Indonesia Driving Advice and Car Hire Info

Driving In Indonesia

It’s worth checking your government’s website for the latest advice before driving abroad in certain areas of Indonesia such as West Papua as there are sometimes travel advisories in place.

Indonesia drives on the left hand side of the road and you can drive using an International Driving permit and your own licence but  according to some online resources, including the UK Foreign office,  the IDP needs to be endorsed by the Indonesian Licencing authority in Jakarta. Alternatively, you need to obtain either an IDP issued in Indonesia  or a ‘Surat Ijin Mengemudi’ , know as a SIM If you are on a temporary visa, such as a tourist visa. You can obtain a SIM in most popular tourist areas such as Jakarta, Bali, Jogjakarta, Makassar, and Manado. To get the most up to date and accurate information on what licence you need in the area you’ll be visiting, I would suggest making contact with a car rental company before you travel and asking them. Note that requirements for hiring motorbikes and scooters may be different to cars. I’ve rented a scooter in Bali  and Jogyakarta and and was only asked to show my UK licence, not an IDP.

Around half of Indonesia’s 600,000 km of roads are paved and there are good quality toll roads on Jave, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Bali and Kalimantan and road quality and driving conditions will differ by Island. Generally driving on Bali will be less stressful than Java and Jakarta in particular. However, throughout Indonesia, roads tend to be highly congested and rules are ignored by drivers. Traffic signals may not work and if they do, they’re sometimes ignored. Driving standards are often poor –tailgating at high speed is the norm, overtaking will happen in either lane and buses and lorries will drive on the wrong side of the road in the face of oncoming to traffic in order to overtake. Motorcycles are everywhere and will follow no road rules. Accidents between a car and a motorcycle are invariably viewed as the fault of the driver of the car. Groups of motorcycle riders will sometimes threaten the driver of a car who is involved in an accident regardless of who is at fault. Beware in the vicinity of tyre repair shops as they have been known to sprinkle nails or sharp objects in the road in an attempt to get business! The standard rules of driving abroad in a developing country apply in Indonesia- drive confidentally but ultra defensively and always expect the unexpected!

Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.

Indonesia Car Rental –
Avis has branches on Java and Bali. Europcar have a branch at Jakarta airport. At Denpasar airport in Bali, Avis, Budget, Sixt, Hertz and Europcar all have outlets.

We currently have no local car rental partners in Indonesia. If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on

1 comment

Leave a Reply