Buses are the mainstay of Indonesian transport. At any time of the day, you can expect  buses in all shapes and sizes transporting hundreds of thousands of people throughout Indonesia. The 'leave-when-full' school of scheduling applies to almost every service (except for the luxury buses), and 'full' sometimes means the aisles are occupied too especially for the economy class buses!

In the lower class, buses are hot, bumpy, banged-up affairs with a lack of suspension that can re-arrange your internal organs. The going is generally slow, but they are undoubtly the best way to meet up and socialise with locals.
Comfortable coaches usually operate on Java-Sumatera or Java-Bali network.


Bus services vary throughout Indonesia. Java has all types of buses, including luxury air-con coaches, with reclining seat & even meal services.
The most basic buses are ordinary, every day economy class (ekonomi) buses that run set routes between towns and always picks up passangers from the side of the road. They can be hot, slow and crowded, but are also very cheap and provide a neverending parade of Indonesian life. These kinds of buses can be quite tolerable for short distances, especially on the main highways.

The next class up are the express (patas) buses. They look much the same as the economy class buses, but stop only at selected terminals en route and (officially) don't pick up from the side of the road. Air-con patas buses are more comfortable and seating is sometimes guaranteed. Usually you do not have to book and can just catch one at the bus terminal in any big city.

Luxury air-con buses come in a variety of price categories, depending on the facilities which can include reclining seats, toilet, DVD, karaoke or snacks and meals. These buses should be booked in advance; ticket agents often have pictures of the buses and seating plans, so check to see what you are paying for when you choose your seat.
This class of bus is what mid-class locals favour as an alternative for the eksekutif class train or traveling by air.
When taking the Java-Bali or Java-Sumatera networks, there are many overnight luxury buses (bis malam) traveling the highways at this preferred time as the traffic is much lighter.

If you travel in a lower-class bus, bring as little as possible - there is rarely any room to store anything on these buses. A large backpack with a frame will be difficult to find space for, sometimes it annoys locals & it's possible that you end up paying double (because the seat that should belong to another passanger is occupied by your backpack). It is better you take a luxury class bus if you are traveling inter-province because luggage space is provided & the price is much cheaper compared to western countries.
If you have to take lower-class buses, make sure you leave your huge backpack and travel with a day pack for a few days.


Economy class bus prices vary from region to region and with condition of the road. The daytime buses that depart early in the morning - carrying chickens & goats - are the cheapest! An eight hour journey will cost Rp 50.000 to Rp 80.000. In comparison, the same route on a luxurious, overnight bus will cost Rp 150.000 to Rp 200.000
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