Toraja is very magical land from Indonesia. If you are backpakers you should use a local guide to feel the amazingness of Toraja because you should need to know the story of this land, and what the meaning of everthing that you seen.
May make you should take additional budget but trust me thats worthed ! Than you save your money, take some photos on location but don't get an amazing experience and story of Tana Toraja Land, which means you've got nothing.
Great region of sulewesi. People are so friendly, you get so much stuff to explore and see - there are all those amazing grave sites nearby, you should definitely get a guide to take you to a funeral.
Be helpful to have some Indonesian (basic phrases) as not everyone has a good grasp of the language. Lots of ATMs, a post office etc here.
The towns of Rantepao and Makale offer little than a place to establish 'basecamp'. The star is the countryside and the unique architecture and funereal culture.
Tana Toraja is the name of the area and Rantepao the name of the city. We had a good massage at a local massage parlour just behind the hotel.
There was 1 restaurant for tourist in town which had great food too and nice hangout place. Otherwise there isn't much to do in the city itself. The main attrractions are watching the cave burials sites and houses and culture of the Torajans. Very interesting like walking around a NatGeo documentary.
To see the Toraja people doing their ritaules was really GREAT. Don't make any arrangements for Tana Toraja in Makassar.
...it will be MUCH cheaper if you wait until you are there.
The essential part of Tana Toraja is the burial site which actually 10 km from Rantepao (the largest city in the area).
If you want to be closer to the burial sites, it is better to choose hotel in the area Makale. However, Rantepao has its own lifestyle, which is laid back but hard working. If you are interested in seeing how Indonesian people function before the rise of capitalism, Rantepao is the place. There are many burial sites in Tana Toraja but the most famous ones are Kete' Kesu and Londa. The two are tourist friendly and most tour guides will direct you to these two area aside from other burial sites. Most of the time, there are no ceremony (either burial or celebration) but if you want to join their party, watch for June and December because they tend to held ceremony during school breaks or holiday.
There are good and reasonably priced hotels and restaurants available if you are willing to seek them out.
It is easy to find a guide in Rantapao so no need to organize one before you arrive. We hired a guide for the first 2 days and then did our own thing for the rest of the time. Walking or motor scooters are OK as Toraga is a valley so you can't get lost and traffic is light except for the main road.
Scenically spectacular, the bus ride from Makassar during the day is tiring but includes nice scenery.
Hire one of the guides hanging around the hotels for your sightseeing needs.