But, in fact, that’s not actually true. It's definitively possible to experience Sumba’s unique cultures and amazing landscapes without destroying your bank account. Here are few tips on how to plan your budget trip to Sumba island!
Do your own researchJoining group tour which often called “open trip” might not be your cheapest option. But for inexperienced traveler or simply don’t have time for travel research, joining open trip is the most reasonable choice. Conventional guidebooks such as Lonely Planet don’t have more than few pages about Sumba. And they are usually already outdated at the time of going to press.
Therefore, doing travel research on Sumba is not an easy task. You must actively collect the latest information from blogs and websites. You can also join Facebook group named Backpacker Indonesia where you can ask question to other members who just completed their trip. Based on my experience, this group has a very active community and able to answer almost all of my questions.
|Amazing lanscape of Sumba|
Find your travel partnerDue to lack of public transport, exploring remote area like Sumba will be very expensive for solo traveler. It’s a good idea to find travel partner to share transportation costs. Renting car in Sumba will costs you at least 800,000 rupiah per day, relatively higher compare to more popular destinations like Bali or Lombok.
Having travel companion will also help you to lower accommodation costs. Accommodation option is very limited in Sumba. There's no hostel with dormitory room that easily found in popular destinations like Bali or Lombok. Most part of Sumba is also still quiet, you are unlikely to meet other travelers. Frankly speaking, Sumba is not a friendly destination for solo traveler.
But, how to find travel buddy? There are plenty of travel communities on the internet to find travel partner. For domestic trip, I often use backpackerindonesia.com, a website that allows users to place their ads for finding travel buddy. This site has tens of thousands members, so your chances of getting partner are high. Another well-known community travel website is backpackerjakarta.com. Popular among young backpackers in Jakarta, this website is great way to find travel partners.
|Public transport in Sumba|
Bring your motorcycle and just get on the ferry!Rising price of domestic flights have been greatly affected travelers to choose international destinations than exploring their own country. This is very ironic because longer international flights are often sold at lower prices.
Alternatively, you can reach Sumba by boat or ferry crossing. Yes, it takes a lot longer, but it will save you a lot of money!
Reaching Sumba by ferry crossing might be easier than you think. Regular ferry run by ASDP departs Sape in Sumbawa three times per week to Waikelo in West Sumba. It just costs 69,000 rupiah, departs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9 PM. Your sea journey takes 9 hours, and it’s possible to bring your own motorcycle with added charge. Please visit indonesianferry.co.id for more information.
If you couldn’t find a travel buddy, riding your own motorcycle is the best way to explore Sumba on a low budget. Yet, motorcycle rental also could be found in Tambolaka and Waingapu. For group of more than 4 people, renting car will be more comfortable.
Make a simple itineraryTourist attractions in Sumba are very scattered, so avoid a long list of places to visit. You can travel easier and cheaper with a simple itinerary. Many tourist attractions in Sumba actually are pretty similar, you can skip a few of them. For example, reaching Ratenggaro Village in isolated westernmost part of Sumba could be challenging and time-consuming. Instead, you can visit Tarung Village that can be reached on foot from the downtown of Waikabubak.
Don’t forget to make hard copy of your itinerary. You must remember that sometimes smartphones die and we don't always have access to wifi when traveling. This is where the hard copy comes in. In your itinerary, make a simple list of places to visit, hotel addresses and other important information.
Prepare your lunchContrary to popular belief, food price is affordable in Sumba. Mixed rice or nasi campur at local eatery only costs around 15,000 rupiah. Food stalls are easy to find on the main street of Waingapu and other big cities. These local eateries mostly owned by Muslim migrants from Java.
However, you are unlikely to find food stalls on the tourist spots. There are only few visitors, thus opening food stalls probably not a profitable business. So bring your own food. It is very time-consuming to go back to the city centre just for lunch.
Dealing with poverty in SumbaSumba is one of the poorest region in Indonesia where rampant poverty is very visible. In recent years, massif development of tourism infrastructures have been changing Sumba island rapidly. Tourist attractions now can be accessed by ease road. But when you visit local villages, development is still very lacking. Many villagers still don’t have access of clean water and electricity. This situation giving a contrast view of a paradise island as Sumba is marketed.
I have never been met the situation in Indonesia where children begging money from tourists. Unfortunately, this sad situation is happening in Sumba. If you intend to help, giving food, cloths, or stationery is highly advisable. These children even begging money during school time. So by giving them money, you actually discourage them going to school.