from Jakarta, and end in Lombok
II. Start in Lombok and end in Jakarta
Many people don’t know that there is an airport in Lombok. Instead of taking return ferry trips from Bali to Lombok (each way costs 25USD). Plus, the chances of your voracious backpacking dreams and you sinking together with the ferry is quite high. You should go read about it. It’s better to start off in Bali, take a ferry to Lombok and fly out of Lombok. That sort of reduced your chances of dying by exactly half.
This way, you’ll also skip flying through Bali’s airport, which is known to be one of the most corrupted airport in Indonesia.
This leads me to my next point.

2. There is only one tax you need to pay in the airport
And that’s the departure tax. This amounts to 55,000 rupiah per person, no more. There were instances when foreigners were ridiculously charged for non-existent taxes, so watch out for that. A quick search on Google will give you the current rate.

3. For students, get your ISIC card.
That’s the International Student Identity Card. This is the only proof of identification that can be used in Indonesia for students. Nothing else can be used, even your college ID. As the entrance fees for most places is significantly reduced when you enter as a student, I suggest you get one!

4. Train travels
The train in Indonesia is extensive and well maintained. I always get the night train for journeys lasting more than 6 hours, because then I save on the accommodation that night. This can be rough, but if you can, get the bunk beds on the train, that’ll be easier on your back.

Book your train tickets in their convenience store. There will be people there to help you. Just know that there’s a daily quota for cheaper tickets for the same seats, so watch out for those.

5. Bargain your heads out

Honestly, there really isn’t any effort you need to do for bargaining in Indonesia. Ask for the price, I suggest stating a price at 30-40% of what they ask and stick to it. Then walk away. I can almost guarantee you, they’ll sell it right away.

6. Skip Bandung

This isn’t exactly a way to save money, but if your itinerary includes this city often touted as Paris of Indonesia, I say SKIP IT. There isn’t anything cultural or interesting about this town. Yes, you can do some shopping here, but chances are if you’re a backpacker, you don’t have much space in your backpack to do that. Plus, I found a lot of things to be cheaper in Yogjakarta than Bandung itself.

That’s all that I can think of right now, when I do get more things to write, I’ll do another entry!

Happy cheap travels!


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