Jakarta is the capital and largest city of Indonesia, located on the northwest of the island of Java. The city itself has a land the size of Singapore, with a population comparable to Portugal (around 10 million) Dubbed The Big Durian, an equivalent to New York's Big Apple, its concrete jungle, traffic frenzy, and hot polluted air may tempt you to skip the town as fast as possible, but what awaits inside will change your perspective! One of the most bustling and cosmopolitan cities in Asia, the J-Town has cheerful nightlife, vibrant shopping malls, a variety of foods, refreshing greeneries, cultural diversity and rich history, that caters to all levels of budget and how much fun you want to have.
Jakarta is politically a province called the Jakarta Special Capital Region (Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta). It is administratively divided into 5 districts (actually, cities) lead by a major each:
|Central Jakarta (Jakarta Pusat)
The heart of Jakarta's Administrative, Government and financial, an aptly named district and the site of Jakarta's symbol, the soaring Monas (Monumen Nasional) and also the world's largest city square "Lapangan Merdeka". The city is a part of the old Jakarta (Batavia), recognizable by the president's palace and the National Museum of Indonesia, both built in the 19th century. Now filled with modern high rises for office buildings, hotels, and shopping centers, this is where most of Jakarta's attractions are, such as the malls, the Tanah Abang garment complex, the Istiqlal and Cathedral, and the Bung Karno Sports Stadium.
|West Jakarta (Jakarta Barat)
This site is also part of the Old Batavia. It is home to Jakarta's Chinatown called the Glodok" area that is not only rich in street hawker food, Chinese restaurant and temple complex, but the electronic promenade of Jakarta. There are a lot of shopping going on in this area as well, as it is home to a lane of upscale malls at S. Parman Avenue and cheap shopping lanes at Mangga Dua. This area is also home to Jakarta's biggest nightlife entertainment and red light district quarter "Mangga Besar".
|South Jakarta (Jakarta Selatan)
Jakarta's middle upper class and elite's residential area and a part of Jakarta's business centre. Where you can find upscale shopping centres and malls, restaurants, hotels, bustling nightlife and entertainment centre, Blok M, Senayan sports complex, and affluent residential areas. The Kemang area is very popular amongst expats and locals for its nightlife and entertainment.
|East Jakarta (Jakarta Timur)
The Industrial Quarter of the city, and the location of Taman Mini Indonesia Indah where you can see parts of Indonesia's multiethnic community in 1 park, also crafted good at Utan Kayu art community, Cibubur camping ground, and Jakarta's 2nd airport, Halim Perdanakusuma airport.
|North Jakarta (Jakarta Utara)
Jakarta's main harbor area and the real home of the old Batavia. A small area consisting of Dutch buildings and harbor, its streets are thronged with hawker food, crafted goods, street performers, artists and Jakartan youths hanging around. This is also the location of The Ancol Bayfront City Asia's largest integrated tourism area. The beautiful Thousand Islands (Kepulauan Seribu), accessible by boat from North Jakarta's dock, is an instant escape from the hectic city with its beautiful beaches, marine parks and world-class resorts.
Satellite cities: The Jakarta's mega metropolis of 30 million inhabitants includes Jakarta and the following satellite cities:
- Bogor - Beautiful palace, world class botany garden, golf course.
- Tangerang - Soekarno Hatta airport, golf course, industrial parks, Lippo Karawaci
- Bekasi - Industrial parks.
- Depok - Home to the University of Indonesia
A common abbreviation to describe the metropolitan area is the term Jabodetabek (Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi).
Finding places in Jakarta, especially smaller buildings not on the main arteries, is easier said than done. Sometimes, the same name is used for different streets in different parts of the city, and it's often difficult to find the correct street or address without the postal code/region. A sign with a street name facing you indicates the name of the street you are about to enter, not that of the cross street. Alleys off a main road are often simply notated by Roman numerals, hence a street address like "Jl. Mangga Besar VIII/21" means house number 21 on alley number 8 (VIII) off or near the main road of Jl. Mangga Besar.
Fortunately, there is a logic to the name of the street. Outside of the corridors of high rise offices, you basically can find out on what branch of street it is by looking at the name of the streets without the Roman numerals. Most often the name of the area is the same as the name of the street, especially if it also bears the phrase Jalan Raya or main street. Knowing this almost takes you there, but there's a catch! The recently built gated clusters of houses have their own main road that does not follow the convention, even though it is a branch of a specific street! Knowing the name of the housing cluster would be the best option in addition to the above rules.
Alternatively, if you don't want to waste time, ask for the descriptions/name of nearby landmarks or buildings, billboards, colour of the building or fence and/or the postal code. If you still cannot find the address, start asking people in the street, especially ojek (motorcycle taxi drivers).
Jakarta's nickname among expats is the Big Durian, and like its fruit namesake, it's a shock at first sight (and smell): a sweltering, steaming, heaving mass of some 28 million people packed into a vast urban sprawl. The so-called megapolitan is a charm and melting pot for Indonesians, both as a business and a government center, as it is the most developed city in Indonesia. But all of this comes at a cost: the city has been struggling very hard to keep up with the urban growth. Major roads are packed up during rush hours, while the public transportation system has been unable to alleviate that much traffic. Housing the population has been a problem too and adding to that, the numerous people's mentality are yet to make the city a great place to live in, as dreamed of.
All that said, while initially a bit overwhelming, if you can withstand the pollution and can afford to indulge in her charms, you can discover what is also one of Asia's most exciting, most lively global cities. There is plenty to do in Jakarta, from green parks & historical centers, to cosmopolitan shopping, diverse gourmet choices, and one of the hippest nightlife in Southeast Asia!
The port of Sunda Kelapa dates to the 12th century, when it served the Sundanese kingdom of Pajajaran near present-day Bogor. The first Europeans to arrive were the Portuguese, who were given the permission by the Hindu Kingdom of Pakuan Pajajaran to erect a godown in 1522. Control was still firmly in local hands, and in 1527 the city was conquered by Prince Fatahillah, a Muslim prince from Cirebon, who changed the name to Jayakarta.
By the end of the 16th century, however, the Dutch (led by Jan Pieterszoon Coen) had pretty much taken over the port city, and the razing of a competing English fort in 1619 secured their hold on the island. Under the name Batavia, the new Dutch town became the capital of the Dutch East Indies and was known as the Queen of the East.
However, the Dutch made the mistake of attempting to replicate Holland by digging canals throughout the malarial swamps in the area, resulting in shockingly high death rates and earning the town the epithet White Man's Graveyard. In the early 1800s most canals were filled in, the town was shifted 4 km inland and the Pearl of the Orient flourished once again.
In 1740, Chinese slaves rebelled against the Dutch. The rebellion was put down harshly with the massacre of thousands of Chinese slaves. The remaining Chinese slaves were exiled to Sri Lanka.
In 1795, the Netherlands were invaded and occupied by France, and on March 17, 1798, the Batavian Republic, a satellite state of France, took over both VOC debts and assets. But on August 26, 1811, a British expedition led by Lord Minto defeated the French/Dutch troops in Jakarta, leading to a brief liberation and subsequent administration of Indonesia by the British (led by Sir Stamford Raffles of Singapore fame) in 1811-1816. In 1815, after the Congress of Vienna, Indonesia was officially handed over from the British to the Dutch government.
The name Jakarta was adopted as a short form of Jayakarta when the city was conquered by the Japanese in 1942. After the war, the Indonesian war of independence followed, with the capital briefly shifted to Yogyakarta after the Dutch attacked. The war lasted until 1949, when the Dutch accepted Indonesian independence and handed back the town, which became Indonesia's capital again.
Since independence Jakarta's population has skyrocketed, thanks to migrants coming to the city in search of wealth. The entire Jabodetabek (Jakarta-Bogor-Depok-Tangerang-Bekasi) metropolitan region was estimated to have 28 million people in 2010. The official name of the city is Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta Raya (DKI Jakarta), meaning "Special Capital City Region".
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Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology & Geophysics Department has a today & tomorrow forecast on its website in Indonesian
Jakarta, like the rest of Indonesia, is under the tropical climate classification. It has two distinct season, rainy and dry. It is hot & usually humid but with little fluctuations in temperature. The average temperature is about 28°C (82°F), comparably hot to other cities across Indonesia, especially because of the absence of trees in many areas.
November to March is the peak of the rainy season, and is usually not the best time to visit Jakarta. Monsoonal rains can pour unpredictably resulting in floods & traffic chaos on many of the streets, although there are usually a stretch of dry days and it's sunny even one hour before the storm. In between the change from rainy to dry season or vice versa (April-May & September-October), there is occasional rain. Sometimes it pours; other times it's not a washout. The good thing is that it cools down the air after a sweltering hot day. The rain is almost always absent from June through August. But even at worst, it's not too hot, the temperature throughout the year never exceeds 35°C (95°F)!
- "Enjoy Jakarta" Tourism Information Center, Jakarta Theater Building, Jl. MH. Thamrin No. 9, Jakarta 10340, Indonesia, ☎ .
- "Enjoy Jakarta" Tourism Information Service, Terminal 2D Arrival, Soekarno Hatta International Airport, ☎ .
- Main article: Soekarno Hatta International Airport
Jakarta has 2 airports. The Soekarno Hatta International Airport (IATA: CGK) is 20 km northwest of the city and handles commercial flights. This airport, along with transportations to & from the airport, is covered in a separate article. The only meaningful way to enter the city from the airport is either by taxi, which will cost from Rp100,000 to Rp175,000 depending on the traffic, or by coach. The state-owned DAMRI buses take you to various major transportation hubs (trains & other buses) routinely for less than Rp40,000. Otherwise it is better to pre-arrange a transfer service by your hotel. The good thing though, is that, there is a dedicated tollway that leads into the city, thus cutting travel time to about 45 minutes into the downtown area, plus (of course) the traffic.
The smaller Halim Perdanakusuma Airport (IATA: HLP), less than 10 km southeast of the city, is used by the military, VIP flights, charter flights, helicopter leasing companies, and private jets. But the low cost airline Citilink begins service to major domestic destinations. Please be aware that some certain Citilink routes are still fly from Cengkareng Airport. DAMRI also operates bus services to Rawamangun Bus Terminal for Rp20.000; to Pulogebang (Bekasi), Gambir Station, & Bekasi for Rp25,000; and to Depok, Bogor's Botany Square, and Soekarno Hatta Airport for Rp30,000. There are also taxi services operating here.
Alternatively, you can use the Husein Sastranegara International Airport (IATA: BDO) that serves the city of Bandung, 120 km from Jakarta. This airport can be a good option as there are more low cost carriers flying here internationally to Singapore & Malaysia, such as AirAsia & SilkAir. There are coach services, although most of the time you have to transfer between coaches at the respective company's pools at downtown Bandung before continuing to Jakarta. Allow at least 3 hours for this trip!
Information about train tickets from PT Kereta Api (Persero) is available on the Web, on-line reservation is possible from 90 days in advance online as well as from most minimarts. All tickets especially for Executive Class should be ordered by online, and the stations only sell the remaining on the last minute. Beware of ticket touts! Make sure your name on your ticket is the same as your ID that you will show to the platform guard.
Jakarta has several train stations. The Gambir station is the current main station for long distance passengers in Jakarta, especially Executive or Business class trains from most major cities in Java, thus has the most complete facilities you can find at Jakarta's stations. If you are using an economy class train, you will likely stop at either Senen, two blocks away from Gambir, or Kota at the north. All stations offer excellent connections to public transportation, especially the Transjakarta system, but Jakarta's commuter line trains do not stop at Gambir and Senen. Beware that all these stations are thoroughly packed at the beginning and end of the Idul Fitri holiday period!
When buying tickets for buses out of Jakarta, you're better off to buy them at each bus company's booth. Do not buy from anywhere outside the booth as the prices are more expensive and the bus they will take you to is questionable. Jakarta has many bus terminals, but not all of them have inter-city services. Look for the sign AKAP (Antar Kota Antar Provinsi or Inter-city and Inter-Province).
Fortunately these terminals are easy to reach. City bus services, as well as airport shuttles, start and ends at bus terminals & busway services stop by there too. Note that even though the listing says the destination the terminal mainly serves, some services may be available to other parts of Java.
- Kampung Rambutan Bus Terminal, Jalan Lingkar Luar Selatan, East Jakarta (Use busway Line ). The busiest terminal for intercity buses. Kampung Rambutan serves multiple bus services daily to and from mainly destinations across Banten, especially the Merak port, and the central & southern part of Java island, such as Cianjur, Bandung, Garut, Tasikmalaya, Cilacap, Purwokerto, Yogyakarta, Solo, and Malang, although bus to major cities across the north may be existent. Note that city & intercity buses depart from two different areas!
- Pulo Gadung Bus Terminal, Jalan Bekasi Raya, East Jakarta (Use busway lines & ). The 2nd busiest terminal, Pulo Gadung serves multiple bus services daily to and from mainly destinations across the northern coast of Java, such as Cirebon, Tegal, Pekalongan, Semarang, and Surabaya, though some bus companies also drives you to Bandung. Some bus even offers routes to Bali and Lombok!
If you are arriving from Sumatra, you will most likely arrive from these 2 terminals:
- Rawamangun Bus Terminal, Jalan Perserikatan No. 1 (Jalan Paus), East Jakarta (Use busway line , but does not stop right at the terminal. The nearest stop is at Pemuda Ramawangun or Velodrome). This terminal has multiple bus services that serves major cities across Sumatra.
- Kali Deres Bus Terminal, Jalan Daan Mogot KM 16, West Jakarta (Use busway Line ). Its location at west Jakarta makes it an optimum stop for buses from Sumatra, although not as many as Rawamangun.
Recently, the expansion of minibus has taken over the short distance intercity giant bus services. Most minibus companies such as Cipaganti , CitiTrans & XTrans will take you to Jakarta from Bandung or even to the Soekarno Hatta airport! Up to 8 people can fit inside a van. Fares from Bandung are typically up to Rp100,000 if you choose to get off at the downtown area. Up to Rp125,000 if you get off at the Soekarno Hatta airport. Note that the buses will most often not drop you at hotels, but at their pools instead.
The national ferry companies, ASDP Indonesia Ferry and Pelni, operate passenger services to destinations across the archipelago from Tanjung Priok port, North of the city. Some smaller speedboats, particularly to the Thousand Islands (Pulau Seribu), depart from Ancol also on Jakarta's north shore.
Traveling by car, unless on weekends, is usually not a good idea. Congestions can extend well past rush hours and a hesitation at any ring road tollway in Jakarta can have a domino effect on other tolls. There are three tollways that ends at Jakarta: Jakarta-Merak cuts through Tangerang and leads to the western edge of Java, the Merak port for connections to Sumatra Island. Jagorawi tollway goes south to Bogor and Puncak holiday resorts, and Jakarta-Cikampek traverses east, passing through Bekasi to Cikampek. There is a cut-off tollway continuation (Cipularang or officially called Purbaleunyi) that can be used for travel to Bandung. There are roads parallel to the tollway and ends up close to both ends of the toll too, should you wish not to pay.
How to speak prokem like a Betawi
The everyday speech of Jakartans (Betawi) is liberally laced with slang (prokem) expressions. Like any slang, words come in and out of fashion with bewildering rapidity, but some features can be distinguished:
A short glossary of common Jakartan expressions:
Getting around Jakarta is more often than not, problematic. The city layout is darwinistic and bewildering with horrendous traffic jams (macet "MAH-chet") slowing the city to a crawl during rush hours (several hours in the morning and in the evening), and the current public transportation is still not adequate enough to alleviate the congestion. The gradually expanding Transjakarta Busway (Bus Rapid Transit) system helps to make things easier, but this is not enough for the biggest city in the world without rail rapid transit system. If you have a lot of time, 12 corridors of TransJakarta is useful for orientation. The first line of Jakarta MRT is currently scheduled to open in 2018, but for now, its long time of construction obstructs the already congested streets!
Various areas of the city have different levels of chaos. But while the better organized traffic is mainly in the business districts (MH Thamrin, Jendral Sudirman, and H.R. Rasuna Said), that does not guarantee that there is no congestion here! It can even go beyond office hours because of the area's mixed use as both office and commercial area, as well as the domino effect from other streets stop-and-go traffic.
Commuter trains in Jakarta connect the city centre with outlying regions, namely Tangerang, Bekasi, Depok, Bogor and Serpong. Since 2011, an additional line to Tanjung Priok has been opened. It's usually worth trying as it is much faster than most motor vehicles on the road, but the late arrival of the train (usually by 10 to 15 minutes) might be bothersome. Riding the train is generally safe and comfortable but, of course, cramped during peak hours. A dedicated area for females can be found at the front and rear ends of the train.
The commuter train ticket is only Rp2,000 for the first 5 stations and Rp500 for each 3 subsequent stations, issued in the form of a smart card. There are two types of train ticket:
- Single trip (Tiket Harian Berjaminan, literally: Daily Ticket with Guarantee), must be purchased at a ticket counter by stating your destination. A Rp5,000 refundable deposit will be added to the calculated fare.
- Multi trip, refillable and directly usable to enter the electronic gate at the station. The train company issues a special Multi trip card that can be purchased at a ticket counter for Rp50,000 (contains Rp30,000). Some prepaid cards from selected banks can also be used (Bank Mandiri's e-money or e-toll card, BCA's Flazz, BNI's tap-cash, or BRI's BRIZZI), obtainable at the respective banks or minimarts such as Alfamart and Indomaret.
Validation of the tickets are required at both the origin and destination station by tapping to the card reader, transits are free as long as you do not tap out, which means exiting the system.You will be fined with the longest route fare for not tapping out and Rp50,000 for losing the ticket.
Commuter services operate from 04:30 to 22:00, roughly every 20-30 minutes. It usually takes 20 minutes to reach from one end of the city to another, and another 30 minutes to the terminal at the Jakarta's suburbs. Weekend special services connect Depok and Bogor with the popular Ancol entertainment park at North Jakarta.
No trains stop at Gambir & Pasar Senen station, the main stations in Jakarta, which serve only as stops for intercity trains, so this might be a problem for those arriving in Gambir and wanting to use the train. The choice is continuing by other forms of transport or taking a taxi to Juanda station, located a few hundred meters north of Gambir, close enough if you wish to walk. From Jalan Jaksa area, you can walk for 5-10 minutes to Gondangdia.
The Transjakarta Busway (in Indonesian known as busway or TJ) is modern, air-conditioned and generally comfortable, although sometimes service can be spotty (they have a knack of going to the depot for service and refueling at the same time during the rush hours). The bus is often crowded during rush hours. 24 hours service has been implemented for Corridors 1 and 9 and gradually for all corridors. TransJakarta buses are relatively safe, with separate seating for females at the front and also some CCTVs in the buses. There is also a seating area for the elderlies, disabled, and expectants, but the noticeably wide gap between the platforms and buses can be a hindrance. There are twelve lines in operation as of August 2014.
Unlike Jakarta's other buses, they shuttle on fully dedicated lanes and passengers must use dedicated stations with automatic doors, usually found in the middle of large thoroughfares connected to both sides by overhead bridges. The system is remarkably user-friendly by Jakarta standards, with station announcements and an LED display inside the purpose-built vehicles. Grab onto a handle as soon as you enter the bus as they move away from the stop suddenly and quickly. Buses never skip stops and there is always a staff that reminds passengers what is the approaching stop, as well as in order to make the bus safe.
Park and Ride facilities are in Ragunan, South Jakarta; Kampung Rambutan, East Jakarta; Kalideres, West Jakarta; and in Pulo Gebang, East Jakarta.
Buses run from 05:00-22:00 daily, except Corridors 1 and 9 which operate 24 hours a day. Tickets cost Rp2,000 before 07:00, and Rp 3.500 other times. Transfers between lines are free but be careful not to exit the system until your journey is completed. The buses can get very crowded, especially during rush hours at around 07:00 and 17:00, when office workers are on the move.
Alternatively, if you want to avoid cramped quarters, you can try the APTB, which is wider but more expensive. They stop at busway stops, but must pay an additional separate fare to use the system. More information is on the Jakarta#By public bus section.
By tour bus
Perhaps Jakarta is one of the few cities in the world whose government provides tour buses! Dubbed the City Tour Jakarta, the buses are double decker and you can ride them for free! The bus follows a loop road, traversing through some of Jakarta's places of interest:
Hotel Indonesia Roundabout- MH Thamrin - Medan Merdeka Barat - Museum Nasional - Majapahit - Harmoni - Komplek Sekretariat Negara - ANZ Bank (Pecenongan)- Pasar Baru - Jakarta Art Theater (Gedung Kesenian Jakarta) - Lapangan Banteng - Masjid Istiqlal - Juanda - Veteran II - Medan Merdeka Utara - Istana Negara (Medan Merdeka Barat) - Indosat - Medan Merdeka Selatan - City Hall - MH Thamrin - Sarinah - Hotel Indonesia Roundabout.
Note that the buses will stop only at designated shelters. Buses run from 09.00 to 19.00 every hour, depending on traffic.
By public bus
A multitude of bus companies plough the streets of Jakarta. However buses do not run on schedule or even have one. Most maps bought not from Indonesia do not show bus routes, so Google Maps would be the best method to figure out what bus you should take. Most bus stops also post what route number and destinations stop there, but they do not always stop there! They make for a good adventure if you're not in a rush and don't mind being the centre of attention.
These are the bus hierarchy, from best to worst:
- TransJabodetabek is the newest TransJakarta feeder. Although the destination point of its lines may be the same as other public buses, TransJabodetabek uses a different route. Currently, its only route is Blok M to Ciputat, via Pondok Indah.
- APTB is the most comfortable, if not the cheapest, option. The buses are colored blue and the routes are generally to places outside Jakarta, such as Bogor or Tangerang, but they will traverse through the Transjakarta stops first before going with their own route. Fares are various depending on the routes, but how you pay is a little different: you pay the initial Rp3.500 by entering the TransJakarta system and pay the remaining onboard. The advantage is if you get off at a TransJakarta bus stop, you can ride the TransJakarta buses without the need to pay again. Inquire if the bus stops at your destination though!
- BKTB is similar to APTB, but the routes are mostly detached from the busway system, hence fewer stops at the Transjakarta stops.
- Kopaja on selected routes have introduced a similar service, even offers Wi-Fi connectivity in buses. Look for the metallic grey and green color bus.
- Most of Mayasari Bakti buses have air-conditioning, but a few of its routes do not. Air-con buses bear the letters AC on the bus number, usually light & dark blue body but some come out in green and orange. Inquire if in doubt.
- Patas also has a combination of air conditioned and non-air conditioned fleet. They have fewer buses and noticeably a lower tier of service than Mayasari Bakti. Look for the white & black strip, with the Monas icon.
- Avoid using MetroMini (orange & blue), Kopami (blue & yellow) and non air-conditioned Kopaja (white & green) at all costs as the buses are filthy, do not offer air-conditioning and is driven recklessly.
Bus fares are generally less than Rp10.000 with a flat rate system. You usually pay in a box beside the driver but a kenek can reach out to you and pay to him.
Cheaper yet are mikrolet (mini-buses) and angkot (small vans) that ply the smaller streets and whose fares vary from Rp 2,000 for the first 2 km to 5,000. You pay the fare directly to the driver after getting off.
You may need to spare one or two Rp500 coins before boarding the bus, since there is on-board "entertainment" and other distractions. On a typical day, you may find street musicians singing unplugged versions of Indonesian and Western pop songs asking for donations at the end of the performance, and street vendors, one after another, trying to sell almost everything, from ballpoint pens and candies to boxed donuts and health goods.
If you do happen to be travelling in a bus, refrain from sitting or standing at the back area of the bus, as this is where muggers find their prey. Always keep an eye on your belongings and be alert at all times, as pickpocketing occurs.
Note that buses do not run according to any schedule or timetable. Sometimes a bus may take a while to come, other times two buses of the same route may come together and the drivers will steer aggressively to get more passengers. They do not stop at any particular bus stop, but anywhere they like. If you want to get off, simply say "kiri" (to the left) to the "kondektur" or just knock on the ceiling of the bus three times (be sure that the driver hears your thumping), and the bus driver will find a place to drop you. An additional tip to alight from these buses is to use your left foot first to maintain balance and try to get down as quickly as possible, as they do not fully stop the bus.
Also note that seats in these buses are built for Indonesians who are typically shorter and more slender and agile than people with larger build such as Caucasians and Africans. Non-Indonesians might find the seats in these buses confining and uncomfortable.
Most bus routes are from one bus terminal to another, note that if you wish to connect to a long distance bus, not all terminals have them (see Get In section): Blok M (South Jakarta), Pasar Minggu (South Jakarta), Grogol, Kota, Kalideres (West Jakarta), Manggarai (South Jakarta), Pulogadung (East Jakarta), Rawamangun (East Jakarta), Kampung Melayu (East Jakarta), Kampung Rambutan (South Jakarta), Tanjung Priok (North Jakarta), Senen (Central Jakarta).
Travelling by car, while just adds up to the congestion itself, remains the most convenient way to travel around the city, especially because of its lacking public transportation.
Rental cars are available, but unless you are familiar with local driving practices or lack thereof, take reputable taxis. If you're from a foreign country, it is not recommended to rent a car and drive on your own as the chaotic traffic can give you a headache. Renting a car with a driver is a much better idea. Note that despite the (still) rampant driving situation, safety and road rules are implemented much more rigorous than in other parts of the country, even in small things such as wearing a seatbelt. Obey the rules of traffic and do not be tempted to disobey like many of the locals do, even for the ease of yourself.
Two toll roads circle (inner and outer) the city and are faster when the traffic is good, but are very often jammed themselves. The drainage systems of major roads are poorly maintained and during the rainy season, major roads may be flooded, leading to even worse traffic congestion.
Finding parking places in residential areas can be difficult due to the narrow roads. Paid parking is easy to find in shopping malls, offices and the like for a shockingly cheap rate: Rp3.000 - Rp6.000 per hour. Street parking often requires payment of up to Rp3.000 to a parking 'attendant' for one hour. If you park on a street, do so only at the designated areas and in a way that does not block the traffic, otherwise your car will be towed and it will be a long process to retrieve it back!
If you go by car, please remember that there is a minimum of 3 people in 1 vehicle rule implemented in some of the main thoroughfares in the morning from 07:30-10:00 and in the afternoon from 16:30-19:00, on weekdays. The zone include the whole stretch from Kota train station through Blok M via Jl. Hayam Wuruk, Jl. Thamrin, Jl. Sudirman and Jl.Sisingamangaraja; Jl. Gatot Subroto from the Senayan-JCC overpass to the intersection with Jl. HR Rasuna Said. There are intentions from the local government to change this system to an Electronic Road Pricing system in the foreseeable future.
If you wish to rent a car, consider these companies:
Beware the false Blue Bird
Blue Bird's reputation has spawned a host of dodgy imitators, so just because it's blue doesn't mean it's safe. Check the following before you get in:
Most visitors opt to travel by taxi, which is cheap and occasionally fast. There are a multitude of taxi companies of varying degrees of dependability and fares.
- Blue Bird Group, ☎ . The Blue Bird, that also includes the Pusaka & Morante taxis as well as the premium brands Silver Bird and Golden Bird, are well known for their reliability, efficient telephone order service and frequent meter usage. After Blue Bird released Life Care Taxi for disability person, the company also released Interactive Taxi Entertainment for your entertainment, all without additional charge. The Silver Bird executive taxi charges a premium for a larger car, normally a Mercedes Benz sedan or a Toyota minivan.
Some other large, generally reliable companies include:
- White Horse, ☎ . Regular taxi, usually stay at hotels
- Taxiku, ☎ .
- Express, ☎ .
- Dian Taksi, ☎ .
You can generally determine a good cabbie by asking "Pakai argo?" ("meter?") - if they say no or "tidak", get another taxi. Taxis parked near train/bus stations, tourist attractions, and hotels often refuse to use the meter and quote silly prices (especially from foreigners) - in this case, it's a good idea to walk away a bit, then hail a passing taxi from the above companies.
Many of the numerous other "Tarif Lama" or Tarif Bawah" taxis are mechanically unsound and have drivers of questionable skill. They also often engage in determined efforts to overcharge. Even if they do use a meter,it may be a rigged meter. If you have no idea how much the taxi fare to your destination should be, it is better to stick to the companies mentioned above, as even many of the locals do.
Tipping is not necessary but rounding the meter up to the nearest Rp1,000 is expected, so prepare some change, or else you may be rounded up to the nearest Rp5,000.
The Jakartan equivalent to Thailand's tuk-tuk is the bajaj (pronounced "bahdge-eye"), orange mutant scooters souped up in India into tricycles that carry passengers in a small cabin at the back. Beside the average orange bajaj, there is blue bajaj, which using gas as their fuel.
They're a popular way to get around town since they can weave through Jakarta's interminable traffic jams much like motorbikes can. Although slow, boneshaking (suspension is not a feature in a bajaj), hot and windy (locals joke about the "natural A/C") and the quick way to breathing in more exhaust fumes than you ever thought possible (maybe less if you riding blue bajaj), riding around in these little motor-bugs can really grow on you.
There are no set prices, but a short hop of a few city blocks shouldn't cost much more than Rp5.000. Be sure to agree to (read: haggle) a price before you set off. Bajaj drivers are happy to overcharge visitors, and can often ask double or even more of what you would pay by meter in air-conditioned Blue Bird taxi (obviously, the normal price should be less than even for a cheaper variety of taxi). Locals who regularly use the bajaj know what a typical fare should be and are happy to tell you. Also, since bajaj aren't allowed on some of the larger roads in Jakarta, your route may well take you through the bewildering warren of backstreets. Try to keep an eye on what direction you're going, because some unscrupulous bajaj drivers see nothing wrong with taking the "scenic" route and then charging you double or triple the price.
If you're poking around narrow back streets, or just in such a hurry that you're willing to lose a limb or more to get there, then Jakarta's motorcycle taxis (ojek) might be the ticket for you. Jakarta's ojek services consist of guys with bikes lounging around street corners, who usually shuttle short distances down alleys and roads but will also do longer trips for a price. Agree on the fare before you set off. Insist on a helmet, and wear it properly. No need to make it more insanely dangerous than it already is. The ojek drivers will insist you're safe with them and that they'll drive carefully, some of them are true and sometimes just lies, depend on the drivers. Before you choose the driver, pay attention to their motorcycle outlook and their helmets, sometimes it shows the driver's character. What locals normally pay is Rp5,000 for a short ride and Rp7,000 to Rp10,000 for a longer (roughly more than kilometer or a 15-minute walk) one. Foreigners are likely to be asked for more, but generally ojek drivers will accept the proper fare if you insist on it, unless they see you really need to use their service.
Janis Air Transport ☎+62 21 8350024. If you're in a hurry and seriously loaded, charter a helicopter.
Cycling provision in Jakarta is (almost) non-existent, but the first signs of a cycling culture are emerging. Every Sunday, Jalan Sudirman and Thamrin (and every month in other place in each cities in Jakarta) from 06:00 are emptied from motorized vehicles, except TransJakarta until 12:00. The atmosphere can be festive, as events are held in some places (especially in Hotel Indonesia Roundabout).
The bad news: walking is the last thing anyone wants to do in Jakarta. The hot and humid air encourages folk into their cars with air conditioning. Then, as the pavements are less used, they are filled with pushcart vendors, resulting in even less walking. With the exception of a few posher areas, sidewalks are crowded with pushcart vendors, drivers disregard pedestrians and crossing streets can be suicidal. As a matter of fact, pedestrian crossings do nothing, other than give the visitor a false sense of security, because the local drivers don't stop or even slow down for pedestrians, even at pedestrian crossings.
Now, the good news: because of the horrendous traffic, walking can be dramatically faster than using motor vehicles, as you will not be caught up in traffic, especially if your destination is just across the street. Use the overhead bridges for safety if the road is very wide or cross only at the markings. You may think that conditions are bad in Jakarta, but some think that driving habits are even more rowdy in other parts of Indonesia, where even less attention is paid to safety.
Having said that, there are some pavements that have been cleared of anything but trees, to make your walk easier:
1) Kota Tua - a pedestrian friendly square, a walk in this area explores the sights of Dutch colonial charm that were once central to the colonial administration.
2) Pasar Baru - a pedestrian friendly market, that has been in existence since the colonial era
3) Sudirman-Thamrin corridor - the city centre itself has a paved pedestrian footpath for eager explorers.
4) Monas and Kebon Sirih area - the city square is a pedestrian friendly zone, and the surrounding area has several attractions such as the presidential palace and old colonial churches
5) Car Free Day - the Sudirman-Thamrin is closed to motor vehicles, except for buses, every Sunday from 06:00 to about 12:00.
- Individual listings can be found in Jakarta's district articles
The heart of tourism objects is to the north and centre of Jakarta. Visitors typically start exploring Jakarta from this part of the town called the Kota Tua, where the old buildings of Jakarta are preserved within a dedicated walking area.
The Jakarta History Museum, formerly a city hall (Stadhuis), covers Jakarta's history from 400 AD to the present day, with photos, replicas, and maps. Do not miss the Jagur cannon in the back yard.
The Bank Indonesia Museum tells about the economy & currency system then and now using modern technology while the Museum Bahari takes you to the old glory of Jakarta's port, and Indonesia's as a whole. If you are into arts & crafts, the Museum Wayang has a collection of different puppets (Wayang) from all across the country and the world, and the Museum Seni Rupa & Keramik takes you to admire Indonesia's art in paintings and sculptures.
A few kilometers down South, is where the Dutch and the first years of the Indonesian government leaves a legacy, such as the iconic landmark of Jakarta, the National Monument park (open everyday, except Monday from 04:00 to 10:00 only) standing right at the center of the court, and the Presidential Palace on its north side. And where else in the world could you find the Istiqlal, Southeast Asia's biggest mosque, and a 113 year old gothic Catholic cathedral standing mightily across each other? On the western side of the court, the elephant statue greets you to the Museum Nasional and is one of the better designed museums out there.
Statues and monuments are ubiquitous in Jakarta and many stand prominently in major points across the city. Most of the icons were erected during Soekarno's rule in 1960, thus still has a meaning of the old glory of independence. Start your trip from the Tugu Tani statue in Menteng that has a figure of a farmer going out to war. Across the Monas Park is Arjuna Wijaya, a 8 horse carriage statue near Monas. Going south at Jalan MH Thamrin, the iconic Selamat Datang statue that waves at you, with a fountain that signifies its importance as the city center of Jakarta. Passing through that is the Jenderal Sudirman statue giving a salute, that give the street its name. Going further until the end of the straight street, is the Pemuda Membangun or Youth Developing statue that looks like a man upholding a burning bowl. The Dirgantara statue is visible in its glory if you are using the tollway in South Jakarta.
Greenery is often unnoticeable in Jakarta given the fact that what most people typically see is (for the most part) a concrete jungle. Jakarta has nearly 1,000 public parks big and small, but very few are well maintained including even the National Monument Park (Monas). Menteng is large and perhaps the best and Taman Suropati hosts regular violin shows. Pantai Indah Kapuk, inundated by housing projects, still leaves a space for mangrove swamps and monkeys' habitations in the 2 parks there. Ragunan is the official zoo of Jakarta, and has a dedicated observation area for primates.
Jakarta also hosts two amusement parks. Taman Impian Jaya Ancol at the North, that is for pure fun plus a sea world aquarium (sea world is closed until law matter is cleared), and Taman Mini Indonesia Indah to the South, which is reserved mainly for cultural and technological knowledge. Escape to Kepulauan Seribu to see wild birds and eagles, as well as notorious diving spots for beginners. The Setu Babakan down south is the centre of the indigenous Betawi culture.
- Jakarta Hidden Tours. Ronny and Anneke will lead you around some local slums where you will have a chance to meet local people and witness how they live. The proceeds of your tour will go to the local people and Ronny's Interkultur foundation.
Despite the big melting pot, Jakarta's indigenous tribe still stays proud of its culture: The Betawi. They are actually a unique assimilation of various domestic and international races from the Chinese to the Portuguese, which makes it distinct from other parts of Indonesia. The Lenong theatre performance is accompanied by the Gambang Kromong orchestra that consists of the Sundanese Gendang, the Javanese Gamelan, and the Chinese Kongahyan (its own version of violin). The Tanjidor trumpets are an influence from the Dutch, while the Portuguese bequeathed the Keroncong orchestra. At the anniversary of the city's founding every 22 June, a distinctive feature of culture can be seen at your hotel: the infamous pair of Ondel-ondel puppets. The complete experience of the culture can be found at Setu Babakan, the village of Betawi culture (and fishing at its lake).
Cinemas are a more affordable escape at around Rp25,000 for a plush seat (Rp50,000 on the weekend, up to Rp70,000 if you watching in 3D) in any of the capital's shopping malls. Beware of the heavy hand of the Indonesian censor though. The price of popcorn and drinks are exorbitant. Blitz Megaplex cinemas will typically show movies in any foreign language other than English. And the lesser ones also exhibit Indonesian B-Movies with erotic themes (still heavily censored). The largest chain of cinemas in Indonesia are the 21 Cineplex (branded as XXI in premium shopping malls) and Blitz Megaplex. IMAX theaters, as of now, are only available at Gandaria City's XXI theater and Keong Mas in TMII, although the latter doesn't always show commercial movies.
Performing arts festivals
Typically unbeknownst to the rest of the world, Jakarta boasts some of the world's largest music events and the many young fans have attracted artists all around the world to regularly stop by Jakarta as part of their world tour, from rock concerts to Korean pop. Perhaps the most well-known event is the annual Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival that takes place each March for 3 days, filled with over 40 international and local artists performing jazz, R&B and reggae songs. The Hammersonic in April is a metal music event, while Java Rockin' Land entices you to a June night of rock & roll, and the Djakarta Warehouse Project hosts world famous DJs to jam the start of the year-end holiday. For a more street like performance, the Sudirman-Thamrin strip is closed at night on 22 June and New Year's Eve, when stages for musical performances are erected and cultural parades set up to usher in Jakarta's founding anniversary and the New Year, respectively.
For some traditional and classical stuff, there are performances at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta, by indie, jazz, dance, and classical music orchestras. Taman Ismail Marzuki hosts mainly theatrical shows, although English shows might be rare. Erasmus Huis Hall by the Dutch embassy also regularly hosts classical music shows and photography exhibitions.
The sport scene in Jakarta is perhaps one of the most vibrant you'll ever see in Asia. While there are seldom any big soccer matches at the stadiums or just a batch of obvious signs of life at the fitness centers, it is worth to know that a lot more takes it to the next level: play the real kind of sports!
Jakarta is perhaps the best city to play golf in Asia, thanks to the abundance of courses close or even in the middle of a city, and a relatively cheap rate compared to Western's standards. Green fees can go as low as Rp70,000 on weekdays, although the better courses are twice that, and weekend rates are considerably steeper at Rp300,000 and more. Many golf courses are at South and East within the immediate suburbs of the city, much better in quality and quantity at the satellite cities.
Futsal and Soccer
Futsal is a version of football but has 5 players per team and more lax rules of play. Anytime after work or on the weekends, you can easily find crowds at the many indoor courts across the city. Outdoors, the dirt and grass makeshift fields are abundant in residential areas, crowded with players, spectators and vendors, typically on weekend afternoons. In these casual games, anyone can simply ask to jump in or relax.
Indonesia is one of the few lucky Asian countries where numerous European soccer team such as from the prestigious British Premier League or the Italian League play a trial game against the national team when the game itself is at break in Europe. The supporters between the national team and the Europeans at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium are even, yet even though for the most part Indonesia's national team post losses, clashes do not seem to happen at least in a chaotic way. When the Europeans are back in season, numerous cafés and bars around town put up gigantic TV screens to let the enthusiasm erupt while having a drink at dawn.
As one of the powerhouses in badminton, Jakarta has a multitude of badminton courts, ranging from the national venues at the Senayan Complex to the suburban halls which cater to both futsal and badminton. Most of them have wood-panel flooring, and are maintained in reasonably good condition. Lighting is strictly functional and is below par in comparison with standard badminton halls. People play almost every evening - so, walk in, strike up a conversation with the group's captain, and expect to blend in their group for the session. If the captain refuses payment (usually less than Rp 20,000), it is polite to buy the players a round of soft-drinks (teh-botol is a good choice). Be warned that it is common for Indonesians to eat, smoke, drink and nap by the side of the court: so watch your footing.
If you want to watch rather than to play, the Istora Senayan is packed big time every May during the Super Series, when Indonesia's and the world's top badminton players compete. The deafening cheers are chanted even up to when the players hit the shuttlecock, an enthusiasm unmatched to elsewhere in the world.
If you are in one of Asia's big cities, karaoke is the norm to play your heart out! Most chain brands such as Inul Vizta, NAV, or DIVA can be found at the upscale shopping malls where the youngsters play. It features your own lavish room with a wide span of libraries containing local, English, and East Asian songs, on a wide-screen TV while you can order a drink or food to be enjoyed while you wait in turn to sing. Rates can start from as low as Rp70,000 per rooms for a minimum of 6 people.
Cooking class are monthly at a Saturday by 99 Ranch Market at their branch in Pondok Indah for Rp150,000. There are also a few locations along Jalan Kemang that specifically caters to expats. Outside the the two, most would offer pastry cooking classes.
Interestingly, you can learn cultures from around the world in Jakarta. Many embassies have set up cultural centers where you can take world culture & language classes. Check these cultural centers for information: Korean Culture Center, Institut Francais, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Japan Foundation, Russian Culture Center, Goethe Institut.
Casual work in Jakarta is difficult to come by and Indonesian bureaucracy does not readily facilitate foreigners undertaking employment in Indonesia. As in the rest of Asia, teaching English is the best option, although salaries are poor (US$700–3000/month is typical, although accommodation may be provided) and the government only allows citizens of the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA to work as teachers. Formal work visas, residency permits and registration with several government offices is necessary. Formal approval from the Department of Manpower and the provision of documentation and guarantees from an employing sponsor is required to engage in any form of employment in Jakarta or elsewhere in Indonesia. Business visas are available for the purposes of conducting business related activities in Jakarta or elsewhere in Indonesia, this class of visa has strict conditions and requires a local business to sponsor the applicant. A business visa does not permit the holder to undertake any form of employment.
Looking for an aluminum hubcap, a large clay pot, some reupholstered car seats or perhaps a full-length mirror with elaborate ironwork? Not to worry, in Jakarta there's an alley out there just for you, with specialist vendors laying out their goods on street side racks to entice people driving by. And given Jakarta's traffic jams, there's often plenty of time to browse too.
If you're stopping in Jakarta, consider buying an extra suitcase, because there are lots of good shopping opportunities. However, note that although quality can be excellent, genuine branded goods or quality products are expensive.
Every year, the Provincial Government of Jakarta holds an annual Festival Jakarta Great Sale that takes place from Mid-June to Mid-July. Most markets, shopping malls , and department stores attend it and will give discounts on selected items, although the event itself might be barely noticeable other than banners.
Despite the crushing poverty exhibited in some parts of the city, Jakarta has a large number of giant, glittering malls, well above expectations for newcomers. Note that, for imported goods, prices in many of the more expensive stores can be much higher than what would be charged in the same shops in other countries. Most of the shopping malls are located close to each other, so if you are unable to find what you need, just go next door.
Grand Indonesia and Plaza Indonesia are two upper-class malls next to each other on one of Jakarta's busy Hotel Indonesia Roundabout. Plaza Senayan & Senayan City are also across each other and are both chic. Mal Taman Anggrek and Central Park at Jalan Letjen S. Parman are for all rounders.
The Jalan Prof.Dr.Satrio is soon-to-be Orchard Road to Singapore, Ginza to Tokyo and Fifth Avenue to New York. 4 malls (namely ITC Mal Ambassador, Kuningan City, Ciputra World I, and a bit further off, Kota Kasablanka) and counting, catering to visitors of all budget levels. Kelapa Gading has a street with 4 malls on its side, and 2 other giant malls located elsewhere in the region. Pluit & Pondok Indah hosts 3 malls located along a single strip.
Every shopping mall has, along brands that have their own shops, at least 1 department store. Sogo has the most branch, followed by Metro & Centro. Debenhams have their only store in Plaza Senayan, as well as Galeries Lafayette at Pacific Place and Seibu at Grand Indonesia. Matahari also provides similar fashions usually for a lower price.
In addition to malls, there are also numerous extremely large shopping centres and most of it is within a complex, so if you are unable to find what you need, you can try again on the mall next door! Mangga Dua, Tanah Abang, and Pasar Baru is the perfect place if you're looking for fashion. WTC (Wholesale Trade Centre) Mangga Dua and Mangga Dua Square, as well as Glodok and Roxy, are where to find gadgets.
If you are looking for some antique product such as local handicrafts, Indonesian traditional batik, wayang golek (Javanese puppets), you can go to Jalan Surabaya in Central Jakarta. Pasaraya Grande shopping mall at Blok M, South Jakarta has one dedicated floor for all Indonesian antiques and handicrafted goods. Pasar Seni at Ancol is the centre of paintings and sculpture, you can ask the painters to make you as the model for your paintings. Sarinah department store also has a vast section of traditional gifts.
Jakarta has a vast range of food available at hundreds of eating complexes located all over the huge city. In addition to selections from all over the country, you can also find excellent Chinese, Japanese, and many other international foods thanks to the cosmopolitan population.
If you want to go local Jakarta, the indigenous Betawi has its own dishes to offer:
- Sop iga sapi, beef spare rib soup that takes a simple Dutch dish and piles on Indonesian spices.
- Soto betawi, coconut milk broth with beef tendons, intestines, tripe.
- Kerak telor, omelette from egg cooked with glutinous rice and served with shredded coconut and a dried shrimp topping.
- Ketoprak, rice roll, tofu, bean sprout, shrimp crackers in peanut sauce.
- Gado-gado is equivalent to ketoprak, but all of it is vegetables.
- Bubur Dingin, lit. Cold porridge with beef sweet soup
- Nasi uduk, rice cooked in coconut milk similar to nasi lemak, served with choices of various toppings; such as fried chicken, beef, fried shalots sambal
- Nasi ulam, rice cooked in coconut milk served with fried minced beef, sweet fried tempe, many other toppings, cucumber, and sambal (chilli sauce).
- Asinan Betawi: assorted pickled vegetables, served with peanut sauce (and sometimes chili) and chips.
Food items at mall establishments and most that occupies buildings are by & large top notch in terms of hygiene. It is advised not to buy from street vendors or on carts, as it applies the lowest standard of hygiene among other eating options.
Food courts at just about every shopping mall in Jakarta offers entrees at cheap prices but enough to make a stomach full. Prices range from Rp 10,000 to Rp 50,000. Street vendors can be even cheaper but the hygiene is questionable.
Franchise fast food chains are also a good choice for eating as the hygiene is often up to standards. KFC, Wendy's and McDonalds have ample seating. Local chain Bakmi GM is famous for its noodles and its fried wonton. Hoka-hoka Bento (locally known as HokBen), also a local chain, provides Japanese style buffet with a complete meal set for an affordable price. Consider also Es Teler 77 & Solaria. You will find one of or all of them at major malls across the city.
Some traditional Indonesian cuisine may be too hot and spicy for many foreign tourists. At some restaurants you can ask for food without chilli: "Tidak pakai cabe" or "Tidak Pedas".
Fine dining restaurants offer entrees for a range of prices, from Rp35,000 (about $3) for a meatball soup, to Rp80,000 ($7) for a large pan of pizza, up to Rp125,000 (about $10) for an Australian beef steak. Fine dining options can be found at just about every mall in Jakarta or better yet outside the malls. A famous chain within this range is Pizza Hut. Its Indonesian franchise looks like more of a fine dining option rather than fast food like its original location, the United States. They have much bigger seating areas & much more generous options for pizza toppings & crust, sides, and pastas. Even offers soup & salad as an appetizer, ice cream for dessert, and in selected restaurants, a special breakfast menu!
The best gourmet splurges in Jakarta are the opulent buffet spreads in the 5 star hotels such as the Marriott, Hotel Mulia, Ritz-Carlton and Shangri-La, which offer amazing value by international standards. Standard price:Rp 150,000-300,000 per person. Chinese roundtable restaurants, such as Din Tai Fung, Imperial Duck or Jun Njan, among other small enterprises, offer considerably expensive dishes, but these are mostly meant to be communal, not for individuals.
Jakarta may be the capital of the world's largest Islamic country, but it has underground life of its own. If you're the clubbing type, its nightlife is arguably among the best in Asia, except in fasting months when some of it are closed or open in limited time. From the upscale Kemang to the seedy Mangga Besar, nightlife is there for all levels of loudness, but bring a friend if you decide to brave the seedier places (though they tend to have the best DJs). Fans of live music, on the other hand, are largely out of luck if they go to budget bars, at least unless they're into Indonesian pop.
When out and about, note that Jakarta has a fairly high number of prostitutes, known in local parlance as ayam (lit. "chicken"), so much so that much of the female clientele of some respectable bars (operated by five-star hotels, etc.) is on the take.
The Kota area in northern Jakarta is the oldest part of town with numerous colonial buildings still dominating the area. It is also considered to be the seediest part of town after midnight. Most karaoke bars and 'health' clubs there are in fact brothels who mostly cater to local Jakartans. Even regular discos such as Stadium and Crown have special areas designated for prostitutes. Other notable establishments in this area are Malioboro and Club 36 which should not be missed. This part of town has a large ethnic Chinese population who also dominate the clubbing scene there.
The bulk of the clubbing scene is spread throughout Jakarta however, most usually found in office buildings or hotels. A help of an experienced local with finding these places is recommended. Do note that nightlife in Jakarta tends to be pricey for local standards.
Due to the liberty Jakarta has, there is no specific dress code that should be worn unless you are in a religious area. However, it is best not to dress too openly to prevent from people giving awkward stares or from giving the impression (especially for women) that you are a prostitute since most of them in Jakarta wear very short dresses or skirts. Sandals are fine to wear if you're heading for North Jakarta since it is near the beach. During the month of Ramadhan, most nightlife ends at midnight, while some do not open for all month.
A nightlife district popular among expats is Blok M in South Jakarta, or more specifically the single lane of Jl. Palatehan 1 just north of the bus terminal, packed with pubs and bars geared squarely towards single male Western visitors. While lacking the bikini-clad go-go dancers of Patpong, the meat market atmosphere is much the same with poor country girls turned prostitute. Blok M is easily accessible as the southern terminus of BRT Line 1. For a more off-the-beaten track experience, head a few blocks south to Jl. Melawai 6 (opposite Plaza Blok M), Jakarta's de-facto Little Japan with lots of Japanese restaurants, bars and karaoke bars.
To hang out where Indonesia's young, rich and beautiful do, head to Plaza Indonesia's EX annex, packed full of trendy clubs and bars including Jakarta's Hard Rock Cafe. Plaza Senayan's Arcadia annex attempts to duplicate the concept, but with more of an emphasis on fine dining. The Kemang area in southern Jakarta is popular with expats and locals alike sd iy has numerous places to eat, drink and dance. Or if you want to keep it sober, Bubble tea cafes and coffee shops are popping up sporadically, especially in North & West Jakarta, and most major malls. No jamming music and (mostly) no alcohol, but still a good place to hang out.
Please see the individual Jakarta district articles for accommodation listings
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Budget||Less than Rp500,000|
|Splurge||More than Rp1,000,000|
The travel agencies at Jakarta's airport can have surprisingly good rates for mid-range and above hotels. Star ratings are reserved for midrange and better hotels, while budget places have "Melati" rankings from 1-3 (best). Tax and service charges of 21% are usually added to the bill.
- Budget, hostels (losmen) can be found around Jalan Jaksa, which is close to the Gambir station, for as low as Rp30,000 per night! Another choice is hotels around Mangga Besar, a street with a wide variety of hotels, clubs, restaurants and low class spas. Elsewhere, look for brands such as favehotel, amaris, and ibis budget.
- Mid-range are easily found at all parts of Jakarta, from independents to chain brands such as all Accor Group hotels but Pullman.
- Splurge, Jakarta has more than its fair share of luxury hotels, and after the prolonged post-crash hangover new ones are now going up again. Many remain good value by world prices, but opulent lobbies do not always correspond to the same quality in the room. Mostly found within the business strips of Sudirman-Thamrin and Rasuna Said.
For stays longer than 2.5–3 weeks, monthly rental rooms (called kost) and apartments are a good alternative to budget and mid-range hotels, respectively. Fully-furnished rooms (with TV, air-con, large bed, hot shower, kitchen outside) can be rented for 1.5-4 million rupiah per month. In most cases, the rental fee already includes electricity and water usage, often there are additional services included like laundry, Internet access, breakfast, etc. There are cheaper rooms as well (starting from Rp500,000-700,000), but those are usually small, without window, and the furniture includes just bed or even nothing. Also, some cheaper places are exclusively for either men or women (no opposite sex tenants or visitors allowed); many others allow couples to stay together only if they're legally married.
For apartments (one or more rooms + private kitchen + often balcony), prices are from 3-4 million rupiah and up. Cheaper rates can be obtained in some places which are oriented to the long-term rental (3, 6 months or 1 year minimum); however, there may be same limitations as for cheaper rooms.
A good choice of kost and apartments available in Jakarta can be found here (Indonesian language only).
The area code for Jakarta and the metropolitan area, is 021. You do not need to call the area code if you are calling to another number within the same area using a landline. Drop the 0 prefix when calling from other areas across Indonesia.
Wartel or telephone shops are ubiquitous on the streets of Jakarta, but gradually disappear because of the booming of mobile phones. If you wish to avoid the exorbitant roaming fees (and also need to do a numerous number of calls), you can buy a used phone in small stalls for $10 to $15 plus your mobile number's balance, while the card itself is relatively cheap or free. Coverage is generally great at most spots.
Public phones can still be commonly seen in sidewalks. If you see a public telephone, lift the receiver and check the number in the display near the keypad. If the number is not 000, don't insert coins, because the phone is broken. They usually are, but are very cheap (just Rp100 per minute) when they do work.
If you have your own laptop you may be able to access networks at many of the capital's malls. Ask at the information desk for access codes. Free hotspots are also available at restaurants, coffee shops, and convenience stores. Most hotels also provide wifi hotspots in their public area or in their rooms, either free or paid - inquire before booking.
Internet cafes are available in most parts of the city, especially around universities, residential areas, and most shopping malls, for Rp4,000-10,000 per hour. While the cheap ones will have the slow dial-up connection, others offer broadband high speed capabilities that is usually used by the youngsters for online gaming. If you are keen on using the internet for long hours, try to get the "happy hour" deals, where for up to Rp30,000, you can browse the Internet as long as you want.
Jakarta is the trial area for Indonesia's upcoming 4G LTE network deployment. Most operators are yet to carry the service though. Bolt is the sole brand to join in the competition. It offers pocket Wi-Fi modem for Rp200,000 plus a rechargeable internet quota for a rate that is cheap by Western standards.
Post is provided by the state-owned Pos Indonesia. They do not have mail boxes but have mobile counters in a van, or you can just go to the post office. Major freight companies such as FedEx, DH, and UPS also offer drop by package delivery, albeit through a third party service.
Emergency services are the best in Indonesia, if you want to call it. Many hospitals have 24 hour emergency, but equipments may not be as advanced as its international counterparts. The international emergency number 112 does work and will channel you to the respective services you need.
- Fire ☎ 113.
- Ambulance. ☎ 118.
- Police. ☎ 110.
- Search and rescue team. ☎ 115.
- Indonesian Police HQ: Jl. Trunojoyo 3, South Jakarta. ☎+62 21 7218144.
- Jakarta Police HQ: Jl. Jendral Sudirman No. 45, South Jakarta. ☎+62 21 5709261.
- Hospitals with 24 hour emergency room UGD (ER): see the Jakarta district pages.
Jakarta is the centre of Indonesia's media. Most news are actually sourced from Jakarta. English publications starts to make its way into newsstands.
- The Jakarta Post. Perhaps the most famous newspaper in Indonesia.
- The Jakarta Globe In a tabloid format. Provides more lifestyle content.
- Tempo English Edition Weekly hard news magazine.
- What's New Jakarta is a lifestyle website full of food and event listings. Suitable for long-term visitors.
State-owned TV station, TVRI has its own English news broadcast every day at 18.00, and MetroTV Tuesday-Saturday at 01:00.
The General Directorate of Immigration (Jl. H. R. Rasuna Said Kav.X-6 Kuningan-Jakarta Selatan) Visas, re-entry permits and many other immigration services are available.
Embassies and Consulates
The Kementerian Luar Negeri (Kemlu) or Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains a complete searchable database of diplomatic institutions. The embassies are located in Jakarta, some consulates general and honorary consulates are located in other cities such as Surabaya and Denpasar. This list may not be complete.
Tap water in Jakarta is not drinkable, although it is generally fine for a bath or a toothbrush session. Bottled water is cheap, up to Rp5,000, and for safety reasons it is better to buy them from minimarts, rather than from street vendors. Check if the tamper proof seal is intact.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Jakarta is the 3rd most polluted city in the world after Mexico City and Bangkok. Should you go out a lot into the streets, use a mask or cover up your nose and mouth.
There is a law against smoking at public places in Jakarta, and the smoker can (in theory) be fined up to US$5,000. You may see the signs threatening a fine (denda) of Rp 50 million or 6 months jail for smoking, although that law seems not to be enforced, as locals still smoke everywhere on the street and even in local buses, as anywhere in Indonesia. It's generally prohibited to smoke, however, inside shops, offices, and air-conditioned buildings generally. If in doubt, you can ask locals: Boleh merokok?
The high-profile terrorist bomb blasts at the JW Marriott in 2003, the Australian Embassy in 2004 and the JW Marriott (again) and the Ritz-Carlton in 2009 mean that security in Jakarta tends to be heavy, with car trunk checks, metal detectors and bag searches at most major buildings. Statistically, though, you are far more likely to be killed in the traffic.
By & large, your encounter in Jakarta should not be problematic as long as you use common sense. While theft and robbery seems too common, it is highly unlikely to happen in the crowded Sudirman streets, but very likely at the less economically fortunate areas such as at the East, or in residential areas at the suburbs. It is generally better to use a car, or the Transjakarta and commuter trains if your option is public transit. Women are even entitled to a dedicated seating area at these two options!
Strict gun control laws make Jakarta safer, but theft and robbery are real problems. Even these appear to have improved in recent years, but still take care. Violence is low, and most criminal acts are done by stealth or intimidation rather than lethal force. It is rare for even serious injuries to occur during these situations, although there are exceptions. If the theft is done by stealth, simply catching the thief in the act will cause him to run away. For intimidation such as robberies, simply giving them an object of value will usually satisfy the thief, who will leave without further ado. Most Indonesians are also very protective of their neighbors and friends; in many neighborhoods, a thief caught by the local residents will be punished "traditionally" before being taken to police. Shout for help ("Tolong!") or robber ("Maling!") to get yourself away from this.
Be on your guard in crowded places such as markets, because pickpockets often steal wallets and cellular phones. Keep a close eye on your valuables and choose your transportation options carefully, especially at night. Business travelers need to keep a close eye on laptops, which have been known to disappear even from within office buildings. For all-night party excursions, it may be wise to keep your cab waiting; the extra cost is cheap and it's worth it for the security. Lock your car doors and windows, and show no cellular phones or wallets on the dashboard. Organized criminals sometimes operate on the streets (especially at traffic lights) without fearing crowds.
Within the metropolitan area:
The fun does not end in Jakarta, but well beyond its satellite cities!
- Kepulauan Seribu National Park — administratively a part of Jakarta, but it is the complete opposite of the hectic mainland: an island escape with sprawling resorts and nature reserves.
- Bogor — a sense of nature one hour away, where you can tuck yourself in its botanic gardens or golf courses.
- Puncak — cooler climate, beautiful view of the mountains and tea plantations, restaurants, as well as the Taman Safari Wildlife Park.
- Tangerang — a thriving area for premium residents and opulent malls, especially to its south.
- Depok — a budget style city with adequate facilities because of the nearby University of Indonesia.
- Bekasi — home to Jakarta's big industry companies and an increasingly bustling city.
A bit further off
- A 3-hour drive using the tollway leads into the Merak Port at the western end of Java, where you can continue your journey by ferry to Sumatra island for 1.5 hours.
- Anyer is an upscale resort beach 4 hours away from Jakarta, but if you want a less crowded option, the Carita Beach is just a short drive away from there.
- Pulau Umang, an island resort to itself, is midway between Carita Beach and Ujung Kulon National Park.
- Ujung Kulon National Park — a beautiful national park 5 hours away, featuring the endangered single-horn rhinoceros.
- Bandung — 3 hours away from Jakarta, it's a budget style city famous for both food and bargain fashions.
- For a tropical island hype (without the resorts) and an instant escape from the hectic city, head to Belitung Island, less than 1 hour away by air.