With a million rupiah currently equal to around US$65, you’ll be transformed into a millionaire the moment you touch down in Indonesia.

If you choose the simple beach-bumming lifestyle, you should budget to spend around a million rupiah a week. Alternatively, live the high life with some of the most luxurious five-star hotels on the planet at low-season prices that are a fraction of the cost elsewhere. 

This guide to daily costs, along with tips on saving money, can help you budget for your visit to Indonesia.

Daily costs

  • Local coffee in a streetside warung (stall): $1
  • Cappuccino in a fancy cafe: $2.50
  • A hearty plate of fried rice/noodles: $1
  • The same meal in a tourist venue: $4
  • Cocktail at a happy-hour beach bar: $5
  • Beer in a hotel bar: $3
  • Glass of house wine at a resort: $6 (sometimes up to $25!)
  • 1.5L (50oz) bottle of water: $0.25
  • Surfboard rental: $3.50 per session
  • 90-minute yoga class: $10 (less if you get a package price)
A series of wooden huts stand at the foot of a large cliff in a jungle
There are thousands of different islands to choose from, some more touristy (and costly) than others © KiwiGraphy Studio / Shutterstock

1. Take your pick from thousands of islands

Bali is substantially more expensive than neighboring Java, which is in turn slightly more expensive than Sumatra, but the sheer amount of competition vying for the tourist dollars means you can stay very cheaply. In Bali, two people could spend around $20 a day, including a private room, meals and scooter rental.

In general, as you go further to less touristed islands, the cost of living diminishes. Bear in mind, though, that at the extremes of the world’s greatest island nation – in the Alor archipelago, for example, or in the distant Maluku islands – prices are higher due to the transportation costs of getting goods (and vehicles and fuel) to remote regions.

2. Choose the cheapest time to go

October to April is rainy season in Bali and central Indonesia, and the cheapest season to travel here. Unless you are going far off the beaten track – jungle trekking or volcano climbing, for example – this is often a lovely time to be in Indonesia. The rains are usually short and sharp, and interspersed with blissful sunny days (avoid Christmas school holidays and New Year, though.)

3. Find an inexpensive flight

Sign up to Jack’s Flight Club for prompt updates about cheap flights to Jakarta or Bali. Within Indonesia, national carrier Garuda Indonesia, Air Asia or Lion Air link all the other main islands. For a rough idea of flight prices, you can travel one way between Jakarta and Bali from around $40, or from Bali to Labuan Bajo (for access to Komodo) from around $36.

4. Book the best-value accommodations

You can book in advance, of course, but if every dollar counts, consider booking just the first night or two, because the best deals – in hostel-packed Kuta, for example – are often found by asking around. With private rooms available from as low as $2 in some parts of Indonesia, dorms are rare.

It can often be more cost-effective to rent a long-term bungalow or villa through an apartment rental site than to pay for a nightly hotel room. A good air-conditioned double room in Bali will cost $8 a night (breakfast included), but a self-catering bungalow in the central Ubud area with its own garden and kitchen might cost around $6 a night if you book a full month.

A man rides a scooter past the gates of a Balinese temple
Scooter hire in Indonesia can cost around $20 for a week © Yulia_B / Shutterstock

5. Car and scooter hire is inexpensive

Public transportation in Indonesia is cheap but erratic, so most travelers opt to rent a vehicle. To keep costs at a minimum, consider renting long-term. Scooters are cheap (often around $2–3 a day if you rent for a week or more), but for the sake of safety and security, consider upgrading to a car, which will set you back around $15 per day – which is especially affordable if you're traveling with friends. With petrol costing less than $0.65 per liter ($0.17 per gallon), self-driving in Indonesia is inexpensive.

Driving in Indonesia – especially in Bali with its swarms of motorbikes – is not for the fainthearted, so if you prefer not to drive yourself, you can hire a car and driver for around $30 per day.

6. Use taxicab apps for local rates

Bluebird Taxis has 23,000 vehicles throughout Indonesia, and while convenient, they can be about twice the price of Grab, the Singapore-based company that acquired Uber in Asia.

Before leaving home, download the apps for Grab and Gojek, which claims to have two million motorbike taxis across Southeast Asia. These options mean you'll only pay local rates for transport, so no haggling every time you need to take a car or motorbike taxi, and no need for complex multilingual conversations trying to confirm destinations or give directions.

7. Ferries, buses and trains are cheap but take a long time

Ferries connect some of the islands, and they're inexpensive, though erratic and time-consuming. Take the trip from Labuan Bajo to Bali, for example: the weekly ferry costs less than $20, but it's a 33-hour ride compared with an hour-long flight.

On larger islands, long-distance buses connect all the main cities, but only on Java and parts of Sumatra can you count on getting around by rail. As a general rule, you can figure that a seat on a train will cost you about $1.50 for each hour of travel, and you can book through Kareta Api Indonesia. A bus ticket is usually slightly cheaper and almost always faster than Indonesian trains.

A woman cooking meatball soup at a street stall in Ubud
A dish of fresh, local food can cost around $1 © Elena Ermakova / Shutterstock

8. Eat local to eat cheap

While Indonesia lacks the culinary variety of much smaller Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore, you can count on finding hearty local food at affordable prices. Unless you are in a tourist center, you can usually find a single-plate meal – normally nasi goreng (fried rice) or mie goreng (fried noodles) – for less than $1. Because they are cooked on the spot, ingredients are usually fresh and frequently delicious.

The West Sumatran city of Padang has exported its fine gastronomic traditions, and you will find Masakan Padang (literally Padang-style cooking) eateries – typically a buffet where you're given a plate of rice and simply point to whatever extras you fancy – in virtually every town throughout the country. You can often grab a veritable feast for around $2; try to pick establishments that seem to have a constant turnaround of diners.

9. Stay off the booze

The best way to keep costs low in Indonesia is simply to avoid alcohol. A bottle of Bintang, the standard local beer, is about $2, a bottle of "cheap" wine starts at around $10, and a bottle of imported gin or whisky will likely set you back $30 or more. Those are supermarket prices – the figures will likely triple in a trendy bar. If you want to party without breaking the bank, look out for the ubiquitous two-for-one sundowner happy-hour deals.

10. Haggling is part of the culture

Haggling is a way of life in Indonesia, and outside of big, fixed-price malls and supermarkets, you will be expected to haggle for most things. Although many travelers are uncomfortable about bargaining for purchases, you’ll soon find that a smile, a joke and a couple of reliable stock phrases can transform a boring shopping trip into an opportunity to bond with local people. At its best, haggling turns a mere business transaction into something far more human.

"Bukan harga bule" (not foreigner price) is good for a smile.

"Saya sudah bankrupt" (I’m already bankrupt) guarantees outright belly laughs.

Remember, though, that your haggling should only be driven toward establishing a fair price that is good for both parties. Some travelers pride themselves on their tough haggling skills, believing that a street vendor will always be making a profit regardless. This is not always true: most store-holders will prefer to sell at a loss if it is the only way that they can feed their family that night.

This article was first published Mar 30, 2022 and updated Dec 2, 2023.

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