In We cycled for 3 months in Indonesia and we have to confess that it was one of the most difficult countries we have been so far, we will tell you how our experience here in this post.
Indonesia visa is standard for all the nationalities, 30 days visa on arrival if you want it is possible to request the extension for more 30 days, but be aware that this request has to be made at the time you give your passport to the immigration officer. They will send you to the other sector, where you will have to pay a fee of 35.00USD, after paying this fee, you will have to go to the closest immigration post and request the extension of your visa, this other step has a cost of 30.00USD. The extension process can take up to two weeks and it will depend on where you will apply for the extension, from the moment you give your passport, you will have to come back another two more times there, one to take a photo and collect your fingerprints and the last one to collect your passport.
The quality of the roads are not the best, they are narrow and without any shoulder, but it is a country where we feel safe, the traffic is intense, many trucks, vans, and motorbikes, but they do not drive on high speed and they respect as far as possible the cyclist. There are few options for secondary roads, but you have to choose between the main routes that are super busy, or you choose the secondary routes that are extremely steep climbs, the condition of the roads made our trip there a bit more difficult. On the other hand, the Indonesians are very helpful and they will hardly deny a help, it is very easy to get a ride, especially when you face a hard route to cycle on. Another point of the Indonesian traffic is the incessant horns, which are often to sign that they are passing, can be a car, a motorcycle or a truck and sometimes to greet you, the greeting can be through the horn or verbally. We cycled from Bali Island, through Java and Sumatra, as mentioned above, we always choose the secondary routes and in two cases we catch to a bus because we wanted to avoid the cities that had more intense traffic. Below is the link to our itinerary, where you can follow our detail route.
We chose to take buses twice, as we wanted to avoid cities that had more intense traffic, as Jakarta the famous one. The first bus we paid 18.00USD per person for the ticket and 8.00USD per bike, the second one we paid 14.00USD per person including the price of the bicycles. Both of the times were quite fine in relation to put the bicycles on the bus.Our departure from Indonesia was by speedboat from Sumatra Island in the city of Dumai to the city of Malacca in Malaysia. The ticket price was 25.00USD per person and 6.90USD per bicycles, the crossing last 2 hours and a half, which in our opinion is the best way regarding bicycle transport and comfort.
Comparing to all of the countries we have been to before, Indonesia is the cheapest in relation to everything, and to stay in a simple Hotel is not so expensive, but it is something we haven’t done often, but eventually we stayed in cheap accommodation, a price average in an extremely simple room, without luxury or cleanliness was 18.00USD in a private room with air conditioning. There are no options for camping in Indonesia at all, we camped once only in the three months we were there. But on the other hand the country is one of the most hospitable places we have passed so far, we slept in schools, police station and many times we slept in the people’s house, we asked to pitch the tent in the yard and they always invited us to sleep inside their home.
Another good tip about accommodation is the Warmshowers community, there is a Facebook community called Warmshowers Indonesia and that’s where it all happens, if you post about your trip on this community, they’ll promptly help you with places to stay, this is undoubtedly a good tip for you who are thinking of cycling there.
Being a cheap country to travel, food is a cheap item, you can eat on the street food, at the famous Warungs, which are local and low-cost restaurants. But to cook your own food is always cheaper than eating outside, most of the time in Indonesia, we cooked our own food. Indonesia is a country which a strong culture of street markets, and is known there as a traditional market, is the best place to buy vegetables and rice. This type of food is usually more expensive at the big supermarkets, so we always chosen for the local markets. There are not many chain supermarket options around the country, only in the big cities you will find the Giant, the Super Indo, and sometimes the Carrefour, there is also the Transmart network which is a shopping complex that has a supermarket. What helped us a lot, were the convenience stores, which are Indomaret and Alfamart, it is worthed mentioning that in West Sumatra, there are no convenience stores and neither a big supermarket, you will find the local markets only. We used to go to supermarkets and convenience stores to buy toiletries such as shampoo, soap, and deodorant. It is worthed saying that for those who like to drink a beer, to be aware because in the Islands of Java and Sumatra is not common to sell alcoholic beverages due to the religion. Indonesia is the largest country in the world with a Muslim population, where alcohol consumption is prohibited, it is possible to find sometimes in the big supermarkets in a separate session for drinks and cigarettes.
Indonesia was where we had to start to worry about the water quality, and it was the first country that we had to buy mineral water to drink. Unfortunately, it is not possible to drink tap water, the best option was to buy mineral water in the supermarkets and the convenience stores, a bottle of a liter and a half, cost an average of 0.50USD. A good tip that we discovered only in the last month of the trip, is that there are some points to refill the water gallons for the community, it is difficult to tell the location and where they are, but the idea is to look whenever you are passing through some villages, these water points are usually located on the main streets and avenues. It is easy to recognize as you pass through the huge stainless steel cylinders that filter the water.
The weather is tropical humid and relatively drier in the southeast. The year has a stable temperature, with only minor variations: the average is from 28 to 32 degrees maximum and from 20 to 24 degrees minimum. In most of the country, there are only two seasons conducted by the monsoons. Between October and April, the islands of the Indonesian archipelago pass through the rainy season, while the dry season is during the months of May to September. We arrived there in July and ended our trip in early October, the weather was hot and humid, the rain started at the end of our journey there, but it was not a factor that disturbed us. A special tip from us is if you intend to take a hike to the famous volcanoes, be aware of the temperature that can easily reach 0 degrees due to the high altitude, even though it is a tropical and warm country, do not forget to include a jacket and a pair of pants on your bag.