Becaks are a lovely form of human-scaled transport and one of the things that contribute to Makassar's 'old world charm'.
You might find the beckoning of the becak drivers a nuisance, but if you are happy to engage in a bit of bargaining, travelling by becak is a very pleasant way to get around while avoiding the challenges that await pedestrians.
Locals pay Rp 5000 for a standard short trip, Rp 10,000 for a longer trip. Bule (foreigners) should be prepared to pay double that (and more again if there are 2 of you), but always agree on a price first, to avoid arguments later.
Drivers will offer to wait (tunggu) while you go into shops, but expect to pay a little extra for this.
If you don't want a becak ride, a simple "Berjalan-jalan" ("I'm just going for a walk") is usually accepted graciously. On the other hand, you could make a becak driver's day by negotiating a price for a 2 or 3 hour tour of the sights.
The little blue and red micro-buses you see darting around, known as angkot elsewhere in Indonesia, are called pete-pete (pronounced petay-petay) in Makassar. The name possibly comes from the noise they make (putt-putt), or from an abbreviation of “public transport” – who really knows?
The vehicles themselves are Suzuki "Carry" vans fitted out with rudimentary bench seats for up to 10 passengers, plus the seat next to the driver. Many of them are seriously beaten up but also sport serious sound systems with sub-woofers.
As Makassar’s only real form of public transport, pete-pete cover an intricate network of routes according to the "Kode" on their front windscreen. The blue ones operate within metropolitan Makassar, while the red ones go further afield. Not many foreigners travel on pete-pete, but they are an incredibly cheap and effective way to get around, as well as being a true Makassar experience. There is a flat fare of Rp 4000 for a one-way trip in any blue pete-pete, payable when you get off. Red ones cost more, depending on the location.
Route maps Until now, the biggest problem for travellers has been that there weren't any maps of the pete-pete routes. The locals just know where they go. To solve that problem, we've mapped 10 of the most popular (blue) routes that will get you to most destinations around town. Click on the links below to open the maps in a new window.
Pete-pete routes are flexible. Drivers often head off down side streets to deliver passengers to their destination or to hunt for new passengers when business is quiet on the main roads. Tell the driver where you want to go to make sure your destination doesn't get bypassed.
There are no fixed stops. You can flag down a pete-pete anywhere along the route. Just make eye contact. One exception is the Kode B route to Tanjung Bunga, where it is best to get on at the "terminal".
To get off, say "kiri" ("left") when you’re within reasonable stopping distance of your destination.
Safety: Locals have warned me about pickpockets and thieves on pete-pete but I have never had any problems. Taking normal precautions and travelling in daylight hours should be fine.
Walking is the best way to discover any new place, and Makassar is no exception. Here are a few tips for pedestrians:
Get out early before it's too hot, find somewhere cool to hang out in the middle of the day, and then head out again to enjoy the sunset and evening.
Footpaths (sidewalks), where they exist, are often crowded with warungs (food stalls) and parked motorcycles. Your only option is to walk on the roadside. Be sure to look both ways as Makassans love to ride motorbikes and becaks on the wrong side of the road.
To cross busy streets, wait for a gap (if possible) and then walk resolutely onto the road, making your intentions clear and holding out a warning hand. You'll find that cars will slow down and go around you. Just keep an eye out for weaving motorcycles and make it clear which side of them you plan to be on.
So get your walking shoes on and head out to explore Makassar on foot. Just be sure to hati-hati (take care).
Taxis are relatively cheap in Makassar. Prices below are from 2014.
Trips between the Pantai Losari area and the airport will cost you between Rp 100,000 and 125,000. Coming out of the terminal, follow the signs to the taxi desk and buy a fixed price voucher based on your destination. You will generally need to pay the driver an additional Rp. 12,000 for the two toll roads on the way into town.
A trip from Pantai Losari to the Immigration Office (if you need to extend your visa) will cost around Rp 100,000.
Shorter trips around town range from Rp 20,000 to 40,000.
Seatbelts are not compulsory in the back seat, so in most cases you'll find they've been removed.
Airport shuttle bus
Shuttle buses operate hourly between the airport and a stop on Jalan Ahmad Yani, not far from Karebosi (see the Survivor’s Guide: Makassarmap) for a price of Rp 45,000.
Out of town
Tourist Information Office: The main tourist information office is set in a nice old Dutch building (see Survivor's Guide: Makassarmap) and the staff are friendly, but there's not a lot of information on offer. Together with its out-of-the-way location, this sums up the problems for tourists visiting Makassar. Still, if you end up here it's worth asking for maps of the city and brochures about nearby destinations, particularly in the district of Maros. There's a lot to see in Maros, in addition to Bantimuring, and it's only two hours from Makassar by car.
In 2015 there were plans to reopen the small tourist office located on a traffic island at Pantai Losari, a much more convenient location.