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Travel Guide > Asia > Indonesia

Indonesia Getting around

  
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By plane

The only rapid means of long-distance travel within Indonesia is the plane. The largest domestic carriers are state-owned Garuda and private competitor Lion Air but in recent years a host of low-cost competitors have sprung up, including Indonesia Air Asia Batavia Air Mandala and many more.

Routes for less popular destinations and routes (particularly in eastern Indonesia) are served by Garuda's little buddy Merpati memorably summarized as "It's Merpati and I'll fly if I want to", AirFast Sriwijaya Jatayu and more, often flying smaller planes. If you really get off the beaten track, eg. settlements in Papua, there are no scheduled services at all and you'll need to charter a plane or hitch rides with missionaries.

Prices are low by international standards, with more or less any domestic return flight available for under US$100 even on short notice, and fares for a fraction of that if you plan ahead. The hardest part is often finding what carriers serve what route and making a reservation, as many companies have not yet discovered the joys of the Internet, much less set up online booking engines.

When traveling off the beaten track, it's imperative to reconfirm early and often, as frequencies are low and paid-up, occasionally even checked-in passengers are bumped off with depressing regularity if a VIP happens to show up. Make sure you arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before the departure time.

By boat

Indonesia is all islands and consequently ferries have long been the most popular means of inter-island travel. The largest company is PELNI whose giant ferries visit practically every inhabited island in Indonesia on lengthy journeys that can take two weeks from end to end. PELNI uses European-built boats, which are large enough to deal with rough seas, but they can still be uncomfortably overcrowded during peak seasons: ferries built for 3000 have been known to board 7000. This means that there are often not enough lifeboats in the event of a sinking and could pose a potential safety hazard.

Cabin accommodation classes, all including meals and private lockers, are:

  • 1st class: around US$40/day: two beds per cabin, private washroom, TV, aircon
  • 2nd class: around US$30/day: four beds per cabin, private washroom, aircon
  • 3rd class: around US$20/day: six beds per cabin, aircon, shared washrooms
  • 4th class: around US$15/day: bed in a dormitory

The "real" way to travel, though, is ekonomi class (around US$10/day), which is a noisy, smoky, cramped free-for-all scrum; buy a rattan mat and get in early to stake out your spot — it's common for people to start rushing in as soon as the ferry arrives. Pickpocketing and theft are a real concern though.
In addition to PELNI's slow boats, ASDP runs fast ferries (Kapal Ferry Cepat, rather amusingly abbreviated KFC) on a number of popular routes. Both PELNI and ASDP tickets can be booked via travel agents.

Last but not least, there are also countless services running short island-to-island hops, including Merak-Bakauheni (hourly) from Java to Sumatra, Ketapang-Gilimanuk (every 15 min) between Java and Bali and Padangbai-Lembar (near-hourly) between Bali and Lombok.

In general, schedules are notional, creature comforts sparse and safety records poor. Try to scout out what, if any, safety devices are on board and consider postponing your trip if the weather looks bad. As maintenance is poor and overloading is common, sinkings are all too common on ferries run by smaller companies, so try to stick to the larger ones if possible. Food on ferries varies from bad to inedible, and journey times can stretch well beyond the schedule, so bring along enough to tide you over even if the engine stalls and you end up drifting for an extra day.

You may get hassled by people onboard trying to extract extra money under some dubious excuse. Feel free to ignore them, although on the upside, it may be possible to bribe your way to a better class of accommodation.

By point to point (scheduled) travel/shuttle

Scheduled travel is the 'latest/newest' moda of Indonesian transportation, but recently is rapidly growing inline with the new toll roads and better highways. The travel use various AC minibus with passengers from 6 to 14 persons on reclining seats and run based on 'point to point' routes. It means every operators have their many own shelters (points) at every departures and destinations cities. So, we may choose so many alternatives routes and may stop before destination point. From/to airport they sometimes use also small/big luxury buses (DAMRI, Primajasa and others) and is suitable for who get a lot/moderate of belonging. http://www.cimpa-icpam.org/archivesecoles/www.maths.web.id/arrival-information

The most developing routes is Jakarta to Bandung with tickets vary from Rp.48,000.- to Rp.90,000.- (USD 5.3 to 10.0) depends on conviniency, leg space/room and luxurious. Every major cities in Indonesia have travels including Bali.

The scheduled travel ticket is more expensive than Regular AC Executive Bus, but the scheduled travel is faster and we may choose the points (routes). For going not more than 200-300 kilometers inland please consider it compare using trains, regular buses or airplanes. Your belonging in the scheduled travels are more safe than using trains or regular buses, but your surfboard and any big packages should pay additional fees for using minibus travel.

Please contact the travel first and booking order without any payment is advisable. Usually they are waiting booking passengers until scheduled departure time and then they give the seats to waiting list passengers, if necessary. And please call the travel, if you might be arrive at departure point up to 10 minutes late from scheduled departure time and certainly you in a rush, but it is not advisable.

By train

PT Kereta Api runs trains across most of Java and some parts of Sumatra. The network was originally built by the Dutch, and few new lines have been built since the Independence. Double-tracking of the most congested lines have been done, though, and is still ongoing. Maintenance is spotty and derailments and crashes occur occasionally.

Java by far has the best railway network, with trains connecting the capital city of Jakarta with other main cities, i.e. Surabaya both via Semarang on the north coast and via Yogyakarta and Solo through the southern main line. Bandung is connected to Jakarta by some 30 trains per day, and is itself connected to Surabaya through Yogyakarta. Bali has no railway lines, but there are trains from Surabaya to Banyuwangi, connecting with ferries to the island.

Sumatra's networks are concentrated on the northern around Medan and the southern (Lampung to Palembang) parts of the island. Passenger trains on the island are much less frequent than in Java.

Type of service:

1. Air-conditioned Eksekutif class
2. Bisnis
3. Ekonomi classes are also available for the more budget-conscious traveler, but comfort and safety are noticeably less (due to congestion and length of travel time).

No sleeping car service is provided in Indonesia, and the best accommodation provided is air-conditioned, adjustable reclining seats in the Argo and other eksekutif class trains.

Ticket reservations can be made one month in advance, although generally tickets will still be available almost to the last minute. An exception is the very busy Lebaran season, in which time it is not advisable to travel due to the extremely high demand for tickets. No on-line ticket reservation is available.

Generally, trains in Java travel through scenic areas, and travelers not in a hurry should consider the length of the journey and the scenery as a bonus to his travels. However, theft is common, particularly on overnight journeys, so padlock your doors if possible.

By bus

The major types of buses are air-conditioned bus (AC) and non-air-conditioned bus (non-AC or "economy class"). The air-conditioned chartered buses can be rented with its drivers for a tourist group. Indonesian bus companies offer intercity and interprovince routes. The interprovince routes usually include transportation to other islands mainly between Java and Sumatra.

Bus maintenance is poor, and drivers are often drunk, on drugs or just reckless. Long, overnight journeys are particularly dangerous. Guard your bags like a hawk. In the wilder parts of the country (notably South Sumatra), interprovince buses are occasionally ambushed by bandits.

By car

Indonesian driving habits are generally atrocious. Lanes and traffic lights are happily ignored, passing habits are suicidal and driving on the road shoulder is common.

That said, renting a car in Indonesia is cheap compared to renting in other countries, and despite recent fare hikes gas remains cheap: the fixed price for gasoline or diesel is Rp 4500/litre. To drive a car yourself, an International Driver Permit is required, but consider renting a car with driver, because the additional cost is quite low and having a traffic accident in Indonesia will certainly spoil your trip.

Road condition and road maintenance in Indonesia is poor. If you go outside major cities, you should use a four-wheel drive car (Kijang jeeps are popular). During rainy season, major roads in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi are flooded for several weeks. Several important, old bridges in Sumatra had collapsed recently.

Traffic moves on the left in Indonesia.

By becak

Becak ("BEH-chuck") is a tricycle (pedicab) transportation mode for short distances such as residential areas in many cities. In some areas, the driver is sitting at the back of the passenger, but in some areas (like Medan) the driver is sitting on the side of the passenger. Good communication skills is integral to prevent getting overcharged on these rides. Often, sly drivers try to get some more money out of you after you've reached your destination, so be sure that you know how much it costs beforehand.

Note that there are no becak in Jakarta or Bali. Instead, the motorized bajaj (BAH-jai), somewhat similar to the Thai tuk-tuk, serves the same function. In some other provinces (eg. North Sumatra, Aceh) you can also find motorbikes with sidecars, known as bentor or bemo (short for becak bermotor).

By ojek

If you're in such a hurry that you're willing to lose a limb to get there, then ojek motorcycle taxis might be the ticket for you. Ojek services consist of guys with bikes lounging around street corners, perhaps identified with a colored, numbered jacket, who usually shuttle short distances down alleys and roads but will also do longer trips for a price. Haggle furiously.

Transport Companies in Indonesia

Airline Merpati Airlines
Merpati Airlines is the largest Indonesian domestic carrier. It has over 256 flight routes across the whole of Indonesia. For those who are wishing to venture Indonesia, Merpati Airlines might be the right transportation. Do note that this airline is prone to de... more
Low Budget, From US$50 one way, in Indonesia
Airline Batavia Air
LCC from Balikpapan, Ende, Jakarta, Kupang, Labuanbajo, Maumere, Surabaya, Waingapu
in Bali
 
Airline Citilink
LCC <small> (operated by Garuda Airlines)</small> from Jakarta
in Bali
Airline Indonesia Air Asia
LCC from Bandung, Jakarta
in Bali
 
Airline IAT
(Indonesia Air Transport) from Mataram, Labuan Bajo
in Bali
Airline Lion Air
LCC from Jakarta, Jogyakarta (Yogyakarta), Menado, Ujung Pandang (Makassar), Surabaya
in Bali
 
Airline Mandala Airlines
LCC from Jakarta, Surabaya and Yogyakarta<br>(All Mandala operations suspended on 13 Jan 2011)
in Bali
Airline Merpati Nusantara Airlines
LCC from Bandung, Bima, Ende. Jakarta, Kupang, Lauanbajo, Mataram, Maumere, Surabaya, Tambolaka, Waingapu
in Bali
 
Airline Pelita Air Service
Charter
in Bali
Airline Sriwijaya Air
LCC from Jakarta
in Bali
 
These are just 10 of 85 Transport Companies in Indonesia. Show more.




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