While roads on smaller islands can be challenging to drive, Indonesia is a surprisingly easy place to navigate in a car. Tourist attractions are common and natural beauty even more but the real bonus of taking a road trip is always the freedom to explore. Fuel may be scarce at times but this is easily addressed, and with amazing food, reasonable prices and so many places of sheer beauty to uncover, taking a road trip around Indonesia will be one of the best decisions you ever make.
Featuring a decent road infrastructure, volcanic islands, exotic animals, and sublime cuisine at every turn, not only is it overflowing with variety but Indonesia is also a destination in which everything is accessible. So while you can join an organized tour in this part of the world, often the best way to experience Indonesia is from behind the wheel of your own vehicle and with the freedom it brings. Simply put, traveling around Indonesia in a car is potentially one of the best decisions you will ever make.
Car rental versus hiring a private driver
Keeping on the left-hand side of the road, drivers need to navigate through an ocean of scooters in Indonesia, and this can be quite daunting prospect for some visitors. For this reason, many tourists opt to hire a driver to take them around the islands, but this is nowhere nearly as fun as navigating the islands by yourself. Yes, a private driver will have first-hand knowledge and experience, but then you are also expected to pay for their food and lodgings, in addition to the cost of hiring them.
Quality of Indonesian roads
As already mentioned, Indonesian roads are quite good, but one of the first things you must understand is that the quality of the roads can differ from one region to another. For example, most of the roads in Java, Bali, and Sumatra are nicely maintained and perfectly fine for driving, but many of the roads on smaller or lesser known islands are a lot less desirable with rough terrain and pot holes
Visiting attractions on a road trip
Indonesia is home to some incredible natural attractions which allow for unique experiences, from jungles and beaches to temples and luscious national parks.
Take for example Lake Toba in Sumatra. Spanning one hundred kilometers in length and thirty kilometers in width, Lake Toba is a volcanic lake and an example of some typically beautiful Indonesian scenery. Thought to be more than seven thousand years old, visitors are welcome to swim here which is also quite an unusual thought given that the lake is heated by a volcano. Another highlight of any road trip in this part of the world is Borobudur, arguably the most famous Buddhist temple on the planet. Seventy-five years in the making, and finished in the ninth century, Borobudur is said to consist of more than two million stone blocks and was hidden under volcanic ash for thousands of years until recent times.
However, these are just two of the most popular attractions, and an example of the natural beauty visitors can expect during a road trip around the islands.
Food and services in Indonesia
Street stalls and markets are hugely popular and the most affordable places to buy food on a road trip. Cooked to order and reasonably priced less than $4 per meal, although it is worth keeping in mind that meals purchased in the city center can charge twice as much.
Similarly, you should find gas stations dotted all around Indonesia but mostly next to populous towns and cities where the price is a little higher. Ideally, you should fill up the tank if you intend on taking to the road for a few days and carry an extra jerry can of gas in the back.
Things to remember before going on a road trip
- Make sure your car is fit for the trip
- Have the right insurances
- Know the rules