Low-cost traveling in Indonesia: public transport, routes, and fares
Low-cost traveling in Indonesia can get sometimes tiresome and time-consuming. However, if you travel like a local, you have the unique opportunity to get in touch with the local people and get to know their way of living. You will always appreciate the fact that you have managed to get from point A to point B and for dirt cheap on top of that. You will enjoy traveling this way! Sometimes you don't understand why it's you who all the fellow local travelers have to choose on an empty bus to sit next to. You have chosen a bit more spacious back seat space for extra comfort, and eventually, you end up occupying this bench with other three people, and you are wondering why the hell you haven't chosen a classic two-seat bench in the beginning. The locals are all excited, sitting next to you, observing you, some trying to have conversations - mostly limited to a few well-known phrases. On the cramped bemos, you will come across many nice smiling people who, while saying "tores, tores!" ("tourists, tourists!"), will offer you some free fruit that they are in large knitted baskets bringing to the market for sale.
Most of Indonesia is covered by local transport (sometimes only 1 bus a day). Where you can't get by public bus or by bemo, there you will get on the leased scooter (about 50,000 IDR) or by taxi. If you have read somewhere that it is impossible for a tourist to take a local bemo, the opposite is true. Just inform yourself about the bemo spots and fare in advance accordingly. Especially get ready for bargaining!
See below for detailed list of the routes from our itinerary in Indonesia, including fares from 2015 (May - October). As you can see, for as much as we have traveled our transport costs are close to nothing.
Transport a doprava po Indonésii:
všemožné druhy lokální dopravy
Kuta - Ubung Denpasar 10,000 IDR, 30 min, bemo
Medewi Beach - Negara 10,000 IDR, 20 min, bemo
Medewi Beach - Gilimanuk (2x bemo) 30,000 IDR, 1,5h
Lovina Beach - Kantor Imigrasi (Singaraja) 1 - 3,000 IDR, 10 min, bemo
Lovina Beach - Singaraja Terminal 2 Penarukam (2x bemo) 10,000 IDR, 30 min
Amlapura - Padangbai 15,000 IDR, 1h, bemo
Padangbai - Denpasar Butulan 30,000 IDR, 1,5h, bemo
Denpasar Butulan - City Center Denpasar 10,000 IDR, 15 min, bemo
Denpasar Ubung - Medewi Beach 30,000 IDR, 3,5h, bus
Gilimanuk - Lovina Beach 30,000 IDR, 2h, bus
Singaraja - Amlapura 35,000 IDR, 3h, bus
Denpasar Ubung - Gilimanuk 40,000 IDR, 3,5 - 4h, bus
Kuta – Denpasar
For a metered Blue Bird taxi from Jl. Legian to the Ubung Denpasar terminal you will pay 78,000 IDR. The Blue Bird taxis are probably the most reliable in Kuta, and they always use a taximeter. Well, now it only depends on how fast the taximeter rotates.
A very cheap alternative is to use public bemo. Do not be discouraged by negative comments on various online forums saying that it is impossible to catch a bemo in Kuta. We've taken a bemo from Kuta to Denpasar (and back) countless times. The price varies between 5 and 7K per person to go to Tegal Sari Terminal in Denpasar. For a trip to Ubung you will pay 5 - 10K on top of that. If you negotiate hard, you will get down to 10K per person for the whole trip.
Bemos in Kuta are small dark-blue vans. Often in a pitiful state, but for a short distance transport, it is enough. Vans circulate throughout the city on a (not) specified route, and it is essential to know where they are passing through.
You can wave down a bemo anywhere along the route. Make a deal upfront and make sure you have set the price for two people! Beware of the scams: e.g., in the beginning, the driver says "fifteen" (15), what at the end of the journey modifies to "fifty" (50). In such case, be consistent and do not pay more than you initially agreed upon.
You can catch bemos going to Denpasar at Jl. Raya Kuta and Jl. Mataram junction - on the so-called Bemo Corner. You will find them standing in front of the temple.
Bemo back to Kuta you can catch in Denpasar anywhere from Jl. Imam Bonjol. I do not recommend taking a ride from the Setra Agung Badung Terminal (at the park), they will rip you off.
Denpasar Ubung – Medewi Beach
Upon entering the Ubung Terminal, all the touts will come on you. Ignore them and look for an information board on the right side of an outdoor waiting hall in the middle of the terminal. There you will find the most up-to-date tariffs. Unaware of this information, we paid 30,000 IDR per person for the trip to Medewi, although the Ubung-Gilimanuk official tariff is 30,000 - 35,000 IDR (almost double the distance). Be prepared that the touts and drivers will try to get 100,000-150,000 IDR per trip to Medewi from you. You can choose between a micro-bus and a standard bus. I recommend a classic bigger bus, it is faster and does not stop on every corner.
Medewi Beach – Gilimanuk
Bemo stops on the only one main road in Medewi, preferably at the bus stop near the mosque. On the way to Gilimanuk you will most likely change bemos in Negara.
Gilimanuk – Lovina Beach
You can hop on the bemo or bus either at the ferry terminal or at the junction right before entering the terminal. At the terminal they will try to rip you off, so be prepared to bargain hard. Some drivers offered us a private bemo for 100,000 IDR. We declined that ridiculous offer and a while later, and after extreme bargaining, we got on the bus for 30,000 IDR/person.
Lovina Beach – Amlapura
You will need two bemos and one bus to get to Amlapura. First bemo takes you from Lovina Beach to Singaraja center, second bemo takes you to the Terminal 2 Penarukan Singaraja (rather a stop at the roadside), from where you take a minibus to Amlapura.
Amlapura – Padangbai
Probably the hardest bargaining we experienced in Amlapura. Drivers have become accustomed to countless tourists heading to Padangbai on their way to Gili Islands. Bemo drivers are ignorant, rude and many times they laughed in our face without giving us even room for bargaining. For a short trip to Padangbai (about 24km), they charged ridiculous 50,000 - 70,000 IDR per person or eventually offered the whole van for rent (spesial). After long obstructions, we managed to bargain down a price to 15,000 IDR per person with a driver who had previously refused us once, but after half an hour he showed up again.
Padangbai - Denpasar Butulan
Bemo can be taken directly from the center of Padangbai, just be ready again for hard bargaining. Bemo will throw you out at Terminal Denpasar Butulan, from where you need to take another bemo to the city center (10,000 IDR per person was the lowest price they offered us).
Denpasar Ubung – Gilimanuk
The Ubung Terminal can be reached on foot if your hotel is located somewhere in the northwestern part of Denpasar. Eventually, a bemo will ask for about 10,000 IDR per person to get you to the terminal. The official fare on the route Ubung - Gilimanuk should not exceed 30,000 IDR (as per the information board at the terminal), so we did not have any problem to knock down the price to acceptable 40,000 IDR per person (from 50,000 IDR).
Lembar - Bangsal (Private van) 50,000 IDR, 2h
Bangsal - Mataram 20,000 IDR, 1h, bus
Mataram - Lembar 20,000 IDR, 1h, bus
Padangbai - Lembar 44,000 IDR, 4,5h, slow ferry
Bangsal - Gili Air 12,000 IDR, 15 min, boat
Bangsal - Gili Meno 25,000 IDR, 25 min, boat
Gili Meno - Bangsal 14,000 IDR (8:00AM), 25 min, boat
LOMBOK & GILI ISLANDS
Padangbai – Lembar
There are several options how to get to Gili Islands. Most tourists decide for a speedboat, a more comfortable, faster, but more expensive alternative. For a speedboat ride on the Padangbai - Gili Trawangan route you will pay 250,000 - 290,000 IDR / person / one way, eventually from Benoa port in Kuta - Gili Trawangan 690,000 IDR / person / one way.
For those who want to save and get to know the local route, the only option is to use the slow public ferry between Padangbai - Lembar (Lombok) for a beautiful 44,000 IDR / person. The cruise takes about 4.5 hours and not to worry - it's a regular, reasonably modern ferry (comfortable seats, AC, flat TV) - it's not as bad as you can read on some online forums.
Lembar – Bangsal
At Lembar Harbor, the competition between the drivers was so palpable that while we were negotiating the price, a fight between bemo drivers and a private van driver broke out (threatening each other with a screwdriver). We picked a direct private van from Lembar to Bangsal for 50,000 IDR / person. We had a comfortable van just for ourselves. On the return trip, we took two bemos and paid in total 10,000 IDR per person less.
Bangsal – Gili Air
Public boat tickets to Gili Air are available for 12,000 IDR in a small booth to the right of the driveway, right behind the small marketplace. There is always waiting time until the boat is full (about 35 persons).
Bangsal – Gili Meno
Tickets to the other islands you can purchase in the main building with a big sign "Tickets." We were told that the cheap boat to Gili Meno for 14,000 IDR is available in the morning only. In the afternoon you pay twice as much for the same route. The same goes for the way back, the only 14,000 IDR boat departs at 8:00 AM from Gili Meno. For the trip between islands, use a direct connection for 35,000 IDR (island hopping). Do not make the same mistake as we did - indirect way from Air through Bangsal to Meno took us 4-5h - and in the end, we paid the same!
Ketapang - Karangasem 15,000 IDR, 30 min, bemo
Gilimanuk - Ketapang 7,500 IDR, 45 min, ferry
Solo - Pacitan 30,000 IDR, 3,5h, bus
Yogyakarta - Magelang 15,000 IDR, 1,5h, bus
Magelang - Wonosobo (Micro Bus) 25,000 IDR, 2,5h
Wonosobo - Dieng (Micro Bus) 15,000 IDR, 1h
Jakarta Gambir - Airport 40,000 IDR, 45 min, AC bus
Karangasem - Solo 107,500 IDR, 12h, train
Solo - Yogyakarta 8,000 IDR, 45 min, train
Yogyakarta - Jakarta 150,000 IDR, 8h, train
Gilimanuk – Ketapang
There is only one option to go from Bali to Java: a public ferry for 7,500 IDR per person.
Karangasem – Solo
On the way to Solo (Surakarta), we chose the cheapest option - train for 107,500 IDR per person (more details here on the cheapest way how to get from Bali to Java). This train starts its journey early in the morning at the Ketapang Harbor. We spent a night in Karangasem and took the train from here.
Solo – Pacitan
If you decide to visit Pacitan, direct buses depart from the Terminal Tirtonadi in the northern part of the city, near the Solo Balapan train station.
Yogja - Dieng
The Giwangan Bus Terminal can be reached by public bus for 3,600 IDR per person. At the terminal, walk past the main building to the rear section where you will find a parking lot with buses heading to Magelang. In Magelang take a bus (minibus) for 25,000 IDR per person to Wonosobo. From Wonosobo, you take a regular bus via Dieng for 15,000 IDR per person.
Yogja – Jakarta
The most comfortable direct connection between Yogyakarta Balapan - Jakarta Gambir is a night train. On tiket.com we found a promo deal at 150,000 IDR per person (normally 230,000 - 290,000 IDR) in Eksekutif class. Jakarta Gambir is conveniently located in the center of Jakarta, a short walk away from the Monumen Nasional in the park and a 20-minute walk from the famous backpacker street Jl. Jaksa.
Jakarta Gambir - Airport
A few steps away from Gambir Train Station, look for Damri Bus Stop with a direct line to the airport. Buses leave every 15 minutes and you will pay 40,000 IDR per person per journey.