Slow Travel Indonesia: Going Beyond the Hotspots

Perhaps my personal favorite so far, Indonesia has proven on multiple occasions to be nothing short of spectacular. The only downside is – we’ve only seen so little of it still! Nevertheless, between two trips to Bali, including various destinations, and visiting Lombok, we’ve collected a little bit to at least get you started if you’re considering visiting some of the go-to destinations. With a focus on budget travel and taking it easy, this blog is the right place to start if you’re looking for a straightforward beginner’s guide on how to slow travel Indonesia. We include destinations like Bali and Lombok for starters, aimed at those who travel at a relaxed pace and try to immerse themselves into local culture.

Transportation and Getting Around

Indonesia is huge and consists of thousands of islands. Depending on where you are, the infrastructure may be better or worse. In any case, adjusting your expectations of how long getting from A to B should take is the first step to avoid being stressed out. Allow yourself plenty of time to travel between places, whether it be by boat, plane or bus. It is not uncommon for motor traffic to be very slow, for instance, as well as for boats do have delays. As a general rule of thumb, I would advise to mentally allow yourself a full day of engagement when you’re switching to anywhere further than 60 km away. That doesn’t mean that the ride will be that long: but including getting picked up, arriving in the new town, getting accommodation, settling in… the day will be gone before you know it.

Transport Tickets

Unless you’re flying, you can purchase pretty much any type of ticket with cash at a transport ticket counter. There are countless arrangements available, depending on where you’re headed: boat and car, boat and van, boat and plane, etc. Train transit is mainly concentrated on Java, so, on Bali, Lombok and many other smaller islands you’ll be dependant on one of the aforementioned options.
Haggling is common, even for transport (except for the few official bus companies like Perama, for instance, operating into and out of Kuta, Bali). For instance, generally advertised prices online for transfer from Bali to the Gili Islands (with the option to book online, of course) go for abou 1 million Rupiah for a return ticket. However, you can half that price when you buy your ticket from an actual merchant, with jut a bit of negotiation.

Destination Guide to Indonesia Slow Travel

Having visited only a small portion of this beautiful country, our slow travel Indonesia tips are sill comparatively limited. However, we will be adding destinations when (not if) we visit again. Here are our initial destinations:

Kuta, Bali

Usually the first point of entry if you’re flying into Denpasar, Kuta is an exaggeration of Indonesian tourism. Saturated with hotels, eateries and traffic, this town is more known for its nonstop parties and hectic streets than for an authentic Balinese experience. Take a look at our stay in Kuta, Bali to find out if it’s a destination or rather a necessary stopover.

Padang Padang

A general area, rather than a village or town, our stay in Padang Padang beach and its surroundings was marred by reduced mobility since we didn’t have a scooter. Curious whether you should visit if you’re not a confident Vespa driver? Then read on about our Padang Padang experience.


Ubud seems to be the word on everyone’s lips when it comes to yoga, relaxation, and the proverbial ‘finding yourself’ business. However, I encourage you to peek behind the cliché, swerve the yoga retreats and ‘organic’ eateries (hint, pretty much every eatery, especially family-owned ones, is locally sourced), and explore the vibrant local culture, food and nature. Find out how we spent our time in lush Balinese region in this Ubud travel guide, including accommodation tips and budget activities.

Gili Islands

Located just a short-ish boat ride from Bali and perfect a variety of activities and some downtime, the Gili Islands are the first major destination for those who want to venture beyond the crowded Bali. We’ve seen all three islands, and picked clear favourites, ideal for slow travel. Which one is it gonna be for you – Gili Air, Meno or Trawangan?

Kuta, Lombok

Light years away, atmosphere-wise, from Kuta, Bali, the ‘other’ Kuta on the neighboring island Lombok offers a unique and relaxed feel and more authentic insights to local lifestyle. Head here if you want to enjoy gorgeous and not so crowded beaches, amazing food, and a somewhat rustic, surfer vibe.

Currency and Price Level

The local currency is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR), and it will make you feel like a millionaire. Why? Because you’ll be working with roughly 14,000-15,000 IRD to 1 Euro, meaning: get used to very high numbers. Unlike in Thailand, banks don’t impose any blanket fees for foreign cards, so you just need to be aware of the rules and restrictions imposed your bank/credit card issuer.

When it comes to spending, if you keep your eyes open, you’ll see a wide range of prices for anything from fruit shakes to accommodation. Of course, there are a lot of tourist traps. To avoid those, I would recommend to stop comparing the prices to what you spend at home, and, instead, compare the prices to other local establishments. Sure there’s no need to get obsessive over 50 cents; however, if someone is trying to sell you a wooden carving for 1.5 million IDR, examine other sellers before you buy because you can surely get it for half the price, if not less. Brush up your haggling skills and you’ll be fine!

Leave a Reply