Indonesia: transport guide for kids

In this blog, I focus on the best transport options when traveling with your child. It is quite confronting when you are not familiar with Indonesia’s transport system. The tips below will hopefully provide clarity, whilst you travel to and within Indonesia with your children.

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Flight and airport tips

If you are flying Internationally to Indonesia, you are most likely to arrive in either Jakarta or Denpasar (Bali). Traditionally the cheaper flight for most international flights is to Denpasar which is catered for the huge influx of tourists (e.g. in November you save AUD$200 on return flights to Bali compared to Jakarta). The key is ensuring you choose a base city to both arrive and depart (whether it is Jakarta or Denpasar). Once you choose a base city, internal flights will be easier to organise.

Indonesia has an abundance of domestic plane carriers. Tickets range from AUD$60-150 per person (depending on the route). Air Asia and Citilink are great budget choices, however, if you want reliability than Garuda is your best option. Personally, there is no issue with budget carriers, as most internal flights do not last longer than 2 hours and are quite comfortable. The seats are big enough to fit a sleeping child (yes even lying down).  Service on the budget carriers is very attentive, especially for the needs of your child (especially if they’re crying).

Indonesia is not a country prone to the efficiencies seen in countries like Singapore and Japan. The airport experience can be quite laborious especially when traveling with a child. It is recommended you have at least 4 hours travel time from when you leave your hotel to the airport (this takes into consideration traffic conditions, long security and check-in queues). Four hours may seem like an incredibly long space of time to spend traveling and preparing for your flight, but I’m sure you’d rather be incredibly early than late. The advantage of having time on your hands is that you’re able to allow your child, to relax and acclimatise before any long flight.

When you arrive at any Indonesian airport baggage collection terminal, you will be approached by airport porters willing to take your bag. Ensure these porters hold official identification badges if you choose to utilise their services. If you are traveling with children, it is recommended you utilise the porter service. They will collect and transport your bags to your vehicle, whilst you focus on the needs of your child. Before engaging this service, ensure you negotiate a service price. Aim for 20,000 Rp (AUD$2.00).

Road options

The key transport options amenable to family travel are Bluebird and Express Taxis, Uber and any of the Grab services (car and taxi). Ensure you download the respective mobile apps before you arrive in Indonesia.

It is important to note that baby/ child seats are not compulsory. However, when traveling in a taxi or Uber, ensure that your child is placed on your lap.

The best place to catch taxis are from hotel and shopping centre lobbies. Unlike most countries, it is better (especially with kids) to have the safety of a taxi queue which avoids the lottery of hailing a taxi off the street (which is not recommended). The same applies for creating meeting points for your Uber or Grab services.

For the overly keen parent, a becak (push bike transport) ride in some of Indonesia’s regional cities is a great way to immerse your child in the full Indonesian experience without the filter of a characterless air-conditioned car. Be prepared to bargain. Aim for no higher than 20,000.00 Rp (AUD$2-3).

If you want to avoid the administration of having to organise a car ride at every single destination, then there is an option of hiring your own personal driver for the duration of the trip. It is best to organise the driver weeks before your trip. This is a costly option as it can cost between 550,000.00-1,000,000.00 Rp (AUD$50-100) per day. Unlike Uber or Grab there is no reliable repository of drivers at your disposal. Each driver acts like an independent business, hence your best guide would be through Trip Advisor forums or friends who have already used this service. The benefit of this option is that the stress of having to navigate the nefarious Indonesian traffic is conveniently delegated to your driver.

In my personal opinion, I would not recommend the public bus option if you are with your children. This option is best suited for individual travel and not conducive to the unique challenges involved when you travel with your child. However, if you want to be crammed like a tuna can, then by all means take this option!!

Train

The train or Kereta Api, is the best form of travel should you wish to show your child the scenic views of Indonesia’s spectacular countryside. Tiket.com (https://en.tiket.com/kereta-api) is your best resource for booking your train ticket. You want to avoid trying to book a ticket at the station in order to avoid the long queues and language barriers. The unfortunate drawback is that this form of travel is more inclined for lighter travelers (i.e. luggage limit on most trains do not exceed 20kgs). The seats are comfortable and it is recommended you book the executive or business class inclusive of air-conditioning. This is an effective form of travel as a typical train ride from Jakarta to Bandung can cost as little as 120,000.00 Rp (AUD$12).

Ensure you book a separate seat for your child. For safety purposes, it is advised that you do not allow your child to explore other carriages on their own.

Ferry

This option is applicable if you are traveling from either Bali or Lombok (any other route, you should go by plane). This is where the ferry is most conducive to individual tourists. Using https://www.indonesiaferry.co.id/eng/index.php is your best course for booking tickets. Just like with bus travel this option is conducive to light travelers, and will not be a great option for family travel.

Happy Traveling!!
Chris & Ariana.

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