Travel Guide: Indonesia


Planning a trip to Indonesia? Here’s everything we learned during our 1 month stay in the land of a thousand kings.

City Guides

Choose a city on the map below for more travel tips!

Currency

Indonesian currency is called rupiah (abbreviated Rp). Exchange rates fluctuate all the time but a good, conservative rule of thumb for quick estimations would be 100,000 IDR = 10 USD, 7 EUR, 6 GBP.

Accommodation

Hotels or guesthouses are anywhere from 115,000 rupiah for a basic room with a fan and cold water to 58,000 rupiah for your own bungalow with AC and hot water. We stayed up on a hill at Puri Sari in Penestanan, Ubud. We enjoyed it because it was quiet, tucked away from the busy part of the city, but we still had access to many shops and restaurants. We stayed for the whole month and paid only 3,500,000 rupiah (around $12 USD a night). Our room did not have AC, just a fan, but being up on the hill it never got too hot. We had a double bed, hot water, a big shower, a porch and fresh fruit and tea every morning. We would recommend this place to anyone staying in Ubud. The owners Wayan and Puri are extremely kind and will make you feel like you’re at home.

Puri-Sari-Homestay-Penestanan-Ubud-Bali-Indonesia-001-imp

Food

During our month-long visit, we tried many different Indonesian dishes–here are some of our favorites.

Bubur Ayam

This is a shredded chicken porridge topped with soy beans, scallions and a sweet soy sauce. It’s a very popular breakfast item. My favorite dish in Indonesia. A bowl of this costs around 35,000 rupiah.

Ketut's-Village-Bali-Indonesia-049

Bakso

This is an Indonesian meatball soup. It usually consists of meatballs, noodles, bean sprouts, egg and a crispy wonton. We found the best is usually served by street vendors called warungs, who tow around little mobile kitchens by moped or bicycle and set up shop on the side of the road at mealtime. This soup costs about 8,500 rupiah.

Our day trip to Gunung Kawi temple in Tampaksiring, Bali, Indonesia.

Nasi Campur

Pronounced “chom-por”, this dish consists of rice, choice of meat, veggies, egg and sometimes tempe. It costs around 35,000 rupiah.

Nasi Goreng

Goreng means fried, so this dish is fried rice. It is often served with an egg on top and fried shrimp crackers. Be careful ordering Nasi Goreng Special… the meat you get with it may be chicken heart. It costs around 35,000 rupiah.

Mie Goreng

Mie means noodle, so this is a fried noodle dish that has vegetables mixed in with a fried egg in top. It costs around 35,000 rupiah.

Nasi Padang

Nasi means rice and Padang is the Capitol of West Sumatra, where this dish originated from. You will find these kinds of restaurants all over Southeast Asia. It’s buffet style, with a variety of food like fish, beef, chicken, curry, veggies, potatoes etc. You start with a plate of rice, pick what you want and pay accordingly. The best part is that it’s dirt cheap! We would share a plate with two drinks for 90,000 rupiah.

Water

We were advised not to drink any tap water unless it was boiled first. Bottled water is available everywhere and it’s cheap. We bought large bottles for 4,500 rupiah.

People

Everyone we encountered in Ubud was extremely friendly. A couple of times I caught people glaring at me but as soon as I flashed a smile I would get one back.

Our day trip to Gunung Kawi temple in Tampaksiring, Bali, Indonesia.

We spotted this sweet old ibu precariously balanced on a stool, trying to cut down a fairly large tree branch with a handsaw. Matt decided to jump in and give her a hand! She was so grateful for the help she offered him a bottle of water and a photo memento!

Roads

Most of the roads in Ubud were freshly paved with minimal potholes. The only problem we had were the small shoulders; you feel like you are in the way of traffic with cars and mopeds zipping by you.

Bike Route

The only long bike trip we took in Ubud was up to Mt. Batur. The road was steep and there was nothing to see, so we don’t recommend our route.

Transportation

When we didn’t feel like riding our bikes we would rent a scooter for 50,000 rupiah a day, or take a taxi. Taxi’s are everywhere in Ubud. You will constantly be offered a taxi while walking down any main road in the city. They are relatively inexpensive as long as you know how to haggle. We took an hour and a half ride from the Denpasar airport to Ubud for 250,000 rupiah. When we needed a ride down the hill to the Ubud Clinic when Haley had a particularly high fever (a 2 minute drive), a cab driver offered to do it for 50,000 rupiah. I said 10,000, and he said yes.

Our day trip to Gunung Kawi temple in Tampaksiring, Bali, Indonesia.

Cell Phone Service

We used IndoSat IM3. The SIM card was 120,000 rupiah, and we added 245,000 rupiah worth of credits (pulsa). This lasted us at least 3 weeks, even after making several calls home to the US. If you run out of pulsa or they expire, you have a month to purchase more or your SIM card will deactivate. We did not buy internet service, so we aren’t sure how to set that up. Dial *555# to check your credits

Good to Know

Toilets

Most restaurants and shops in Ubud have western toilets… but not all. You will run into places where the porcelain bowl is ground level, and instead of toilet paper you will find a bucket and ladle. Here’s what you do:

  1. The first and most important step… bring your own toilet paper!
  2. Use the bathroom (it will involve a deep squat).
  3. Don’t put any used TP in the toilet! There should be a small wastebasket nearby. Now you know what it’s for.
  4. Ladle water into the toilet to flush (it will take about 6-10 pours).
  5. Wash your hands. Sinks with soap are usually outside of the stall.

Both the Muslim and Hindu faiths consider the left hand ‘unclean’, as traditionally this is the hand used to clean oneself in the toilet. So when you eat and if you ever shake someone’s hand or hand something to someone it is polite to use your right hand.

Indonesian Toilet

Haggle

Most shops and taxi’s will start with a high price. Don’t be afraid to haggle, it’s part of the culture of Bali. Haley’s aunt, Ketut, would always negotiate for lower prices with no exceptions. That being said, you’re not visiting Indonesia to exploit poverty, so don’t be rude and aggressive about it. You will get a sense of what a fair price is the more time you spend in the country.

Words/Phrases to Know

General

Ya Yes
Tidak No
Terima kasih Thank you
Sama sama You’re welcome
Bagus dapat jumpa kamu Nice to meet you
Bisa Can
Boleh May/Permitted
Apa What?
Ada Have
Berapa harganya? How much?
Minta May I have
Dimana Where?
Kamar kecil Toilet
Bagus Good
Nama saya My name is
Saya mau I would like
Terlalu mahal It is too expensive
Sedikit Just a little

Addressing Elders

Ibu Mrs.
Pak or Bapak Mr.

Eating

Makan Eat
Makanan Food
Enak Delicious
Nasi Rice
Mie Noodles
Sayur Vegetables
Buah Fruit
Biskuit Cookie
Ayam Chicken
Daging Beef
Babi Pork
Ikan Fish
Bakar Barbecue/Grilled
Cantik (c=”ch”) Beautiful
Minuman Drink
Air Water
Jeruk Orange juice
Kelapa Coconut
Teh Tea
Kopi Coffee
Panas Hot
Ais Ice
Keras Strong
O Sugar, No Milk
Kosong Nothing, Zero
Satu Lagi One more
Lapar Hungry
Haus Thirsty

Greetings

Selamat Pagi Good Morning
Selamat Sore Good Afternoon
Selamat Malam Goodnight
Selamat Jalan Goodnight
Sampai Jumpa Lagi I’ll see you later
Apa Kabar? How are you?

Numbers

1 Satu
2 Dua
3 Tiga
4 Empat
5 Lima
6 Enam
7 Tujuh
8 Delapan
9 Sembilan
10 Sepuluh
11 Sebelas
12 Dua belas
13 Tiga belas
14 Empat belas
15 Lima belas
16 Enam belas
17 Tujuh belas
18 Delapan belas
19 Sembilan belas
20 Dua puluh
21 Dua puluh satu
100 Seratus
200 Dua ratus
1,000 Seribu
2,000 Dua ribu
10,000 Sepuluh ribu
20,000 Dua puluh ribu
100,000 Seratus ribu
200,000 Dua ratus ribu
1,000,000 Sejuta
2,000,000 Dua juta

Examples

We probably aren’t getting the language absolutely perfect, but if you follow along with these examples, we promise you people will at least understand what you mean, which is a start!

Selamat pagi! Good morning!
Nama saya Matt. My name is Matt.
Apa nama kamu? What’s your name?
Bagus dapat jumpa kamu. Nice to meet you.
Apa kabar? How are you?
Baik. Fine.
Apa kamu mau? What do you want?
Saya sedikit lapar… Ada mie goreng? I’m a little hungry… Do you have fried noodles?
Tidak ada mie. No, I don’t have noodles.
Ok, apa itu? What’s that?
Ikan bakar. Kamu mau? Barbecue fish. You want it?
Ok. Minta satu teh o panas, satu kopi keras dan satu air kelapa? Ok. Can I please have one hot tea with sugar, one strong coffee and one coconut water?
Boleh! Okay!
Berapa harganya semua? How much for everything?
Dua puluh ribu. 20,000 rupiah.
Ok. Dimana kamar kecil? Ok. Where is the toilet?
Di sana. Over there.
Terima kasih. Thank you.
Sama sama. Your welcome.