In general traveling in Indonesia or other Asian countries is quite cheap. Just one “small” detail – you need to have time. Like some destinations are quite far from each other (even if in the map looks closer) and the cheapest way of traveling is by land.
One of the most popular destinations in Indonesia – Bali island. But people try to travel around and not stay only in Bali. Most common that travelers fly to Jakarta, then through Java island (visiting Yogyakarta, Mount Bromo and Ijen) reach Bali. There people stay longer or go to other islands (Lombok, Komodo, Gilis and etc.).
The economical way to go from Yogyakarta to Bali is take “economi” train (yes, they have other train types as well – Executive (Eksecutif), Business (Bisnis)). The cheapest way would be hitch-hiking, but not all people likes it and most of travelers have limited time for holidays.
Technically you can’t get from Yogyakarta to Bali only by train because it’s 2 separate islands (Yogyakarta is in Java island). With train from Java you can reach only Java island port. From there you still need to use ferry to get to Bali harbor and use other transport (bus, taxi, car, motorbike) to get to any city in Bali island.
So, how to travel from Yogyakarta to Bali in economical way?
Take “economi” train from Yogyakarta Lempuyangan railway station. It leaves every day in early morning. Journey takes 13-15 hours. Cost 1 way/per person 100 000 Rp (~7,5 USD).
From Banyuwangi Baru railway station go straight to Ketapang port (it’s ~10 min. by foot from train station).
Take a ferry from Ketapang port to Bali Gilimanuk harbor. Ferries goes 24 hours. It takes ~40 min. (can be less or more, depends on the “traffic” in the sea). Cost 1 way/per person 7 500 Rp (~0,55 USD).
From Bali Gilimanuk harbor catch other transportation to go to needed Bali city. For that you have couple options:
In the ferry look around if there are any cars with 1-2 people or motorbikes with 1 person. Go to ask those people if they could bring you to any city in Bali (depends on their own destinations, but most probably they will go to Denpasar, Ubud or Kuta). As well you can see buses – go to talk with a driver if there are any free seat for you (but for this they will ask extra money. Amount depends on the driver, so you can try to negotiate with him).
If you feel too shy/uncomfortable to speak with local people – you can try to catch a bus in Bali harbor, just nobody knows exact night bus timings. Maybe you will need to wait 1 hour maybe till the morning. The bus stop is on the right side after you will exit harbor (but most of the time drivers already try to catch travelers in harbor and invite them to follow). But it’s not so nice to stay in empty harbor. There are few “warungs” (“street cafes”) which works all night long but sometimes people there a bit strange and you can feel uncomfortable there. Usually bus takes to Denpasar 3-5 hours (depends on bus type, one stopping in each corner to collect people, other – go straight to Denpasar). Price from Bali Gilimanuk harbor to Denpasar cost 1 way/per person 30 000-50 000 Rp (~2,16-3,60 USD) depends how good you are in bargain :) But at night price can be a bit higher.
Pros for traveling from Yogyakarta to Bali by train
It’s the cheapest way (not counting hitchhiking) to get to Bali.
You can see beautiful nature and local people daily life views through the window on the way from Yogyakarta to Bali.
You don’t need to worry about oversize backpack, there are no limitations for stuff that you take with you.
If you are friendly, curious person, during the trip you can speak with local people and know them better. They will spend all 13 hours with you, so would love to chat as well.
There are power sockets, so if you have laptop with you – can “kill” your time with watching movies or do other things.
On the way to Bali, you can stop in Probolinggo and visit Bromo, Ijen. Later can continue your trip to Bali by bus.
Cons for traveling from Yogyakarta to Bali by train
“Economi” train stops in almost every train station. As well they called “polite trains” – “economi” train stops and always allow the “faster” trains to pass by. Also there are stops, where train stop for longer time (for example in Surabaya stop for 30 min.). So, this train not the best for those whose stay in Indonesia short.
If you want to buy cheapest economic train ticket (especially during local holidays, weekends) you should do it at least 1 week in advance. Before/during/after Ramadhan even couple weeks before. Like many Indonesians will go back to visit their families and it’s the cheapest way for them to do that. Yes, you can try your luck by buying ticket in the train station day before or couple hours before departure, but it’s very rare be so lucky :).
If you don’t like to get a lot of attention – traveling by economic train – not for you. Most of the local people who is traveling by train rare see foreigners, so they are very curious. They can stare at you all the time, try to talk with you. And if you will be “lucky” – kids will stuck around you and will make pictures of you. In other hand it can be pros as well – you have possibility 13 hours to know Indonesian people better, “kill” your time.
Most of the seats are made for 2 or 3 people, but there is no separation. So if you can’t stand that all journey somebody will touch you – don’t choose travel by such train.
If you are too sensitive for kids scream, noises, different food smells – as well don‘t choose this train. Mostly people in the train feels and behave like at home.
The train will delay all the time. So even if official trip duration is 13 hours. It can delay till ~2 hours.
Tips for traveling from Yogyakarta to Bali by train (ferry and bus)
In economic train is working air-condition (or can be fans), so even if outside will be hot, inside will be colder. Take something to cover yourself.
There are simple squat toilets but no toilet paper so have it with you.
In the train there is café and time to time guys are coming with some snacks, food, hot drinks – but don’t expect anything luxury :D. Better to buy water, snacks before the trip – will be cheaper and can eat when you want without waiting for the sellers.
There are power sockets, so during the trip you can charge your equipment, but don’t forget that other will do the same. Don’t leave your charger all trip long :).
Come to the train at least 40 min. before departure. Then you will have chance to put your bags above your head. Later all places will be fully complete with local people stuffs (ant they will have a lot off them :)).
Have small bag with you, where you will have all needed things for journey. Like every time go up and take something from big bag will be not comfortable.
Keep eye on your stuff during the stops. Even if people not allowed to enter train station are without showing the ticket, still some sellers from outside get inside the train.
In Banyuwangi train station, many taxi drivers will suggest to take you to the port. But it’s no need – it’s so near. Except if you have a lot of stuff and don’t want take them by yourself.
Before getting inside the bus be sure to which bus station they will arrive. Sometimes different buses goes to different stations in Denpasar.
If you have chance, don’t sit in the end of the bus, it’s a place for people who is going short distances. Of course you can sit there, just won’t be comfortable when around you will put many boxes, other travelers stuffs, people will ask you to move and etc.
How to by train ticketfrom Yogyakarta to Bali
You can buy straight in Yogyakarta Lempuyangan railway station (need to have your ID).
You can buy in “Indomaret” supermarket. You just need to have your ID, tell for the cashier where, when you want to go. She/he will print the check with your trip details. Usually for this service they charge extra 7 5000 Rp but as well most of the time they make some advertising, like “buy ticket – get free drink” or no charge fee and etc. (every time it’s different offer). But this check is only reservation – at least 1 hour before departure you should come to train station and change this check to the real ticket.
You can buy ticket online in Indonesian railway website (only in Indonesian language, but navigation quite easy and main words you can find in google translator :)). Here, after reservation, you should buy ticket during 24 hours (you can do it “Indomaret”, “Alfamart” and other supermarkets (it the end of reservation will be shown the the list) or show reservation letter in train station, you will get it to your email).
You can buy ticket online in private agency Tiket. There is everything written in English so much easier to buy. But they can charge small fee for service. As well in this website you can book hotel, rent a car. Sometimes I find there cheap flights inside Indonesia.
If you will decide to travel to other places in Indonesia by train, here is more information about other train routes.
How I traveled from Yogyakarta to Bali by train?
I traveled by train twice. First time, we decided not to go straight to the ferry but stay overnight in the hostel that we found in the train station area. We went to Bali next morning. Second time – I went straight to Bali harbor where my friend pick me up with motorbike. But believe me it was very tiring and long journey. We reach Sanur only at 6 am (took ~5 hours go by motorbike).
If you will decide to stay overnight in Banyuwangi as well. We stayed in simple place. Nothing fancy, rooms are small, without proper windows. One type rooms have shared bathroom (cost 75 000 Rp), others – private (price 100 000 Rp) per night. In this place they don’t make any reservation. Who comes first get a bed. It’s clean place but made just for overnight stay. In the morning you can order coffee, breakfast for additional money.
I met one traveler who told that he stays in other place for 45 000 Rp but I don’t know exactly where that place is, as well at night I didn’t want to search for it :). But here you can see other places to stay.
Hostel in Ketapang port, where we stayed.
If you want to make your trip more memorable and you have extra time, I suggest on the way to Bali stop in Bromo and Ijien volcanoes. It will be things that for sure you won’t forget. Just check Lili’s practical guide to Kawah Ijen and enjoy your journey!
What is your experience traveling by trains in Asia? Would you recommend it for other travelers?
I like to book via Airbnb while I’m traveling because it helps me to save some money. As well it makes me feel like at home. For example, if I stay in a flat I can cook there and do other things that I usually can’t do in the hostels, guest houses. Also you can find some authentic places to stay, be a bit closer to a local culture. Here you can check more my pros and cons about staying or renting through Airbnb.
If you are new with Airbnb, I suggest to try it at least once and see by yourself if it suitable for you. But before booking via Airbnb you should pay attention in some things that I learned during my experience. I believe that these tips can save you a bit money and will help you avoid surprises.
How to start use Airbnb?
Create informative profile and verify it. Some hosts may not accept you’re booking if you don’t have a verified profile. You want to book a place with host who tells more about himself? Host wants to know more about people which he will let inside his home as well.
TIP: you can check places in Airbnb (see the prices, free days in calendar and etc.) without signing in, but some of the functions you won’t be able to use.
You sign in. What’s next?
Write your destination, how many days you want to stay and how many people will be (in search box that appears in the Airbnb landing page). You will get all results that suit your search request.
Now you can mark, choose, use all filters to get only those results that fit exact your needs: choose room type, price range that you want to pay for a stay. Click “More filters” and check all boxes that are important for you. Then click “Apply filters”. You will get all results in the list that suits your search. Also all those places will be marked in the map on the right side of the list. So you can easily see which place is in which part of the city/island and etc.
TIP: in the right-bottom of the page you can change the currency and language. All search result information will be given by currency, language you want.
What you should pay attention first before booking via Airbnb?
When you will get all list that match your detailed search, choose some hosts that you like.
Check the pictures of the place – is it exactly what you are searching for?
Read the reviews about the place – but be objective reading them. People’s understanding of cleanliness, distance and etc. can be different from yours. But those reviews can give you general impression of the place. As well what I like in Airbnb – reviews appears only when both sides (guest and host) write them. So if guest wrote bad review, host don’t know it till he will write review about guest – there can’t be “revenge” – you wrote bad, I read and I will write bad about you as well.
Check the profile of the host – you will find there information that host provides about himself, picture, guests reviews and list of other places that he rents (can be that host have several different apartments or renting more rooms in the same house but with different conditions). I had experience in Oslo, when the couple was renting 2 their rooms – one was bigger and more expensive, other – smaller and cheaper. I didn’t know that because I didn’t check the listing of the host, so I booked bigger one when the smaller was free as well. At that time I could save a bit more money. But it’s my lesson that I learned for next Airbnb booking.
TIP: if you like several places add them to wish-list (button under the calendar – see the picture above). If during booking via Airbnb process something won’t work out with your choose place, you won’t need to start the new search and spend again your time. You can pick the places from your wish-list and contact those hosts.
Places that you picked match your needs? Check other important things
Till you won’t make booking via Airbnb you won’t see exact address but it will be shown rough area where it is. Usually the host in the place description writes distances till main tourist objects. If not, sometimes you can find this information in guests reviews.
Check carefully host information about the place. What is the place rules, check-in, check-out time, booking cancellation policy (different hosts can have different cancellation rules), is it easy to get to the place with local transportation, what kind of equipment host provides and everything else that is written
You should know that host can put different prices depending on the dates. For example on weekend or holidays the price can be higher than on low season. When in the first search step you add dates you want to stay, the prices already shown of those dates. But if you will decide to change the dates, the price can be different. As well Airbnb take some service fee – it can be different amount depends on duration of your stay, the booking price. Some hosts as well put extra fee for cleaning, extra bed and etc. (even if you selected that will be 1 guest and later change your mind – will come 2 people, the price can be not exactly just double, but even more). Sometimes depends on some countries rules, can be added even special tax fee. So final sum can be a bit different that was shown in the beginning.
Some hosts allow you to book the place instant (please, check the first photo, I marked it near the price). In this case you don’t need to get any approval from host. You like the place, rules and etc. you just book it.
If the place doesn’t have instant booking, after you will make reservation, the host during 24 hours can accept it or reject. Yes, sometimes even if you choose free dates in calendar host can cancel booking without any explanation (maybe he doesn’t find information in your profile, maybe he didn’t update calendar and those dates already booked).
Different hosts can choose different cancellation policy. Before booking via Airbnb be sure about your will to stay there, dates. If you will change your mind and the host has strict cancellation policy you will lose some of your money, if it’s flexible cancellation policy – only Airbnb won’t return their fee but other money will be refund to your account.
CONTACT THE HOST
If in place photo you saw that something is missing what you need or you didn’t find information in the description – before booking via Airbnb, contact the host and ask what is important for you. As well if you need something extra to be prepared for you, you can ask host if he can organize it. If it’s not written and you didn’t ask but expected that something will be – don’t be disappointed. The host provides all information that he thinks it’s important, but for you can be important something else.
People are different and different things matter for them, but I usually ask such things (if don’t find it it in description):
What is in the neighborhood? Who is living around? Is there are any noisy bars, busy streets around?
How far is the public transportation stop?
Will I have separate set of keys? Will my room where I will stay have a lock?
Is there is coffee, sugar that I could use?
Will be there any other guests during my stay (if I’m renting a room in several rooms apartment)?
TIPS: some hosts give discounts if you stay longer – for a week or month (it’s written in place description). I never tried but I know that you can contact the host and negotiate the price as well. Even if he don’t give the discount for longer stay – you can ask for it.
Time for booking!
Final step from your side – click the “Request to book” and booking process will start.
The booking should be accepted or rejected by host during 24 hours otherwise the system without host approval will reject it automatically. If it will happen – no worries – you still have other places that you liked in your wish-list.
When host will approve your booking you will get email with all information. The phone number of the host, most of the time the exact place address (if you won’t receive it – ask from host).
After booking is accepted your money won’t go straight to the host account. Airbnb will “keep” it till your end of the stay. So if something will be not exactly how was agreed and etc., you can claim for Airbnb, they will inspect the case and if you are right – they will return your money back.
Keep in touch with host – before coming agree the time and how you will meet, how you will get the keys and etc.
What else you should know about booking via Airbnb?
Not only local people rents their homes, sometimes you can find hostels, guest houses and etc. who suggest to stay in their place. If you find such – before booking via Airbnb, check their prices in other websites, for example Agoda, Booking, Hotelscombine and etc. Maybe in these websites have extra discount or even better price (you can see below one of examples of different prices of the same place).
Sometimes it happens that the host cancels the booking even couple days before you arrive. Not nice, but no worries, try to contact other hosts from your wish-list.
If the host asks you to pay in cash or make a transfer straight to his account – never do it. If something will go wrong, Airbnb won’t protect you or refund your money. All renting through Airbnb should be done only by their system.
If you found amazing place, the price looks extremely cheap and there is no review yet, be vigilant, maybe something is not right. You can just save picture of the place on your desktop and add it to google search. If it’s not real place or the picture is stolen you will find it in google. In this case you can report Airbnb that somebody try to cheat.
Don’t book the place instead of your friends, because if something will happen you will take the responsibility for it (because you booked the place).
Using Airbnb doesn’t mean that the host will be all the time around. The host can help you as much as he can but don’t expect that he will become your guide.
After your stay don’t forget to leave the honest review that could be useful for future guests.
Let’s see quickly in practice how to choose the best place, for example inBali
In price range I choose the cheapest places (9-20 EUR/per night). The result – more than 300 offers. I pick randomly 4 of them.
No air condition, now parking (but if you want to reach this place you need to drive a motorbike).
This room by itself doesn’t have reviews yet, but host in general has 160 reviews.
If you click for host listing he offers 10 different rooms in the same villa just conditions are different. For example, other rooms have air condition, strict cancellation policy, check-in, check-out times, free parking and etc.
Even if the price written 9 EUR/per night, already in March all dates are with higher price. No matter 1 or 2 guests the price the same 10 EUR/per night. Service fee – extra 1 EUR. In total for 2 people will cost 11 EUR/per night.
Already from the name you see that it’s not a person’s home it’s guest house with breakfast, 24 hour check-in, but no WI-FI (just simple internet).
You can book it instantly.
The prices changes to higher after April.
If you click for host listing, he offers 10 different places in Ubud. From guest houses to hotels and villas. I hope I won’t offend anyone but renting via Airbnb it’s this person business.
Like it’s guest house I found their offer in Booking. The same dates for 2 people there costs 12 EUR/per night. But they charge extra 2 EUR for breakfast. As well in booking.com written check-in/check-out times, in Airbnb it’s not mentioned. If you would like to rent this place – this time booking via Airbnb is cheaper (except if you have some discounts in Booking or rewards that you can use and get better price).
Vietnam is one of Southeast Asia countries which I really want to visit again. I was there only for 2 weeks but I easily felt in love with Vietnam. I believe you will be in love with this country as well.
But before starting to enjoy time in Vietnam, you first of all need to take care of your Vietnam visa. This is what you need to know:
Who need Vietnam visa?
Many countries travelers need a visa for Vietnam. Only under bilateral or unilateral visa exemption agreements granted by the Vietnam government don’t need it.
Under bilateral visa exemption agreement citizens of:
Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia – has free 30 days visa exemption;
Philippines – has free 21 days visa exemption;
Brunei and Myanmar – has free 14 days visa exemption.
Under unilateral visa exemption agreement citizens of:
Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Belarus – has free 15 days visa exemption.
The difference between bilateral visa exemption agreement and the unilateral one is that those under the former one can always visit Vietnam with visa exemption provided that their stay in the country is no longer than their exempted duration.
Citizens from the countries not mentioned in the list above, can visit Vietnam with visa exemption if their arrival date does not fall within 30 days from exit date of their last visit to the country.
If you are not from the country listed above. What should you do?
You need to obtain the visa for Vietnam. There are 2 ways:
Get visa via Vietnam embassy in your country or nearest country that has Vietnam embassy;
Get a Vietnam visa on arrival (VOA).
Which visa is better? I will give a brief guide for you.
Vietnam embassy visa
This option will provide you a full visa beforehand. The issuing authority in this case is the Vietnam embassy.
Required documents: Normally, you will need to submit your original passport and a copy of completed application form. The form you need to download from the embassy to which you will submit your documents. Some embassies can also ask you to submit flight ticket, and other documents. So, you should contact them in advance for details.
How to submit: The embassy may accept application documents submitted in person, by post or by a third party with letter of authorization. But not all act in these ways. So, you are once more recommended to contact them for details.
Processing time: Normally, visa will be processed by the embassy during 5-7 working days. Sometimes, you may get it expedited faster paying extra amount of money.
The advantage and disadvantage of Vietnam embassy visa
Having visa already stamped onto your passport before your departure to Vietnam.
Applicable to travelers to Vietnam by any means of transport.
Making one-time payment for visa fee at Vietnam embassy.
Parting with your original passport.
Having to drive to the nearest embassy or send documents by post.
Dealing directly with Vietnam embassies.
Various visa fees and procedures at different Vietnam embassies.
Taking up to 3 days to get response for your emails.
Making visa to Vietnam via Vietnam embassy I suggest for those who are traveling to Vietnam through borders crossing and have enough time to wait till visa will be made. While for those traveling to Vietnam by air, I recommend Vietnam visa on arrival.
Vietnam visa on arrival (VOA)
In my opinion, this option is much more convenient, but for air travelers only. If you travel to land or cruise, you need to get visa from Vietnam embassy.
Unlike with Vietnam embassy visa, with visa on arrival, you will not get the full visa beforehand. You will get only the visa approval letter (it will be issued by the Vietnam Immigration Department via a travel agent), which will let you board the flight and get visa stamped upon arrival at Vietnam airport. But REMEMBER you need to get the Vietnam visa approval letter before departure as without it, in airport you can’t continue processing Vietnam visa on arrival.
Required documents: None at all for application.
How to submit: With Vietnam visa on arrival VOA, you only need to fill out an online form for visa approval letter. You can submit an online form for visa approval letter. This whole process is completed online. You just need fill travel and contact information an pay issuing fee with your debit/credit card. Don’t forget to fill this form at least week before you are planning to enter Vietnam.
Processing time: Within 2 working days from your submission of application form and payment of service fee, you will get the visa approval letter processed and sent to our email. You will need to print it before going to Vietnam and bring it to immigration office in airport. And then you will need approximately 15-30 minutes at Vietnam airport to get visa stamped into passport.
You can speed up processing of visa approval letter (even within 2-4 working hours) with a bit more money.
The advantage and disadvantage of Vietnam visa on arrival
No need to send your original passport away.
A complete online process – short time for Vietnam visa application.
No dealing with immigration agency. Agents deal with them on your behalf.
Especially convenient for those who are currently staying far away.
You know how much you pay at once.
You get prompt response and help online.
Queuing in front of Immigration counter at arrival airports in Vietnam to get visa stamp.
Possibly having names of other people on your approval letter.
Foreigners can’t apply for Vietnam visa on arrival themselves, the application must go through authorized travel agencies in Vietnam or organizations.
If you decided to make Vietnam visa on arrival and looking for further assistance, I recommend to check vietnam-visa.com with whom I have partnered preparing this post. This company already working more than 10 years providing Vietnam visa on arrival service, has only positive feedback and can be reached by hotline 24/7.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
Have you ever made any visa online? What was your experience?
Is Vietnam in your bucketlist? What you would like to see, do or try there?