Bus Travel in Indonesia

In Indonesia one of the most best road transport to use to get around is by bus. There are frequent buses serving various places from within city and intercity. If it is a holiday here, then the buses are quickly filled up so make sure you buy in advance during your travel.

There are various classes for buses – luxury bus, express bus and economy bus.

Personally I think that you should just spend a little more and go for an air-conditioned bus (be it express or luxury) as it is definitely much more value for money and not to mention more kind to your personal health and state of mind. The economy bus not only stops in lots of places, it is most likely to get stuck in various jams from other road transports and due to detours as well. It is also almost always packed with smokers that do not hesitate to fill your entire bus with smokes, and this would reach its pinnacle of killing everyone when it rains and all windows and doors are shut.

Bus in Indonesia

Bus in Indonesia

Economy Bus

It usually runs between towns and pick up passengers on the road side, therefore be prepared to have frequent stops and have your bus journey taking forever to reach destination. It can always be hot and cramp.

Express Bus

Also known as patas, this bus officially do not stop to pick up road-side passengers and go all the way straight to destination. There are air-conditioned express bus that are more comfortable. You should be able to get a seat for these bus in most major city.

Luxury Bus

This bus is air-conditioned and the most comfortable on the lot. It can vary though depending on price categories, having different facilities like reclining seats, movie or snacks. These buses should be booked in advance either via travel agents or yourself and you can choose your seats. There are also luxury overnight buses for longer distance travel and could be a good option to save time and even save on hotel for budget or time-tight travelers!

Inside the Bus in Indonesia

Inside the Bus in Indonesia


Generally it is alright to travel with buses in Indonesia but even wherever you are, general common sense applies. Try to carry as little amount of items as possible and always keep an eye on your belongings. There are also lack of baggage space in economy buses so you might want to get luxury buses if you have big luggage.


Economy bus costs vary from region to region with range of 50,000 Rp to 80,000 Rp while luxury bus costs range from 150,000 Rp to 200,000 Rp.

Bemo (Minibus)

Bemo in Indonesia

Bemo in Indonesia

This traditional transport in Indonesia is known as bemo / minibus. It does not serve intercity but normally travels within the city. They are normally flag down with hand signals (one hand wave with palm down is common in Indonesia) and when reaching your destination, just knock on the window and say “kin” (which means stop at the left). It only costs about 2,000 Rp. It can range from looking like big trishaw to minivan.

Bus departing from Jakarta

Kalidera – to west of Jakarta
Kampung Rambutan – to south and southwest of Jakarta
Pulo Gadung – to central and east of Java, Sumatra and Bali
Lebak balus – long distance buses to Yogayakarta, Surabaya and Bali

More bus information

Indonesia InterCity Bus List
Bus between Java and Bali

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

Photo credits from top: basibanget, mattjlc and pwbaker

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

Boat from Singapore to Indonesia

Q: I am wondering if there is another option to go to Indonesia from Singapore without flying, probably by boat? I am thinking it might be a cheaper and more adventurous option.

You can take a boat from Singapore to either Batam or Bintan which are in Indonesia, and from there you can get boats to Riau or southern Sumatra. It may not necessarily be a more budget option considering there are so many budget airlines that serve this route but it may definitely be an experience itself if you are looking for some adventure. Be forewarned though it is not one of the safest methods to travel.

If you are planning to visit Batam Island or Bintan Island, however, boats are definitely the preferred choice, especially for weekend or day trippers from Singapore.

Check out our Batam and Bintan Island Guide for more information.

Popular related articles:
Top 10 Things to Do and Must See in Batam Island
Top 10 Things to Do in Bintan Island