In many ways, Indonesia is an easy place to get around. The nation’s transportation infrastructure does not move with the kind of speed and efficiency that western travellers expect, which often leads to frustration. It is bets to adjust your pace to local conditions. You can fly to Indonesia from just about anywhere. Most people travelling from Europe and US arrive on direct flights to Jakarta, wile those coming from Australia generally first go to Bali.
The main international entry points are Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta, Ngurah Rai airport in Bali and Polonia airport in Medan, North Sumatera.
Direct flights connect Jkarta and Bali with many major cities in Asia and Europe. Air fares vary depending on the carrier, the season and the type of ticket purchased.
You can also enter Indonesia by ferry. From Malaysia and Singapore there are daily ferries to belawan (near Medan). In 1997 a twice weekly ferry service is scheduled to start between Darlin and Kupan in timor.
Domestic air services have been in a state of flux since the economic downturn in the late 1990s. A few airlines have folded and the remaining services have jacked up the price of domestic travel to compensate for soaring costs. For those with hard currency, though, air travel is still relatively cheap compared to the rest of the world. It is essential to reconfirm on domestic flights in Indonesia, otherwise you may be bumped from the list. Departure tax on domestic flights fluctuates between US$1-3. Indonesia’s main roads are generally excellently surfaced, with the mainstay of land travel being the ekonomi buses – cheap and cheerful fares that may democratically include chickens, pigs and anything in between.
Next step up is the express bus which carries the same cargo but gets to the destination sooner, followed by luxury air-con buses with all the whistles and bells that a coach can have.
Rail travel is restricted solely to Java and Sumatra. Indonesia’s trains are pretty much a mixed bag: slow, miserable and cheap or comfortable and expensive. It’s advisable to buy train tickets a day in advance to assure a seat.
Cars, motorbikes and bicycles can be rented in the main cities and tourist centres. There are regular ferries between the various islands. Kalimantan has an undeveloped road system and internal transport is primarily by river or by air.
Local transport includes the ubiquitous bemo (pick-up trucks with rows of seats along each side), opelets (minibuses), bajaj (auto rickshaws), becaks (bicycle rickshaws) and dokars (horse-drawn carts); most are ridiculously cheap. Many towns have taxis, but agree on a fare in advance.