When visiting Indonesia, a country spanning more than 5,000 kilometers from East to West, it can be exhausting to think about how to travel between islands, cities, and even neighborhoods – what is the best form of transport? Are they safe? There are many options – car, train, boat, and plane – which is the best for you? Discover here everything you need to know about getting around in Indonesia.
How to get around Indonesia – Airplane Travel
Traveling throughout Indonesia by airplane is easy and one of the best options. There are many low-cost airlines traveling to various parts of the country, guaranteeing you ease of travel, flexibility of time, and savings in your travel budget.
Among the airlines present in the country, the well-known and recommended ones are Garuda Indonesia, the national airline of Indonesia which has a great reputation and is one of the most trustworthy to use; and Citilink, also a national airline and the low-cost version of Garuda, which has a variety of flights and times similar to Garuda, but with affordable prices.
As for the other airlines, you will find Air Asia, whose slogan is “now everyone can fly”, which keeps its promises with extremely competitive prices. It is one of the most flown airlines and is very popular with the locals who travel between the many islands and cities to visit their families. Lion Air is another low-cost airline offering many destination options at all sorts of times of day (for example, roughly 10 daily flights from Jakarta to Bali). Other reasonable airlines are Batik Air and Wings Air, but they would not be my first choice – but if I had to, I would take a flight without any issues.
I suggest traveling with Citilink and, if you want to spend more, then Garuda. When flying with Air Asia or Lion Air you need to keep in mind their history of flight delays – the delays are not very big, but if your trip is very tight then the delays can become a problem.
My choices, in order of preference, of airlines in Indonesia are Citilink or Garuda in the first place, then Air Asia, Batik Air, Wings Air e Lion Air. As for Sriwijaya Air, I never wanted to fly with them so it is not on my list.
How to get around Indonesia – Boat Travel
One of the best ways to travel by boat is from the island of Java to the north of Bali, from Banyuwangi to Menjangan. You should also take a boat to go to the Gili islands, the Nusa islands and also to Lombok (even though I prefer to fly to Lombok – the flights are very fast and not very expensive, avoiding any problems with the weather and winds during the journey via boat).
There are many companies for the trips from Bali to Gili, but I recommend Blue Water Express. From Banyuwangi to Menjangan, you can check the times and prices at the site of Indonesia Ferry (the port in Bali is Gilimanuk and the port in Banyuwangi is Ketapang).
How to get around Indonesia – Train Travel
In Indonesia, the island of Java is well connected by trains. You can take a train from Jakarta to Bogor, but also to see some of the main cities on the Island. Want to see how?
You can take the train from Jakarta to Yogyakarta, a journey of approximately 11 hours, to see the temples and attractions of the most cultural city of Java; and afterward to continue from Yogyakarta to Malang, to see Mount Bromo and other incredible attractions when you’re there (the train journey takes around 7 hours); from Malang you can continue toward Kawah Ijen, taking the train from Malang to Banyuangi (almost 7 hours of travel).
In addition, for those who wish to get to know Surabaya (the second-largest city in Indonesia), the journey from Jakarta to Surabaya can be done by train – on a trip lasting on average 12 hours. Other available train journeys are Yogyakarta-Banyuangi, lasting approximately 13 hours; and Surabaya-Banyuangi, for around 7 hours.
TIP: how to book air and travel reservations in Indonesia
The best way to find all of the flights and trains available to your selected destination is through the local travel sites. Traveloka.com is a trustworthy site and one I use to book all of my flights and train tickets in Indonesia. The website is an excellent option, as it consolidates all available companies in a single location, preventing you from having to look at each of the airline’s sites, and accept international credit cards. Tiket.com is also a great option as it is also available in English and accepts international credit cards.
However, if you want to buy your train tickets when you arrive in the country, it’s possible to buy them directly at the station or in the Alfamart or Indomaret convenience stores.
How to get around Indonesia – Car Travel
You can get around many parts of the country by reserving a car with a driver at hotels or travel agencies at your destination. There are many travel companies in Bali and Yogyakarta, with costs between 500,000 and 800,000 IDR per day.
If you want to have more flexibility you can use apps such as Go-Jek and Grab, which are similar to Uber in Indonesia and in other Southeastern Asian countries. Just be alert as in some areas the apps are not allowed, like in Ubud and some parts of Canggu, because of issues with the local taxi drivers.
How to get around Indonesia – Motorbike
I would leave the motorbikes for Bali and Lombok to provide flexibility to travel to the beaches and restaurants, as Go-Jek and Grab (the apps which function like Uber) are limited in these locations. Renting a car with a driver for a few days can make your trip more expensive. And so, if you’re up for it, rent a motorbike – the cost is between 50,000 and 70,000 IDR per day.
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