Tuesday, June 28, 2022

How To Get Around in Indonesia

AsiaIndonesiaHow To Get Around in Indonesia

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With plane

As Indonesia is vast in size and also made up of islands, the only quick means of long-distance travel within Indonesia is by air. The state-owned airline Garuda Indonesia is a full-service airline and is usually reliable, although it is often the most expensive option. Until now, only Garuda Indonesia could fly Europe sky due to its safety. In mid-June 2016, the European Aviation Authority added Batik Air, Lion Air and Citilink to accompany Garuda Indonesia, and in August 2016, the US Federal Aviation Association (FAA) pleased all Indonesian airlines to be allowed to fly to the US.

Lion Air usually has many flights to a specific destination and with its low-cost service (no frills). Other low-cost competitors are Citilink, the subsidiary of Garuda Indonesia, and Indonesia AirAsia. Low-cost airlines have a tight schedule, with only perhaps 25 minutes to turn a plane around after landing. Delays accumulate throughout the day, so morning flights usually keep to their schedule better than those in the afternoon. Often Lion Air takes passengers but leaves the luggage because of overloading.

Citilink is also a low-cost carrier, better than Lion Air, but has limited routes, but flies “dense/fat” routes, such as Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan, Denpasar, Yogyakarta and Bandung.

Routes to less popular destinations are usually served by Sriwijaya Air. Air Fast, Susi Air, Trigana, Express Air and Wings Air mostly fly with propeller planes to smaller airports. If you are really going off the beaten track, e.g. to settlements in Papua, there are no scheduled flights at all and you will have to charter a plane or seek rides from missionaries or mining company workers. Sriwijaya Air and Kalstar can be categorised as medium-service airlines, which is between low-cost airlines and full-service airlines. Medium service airlines provide passengers with a snack, although some medium service airlines sometimes provide rice instead of a snack. The difference between the three classes is also the seat pitch.

Prices are low by international standards, but because they are regulated by the government, both the lowest and highest ticket prices on a given route are capped. Many airlines tend to lower the price a week before the flight if the plane is not full enough to the lower price limit – so you can try this and get a cheaper fare if you don’t have a tight schedule and don’t have to fly on a holiday, weekend or Monday morning. If you’re travelling off-peak, it can be helpful to check early and often, as frequencies are low and paid, occasionally even checked-in passengers are turned away with depressing regularity. Make sure you are at the airport at least 1 hour before departure.

Indonesia Air Asia and Citilink booking and/or payment can be made at almost all major Indomaret and Alfamart throughout Indonesia without additional fees. Alfamart is also only used to pay for Lion Air tickets. Using a travel agency costs about Rp 45,000 per ticket.

With boat

Indonesia is made up of islands, so boats have long been the most popular means of inter-island travel. Ferries can take you on long journeys that last days or weeks, or on short hops between islands for a few hours. Some destinations, such as Karimun Jawa from Semarang and the Thousand Islands from Jakarta, are served by yachts, which are faster, safer and more comfortable. The prices are higher, of course.

The largest company is the state-owned PELNI, whose huge ferries visit virtually every inhabited island in Indonesia on long trips that can take two weeks from one end to the other. PELNI uses European-designed boats that are large enough to cope with rough seas, but they can still be uncomfortably crowded in high season: Ferries built for 3000 people have been known to take 7000 people on board. This means that in the event of a sinking, there are often not enough lifeboats and could be a potential safety hazard.

Cabin accommodation classes, all including meals and private lockers, are:

  • 1st class, approx. US$ 40/day: two beds per cabin, private bathroom, TV, air conditioning.
  • 2nd class, approx. 30 US$/day: four beds per cabin, private bathroom, air-conditioning.
  • 3rd class, approx. 20 US$/day: six beds per cabin, air-conditioning, shared bathroom.
  • 4th class, approx. US$15/day: bed in a dormitory.

The “right” way to travel, however, is the ekonomi class (about US$10/day), which is a noisy, smoky, cramped squeeze; buy a rattan mat and come early to stake out your spot – it’s common for people to start jostling as soon as the ferry arrives. Pickpocketing and theft are a real problem, though.

In addition to PELNI’s slow boats, ASDP operates fast ferries (Kapal Ferry Cepat, rather amusingly abbreviated KFC) on a number of popular routes. Both PELNI and ASDP tickets can be booked through travel agencies.

Last but not least, there are also countless services offering short island-to-island hops, including between Merak in Java and Sumatra’s Bakauheni (hourly), Java and Bali (every 15 minutes) and Bali and Lombok (almost hourly).

Generally, schedules are fictitious, amenities sparse and safety precautions poor. Try to check what, if any, safety devices are on board and consider postponing your trip if the weather looks bad. Because maintenance is poor and overloading is common, sinkings on ferries operated by smaller companies are all too common and reported every year.

Food on ferries varies from bad to inedible, and journey times can stretch well beyond the timetable, so bring enough to tide you over even if the engine stalls and you end up drifting an extra day. If you have problems with motion sickness, buy medication such as Dramamine or Antimo.

Ferries have different classes of seats, with the most expensive (and cleanest) section upstairs with comfortable seats and windows for a nice frontal view, followed by second class behind in a separate room that is more cramped and dirty with less comfortable seats, and third class is usually on the lower decks and is the worst, although different ferries may have their own organisation. The vehicles are of course located downstairs on the main deck.

You may be harassed by people on board who try to extract extra money from you on dubious pretexts. Feel free to ignore them, although in return it may be possible to cheat your way to a better class of accommodation.

In some places, even smaller boats such as outriggers, glass-bottom boats, sailboats, motorboats and fishing boats may be the only means of transport available, and prices can vary from a small amount to several dozen dollars. Be prepared by checking prices and routes in advance and always haggle. Some of these boats can be hired for fishing, snorkelling, diving and tours.

With the cruise ship

As of October 2015, Indonesia had allowed cruise ships to call at 5 ports: Tanjung Priok (Jakarta), Tanjung Perak (Surabaya), Belawan (near Medan), Makassar and Benoa (Bali). This means that passengers can only choose one part of a longer cruise ship journey.

With train

PTKeretaApi, +62 21 121, the state railway company, operates trains in almost all of Java and some parts of Sumatra. The network was originally built by the Dutch, but few new lines have been built since independence, except for revitalisations. Maintenance quality is increasingly acceptable, derailments and accidents are rare. As usual with state-owned companies, customer service is polite but not always interested in satisfying the customer in case of a problem.

Java has by far the best railway network, with trains connecting the capital Jakarta with other major cities such as Surabaya, Semarang, Yogyakarta and Solo. Jakarta also has a line of commuter trains within the metro area. Bandung is connected to Jakarta by about 20 trains per day, and is itself connected to Surabaya via Yogyakarta. Balihas has no railway lines, but there are trains to Banyuwangi, with ferries to the island. In general, the trains pass through scenic areas and travellers who are not in a hurry should consider the length of the journey and the scenery a bonus, although some slums are built around the tracks. Theft is not a major issue in Executive Class, but precautions are advisable on all trains, especially the cheapest ones.

Sumatra’s networks exist around Medan, West Sumatra, Lampung and South Sumatra. Passenger trains on the island run much less frequently than on Java.

Service class

Please mention that all train types and also commuter trains in Java are air-conditioned (split AC is used for Bisnis and older Ekonomi coaches as the coaches were not originally equipped with air-conditioning). But all of them are not designed for people with disabilities and senior citizens. You can also buy food on every train except the commuter trains, although the quality is not very good and kind of overpriced.

  • In the Eksekutif class, there are only assigned seats and you should be equipped with floor-length clothes as the temperature is usually rather low (maybe 18 degrees Celsius). These trains have paired reclining seats with footrests (and if you have a group of four, you can have the paired seats turned so that they face each other), TV entertainment (if the TV is not broken and the signal is good) and you can ask for blankets and pillows during the journey.
  • The Bisnis class has similar seats to the “Ekonomi” class, but with forward facing seats, not “face to face” seats as in economy class and more comfortable seats.
  • Ekonomi classes are also available for the budget-conscious traveller. Cheaper fares usually get an older bus (with 3-2 configuration) that is not originally air-conditioned, while more expensive fares usually get a newer bus (with 2-2 configuration). Both the older and newer buses have “face to face” seats.
  • Commuter trains have side seats with bars and hand straps for standing passengers and can be very crowded at peak times, although they are usually air-conditioned and have women-only carriages at both ends.

Due to the relatively short travel time (maximum 7 hours), no sleeper service is offered in Indonesia.

The stations are guarded by the train police, who wear plain uniforms, but there may also be regular police or, rarely, military personnel.

Tickets can be purchased ninety days in advance, although they are usually available at the last minute. The exception is the very busy Lebaran season, when it is not advisable to travel due to the extremely high demand for tickets. Online ticket reservation is available on the official website. For all trains except local trains, you will need to present a photocopy of your ID at the time of purchase. Sometimes discounts are offered for certain lines, but you need to order them well in advance to get them. Senior citizens aged 60 and over receive a 20% discount. Make sure your ticket is correct before you leave the ticket office. You can also buy tickets at Minimarts and post offices. They no longer charge an administration fee, but they do not sell discounted tickets. Minimarts also allow payment by debit/credit card with a minimum amount of Rp50,000 and can be combined with payment for your snack and drink. As some minimarts are not open 24/7 and some cities have initially stopped offering 24-hour minimarts, PT KAI has initially set up 24-hour e-kiosks with certain banks where you can buy tickets and pay with all paper money from Rp2,000, debit card or e-money.

Ticket reservation via the official PT Kereta Api website and mobile app is only available in Indonesian. A common problem shared with quite a few flight bookings was the rejection of foreign-issued credit cards used for payment. An alternative way to book your train ticket is through the booking portal tiket.com, which has an English-language interface and fewer payment issues. From 23 June 2016, passengers with booking codes should use the check-in machine to obtain their boarding pass (12 hours to 10 minutes before departure) outside the station. The check-in and boarding pass system is normally used in the aviation industry. Nowadays, the same system is also used in Senen station and is gradually being used in other stations. With the boarding pass and the original ID card with the same name, the passenger can enter the station.

Larger stations usually have several platforms and regular connections to many cities, but the smallest stations have only irregular stops and one platform. Be sure to find out in advance which platform you need to go to. While you wait, most stations have shops and restaurants where you can buy food and drinks to eat on board. In the past, vendors (asongan) would jump on the train and offer their wares until the train started moving. This was intrusive and noisy, though certainly convenient for passengers and vendors alike. Since 2012, vendors are no longer allowed on the train, but in small stations many still block the entrances to the carriages while shouting to passengers inside. But with more fast trains, vendors are relatively declining.

Toilets vary between squat toilets or sit-down toilets without a proper seat. Most executive trains have spray nozzles for washing the buttocks and a sink, and using a toilet may require a balancing act. Bring your own (damp) handkerchief, because if available, the handkerchief may not be in normal dry condition. Toilets usually discharge directly onto the tracks, so use is prohibited while in a station.

With bus

Buses are often run by driver cooperatives or private companies (of which there are many) and follow specific routes – but they can deviate from their route if you ask, usually for a little extra. There are few bus stops in most cities, and with the exception of bus lines like TransJakarta and TransJogja (which have their own stops and possibly lanes), they stop almost everywhere to pick up and drop off passengers. The main types of buses are air-conditioned (executive or AC) and non-air-conditioned (non-AC or “economy class”), and they come in different sizes, such as the small angkot, which have no air-conditioning and are very cramped, the medium-sized metro-minis, which may or may not have air-conditioning and have very little legroom between seats, and the large buses, which range from cramped seats and no air-conditioning to luxurious seats and full facilities.

Bus maintenance is sometimes poor, but in some places, such as Bali and Kupang, bus drivers take great pride in their vehicles, decorating them and taking good care of them. In some areas, drivers are drunk or under the influence of drugs and in any case most drive aggressively or simply recklessly. Often the drivers and their conductors pack as many people as possible into their bus to increase profits, increasing the risk of petty theft and accidents. Due to competition with shuttle service minibuses everywhere, buses tend to carry too few passengers, even the buses without air conditioning can carry all the passengers on the buses, no more passengers hanging out of the doors with one foot on the step and one hand holding onto something. Many buses, except perhaps the small ones for lack of space, allow wandering vendors, beggars and street musicians on their buses for short periods of time.

It is possible to charter buses. The air-conditioned charter buses can be hired with their drivers for a tour group and, in fact, any large city bus will take on a charter job if the money is right. Indonesian bus companies offer intercity (antar kota) and inter-province (antar propinsi) routes. Inter-provincial routes usually include transport to other islands, mainly between Java and Sumatra and Java and Bali. In several cities, the government offers its own line, DAMRI, which comes in medium and large sizes and is usually air-conditioned and tends to be in better condition.

Occasionally there are reports of drivers and conductors working with criminals, but this usually happens at night or in lonely places. There are also reports of hypnotists robbing people of their possessions and street vendors selling drugged drinks to waiting passengers at stops and terminals, who then become victims of crime. Long overnight journeys are particularly dangerous. Guard your bags like a hawk. In the wilder parts of the country (especially South Sumatra), buses between provinces are occasionally attacked by bandits.

With regular service/shuttle

Mini shuttle is the newest form of Indonesian transport, growing with the new toll roads and better highways. The journey, as locals call it, uses various AC minibuses with passengers ranging from 6 to 12 on reclining seats and runs on “point to point” routes. That is, each operator has its own (multiple) departure point in the towns it serves. The most developed route is between Jakarta and Bandung, with ticket prices varying from Rp80,000 to Rp110,000 depending on comfort, seat pitch and luxury.

Regular services are usually more expensive than regular intercity buses, but are faster and have multiple departure/arrival points. Your belongings are safer, but expect extra charges for surfboards and bulky packages. You can book with the respective companies, but last-minute passengers are sometimes welcome.

With car

Indonesian driving habits are generally atrocious and the rule is “me first”, often signalled by horns or lights, or sometimes not at all. Lanes and traffic rules are blithely ignored, overtaking manoeuvres are suicidal and driving on the hard shoulder is common. Emergency vehicles are often simply ignored because the entire space is already occupied, making a ride in an ambulance a risky endeavour. Drivers tend to pay most attention to what they can see in front of them and at the edge, and far less to what is behind their edge and to the rear. Mirrors may or may not be consulted before changing lanes. The gaps between vehicles are usually small, and drivers have been known to pass with almost no clearance, but the side mirrors are frequent victims of such actions. Bumper-to-bumper driving at high speeds is common; practice defensive driving and always be prepared to brake suddenly if necessary. However, the most common cause of death and injury on the roads is motorbike accidents. Traffic drives on the left in Indonesia, at least most of the time. Watch out for motorbikes overtaking on the left, especially when turning left.

Renting a car in Indonesia is cheap compared to many other countries, costs start at USD12.5/day, and fuel costs remain relatively low due to the low (fuel) tax: a litre of fuel should cost from Rp7,400 for octane 88 quality (premium brand), Rp8,400 for octane 90 (Pertalite). For wealthy citizens, there are more expensive grades of petrol with octane 92 (Pertamax) and 95 (Pertamax Plus) for an additional Rp1,000 to Rp2,000. From 2000, all drivers of new vehicles in Indonesia were required to use at least octane 90 to avoid the knocking of high compression ratio engines.

To drive a car yourself in Indonesia, you must carry a current driving licence of the appropriate class issued in your home country, as well as an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) of the same class. There are no exceptions unless you hold an Indonesian SIM (driver’s licence) of the appropriate class. However, careful consideration must be given as many travel insurance companies will only accept liability if the driver has a domestically issued licence with the fully matching IDP.

Consider hiring a car with a driver; the additional cost is quite low, around Rp 150,000 or less, plus three square meals a day for Rp 20,000 to 25,000 each and optional accommodation and meals. Having a driver also reduces the risk of an accident, as they know how to get through the hectic traffic and find a faster route to their destination.

Road conditions and maintenance in Indonesia are rudimentary outside the major cities and certain tourist destinations. During the rainy season, the main roads in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi are often flooded or blocked by landslides for several days. Toll roads, which are of better quality, are still patchy and only available in large cities, especially in Java. Seatbelts are compulsory, especially on the front seat, but sometimes poorly enforced and monitored.

With taxi

For a group of two to four people, a taxi may be the best choice for relatively short journeys. Taxi fares in Indonesia are relatively cheap and relatively uniform across the country. The starting fare is between Rp 7,000 and Rp 8,500 and the subsequent kilometre between Rp 4,000 and Rp 4,500, but goes up higher if you are stuck in a traffic jam (if the taxi stops for a traffic jam, it costs about Rp 45,000/hour). Despite the pricing scheme, you usually still have to pay a minimum fare for short trips, which is stated by the respective companies but is usually Rp 25,000. The minimum fare when ordering by phone is around Rp 35,000, but some taxis do not have a minimum fare when ordering by phone. Most people recommend Blue Bird Taxis because of the convenience of booking, courteous drivers and safe driving. Blue Bird taxis are available in many of the main cities and when Blue Bird is available, all (other) taxis run as well. In the other cities where Blue Bird does not exist, some taxi drivers are cheeky, they use the meter but charge more (sometimes more than double) with the explanation that it is customary to pay more, as they mention. Ask first, before getting into the taxi, ‘sesuai argo tidak’ < sezoowhy argo teaduct> (pay the same with the (argo)meter or not).

In every major city in Indonesia, taxis are plentiful even during rush hours. Nowadays, where taxis and traffic jams are abundant, taxi drivers prefer to wait for orders by phone through a call centre or receive orders directly to the driver via EasyTaxi or GrabTaxi apps from passengers with smartphones. Passengers can select the taxi they want (with GPS) by pointing at the taxi on the screen. Only qualified taxis and most importantly the qualified drivers can join the apps and are not only dependent on the fleet brands. Taxis (drivers) who cannot join the apps usually wait in a group, while those who can join the apps are usually spread across the city, so with the apps, the taxi can pick up passengers in just 5 to 10 minutes of waiting time. Taxis are hard to find when it rains and up to an hour after the rain ends.

Uber Taxi is now operating in Indonesia in collaboration with many rental companies, although it does not have an entity in Indonesia, but nowadays it still advertises itself as an entity in Indonesia. The fare is about half that of a regular taxi. UberBlack uses Toyota Camry or Toyota Innova cars: a flag ride costs Rp 3000 and the next kilometre costs Rp 2000. UberX, which will start operating soon (from 2015), uses Toyota Avanza cars and has lower fares than UberBlack. Uber Taxi currently operates in Jakarta, other major cities and Bali. Payment is by credit card.

In mid-March 2016, thousands of conventional/regular taxis go on strike and block some main roads and toll roads to protest against online taxi apps like Uber and Grab, which cut their income by half due to competition. The government is imposing new regulations on both conventional taxis and online taxis (sharing economy) as the latter are a new phenomenon. Uber, Grab and other taxi apps must have Indonesia’s entity. During the two-month transition period, Uber and Grab are prohibited from expanding, but they can continue to operate as usual, although some cities ban their operations during the transition period.

With angkot

Angkot means Angkutan Perkotaan or City Transport, but in big cities, Angkot service also covers 20 km outside the city, such as Jakarta-Depok, Bandung-Soreang, Bandung-Cimahi, Bandung-Lembang, etc. The fare is more expensive than TransJakarta and other trans in other cities, but still relatively low – around Rp2000 to Rp4000. Angkot use modified pickups as minibuses, but the seats are facing each other and can carry more than 10 people. New angkot have high roofs, which is more convenient for getting in and out. Since many people who used to ride angkot now have their own motorbike (a faster way to get through traffic jams), angkot now usually have many empty seats, and there are many empty seats even during rush hours when waiting times are less than 5 minutes.

With becak

Becak (“BEH-chahk”) is a colourfully decorated tricycle (pedicab) used as a means of transport for short distances, e.g. through residential areas in many cities. The passenger seat may be covered by a convertible-like canvas or plastic roof, and a clear plastic sheet is sometimes placed in front of it in case of rain. In some areas the driver sits behind the passenger, in some areas (like Medan) the driver sits to the side of the passenger. Some drivers in different cities have started to equip their becak with small engines.

Good communication and haggling are important to make sure you reach your destination and to avoid paying too much money for these rides. Some smart drivers will try to get more money out of you after you reach your destination, make sure you know how much it will cost beforehand. You can hire a group of becak if you are in a group or you can even hire them to transport belongings, ice blocks, food, building materials etc. You can ask the driver to take you somewhere else for an extra fee, and they may be willing to take you on a sightseeing and/or shopping tour for even more money. If you go on a shopping tour, they will usually take you to certain shops with which they have made informal agreements that will give them extra income from your purchases, or perhaps a free meal.

Note that there are no becaks in Jakarta or Bali. Instead, the motorised bajaj (BAH-jai), which is somewhat similar to the Thai tuk-tuk, serves the same function. In some other provinces (e.g. North Sumatra, Aceh) you can also find motorbikes with sidecars known as bentor or bemo (short for becak bermotor).

Becak is the most expensive form of public transport and is rarely used nowadays, except by elderly women transporting goods from the traditional markets. Young people use the ojek when transporting fish or other smelly products, or otherwise use the angkot. In some cities like Yogyakarta, the use of the becak has decreased so much that it is almost only used by tourists.

With bajaj

Less common than the becak and practically only found in the city of Jakarta is the Indian bajaj (BAH-jai), which is painted blue on the new models (like the colour of the BlueBird taxi), with a black roof. This small, three-wheeled vehicle is powered by CNG, so it is quieter than the old 2-stroke Bajajs, which no longer exist because it follows a replacement programme where more old Bajajs are replaced by a new Bajaj, so the new Bajajs are not as many as the old Bajajs before. The driver sits in the front and the passengers (up to 3 small adults) in the back. The cabin is covered with a canvas roof and there is a windscreen. The doors have no windows and are half-height, but the sides and back of the roof can have soft plastic windows. You can ask the driver to take you somewhere else for an extra charge and they may be willing to take you on a sightseeing and/or shopping tour for even more money. If you go on a shopping tour, they will usually take you to certain shops with which they have informal agreements that give them extra income from your purchases or perhaps a free meal.

As with most small transport, communication and haggling are important and it is best to know the price before speaking to a driver.

With bemo

Less common than the Bajaj is the Bemo (BAY-mo), which is usually painted blue. This strange and unique tricycle looks like a tiny truck and passengers get into the back where the cargo area is open and benches are attached to each side for six passengers and a passenger side of the driver, packed into a tiny vehicle (smaller than a Kei Car these days) no more than 3 metres long. The Daihatsu Midget MP4 was introduced in the late 1950s and was originally intended to carry goods, but in Indonesia the cargo area was converted to carry passengers. The engine is only 305 cc, making it slow and only suitable for journeys of a few kilometres. All Bemos in Indonesia today are at least 50 years old, with original engine block and chassis. As it is an angkot, no haggling is necessary, but the bemo runs with full passengers (takes about 5 minutes to fill it up) from the starting point and if there are no passengers, you get out of the bemo in the middle of the route.

With horsecart

Horse-drawn carts, often called delman (DEL-mahn) or dokar (DOE-car), usually have a roof for the cart, which usually has 2 wheels but can also have 4, are picturesquely decorated and are pulled by a horse. These are not found everywhere, but are more common than you might think. In some places, such as Gili Air (Lombok), where motorised vehicles are both impractical and forbidden, they are the only means of transport, but they can also be found in big cities such as Jogjakarta and Semarang. They usually follow a set route, but you can ask the driver to take you somewhere else for an extra fee, and they may be willing to take you sightseeing and/or shopping for even more money.

When you go on a shopping trip, they will usually lead you to certain shops with whom they have made informal agreements that will give them extra income from your purchases or perhaps a free meal.

As with most small transport, communication and haggling are important and it is best to know the price before speaking to a driver.

With ojek

Ojek (OH-jeck) has the third highest fares after becak and taxi: more than half the cost of taxi fares and sometimes almost as expensive as a taxi. Nowadays, fewer passengers take the traditional/regular ojek because so many Indonesians now have their own motorbikes. Strangely, this has led to an increase in fares and more dishonesty among ojek drivers in the big cities.

But if you are in a hurry and alone, a traditional ojek, a motorbike taxi without a taximeter, might be right for you. Even in some remote areas, you can only be served by an ojek. The price is very high due to the bad roads and the local monopoly, but the drivers are more honest than their counterparts in the big cities and can even take care of your belongings. Ojek services consist of people with bicycles loitering on street corners or, less frequently, in motorbike taxi stands (POS OJEK), rarely recognisable by a coloured, numbered jacket, who usually shuttle short distances in alleys and streets, but will also take on longer journeys for a higher price.

As with most small transport, communication and haggling are important and it is best to know the going rate for a ride before speaking to a driver. The fare is around Rp10,000 to Rp15,000 for 4 kilometres, but negotiation skills are important and POS OJEK fares tend to be more expensive. Watch out for some Ojek drivers who initially agree to a price but then try to extort extra money from you at the end of the ride, claiming that it is customary to pay more than the agreed price and behaving in an angry and threatening manner. So far there are no reports of violence, but quite a few drivers humiliate passengers by doing things like throwing the money, and some customers who do not want to argue pay an extra Rp2,000 to Rp5,000 or sometimes more. So avoid traditional ojek if you can.

A new organised ojek (online ojek) is used nowadays by many people who are willing to pay more than a regular ojek or who are not satisfied with rude regular ojek drivers. Nowadays, even organised ojek can compete with taxi in big cities with heavy traffic jams.

Today there are at least 35 ojek apss. The biggest organised online ojek is Go-Jek. Go-Jek costs Rp 15,000 during off-peak hours, but during peak hours from 4pm to 7pm, the minimum charge is Rp 15,000 for the first 6 kilometres and Rp 2,500/km for the next kilometre. The fare is decided in advance by Head Quarter system through assisted-GPS when we order through the app/smartphone (no haggling) (the charge appears in the smartphone display and the passenger can agree it for pickup), but the calculation is not clear, only in 2 kilometres radius from us, the drivers can receive our order (our location) and usually less than 10 seconds, one of the drivers will agree with our order. For a long journey of 10 kilometres you need about half of the taxi fare if there is no traffic jam, but the Go-Jek fare is fixed so you don’t have to worry about traffic jam or rain, the regular Ojek charge you more than usual if it is raining. Monitoring by A-GPS and the fact that only qualified drivers can join Go-Jek make Go-Jek relatively safer than a regular Ojek. Today, there are 30,000 Go-Jek drivers in the mega cities of Jabodetabek (Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi), Bandung, Surabaya and Bali (around Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Denpasar). Since Go-Jek is used by many passengers nowadays, Go-Jek in Jakarta, Bekasi and Depok are “enemies” for regular Ojek. So if we want to be picked up in an apartment complex, no Go-Jek may bother with you because regular Ojek in that complex will be annoyed with the Go-Jek driver (not you), but not if Go-Jek picks you up from outside the complex. So order Go-Jek wisely to pick you up far away from the regular Ojek crowd that usually waits outside an apartment complex or at a major intersection. Due to the many new competitors, Go-Jek, as a pioneer, is currently offering a promotion with a rate of only Rp 15,000 for 25 kilometres, which is usually replaced by another promotion. Those who do not have an Android smartphone can contact the call centre, 021-50233200.

Go-Jek’s main competitor is GrabBike. The Grab application is also used in other Southeast Asian countries and is easy to use. The application integrates GrabBike, GrabCar and GrabTaxi. GrabBike’s fare is 1,500/kilometre, while GrabCar’s fare is Rp 4,500/kilometre and GrabTaxi costs about 10 to 20% more. GrabCar is like UberTaxi, while GrabTaxi is a traditional taxi but uses the Grab app, so the cost depends on the argometer. GrabTaxi is available in Jabodetabek (Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi), Bandung, Surabaya and Bali. GrabBike is the fastest way to get a service from an online ojek, as the nearest GrabBike will serve you.

The other organised ojek (apps) are: Ojek Syari’i (Ojesy) with female driver for passenger; available in Jakarta and surrounding areas (except Bogor), Surabaya, Malang, Sidoarjo and Yogya; can be booked via FaceBook and Whatsapp; the first kilometre costs Rp 5,000 and Rp 3,000 for the next kilometre, but the minimum payment is Rp 20,000. And the waiting time is Rp 5,000/30 minutes. Lady Jek like Ojek Syari’i with driver and passenger, Rp 25,000 for the first 6 kilometres and Rp 4,000 for the next kilometre. Lady Jek has the highest fare among organised Ojek as it is a niche for Muslim women. Only available in Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi. Jeger (Ojek) Taxi; use argometer as taxi and can also be hailed as taxi; first kilometre costs Rp 4,500 and Rp 2,500 for the next kilometre. Get-Jek, for the first available in the small town of Solo. Blu-Jek, first available in Jakarta and surrounding areas, except Bogor, with relatively the same fare as taxi, minimum payment is Rp 20,000 for the first 5 kilometres and Rp 4,000 for the next kilometre. The latest is Ojek Argo with a fare of Rp 3,000/kilometre and rounded down to the nearest thousand rupiah. Just download the Android app and you don’t have to register. Widespread in almost all major cities in Java, Denpasar in Bali, Bandar Lampung and Palembang in Sumatra, and also Palangkaraya in Kalimantan.

With motorbike

In many parts of Indonesia, such as Bali and Yogyakarta, it is possible for tourists to rent a motorbike to get around. Prices are usually around Rp 50,000-60,000. Nowadays, a motorbike with automatic transmission is usually provided. Popular models are Honda Vario, Honda Beat, Honda Scoopy and Yamaha Mio, and they range in engine capacity from 110cc to 125cc. You should negotiate the price and seek a discount for longer rental period. Make sure that the motorbike on offer is fully roadworthy and that there is a current Surat Tanda Nomor Kendaraan (STNK, the proof of registration and legality) with the motorbike.

The people who rent out the motorbikes may not care whether you have a licence or not, but to drive a motorbike in Indonesia you must carry a current driving licence of the appropriate class issued by your home country, plus an International Driving Permit (IDP) of the same class. There are no exceptions unless you hold an Indonesian Surat Izin Mengemudi (SIM C), which is a sepeda engine (motorbike) licence.
Careful consideration must be given to obtaining a SIM C if you do not also hold an equivalent driving licence and IDP from your home country. Many travel insurance policies will only recognise liability if you have an appropriate driving licence issued in your home country with the fully matching IDP. A “moped” classification or endorsement is not sufficient, it must be a full driving licence.
Helmets are compulsory, so make sure you wear one. If you have an accident while not wearing a helmet, your travel insurance is likely to be invalidated or there will be serious complications if you make a claim. When driving in Indonesia, it is compulsory to wear a helmet and use headlights and tail lights during the day and night.

Be sure to drive defensively, as most road users are quite reckless and a surprising number of visitors to Indonesian hospital emergency rooms and morgues have recently been on a motorbike.

On foot

A typically unpopular way to explore what the world has to offer is on foot. Especially in a big city with all the traffic snarls and small alleys in many others, walking can be a dramatically faster and more efficient option, although the hot, humid air may still tempt you to use a taxi. However, most cities don’t have properly marked pavements, or even any at all, so it’s best to walk along the edge. Especially in big cities, only cross at the marked pedestrian crossings or use the overpass if you don’t want to be involved in an accident.

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