Getting Around Jakarta Part 1: The Angkot

There are a  few ways to get around Jakarta besides taking a taxi.  The angkot (minibus), ojek (motorcycle taxi) and the bajaj (a three wheeled motorcycle) and the public bus are all cheap modes of transportation. When I travel, I like taking the local public transport.  It is economical and I can get see the locals in their element.  I will be showing you each mode of transportation in a series.

The #12 angkot in Pasar Baru. Photo by: Diana O’Gilvie

The angkot is the king of the road in Jakarta.  Apparently, the other vehicles on the road give way to the angkot drivers and with good reason. They command the roads with dangerous maneuvers like driving on the sidewalks, running red lights and making a three lane change to pick up one passenger.

There are no fixed stops along the angkot’s route but they do have a predetermined route.  This is part of the reason why motorists are afraid of them.  They speed along the road and then suddenly pull over to pick up or let people off.  Depending on the town, the numbers and colors vary. For instance, in my neighborhood of Kelapa Gading, the colors are red and blue.  In Bogor, they are green and yellow.  Generally, an angkot costs Rpi 2,000- 3,000

The routes are written on the angkot’s windscreen.  Once you have determined the direction you are going, simply stick out your hand and wave one down.  Trust me, the driver will break traffic laws to pick you up.  Riding inside an angkot is an experience itself.  The seats are cramped, so draw your knees tight.  I have seen them pack sixteen people into an angkot far too many times.

The cozy interior of the #13 angkot. Photo by: Diana O’Gilvie

The conditions inside are sweltering. Especially when they decide to park somewhere and wait for more passengers.  Sometimes, passengers close the windows.  I suspect that has something to do with the Indonesian superstition that the air makes you sick. There are “No Smoking” signs plastered in the interior, but that doesn’t seem to stop drivers and passengers alike from lighting up.

When you are ready to get off just shout out “kiri bang.”  “Kiri” means left and “bang” is Javanese slang for guy.  Or just shout out “kiri.”  Be careful when exiting as you have to navigate through a sea of legs.

I don’t mind traveling by angkot.  It is a cheap, hassle free way to getting to near by destinations quickly.


  1. LoveniaOctober 31st

    Wow, sounds like these drivers would definitely be at home in China! Kudos to you for being at ease with getting around town in them!

  2. dianao617November 1st

    Really Lovenia? I can only imagine these guys in China!

  3. […] One of the things that was a pleasant surprise was the train directly from the airport into the city center.  I have missed been on commuter trains and especially living in Jakarta where getting around involves mostly small buses. […]

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