Transportation Guide for Indonesia
Transportation in Indonesia can be very challenging, especially if you are visiting the country for the first time. Read our tips on how you can plan your trip and choose the best option for you.
Air transport is the easiest and most comfortable long distance transportation in Indonesia. The best local booking site with reasonable prices is www.tiket.com for all domestic bookings (best prices found here if you use the site in Indonesian language and in IDR currency). Some local airline tickets can be bought only offline at the airport office so if you arrive somewhere it’s a good idea to check prices at the counter for your next flight. You can also use www.tiket.com to book hotels, trains or car rentals.
Flights between major cities operate almost every hour during the day, starting at 5 in the morning and prices are usually the same no matter if you buy the ticket a week in advance or few hours before the flight. So if you are not sure how long you will stay at any place it’s not a problem – just go to the airport and catch the first available flight. It’s also completely fine if you don’t have a fixed literary. You don’t have to book flights in advance and worry about missing something or getting at the airport on time.
Taxis are available almost everywhere especially at the airports, train and bus stations. Bluebird taxis is the most reliable company and it can be found everywhere in Indonesia. Just make sure you ask the driver to pay by meter. Don’t negotiate or bargain a price in advance since metered fare is damn cheap ($0.30 a mile). If you have time and the driver refuses to use the meter, just catch the next one.
Taxis at the airports have fixed fares payable at company operated booth. These fares are usually more expensive so if you have time just get out at the first airport and bargain for a better price with any of the taxi drivers waiting at the airport. You know already the price from the taxi company booth so you have an idea what you are aiming at. Usually, you can pay up to 50% less than the licensed company.
If you are staying in a hotel and need a taxi just ask someone local to call one for you. They have friends and know what the best local companies are. Again you should insist to use the meter rather than negotiating price.
These funny three-wheel bicycle rickshaws can be spotted in smaller cities and villages. They are generally banned from the big cities’ boulevards. If you are not in a hurry and want to enjoy the view becak is perfect for you. Since the driver is behind you (not like India in front of you) you can sit down and enjoy the view.
They are very cheap and 2-3 miles ride should cost you no more than (IDR10.000-15.000 or $1). Of course you will be asked to pay way more. Use your bargain skills and you can lower the price up to three times. If it doesn’t work, just go to the next one and most likely the first one will chase you down the street already agreeing with your price 🙂
Bajajs (Tuk-tuk in Thailand, rickshaw in Africa) are bright colored funny motorcycle-based vehicles than can carry up to 3-4 passengers. They can be found on the streets almost everywhere in the major cities in Indonesia. They are cheaper than taxis (around one hour ride would cost you IDR20 000 or $1.5) and can be easily negotiated.
Bajajs don’t use main boulevards like taxis and are way faster since they use small narrow streets to avoid the traffic. We would recommend you to use these in cities like Jakarta. You will definitely see the other face of how people live there 🙂
Trains connect big cities in Indonesia. Regular passenger class trains seats are extremely small, trains are usually full and dirty. Even if you choose overnight train it’s almost impossible to sleep. Business and executive class are way better but the ticket price is really high (usually more expensive than air plane ticket).
Have in mind that trains are usually fully booked weeks in advance especially during weekends and holidays so you should make your plans in advance if you choose to use a train. You can make your reservation on www.tiket.com or http://www.kereta-api.co.id/ .
Beside the negatives, trains are generally on time, safe and reliable.
Buses are the main transportation between cities. They are cheaper than the trains and operate more often. Not that safe, have in mind to watch for pick-pocket and all your belongings. Also, bus drivers are really crazy and they drive extremely recklessly.
In big cities buses have designated bus lanes and can avoid the traffic. They stop on elevated platforms only if they have to pick up or drop off passengers. Fare is fixed and really cheap (2000-4000 IDR – $0.2-0.4).
Rent a scooter (car)
Renting a scooter or a car in Indonesia is really cheap and a great way to explore things on your own. If you feel comfortable with left-side traffic then only thing you have to do is to obtain an international drivers license to be legal on the road. You can rent a scooter for as low as 40 000IDR ($3) a day including an insurance and a helmet. Car will cost you about 250-400 000 IDR ($20-35) a day.
Have in mind that Indonesian drivers are really crazy and usually do not obey things like traffic signals and signs. Combined with the left-side traffic, it can be really challenging for the western drivers. If you don’t feel confident driving in Indonesia better hire a driver. This will cost you no more than extra $15-20 a day on top of the car rental.
Hope that you find useful our transportation and driving tips in Indonesia. What is your experience with transportation in Indonesia and Southeast Asia in general? Please, share in the comments!