Where to Stay in Indonesia: Homestay

How can you get the most out of your Indonesian holiday, save money and get to know local cultures and local people? Stay in a homestay!

Homestays are accommodations offered either in a local person’s home, or in a home-like setting.

Why Stay in a Homestay?

One of the best things about staying in a homestay is that your money goes directly to local people, which has a positive effect on their lives, and can have a positive effect on the environment. Some communities in Indonesia rely on slash and burn agriculture to survive, and tourism can provide an alternative source of income to reduce the threat of deforestation.

Homestays can often help you hire a car and driver, or offer you transportation in between cities or from the airport. They can also organize tours for you or connect you to local tour guides.

View from a Homestay in Indonesia

View from a Homestay in Indonesia

Favourite Homestay Indonesia

My favorite homestay is in Batuputih, North Sulawesi, near Tangkoko Nature Reserve. Ranger Homestay is located a few minutes’ walk from the park entrance. Sakar, who formerly worked with English-speaking NGOs, served as our driver and nature guide during our short stay. He and his daughter Fiona showed us the wonders of the forest: black tail macaques, cuscus, hornbills, tarsiers, and miscellaneous exotic birds. They welcomed us into their village, and even invited us to a family wedding. Ranger Homestay felt like our home away from home, in this small seaside village.

Tangkoko Nature Reserve, Indonesia

Tangkoko Nature Reserve, Indonesia

What to expect when you stay in a homestay

Accommodations are similar to how local people live. In Indonesia, this typically means the furnishings will be sparse (the mattress may be on the floor and dinner may be served on a rug), the toilet may be a squat toilet, and showers may consist of dumping a small bucket of water over your head. While these accommodations might be outside of your comfort zone, you can relax knowing that you’re being taken care of by a local family. Meals are usually included, which is a great way to try out local dishes. Most of the family will probably not speak much English, but don’t worry if you don’t speak Bahasa Indonesia – there is probably a younger relative who speaks good English.

Homestay in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Homestay in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

What to bring

Definitely bring cash. The local ATM might not work, and the homestay will only take payments in cash.

If you’re coming from a cooler climate, bring a sarong or bed sheet. Don’t be surprised if your room comes without a blanket, or with a very thick blanket. It’s best to bring your own sheet for covering up.

In the beautiful small towns of Indonesia where homestays are common, the nightlife can be quite sleepy. Bring a book, a deck of cards, an iPad loaded with movies, or other evening entertainment.

And definitely don’t forget your sense of adventure, and your curiosity! Homestays are a great way to get to know local people and to understand their way of life.

Heather Indonesia Travel Guide
Heather is an American living in Jakarta, surviving the macet and trying to get the most out of life in “the big Durian.” She loves traveling around Indonesia and writing about her discoveries here, and at OurInternationalLife.wordpress.com

Photo credits from top: Becky Stern, Lip Kee and yb_woodstock

Diving Wakatobi National Park, Sulawesi

Wakatobi National Park, a collection of islands that may sound familiar to many but somehow seem elusive to most. It is definitely one of the Top 10 Diving sites in Indonesia, being home to more than 25 coral reefs and 900 marine species.

The name itself Wakatobi is a combination of the four main islands – Wangi-wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia and Binongko. It is surrounded by the southeast Sulawesi district. It is now Wakatobi National Park and therefore actively being conserved. The untouched nature and amazing marine diversity and reefs had attracted many scuba divers from around the world.

The World Wildlife Fund had also been helping out the park management to improve and publicize its biodiversity. WWF released a film about Bajo, the nomadic sea tribe that lives on stilt homes around Wakatobi whom had been touted resourceful for diving with their handmade wooden goggles.

Map of Wakatobi, Sulawesi Indonesia

Map of Wakatobi, Sulawesi

Where is it

Wakatobi lies at the Southeast of Sulawesi, Indonesia. The capital is Wangi-Wangi, and the collection of islands lies in between Banda Sea, to the north and west, and Flores Sea, to the south and east.

Why go

Not only it is a world class diving site with incredible arrays of coral reefs and marine lives, it also have majestic pinnacles, ridges, ledges and overhanging cliffs. Diving here is an adventure itself that will be sure to wow even the most seasoned diver.

Beach at Wakatobi, Sulawesi Indonesia

Beach at Wakatobi, Sulawesi

While the sea is clear blue and serene for snorkeling and swimming. The beach almost deserted and long for quiet walks and peaceful sunbathing. The sunset is unforgettable over the crystal blue sea that seems to stretch endlessly.

The remoteness of the entire region itself is good enough reason to come to Wakatobi, you will be disappointed.

When is the best time to go

Indonesia has tropical weather and only two season of rain or dry. Come during dry season from June to September to maximize your day.

What to see

Sunset at Wakatobi, Sulawesi Indonesia

Sunset at Wakatobi, Sulawesi

Puncak Tomia (mountain) – you can hike up this mountain for a beautiful view of the surrounding islands.

Other notable tourist attractions in Wakatobi is:
Air Terjun Tirta Rimba (waterfall)
Lakasa Cave (goa)
Nirwana beach or Huntete beach
Bukit Kolemo (hill)

Catch the sunrise or sunset at Hoga which is praised for the most panoramic view.

Stargazing at night – the place is perfect with dark nights for sparkling stars.

What to do

Diving – explore the coral reefs and marine species like moray eels, dolphins, manta rays and sea turtles. There are many unexplored parts in the sea for divers with unbroken wall replete filled densely with hard and soft corals. You can do all sorts of adventure diving here and also night diving is notable for its beautfy for example in Marimabuk dive site.

Snorkeling – the calm and clear blue sea is ideal for snorkeling, with enough coral reefs to enjoy as well.

Dolphin watching – you can take the boat out to catch dolphins swimming by.

Island hopping – discover the rest of the islands dotted all over Wakatobi, few notable ones are like the inhabited Ndaa Island (pulau) which has white beach sand and Tomia Island for the best snorkeling spot.

Where to stay

Night Diving, Wakatobi, Sulawesi Indonesia

Night Diving, Wakatobi, Sulawesi

Most travelers will stay in Wangi-Wangi for the ease of transport as it is connected to the rest of the Wakatobi region to Kaledupa, Tomia and Binongo. Also most tourists come here to dive so they may stay in dive resorts which includes all dives and meals and transfers. Else you can choose to sleep in homestays or bungalows and if you want to splurge – luxury eco resorts.

For ease of transportation, the best place to stay is in Wanci on Wangi-Wangi Island *. There is no need to spend a night on the other islands as there is a speedboat or a boat that can take you to other Wakatobi regions, such as the Hoga, Kaledupa, Tomia and Binongo. Prices for accommodation here range from as low as 150,000 Rp to 380,00 Rp for most options.

-> Find available hotels near Wakatobi National Park *

How to get there

By Flight
Most frequent flights will require you to fly to Makassar (Ujung Pandang) or Kendari from major cities in Indonesia and then take a connecting flight directly to Wangi-Wangi. Alternatively, you may fly to Bau Bau (Buton Island) and then take a boat to one of the Wakatobi’s island. Now Lion Air had launched a direct flight from Jakarta to Wangi-wangi but only on certain days.

Wakatobi airport is on the opposite side of the island from the city. From there you would need to get a transport to city either via taxi or ojek which you might need to wait 30 mins for and then take another 30 mins ride into town. An ojek costs about 5,000 Rp to get into city center while a taxi may cost about 250,000 Rp, remember to agree on the price before getting on.

Coral Fan, Diving, Wakatobi, Sulawesi Indonesia

Coral Fan, Diving, Wakatobi, Sulawesi

By Pelni boat / ferry
You can opt for the cheaper backpacker version of travel by taking a 10 hours boat from Makassar to Wakatobi on a pelni boat, it is only once a month at the first week. There is also boat from Bau-Bau to Wangi-Wangi, everyday departing at Murhum Harbor.

How to get around

To move between the islands of Wakatobi, you may have to charter your own boat else you may take the public boat. There are boats everyday with about 2 hours in between frequency, check there for the detailed schedule.

Where to go nearby

Makassar – fly back to the city as a springboard to other places in Sulawesi.

Tana Toraja – 300 km away from Makassar with at least 8-10 hours drive for ancient funeral rites and cultural village visit.

Diving, Wakatobi, Sulawesi Indonesia

Diving, Wakatobi, Sulawesi

Travel Tips

There are reported thefts around here so always be mindful of your belongings and where you are walking and your surroundings. Also, it is safer not to wander around in dark places or at night.

Photo credits from top: Rachel, Jenny, ourtechclub, q phia, q phia and Craig D

Related Articles:
Togian Islands Diving, Sulawesi
Makssar Travel Guide
Sulawesi Travel Guide

Top 10 Must Visit Places in Sulawesi

As one of the main islands of Indonesia and a part of Borneo, Sulawesi is a place worth a visit for its very own tourist attractions that are sure to please adventure and nature lovers. From the usual of having a city like Makassar and Manado to remote village with indigenous people like Tana Toraja to a diving paradise like Bunaken. Bring on your travel mind and camera to blend in and observe and capture the moments while also bring on your dive suits and trekking gears for the sun, sea and mountains!

Makassar

Makassar, also known as Ujung Pandang is your main hub to exploring Sulawesi in Indonesia. Fly in here to this largest city of Sulawesi and capital of the south. Besides the usual boons of a city, you can also go to the Losari Beach or Fort Rotterdam and also boat to nearby Pulau Khayangan and Pulau Samalona. Makassar is also the best starting point to go to the famous Tana Toraja, which is just 300km away.

-> Find the best hotel deals in Makassar at Booking.com *


Tana Toraja (Rantepao)

Travel to Tana Toraja to see the rare ancient rites and unique of the Torajan people, almost impossible to find nowadays in accessible areas.Tana Toraja, almost unchanged for the last 100 years, is set in a stunning setting far out from globalisation or tourism, but still accessible given some small effort.

-> Find the best hotel deals near Tana Toraja at Booking.com *

Funeral rituals at Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Funeral rituals at Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Lindu National Park

This park is situated in Palu and the experience of getting there itself is already adventurous and fun, going up the mountain in crazy roads. Known as Indiana Jones experience where you can experience like being the first in discovering an unexplored jungle which is rich with flora and faunas. You may find butterflies, hornbills, monkeys, snakes and also many wild flowers and plants.

Tentena

While on the way from South Sulawesi to North Sulawesi, Tentena is the place to go in the central. There is a beautiful white sand and clear blue lake called Poso Lake. You may also catch the Poso festival here every year in August at the lake. There is also a waterfall nearby call Saloupa. A good place to stay here is at Ue Datu Cottages * *.

Togean Islands / Togian Islands

Togean / Togian Islands are like islands lost in between the midst of everything in Northern Sulawesi (Sulawesi Utara) thus coining it as an almost a secret dive destinations. With this it invokes thoughts of real independent traveling there and diving in unexplored areas. One thing for sure is the water is pristine and you would not see many other divers around. There are around 3 dive sites among the 56 islands! Imagine all the places untouched! You come here for dive, dive and dive but of course it can possibly be also for just a retreat.

Sunset at Togian Islands in Sulawesi, Indonesia

Sunset at Togian Islands in Sulawesi, Indonesia

Tomohon

Tomohon is a place to get into the rough and feel of rural highlands, with vast lands spread out that boosts relaxation. You can experience the local market scene here and the handicraft village for its architectures. For nature lover and trekkers, there is Mount Mahawu Volcano for trekking and beautiful view.

Tangkoko National Park

Tangkoko Nature Reserve, with 9,000 hectre is a home to a lot of unique wildlife like Tarsiers, the smallest primate in the world, and also the Black Crested Macaque which can only be found in North Sulawesi.

Black Crested Macaque at Tangkoko Reserve, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Black Crested Macaque at Tangkoko Reserve, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Manado

Fly in to Manado to access to everywhere around North Sulawesi that is touted to be untouched and pristine beauty. Before heading out to see the rest of North Sulawesi, you may also go around sightseeing temples, interesting bustling Airmadidi market or beautiful serene Lake Tondano first.

Lake Tondano in Manado, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Lake Tondano in Manado, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Bunaken

Come visit Bunaken for diving and snorkeling, as it boasts a rich marine life in its Marine National Park. It has an amazing diverse marine life such as 70 different corals, five species of sea turtles, many fish species and even white tip and black tip reef sharks, the almost extinct dugongs, barracuda and even saltwater crocodiles!

Reefs and fishes in diving at Bunaken Island in Indonesia

Reefs and fishes in diving at Bunaken Island in Indonesia

Bitung – Lembeh Strait

Another diver’s paradise and famous as the best place for muck diving for critters and the beauty of unknowns. There is also a cool wreck diving here.

Photo credits from top: Arian Zwegers, NeilsPhotography, Lip Kee, sektordua

-> Find the best hotel deals in Sulawesi at Booking.com *

Related articles:
Top 10 Must Visit Places in Indonesia
Top 10 Things To Do in Indonesia

Can travelers watch the funeral in Tana Toraja, Sulawesi?

I will be traveling to Tana Toraja, Sulawesi and would like to watch the famous Torajan funeral rituals there. Are travelers allowed to watch the Torajan funeral rituals? If yes, when is the best time to catch the Tana Toraja funeral rituals?
– Grey

Yes travelers are allowed to join and watch the Toraja funeral rituals. The best time to catch the Torajan funerals are during the dry season which is between June to August.

Author: Pearl

Living in Jakarta for more than 20 years now, she still have not manage to cover the tip of Indonesia’s diverse destinations, people and even food! Pearl loves shopping as much as enjoying luxury but she knows all these have to be done sensibly and on a budget. Therefore you may find the best scoop and offers in Jakarta and beyond with her.