In Indonesia, the traffic moves on the left hand side and cars overtake on the right. It is recommended that you do not drive in Indonesia if you have never driven in Asian traffic before. The rules and regulations differ from other countries and in many places they are not taken seriously.
Many of the streets in Indonesia are quite narrow and driving in these tiny roads can become difficult especially if you are accustomed to wide open roads. A lot of Indonesians park their cars on the street thereby restricting road space to drive on. You have to be extremely careful of motorcyclists, pedestrians, buses etc while driving as they may cut you from any side to pass.
If you are a foreigner, you are allowed to use an International Driver’s License to drive in Indonesia. Always carry important documents with you such as your driver’s license, a photo ID or your passport, vehicle registration, certificate of motor insurance. If you do not own the car you must carry a letter from the owner giving you permission to drive. Keep cash and jewelry out of sight as many robberies take place.
Since driving can become a nightmare in Indonesia, hiring a driver is the best idea. There are many national rental agencies such as Avis and Hertz that can be found in the big cities like Jakarta. Driving can be quite difficult as it is not unusual for cars to drive in the middle of the road and swerve without warning. The edges of many roads cannot be noticed since mud spreads over it and people crowd around the sides. Driving can also become complicated because there are certain roads that may be one way during the day but become two way during the night.
Earlier, it was not uncommon for police to throw stones at a car that crossed a red light. People in Indonesia become very impatient at red lights and many try to cross them. However, now, during the days people do stop at red lights but at night no one really bothers. Traffic can become overwhelming and therefore it is best you do not drive if there are other options available.
Sometimes travelling between cities can become tiring, as the roads are really long. Therefore make sure you carry enough food and water to stay hydrated and fresh while driving. Accidents due to fatigue and drowsiness are common. Therefore it is best you take all the necessary care to avoid such accidents.
Renting a car in Indonesia is very cheap as compared to other countries because of the atrocious driving habits. Road conditions are very poor and the roads are not properly maintained. During the rainy season, floods are common and many important roads in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi are flooded. Therefore it is highly recommended that if you really want to travel by car, hire a driver at a low cost so that you can avoid any accidents that might spoil your trip.