Greater Jakarta is a region in Western Java in Indonesia, including the national capital Jakarta and the surrounding region. The metropolitan area, which is one of the largest in the world, is also known as Jabodetabek. This travel guide covers this area with the exception of Bogor, which is in the article on Bogor Raya.
- 1 Jakarta — one of the most bustling cities in Asia, a melting pot of cultures from across the archipelago.
- 2 Bekasi — industrial city on the eastern side of the capital.
- 3 Depok — southern suburb, with the campus of the University of Indonesia.
- 4 Tangerang — suburb in the west, including the largest airport of the country.
- 5 South Tangerang — vast suburb including various planned communities with shopping malls and golf courses.
The city of Bogor and the surrounding towns are also part of the Jabodetabek metropolitan area. Bogor is a mountain resort city surrounded by volcanoes, and included in the travel guide on Bogor Raya.
- 1 Thousand Islands National Park — marine national park in Jakarta Bay.
- 2 Soekarno-Hatta International Airport — busiest airport of Indonesia.
Greater Jakarta is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. The Jabodetabek administrative region, which name is formed of the first letters of JAkarta, BOgor, DEpok, TAngerang, and BEKasi, has a population of more than 30 million. The city of Bogor is slightly further away, being about 60 km from Central Jakarta and surrounded by volcanoes, but the other cities form one continuous urban area.
The original ethnic group of Jakarta are the Betawi people, while the surrounding cities are predominantly Sundanese. However, with Jakarta having been the capital of the Indonesian archipelago for centuries, people from all Indonesian ethnic groups have migrated to the metropolitan area. The dominant ethnic group nowadays is the Javanese, but there are also significant minorities of Chinese Indonesians (mainly in West Jakarta and Tangerang), Batak (from North Sumatra), and Minangkabau (from West Sumatra). This melting pot of ethnic groups has led to a vibrant mix of culture, which is especially apparent in the wide range of street food available.
With Greater Jakarta being the political, economic, and cultural centre of the Indonesian archipelago, connections are very good. The extremely high population density however mean that the infrastructure has difficulty coping with the high number of travellers. You should therefore expect delays because of traffic congestion, and airports, ports, railway stations and bus terminals that are running well over their capacity.
The Greater Jakarta area is served by Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK IATA) in Tangerang, and the smaller Halim Perdanakusuma Airport (HLP IATA) in East Jakarta. All international flights, and most domestic flights, arrive at Soekarno-Hatta Airport, but if you have a domestic flight it may be a good idea to choose to fly to Halim, especially if your destination is in East Jakarta or Bekasi.
All cities in Greater Jakarta have large bus terminals, with direct buses from all major cities in Java. The largest bus terminals are found in Jakarta, with several of them also offering direct bus connections to Sumatra and Bali (including ferry crossings). Some of the bus routes take several days. For example, from Jakarta to or from Banda Aceh takes about 72 hours.
Although all cities in the Greater Jakarta area have several railway stations, almost all long-distance trains arrive at Gambir or Pasar Senen railway station in Central Jakarta. There are trains to and from destinations throughout Java. The station of Bekasi, in addition, is served by several trains from cities in Western Java.
Tanjung Priok port in North Jakarta is part of the PELNI national passenger ferry network. Ferries connect Tanjung Priok to all major ports throughout the archipelago, to destinations as far as Papua. Obviously, taking a ferry is only a good option if you have a lot of time, as it takes several days to reach most other major islands.
Although Greater Jakarta has a dense network of trunk roads, tolled motorways, commuter railway lines, and bus (rapid transit) routes, getting around is often cumbersome and slow. Most of Jakarta is heavily congested during rush hours, but also outside peak hours traffic jams are common. The toll roads in and around Jakarta are especially busy during weekends and holidays, when the citizens of Jakarta go en masse to tourist destinations in the metropolitan area (such as Ancol in North Jakarta) as well as to the mountain regions of Bogor Raya and Parahyangan and the beaches of Banten.
Public transport is severely overcrowded most of the time. The first MRT (rapid transit rail) line is under construction, but currently you will have to do with one of the other options. The easiest way to get around is either by Transjakarta bus rapid transit (there are now also BRT routes to the suburbs) or by commuter railway (KA Commuter Jabodetabek). Other public bus and minibus routes are plenty throughout the region, but most do not follow a schedule and many do not have fixed bus stops. See the individual city and district articles for more information on bus routes.
Taxis are widely available in all cities in the region. Taxi companies that are known to be reliable (using a taxi meter) include Blue Bird Group and Express. In Jakarta, you can also use a bajaj (Jakarta's version of the tuk-tuk), which is less comfortable than a regular taxi, but quicker in case of traffic congestion. Throughout the region you can also choose to hire an ojek (motorcycle taxi), which are usually available at all major street corners. Ojek can nowadays also be hired through an app on your phone: popular on-demand ojek services include Go-Jek and GrabBike.
Most of the touristic highlights of Greater Jakarta are concentrated in Jakarta proper. In North and West Jakarta you can find parts of Batavia, the old capital of the Dutch East Indies (now known as Kota Tua), as well as the old sea port of Sunda Kelapa. In the building of Batavia's town hall you can now find the Jakarta History Museum. In Central Jakarta there is the iconic Monas (National Monument), surrounded by the presidential palace, the national museum, several government buildings, and the Gambir railway station. Also you can find the Istiqlal Mosque (Southeast Asia's largest), and across the street the catholic Jakarta Cathedral, built in 1901.
Although most of the suburbs of Jakarta are merely factory and bedroom communities, they have all grown from independent towns, and all boast their fair share of historic buildings and landmarks. Along the river in Tangerang, you can see the history of the fortress town as a community of Chinese immigrants, and the Benteng Heritage Museum provides background information on this history.
To take a break from the 'concrete jungle' of Jakarta and the extensive suburbs, you may choose to go to one of the many city parks throughout the region. The most extensive and well-maintained public parks can be found in the planned communities, for example in South Tangerang. Another nice park area to walk around is the campus of the University of Indonesia in Depok. If you really want to escape from the bustling city, the Greater Jakarta area boasts beaches along its north coast, as well as even the marine national park of the Thousand Islands (actually 110 islands, in the Jakarta Bay), that can be reached from North Jakarta or Tangerang.
One of the most popular pastimes for locals is to visit one of the many shopping malls. In total there are more than 170 luxurious shopping malls with stores from all international brands, as well as both local and international cafés and restaurants. Many of the shopping malls have a cinema (Hollywood movies are shown English-spoken with Indonesian subtitles) as well as karaoke (KTV).
The most popular theme parks are in Ancol Dreamland in North Jakarta. Apart from many restaurants and cafés at the beach, you can find Dunia Fantasi theme park with roller coasters and other attractions, SeaWorld oceanarium, Atlantis Water Adventure Park, and more. Another large theme park is Taman Mini Indonesia Indah in East Jakarta, which celebrates the culture (including architecture, clothing, dances and traditions) of all provinces of Indonesia. Several of the other cities in the region also have water theme parks, including Bekasi and South Tangerang.
There are several golf courses throughout the region. The most well-known are found in the planned communities of Tangerang and South Tangerang. In the Thousand Islands National Park you can, of course, do various sea-based activities, such as snorkelling.
The Betawi people of Jakarta have a range of special dishes, that are well-known throughout the country, such as Soto betawi (coconut milk broth with beef tendons, intestines, tripe). In the eastern and southern suburbs Sundanese food is traditional. However, because of migration from the other regions of Indonesia to the capital, in the Greater Jakarta area you can find the traditional food of all ethnic groups of Indonesia. Hawkers and roadside stalls offer a wide range of dishes, restaurants are spread throughout the region, and can also be found in the shopping malls. Hygiene is an issue when buying street food, but when a roadside stall is busy this is usually an indication that the food is safe.
Apart from Indonesian food, Chinese and Japanese food is ubiquitous, and so are Western fast food chains. Most of the larger shopping malls in addition have a wide selection of other options, such as Italian food, pancake restaurants, and steak houses.
Nightlife can be found in various areas throughout Jakarta, with most of the expats coming together in Kemang (South Jakarta). In the suburbs (especially Bekasi) it is harder to find alcoholic drinks, but most of the planned communities (such as BSD City in South Tangerang) have bars and beer gardens.
It is often said that Jakarta is one of the safest megacities in the world, and violent crime is rare. However, be on your guard in crowded places such as markets, because pickpockets often steal wallets and mobile phones. For visitors, the biggest risk in the Greater Jakarta area is the traffic, which is very crowded and equally chaotic. If it is your first time in the region, it is not advisable to drive your own vehicle.