New York Introduction
AIR: Indonesia has a good internal air system linking most of the larger towns to Jakarta. Domestic flights from Jakarta depart from Terminal 1 at Soekarno Hatta International Airport (except Garda Airlines flights, which leave from Terminal 2). Domestic operators include: Bouraq Indonesia Airlines (BO), Garuda Indonesia (GA), and Merpati Nusantara Airlines (MZ).
Cheap fares: The Asean Air Pass offers special fares on domestic flights and gives access to varying numbers of cities depending on the ticket bought. Passes must be bought at Garuda Indonesia offices in Europe, USA, Australia and Japan (not available inside Indonesia). For prices and further information contact Garuda Indonesia on (tel: (020) 7486 3011; fax: (020) 224 3971).
Departure tax: Rp11,000 if departing from Jakarta airport. Rp9900 if departing from all other airports (infants under the age of 2 are exempt).
SEA: PELINI, the state-owned shipping company, has six modern ferries serving all the main ports across the archipelago. Foreign cruise liners also operate on an irregular basis. Luxury cruise ships offer trips to various destinations, including the eastern islands (leaving from Bali). For further details, contact the Indonesia Tourism Promotion Office (see Contact Addresses section).
RAIL: Children under three travel free. Children aged three to seven pay half fare. There are nearly 7000km (4350 miles) of track on Sumatra, Madura and Java. In Sumatra trains connect Belawan, Medan and Tanjong Balai/Rantu Prapet (two or three trains daily) in the north, and Palembang and Panjang (three trains daily) in the south. An extensive rail network runs throughout Java.
The Bima Express, which has sleeping and restaurant cars, links Jakarta and Surabaya; there are also other express services. There are three classes of travel, but first-class exists only on principal expresses. There is some air-conditioned accommodation.
ROAD: Traffic drives on the left. There are over 378,000km (234,360 miles) of roads in the country, of which about 28,500km (17,670 miles) are main or national roads and 200km (125 miles) are motorway. Nearly half of the network is paved. There are good road communications within Java and to a lesser extent on Bali and Sumatra.
The other islands have poor road systems, although conditions are improving with tourism becoming more important. Road tolls are in operation on some major city roads and need to be paid for by visitors if using a taxi. Chauffeur-driven cars are widely available, with rates varying according to the type of destination.
Bus: There are regular services between most towns. Bus trips can be made from Jakarta to Bali (two days). Indonesia is the land of jam karet (literally rubber time) and complicated journeys involving more than a single change should not be attempted in a day. Bus fares are about the same as third-class rail. Vehicles can be extremely crowded, although many of them are air-conditioned. The crew includes three conductors who also act as touts. There are Bis Malam night-buses on a number of routes, running in competition with the railways. Pre-booking is essential. Special travel minibuses offering a door-to-door service are also available in cities and major tourist areas. Visitors should note that Indonesian bus drivers are notorious for reckless driving.
Taxi: Widely available in most large cities and some smaller towns. Metered taxis are usually only found in the main cities and major tourist areas. Taxi drivers do not always know how to get to the desired destination and passengers may have to tell them. Like all public transport vehicles, taxis have yellow number plates (for private and rented vehicles, the number plates are black, while government vehicles have red plates).
Car hire: Car hire is available from a number of companies and from taxi firms, some of which also provide a limousine service. Documentation: An International Driving Permit is required.
Alternative Transport: There are two forms of tricycle rickshaws available in Indonesia: the motorised version is called bajaj (pronounced baj-eye), which is a bright orange colour and seats two passengers, with the driver in front; and the becak (pronounced be-chak) is pedal-powered by a rider sitting behind a maximum of 2 passengers. Fares should be negotiated in advance. Rickshaws are an extremely popular and cheap form of transport and can be hired almost everywhere (though becaks have now been banned from the Jakarta city centre).
Motorcycles and bicycles can be rented on a daily or weekly basis; for motorcycles, an international driving licence is recommended and a helmet should be worn. Bemos and Colts are small buses, seating up to ten people, and can be chartered on a daily or weekly basis for travel away from the city centres; fares should be negotiated in advance. Horse carts may still be hired in rural areas (though they are no longer available in Jakarta).
URBAN: Jakarta is the only city with an established conventional bus service of any size. Double-deckers are operated.