Overland Indonesia Travel
Currency to display:
- 1 Visiting Indonesia
- 2 Entering Indonesia with a Car or Motorbike
- 3 Driving in Indonesia
- 4 Gas price in Indonesia and Diesel price in Indonesia
- 5 Safety and Security Considerations
- 6 Camping in Indonesia
- 7 Navigation
- 8 Special Overland Travel interests
- 9 Vehicle Maintenance
- 10 Buy or sell a car or motorbike in Indonesia
- 11 References
- 12 Helpful External links
Give a brief overview of what it's like to visit. How easy is the border, how safe is the country, are there great things to see and do, etc.
Entering Indonesia with a Car or Motorbike
Correct as of: September 2013
(To check if you need a travel Visa for Indonesia, application instructions and fees see: Indonesia Visa online application at VisaHQ.com)
If shipping into Indonesia
- Carnet de Passage
- Vehicle registration
- A letter of invitation from the Indonesian Motor organization (Ikatan Motor Indonesia)
- Letter from the local police
- International Driving Permit
Process at border
There are only two land borders in Indonesia. One with with Malaysia at Entikong (Borneo) and one with Timor Leste.
After your exit from Malaysia (which is straight forward, 5 minutes), you get to the checkpost of Indonesia. First you go (walk) through the normal immigration fill out a form and do customs. Then you walk back to your car and drive to the customs section. Things might get a bit complicated now and you have to follow a customs officer from one office to an other. This journey may take up to 30 minutes, then you get asked to unload your car completely in the middle of the sun without any shade. Complaining works. After a lot of your stuff got x-rayed, you get your carnet stamped and you are finally through. Expect 1h for the whole process.
Briefly describe the process at the border to enter with a vehicle
Cost of entry
State the cost for a vehicle to enter
Permitted length of stay
State the permitted length of entry for the vehicle
Extension of stay
Describe the process to extend the permitted length of entry for the vehicle, if possible.
Storing a vehicle and temporarily leaving the country
Describe if/how a vehicle can be stored, and for how long.
Also mention if the owner / temporary importer can leave the country while the vehicle is in storage.
Exiting with a vehicle
Describe the paperwork requirements and process at the border to exit.
Currently a new border terminal is build, so things are a bit chaotic, but all in all its a straight forward process: Do immigration, follow a motorbike to the customs counter, get your Carnet stamped out, leave the country. The whole process takes about 10 minutes.
Driving in Indonesia
Recommended books for Overlanding in Indonesia
Travel insurance for Indonesia
Vehicle insurance requirements
No Insurance is required
International Driving Permit is required
Driving side of road
LHD vehicles can drive in the country without problems.
Indonesian Ferries from Island to Island
To get from island to island in Indonesia you must take a ferry they range between 30 min to 36 hours depending on which island go to and from.
Balikpapan (Kalimantan) to Pare Pare (Sulawesi)
The Ferry is run by Prima Vista and scheduled on Saturday to Sulawesi. Head at least one day before departure to their office at -1.277450, 116.829979 and get your tickets (2.470k IDR). At the day of departure head to "Gate 3" (-1.270998, 116.807894) and be prepared for a long day, doing nothing else than waiting and chatting with locals. The good news is, that inside the port area, there are vendors selling lunch, snacks and drinks. Most likely you will be (one of) the last ones, who will be ordered to enter the vessel. Show the staff where to tow your vehicle and double check, that they are using the shown places!
Unless you are a fan of overpriced cup noodles, you should consider to stock up on food from the vendors at the port mentioned above, which is reasonable priced.
It is either not possible to sleep in your vehicle, because the storage area gets sealed while the trip, nor is it possible to book any accommodation, due to the ferry has no cabins. If you are alone, you really do have a problem, because the available space is taken by the first-come-first-serve principal and with a car you will likely be the last one, who enters the vessel! There are no seats as well! Take earplugs, eyecover and a mattress with you, or you will have a long, long night...
Bira (Sulawesi) to Labuan Bajo (Flores) via Bentang (Jampea)
The Ferry is run by ASDP and scheduled on Sunday to Flores. You can not miss the port when going to Bira (on the left side). Tickets (1806k IDR, but you get charged 1900k IDR) can be bought directly at the terminal at any time, but no English is spoken, so be prepared with your Bhasa Indonesia or Google Translate. Boarding starts at 21:00, Depature is at 23:59. You will get to Bentang at 11:00 on Monday and to Labuan Bajo at 05:00 on Tuesday (unloading the vehicles can take up to 10:00!)
The food on the vessel is bad and heavily overpriced. There are good restaurants in front of the terminal in Bira, so be sure to stock up (take away) on (good) food before entering the vessel. In Bentang it is no problem to leave the ferry and get food in the village.
1) Overselling of tickets for vehicles is common. Make sure, you are at the terminal at least at 18:00 to queue. Even if you make it in front of the queue, make sure you enter the ship as fast as anyhow possible by any means necessary! Other cars will overtake you as soon the boarding process starts for non commercial vehicles. If you just queue and wait passively, the ship will be full and you have to wait a week for the next one to run.
2) If you are unlucky and park close to the entry door
2a) or the stairway, be prepared to have countless scratches on your ride, because cargo will be put in any available space that can be found. Actually, this causes not that much damage, but the people, who have to climb over the cargo to enter or leave the ferry, will not care a single bit about your property. Thankfully the process for the insurance is painless: Use the stairs inside to get to the 2nd deck, turn right and knock on the last, left door and claim. You need photos of the damage on your smart phone/digital camera (overview and close up), your Passport, your vehicle documents, your driver license and your ticket (be careful when they collect them - ask to keep it!).
2b) your vehicle will be covered in a thick crust of salt
3) In theory you will be allowed to sleep in your car - if you can make it to get inside. All the vehicles are parked as close as somehow possible, leaving absolutely no space in between them. Walking can be a challenge, but opening a door pretty impossible, so prepare to sleep on deck (same rules like on the ferry above do apply, but there are seats - if you can get one...)
Aimere (Flores) to Kupang (Timor)
The ferry is run by ASDP and scheduled on Wednesday to Timor. The entrance to the port is a bit hidden (-8.8428786, 120.8562395). Due to this ferry is not used that much (the connection from/to Ende is more popular), you should be able to get your ticket (2532k IDR) without problems on the day of departure at the office (-8.8421030, 120.8555146). No need to buy the more expensive 1st class tickets, there are plenty of seats in the economy class (& satellite TV with action movies) and you can sleep in your car. Be there at 06:00 (and park your vehicle here: -8.8424678, 120.8554204), tickets will be sold from about 06:30, boarding will start at 07:00 and the vessel usually leaves at 07:30. You will arrive in Kupang at 06:00 the next day.
There are a few vendors at the port in Aimere, but the quality of their food is poor. If you arrive a day before, make sure you go to the last shop on the right before the road splits (-8.8483690, 120.8579145) and stock up on their fantastic wrapped bananas or coconut filled dumplings, which will be good the next day as well. On the ferry you can buy instant noodles (10k a cup) or cookies.
In Kupang make sure to turn right after leaving the port area, because this is a one way road.
Labuan Bajo (Flores) to Sape (Sumbawa)
The ferry is run by ASDP and scheduled dayly. The entrance to the port is the more northern one - be aware if you missed the entrance, you have to drive around the block, because it is a one way road! The ticket booth is just behind the gate. If you have a motorbike, you have to go through the hell of the Indonesian queuing system (read chaotic elbow system), if you have a car/truck/caterpillar they will not sell you anything unless you get a special handwritten paper. To get this paper, arrive in the morning one day in advance (or the brave ones do this at 06:00 the same day) and look out/ask for a guy with a notebook (the paper version) close to the second gate. He will put you on the list. If you are within the first 5 cars, there is a 99% chance that you will be on that boat (note that there are different lists fur cars and trucks!). Rank 6 has a 40% chance and lower - well, calculate to have an additional day in Flores... The good news are, if this happens, you can stay the night at the parking place at the harbor for free (no water and the toilets are locked up). Anyway, at the time the ticket counter opens, this guy will give you this special piece of paper and with this you go to the ticket office to get your boarding pass. Return to your car, relax and wait until you get called. Don't worry about other vehicles overtaking and squeezing in front of you - the guy with the notebook will call all vehicles according the order in his list and does not allow anything else to pass the gate.
There are 2 food vendors at the first gate of the port. If you don't have food, stock up here after you have purchased your ticket. On the ferry you can buy instant noodles (10k a cup) or cookies.
If there is a problem with one of the ferries, devastating chaos breaks out. You must not trust anybody about any estimated schedules (this includes the guy with the notebook, the tourist touts, the ticket selling staff and any other official (looking) person at the harbor!). Usually you will get stucked there for 2-3 days regardless anybody will tell you "tomorrow". Only make definitely sure you are on that list. The other ferries departing from the other terminal do transport for pedestrians only, _MAYBE_ they might allow you to take a bicycle with you, but don't count on that.
The page provides information of ferry operators, costs and timetables Island to Island - Domestic Ferries Indonesia
Mandatory items in vehicle
State any mandatory items that must be carried in the vehicle. (i.e. safety triangle, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, etc.)
General Road quality
Generally quite good tarred single lane roads thought many will have a potholes
Briefly describe the overall quality & existence of road signs for directions and hazards.
There is a toll road in Denpasar (Bali) and a couple of on Java, which will be interconnected the next couple of years
Bribery in Indonesia
The police will accept small bribes if you are caught breaking any local driving laws, they very rarely do they stop you for no reason.
Checkpoints do happen on Java and Bali, on the other islands it is less common. Foreigners are usually waived through or have a small chat with the officials after showing their driver license.
Traveling with pets
List the entry requirements and anything else required to travel with a pet.
Gas price in Indonesia and Diesel price in Indonesia
Last updated: Februar 2018
Currency and unit to display:
|Gasoline Grade||Price Fuel Station||Price Private seller|
|Bensin (Unleaded / << 90 Oct.)||€0.83 EUR per Liter||Rp8,000.00 IDR per Liter|
|Premium (Unleaded / < 90 Oct.)||Rp6,500.00 IDR per Liter||Rp9,000.00 IDR per Liter|
|Pertalite (Unleaded / 90 Oct.)||Rp7,500.00 IDR per Liter|
|PertaMax (Unleaded / 92 Oct.)||Rp8,400.00 IDR per Liter||Rp10,000.00 IDR per Liter|
|PertaMax Turbo (Unleaded / 98 Oct.)||Rp9,000.00 IDR per Liter|
|BioSolar (Diesel / << 51 CN)||Rp5,150.00 IDR per Liter|
|Solar (Diesel / < 51 CN)||Rp5,150.00 IDR per Liter||Rp8,000.00 IDR per Liter|
|DexLite (Diesel / 51 CN)||Rp7,300.00 IDR per Liter|
|Dex (Diesel / 53 CN)||Rp8,800.00 IDR per Liter|
Gas and Diesel Availability / Frequency
Pertamina fuel stations are widely spread on the main roads except one part of the Trans-Kalimantan-highway in the west (300km). There are no other companies, except for Jakarta, where there are a couple of Shell and one Total. Beside that, you will see countless of private resellers everywhere, selling Bensin and in very rare cases Solar
Gas and Diesel Quality
Diesel is called Solar and the quality is extremely poor. DexLite should be better, but except for the price and less smoke, there is no difference in power. Dex is the superior quality - well, at least the best you can get if you can find it (only seen on Java). BioSolar made out of palm oil is by far worse than Solar and can be found at some fuel stations in Sulawesi and Kalimantan; in Flores, Bali, Sumatra and the south of Java it is endemic. Be careful when refueling Solar in areas where mostly BioSolar is sold, because the content claimed by the sticker on the fuel pump or at the panel might not be identical with the fluid that comes out of it. Double checking (asking the staff) is essential in those areas. Rarely you will see the addition: "non subsidi". This means, that this fuel is exempted from the government powered subsidization program. Beside the higher price (usually 7150 IDR instead of 5150 IDR) the quality remains the same. This is especially important on (west) Timor, where it is seriously difficult to get Solar when having a white number plate with black letters. This is because of a restriction not to sell any subsidized fuel to people from Timor Leste. If you need to refuel (or want to, because in Timor Leste the prices are tripple) and not able to convince the guys, ask for DexLite, which is not part of the program and will be sold to you without any discussion (Hint: the closer you get to the border the more difficult it gets. Soe seems to be the last reliable place, although some overlanders managed to get Solar more east). In theory, the amount of sulfur is limited to 2,500 ppm since 2017.
Do not attempt to buy "Solar" from the countless street stalls. The stuff sold there is a mix of old (filtered) engine oil, kerosene (to get the correct viscosity) and 50% real (Bio)Solar. This thing might work for the old trucks on the road, but chances are high for serious trouble on an injection powered engines!
Ironically there are reports from the Landrover club of Jakarta, that the fuel of the few Shell stations caused problems on modern engines (MY > 2012). Their advise is to fuel DEX from Pertamina only.
Petrol (Bensin) is available in 4 different types of quality (listing increasing): Bensin (yellow) -> Premium (green) -> PertaMax (Blue) -> PertaMax Turbo (?). The quality of the countless private sellers, ofthen with serious professional equipment, sell mostly serious poor quality or worse.
Safety and Security Considerations
Driving at night
Driving at night is quite risky. Think of unlit bicycles or motorbikes going the wrong direction, potholes or unmarked constructions.
Despite the warnings of the locals, parking an overlander vehicle in public areas is quite safe. But make sure, that you have your car prepared for monkey attacks, which means you have no parts on your car, that could be played around with. Unfortunately this is valid for the four, as well for the two legged monkeys...
Be aware, that locals love to take pictures of your car. Due to the quite different mentality of how to tread others people property, it is quite common to climb or sit on your car for this purpose.
In other words: If you sleep in your car and someone knocks on it or it shakes, because someone climbs on it, you don't need to get alarmed. If you ignore it, they will usually leave after everyone has taken his selfie...
An other quite tiring thing in Java and Sumatra are the self claimed parking and road "officials". They "help" you to park or to make a turn, but expect a fee for that. Parking is usually paid when leaving and should not cost more than 2k. If they ask for more, ask for a bill - the real official ones can issue one (where the amount is already printed on). Be aware, that they never have change, so collect coins and the small notes everywhere you can, or you will end up by paying full with the smallest note you have...
Special driving considerations
Unsigned speed bumps = yes
abnormal road rules = not a single rule seem to apply for motorbikes; flickering blue,green or white lights could be an indicator, a break light or the reverse gear - the guess is up to you
people or animals on the road = plently
Set the indicator to the left, if you want to turn left, stop or it is safe for the vehicle behind you to overtake.
Set the indicator to the right, if you want to turn right, need more than half of the road for whatever reason (pothole, overtaking a motorbike or a parking bus) or prevent someone to overtake you.
Set BOTH indicators (hazard switch): Go strait (not kidding, some really do that!) List any roads that are not recommended to drive for safety or other security reasons.
In Soe and around stay at the main highway, because locals use to throw (huge!) stones at foreign vehicles
Security advisories and information
- Country Specific Information - U.S. Department of State
- Travel Reports and Warnings - Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
- Travel advice by country - Foreign and Commonwealth office (U.K.)
- Travel Advice for Indonesia - Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Camping in Indonesia
Describe if organized "pay" camping is common. List the facilities commonly found at these campsites.
List the approximate average price range of camping in organized campgrounds.
Also discuss the possibility of "wild" or "roadside" camping. How common is it? Is it considered safe, or a bad idea.
Camping guide books
List and link to books specifically for camping.
Describe if the regular tap water is safe to drink. If not, describe where safe water can be purchased and the approximate average price range.
Reise Know-How are amoung the best paper maps. Purchase paper maps before arriving in Indonesia
GPS Maps of Indonesia
OSM has done outstanding jobs in all of Indonesia, except for Java, where countless crossroads are not properly connected (f.e. a 210km route for a 72km distance). Google is OK for mainroad navigation, but has a serious problem with small roads. Those are only partly mapped and have huge gaps in between (what makes routing impossible). Review different GPS companies, quality and coverage (Tomtom, Garmin, OSM, Tracks4Africa). (with links to each).
GPS co-ordinates for camping, propane, gas, repairs, etc. in Indonesia
- iOverlander is a website and iPhone application designed by Overlanders, for Overlanders. It contains GPS co-ordinates and reviews for camping, hotels, propane, water, mechanics, borders and much more.
Link to sites that have a list of GPS co-ordinates (or directions) for camping locations (including "wild" campsites), propane filling, gas stations, repair shops, places of interest, etc.
Special Overland Travel interests
List any special items / places that are popular with Overlanders
4x4s / Trucks
- Toyota Global Dealer Locator
- Land Rover International Dealer Locator
- Mercedes Benz International (select country on bottom right)
- Jeep International site locator
If you own a LandRover, try to get to (or at least in touch with) the communities in Yogyakarta, Bandung or Jakarta (all on Java). They will help you and connect you to the accordingly specialized garage/workshop. On Bali there is said to be a community in Denpasar, but usually their cars are used for tourist purposes in the main season. For Bali and for the hand full of Landrovers on the other islands it is important to keep in mind, that those rides are kept alive by any means. In other words: Only the chassis is still LR, everything else (engine, gearbox, axles, power steering) had been replaced from other brands (Isuzu, Daihatsu, Mitsubishi, Toyota). So don't expect to get any LR specific help there. If you need parts: this will get extremely expensive and time consumptive. Even DHL express parcels get stucked at the customs for a few weeks. Try to evacuate for important repairs to Timor Leste or Malaysia.
Buy or sell a car or motorbike in Indonesia
Describe how a foreigner can buy a vehicle. List any difficulties or limitations on where the vehicle can be driven.
Describe how a foreigner can sell a foreign-plated vehicle, or list not possible.'
Links to the source of any information - blogs or discussion forums, etc.
Add any helpful external links here.