Public Transport

Tips on getting around Indonesia

Public Transport

If you don’t have access to your own mode of transport, you will need to rely on Indonesia’s public transport. While services are improving in the large cities, public transport will not be of a high standard or a frequent service in rural areas.

One of the positive aspects of Indonesia is that in most towns and cities, there is always the possibility of walking around. Unlike in many western cities, especially those in the United States where a car is almost essential, one can get around on foot fairly easily.

Cars drive on the left-hand side in Indonesia. However, driving in Indonesia will take some getting used to as roads are often narrow, only allowing two cars to pass, and cars are commonly parked in the street in cities as there is no room for garages. This, coupled with the fact there are a large number of motorcyclists, often not following the rules of the road, makes driving or even walking for that matter, a dangerous task.


There are several main train lines in Indonesia connecting the major cities, however carriages are often crowded and dirty. You are advised not to travel at the end of Ramadan (the Muslim month of fasting) as citizens often travel back to their villages from the big cities such as Jakarta. Trains in this period will be extremely busy, to the extent that people will be hanging out of the trains.


Buses are the main form of public transport in Indonesia and will connect all of the big cities as well as have links into rural areas. Nevertheless, it is advisable that if you travel by bus you strap in tight as bus drivers are often reckless in their way of driving. This is what you get for buses being cheaper and more regular than the trains! Please also note that pickpockets operate on all forms of public transport but especially on buses and you must keep an eye on your belongings at all times.


Taxis are becoming increasingly popular throughout Indonesia but are most common in the capital, Jakarta. All taxis are equipped with a meter but sometimes taxi drivers will insist on a certain price instead of using the meter. It is therefore advised that you check before you start your journey and try to haggle a price, if the driver maintains his position simply leave and get another taxi. Keep safe and keep your belongings close while also locking the doors. Luckily almost all taxis in the big cities are air-conditioned and are also, relative to the west, very cheap.

Further reading

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