Travelling around Indonesia can be tricky, especially if it’s your first time there. But fear not, we’ve got all the info you need to know. It’s tempting to do as most tourists do and just fly into Bali and chill on the beach, but if you want to explore further afield you’ll need to suss out planes, trains, automobiles and more.
From buses to ojeks and everything in between, here’s the Indonesian transport tips you need to know.
Top Tips for Getting Around IndonesiaHow do these rankings work?
1. Cover More Ground with Local Airlines
The state-owned airline here is Garuda Indonesia, which flies between the country’s major cities and remote islands. Lion Air and AirAsia also offer domestic service. Sure, there are ferries between Indonesia’s main islands, but flying is almost always the faster option.
P.S. Be sure to arrive two hours ahead, as often passengers find their reservation gets changed or cancelled last minute.
2. Rent an Ojek to go Sightseeing
These motorcycle riders are the quickest way to navigate busy Jakarta traffic! You’ll spot them outside bust terminals or just hanging around, or you can book (just like Uber) on the Go-jek smartphone app.
Rent an ojek for an hour or more and ask your drive to take you to all the major sightseeing spots. It’s much cheaper than a private tour!
3. Download Offline Maps
Download an app such as Maps.me to your phone to have access to maps when there’s no WiFi. It’s essential when arriving in new countries with no connection. Finding hotels. Using taxis. Basically, not getting lost.
4. Book Tickets Online via Bookaway
You can buy tickets for trains and buses etc on the spot at windows called lokets, but who wants to spend their vacation waiting in line? Plus, the ferry services are always busy all year round, especially at peak travel time during weekends and national public holidays.
So, to make travelling around Indonesia easier, you can book tickets for trains, private buses and ferries in advance via Bookaway.
5. Ferries Are the Best Way to Explore the Islands
From the capital of Jakarta in Java Island, you can ride these ferries from Merak Port to Bakauheni Port in the neighbouring Sumatra island. If you want to go to Bali island via waterways, you can first head to Ketapang Port in Banyuwangi and enjoy around 45 minutes ride from to Gilimanuk Port in West Bali.
6. Make the Most of Tourist Minibuses in Bali, Lombok and Java
Unless you’re on an absolute shoestring budget, make use of the many tourist minibus shuttles in areas such as Bali, Lombok and Java. These handy shuttles go between major points of interest and are pretty reasonably priced.
7. And Expect Long Journeys on Public Transport…
Public buses here generally leave on time and are super cheap, but travel time can be pretty long. Major islands like Java and Sumatra can also be accessed by public busses, with price ranging from economy to VIP class.
Public minibuses are known as bemos or angkot, operating a standard route that picks up and drops off on the way. Just be aware you might be waiting a while: drivers don’t get moving until the bus is rammed to capacity.