The transportation system in Indonesia has been shaped over the years by the economical realities and the distribution of inhabitants on the islands of the archipelago. Road transport is predominant, while rail still has unconnected networks on several islands. Traveling by sea is very important for both domestic and international travel, while air transport completes the other means of transport, particularly where land or water transport is deficient.
Arriving and Departing Indonesia
When arrive and departing from Indonesia travelers typically use Soekarno Hatta International Airport (CGK) in Jakarta, although there are three international airports serving the country. Another option is to get to Indonesia by ferries, which connect the country with Singapore and Malaysia.
Arriving and departing Jakarta
Soekarno Hatta International Airport (CGK) receives all the international flights arriving in Jakarta. Located 20 km from the city center, it is hub for many domestic airlines.
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Getting Around Indonesia
The only fast way to get around Indonesia is by plane. There are many low cost carriers operating in the country, but the schedules are doomed with cancellations. Another good option is to take the ferry. They represent a cheap and very popular way to get around the country.
From the airport to the city center
In Jakarta, you can take the bus or train to get from the airport to the city center. Several shuttles are available and are run by two operators. The train connects the airport to Manggarai Station. Another option is to rent a car and drive to the city. To save you the hassle of driving in a new city, check out Jakarta Airport Transfer.
From one city to another
Driving in Indonesia
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Travelers are advised to think twice before planning to rent a car and drive by themselves in Indonesia. A good option, albeit a rather expensive one, is to hire a car with driver to get between the cities or to sites which are harder to get to by public transportation.
The Indonesian bus companies offer intercity and interprovince routes (between the islands). Buses are either air conditioned or non-air conditioned (or economy class). Long, overnight journeys are dangerous, considering the habits of Indonesian bus drivers and the condition of the roads.
There are four unconnected rail networks in Indonesia: one in Java, and three in Sumatra. The network is not very well maintained and the passenger trains are either full (commuter trains) or empty (long distance).
Flying in Indonesia
Flying is the only fast way to get between the cities in Indonesia. There are many low-cost carriers connecting the islands. However, many carriers have poor on-time records and frequent cancellations. The safety records of smaller companies are quite dubious. But some carriers have bought new airplanes so that add more safely. Overall, compared to the carnage on the roads, it’s better to fly.
Ferry travel in Indonesia
Taking a ferry in Indonesia is probably the most popular way to get around. It is also cheap. The operation is PELNI, which uses European-type boats. There are four classes, out of which the 1st and 2nd offer air conditioning. If you are on a tight budget, you can choose the cheapest class, the economy one, for about US$10 per day. The company also runs fast boats on a number of popular routes.
Walking and cycling in the cities
As a rule, walking around in Jakarta is neither fun nor practical. There are few areas where the sidewalks are suitable for walking, but in most parts of the city they are crowded with anything but walkers. Pedestrian crossings are close to nonexistent, while the pedestrian bridges are used by motorcycles and bicycles as well (illegally).
Getting around Jakarta by public transport is a problem. The traffic is the worst in South East Asia and the city layout is , to say the least, confusing. Traffic jams are common. Within the city, travelers can choose buses and taxis, while if you want to travel to the outskirts, there are also trains. Driving a car in Jakarta is not a good idea either. But you can choose one of the traditional Indonesian modes of transportation: bajaj — which are scooters turned into tricycles with cabins to carry passengers — or the ojek — motorcycle taxis (considered very dangerous).