After more than 10 years, my family finally managed to go on vacation together. Given 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 some observations that I hope will help anyone planning to visit the Republic in the areas of money.
1) Wise choice of luggage
We were surprised to find how much the locals want to be at the airports to help us pack our luggage in the van. However, my father was quick to point out all of us, NOT to let them do it. These helpers come at a cost. They are of no use for no reason, and they will urge you to pay after they have helped you with your luggage, and insist that it is not adequate with the weight they have been lifting.
Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you use rolling luggage when traveling. They are much more comfortable to carry and therefore eliminate the need for help.
2) Know your currency conversion factor
First, it's very important to shop around for the best conversion rate every time you get your Rupee. The personal money in their November 2007 issue highlighted several Currency exchange bureau which offers the best prices and how to get the most out of your money for your research.
Secondly, now that you have your Rupee, determine your conversion rate. When we exchanged RM to Rp, Rp 1 000 000 = RM 364. Consequently, the conversion rate was 1000000/364, which is about 2747.25. Let it round to 2750. So when you go shopping and if you need a quick check on how much this item costs in Malaysia, just drop your calculator and divide X by Rupiah for the conversion rate, which in this case is 2750.
For example, a shirt priced at Rp89,500. Divide this by 2750 and you will know that it costs around RM32.55
3) Be nice to your guide and miscellaneous expenses
We were traveling in a group of nine and had a tour guide / driver who took us around town and out of town. I didn't know what to make of his suggestions in the few places we had to visit, given how familiar my parents were with the republic. It turns out that the agency / guide has an appointment with these places.
It turns out that this is how the guide earns his living. He gets, or to be more precise, he may ask for some rewards from the shops we bought at the restaurants we dined at.
Another expense to keep in mind when planning your trip to Indonesia is the unofficial street tax / seller fees you may have to pay. Sometimes, to avoid traffic jams, the driver will take us to the villages and locals will be located every 30 meters or so, asking for donations. For the sake of your family, pay!
However, when you're in the city and stuck in traffic, you don't necessarily have to pay pedestrian street performers or sellers. Some would be more stubborn than others because they can smell tourists from a distance.
4) Location and price
Prices for things vary from place to place, especially food. The price for Nasi Padang, known for its variety, will vary if you dine right in the center of Jakarta compared to Cengkareng.
So keep that in mind?
5) To bargain like there is no tomorrow
NEVER, NEVER say words as cheap! If so, you are at their mercy. Be firm, do not be afraid to move away if you think the item is too expensive … more often two things would happen:
a) The merchant would finally agree to reduce the price according to yours.
b) You will find the same item in a nearby store or in one of the nearby stores.
Plus, if you find a good enough deal, get it! Don't expect to get a better deal in Jakarta or any other city to stop there again. You can't win all the time. At least minimize your losses. Believe me, when you find out that the same item costs more or twice in the next city, you will start kicking over the missed opportunity.
6) Cash is King
Remember that not every retail outlet in Indonesia accepts credit cards. There are numerous stories where tourists, often affluent and not so big fans of carrying too much money around, went to Indonesia, had great food in Punchak (which includes 17 dishes or so). Unfortunately, when it comes to paying time, the restaurant then does not receive credit card payments …..
Indonesian business prefers to be paid immediately. This reduces the need for a transaction with the bank when it comes to paying with a loan. So unless you're staying in a five-star hotel with very little traffic out of town, bring enough money for your study.
I hope these six tips help you.