Raja Ampat: Backpacking on a Budget

Raja Ampat has to be at the top of most Indonesian backpackers travel list. It is one of the ultimate destinations for diver from around the world and one of the last hidden paradise. Most people think it is expensive. I’m going to prove to you that it’s not. In this article I will show you how you can visit Raja Ampat for less than Rp 5,000,000.  I will also answer some of the most frequently asked questions I have seen online about how to arrange a trip here. I hope this information will make it easier for people to visit here. :)

wayag raja ampat

Wayag by Tante Debby

Where is it exactly?

Find Indonesia on a map. Got it? well now try to find Papua. Yes the big island at the far eastern edge of the country. Raja Ampat is located off the north-west tip of the island in a place known as the bird’s head peninsula. Believe me when I say it is much easier to get there when you know exactly where it is, at least on a map.

sorong papua

How to get there

There are two main ways to enter Raja Ampat, the first is from Sorong, West Papua to Waigeo. The other way is Misool, which you can reach from Ambon. I have only ever entered Raja Ampat from Sorong, so I will focus on what I know and have experienced and not what I have not.

The easiest way to get to Sorong is fly to there from Jakarta. The flight takes about seven hours and usually transits in Makassar (Ujung Pandang) for one hour. These are local airlines that I know serve the route Jakarta-Sorong: Lion Air, Sriwijaya Air, Merpati, Express Air. Some of the airlines transit in Surabaya or Ambon.

backpacking to raja ampat

A return ticket costs between Rp. 700,000 until Rp. 5,000,000. If you want to get the cheapest tickets then you will need to find an airline with a promotion. I know that it is possible to get a ticket this cheaply, because my friend once bought a Jakarta – Sorong return ticket for only Rp. 685,000! Isn’t that great? The other option you have is to fly from Jakarta to Makassar with Air Asia and then from there fly to Sorong with one of the local airlines that I mentioned before. Air Asia to Makassar on promotion period time can be as cheap as Rp. 154,000 one way. Cheap!

It is also possible to take a public Pelni ferry from Jakarta (Tanjung Priok port) to Sorong. A one way economy ticket costs Rp. 747,000 while a super VIP ticket costs Rp. 2,954,500 (two beds per cabin with a private washroom, TV and air conditioner). The journey takes 4-5 days.

trip to raja ampat

Sunset by Mbak Lisna

From Sorong

From Sorong you can get a public boat to Waisai or Waigeo. The ticket costs Rp. 120,000 and the ferry takes 2-3 hours. An insider tip from me, if you arrive in Sorong around 12, you can go straight from the airport to the port and be sailing off without any waiting around.

How much does it cost the whole trip?

This obviously depends on what do you want to see and do! You can get a 10 day 9 night cruise around Raja Ampat for Rp. 45,000,000 per person. A 7 day 6 night tour that includes almost everything you will want to see in Raja Ampat (but exclude diving) costs Rp. 8,500,000 per person or if you are lucky, you can get as low as Rp. 4.100.00 for  a 6 day 5 night trip. A 6 day 5 night live on board diving trip can cost as little as Rp. 17,000,000 per person. Alternatively you could stay for a week in a luxury resort run by a Westerner for $3,000 per person.

raja ampat papua

Basic Things

One of the things you should know is that the more people you travel with the cheaper the trip. If you’re a solo backpacker or a couple then try and find other people who look like backpackers and see if you can travel together. You could even ask the staff at the Cultural and Tourism Ministry Office in Waisai where you need to buy a tourist permit (costs Rp. 200,000 for local and Rp. 500,000 for foreigner).

raja ampat pin

To hire a large speedboat for 12 hours will cost you around Rp. 9,000,000 with the capacity of 20 people per boat, while smaller boats can be rented for Ro. 2,000,000.

In Waisai, you can find hotels for Rp. 300,000 up to Rp. 500,000 per night. Homestays cost a lot less than this. It is possible to find cheap accommodation in the outlying islands of Raja Anpat as well. For example a homestay in Sawinggrai Village costs just Rp. 500,000 per night. Meals cost around Rp. 25,000 – Rp. 40,000.

raja ampat on budget

Campsite by Mbak Yana

What I can do there?

Raja Ampat is not just about diving. As an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small islands there are endless cays, and shoals to explore, white sand to relax on, clear water to swim in, coral to marvel at and colorful fishes to amaze you. The most iconic thing to do in Raja Ampat besides the diving, is climbing the peak of Wayag islands. There are two different summits to climb and both offer a breathtaking view that can’t be beaten.

Birdwatchers will find plenty to do in Raja Ampat with all of the birds of paradise to be seen. Sawinggrai Village is a great place to see them. You will have to watch out for all of the mosquitoes that will try and suck your blood. In front of the home-stay in this village you can also feed the fish (the local people provide the food for all the fishes). There are stairs that you can use to sit on and half submerge your legs underwater. The experience is priceless and even more enjoyable rather than a fish spa!

raja ampat trip papua indonesia

The other obvious thing to do is go diving or snorkelling. You can swim with Manta Rays, watch dolphins and see thousands of beautiful and colorful fishes. I was lucky and saw a blue dotted cuttlefish when I lay down in the ocean in one of the islands. I was quite shocked because the last time I had that experience in Sulawesi I was diving and not just relaxing!

I hope have shared enough of my experiences and knowledge to give you even more of a reason to visit Raja Ampat. If you do visit this place, please be sure to preserve this beautiful environment. Don’t forget, I would love to hear your story afterward! Visit here for more pictures.

Thanks for some of the pictures Mbak Yana, Tante Debby and Mbak Lisna! :-*

papua backpacking to raja ampat


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  2. sandi - July 9, 2013 1:23 pm

    ah what a beautiful reefs there,… I’ve been there once and maybe will get there for twice some day.. bring a lot memories thank you for your share
    sandi recently posted…Cheap Hotel in Hongkong, Best Value for your Hongkong VacationMy Profile

  3. vira - July 16, 2013 1:51 am


  4. philardi ogi - August 5, 2013 4:41 pm

    whoa….hopefully can go here next year! *fingercrossed

    • Firsta - August 6, 2013 3:31 pm

      saya bantu doaaaa.. pasti bisa tahun depan! :) :)

  5. Halim - August 7, 2013 3:17 am

    Informasi menarik yang nggak panjang tapi jelas. Like it… :-)
    Halim recently posted…Dream Come TrueMy Profile

    • Firsta - August 8, 2013 1:55 pm

      Hi Halim, terima kasih sudah mampir kemari :) :) I am glad you like it.

  6. Frank - September 24, 2013 1:52 pm

    Very nice post Firsta! I’m planning on going back to Indonesia and Raja Ampat looks beautiful. I love that first photo.
    Thanks for the tips!
    Frank (bbqboy)
    Frank recently posted…Photo Essay – Montreal in the summerMy Profile

    • Firsta - September 24, 2013 2:18 pm

      Hi Frank! Thank you :)
      Yes it is indeed a very beautiful place. Looking forward to your visit to Indonesia.
      Let me know if you come around Yogyakarta. Safe travels!

  7. Fred - October 11, 2013 3:22 am

    Great article I really liked your candor if I have not done it I will not write it! The Waisai festival is coming up and lots of locals will make it here from Oct 18 to 23 2013. I found this website that has a quite a few rooms available from 150,000 per person right in Waisai!
    Fred recently posted…Marley Beach BungalowsMy Profile

    • Firsta - October 16, 2013 12:40 am

      Hi Fred,
      Thanks for the info :)

  8. katerina - November 9, 2013 7:48 am

    Hi, i would like to know which period is the best for goung to Raja Ampat? when is the rain season? Where i could find the accomodation and cruises?Thank you very much for your kind answer, katerina

    • Firsta - November 11, 2013 4:00 pm

      Hi Katerina,
      Rainy season now around October – January, but I was visiting Raja Ampat in early Jan this year and it was not rainy that much though. I will send you an email for accommodation and cruises recommendation. Cheers!

      • Kozwini Basri - December 11, 2013 2:02 pm

        Salam ,Mbak Firsta.
        Bisa saya dikirim email tentang tampat2 penginapan buat kita2 orang yang punya dana terbatas.Demikian dan terima kasih.

  9. mirka - December 27, 2013 9:55 pm

    hi, I would like info. I know low-cost state agencies to organize tours with boat lasted 7 days a RA (Wayag)

    • Firsta - December 29, 2013 2:15 pm

      Hi Mirka,

      I am not really sure about what do you asked/suggested. Do you mind to explain it again to me?

  10. Nash - December 28, 2013 10:39 am

    Fir, itu harga yang lo peroleh kalo pergi sendiri kan? bukan with group of bunch of people. I am thinking to go there on march/april or maybe february once I am back in Indonesia. what is the best time to avoid the rain?

    • Firsta - December 29, 2013 2:25 pm

      Hello Nash,

      At the end I jumped in to a group of (around) 14 people. I guess October – early March is mostly rainy, so the best time to avoid the rain is March – September.

  11. heribertus - January 5, 2014 4:32 pm

    Hey Firsta,I work at Sorong and had travelled to Rajaampat twice.Rumour says that June there will be held Sail RajaAmpat 2014 so you guys better prepare for the budget,and I think it will be cheaper as well as Festival RajaAmpat trips annually.

    • Firsta - January 14, 2014 10:01 am

      Hey Heribertus,
      Thank you for the information. ;)

  12. prinszn - January 8, 2014 2:01 am

    mba firsta boleh minta alamat email nya ?

  13. Bobby Ertanto - February 19, 2014 9:46 am

    wihiii..this is what I want. I always want to visit rajaampat asap. But, the cost is so expensive than explore indochina.
    Bobby Ertanto recently posted…[Review] Hotel Budget Inn, Bukit Bintang Kuala LumpurMy Profile

  14. Sigit - February 26, 2014 6:58 pm

    pengen honeymoon ke sana, tapi harganya wooooow mbak, puluhan juta gitu, kayaknya honeymoon ke Bali aja deh yg lebih ngirit :D
    Sigit recently posted…Inilah Keindahan Tempat Wisata Raja Ampat di PapuaMy Profile

  15. Dermot - March 2, 2014 10:28 am

    Hi I was interested in your entry:

    A 7 day 6 night tour that includes almost everything you will want to see in Raja Ampat (but exclude diving) costs Rp. 8,500,000 per person or if you are lucky, you can get as low as Rp. 4.100.00 for a 6 day 5 night trip.

    I have spent days looking for a non diving boat trip/liveboard around the Raja Ampat Islands for myself and my girl friend where we would have the opportunity to smorkel. Are you able to recommend any operators or sites where I could find some more information about the tours you mentioned?

    Thanks. Dermot

    • Firsta - March 3, 2014 11:42 am

      Hi Dermot,
      Sure, I will send you an email about this.

  16. Oleg - March 9, 2014 7:57 pm

    Hello could you please resend information about this liveboard to me too. Thank you. Oleg.

  17. Joerg - March 28, 2014 10:07 pm

    Hello Firsta,
    are you be able to give me a link for getting such a dive trip?
    ….. A 6 day 5 night live on board diving trip can cost as little as Rp. 17,000,000 per person…..
    I have checked many websites,but couldn’t find anything.
    Sampai jumpa lagi.

    • Firsta - April 2, 2014 2:26 am

      Hi Joerg,

      I’ll send email to you :)

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  19. Rie Susbandayani - April 12, 2014 9:41 am

    Berencana ke Raja Ampat this coming June!! Thanks for the tips. Tapi curious nih, serius harga flightnya bisa dpt segitu???!

    • Firsta - April 13, 2014 5:32 am

      Iya, one of my friend got that price. :) Saya sendiri waktu itu beli tiket pesawatnya mepet, mungkin sekitar 1-2 minggu sebelum berangkat. Harganya pp di atas 3 juta. :D

  20. Anais and greg - April 14, 2014 11:45 am

    Hi, we are a french couple and are also interesting to find budget cruise, and if some people want to join us…
    We are now in java for one week more and after we are ready to go to papouasie.
    Could you send us also any recomandations please.
    Terimah kasih

    • Firsta - April 14, 2014 12:38 pm

      Hi Anais,
      I sent you an email. Hope it helps.
      It is a bit tricky to do Raja Ampat trip by yourself. You can make it to Waisai, but if you want to go island hopping is going to be expensive.


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