As the easternmost province (and provincial capital) of Indonesia, it is somewhat far from most of the country's major cities and perhaps contributes to the less modern development of the town. However, with the recent government's intensification on developing the Papua province, this city is now thriving, welcoming businessmen to invest and tourists to explore the exotic province.
Papua has always been considered the most ignored part of Indonesia, in terms of development and tourism; a reputation that stems from the very far distance from other big cities in the nation. Jayapura began as a trading post nestled on a bay right at the center of New Guinea, further developed by the Dutch in the 1900s as a port of entry to explore Eastern New Guinea, and gave the name Hollandia which means "the village of the Dutch".
The area houses the frontline of the United States Air Force on World War II by General Douglas MacArthur for the 1945 Philippine Conquest as well as to avoid Japan from taking over New Guinea and ultimately Australia to its south. After the war though, as the country of Indonesia was then born, the Dutch refused to relinquish the land until a 1962 referendum supervised by the UN ultimately gave the land to Indonesia, giving the city another name called Sukarnopura for his contribution in freeing the land from the Dutch Indies colony.
The city name reverted back to Jayapura as it was before the colonization in 1968 and government transmigration further populate the area with residents, especially from Java. Jayapura is perhaps the most diverse city you can find in Papua. The traditional Papua races have blended in well with migrants from other parts of Indonesia.
Jayapura City administratively actually includes a number of districts. The most populated areas are at the city proper and the Abepura district that is halfway between the airport and the city. Heavy traffic occasionally occurs as plenty of people would commute between the two areas.
Jayapura is served by Sentani Airport (DJJ IATA), about 30 km west of the city centre. Virtually every national carrier in Indonesia flies from either Jakarta, Denpasar, or Makassar. It also acts as a transit point for flying deeper into the smaller cities and various settlements in Papua. Flights from Jakarta take nearly 6 hours and many include a stopover in Makassar.
Do not miss the view when you are landing, as the curvy green hills bumps above the blue lake, a good first impression of Papua's unspoiled nature.
From the neighboring Papua New Guinea, you can travel for up to 2 hours from the border crossing at Skouw Checkpoint. While most countries are eligible for a visa waiver (See Indonesia#Get In for more details), an Indonesian visa can be arranged at the consulate in either Port Moresby or Vanimo, the last checkpoint before entering Indonesia. Public Motor Vehicles travel regularly between Vanimo and the Wutung border crossing. Once across the Indonesian border there are taxis into Jayapura.
The border town of Skouw itself is a tourist attraction as it contains markets and exotic ornaments that are from both Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Both Indonesian rupiah and Papua New Guinean kina currency are accepted.
The public transport system consists of numerous minivans which have their destination route printed on the side. Each trip usually costs Rp 6,000 per person.
Dedicated drivers can be arranged through the Bel-Swiss hotel for around Rp 800,000 per day.
- 1 General Macarthur Memorial, Jl. Hawai Sentani, Sentani Kota (Take the road on the right in front of BRI on your way to the airport). A monument honoring the American general Douglas MacArthur that defended the Philippines, New Guinea, and Australia from Japan on World War II; Then-Hollandia was where the military airplanes and operations took off. Whilst the memorial itself is basic, the steepness of the terrain makes the site a spectacular vantage point. A number of old Dutch colonial houses can also be seen on the road up to the memorial.
- Hamadi Beach. A local harbor beach near the city. On the beach are four large artillery emplacements from the WWII. Further down the beach are the local fish markets. The beach itself is not very well-kept and covered in rubbish. However, at night a number of food stalls are set up and provides plenty of atmosphere.
- 2 Base G Beach. A white sandy beach with pristine light blue waters overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Quiet and undisturbed, yet not so far from the city center. The gazebos there are for rent though and preferable for a long rest in groups. Though entrance to the beach is free, beware of rip-offs from locals. Free.
- Lake Sentani. A large freshwater lake surrounded by steep mountains. A small number of restaurants and guesthouses are located on the edge of the lake.
- 3 Jayapura City Hill (Take a left from Jl. Ardipura to the hill with transmitter towers). An equivalent to Seattle's Kerry Park or Los Angeles' Griffith Park, the park on the mountain has a wide and perfect view of the Jayapura city and the bay it nestles in.
The area around the governors residence consists of old Dutch colonial villas, some of which still have what look to be traditional-style gardens.
- Lake Sentani Festival. Every June, a portion of the lake (both the shore and the water) is used for a 4-day festivity that celebrates the indigenous yet diverse culture of Papua. The stage is lit with dances and traditional ceremonies, as crafts and local food & beverage favorites are on sale.
- 1 Mal Jayapura (MJ), Jl. Sam Ratulangi no. 46, Apo. The largest in the metro area and the only mall in the city center. Though its no different than any metropolitan shopping malls, this is the most chic place you can find to shop for everything you need.
- 2 Saga Mall, Jl. Raya Abepura, ☎ . A basic mall at another district. Not as much anchor tenants as Mal Jayapura other than the first KFC in the city that made the locals hyped.
A number of local craft stores in Hamadi sell Papuan wood carvings, bark paintings, and other artifacts.
Abepura markets are a large local market in Abepura (20 min drive from Jayapura). This market caters to locals and as such does not stock tourist items.
Jayapura city markets seem to be open every night and sell a broad range of items. Although most are for local consumption, cheap clothes, accessories, DVDs, etc., can be found here. Local produce is also sold at these markets and makes for an interesting walk.
- 1 Rumah Laut, Jl. Koti, ☎ . An upmarket place, built on stilts above the waters of Jayapura Bay. Literally meaning "The Sea House", the menu includes seafood in addition to the usual Indonesian classics.
The street food is plentiful and good. Different areas of the city have their own specialty. On the road from the Swiss Belhotel to the city are BBQ seafood stalls. The easternmost main street of the city has a large number of satay chicken stalls (although satay stalls are pretty much everywhere) and on one of the cross roads between the two main streets are noodle soup vendors. The most expensive street food will costs you less than Rp 40,000.
Drinking in Jayapura is limited. Most restaurants will serve Bintang beer if you ask; however, it may not necessarily be cold. There are some bars and nightclubs in Entrop (5 min drive from the city), but they are not heavily frequented. The Swiss Belhotel bar is nice, but quiet.
- 1 Aston Jayapura Hotel and Convention Center, Jl. Percetakan Negara No 50 - 58, ☎ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: Noon. A mid-range hotel, right at the heart of the city center and a close walk to the large shops. From Rp600,000 per night.
- 2 Swiss Belhotel, Pusat Bisnis Jayapura, Jalan Pasifik Permai, ☎ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: Noon. The most luxurious option in Jayapura, as its hotel and pool overlooks the bay. The facilities are of high standard and more importantly for travelers with no Indonesian language skills, some of the front desk staff can speak English. From Rp850,000 per night.
A number of other (and cheaper) hotels can be found in the city.