Jakarta Travel Guide

Jakarta is the main and largest city in Indonesia. It has both good and bad reputation for travelers, from being highly congested and soulless to hidden treasures and shopping haven. It is also famous for its nightlife.

Jakarta is also a very important international airport hub for the entire Indonesia serving many airlines to everywhere in the world. That is why despite it all Jakarta tourism is still rising and popular.

-> Jump to Where to Stay in Jakarta

Where is it

It is located in The Northwest of Java. It is divided into North Jakarta, South Jakarta, East Jakarta, and West Jakarta.

Map of Jakarta, West Java, Indonesia

Jakarta in West Java Map. Image by Burmesedays

Why go

It is the main hub for getting in and out of Indonesia, chances are if you are flying long distance you would fly in here or even if nearby find it one of the most convenient to fly to with various budget airline choices like AirAsia, Tiger Airways, and others.

Jakarta Skyline at Night, Indonesia

Jakarta Skyline at Night. Photo by yohanes budiyant

When is the best time to go

The weather in Jakarta consists of two seasons, which is the dry and wet season just like other parts of Java and most of Indonesia. Being a tropical season, it generally have hot temperature of around 25-30C all year round. During the monsoon season, October to March, there will be quite a lot of rainfall. On dry season from May to September, the weather will be humid and hot.

What to see

Jakarta is not well known for its sights but there are still a few tourist area (tempat wisata) or tourist attractions (objek wisata) to see. If you have just a day stopover or time to spare you may want try these few suggestions by others:

National Monument at Jakarta

National Monument at Jakarta. Photo by Schristia

Ancol Dream Park
National Museum
National Monument
Taman Mini Indonesia
Gedung Kesenian Jakarta (Jakarta Arts Theater)
Pasar Baru (market)
Chinatown
Istiglal Mosque
Jakarta Cathedral
History Museum

-> Check out the tours to explore Jakarta at City-discovery.com *

What to do

If shopping (belanja) is your thing, Jakarta offers a lot from high end to budget shoppings from malls to markets. Recommended Shopping malls or shopping centers or markets in Jakarta:
Plaza Indonesia of FX Mall – designer goods
Grand Indonesia
Mangga Dua – cheap yet quality imitation goods
Blok M – shoes, clothes, bags
Pasar Ikan – souvenirs and household items

Where to stay

Being the main city of Indonesia, you can be sure to find many choices of place to stay in Jakarta. It all depends on your budget; you can get from really cheap budget hotel or hostels to high-end luxury hotel. Most people choose to stay in Central Jakarta * for many of the luxury hotels but if on a budget, you can check out in West Jakarta *. A notable place for backpacker’s hostels are at Jalan Jaksa * in Central Jakarta, where the scene is very much alive and there are many choices.


Best Accomodations in Jakarta

Booking.com is a good choice because most of the bookings can be cancelled right up to the trip, allowing flexibility.
Agoda.com is another good choice as they have the most extensive hotel listings in Asia.

The best areas to stay in Jakarta would be the north and central Jakarta, having most of the tourist attractions here. Here are a few of the best accommodations that we recommend to stay in Jakarta:

    Luxury (from 150 USD)

  • The Hermitage, by Marriott, Central Jakarta
    A really beautiful refurbished colonial house made into an elegant five-star hotel. The location is also really strategic, being near a train station and quick access to the city center and beyond. With an outdoor pool, a gym, luxurious lounge area and restaurant situated in a courtyard, this hotel also gives a romantic atmosphere with some rooms opening up to a back garden. Truly a dream.
    Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *
    Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
  • Ritz-Carlton Hotel Jakarta Pacific Place, Kuningan, Central Jakarta
    For those who want a high security and well-known hotel with world class services. You will find all the usual luxury here, with impressive outdoor pool and bar, featuring a view of the city skyline. Kuningan area is also well known for its upmarket, shopping malls and restaurants all well located with good sidewalks.
    Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *
    Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
    Budget (below 50 USD)

  • Yello Hotel Harmoni, Gambir, Central Jakarta
    For those on a budget but wants an alternative to a hostel. This place comes with private rooms set in a hip and stylish budget hotel style. The location is great, just walking distance to the National Monument park. There is also a restaurant if you are too lazy to go out and brave the traffic at the end of the day.
    Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *
    Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
  • Wonderloft hostel, North Jakarta
    For those on a budget and still want to be in the city center. Located in the north, this hostel is right at the corner to the famous Jakarta’s Old City, Fatahillah Square. It has a charming mix of old colonial style with hipster-inspired interiors. Best value for money!
    Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *
    Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *

-> See Best Hotels in Jakarta


What and where to eat

The best restaurant in Jakarta that I find served really good local Sundanese food is Pondok Laguna . This place is popular with the locals and also travelers alike, so you may find it really pack during peak hours like lunch and dinner.

Pondok Laguna Restaurant, Jakarta, Indonesia

Pondok Laguna Restaurant

Clockwise from top left: Gurame goreng, Kangkong belachan, Sambal cobek, Sayur Asem, Tauhu kipas and Nasi. Besides eating, coffee drinking is also a favourite pas time here. Many locals and tourists hang out at the coffee shops while grabbing a good cup of coffee. With so many choices, you may want to check out our the recommendation of a local’s favourite coffee places in Jakarta.

How to get there

Flights

Fly into Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport, busiest airport in Indonesia. Being the main hub, there are international flights flying here from places almost everywhere in the world, but if you couldn’t find a direct route, try connecting via Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia or Singapore as these have frequent daily flights to Jakarta.

Soekarno Hatta Airport, Jakarta

Soekarno Hatta Airport, Jakarta. Photo by Luke Ma

The Soekarno Hatta airport is divided into three terminals:
Terminal 1 – domestic airlines except Air Asia, Mandala and Garuda
Terminal 2 – all international airlines except Air Aisa
Terminal 3 – low cost carrier terminal, serving Air Asia, Mandala/Tiger Airways and other low costs airlines.

You may get free shuttle bus service between the terminals but it is unreliable and if you are in the rush it is safer to get the taxis but beware the unscrupulous high charges.

Taxi from Soekarno Airport to Jakarta town
From the airport, if you did not arrange a pickup from hotel (which you should if you can to save all the hassle), you may buy at the counters after the customs to get ahead of the queue and to avoid the touts, but it will cost more – 175,000 IDR to get to Jakarta’s golden triangle. However if you want to save some money and brace the challenge, you may go to the taxi ranks and get your own taxi. Silver Bird being the most reliable and clean of the lot but costing 120,000 IDR to get to Jakarta, second in line is the Express Taxi charging 90,000IRD while the other taxis might charge you around 70,000 – 90,000 IDR.

Tips on taking taxi in Jakarta:
Silverbird and Bluebird taxis are the most popular for its reliability and cleanliness. If you are here for a business trip and requires a receipt for the taxi, Silverbird will be sure to have it but it is generally more expensive with starting price of 15000Rp. Bluebird is even more popular because of affordability with starting price of 6000Rp but only some of the taxis have just implemented receipts, so if you need receipts you should check first if they have it.
Caution:
There will be many touts who try to pull you into their ‘taxi’ stating that they are from Silverbird or Bluebird, but do not go in especially if you do not see the right signage on top of the car. The best is when you purchase the ticket from the counter, ask them where is the exact location to take your preferred taxi and head there straight.

Bus from Soekarno Airport to Jakarta town
If you have the time, you may wait for the shuttle bus service, DAMRI shuttle buses, which cover most area in the city and operates till midnight.

Take note of domestic departures which require 30,000 Rp tax while international departures are 150, 000 Rp tax.

How to get around

You have various choices from commuter trains (kereta api) to intercity trains, bus, bajaj (scooter-like vehicle), motorcycle (ojek) and taxi. You can also rent a car if you have the budget for convenience.

Bus
Taking bus is a bit of a challenge here as it is not on the schedule and it is really packed with people. Buses also do not stop at designated places, so it only stops whenever there is a request, tell the conductor ‘kiri’ (stopping at the left) or knock on the window three times, and be careful of belongings and also when leaving the bus as it would not stop completely.

Taxi
Taxi may be one of the best and convenient choices and it is relatively cheap. The most famous and apparently reliable taxi is the Blue Bird taxi but beware of fake ones. Other taxis you may take are also Taxiku, Express, Dian Taksi and Taxicab. Always insist on using the meter and do not give in to those who want to quote a price to earn more.

Rent car
If you do want to rent a car, it is advisable to get a driver as well as driving in Jakarta may be a hazard to both you and your mind.

Bajaj / Ojek

Bajaj in Jakarta

Bajaj. Photo by chrisada

If you are scrimp for time and want to whizz past traffic while breathing in all the exhausts, you may try the bajaj, which are bigger and probably safer or the ojek if you don’t mind the risk. Recently there is a more reliable ojek call Taxijek that has it’s driver showing identity card, charge more appropriately and provide a helmet.

Traffic and peak hours in Jakarta

Although Jakarta’s traffic is already well known for its craziness, it should be stressed again here for anyone for is planning their trip around this city. Jakarta traffic is especially bad during peak hours which you should try to avoid at all cost. Peak hours in Jakarta is weekdays 6.30am – 12 pm and 4pm-8pm, but other times will still offer you enough car challenges. Sometimes there are a Sunday in the month where they close some roads for people to cycle and walk. Due to the traffic here, you may want to consider several alternatives to moving around.

Train out of Jakarta (intercity)
There are few types of trains in Indonesia, where travellers can choose the eksekutif for the luxuries to business without the air condition and some frill to the economy if you want to brace it with the daily crowd. Details of the trains can be found here – http://www.kereta-api.co.id

Komuter Train – it connects Jakarta to all the nearby suburbs like Tangerang, Bekasi, Bogor and Depok. It operates from 5 am to 10 pm, where peak hours you will find many people crush together to get to work and back. The official site is here http://www.krl.co.id/

Where to go nearby

As Jakarta does not have much to offer, you may want to go to nearby for day trips or possibly few days getaway if you have the time.

Bandung
Many locals and tourists flock to Bandung for a weekend getaway in this place that is famous for shopping and good food. It is just 2.5 hours away by road.

Bogor
There is a nice botanical garden, do not judge it by its name, where it actually have beautiful scenery, with even jungle-like flora besides well tended ones and in the vicinity a castle. 2 hours away by road or commuter train.

Taman Safari
another 20km from Bogor, about 2.5 hours from Jakarta, you get to see wild animals roaming free while you drive through.

Botanical Garden in Bogor, Indonesia

Botanical Garden in Bogor. Photo by Schristia

Puncak Highlands – further up from Bogor, you will find cool respite from Jakarta. One of the locals’ favourite destination!

Kepulauan Seribu (Thousand Islands) – easy access by speed boat from Ancol marina with resorts sprawling across beaches that offer respite for those escaping Jakarta.

Travel Tips

Bring some Indonesian rupiah cash before reaching Jakarta as getting a good exchange rate at the airport is tough and it is not that convenient to get to any banks or money changer in the city.

The water here is not drinkable from the tap, always buy a water bottle and make sure it is sealed, the common brand here is Aqua. In fact, the locals call “water” interchangeably with “Aqua”, and that shows how prevalent the brand is!

Learn some Indonesian travel phrases to make your trip enjoyable.

Related articles:
Jakarta 3 Days Itinerary
Top 10 Things to Do and Must See in Jakarta
Top 10 Fun Things to do for Free in Jakarta
Java Travel Guide

Author: Rachel

Fascinated by Indonesia, Rachel hopes to bring the best Indonesia Travel Guide to independent travelers so that they can enjoy what Indonesia has best to offer. Being an independent wanderer herself, Rachel knows what it takes to make a good, fun-filled yet responsible independent traveling. So let’s join her to discover wonderful Indonesia together.
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