Yes, you finally made it! Doing great job on your well-selected internship supporting local business in one of the extremely exotic Indonesian islands. Yet, a very important part of your experience is a cultural journey, to meet new traditions, to explore places, maybe to discover something surprising about yourself in there...
Regardless of how you want to spend your free time after work, days off or weekends, keep in mind that Indonesia is a truly traveler-friendly environment and allows you to move around the archipelago easily, with various decent options available.
Here you can find some (hopefully) useful tips & hints on how to do it!
*Based on our interns success stories and our own Indonesia backpacking experience.
Moving between the islands can be extremely time- and energy-consuming and for that reason, you might want to rely on regional and local airlines. They usually provide good price-value deal and if you manage to plan your trip in advance, the cost is very likely to get much lower than expected. There is quite many operating airports in Indonesia and every island (at least its capital or a couple of major cities) is reachable that way.
Airlines worth to check out:
If you prefer to stay with your feet on the ground, you should consider a train ride, as long as your travel desire is focused on the islands with a well-developed railway infrastructure. To be honest, that will leave you with a main choice between Java and Sumatra, but at the same time the distance you might be able to cover can definitely make a difference in your travels time-planning.
Within the island of Java, you are able to get to almost every major city, choosing between daily and usually more comfortable night trains. There are three main coach classes available. The cheapest one is the economy class, with no air-conditioning and benches to sit on. It's an extremely cheap option, but be prepared to travel along with local sellers and their (alive) goods. The middle class – business has more comfortable seats and goes together with a fan cooling system. The most luxurious – executive class has complex air-conditioning system and reclining seats on offer and is comparable with trains in European countries.
The official railway system website: http://www.kereta-api.co.id/
Then, you always have buses – the mainstay of Indonesian transport. The big advantage is that you can easily get a ride with no much wait and with little money, but keep in mind that the comfort and travel conditions are very different, depending on the bus option. More personalised and comfortable travel can be arranged through one of the mini-buses operating companies (called generally 'travel' in Indonesia). You simply call, book your journey (preferably at least one day in advance) and give all your travel details. The rest is on the company. They will pick you up from your front door and drop you off right in the place, where you want to go. There is also one hot meal included and some snacks provided on the way.
Other than that, you can book a classic express coach with air conditioning and not too many stops on the way to its destination. There is also the very basic option – a public bus, that operates according to simple 'leave-when-full' school of scheduling and usually goes with no air conditioning, but at the same time provides you with a chance to meet and socialise with locals.
In terms of travelling by sea, the biggest company – Pelni, organizes long cruises along the Indonesian coast with stops on several islands. It generally operates on a fortnightly or monthly schedule so regular ferries may be a bit more convenient. Regular ferry routes connect the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali, Nusa Tenggara, Sulawesi so you can use them to island-hop all the way from Sumatra to Timor.
Pelni ships cruises: http://www.pelni.co.id/
And what about the most favourite way of travelling, practiced by all true adventurers?
Well, hitch-hiking is definitely not a part of the Indonesian culture, but if you put out your thumb, someone may give you a lift. Another thing is, how often you will be expected to pay for this good deed with your bills, rather than with a good word. Generally, we do not recommend hitch-hiking in Indonesia as there is enough low-budget options to choose from.
Safe travels in Indonesia!