Jakarta is Indonesia's capital and largest city, with about 10 million inhabitants, and totally 30 million in Greater Jakarta on the Java island. 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 city 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 greenery, cultural diversity and a rich history, that caters to all levels of budget and how much fun you want to have.
Administratively, Jakarta is a province called the Jakarta Special Capital Region (Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta). It is administratively divided into 5 municipalities and 1 regency (the Thousand Islands in the Jakarta Bay):
|Central Jakarta (Jakarta Pusat)
The heart of Jakarta's administration, government and finance, 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 mosque, the Cathedral, and the Bung Karno Sports Stadium.
|West Jakarta (Jakarta Barat)
This site is also part of the Old Batavia. It is home to the Glodok area (Jakarta's Chinatown) which is rich in street hawker food, Chinese restaurants, and temple complexes, and contains Jakarta's electronic promenade. West Jakarta is also a major destination for shopping, as it is home to a lane of upscale malls at S. Parman and cheap shopping lanes at Mangga Dua. This area is also home to Jakarta's biggest nightlife entertainment and red light district "Mangga Besar".
|South Jakarta (Jakarta Selatan)
Jakarta's middle/upper class residential area, and part of Jakarta's business center. Here you can find upscale shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, bustling nightlife and entertainment, Blok M, Senayan sports complex, and affluent residential areas. The Kemang area is very popular among expats and locals for its nightlife and entertainment.
|East Jakarta (Jakarta Timur)
The city's industrial quarter and the most populous city within Jakarta. The location of Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (where you can see parts of Indonesia's multiethnic community in one big park), some golf courses, Cibubur camping ground, and Jakarta's second 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 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 megalopolis of 30 million inhabitants includes Jakarta and the following satellite cities:
- Bogor - One of the primary destinations to escape from Jakarta, with well-kept natural habitats, world class botany garden, resorts, and multiple golf courses
- Tangerang - The airport, many large commercial centres and clustered homes
- Bekasi - Mostly industrial parks
- Depok - Home to the University of Indonesia
A common abbreviation to describe the megalopolitan area is 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 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 the street you're on 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 avenues. Knowing this almost takes you there, but the exception is the recently built gated clusters of houses which have their own main road that does not follow the convention, even though it is a branch of a specific street! In that case, knowing the name of the housing cluster would be the best option in addition to the above rules. Conveniently, most navigation apps such as Google Maps or Waze are useful for finding addresses and places throughout Jakarta due to regular updates from users.
If you don't want to waste time, ask for the description/name of nearby landmarks or buildings, billboards, color of the building or fence, or the postal code. If you still cannot find the address, start asking people on the street, especially ojek (motorcycle taxi drivers).
Jakarta's nickname among expats is the Big Durian, and like the fruit itself, it's a shock at first sight (and smell): a sweltering, steaming, heaving mass of some 30 million people packed into a vast urban sprawl. The metropolitan area is a charm and melting pot for Indonesians, both as a business and a government center, and the most developed city in the country. 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 and weekends (sometimes all day during rainy season due to motorcyclists sheltering under the fly-over or the tunnel when it's raining heavily, thus causing additional congestion), 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 Jakarta's 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 and historical centers, to cosmopolitan shopping, diverse gourmet choices, and some of the hippest nightlife in Southeast Asia!
To cite a couple of figures that further clarify the position of Jakarta relative to the rest of the world, the city's Human Development Index is categorized as High Human Development with a value of 0.796 — a step away from Very High Human Development Index, which starts at 0.800 and would apply to the USA, Japan and most European countries. Jakarta's Human Development Index number is higher than or on par with Turkey and most Balkan countries.
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 permission by the Hindu Kingdom of Pakuan Pajajaran to erect a godown (warehouse) 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 survivors 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 the VOC's 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 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, four years after Indonesian Independence, when the Dutch accepted the 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 from across the Indonesian archipelago. The entire Jabodetabek (Jakarta-Bogor-Depok-Tangerang-Bekasi) metropolitan region is estimated to have a population of about 30 million.
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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 seasons, rainy and dry. It is hot and usually humid with little fluctuation in temperature throughout the year. The average temperature is about 28°C (82°F), hot compared 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 floods and traffic chaos on many of the streets usually occur, due to Jakarta's 13 rivers with banks mostly occupied by lower income people. In previous years, severe floods have happened at thousands of points and several flood points disappear after one day, but after substantial rehabilitation, including widening the rivers and relocating the low income people to subsidized low-income apartment, in early/mid February 2017, when usual severe floods occur, there are only 54 points of mild/moderate floods which disappear within hours. Even in rainy seasons, the sun usually appears for hours each day. During the transition 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. So, a visit to Jakarta can be made in the rainy season too. The rain is almost always absent from June through August.
- 1 "Enjoy Jakarta" Tourism Information Centre, Jakarta Theater Building, Jl. MH. Thamrin No. 9, ☎ .
- "Enjoy Jakarta" Tourism Information Service, Terminal 2D Arrival, Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, ☎ .
- Main article: Soekarno-Hatta International Airport
Jakarta has two airports with scheduled flights. Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK IATA) is 20 km northwest of the city in the neighboring city of Tangerang, and handles most commercial flights. This airport, along with transportation options to and 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 bus. The state-owned DAMRI buses take you to various major transportation hubs (trains & other buses) routinely for less than Rp40,000, while the JAConnexion buses serves a number of hotels and shopping malls within the metro area for up to Rp50,000. Otherwise it is better to pre-arrange a transfer service with 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. A rail connection between the airport and Sudirman station at Central Jakarta is under construction and is slated to operate starting November 2017.
The smaller Halim Perdanakusuma Airport (HLP IATA), much closer to the city (in East Jakarta), is served by a range of domestic scheduled flights, in addition to its use by the military, VIP flights, charter flights, helicopter leasing companies, and private jets. DAMRI also operates bus services to Rawamangun Bus Terminal for Rp20,000; to Pulogebang, Gambir Station, and 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 Husein Sastranegara International Airport (BDO IATA), which serves the city of Bandung, 130 km from Jakarta. However, considering the more limited offering of flight destinations compared to Soekarno-Hatta, and the relatively lengthy and often congested trip between Jakarta and Bandung, this option is not commonly useful. There are coach services, although most of the time you have to transfer between coaches at the respective companies' pools at downtown Bandung before continuing to Jakarta. The trip from Jakarta to Bandung's airport by public transport requires at least 3 hours, often more.
Jakarta has several major train stations. Gambir in Central Jakarta is the current main station for long-distance passenger service, especially Executive or Business class trains from most major cities in Java, thus it has the most complete facilities. If you are using an economy class train, you will likely stop at either Senen, two blocks away from Gambir, or Kota in West Jakarta. All stations offer connections to local public transportation, including the Transjakarta system. However, Jakarta's suburban commuter trains (KA Commuter Jabodetabek) do stop at most Jakarta stations, but not Gambir and Senen.
Starting at the end of November 2017 or early 2018, there will be a train service from the airport to Central Jakarta in "Sudirman Baru" Station, taking about 55 minutes to get to downtown Jakarta. In heavy traffic, it is expected to be a faster way to get downtown from the airport, but the ticket is rather expensive for most Jakartans (about Rp 75,000 to Rp 100,000, no cash payment—use prepaid cash instead). Cheaper alternatives include online taxi (e.g. Grab, GoJek, Uber) or DAMRI buses.
When buying tickets for buses out of Jakarta, you're better off buying 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 end at bus terminals, and busway services stop 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 offers multiple bus services daily, mainly to and from 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 buses 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 & ). Formerly the second busiest terminal, nowadays Pulo Gadung Terminal only serves buses to Merak, Sumatra, Bali and Lombok!.
- 2 Pulo Gebang Bus Terminal, Jalan Pulo Gebang, East Jakarta (Use busway lines ). The new and biggest bus terminal in Southeast Asia. Offers multiple bus services daily, mainly to and from destinations across the northern coast of Java, such as Cirebon, Tegal, Pekalongan, Semarang, and Surabaya, though some operators may also drive you to Bandung. Some buses even offer routes to Bali and Lombok together after pickup from Pulo Gadung Bus Terminal.
- Lebak Bulus Bus Station. Not a terminal but only a 100-m² bus stop, as a temporary replacement for the Lebak Bulus Terminal, which nowadays is an MRT station under construction. When the MRT station is completed, it will be integrated with the bus terminal. Service to destinations east of Jakarta, as far as East Java.
If you are arriving from Sumatra instead of Pulo Gadung Terminal, you will most likely arrive at one of these two 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.). Like Pulo Gadung Terminal, only serves buses to Merak, Sumatra, Bali and Lombok.
- Kali Deres Bus Terminal, Jalan Daan Mogot KM 16, West Jakarta (Use busway Line ). Its location in west Jakarta makes it an optimal stop for buses from Sumatra, although it doesn't have as many as Rawamangun.
Recently, the expansion of minibus (vans for about 8-10 passengers, in Indonesia indicated as travel) service has taken over the short distance intercity coach services. Most minibus companies such as Cipaganti, CitiTrans, and XTrans will take you to Jakarta from Bandung or to Soekarno-Hatta Airport. Fares from Bandung are typically more than Rp100,000 to the downtown area, up to Rp125,000 to Soekarno-Hatta Airport. Note that the buses will most often not drop you at hotels or bus terminals, but at their own offices/drop-off locations instead.
The national ferry companies, ASDP Indonesia Ferry and Pelni, operate passenger services to destinations across the archipelago from Tanjung Priok port in North Jakarta. Some smaller speedboats, particularly to the Thousand Islands (Pulau Seribu), depart from Ancol, also on Jakarta's north shore.
Travelling by car may not be a good idea. Congestion 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 four tollways that terminate in Jakarta:
- Jakarta-Merak cuts through Tangerang and leads to the western edge of Java, the Merak port for connections to Sumatra Island.
- The short Jakarta-Serpong toll road connects Jakarta to South Tangerang.
- Jagorawi tollway goes south to Bogor and the Puncak holiday resorts.
- Jakarta-Cikampek goes east via Bekasi and Karawang and continues to Bandung or all the way towards Central Java.
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 inadequate to relieve the congestion. And during the rainy season, from December to February, the traffic jams are worse, even when there is no real flooding, mainly due to motorcyclists sheltering under the tunnel, which leads to heavier congestion than before. The gradually expanding Transjakarta Busway (Bus Rapid Transit) system helps to make things easier, but this is not enough for the world's biggest city without rail rapid transit. The first line of Jakarta's MRT rail network from Lebak Bulus (South Jakarta) to Central Jakarta is scheduled to be completed by 2019, but a part of the MRT from Senayan to Hotel Indonesia Circle will be operating before the Asian Games occur in August 2018.
Various areas of the city have different levels of chaotic traffic. But while the better organized traffic is mainly in the business districts (MH Thamrin, Jendral Sudirman, and H.R. Rasuna Said), they remain one of the most congested spots in Jakarta! It can even go beyond business hours because of the area's mixed use as both office and commercial space, as well as the domino effect from other streets' stop-and-go traffic.
Online ride-hailing apps
Using your smartphone, you can now easily hail a moto-taxi or car with pre-calculated prices - cheaper than standard taxis. Uber provides UberMoto, UberPool, UberX, Uber Black, and UberXL services in Jakarta. Two other local alternatives, GoJek and Grab, are very popular and provide you with both motorbike and car drivers (if taking a motorbike, the driver will provide a helmet). You may find it worth the small investment in a SIM card with data so that you can use these apps to get around the city without having to locate a taxi and explain your destination to the driver. Fares can be automatically paid if you have set up your credit card in the app, otherwise you can use cash to pay for these services. Be aware that many of the streets in Jakarta are divided by a median, and many others are one-way, so do your best to set your pickup location on an undivided, two-way street, and by an easily recognizable landmark or storefront. Otherwise, you may find that a driver who appears to be close by will need to navigate around several blocks in heavy Jakarta traffic to pick you up. If you're in a hurry, on a tight budget, or just want to experience the thrill of zooming between the horns of Jakarta's traffic, the motorbike option can get you to your destination much faster than a car.
The KA Commuter Jabodetabek (or KRL, colloquially known as the Commuter Line) commuter trains in Jakarta connect the city centre with the suburbs and satellite cities, namely Tangerang, Bekasi, Depok, Bogor, South Tangerang, and Tanjung Priok port in North Jakarta. 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; while they are of course cramped during peak hours, they are still better than using the bus. Major stations are adjacent to a TransJakarta bus stop, though you have to walk a bit or use a feeder bus service to transfer between systems.
There are two types of train tickets:
- 7-day trips (Tiket Harian Berjaminan, literally: Daily Ticket with Guarantee) must be purchased at a ticket counter by stating your destination. A Rp10,000 refundable deposit will be added to the calculated fare, and may be used for unlimited trips within 7 consecutive days in which the ticket must be returned to have your deposit back.
- Multi trip, refillable at the vending machine 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 (initial balance contains Rp30,000), but you must have at least Rp11,000 to use the train. 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.
Distances between adjacent commuter train stations vary, and the fare is determined by distance: Rp3,000 for the first 25 km and Rp 1,000 for every 10 kilometres thereafter. This means that you have to tap in at your origin station and tap out at your destination; transfers are free as long as you do not tap out. You will be charged the longest route fare if you don't tap out, and Rp50,000 if you lose the ticket.
Commuter services run daily from 04:30 to 22:00, roughly every 15-30 minutes. It usually takes 20 minutes to get from one end of the city to another, and another 30 minutes to the suburban terminus. Weekend special services connect Depok and Bogor with the popular Ancol entertainment park at North Jakarta.
Commuter trains do not stop at Gambir and Pasar Senen stations, the main stations for long-distance trains in Jakarta. If you wish to use the train when arriving from these stations, you have to use other forms of transport to Juanda station, located a few hundred meters north of Gambir; close enough if you wish to walk, but a hike in the heat. From the Jalan Jaksa backpackers' area, you can walk for 5-10 minutes to Gondangdia station.
The TransJakarta buses (in Indonesian known as busway) are modern, air-conditioned and generally comfortable. The mainline service runs from 05:00 to 23:00 Sunday–Thursday and up to 24:00 on Friday and Saturday, with limited buses serving outside these hours (Amari, Angkutan Malam Hari - night buses) that still stop at all bus stops for all corridors, except corridors 4, 11 and 12 (no Amari). The buses have separate seating for women at the front, an attendant who stands by the door, and CCTVs. There are priority seats for the elderly, disabled, and expectant mothers, but the wide gap between the platforms and buses can be a hindrance. There are 13 main lines in operation, in addition to a number of branch routes that operate between the main lines.
Unlike Jakarta's other buses, they run on fully dedicated lanes. Passengers must use dedicated stations 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 staff member who reminds passengers of the approaching bus stop (and provides security).
Park and Ride facilities are in Ragunan (South Jakarta), Kampung Rambutan (East Jakarta), Kalideres (West Jakarta), and Pulo Gebang (East Jakarta).
Tickets cost Rp2,000 from 05:00 to 07:00 and Rp3,500 all other times regardless of distance. You pay by tapping a card that can be bought at the stop and major banks; they are also actually useful for shopping at major retailers & minimarkets. The card costs Rp40,000, which is credited toward each fare. The card is non-refundable and there are no single-use passes, however you may be able to offer a helpful local a Rp5,000 note to tap you in using their card. 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.
Passengers can make use of the Transjabodetabek feeder busway that takes you out to Jakarta's satellite cities, or the Transjabodetabek that feeds from some train stations to the bus system. See the Jakarta 'By public bus' section.
TransJakarta Cares is a program to help disabled people reach the nearest TransJakarta bus stop. There are 26 vehicles, with one driver and two additional staff per vehicle, who pick up disabled people for free, and they can be contacted at call center 1500 102. Between one disabled person's location and the nearest bus stop, it's possible that other disabled people will be picked up.
By tour bus
Jakarta may be 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! There are 4 loop routes that are sorted by the genre of the places of interest: Historical, Modern, Art & Culinary and the Jakarta skyscrapers. The first two routes run Monday-Saturday from 09:00 to 17:00 and Sunday from 12:00 to 20:00, while the latter only operates Saturdays 17:00-23:00.
By public bus
A multitude of bus companies prowl the streets of Jakarta. However, buses do not run on schedule or even have one. Most maps bought outside 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 numbers 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 companies, ranked from best to worst:
- TransJabodetabek acts as a feeder to the Transjakarta bus system from Jakarta's satellite cities, but nonetheless is useful should there be no Transjakarta buses in sight. Look for the blue bus at a Transjakarta bus stop and inquire if they serve the stop you wish to get off.
- BKTB is similar to TransJabodetabek, but feeds from a number of train stations and where TransJakarta does not have service. See the Transjakarta website for more information.
- Kopaja AC (not to be confused with Kopaja non-AC) has introduced a similar service on selected routes. Some of the lines are reachable from the Transjakarta bus stops. Look for the metallic grey and green color bus. These buses offer Wi-Fi connectivity.
- Most Mayasari Bakti buses have air-conditioning, but a few routes do not. Air-conditioned buses bear the letters AC on the bus number. These buses usually have a light & dark blue body, but some are 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 are 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 may reach out to you so you can pay him.
Cheaper still are mikrolet (mini-buses) and angkot (small vans) that ply the smaller streets and whose fares vary from Rp4,000 for the first 2 km to Rp10,000. You pay the fare directly to the driver when you get off.
You may want to have a couple of spare 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 and 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.
Avoid sitting or standing in the back of the bus, as this is where muggers find their prey. Always keep an eye on your belongings and be alert at all times for pickpockets.
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, best to use a coin), 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 and move the body inline with bus direction, 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 a larger build such as Caucasians and Africans. Non-Indonesians might find the seats in these buses confining and uncomfortable. TransJabodetabek, APTB and BKTB are not so crowded and the seats are more comfortable for non-Indonesians.
While most bus routes are from one bus terminal to another, not all of them have connections to long distance bus services (see Get In section).
Travelling by car, while it 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. Foreigners are recommended not to rent cars and drive on their own, as the chaotic traffic can give you a headache; renting with a driver is more than advisable. That being said, safety and road rules are enforced much more rigorously than in other parts of the country—obey the traffic laws and do not be tempted to disobey like many of the locals do, even when it seems convenient.
Two toll roads circle the city: the Lingkar Dalam ("inner ring road") and Lingkar Luar (commonly called JORR, the abbreviation for Jakarta Outer Ring Road). Using these toll roads is 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, they may be flooded, causing a standstill.
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: Rp3,000-6,000 per hour. Street parking often requires payment of up to Rp3,000-5,000 to an illegal parking 'attendant' for one hour. For 41 areas with street electronic parking posts, the fee is Rp5,000 per hour paid by 7 certain debit cards, and don't pay anything to a formal attendant (monitoring by CCTV) such as you would in Sabang and Kelapa Gading Boulevards. 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 ticketed, in which case you will need some paperwork to get it back!
An odd-even traffic control system is enforced at Sisingamangaraja, Sudirman, Thamrin, Medan Merdeka Barat, and Gatot Subroto streets on weekdays from 07:00-10:00 and 16:00-20:00. Under the system, only vehicles with odd license plate numbers are permitted to travel on odd-numbered calendar dates, and even-numbered license plates on even-numbered dates. The fine for violations is Rp500,000, but taxis and public transportation are exempt.
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 very cheap by Western standards, abundant and occasionally fast. There are a multitude of taxi companies of varying degrees of dependability.
- Blue Bird Group, ☎ . The Blue Bird, including 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 orderly meter usage. A special ride for the physically impaired can also be requested. The Silver Bird executive taxi charges a premium rate for a larger car. In addition, Blue Bird Taxi has launched taxis using a low roof MPV which can accommodate up to 7 persons. The fare is same as for a regular taxi, but if you want one, order it specifically when you call for a taxi.
Some other large, generally reliable companies include:
- White Horse, ☎ . Regular taxi, usually stands at hotels.
- Taxiku, ☎ .
- Express, ☎ . This is typically the second-best option, if Blue Bird taxis are not visible, but hail this taxi if your main concern is price. No minimum payment for hailing in the street, the minimum payment is only for ordering by phone: Rp40,000.
- 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 to foreigners) - in this case, it's a good idea to walk away a bit, then hail a passing taxi from the above companies.
Tipping is not necessary, but rounding the meter up to the nearest Rp5,000 is expected, although rounding the meter up to the nearest Rp1,000 is also OK. So prepare some change if you want, or else you may be rounded up to the nearest Rp5,000.
Blue Bird Taxi, Uber Taxi and Grab Taxi apps can be downloaded for free to help you order taxis via smartphone. Fill in the departure and arrival points and Google Maps will show the map with the taxis and also the estimated cost displayed in a range. Blue Bird Taxi has the same fare regardless of whether you hire them online or by phone; Uber Taxi adds additional fees when trapped in traffic jams; and Grab Taxi has prices fixed in advance, regardless of any traffic jams. Choose the taxi that will be used and the taxi will usually come in five minutes. Only qualified taxis and qualified drivers can join the apps, so this is one of the safest ways to get a taxi. Taxis have been abundant since Uber Taxi and Grab Taxi started operating in Jakarta. Uber Taxi and Grab Taxi's rate is only about half that of a conventional taxi, or at most the same as a conventional taxi when in high demand.
The popularity of online taxis, due to cheaper fares, more safety and more polite drivers, means that nowadays it can be more difficult or time-consuming to get conventional/regular taxis.
The Jakartan equivalent to Thailand's tuk-tuk is the bajaj (pronounced "bahdge-eye"), orange mutant scooters souped up in India into little three-wheeled vehicles that carry passengers in a small cabin at the back. Beside the usual orange bajaj, there are blue bajaj, which use gas as 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 (they have no suspension), hot and windy (locals joke about the "natural A/C"), and a great way to breathe in more exhaust fumes than you ever thought possible (maybe less if you ride the blue bajaj), riding around in these little motor-bugs can really grow on you. Blue gas-fueled bajaj are quieter than the orange 2-cycle bajaj.
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 often ask double or even more than what you would pay by meter in a more comfortable Blue Bird 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.
The new variant of bajaj in Jakarta, with 4 wheels instead of typical 3-wheeled bajaj. Since early June 2017, bemo (pronounced "bay-mo") are forbidden to operate in the city due to their contributions to air pollution and sound pollution. Qute are much quieter than bemo and have air conditioning. These 'new bemo' operate throughout Central Jakarta towards North Jakarta via Mangga Dua to Ancol. The price is quite same as for ordinary bajaj (about Rp. 5,000 for a short hop) and make sure to agree to haggle a price before you ride the vehicle.
If you're poking around narrow back streets, or 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 are telling the truth, some lying. Before you choose a driver, pay attention to their motorcycle's appearance and their helmet; sometimes it shows the driver's character. Locals normally pay Rp5,000 for a short ride (one kilometer) and Rp7,000-10,000 for a longer (roughly more than a kilometer or a 15-minute walk). 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 their service.
On-demand (online) ojek services such as Go-Jek, GrabBike, and UberMotor (a service from Uber) can be booked through their respective smartphone apps, and offer generally cheaper fares which are stated in advance. Go-Jek as a pioneer has more widespread availability. The other more expensive on-demand ojek service is Lady Jek with female drivers. Unlike ojek stations, which are only available from 05:00 to 19:00 or 20:00, online ojek services are available 24 hours and relatively safe for both passengers and drivers because they are monitored by GPS.
If you have quite an amount of cash and want to beat the traffic exponentially, a helicopter can be an option for you. They can be chartered as well for excursions outside Jakarta.
- Transwisata, Halim Perdanakusuma Airport Terminal Building, Ground Floor, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com.
- Whitesky Aviation, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cycling provisions are almost non-existent in Jakarta, but the first signs of a cycling culture are emerging. Every Sunday from 06:00-11:00 during the Car Free Day (CFD) in Jalan Sudirman and Thamrin (and every month in other places in each city in Jakarta) are emptied of motorized vehicles, except TransJakarta. 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 sends folks into their air-conditioned vehicles. Then, because the sidewalks are less used, they are filled with pushcart vendors, resulting in even less room to walk. 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 frustratingly faster than using motor vehicles, as you will not be caught up in traffic, especially if your destination is just across the thoroughfare. 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 rowdier in other parts of Indonesia, where even less attention is paid to safety.
A few neighbourhoods can however be explored on foot:
- Kota Tua (West Jakarta): a pedestrian-friendly square, a walk in this area explores the sights of Dutch colonial charm that were once central to the colonial administration.
- Pasar Baru (Central Jakarta): a pedestrian-friendly market that has been in existence since the colonial era.
- Sudirman-Thamrin corridor (Central and South Jakarta): the central business districts have a paved pedestrian footpath for eager explorers.
- Rasuna Said, Kuningan District (South Jakarta): another business district along Jl. HR Rasuna Said with many embassies.
- Monas and Kebon Sirih area (Central Jakarta): the city square is a pedestrian-friendly zone, and the surrounding area has several attractions such as the presidential palace and old colonial churches.
On Car Free Day (CFD), every Sunday from 06:00 to 11:00 in the morning, the Sudirman-Thamrin thoroughfares are closed to motor vehicles, except for the Transjakarta buses. During the CFD times, the strip of road becomes a wide open space to do sports, walking or biking.
- Individual listings can be found in Jakarta's district articles
The heart of tourist attractions 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. Jakarta has 47 museums, which are spread across the city.
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 and 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 allows you to admire Indonesia's art in paintings and sculptures.
A few kilometers down south, you'll find the legacy of the Dutch and the first years of the Indonesian government, such as the iconic landmark of Jakarta, the National Monument park 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 Mosque, Southeast Asia's biggest mosque, and a 113-year-old gothic cathedral standing mightily across from each other? On the western side of the court, the elephant statue welcomes you to the Museum Nasional, 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 these icons were erected during Soekarno's rule in 1960, and thus still represent 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, an eight-horse carriage statue near Monas. Going south at Jalan MH Thamrin, the iconic Selamat Datang statue 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 gives 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 holding up a burning bowl. The Dirgantara statue is visible in its glory if you are using the inner 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' habitats in the two parks there. For parks with lakes, Pluit Park is one option, and a smaller one is Pulo Mas Park. Ragunan, the official zoo of Jakarta, is the second largest zoo in the world (140 hectares), offering diverse Indonesian and international flora & fauna, including a dedicated center that houses primates, especially the endemic orangutans. The newest addition is Kalijodo Park which is open 24 hours a day with green and child-friendly public space and an international skateboard lane.
However metropolitan Jakarta has 3 small forests in the city at Muara Angke, Srengseng and Tebet.
Jakarta also hosts two amusement parks. Taman Impian Jaya Ancol at the North, that is for pure fun plus a sea world aquarium, and Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (Indonesia in miniature) in East Jakarta, which celebrates the culture of all 34 provinces of Indonesia, a bird park containing multiple endemic species, and multiple museums. Escape to Kepulauan Seribu to see wild birds and eagles, and island resorts not too far away from the city. The Setu Babakan down south is the centre of the indigenous Betawi culture.
- Individual listings can be found in Jakarta's district articles
Despite being the melting pot of Indonesia, Jakarta's indigenous tribe called the Betawi still stays proud of its culture. 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 piece 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 - 40,000 for a plush seat (Rp35,000 - 65,000 on the weekend, up to Rp150,000 if you watch in Premiere Class at XXI or Velvet Class at CGV Blitz) 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 so you may wish to bring your own coming in. CGV Blitz 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 CGV Blitz. IMAX theaters, as of now, are only available at Gandaria City's XXI theatre, Mal Kelapa Gading III's theatre and Keong Mas in TMII, although the latter more often shows documentary than blockbuster films.
Performing arts festivals
Jakarta boasts some of the world's largest music events, which may surprise you, 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 best 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 We The Fest boasts some of the performances from indie/pop artists in August since its first inception in 2014, Road to Soundrenaline takes you to the popular local indie/major label bands showcases, before it ends up in Bali for the main event with some of international artists performing there and the Djakarta Warehouse Project hosts world famous DJs to jam the start of the year-end holiday. For a street 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. The Senayan sports complex still lives up to its name since the 1962 Asian Games, where archery and indoor shooting range are also publicly available to try. Soemantri-Brodjonegoro in Kuningan district also offers you many kinds of sport activities.
Jakarta is perhaps the best city to play golf in Asia, thanks to the abundance of courses close to or even in the middle of the city, and relatively cheap prices compared to Western 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.
Indonesia is one of the few lucky Asian countries where numerous European soccer teams, including 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.
Futsal is the indoor version of football, which 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.
As a badminton powerhouse, 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 with their group for the session. If the captain refuses payment (usually less than Rp20,000), 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 every early June during the Indonesian Open Superseries, when Indonesia's and the world's top badminton players compete. The deafening cheers are chanted even beyond when the players hit the shuttlecock, an enthusiasm unmatched elsewhere in the world. It is advised to buy the tickets online (especially for the semifinals and final matches), otherwise you must choose between watching it on television or the big screen in Istora (think about Murray Mound/Henman Hill in Wimbledon).
You are in one of Asia's big cities—karaoke is the norm, so sing 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. You'll have 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 your turn to sing. Rates can start from as low as Rp70,000 per room for a minimum of 6 people.
Cooking classes are monthly on 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 cater to expats. Most offer pastry cooking classes.
Interestingly, you can learn about 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.
- Individual listings can be found in Jakarta's district articles
More than 2.5 million foreign tourists and more than 30 million domestic tourists visit Jakarta every year. It's a paradise for buying international brand-name garments (both genuine and fake).
If you're stopping in Jakarta, consider buying an extra suitcase, because there are lots of good shopping opportunities. Good used suitcases can be bought at Surabaya street and vendors also sell antiques. 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 aside from some banners. Some stores also run Midnight Sales, usually in the weekend. And most of the malls are open from 10:00-20:00 every day, except on Ied Day when they're open 13:30-22:00.
Despite the crushing poverty exhibited in some parts of the city—mostly among migrant uneducated workers from other cities—In 2017, Jakarta has more than 170 giant, glittering malls (including trade centers and groceries centers) more than double of 70 at five years ago, more than other cities in the world, and far more than you'd expect as a newcomer. Note that for genuine imported goods from sole agents, prices are controlled to be roughly the same all over the world, so domestic tourists don't want to buy abroad anymore, while some foreign tourists actually prefer to buy in Jakarta due to the extensive options. 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.
Some of the most well known shopping complexes are at the heart of the city. Grand Indonesia and Plaza Indonesia are two upper-class malls next to each other on 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.
Jalan Prof.Dr.Satrio is Jakarta's answer to the famed Orchard Road in Singapore, Ginza in Tokyo and Fifth Avenue in New York. Four 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 four malls on its side, and two other giant malls are located elsewhere in the region. Pluit and Pondok Indah hosts three malls located along a single strip.
Every shopping mall has at least one department store, alongside brands that have their own shops. Sogo has the most branches, followed by Metro & Centro. Galeries Lafayette at Pacific Place and Seibu at Grand Indonesia. Matahari also provides similar fashion usually for a lower price.
In addition to malls, there are also numerous extremely large shopping centres, most of them within a complex, so if you are unable to find what you need at one mall, you can try again at the mall next door. Mangga Dua, Tanah Abang, and Pasar Baru are the best places in Jakarta to shop for fashion. In Mangga Dua area there are at least 3 shopping centers connected by bridges: ITC is for middle and upper middle class fashion, while the lower class is served by Pasar Pagi Mangga Dua, and Mangga Dua Mall is for gadget enthuasiasts. Tanah Abang is a wholesale market and the biggest in Southeast Asia, with delivery to Africa and other parts of the world. Tanah Abang is overcrowded, so Thamrin city next to Grand Indonesia (500 m from Tanah Abang) can serve as an alternative, mainly for Muslim wear and batik. Pasar Baru is not a shopping center, but more like a street with old retail shops; stamp collectors will be able to find Indonesian stamps at the front of many of these shops. Mangga Dua Square, as well as Glodok and Roxy, are places to find gadgets. WTC (Wholesale Trade Centre) Mangga Dua is now specialized in sell used cars, with more than 100 sold per day.
If you are looking for antique products such as local handicrafts, Indonesian traditional batik or wayang golek (Sundanese puppets), you can go to Jalan Surabaya in Central Jakarta. If you are looking for rare maps, prints or paintings, you can go to Kemang Raya, where there are many galleries including Bartele gallery and Hadi Prana. Pasaraya Grande shopping mall at Blok M, South Jakarta has one dedicated floor for Indonesian antiques and handicrafts. Pasar Seni at Ancol is the centre of paintings and sculpture, including portrait pictures you can have done on the spot. Sarinah department store also has a vast section of traditional gifts.
- Individual listings can be found in Jakarta's district articles
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
|Budget||up to Rp50,000|
|Splurge||more than Rp100.000|
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 cooked with glutinous rice and served with shredded coconut and a dried shrimp topping.
- Ketoprak, lontong (rice cake), tofu, bean sprout, shrimp crackers in peanut sauce.
- Gado-gado is like ketoprak, but all of it is vegetables.
- Bubur Dingin, literally 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 shallots, and sambal (chili sauce).
- Nasi ulam, rice cooked in coconut milk served with fried minced beef, sweet fried tempeh, many other toppings, cucumber, and sambal.
- Asinan Betawi: assorted pickled vegetables, served with peanut sauce (and sometimes chili) and chips.
Food at malls and brick-and-mortar restaurants are by and large of hygiene standards. Street vendors (kaki lima) or carts can be questionable, though it is still wise to use discretion as some of the best or well-known food can actually be from them.
The online ride-hailing apps Gojek and Grab also offer food delivery service to virtually all restaurants, for a small fee.
Though tips are originally not customary in restaurants, it starts to become a habit. In fact, a few do automatically charge a service fee of typically 5%, which may surprise some patrons.
Food courts at just about every shopping mall in Jakarta offer cheap but filling meals. Prices range from Rp15,000 to Rp50,000. While street vendors (kaki lima) are cheap with questionable hygiene standards, some items are unfortunately offered only within street vendors, so use good judgment when shopping around. Look for those that have lines at least a couple people long, as that means it's reputable and indisputably delicious. Steer clear from vendors that offer aggressively cheap prices or being pushy, as they might make their items using shady ingredients.
Franchise fast food chains are also a good choice for eating as the hygiene is often up to standards. American fast food chains such as KFC, A&W, Wendy's and McDonald's have ample seating. Local chain Bakmi GM is famous for its noodles and its fried wanton. Hoka-hoka Bento (locally known as HokBen), also a local chain, provides Japanese buffet with a complete meal set for an affordable price. Also consider Es Teler 77 & Solaria. You will find one or all of them at major malls across the city. Department store or mini market food items can be an alternative should you need to eat on the go or at work.
For some exquisite Indonesian snacks, head to the traditional markets or street vendors. The infamous jajanan pasar (lit. market snacks) or bakpao (Chinese meat buns) should cost around Rp10,000 to Rp35,000 per box or piece. Assorted fritters (gorengan) are ubiquitous throughout and should cost Rp7,000 to Rp15,000 for up to a dozen pieces of fried tofu, tempeh, cassava, yam, and even banana.
More substantial meals such as martabak, satay, chicken noodle (mi ayam) or porridge (bubur ayam), and nasi goreng are typically on the upper end of budget dining. The Indonesian soto soup can be enjoyed for Rp45,000 with rice and a drink of your choice and a bowl of meatball (bakso) soup with a side of noodles or vermicelli should cost no more than Rp50,000 per bowl. Bakeries also have buns that you can consume for breakfast, starting from Rp10,000.
As some traditional Indonesian cuisine may be too hot and spicy for many foreign tourist, you can usually ask for just a little chili or none at all: "pedas sedikit" and "tidak pedas", respectively.
Fine dining restaurants offer main courses for a range of prices and can be found at just about every mall in Jakarta or better yet outside the malls.
Some of the restaurants in this category include pizza franchises Pizza Hut and Domino's. Mains in shopping mall restaurants typically range between Rp40,000 and Rp65,000; many even provide lunch set menus for just about Rp50,000 that entitles you to rice, one or two main platters and a glass of drink which can be an impressive deal. Seafood restaurants north of the city center falls on the borderline between mid-range to expensive depending on your preference, with shrimp & fish on the cheaper side, followed by scallop, and lastly crab & lobster.
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. Expect to pay upwards of Rp150,000 per person.
Chinese roundtable restaurants, such as Din Tai Fung, Imperial Duck, Jun Njan or Tai Pan among other small enterprises, offer considerably expensive dishes, but these are mostly meant to be communal rather than for individuals.
Steakhouses also fall into this category, especially if the beef is imported from Australia or a USDA certified.
- Individual listings can be found in Jakarta's district articles
Jakarta may be the capital of the world's largest muslim-majority 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 during fasting months when some venues are closed or have limited hours. 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 Golden 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, but usually found in office buildings or hotels. The help of an experienced local with finding these places is recommended. Do note that nightlife in Jakarta tends to be pricey by local standards.
Due to Jakarta's freedom, 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 avoid awkward stares or 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 Ramadan, most nightlife ends at midnight, while some venues do not open 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.
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 so it 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 and West Jakarta, and most major malls. No jamming music and (mostly) no alcohol, but still a good place to hang out.
- Individual listings can be found in Jakarta's district articles
|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.
In 2016, Jakarta's hotel occupancy rate is the lowest in a decade, just 49.5 percent. It is lower than Bali's occupancy rate. But, thanks to business travellers who usually sleep in the same hotel for their visits, the hotels get by. They also have relatively little competition from aparthotel and villas, so you won't find cutthroat prices as in Bali, but certainly discounts are always available. Due to low occupancy rates, booking last-minute deals will get the cheapest price. In Ied holiday seasons (one week before the end of the fasting month and one week after), hotels in Jakarta are empty, and throughout the year, weekends are emptier than weekdays.
For stays longer than 2½–3 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 1½-4 million rupiah per month. In most cases, the rental fee already includes electricity and water usage, and 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, windowless, and the furniture includes just a bed or even nothing at all. 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 Rp3-4 million 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 dial the area code if you are calling another number within the same area using a landline. Drop the 0 prefix when calling from elsewhere in Indonesia.
Wartel or telephone shops are ubiquitous on the streets of Jakarta, but are gradually disappearing because of the booming of mobile phones. If you wish to avoid the exorbitant roaming fees (or need to make a lot of calls), you can buy a new phone in small stalls for Rp120,000-150,000 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 on the sidewalk. 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 they're very cheap (just Rp100 per minute) when they do work.
If you have your own laptop you may be able to access wifi networks in shopping malls. Ask at the information desk for access codes, but usually the speed is bad. 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 slow dial-up connections, others offer broadband high speed capabilities, 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.
All providers in Jakarta have 4G LTE, but the signals are only good in business triangle areas (Sudirman, HR Rasuna Said and Gatot Subroto); in other areas, the signal flips between 4G LTE and 3G, or is mostly 3G. For more general information, see Indonesia Internet in Indonesia.
Post is provided by the state-owned Pos Indonesia, open during business hours only. 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, DHL, and UPS also offer drop by package delivery, albeit through a third party service. Both Gojek and Grab also offer door-to-door delivery service if you only need to send something light, for which the price depends on distance rather than weight.
Jakarta's emergency services are the best in Indonesia. Many hospitals have 24-hour emergency rooms, but equipment may not be as advanced as their 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 is actually sourced from Jakarta. English-language publications are starting to make their way into newsstands.
- The Jakarta Post. Perhaps the most famous English-language 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 an 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) provides visas, re-entry permits and many other immigration services.
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 it 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 in 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 Rp50 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 office towers and shopping malls. Statistically, though, you are far more likely to be killed in the traffic.
By and large, your stay in Jakarta should not be problematic as long as you use common sense. While theft and robbery seem too common, they are highly unlikely to happen in the crowded Sudirman streets, but very likely at the less economically fortunate areas such as in the East, or in residential areas in 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!
- Thousand Islands — 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 away 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 1½ 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.