First of all, I live in Jakarta, but has driven in Bali, Manado and Jakarta. But mostly in Jakarta because I live in Jakarta. But these are tips of the outmost importance for you and everyone else safety because driving in Indonesia, is not the same, and not at all similar to a developed country. Most of us are probably from France, Singapore, United States, Hong Kong, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Dutch.
Why am I writing this for foreigners? I myself moved to Jakarta in 2010, so for several years, I get frustrated with motorist. I feel like they don't consider safety first. You may understand that when driving in other part of the countries, where a vigorous training and written test is required just to get your driver license, however, the driving test here is different.
Let me explain to you how the driving test in Indonesia is done. How is it different than in the more developed countries when it comes to acquiring your driver license? Easy, the compliance officer in Indonesia will test you in your car to make sure you know how to operate a heavy machinery. Yes, cars are considered heavy machine to the locals in Indonesia. 2nd part of the test is writing. But not writing to find out if you know the law of the roads in Indonesia, but you need to write theoritically what should be done on the road while driving. Why theoretically? Because to you right is wrong to other motorist, and wrong to you is considered right to other motorist. Even if you argue, no one will win. When a police is involved, money will also be involved, mostly to pay the police to write a police report (money talks). So for your sake, you will be aggravated by other motorist, and you will be irate in the car, but to prevent all that, just drive with open eyes, open mind and anticipate with what bad things can happen on the road of Indonesia.
Ultimately, it is not about the law of the road, because imagine if there is a law on the road of Indonesia? Consider the road rage and beatings that will happen? Instead, they teach you that when you drive, you need to drive with patience. Slow and with anticipation.
Disregard what you know about driving in other, more developed countries, because they do not apply here.
So please, Expat, for your safety, understand how to drive in Indonesia. People’s mindset is different than in other countries, lesson learned from my own experience.