After more than 10 years, my family were finally able to go on a vacation together. Considering our limited resources, we decided to go to Indonesia.Our main destinations are Jakarta and Bandung, both on Java Island. Here I would like to share several observations that hopefully would help anybody planning to visit the republic, in the areas of money.
1) Wise Luggage Choice
We were surprised to find how willing the locals were at the airports to help load our luggages into the van. However, my father was quick to point out to all of us, NOT to allow them to do so. These helpers come at a cost. They are not helpful for no reason, and they will persistently push you for payment after helping you with your luggages, and insist that it is not adequate with the weight that they had lifted.
Therefore, it is highly recommended to use a roller luggage when you are travelling. They are much more convenient to carry around and therefore eliminates the need for assistance.
2) Know Your Currency Conversion Factor
Firstly, it is very important to shop around for the best conversion rate whenever you get your Rupiah. Personal Money in their November 2007 issue highlighted several Bureau de Change that offers the best rates and how to get the most out of your money for your perusal.
Secondly, now that you have your Rupiah, identify the conversion factor. When we exchanged our RM for Rp, Rp 1 000 000 = RM 364. Therefore, the conversion factor was 1000000/364, which is about 2747.25. Let’s round it up to 2750. So, whenever you go shopping and if you need a quick check on how much the item is worth in Malaysia, simply pop your calculator, and divide the X amount of Rupiah by the conversion factor, which in this case is 2750.
For example, a shirt priced at Rp89,500. Divide that by 2750, and you’ll know that it costs about RM 32.55
3) Be Nice To Your Tour Guide & Miscellaneous Spending
We were traveling in a group of nine, and we had tour guide/driver that drives us around and from city to city. I didn’t know what to make of his suggestions upon several places that we should visit, considering how familiar my parents are with the republic. It turns out that the agency/tour guide have an arrangement with those places.
Turns out, that is how the tour guide makes his living. He receives, or to be more accurate, he can claim some rewards from the shops that we shopped at the restaurants we dined in.
Another miscellaneous spending to keep in mind when planning your travel to Indonesia, is the unofficial street tolls/vendors that you might have to pay. Sometimes, in order to avoid the traffic congestions, the driver would take us into the villages, and the locals would be stationed every 30 meters or so, asking for ‘donations’. For the sake of your family, do pay!
However, when you are in the city and are stuck in traffic, it is not compulsory to pay the walking street performers or vendors. Some would be more persistent than the rest because they can smell tourists from a distance.
4) Location & Price
Prices of things vary from place to place, especially food. The price for Nasi Padang, famous for its variety would vary if you’re dining right in the center of Jakarta compared to Cengkareng.
So do keep that in mind ya?
5) Bargain Like There’s No Tomorrow
NEVER, EVER utter words such as so cheap! If so, you are at their mercy. Be a hardball, don’t be afraid to walk away if you think the item is too pricey…, more often than not two things would happen:
a) the shopkeeper would finally agree to lower the price according to yours.
b) you’ll find the same item in the store next door or one of the stores in the vicinity.
Also, if you find a good enough bargain, grab it! Don’t expect to get a better deal in Jakarta, or any other city you’re stopping by afterwards. You can’t win all the time. At least, minimize your losses. Trust me, when you find out that the same item cost more, or twice in the next city, you’ll start kicking yourself over that missed opportunity.
6) Cash is King
Be reminded that not every outlet in Indonesia accepts credit cards. There have been numerous stories where tourists, often wealthy and not such big fans of carrying too much cash around went to Indonesia, had a great meal at Puncak (which involves 17 dishes or so). Unfortunately when it comes to paying time, the restaurant back then do not receive credit cards payment…..
Indonesian businesses prefer to be paid instantly. This reduces the need to deal with the bank when it comes to credit payment. So unless you are staying in a five star hotel with very little movement outside the city, carry sufficient amount of cash for your perusal.
Hope these six tips help.