Traffic in Indonesia

Hello everyone,

Which city or area do you live in in Indonesia, and how do you find the traffic?

How long does it take to commute to work or run errands?

Is there a rush hour in your city? What times of the day would you recommend people to avoid driving if they can?

Are there any ways to avoid spending too much time in traffic in Indonesia?

What is parking availability and cost like?

Thank you for sharing your experience.


Traffic in much of, ner, all of Indonesia is a mess at best and a disaster at worst.
Indonesians drive on the left .. and the right .. and in the middle.
One way streets - not if they fancy driving the other direction.
It's very common to see motorbikes go round a roundabout the wrong was as a short cut.
A lot of drivers buy their licence (Yes, literally but that's getting better as the corruption is sorted out) so have absolutely no clue how to ride or drive.
Motorcyclists are suicidal and micro bus drivers do whatever they like without fear of the slightest action against them.
Many vehicles of all types are nothing short of death traps with no servicing and no brakes.
Some busses have holes in the floor and a lot use a brick as a handbrake.
The bigger the town or city, the worse the problems.
Jakarta is the king of toilets as far as traffic is concerned with horrible traffic jams similar to whatever you'd expect as a gift from Hades but with more traffic fumes, beeping horns and swearing.
Lane swapping is normal and no one gives a flying rats about looking where they're going, commonly texting or whatever instead of looking at the road.
Lane discipline is unknown so people turning right will often swing wildly from the left or wait in the middle of the road.
It's common for lots of people to try to jump the queue by moving into the next lane so junctions commonly have 2 or 3 lanes of traffic trying to get into the right lane for a turn but fighting past all the other people in the wrong lanes to do it.
A left indicator means they're going to turn left, or right, or straight on, or they don;t have any lights at night so they use the indicator as a tail light .. and headlight.
A right indicator or no indicator means the same.
It's normal to see people walk past you in a Jakarta traffic jam and get to a place before you.
Accidents are usually your fault regardless of almost everything unless the other driver is drunk then he's likely to get arrested and/or beaten up.
Don't drink and drive or you could well get beaten to death - literally.

Parking is normally easy enough but not on streets in cities.
Malls and so on have secure car parks that are generally pretty cheap and your chances of a problem are low.
I always try to find a corner where no one can park next to me because driving standards are pretty crap so a lot of people have no clue how to park. I know all the best places in my regular haunts where there's a wall on one side and a massive concrete pillar on the other, thus my car is safe.
Most centres have car park attendants with nightsticks and there's no issue if they beat a car thief around the head so car thieves tend not to operate in mall car parks.

Drive cautious always, give way a lot, idiots drive out from side roads right in front of you, stay cool, grow eyes on the back and sides of your head. Don't drive fast unless on highway. Watch out for motorbikes appearing out of nowhere whenever you want to turn right. Parking is easy and cheap. People are everywhere to help you park or turn or anything, and they are cheap.

Horrendous and no matter how often your are on the roads you never really get used to it
Like Fred’s post, death trap vehicles on the road, incapable/ poor riders and drivers no safety culture or very little at best
I think it’s pretty much the same all over Indonesia, here in batam I don’t bother going on the roads myself on a Sunday it’s just too dangerous, lunch times you have school children on bikes no helmets going wrong way on the road in groups of upto 70 bikes with no regard to other road users most days are chaotic between 6am and 9pm.
Poor planning of roads poor or no drainage, none or very little maintenance, uneducated drivers and riders (meaning they are on the roads but very little idea) poorly reinforced by the authorities, red amber and green (80% of Indonesians are colour blind or so it seems) biggest no no here once you get used to it as such is don’t give an inch you will never get to your destination if you do, 3 lanes turn into 7 one lane turns into 3, if an expat and your in an accident it’s the expats fault 90% of the time (as in many countries it’s the same)
Here they are spending huge money on flyovers etc it will do jack just more space for more fools, accidents are all to common just move the car/ bike and injured and carry on
Interestingly I amongst others when the police try to help the traffic at large junctions I think they multiply the problem, I think it’s most probably the worst country I have visited for road use and safety in the 5 years I have been here the last 3 continuously it’s got much much worse

A dashcam won't stop them hitting you but it clears up who was to blame.

I am in Denpasar, Bali.  In the south the traffic is bad everywhere.  I only stayed in Kerobokan for a year, then moved to Sanur where other than the Bypass the traffic is acceptable.  I bought an electric bike because I feel comfortable using it in Sanur to go to the beach or grocery shopping.  No license, no insurance, no driver’s permit and little maintenance.  Using Go-Jek for longer travels is good or a bike ride from a friend.  Taxis are slow because of the traffic.  I tried the Bypass bus but had to wait over an hour for it.  It was cheap, not too crowded (9 pm) and traffic wasn’t too bad.

I am in Jakarta and currently there are 4 major road or mrt building projects affecting me everyday. However it takes me only 30 minutes to get to work and an hour to get home. I don't complain i choose to  live there.
Happily despite the volume of traffic most the traffic is well behaved and the buses big and small are more behaved than they were 5 years ago and there are less of them.
I see very little accidents and most occur due to stupidity and carelessness and also at low speeds as well.
App based services like go jek and Uber bikes are often the worst on the road unless it's in the neighbourhood then its mums or school kids.

There are far more police now and they are more demanding but still all rules are broken all the time however traffic does flow still.

Jakarta's traffic is not predictable so it's hard to say when best to avoid, however after huge rain is not the wisest time to go anywhere.

Our Fred has the greatest and enviable capability to verbalize on the subject of traffic, that would be sinful to add comment further to the wonderful colourful remarks.

I will just plead guilty to always using Go-Jek riders to give me productivity day in Djakarta. They do everything that Fred describes but they help me get to places in record times.

If it rains we end up with lunch or an extra tea break. While I am happy on less time spent, I must agree all my scary life experiences with Go-Jek riders replaces the need to meet exciting ladies after hours at discos. Being scared to death repeatedly in a day's ride, replaces the need to go hunting at nite😀

Hallo Priscillia. I am currently studying in Surabaya, Indonesia. The traffic is not too bad during weekdays and also weekends. It would be much better to use 'Grab motor' or 'Gojek' as the cost is much more reasonable.

Traffic is bad but bearable. Going on a 13 km journey to city center will normally take slightly more than an hour.

However I will not drive in Jakarta. I'll just get a Grab or Uber.

There are various app based motorcycle taxis available, all endorsed by both the almighty and the fallen angel as both these ultra powerful beings know these services get souls their way all the quicker.
I was entertained by a gojek crash yesterday as the hapless and helpless driver had nowhere to go when a brainless moron of the worst sort (except angkot drivers - they're in a class of their own when it comes to especially dangerous and stupid) sped past a car at a crazy speed but with no clue what was beyond it.
He total failed to consider there could be something in his way on a very busy road so the gojek, the twit and the gojek's passenger found out what a crash test dummy's job is like.
Cuts, bruises for the riders and a lot of plastic motorcycle parts were spread all over the road like an impromptu street market stall and, as is common with such stalls, there was a pair of sandals laying around.
One bike was messy in a smashed plastic sort of way, the other had all the attributes of a junk yard including a front wheel that could have been displayed at a Contemporary art show, probably entitled, "results of stupidity" or maybe "The devil didn't take this one because even he doesn't like this class of idiot".

That and the ride apps tend ask you for access to every bit of data on your phone, that including your gallery so they could peek at all those pictures you took with ladyboys.

Riding a motorbike is for those with experience of Indonesian traffic and then only if you've evolved an extra set of eyes in your bum.
Driving is fine assuming the above and the balls to argue with the rider who has just hit you whilst riding like one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse without a licence, registration document, any lessons of any sort and no helmet, all on the wrong side of the road with no brakes but still insists the bump was your fault.
That explains my excellent suggestion of a dashcam.

Traffic is bad everywhere in the World in major cities due to huge populations, bad road and traffic problems and poor public transportation systems.  In these places, you can’t follow any rules or you won’t get anywhere.  So you put up what’s there and hope the government responsible for that area can do something to improve traffic and public transportation.  In places like Bali, there are few solutions because of the existing roads and lack of any planning years ago.

The dashcam is a must in my opinion, i have the forward and rear recording type for the car it’s a huge help if needed, they are becoming very popular here now for the helmet mounted type also (myself included) for motorbikes, pretty entertaining especially the rear facing one

Dashcams are essential in the event of an bump and can also provide hours of terrific Youtube footage.
I don't have a rear facing cam but it's something I'm after when I find the right bit of kit.

On a serious note, the film can prove your innocence in the event of a smash so I strongly suggest all expats who drive here have one.
One other note, get the footage onto Youtube or make a copy that no one is aware of in case the camera or disc is taken away for evidence and gets 'lost'.

Good advice!

What brand/model are you using or recommend?

I use “blackvue” for the car they are quite expensive but my friend in batam has a shop in Singapore and I got a great deal on this particular brand, it has an app that you can access the camera and microphone to you smart phone from anywhere in the world and have a conversation with the occupants it also can send recording straight to your account at the touch of a button, it also sends last 5 minutes of loop recording to its built in hard drive at the touch of a button so you can hand over the memory card if needed
Nextbase are another great brand I use for the bike and are fantastic value and extremely popular in the uk and probably 200/300% cheaper than  blackvue, I would highly recommend nextbase if of on a budget, but invest in a large capacity memory card, me personally would go for as the very minimum 128g
Get a wide angle one also so it records from basically both front wings on the car
For a bike the same as above but fixed rear facing that is easily removed and wide angle again for the helmet

I roam around in Java, I wouldn't suggest you to drive unless you know how to deal with drivers who don't know about driving and traffic laws.

I roam around in Java, I wouldn't suggest you to drive unless you know how to deal with drivers who don't know about driving and traffic laws. You can park anywhere, there is no proper parking space other than few cities, parking fee is IDR 1,000(0.1$) on most cities without time limitation,

Good morning Fred
I must say that Indonesia's traffic and their way of driving is everywhere I have been from Africa to Hawaii to the middle east and the Caribbean where I am from not to mention New York  I haven't been to Europe and and really have no intention to but what I'm saying is the traffic situation is global. And if we choose to live in Indonesia or anywhere we just have to deal with whatever it offers.
Because if there was not a very good reason we would not move there.  It's the choice we make.

Sonnyag6 :

And if we choose to live in Indonesia or anywhere we just have to deal with whatever it offers.

I wasn't prepared for the horrible traffic,  really bad state of the roads, almost total lack of discipline and terrible state of many of the vehicles here but you sort of get used to it all.
The excruciating state of traffic here is one of the very few things I dislike about Indonesia, especially now the slow internet isn't that slow any more.

I would strongly suggest new arrivals here avoid driving or riding anything but that changes when you get the hang of the roads. However,you're going to have bumps so make sure your insurance is up to date and fit that dashcam.

Other notes.
If you intend to buy a motorbike, a stop through scooter of 110cc or so is the best as the things are small, light and easy to  but still very cheap to run and no so control. Only idiots drive without a helmet.

If a car suits you, keep to engine sizes below 1500cc as they're just as fast in a traffic jam as a 5L supercar.
I use a Daihatsu Luxio, perfect for the family and easily capable of longer runs when we need it but a lot cheaper to run and, since it was a lot cheaper, I swear a lot less when some twit on a motorbike runs into me and scratches the paintwork.
As motorbikes here are ridden by people who love to attempt suicide, a good few hit you. I've had three run into the back of me, three or four scrape the sides as they try impossible overtakes and one very near miss by an epileptic rider but he had a fit and fell off just in front of me. I have that one on Youtube.
The greatest damage was just broken plastic, that being caused by a kid that looked about 12 or 13 trying to overtake me on the inside in a place he had absolutely no hope of getting past but his (and many other) parents were far too stupid to realise a little kid isn't safe to ride on main roads.
I jumped out to grab the little B*d but he did a runner before I could nab him.
Running away from an accident is pretty much the norm here so you might as well expect it to happen because it will whatever you think is right or wrong.

Two things with driving that took me a while to get used and still does if I’m away for a week or so and I am often, is .....
A. Indicator and lights on opposite sides to what I’m used to always confuses me when I’m back or drive in a different country
B. Cars/ bikes flashing head lights, has various meanings country to country,  a few times I almost ended up as filling one of the many holes

Bikes are very cheap compared to Europe
110, 125, 150cc etc are probably half the price to a 50cc death trap in Europe
Once you get something relatively (my opinion only as an experienced rider) safer and easier to control like 500/600cc and above the prices are probably 50% + above European prices (different bike license class is needed in Indonesia similar to Europe)

I can’t speak about various places within Indonesia like other members but 2nd hand prices are stupid and I can only describe as theft, I spent 5 months visiting various 2nd hand dealers/ private sellers probably 7/10 want scrapping and that’s the 2/3 year old market
If you know a little about car/ bike maintenance do it yourself and I can’t strongly reinforce that enough I have the new fortuner and do use Toyota who are very very good, however they only have one or two mechanics the rest are maintenance technicians and like many places they need to be watched/ reminded, don’t be afraid to ask questions on certain maintenance issues, one example is I had the fortuner in for its 6 month health check the car before was a Yaris the guy who checked my breaks only changed the socket on the torque wrench not the level of torque nor applied any lubricant to the bolt faces/thread, after I questioned this with a mechanic he acknowledged me immediately (roughly 80% of what was meant to be holding the wheels on wasn’t) corrected and explained to the technician also
Like earlier insurance is a must ( though not compulsory)  I may be wrong but I think you can’t still get bike insurance, I got mine through the main dealer/ importer in Jakarta and due to its engine size  was easier to obtain
Dashcam for car and bikes is also a must as an expat will almost always be responsible for any accidents
Pick your days carefully as well as route for days out it will be more enjoyable, Sunday for my location is a big NO just to dangerous and congested other days are very quiet and enjoyable away from the main strip

Flashing headlights here means, "I'm coming through regardless of what you think or do".
If a car is parked on the opposite side of the road, a car coming from that direction will commonly flash his lights and overtake it, even if you have to slam your brakes on to avoid a crash.

Gwmeath rightly mentioned second hand cars and bikes, something you should avoid.
Second hand hold value but are very often not worth a penny as they are commonly badly serviced or have never seen a spanner.
Many Indonesians are too poor to afford servicing or simply don't care, assuming the thing will run properly for a few hundred thousand kilometres with no looking after at all.
That means a lot of seconds aren't worth looking at and many are potentially very dangerous to ride.
For servicing, stick to manufacturer approved service centres - they cost more but are generally good and the job gets done properly.

Gwmeath :

Pick your days carefully as well as route for days out it will be more enjoyable,

Absolutely, yes.
This applies all the time but ten times more on major holidays.
Even thinking about moving around a few days before hari raya is a headache as the jams are crazy at best. The Jakarta to central Java run being amongst the worst, seeing many people on the road for 24 hours or a lot longer.
The same goes at Christmas. I recall going into Java early so having little serious problem but I returned as most were heading out so I saw unbelievable jams stretching for miles. Seriously, it was mile after mile of standing traffic with people walking around on the toll roads to stretch their legs.

No way should you try that run any time from a week before the holiday, however, you can dance in the street at what would normally be rush hour in Jakarta because pretty much everyone has left.

I thought Nigeria and Angola was bad for traffic (it is in general many times worse than Indonesia) until I first experienced Hari Raya, best advice is, get your favourite treat and turn on the TV and forget about traveling, infact just forget about anything regarding normal routine

Gwmeath :

I thought Nigeria and Angola was bad for traffic (it is in general many times worse than Indonesia) until I first experienced Hari Raya, best advice is, get your favourite treat and turn on the TV and forget about traveling, infact just forget about anything regarding normal routine

Read the above and take note of every word because it's excellent advice.

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