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Different Modes Of Transportation To Take In Indonesia

November 28th, 2008 by

Traveling can really be fun, exhilarating, and exciting! You get to visit new places, try out new cuisines, experience different cultures and, of course, meet people then eventually make new friends. Plus, you can stay in really nice hotels like the Ascott Jakarta Hotel.

You will live through these and more during your trip to Indonesia. But before you head to the nearest restaurant, visit the museum, go on that tour or explore every corner of this energetic city, it is highly advisable to familiarize yourself with the various modes of transportation that you can take in Indonesia so that you can save time, money and most especially to ensure your safety.

AIRPLANES – Getting into Indonesia would usually require you to take any of the airlines that have flights scheduled to and from the country through various cities. Air transport within the country is extremely important to connect the multitude of islands of the archipelago.

The most common destination of international flights would have to be Java where the capital Jakarta is located. Aside from Java, locations include Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Lesser Sunda Islands, and Papua.

Within Indonesia, the top-of-mind airline would have to be no less than Garuda Indonesia as this is the national airline of Indonesia. Based on the airline’s profile, this airline was named after the bird – Garuda. The office of this airline is based at the Soekarno – Hatta International Airport with satellite offices in other locations like Bali, Surabaya, and even in Singapore.

Another airline is Air Asia, a low – cost airline that is a favorite among budget travelers who would like to stretch every dollar. Indonesia Air Asia, although based in Jakarta, is actually the Indonesian counterpart of Air Asia in Malaysia.

FERRIES – If you plan to travel in between islands in Indonesia then you can take a ferry. Sea transport is quite common since each island in Indonesia has a port. It is a relaxing way to travel. It is the perfect opportunity for you to see the islands and marvel at the sparkling coastlines. If you are pressed for time then you have the option to take any of the fast ferries. People who are traveling on a budget are fans of this type of transport because the fare cost is reasonable. If you would like to be assured of comfortable sailing then you can get avail of a business class cabin.

Buses and Blue Bird Taxi

BUSES – Buses are also a common mode of transportation. Buses from various bus companies have regular scheduled service for major cities – Java, Bali, Sumatra. Some buses are express coaches and do not stop in between cities but there are also regular buses without air condition. Unfortunately, these buses have a notorious reputation for being reckless drivers that command the stirring wheels as if there is no tomorrow. You also have to be extra careful with your belongings because there could be pickpockets etc who will take advantage of you. Try to get tickets early to avoid long crowded lines.

METRO MINI – Do not let the word “mini” deceive you. There is nothing small about the Metro Mini. These are huge bright orange buses that rule the streets of Jakarta. These Metro Minis can definitely bring you to your destination but I would have to warn you that your travel will be far from comfortable because it is quite impossible to get a free seat on board these buses.

TAXIS – In Jakarta, taxis are quite common. Taxis would have to be metered but some taxi drivers do not use their meters but instead haggle the fare with you. You have to be careful as some taxi drivers might charge more especially if they see that you are tourists or foreigners. You will experience this at the airport, jetties, or bus terminals where taxi drivers will quote an amount for the fare instead of using their meters.

As for me, I only take the Blue Bird Taxi cabs. These Blue Bird Taxis are the equivalent of the big yellow taxis of New York or the black cabs in London. The Blue Bird Group launched their taxi cab business in 1972. The Blue Bird Group is also known for its other transport vehicles like the up-market Silver Bird or the rental cars called Golden Bird. The Blue Bird does not only serve Jakarta but other cities as well including Bali, Bandung, Lombok, Bali, Semarang, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, etc.

TRAINS – There are four train networks in Sumatra and Java. The two major ones travel the length of Java and another railway system for commuters run within Jakarta. Some locals would not recommend this to first time travelers. Some trains have not been maintained and can be dirty when filled to the brim with passengers. During public holidays or special occasions, you would surely be surprised to see people sitting on top of trains! You would wonder how they can even maintain their balance throughout the entire journey.

There are also trains in the city that are in good condition. These trains called the “Parahyangan” train travel from Jakarta and Bandung. You can also choose your “class” when you purchase your train tickets. Tickets are categorized as business class or executive class.


MIKROLETS, MINI VANS, AND MINI BUSES – You can also try mikrolets, mini vans or mini buses in Indonesia. These forms of transport are collectively grouped under the category of shared taxis. Shared taxis are a mix of a private transport and public bus that can carry four to twelve passengers at a time depending on the type of vehicle. There is no specific time schedule. You would just have to go to designated loading areas to catch the one that will go to your preferred destination. These vehicles can take you even to the remotest corners of Indonesia.

MOTORCYCLES OR “OJEK”- Riding these motorbikes is a different kind of experience. It’s a bonus that you can travel around the city so much faster on these two-wheelers. There would be no problem going through traffic jams or finding shortcuts in the labyrinth of narrow alleys that can be found in the city. It is common to spot the motorbikes along the street in front of residential alleys.

BECAKS – The becak is a bicycle attached to a 2-passenger carriage. Locals would tell you that there was a time before when the becaks were seen as a romantic way of seeing the city. It is quite similar in structure to another form of transport called the Bajaj.


BAJAJ – The Bajaj are easy to spot on the roads mainly because of their shells that are brightly colored orange. This type of vehicle originated in India but still it has made a mark in the way of lives of Indonesians. Some refer to the Bajaj as the three-wheeled mini taxis. Because of its size, it is quite easy for the Bajaj to enter narrow streets and pathways. Although passenger seats are only intended for two people, it is common to see the Bajaj carry up to five people!

With all these choices, traveling in Indonesia is made more enjoyable and exciting. These modes of transportation would bring you a step closer to that highly anticipated weekend sale, to that first bite of authentic Indonesian cuisine or to that loved one who is waiting for you with open arms.

7 Responses to “Different Modes Of Transportation To Take In Indonesia”

  1. Monica Says:

    Hey kitci i would love to try out the bajaj! It’s pretty interesting :)

  2. Alex Tan Says:

    that bajaj looks rickety cool.

  3. Ross Says:

    you should be careful riding those mikrolets… you just might lose your wallet, mobile phone or camera… i had quite an experience the last time i rode in one of those!!!

  4. Kitci Wong Says:

    Hello Monica! It is actually similar to the tricyle that we have in the Philippines :)

  5. Kitci Wong Says:

    Hi Alex! “Rickety” is a perfect description for the Bajaj… Yup, they are cool :)

  6. Kitci Wong Says:

    Hello Ross! Those mikrolets can get pretty crowded too most especially if drivers force more people to ride exceeding normal seating capacity :(

  7. Beatrice Says:

    those are interesting modes of transportation… i like to try the bajaj!

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