Indonesia - Transportation


Air transport is rapidly increasing; not only, driven by the insufficient water and land transport networks, but also because travel by air is the quickest way to get around the country's thousands of islands, and for some areas, the only option.

Indonesia has adopted the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization with only minor variations, but the compliance with the standards is far from uniform.

Indonesia's sudden air transport development became possible by the collapse of the Suharto regime in 1998. Before 1999, there were five scheduled carriers and a few charter operators.

In 2004, there were 23 scheduled airlines operating and 37 licenses had been issued. Air transport is growing rapidly, with air travelers doubling every three years primarily because of low fares. In 2003, 16 million trips were taken, compared with 6.6 million in 1999. Conservatively, the Directorate General of Air Communication estimated 20 million as the number of seats sold in 2004, which is 7 million more than the figure of1997. The following airports are there in Indonesia.

  • Eltari in Kupang (Timor)
  • Hangnadim in Batam (BatamIsland)
  • Husein Sastranegara in Bandung(West Java)
  • Ngurah Rai in Denpasar (Island of Bali)
  • Polonia in Medan (North Sumatera)
  • Selaparang in Mataram (LombokIsland)
  • Simpang Tiga in Pekanbaru (Riau)
  • Supadio in Pontianak (West Kalimantan)
  • Adi Sumarno in Solo (D.I.Yogyakarta)
  • Hasanuddin in Ujung Pandang (South Sulawesi)
  • Adi Juanda in Surabaya (East Java)
  • Sam Ratulangi in Manado (North Sulawesi)
  • Sepinggan in Balikpapan (East Kalimantan)
  • Soekarno Hatta in Jakarta (Capital of Indonesia)
  • Tabing in Padang (West Sumatera)

Shipping Ports

Indonesia has some 300 public ports scattered over the archipelago. Of these, 43 are international liner service ports; the rest are feeder, and special ports, serving inter-island, local (small motorized vessels up to 250 dwt operating in short inter-island or coastal routes) and sailing vessels (small wooden hulled vessels which mainly depend on a combination of wind power and motor propulsion).

  • Bandar Seri Udana-Loban (Tanjung Uban)
  • Begawan in Medan (North Sumatera)
  • Bitung
  • Lembar in Mataram (LombokIsland)
  • Nongsa Terminal Bahari (BatamIsland)
  • Sekupang in Batam (BatamIsland)
  • Sri Bayintan (Tanjung Pinang)
  • Tanjung Balai Karimun(Tanjung Balai Karimun)
  • Tanjung Perak in Surabaya (East Java)
  • Tanjung Priok in Jakarta (Capital of Indonesia)
  • Bandar Bentan Telani (Lagol)
  • Batu Ampar in Batam (BatamIsland)
  • Benoa in Bali (Island of Bali)
  • Dumai (Dumai)
  • Lhok Seumawe (North Sumatra)
  • Marina Teluk Senimba (BatamIsland)
  • Padang Bai in Bali (Island of Bali)
  • Selat Kijang (Tanjung Pinang)
  • Tanjung Mass in Semarang (Central Java)
  • Tanjung Pinang (Tanjung Pinang)
  • Tenau in Kupang (Timor).

Local Transport

The good thing about Indonesia is that many times you can walk to get to places. Unlike many cities in North America (like Los Angeles) which force you to drive, you can actually walk or take public transportation in Indonesia.

If you don't have to drive in Indonesia, don't. Indonesians drive on the left-side of the street, as oppose to the right (correct)-side. (Pun intended). Many streets are narrow. They are good for two cars, one in each direction, with only a few feet or inches between the two cars. Some people also park their cars on the street (no room for garage), making it more difficult to drive. On top of that, you have to be careful with motorcyclists, people walking (also jaywalking) on the streets, and public transportation cars or buses which stop and cut you in an unpredictable manner.

To drive a car or a motorcycle you need a driving license. Many countries issue International Driving Licenses which are valid in Indonesia. I used to live in Canada for a long time (10 years) and I had a Canadian driving license. When I visited Indonesia I had to take an International Driving License. Unfortunately, at that time Indonesia is not listed in the list of countries in which that license can be used.

Public transportation includes:

  • Trains
  • Buses
  • Taxis
  • "angkutan kota" (mini busses)
  • "ojek" (motorcycle).
  • Traditional vehicles: "becak" (a three-wheel cycle thing, the driver paddle on the back), "delman" or "andong".

Public transportations are not convenient, but usable. It can take you from point A to point B reasonably.


Trains connect big cities. Some trains are dirty and are full with passengers. At the end of "Ramadhan" (the fasting month for Moslems), many people go back from big cities (such as Jakarta) to their villages where they came from. At that time, people even hang outside the trains! Dangerous indeed.

Trains between Jakarta and Bandung (called the “Parahyangan” train) are good and clean. Some of the coaches are air-conditioned (the executive class). It costs Rp. 20.000, - (for business class) and Rp. 32.000, - (for the executive class). The ride lasts around 3 hours. There is also a faster train between Bandung and Jakarta called the "Argogede" train. The cost is Rp. 40.000, - and the ride takes 2.5 hours. Have a look at the schedule.


Bus is the main transportation between cities. Buses are cheaper than trains and they go more often. Also watch out for pick-pocket. Watch for your belonging! Don't leave them unattended! Seriously!


Many big cities have taxis. But only in Jakarta taxis are common. In other cities, taxis are just starting to become popular. Taxis are metered (using "argometer"), but sometimes the drivers refuse to use the meter and ask (haggle) you for a certain amount instead. They are supposed to use the meter. If you are not in a hurry in Jakarta, insist on the meter or get another cab. In some places (such as train station), some taxis inside the parking area refused to use the meter. Get taxis from the street, instead. All taxis in Jakarta have air conditioning. Otherwise, you'll get cooked inside.