Know Your Money: Understanding The Indonesian Rupiah

One of the culture shocks that you may encounter when you get to Indonesia is the money. It is quite common to feel shocked by the prices which are all displayed in thousands. It might be helpful to know that a Rupiah, the Indonesian currency, is about 0.000071USD. Looking back to your lessons on decimal places way back in primary school will make you realize that it amounts to 0 cent in these countries.

To make the conversion a wee bit easier, start from 1,000Rp, which is equivalent to roughly equivalent to 7 cents. To make the conversion easier on the noggin, round it off to 10 cents. And, now you know what you are tipping when you gallantly extend a 1,000Rp tip to your waiter or taxi driver.

WHAT YOU CAN GET FROM YOUR RUPIAH?

1,000Rp = 10 cents (US)

It’s just change for the heck of giving you change. Now replaced by coins, and sometimes candy, you can collect your 1,000Rp notes to add up to your parking fee or perhaps take them home as souvenir.

2,000Rp = 20 cents (US)

This is your parking fee. If you are driving a scooter, then maybe you can chuck your 1,000Rp and 2,000Rp notes under your seat to pay for your parking space.

5,000Rp = 50 cents (US)

This bill will take you somewhere. You can use it to pay for a ride on a minivan or bus. You can also use it to get a small bottle of water or snacks if you are feeling peckish.

10,000Rp = 1USD

Take this to a small restaurant and pick a few dishes for your breakfast or lunch. You will spot these small structures on the side of the road with a good spread of dishes to choose from.

20,000Rp = 2USD

It’s a bit of an upgrade from the 10,000Rp bill as you can biggie size your meal at a warung or small restaurant. It can also get you a Bingtang, Indonesia’s most popular beer brand, from a convenience store. You can also use this bill to get you a few trinkets in the market.  Add 5,000Rp and you can rent a bicycle for a day.

50,000Rp = 5USD

Still not quite so upscale, you can have a feast if you eat in a local restaurant. You can also get a couple bottles of beer from the local warung tenda or any of the convenience stores that line the streets of Bali.

100,000Rp = 10USD

Now you are talking. This is the country’s highest denomination. This can get you at least one Bingtang and a low-end cocktail at midrange beach resorts like Potatohead or W Hotel. At high-end places, however, it will only get you a beer. You can also use this bill to pay for your night at a hostel or get a meal at a nice cafe or restaurant. If you are shopping for souvenirs, this amount can also get you a singlet. And, if you need a ride, one of these can get you a scooter for a day.

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR RUPIAH

To get the most out of your Rupiah, bargaining is a must as vendors do tend to sell their wares higher than the original price. You can begin your bargain by asking for half the given price, then work your way up from there. It would also be a good idea to do a bit of browsing before settling for an item as in most cases, other stalls would have the same one at a cheaper price. You can also opt to buy more than one item to get a good deal. Just make sure you don’t try to haggle when the item has a tag with a fixed price.

As for food and drinks, the best place to get them are the convenience stores, small local stores and restaurants. You will also be able to get some delicious satays from roadside grills

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