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Indonesia is a fantastic country that's actually made up of around 11,000 islands, which means getting around all the best places to see in Indonesia requires a little planning. Thankfully, this post is going to take you through all you need to know about getting around Indonesia.
I’ve structured this post based on means of transport and in each section I’ve indicated whether I’m referring to getting to and from different islands, or getting around a particular island in Indonesia.
Depending on the size of the island you’re visiting in Indonesia, hiring a driver or a car might be a good way to get around. For example, on the island of Bali, getting around by car is a convenient way to see all the island has to offer and this can be done in a day or 2 if you wanted.
However, if you're visiting Java, then you’ll soon realise the island is too big to hire a car for just a day.
So, if you’re on a smaller island, or only seeing one area of an island, then hiring a car, or a driver with a car for a day is often a good idea. Hiring a driver and car in Indonesia isn’t overly expensive either which is good news for budget travellers.
Depending on the city you visit, the frequency and development of bus networks will vary. In Java, long distance buses are common between popular cities and towns, and intercity travel is also conducted via buses. However, on the other islands such as Bali, or Nusa Pendia, bus travel is virtually non-existent.
I suggest if you’re on a tight budget then use bus for long travel (distances greater than 2-3 hours), and for the shorter distances just use taxis and ride sharing apps.
Some islands in Indonesia have fantastic train networks, such as the island of Java. The whole island is connected with rail lines and this makes travel easy, not to mention cheaper. The trains are of a high quality and the views are quite beautiful.
Train travel in Java was one of my favourite ways of getting around Indonesia.
Since Indonesia is made up of a lot of islands, a quick way to get to and from them is flying. You can get flights from Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia) to Lombok and Bali for less than $35. Even within larger islands, such as Java, you can get internal flights for around $20-30 if you’re tight on time, or simply prefer flying.
When it comes to finding cheap flights in Indonesia, we’ve always used Skyscanner and I suggest you do to!
Boat travel is another convenient way to get between islands. More touristy islands such as Bali and Lombok will run “tourist” type services which will offer a faster boat service for a higher price. However, local boats are super cheap.
For example, you can get a boat from Bali to Lombok for a couple of dollars, and getting from Lombok to the Gili islands via local boat is less than $1.
To find the best deals on boat services in Indonesia, I recommend you use 12Go Asia. Anytime we tried to negotiate a price for a boat with someone in person, they were always trying to rip us off.
At least with 12go, you know you’re getting a decent price and actually getting a seat on the boat.
When you are on an island, you’ll often find that the best way to get around is by moped (unless it’s the GIli islands were no motorised vehicles are allowed). If you’ve never driven a moped before, check out our guide on renting a moped in South East Asia for some guidance.
But it often costs no more than a couple of dollars a day, and fuel is super cheap in Indonesia. So if you feel confident enough and drive safely (Wear your helmet!), then it’s a great way to get around Indonesia.
The rise of ride sharing apps has definitely made getting around Indonesia a lot easier. The two biggest companies (as of 2019) are Grab and Go-Jek. Both great apps and I’ll chat about them in more detail below.
Grab is an awesome app that allows you to get cheap rides all across Indonesia. We use them for our airport transfers (so we don’t get ripped off) and in some locations you can even rent a Grab driver for a full day of driving, which is not only cheap, but pretty useful, especially in places like Bali.
You can also order food off Grab with Grab food and Brad and I have probably used this service way too much, when we can’t be bothered to go find food, or it’s raining!
We’ve never had any issues with Grab and highly recommend it for getting around Indonesia. With Grab you can rent cars, extra large cars (for six people) or mopeds.
Go-Jek is another popular ride sharing app in Indonesia, and it’s just as good as Grab. But what’s even more awesome is that they have an app called “Go Life” that allows you to order food, massages, cleaning services and pretty much anything you can think of which is really cool!
With Go-Jek you can order cars, mopeds and extra large cars (for 6 people).
Both apps are pretty much the same price.
So there you have it, my guide to getting around Indonesia, based on my own experience. If you’ve got any more tips or information you wish to add to this guide, then simply drop a comment below!
Happy travelling in Indonesia and keep safe :)