Boat (Pelni) Travel in Indonesia

Boat travel in Indonesia is common, especially for the locals but it can be long and tedious and at some times not that budget as air travels are so ubiquitous now. It is known as Pelni boats, which was the company that run the giant ferries in almost every parts and islands of Indonesia wherever there is people.


1st class – two beds per cabin with private washroom, tv and aircon
2nd class – four beds per cabin, private washroom, tv and aircon
3rd class – six beds per cabin, aircon and shared washrooms
4th class – bed in a dormitory
Economy (ekonomi) class – common area and first come first serve basis for spot to rest

Pelni Boat Indonesia

Pelni Boat

Economy Class

Most people say the real deal of traveling Pelni boat is by economy class, where you rush in with the local once the boat arrives to stake a spot and cramp it all in with them, using a rattan mat as your ‘bed’ and to mark your territory.


There are people selling food on board but don’t bank on it being delicious, in fact it borders on being edible or not. It is best to pack your own food for the long journey.

Pelni Boat Indonesia Economy Class

Pelni Boat Economy Class


It can get really crowded during peak seasons, sometimes having over-capacity by more than twice it’s limit. Due to overcrowding the safety is a question as there are not enough lifeboats in case of emergency.
Also pickpocket is common, especially in the economy class.

Other Transports Information:
Bus Travel in Indonesia
Train Travel in Indonesia
Air Travel in Indonesia
Best International Budget Airlines to Indonesia

Photo credits from top: Chumwa and VMOS


Author: Rachel

Fascinated by Indonesia, Rachel hopes to bring the best Indonesia Travel Guide to independent travelers so that they can enjoy what Indonesia has best to offer. Being an independent wanderer herself, Rachel knows what it takes to make a good, fun-filled yet responsible independent traveling. So let’s join her to discover wonderful Indonesia together. Google+

2 thoughts on “Boat (Pelni) Travel in Indonesia”

  1. Hi, I’m gonna travel to Indonesia for second time this September, and I want to visit Sumba and then Flores. Do you know when the boat from Sumba depart to Ende?
    It’s important for us, becouse we have at least 4 days to stay en Sumba an if the boat depart once a week It will be impossible to visit…
    Waiting for your help!

  2. We took Pelni a couple of times for long journeys and we had contrasting experiences! Once it was totally empty and we got a 4 bed cabin, while the other one totally overcrowded and we stayed on the roof!

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