Transportation Within Manado
(And Its Neighboring Towns)
When moving around Manado, the first thing you have to remember in Manado, and its neighboring towns of Bitung, Tomohon and Tondano, is that wherever you walk, you should pay extra attention to local drivers and motorbikers. It is seldom to see drivers giving way to pedestrians and people can cross the roads anywhere they like. Generally, major roads becomes crowded after office hour, between 4pm-7pm and when it is raining.
There are two common ways of moving around Manado by public transports: mikrolets and/or ojek.
Mikrolet is a small minivan, normally painted in light blue, that fits 8-9 passengers plus a driver. Passengers sit facing forward, unlike Bandung's angkot where passengers sit facing each other. Don't be surprised if many mikrolets here like to play music loudly; it is said to attract more students and other young passengers. You will find these mikrolets almost on every (big) road in Manado almost every minute, so moving around the city should not be an issue. It is also cheap, only Rp. 2,000 per trip within Manado, Rp. 2,500 within Bitung, Rp. 3,000 to Kali Waterfall from "Karombasan" Terminal in Manado, Rp. 3,600 from "Paal 2" in Manado to Airmadidi (approximately half way from Manado to Bitung). Mikrolets start moving out early in the morning and they head back home around 10pm. Note: expect to pay additional Rp. 500 to Rp. 1,000 due to the fuel price hike in 2013 - apply to all means of transportation on this page.
When taking a mikrolet, do remember this minivan might not be suitable for passengers with big bags or diving equipment or even surf boards, unless they tell the driver that they will pay the seats they are taking for their belongings. Another consideration is travelling time. If you are the only passenger, you might get to your destination quite fast but it can extend. For instance, a 10 minute hassle-free journey becomes 20 minutes, or more, if there are any other passengers who ask for the driver’s favour to drop them off at a particular place where they are going, such as school, home, or a shop. If you take a mikrolet from any terminal, often the driver waits until all seats are occupied.
Passengers can flag down and get off anywhere on the street. To get off you have to tell the driver, either by saying "stop" or as locals say "muka om" ( /moo-khâ ôm/ ), which literarily means "stop ahead sir". Then you pay the fare. Usually a mikrolet direction is fixed from one terminal to another and they will run between these two terminals all day long, as people can see from a small board placed on its windscreen and on its roof/top (see picture on the left). If you are in doubt, ask local people around you for the right direction and they will always be helpful and friendly.
Click the pictures above for more and bigger photos of Mikrolet in Manado.
Ojek is actually an unlicensed motorcycle/motorbike taxi and is popular because it brings its passenger faster to his/her destination, especially in cities like Jakarta where traffic jams are outrages. They can be found at their own "terminals", which can be anywhere in the city, recognized by a self-made small signboard that says "Pangkalan Ojek". On streets, they might be recognized by their "spare helmet" and they often ride their motorbikes slowly while looking around for passengers. A short distance negotiable fare is approximately Rp. 5,000. A four kilometer (2.5 mile ) journey costs about Rp. 10,000. Fare is paid once the passenger arrives at the destination.
Public buses or minibuses usually travel between towns, such as Manado to Tomohon, Manado to Bitung, Tomohon to Tondano, and so on. These minibuses do not go beyond their three designated terminals in Manado city's border lines. If you want to go to Bitung, you have to catch a bus from Paal Dua Terminal or from Karombasan Terminal to Tomohon. Bus directions can be found on its windscreen or from bus driver assistants, who often yell their directions. Usually a bus leaves every 15-20 minutes and fares depend on destinations, for instance: Manado-Bitung Rp. 7,500, Manado-Tomohon Rp. 5,600, Manado-Tondano Rp. 6,800, Manado-Kawangkoan Rp. 9,600, Tondano-Tomohon Rp. 4,000. About halfway to the destination, drivers' assistants will collect your payment.
If you are travelling to Bitung, probably you should sit next to the bus door, where commonly they will leave their doors opened or next to the window side to get the breeze, since it might be a hot and stuffy journey, while a trip to Tomohon or Tondano would not be that hot since these two towns lie on highlands.
Manado also has public bus services that help people moving around the city, called Trans Kawanua (see right photo). Unfortunately the routes are not as extensive as mikrolet’s, yet.