12 min read

One of the great things of Indonesia are the transportation apps. I’m talking about apps you can use when travelling and need to get a ride. The days of waving your hand and wait for a taxi to stop are getting less usual. These days you just open an app and ask for a driver. A big surprise for me is how many tourists don’t know about this way of transportation. Here I will tell you about the 4 most used transportation apps in Indonesia and what you should look out for when using them.

What does it take to use these transportation apps?

You can download all apps I discuss below in the App Store or Play Store. The registration process is in general the same. You register in most cases using your e-mail and/or phone number. After this you will need to verify your account via a text message or e-mail message and after this you should be ready to go. Maybe you want to add a payment option before, or leave this open for later. Paying with cash is in all cases possible.

How can you order a ride?

Just open the app and it will automatically search your current location via your phone’s GPS. The next thing you can do is set your destination, choose your payment option and there you go. In a few seconds your request will pop up at the driver’s phones near your location. Wait for a driver to accept your request. After you got your driver assigned just wait for him or her to show up and enjoy your ride. Fast, easy and convenient, right?

Things to consider before using a transportation app

In most cases it’s pretty easy to get from A to B, but there are some difficulties you can come across:

Communication

Did you think about the communication between the driver and you? Sometimes it’s not clear for the driver where he should pick you up. In that case they will often call you directly or send an SMS. They will also often let you know if the time for pickup will take a little bit longer than expected. The same issues can come up for the destination. When you say ‘’I want to go to this mall’’, that mall can have multiple entries. What you will do then if the driver can’t speak English?
It might be a good idea to use a local number so the driver can call you if it’s not clear for him were to pick you up.

Extra costs

Sometimes the driver will ask you to drive via a toll road or not, if you choose the toll road it might be faster, but you need to pay the driver the cost for the toll, this is not included in the price of the app. Know how much you need to give when the driver asks for money.
Also if you stop somewhere with the taxi you need to pay some parking money, even if it’s for a short time, understanding the situation can spare you a confusing discussion between the driver and “parkir” (the person that collects the money for parking)

You requested a ride but it takes long before a driver accepts it?

In some cases you don’t want to set your destination (this is also possible). There were some times where I requested a ride but didn’t got a driver assigned. As I found out later the ride was not long enough to make drivers come pick me up. If the fee is too low and/or the distance from where the driver needs to come is too far it can take longer before you get moving.

Advantages of transport apps

Using this kind of transportation means you will explore Indonesia on a way that locals also do. Make it more fun by starting a conversation. Don’t make a big deal of it if you don’t speak the language, at least try. The drivers often like to practice their English and they like it even more when you try to speak Indonesian. They will be most glad to help you advise some must go-to places.

Using a transportation app means you know with who you are driving and (get a good indication of) the fare price.

The apps make it more easy and safer travelling around by making as much information available about your driver and ride. The information often included are the picture of the driver, name, mobile phone number and number plate or number of the vehicle.
Mostly beforehand you can see the cost of the ride and make a choice from multiple paying options. Just make sure you always have some small money to pay the ride in case your mobile pay option doesn’t work because of a bad connection or other phone problems.

When you want to order a ride you get clear information of how many drivers are around. The GPS location of the drivers gets updates via real-time. When you ordered your ride the app makes an estimation of the expected time of arrival of the driver.

In case you take a taxi without using the app always remember the number plate or number of the vehicle. This can come in handy if you lost some belongings in the taxi or if you ever decide to let the taxi stay standby. Remembering the number means you know from a row of taxi’s which one is yours. In some less usual cases you want to remember the number so you can file a complaint against the driver.

Why you should use GO-JEK, Bluebird, Uber or Grab

In the comparison below you can find some differences and similarities between the apps. In some cases it is cheaper to use one app instead of the other. Ask the locals which one they use the most.

GO-JEK is one of the biggest, most used transportation app in Indonesia. They started in 2010 and meanwhile they cover the most important cities (25 and counting) in Indonesia and have more than 200.000 drivers.

  • Contact passes on via text message and telephone.
  • GO-JEK offers rides via motorcycle, taxi car or taxi minivan.
  • Partnered with Bluebird In January of 2017, the biggest, most reliable taxi operator in Indonesia. Use their service at the same rate as GO-JEK. The advantage of the GO-JEK app compared to the Bluebird app is that you see the price beforehand.
  • See beforehand what price you will be charged for the fair.
  • Pay with GO-PAY, they way of GO-JEK to pay via their app. Change your money into credits for GO-PAY and, get sometimes a discount on your fare price.
  • You can not use a credit card as a payment option

GO-JEK has many other services available via there app like:
GO-FOOD, GO-SEND, GO-MART, GO-BOX, GO-MASSAGE, GO-CLEAN, GO-GLAM, GO-TIX, GO-BUSWAY, GO-MED, GO-AUTO and GO-PULSA

Blue Bird is the biggest taxi operator in Indonesia. It’s has built a good reputation in terms of reliability, safety and general quality of the service. Is more expensive than other taxi services but is still fair for what is offered. The Blue Bird app is still available, but because of the cooperation with GO-JEK it makes less sense to use it because GO-JEK offers Blue Birds service cheaper (at GO-JEK’s fare rate) and shows the fare price in front.

One of the first transportation apps and international known with a great reputation.

  • Pay cash, credit card or with PayPal
  • Has a motor and car service:
    uberMOTOR;
    uberX (max. 4 people);
    uberXL (max. 6 people);
    uberBLACK (max. 4 people and for more exclusive fares)
  • Available in the big cities

An app that is making some competition for GO-JEK. They started in Malaysia and came later available in Indonesia compared to GO-JEK.
Grab offers similar services but has some small differences. The services offered are called: GrabCar, GrabBike, GrabTaxi, GrabShare (sharing a taxi), GrabHitch Car, GrabHitch, GrabTaxi Promo, Grab Express and GrabFood.

  • Has also an own payment option called GrabPay
  • Possibility to use a credit card
  • There is a chat available, a nice alternative for text message
  • Is available in the big cities but at the moment less than GO-JEK
  • Have insurance for the driver and the passengers on to the seating capacity of the car

Also available in Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Myanmar.

Conclusion and what about driving yourself?

This article should give you some more insight for trying the transportation apps I mentioned above. As you read it’s one of the best ways to get around. It’s convenient, fast and safe to order a ride and pay. Every app has its own small differences, but in the end they all deliver a service that brings you faster and safer to your destination.

Maybe you don’t want to wait for a taxi driver or Gojek motor to pick you up. What about driving yourself? Of course it’s nice to have the freedom of going and leaving when you want to. There are only some things you might not have thought of… I have written an article about what you should consider before driving alone in Indonesia.

> See here my article for Should I drive a motorcycle when in Indonesia?