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Indonesian money | © Ryan Tir/Flickr
Indonesian money | © Ryan Tir/Flickr
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How Long Can You Last With $500 in Indonesia?

Picture of Edira Putri
Updated: 24 August 2017
Considering its breathtaking nature, charming culture, and fascinating history, the price tags in Indonesia are often too good to be true. Tourists have expressed their joyful disbelief on the things they can afford even with a tight budget. If you are willing to cut back on the luxuries, you can opt for a longer stay, experience more things, and be exposed to a local lifestyle. How long can you last with $500 in Indonesia? Read more for our breakdown of living expenses in Indonesia for a month.

Accommodation: $150

The cheapest way to acquire accommodation in Indonesia is to rent a room and pay weekly, monthly, even yearly. In most cities, you can rent a decent room for less than $150 per month. At that rate, most rooms will have a bathroom, air conditioner, closet, even wi-fi. Locals call those rented rooms “kost”, and paying monthly will get you a lower price.

Food: $210

If you want to stay as long as possible, you will have to opt for cheaper meals sold in warungs (small family-run restaurants). In such places, you can eat a complete meal with rice, vegetables, side dish, and tea or mineral water for less than $2 per meal. If you stick with a vegetarian menu such as tofu or tempeh, you can even get a full plate for $1 or less.

Three meals per day x 30 days = 90 meals
90 meals x $2 = $180

A bountiful traditional meal
A bountiful traditional meal | ©Fei Tan/Flickr

If you rent a room with shared kitchen, you can slash that budget even more. Cooking saves a lot more money, especially if you do grocery shopping at traditional markets, where a bountiful of leafy vegetables for two servings can cost as low as $0.2. Four servings of tofu cost less than $0.4 and you can simply deep fry the tofu with cooking oil ($1 per liter) that will last the whole month. Doing so will save you more money to afford eating out for a decent nice meal every weekend.

Note that tap water in Indonesia is not drinkable. It means you will need to buy mineral water everyday. It’s cheapest to buy a gallon ($2 for 19 liters) but it’s much easier to buy bottles of one liter for $0.5.

Two bottles per day x 30 days = 60 bottles
60 bottles x $0.5 = $30

Transportation: $100

In bigger cities where public transportation is ample, getting around is pretty cheap at about $0.4 per ride. However, many tourists have found it much more convenient to rent a bike. That way, you can enjoy the freedom of exploring places anywhere and anytime. The rate to rent a bike varies in different cities. In Bali, a month of bike rent costs from $80. In most cities, the rate is relatively cheaper. That adds up to about $100 per month including gas.

Getting around with motorbike in Bali
Getting around with motorbike in Bali | ©Anne-Mette Jensen/Flickr

Attractions

Most natural attractions like beaches, waterfalls, or jungles are free or cost a mere pittance. Museums may charge more for international tourists, but $10 is the most expensive it can be (government-run museums cost much less). Temple entrance fees in Bali cost about $3 or less and you can watch cultural shows for free in some places. You can do much with your remaining $40. If you have more to spare, a dozen keychain or refrigerator magnets cost less than $3 and make a great souvenir for friends back home. You can also buy other handmade goods in traditional markets for an affordable price in traditional markets.

A beach in Bali
A beach in Bali | © Seif Sallam / Flickr