Transportation Choices in Indonesia


photo by Johanes Christian
Traveling in Indonesia sometimes can turn to be a pain in the ass if you're not used to chaotic and disorganized travel pace. There so many places to visit and the connectivity between cities to cities, islands to islands are very crucial here. I did once write an article about seven tips you have to read before traveling in Indonesia, and now I'm gonna share what are the best ways to move from one place to another one, not literally the best, but these simple piece of information can make your travel in Indonesia easier.

1. By plane

Let's begin with "I don't wanna sit hours to hours for a single trip journey" type. Instant travelers can easily book flight ticket and fly across within a couple of hours to wherever you want. The flight is pretty cheap, anyway, so this is not a bad choice at all. I'm usually looking for flights through a local search engine, www.utiket.com, I like the calendar display for the whole one month so it's easier for me to see which date has the cheapest flight.


That's how it looks like. Next step, just pick any date you want, click search and then the list of flights available will appear from the cheapest available flight on that date. You can see the price, which airlines, and the schedule. Select the flight that suits you the most and they will refer you to the airline's website and you can book your ticket. 


I use this website just to look for cheapest flight. They're not booking engine, that's why they refer us to the airline's page to purchase the ticket. Double work but this search engine is useful. Some airlines that operate in Indonesia mostly are Lion Air, Sriwijaya, AirAsia, Citilink, and Garuda Indonesia.

2. By train

Train is the modest public transportation in Indonesia. This is the first choice for the majority of locals to travel because it's affordable and it reaches small regency mainly in the land of Java, for now train only operates in Java Island. The train is categorized into three classes: economy, business, and executive. 

Before, traveling in economy class was super cheap. I still remember I traveled from Jakarta to Jogjakarta in economy class with only Rp 35,000 but it was super challenging as well. I might have not a chance to get a seat, I have experienced sitting on the floor between the carriage because it was crazy packed. The street vendors were shouting day and night, it was such a big mess. 

Well, I kindda miss that experience but now the train has changed a lot. It is now well-organized, the number of ticket sold is equal to the seat availability, unlike before which make the train is always full especially weekend. You can directly check the  ticket and book online through their website https://tiket.kereta-api.co.id/ . I suggest you to check and book the ticket in advance cause it tends to be fully booked. 


Each city has several stations. For example Pasar Senen is the name of a station in Jakarta and Lempuyungan is the name of a station in Jogjakarta. These two stations are for economy class. For executive class, usually it departs from different station, like in Jakarta executive train departs from Gambir Station and Jogjakarta Station in Jogjakarta.


This list will come up and show the available train, class, schedule and price. "Habis" means sold out. Purchasing through online booking can be made only 2x24 hours before departure. Better to buy through travel agent or in the station directly, make sure you buy it in advance. The difference between economy and executive is, aside from the price and for sure convenience, executive train has shorter time travel because it only stops in big station in big city. 

3. By pelni

Indonesia is a huge archipelago country. In order to connect one island to other island, we need a huge ship, and pelni is the answer, especially when you travel in eastern side of Indonesia, for example Banda Islands in Maluku. The official website to check the schedule is www.pelni.co.id. Again you have to check it in advance because the schedule is unpredictable, it can only operate once in a week because the ship sails to several islands before it come back again to the first port. You may also want to ask travel agent better to book the ticket.

4. By bus

Needless to say, I'm very fond of bus more than any other transportation. No matter how long the journey is, I always enjoy my time in bus. You can always find intercity bus wherever in Indonesia. Easy, just go to the bus station and grab the ticket. You can also find economy, business or executive bus depends on short or a long journey.

5. By taxi


Let's move to transportation in the city. Most common transportation you're likely to use is taxi. In Jakarta, the taxi has it's basic fare which is around Rp 7,500. I would recommend Blue Bird and Express Taxi in Jakarta, both has reputable and trusted service. In some cities they don't want to put meter on so you have to haggle. 

6. By angkot

I don't recommend you to use angkot because it can be really frustrated if you cannot speak Bahasa. But just for let you know, you will see lot's of this small van in the city which also sometimes cause traffic jam, but this is the most popular local way to move around in the city because it's cheap. The name sometimes not the same in each city. For exampe in Makassar they call it pete-pete, in Pekanbaru the name is oplet, and in Jambi they call it oto, interesting.

(source)
7. By Ojek


Ojek is a motorbike with driver. It spreads everywhere and will take you everywhere you want. Just make sure you say out the address clearly, and don't forget, ask the price. A short 5-10 minutes will cost you about Rp 15.000 only, the further you go the price go higher. Haggle, and haggle! It will save alot your time especially in Jakarta's traffic. 


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