Travelling by motorbike is the best way to explore a new country. Instead of flying from city to city, you can get to know all of the other places in between. The larger cities in a country have a lot to offer but often, you’ll get a more authentic experience visiting the smaller places outside of the urban areas. Travelling by bike also gives you more opportunity for discovery because you aren’t bound by a strict schedule, you can just take to the open road and see what you can find.
Indonesia is a great country to explore by motorbike because it has so much beautiful countryside which is best seen from the road. You do have to be careful though because riding your motorbike in Indonesia is going to be a lot different to riding in most other countries. If you’re not prepared beforehand, you might struggle once you get out there. Here’s everything you need to know about riding your motorbike through Indonesia.
The Rules Of The Road
Knowing the rules of the road is important when you’re riding in a new country. In Indonesia, the rules are a lot more flexible than most other countries so you’ve just got to learn to go with the flow of traffic. They drive on the left over there and overtake on the right. Speed limits are more like guidelines than solid rules so just follow what everybody else does. The same goes for red lights as well. The roads get incredibly busy in the big cities and you’re going to be surrounded by hordes of other bikes and scooters. When the lights go green, the crowd is going to start moving. Things will get chaotic so you need to just match the speed of everybody around you and try to keep up. If you’re a bit cautious and you want to slow down a bit, always stick to the left so people can pass you on the right hand side. Don’t make any sudden turns, just try to merge slowly if you need to move. People are going to come by you pretty fast but you’ll be fine as long as you keep your cool.
Always Wear A Helmet
Hopefully, you’re already wearing a helmet anyway but it’s worth reiterating. Protecting your head in the event of a crash is obviously important but that’s not the only reason you need to wear a helmet when you’re riding in Indonesia. On the busy roads, there are going to be a lot of fumes and bugs that can blur your vision so a helmet with a visor is essential. A bandanna is a good idea as well because it can help to protect you from the fumes. When you’re driving out in the rural areas, it’s going to be very dusty and there could be a lot of low hanging branches so protecting your face is important wherever you are.
Use Your Horn
When you’re at home, you probably think of the horn as a last resort when another driver is doing something stupid. But in Indonesia, people use the horn a lot more often. Don’t be alarmed if you hear somebody beeping at you. Usually, it’s because they’re about to pass you or they’re riding in your blind spot and they want to make you aware. A single honk is usually just a way of creating a bit of space and making other riders aware of your presence. Sometimes, it’s even just a way of saying hello. You need to be using your horn in the same way, otherwise, people aren’t going to move out of your way when you’re trying to pass them.
Driving On The Sidewalk
At home, driving on the sidewalk is a reckless, illegal thing to do. In Indonesia, it’s not illegal but it is still risky. The busy areas are prone to large traffic jams and you might find yourself in a massive gridlock, unable to move. If you need to get somewhere in a hurry, you can move onto the sidewalk to get around the traffic. You see people doing it quite often but if you don’t know the area that well, it can be dangerous. There are a lot of potholes around and you can easily be thrown off your bike if you hit one at speed. You’re probably better off waiting for the traffic to move but if you’re in a rush and you absolutely have to drive on the sidewalk, go slowly and keep an eye out for potholes.
Storing Your Bike
If you’re going to be staying in Indonesia for a while, you’ll need somewhere to keep your bike and do repairs on it if needs be. Renting out a small piece of land by the roadside shouldn’t be too expensive (head over to https://www.rumah.com/tanah/disewa to see what’s on offer). Otherwise, you’ll need to find some accommodation with space to store your bike. You can also consider renting a bike while you’re out there, it’s not going to cost that much and you don’t need to worry about finding a place to store it.
Where To Go
Now that you’re familiar with all of the rules of the road in Indonesia, you can start looking at places to go. If you’re looking for beautiful landscapes, Sumatra is a great choice. Medan, the capital city of Sumatra, isn’t that great. You’ll probably have to travel there to get over to Sumatra but don’t stick around for too long. It’s an incredibly chaotic and polluted city which isn’t great for a relaxing trip. But as soon as you get outside of the city and into the surrounding countryside, it’s a different story entirely. There is only one major road that goes around the entire island so it’s going to get crowded, but there are some amazing places to see along the way. If you travel inland a little way, you’ll reach the mountain town of Berastagi where you’ll find the beautiful Lake Toba. It’s the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon. You can take a ferry over to Pulau Weh as well. This tiny island at the tip of Indonesia is perfect for going diving and seeing some incredible marine life. Finally, you should ride down to the Gunung Leuser National Park. This amazing stretch of jungle is home to all sorts of incredible wildlife but it’s most famous for the orangutans that live up in the trees.
Bali is the most popular island in Indonesia, attracting loads of tourists every year. Its beautiful coastlines make it perfect for a motorbike trip. Kuta is the most popular beach destination on the island and definitely worth a visit (visit https://www.kayak.com/Kuta.9522.guide for a great travel guide). As well as the picturesque beaches, you’ll find some great shops and where you can get souvenirs and clothes at ridiculously cheap prices. Just keep your wits about you because there are some vendors that will try to rip you off. Kuta is great but you might get a bit fed up of all the tourists, in which case, you should head south and find some of the quieter areas in Bali.
Ubud is about 55 km ride from Kuta so if you set off early, you’ll still have a bit of time to explore when you get there. This is the place to go if you want to immerse yourself in the culture of Bali. The Lotus Temple is one of the most famous attractions in the area, loved for its incredible architecture and serene atmosphere. After a walk around the beautiful pond outside, you can head into the temple grounds and, believe it or not, grab a coffee from the Starbucks inside. It’s a pretty touristy location but if you go at the right time, you can miss the crowds.
In between Sumatra and Bali is the island of Java, another great destination for a motorbike trip. Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia is in Java. It’s an incredibly modern city and one of the largest cities in Southeast Asia. There’s a lot going on there and it can get pretty hectic so you might not want to spend more than a few days there. When you’ve had your fill of Jakarta, ride out to the surrounding countryside where you’ll find volcanoes, lakes, and temples all over the place. Mount Bromo is one of the most amazing pieces of scenery in Java and if you really want to get the most out of your trip, you need to get up early and get there in time to see the sunrise. After that, you can climb all the way up to the edge of the crater where you’ll get amazing views of the volcano on one side and the coast on the other. Yogyakarta is another great place to see the rich cultural heritage of Indonesia. It’s best known for the 2 Buddhist temples nearby, where you can get free guided tours.
These are just some of the amazing places that you can visit on a motorbike tour of Indonesia, just make sure that you’re familiar with the rules of the road.