Indonesia was (surprisingly) more expensive than Malaysia. It was surprising because I see Indonesia as less developed than Malaysia. There are two reasons why Indonesia is more expensive:
1. There are not many solo travellers. Therefore there are not many dorms/hostels. Therefore you almost always need to book a room, which is more expensive than a dorm bed.
2. It attracts more western tourists. At least, that’s what I tell myself when a dorm bed in Legian costs $20, and a room in Kuala Lumpur costs $15. Maybe I just wasn’t looking in the right places. My friend got a cheaper place, but it was so dodgy, he had to set up his tent inside the room to avoid the mosquitoes.
So, if you like mosquito free accommodation, you’re going to have to shell out at least $20 per night (budget $30 just in case). That’ll get you a comfortable room, occasionally with breakfast included. Sometimes you can bargain the price down. Just look a little disappointed, look towards some other accommodation and say “it’s a bit out of my budget”. Often they’ll give you a discount if you stay for more than two nights.
Transportation.. depends how good you are at haggling. Try and ask/google how much a trip somewhere should be, then you’ll be in a better position when negotiating. I’m way too soft. My friend (with the tent) pays about half what I do, and I pay about half what the normal tourists here pay (i.e. a motorbike taxi will cost him $2, me $5 and some of the people I met, $10). To me it wasn’t worth the hassle of bargaining further. I tend to get angry at people trying to rip me off, so it’s not really good for my stress levels.
Looking for authentic Indonesian food? Hmm. You’ll have to look pretty hard if you’re anywhere near a touristy place. I did see one lady with a cart on a back street, but otherwise, maybe ask a tout? I tried some ‘Indonesian’ food in a few restaurants, but never developed a fondness for it. Maybe if I had visited Indonesia before Malaysia, I would have thought differently? Anyway, most of the food you’ll find will be ‘Western’ of varying quality depending on the competence of the chef. Expect to spend $30 for a really great meal, $10 for an average one.
The easiest thing to find, after touts and food, is alcohol and drugs. There are bars everywhere, and the local beer is super cheap ($1 for a small bottle in cheap bars, annd during happy hour in a lot of places). You can also get $1 tequila shots, and at some of the bars guys drink free from 9pm-10pm, and girls drink free from 9pm-11pm. Well, you get to drink the ‘local spirits’, mixed with some horrible tasting softdrink. You may also get methanol poisoning, although this is very rare. You’re probably more likely to go to gaol for stabbing the tout that’s been harassing you for the last half hour… oh, maybe that’s just me then. Magic mushrooms are also advertised everywhere, and (ehrm, according to my sources) come in varying quality and strength, and are usually blended with a milkshake or softdrink.
Other things that are popular in the Kuta/Legian area are tattoos (my brother got a big spiderweb done on his arm. I don’t think he realised that it’s supposed to symbolise having committed murder/time spent in prison. I got my hair cut and coloured. It was decent quality and really cheap. Most people get a cheap (but good) massage when they go to Bali. Not as good as Thailand, but I wasn’t complaining! Everyone (both women and men) seems to get their toenails painted (with little decorative flowers), and there are a lot of high quality spas around if you don’t like the look of some of the cheaper ones.
If you are travelling in a group and you can handle touts, I would say GO! You’ll like Indonesia. I’m prejudiced against it, but I have a lot of good memories (looking back through rose-tinted glasses!)