Transportation in Indonesia can sometimes be a bit confusing even with the use of great phone apps and ticket booking websites. So we thought it would be great to share our experience of what transportation to use when and how to use it.
So first thing’s first when you arrive in Indonesia go and get yourself an Indonesian phone sim card. At most airports you can do this (although we recommend to get one in town) and will probably set you back around 8 euro for 12 GB (with Telekom). With this key to the internet you will be able to book transportation from wherever you are such as taxis, grabs or even a moped if you’re feeling more adventurous.
With internet, we recommend you to download the app ‘Grab’ on your phone and nicely set up an account by using your Indonesian phone number. This app is basically the ‘Uber’ of Indonesia and allows you to book taxis and mopeds (and even easy food delivery) by setting a point of pickup and destination with a fixed price. The great thing about this app is that you will almost always get the ‘local rate’ for a taxi instead of the tourist one.
One thing to note though when using this app is that if your are at an airport, train station, bus station, ferry terminal or even some touristy streets (e.g. everything to the south of the Pitstop shop in Canggu) the Grabdrivers will refuse (or ask four time the going rate) to pick you up as there will be a taxi company with a monopoly on the transport in those areas. The way to deal with this is to walk in any direction for 10-20 minutes to get enough distance between you and these monopoly area’s. Another tip that helped us out a lot of times is if people keep hassling you while you are on your stroll just politely reply with the words ‘Jalan Jalan’ which roughly translates to “I’m just walking”.
Sometimes getting a Grab can be simply not possible no matter where you walk or how many requests you make. In these cases another taxi to look out for is a ‘Blue Bird Taxi’. These taxis will always offer you a fair price and are a reliable company.
A thing to consider is that if you are travelling with some companions (more then two persons) then getting the Grab taxi instead of the moped will probably end up being cheaper. But if you will be travelling solo or simply want to get to your destination quicker than we advice to get a Grab moped driver. Don’t worry about all the weaving in and out of traffic, in the world of Indonesia this is all perfectly normal!
However when travelling much longer distances you will want to use the train (Kerata Api) as they are extremely well priced and give you a nice view of your surroundings. You can either get the economy or executive train ticket, we definitely recommend the executive class for trips longer than 4 hours or you may never be able to feel your behind ever again. Also, remember to try and book at least a day in advance as seats can get snatched up quickly especially in peak season.
When hopping from island to island there are plenty of opportunities with private fastboats or slower cheaper ferries. Another possibilty which we experienced is getting on a local bus at the most east Java ferry terminal which takes you on the ferry and drives all the way to Denpensar in one go for only 5 euro’s.
Lastly, we would like to point out that, in our opinion, it is important for all travel to try and not use vehicle transport too much but instead walking on occasion will mean that you won’t miss too many sights and sounds. It’s important to try and travel slowly and stop to take in where you actually are.