Jakarta's history began as a flourishing port north of the city and developed southward over the centuries. Five autonomous municipalities emerged, together offering a veritable city of contrasts. As off-putting as the overpopulation and traffic congestion may be, the metropolis promises many pockets of attractions that make for a gratifying stay for those who plan their trip well.
Jakarta is a thriving business and commercial center, the gateway between Australia and Asia. It is a capital city of Indonesia and a center for the Indonesian governmental service. With over 8 million people from every region of Indonesia, Jakarta is a true melting pot of cultures.
Jakarta has no shortage of internationally renowned four and five-star hotels that are equally suitable for business or leisure travelers. Depend on your needs, you can choose a hotel in the Mangga Dua shopping district, the Center business district, or in the heart of Jakarta if you are looking for a centrally located hotels give easy access to all of the attractions of the city.
Jakarta has been in the news quite often lately, but certainly not for the tourist sights. When political chaos reigns the streets can be packed with protestors and idealists fighting the corrupt political system. Once things cool down, expats can show their faces again.
To most travelers, Jakarta as a starting or ending point of their trip. However, Jakarta is one of the most exciting night-life cities in the world.Although Jakarta itself doesn't have many "sights" to offer, it is the lively commercial center of Java. In addition to several museums, the heart of the old Dutch town at 'Taman Fatahillah'. National Monument or known by locals at Monumen Nasional [Monas] and National Museum or Museum Gajah nearby Merdeka Square.
Sunda Kelapa is the old harbor from which merchantmen from all over the world come and go. Take a weekend charter to Anak Krakatoa, and compare it to Captain Cook's 1773 description. The night-time southern sky is not something you will soon forget.
Indonesia is a wonderful country with beautiful, friendly people. It is a wonderful mixture of beauty and chaos that you will either love or hate. The rice paddies, volcanos, small villages and ocean beaches are incomparable in this world.
If you can stand its pollution, and if you can afford to indulge in its charms, then Jakarta is one of the region's most exciting metropolises. Consider Jakarta the 'big durian' - the foul-smelling exotic fruit that some can't stomach and others can't resist.
Once saddled with a reputation as a poverty-ridden hellhole, Jakarta mutated into an Asian boom town in not much more than a decade. Reduced by the 1998 riots to a burnt-out shell, it remains very much at the center of political events re-shaping Indonesia.
Jakarta is a dynamic capital city of the Republic of Indonesia, a country composed of more than 17,000 islands with a population of over 200 million. Comprising more than 300 ethnic groups speaking 200 distinct languages and dialects, the Indonesian population exhibit incredible diversity in its linguistic, cultural and religious traditions. As the national capital, Jakarta is truly a “meeting point” of representatives from throughout the archipelago.
Jakarta is the lively social, cultural, economic and political hub of the nation, carrying a legacy of more than 30 years of largely uninterrupted economic expansion. It is home to many of the country’s finest research institutions, educational facilities and cultural organizations and uniquely serves both as the seat of national as well as regional government.
Strategically positioned on the west side of the island of Java, the Capital City is the principal gateway to the rest of Indonesia. From Jakarta, many other sophisticated islands, air and sea transport is available to the rest of the country.
Over the last several decades, Jakarta has proudly developed into one of Asia’s most prominent metropolitan centers. With a current population of over nine million people, Jakarta has undergone dramatic growth, especially over the last few years.
Central Jakarta: The Moneybag
Embassies and businesses tend to gravitate towards Central Jakarta, the capital's nucleus. Indonesians from all over the archipelago flock to the city for a share of the moneybag. Most companies choose to establish their base along Jalan M.H. Thamrin. This district, with its close proximity to the concentration of government offices Lapangan Merdeka, assures quick access to the rest of the city.
For the leisure traveler, Central Jakarta showcases some of the best museums in town and plenty of photo-taking opportunities. The National Museum, Textile Museum, Jakarta Arts Building, Puppet Museum and Taman Ismail Marzuki Arts Center all do their part in initiating visitors to the city's past and culture.
Several monuments grace Central Jakarta's busy traffic circles. In the middle of the Lapangan Merdeka towers the gold-topped obelisk and the metropolis' most famous landmark, the National Monument. Sooner or later visitors are bound to stumble upon the Welcome Monument and other imposing statues—Farmer's Statue, Arjuna Wijaya Statue and Prince Diponegoro Statue. The Istiqlal Mosque, Cathedral Church, and Immanuel Church also make excellent backdrops for snapshots.
The avid shopper hunting for designer labels will find absolute delight in the luxurious Plaza Indonesia. For a taste of the local shopping climate, check out the Cikini Traditional Market for gold and trinkets, Jalan Surabaya Antique Market for antiques and handicrafts and the sprawling Tanah Abang Market for virtually anything.
South Jakarta: Glitz and Glamour
South Jakarta covers an extensive area, stretching from the Golden Triangle financial district to Pondok Indah far south. It is synonymous with glitz and glamor, a description partly supported by the classy shopping complexes dotting the district—Blok M Mall, Blok M Plaza, Pasaraya, Plaza Senayan and Pondok Indah Mall. From international brands to local handicrafts, the district holds a plethora of merchandise for the discerning shopper.
The prime residential districts of Pondok Indah, Kebayoran Baru, and Kemang are also situated within South Jakarta. Plush restaurants, cafes, and bars abound, catering to the discriminating residents in the neighborhood. Cafe Gran Via, Toscana, Sportsmans and Prego Restaurant and Bar are but four competitors making a run for the money mile. Kemang Duty-Free boasts the widest selection of fine wines in town.
East of the municipality lies the modest Ragunan Zoo, which provides a good platform for learning about endangered species and animal protection. (To experience wildlife up close, make a day trip out of Jakarta to Taman Safari Indonesia at Bogor, down south.)
North Jakarta: Timeless
North Jakarta, the historical district, allows one to discover the origins of the capital. An archaeological excavation near the Cilincing Coastline provided evidence of the existence of civilization here from 3000 B.C.
The Lookout Tower commands an enchanting panorama of the Sunda Kelapa Harbor, the 12th-century port that once prospered on the spice trade. The Dutch arrived in the late 16th century, established an outpost here and used the V.O.C. warehouses to store their trading goods. Today, the Maritime Museum immortalizes in photographs the life on board steamships that linked Batavia (Old Jakarta) and Holland around the turn of the 20th century. Further inland, Jembatan Pasar Ayam, lies a Dutch-style drawbridge, which remains a historical landmark, attesting to the Dutch occupation of Batavia.
Many locals also equate North Jakarta with recreation. Ancol Dreamland, a beach resort, packs in several fun-filled theme parks, an art and handicraft market, an oceanarium and even an 18-hole golf course. Ancol Marina operates as a gateway to the Thousand Islands scattered in the glistening Jakarta Bay.
West Jakarta: The Oriental
Glodok, also known as Chinatown, dominates much of West Jakarta. Initially, a Chinese ghetto, the area has come a long way, developing into a money-spinning enclave. Thousands of small businesses (some of which have survived the centuries), along with traditional markets and hawker stalls, bustle with activity. Ancient temples such as the Vihara Dharma Bhakti provide spiritual solace from the materialistic world outside.
In 1740, Dutch antipathy towards the Chinese community led to the massacre of at least 5,000 Chinese. Fatahillah Park (Batavia's old town square), Kota Train Station and Jakarta History Museum witnessed this horrifying bloodbath and, more recently, the May 1998 riots.
East Jakarta: The Hodgepodge
Of all the five municipalities, East Jakarta is the most difficult to epitomize, as it contains a bit of everything. Some of its popular spots include the Bird Market and Pasar Rawabening, a trove of exotic gemstones. A walk through the Taman Mini Indonesia Indah introduces one to the enormous cultural diversity of the vast Indonesian archipelago. The theme park houses many other attractions, such as the Keong Mas Imax Theater, several museums and a bird park. The historical town of Jatinegara Meester Cornelis also warrants a visit for its local-produce market, gemstone bazaar, several quaint places of worship and kampongs.
The islands and people of Indonesia constitute the fourth most populated nation in the world, with about 200 million people. The majority is of Malay descent. The population is predominantly Moslem. Nevertheless, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and other religions are freely practiced.
The City’s dominant populations have come from the surrounding areas of Java, Many parts of Sumatera, Bali, and Sulawesi. Also making themselves known are those hailing from Papua, Indonesia’s most eastern province and Kalimantan, home of the Dayaks and one of the largest rainforests in the world. Over the centuries, these groups have kept their cultural roots, yet some have also intermixed, including with non-Indonesians, to form a special group of their own known as Orang Betawi.
Jakarta has its own special Betawi culture, which suggests the string of influences that reached the city’s shores over the centuries. A long process of selectively borrowing and uniquely blending Chinese, Arab, Portuguese and Dutch elements with native ingenuity has produced the colorful, composite Betawi culture. The word “Betawi” is derived from Batavia, the old name of the capital during the Dutch administration.
Pockets of Betawi life are still culturally alive throughout Jakarta with celebrations of a wedding and the rhythms of a distinctive style of music. From the Betawi wedding dress alone one gets a glimpse of the many influences that passed through the gateway of the nation.
The Betawi bride wears a gown inspired by the Chinese ceremonial dress. Although there are many variations of the wedding costume, all feature tassels covering the face and a red dress. The bridegroom in striking contrast dons a costume derived from Arab and India sources.
Jakarta is located on a wide, flat alluvial plain on the north coast of western Java. It covers 650 square kilometers of land rises from five to 50 meters above sea level. Thirteen major waterways flow through it and empty into Jakarta Bay. Time is GMT plus 7 hours. The Local Time in Jakarta current is 15:29:40 WIB (Waktu Indonesia Barat).
The city is bound to the north by the Java Sea, to the east by Bekasi district, to the south by Bogor district (these districts lie within the province of West Java) and to the west by Tangerang district (lie by the province of Banten). The city boundaries blend imperceptibly into neighboring districts when much of the city抯 industry is being developed and large numbers of the workforce are located. This greater Jakarta conurbation is known by the acronym Jabotabek (Jakarta-Bogor-Tangerang-Bekasi).
Jakarta, on the island of Java in Indonesia, sprawls over 25km (15mi) from its docks in the north to the suburbs of in the south. The city center fans out from around Merdeka Square, a grand, barren field, which contains the central gold-tipped landmark of the National Monument (Monas). Jakarta doesn't really have a center: rather there are a number of centers all separated by vast traffic jams, incredible pollution, and heat. For most visitors, the area south of the monument holds the most interest. Jl Thamrin is the main shopping and deluxe hotel thoroughfare, while just to the east is the main restaurant and cheap hotel area, Jl Jaksa.
Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta international airport is 35km (21mi) west of the city center, and there are bus stations around the outskirts of town.
Jakarta has a long history as a trading port dating back to the 5th century, but the town only reached its peak of importance in the 16th century, when the Portuguese - the first Europeans to land on Java – arrived in 1522. In their trading agreement, the Portuguese provided protection from the Islamic sultanate of Demak. However, the Portuguese forces were defeated by the sultan in 1527 and the port town was renamed Jayakarta.
By the end of the 16th century, Jakarta reached another milestone when the Dutch arrived at the Sunda Kelapa harbor and set up the Dutch East India Company to cash in on the lucrative global spice trade. Throughout most of the 1600s, the Dutch developed the infrastructure of Jakarta (which they called Batavia) by walling the city and creating a vast canal network.
The 18th century saw Jakarta boom to the point of overcrowding, and the quality of life in the city dropped. Chinese immigrants flooded into the city, disrupting the balance of power, eventually resulting in a bloodbath where some 5,000 Chinese were killed by the nervous Dutch authorities.
In 1811, the British arrived on the scene, taking control of the land formerly run by the Dutch. But after just five years of colonial rule, the British handed control of Jakarta back to the Dutch, who reigned over daily affairs up until WWII, when the Japanese took over. The year 1908 is remembered as the ‘Year of Awakening’ when a group of medical students began the first of Jakarta’s many political movements. These radical groups fought against the Japanese occupation until 1945, when the Japanese finally surrendered. Following the end of the war, the founding fathers of modern Jakarta established the Declaration of Independence.
The first few decades of Indonesia’s autonomy were prosperous and stable. Rice production soared and a number of development projects were completed. This ‘golden’ era continued up until the Asian economic crisis of 1997, which brought the house down on Jakarta (and most other Asian economies). A subsequent wave of protests and riots created a political power vacuum which still remains tenuous. Despite the ups and downs, Jakarta remains Indonesia’s heart and soul.
Like all of Indonesia, Jakarta’s weather is typically tropical, which means hot and humid conditions year-round. Temperatures range from 25 to 28°C most of the time, which are cooled by gentle breezes that blow in from the sea. Since Jakarta lies on the equator, there is very little seasonal change; visitors can count on hot and sticky weather just about any time of the year.
If it’s not hot and sunny in Jakarta, then it’s raining. The eastern monsoon runs from June to September, bringing the dry weather which results in the city’s hottest temperatures. From December to March, the eastern monsoon arrives, and with it, the rainy season. October through February is particularly rainy, so expect a torrential downpour every afternoon. These afternoon showers are a daily occurrence during the winter months, so be sure to bring a raincoat or umbrella.There is really no ideal time for a visit to Jakarta, but the edges of the rainy monsoon can often be slightly cooler and more refreshing.
Lying near the equator, Jakarta is hot and humid year-round. The long rainy season falls between late October and early May through rain occurs throughout the year, averaging 1791 mm. Rain tends to come in short heavy bursts, but even during the rainy season, it doesn't rain every day. It rains on only a handful of days during the dry season from July to September.
Afternoon humidity averages around 70%, but is higher during the morning. Temperatures are fairly even throughout the year, averaging nearly 34 maximum and 25°C minimum. Jakarta gets a steady supply of 12 hours daylight throughout the year, in the dry season the skies are clearer. Mornings are sunnier than the afternoon.
Jakarta is almost always hot and sticky. Average maximum temperatures stay above 30°C (86°F) throughout the year. October to February is the official wet season, when torrential rain dumps down, clearing the streets. July through to September has the least amount of rain, and that's when the temperature remains consistently high.
Jakarta is a fascinating city of wide contrasts, a melting pot of cultures from across the Indonesian archipelago and beyond. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that you can find a wide range of entertainment to suit most tastes, from cheap and cheerful bars in Jalan Jaksa to expensive nightclubs where Jakarta's flashy yuppies hang out. Plush cinemas in modern, air-conditioned shopping malls screen the latest Hollywood blockbusters, as well as Indonesian films and the occasional Hong Kong kung fu movie. For more highbrow options, check out the regular traditional Indonesian performances such as wayang kulit (shadow puppet shows) and gamelan (traditional Javanese) music, in addition to Western art forms such as classical music and ballet. Night Life
Very popular among expatriates, Tanamor prides itself as Jakarta's best-known discothèque. Although not for the claustrophobic, this unpretentious, down-to-earth and a rather raucous disco makes the perfect place for letting your hair down, especially on Fridays and Saturdays when a full house ensures a great atmosphere. Only the most danceable techno music is played, so you should be on your feet all night. Other well-patronized discotheques include the stylish Jalan Jalan, drawing mainly the yuppie set, and Garasi, the favored haunt of financial executives and stockbrokers.
Jakarta's Chinatown, situated north of the city, plays host to many nightclubs and karaoke bars — the RAP Club and HAZE, to name but three. Also in this area across the square from the Museum Fatahillah (Jakarta History Museum), but quite a different sort of establishment, is Cafe Batavia. A great place to enjoy a drink or two amid an unequaled historic setting, the cafe takes you a step back into Jakarta's colonial past.
Of course, a myriad of hotel bars exists in Jakarta. Pitstop Club in the Sari Pan Pacific, Chequers in the Mandarin Oriental, B.A.T.S. in the Shangri-La and O'Reilly's in the Grand Hyatt all come to life in the evenings, providing entertainment by local or foreign bands. Tiga Puluh Music Bar and Restaurant in Le Meridien claims to revive the 1930s' spirit of joie de vivre (joy of life), with its nostalgic decor and jazzy tunes.
Being the capital of Indonesia, international franchise bars are well represented. The most notable include Newscafe, Planet Hollywood Cafe, Fashion Cafe and, of course, Hard Rock Cafe!The expatriate enclave of Kemang, south of Jakarta, boasts many cafes and bars, including TC's, which plays jazzy and classical tunes.
A few bars appeal to homesick expatriates. The Irish theme bar in the Gran Melia Jakarta, Kelts, stands out as the best place in town for dark Guinness. Also check out Bugils Cafe, a Dutch-style bar located at Taman Ria amusement park, between The Sultan Hotel and the Gedung MPR-DPR (Parliament Building). Overlooking a lake, this must be the only bar in Jakarta where you can down some ice-cold beer while relaxing on a Dutch-style terrace.
Tucked away in the vicinity of the Blok M shopping district are a few small bars. Enjoy live broadcasts of sporting events at Sportsmans or pop into Oscars, which claims, with probably not much truth, to be the only bar in Jakarta with a smile!
Bugils (an abbreviation of Bule Gila - crazy Westerner) in Taman Ria Senayan is packed with expats. There are tables outside and a pub atmosphere inside. Dutch beer comes as standard and the Pommes frites are served in little plastic containers with mayonnaise, Amsterdam-style.
Burgundy is Jakarta's most salubrious drinking haunt with spectacularly expensive cocktails, avant-garde decor, a ceiling-high cigar humidor and more beautiful people than you can shake a lemon daiquiri at.
Jakarta's cultural showcase. There is a performance almost every night and you might see anything from Balinese dancing to poetry readings, gamelan concerts to a New Zealand film festival. The TIM monthly program is available from the tourist office, the TIM office, and major hotels. Events are also listed in the Jakarta Post.
On the north coast lies Taman Impian Jaya Ancol (Ancol Dreamland), a huge marine recreational resort, which kids, especially, will love. A 40-lane bowling alley, an 18-hole golf course, a Fantasy World with fearsome rides like the big dipper, and a huge Gelanggang Renang (Ancol Water Park) all guarantee endless fun and excitement. If you do go there, remember to witness the diversity of Indonesia's marine life at Sea World.
Taman Ria amusement park is centrally located and much quieter than Ancol. It offers a few rides like the big wheel, which affords spectacular views of Jakarta. Teenagers come here, especially during weekends, when live outdoor music often entertains. Tuck into a meal at one of the many restaurants, such as TGI Friday's.
Taman Mini Indonesia Indah should be on every tourist's agenda. Here, full-sized replicas of traditional houses from all of Indonesia's provinces portray the incredible diversity of this vast nation. Each acts as a mini-museum, displaying many fascinating artifacts. The park accommodates many other attractions, including the Keong Mas Imax Theater, which features films focusing on Indonesian culture and nature; a huge bird park; and the wildlife and natural history museums.
Festivals and the Arts
Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) Arts Center, the Jakarta Arts Center, is a complex of art galleries, cinemas, and theaters. Get its programs from the box office, tourist office or at select travels agents and hotels. TIM also shares its premises with the recently refurbished Jakarta Planetarium.
Pasar Seni in Ancol showcases live gamelan music, dangdut (Indonesian pop music with a strong Indian influence) and occasional cultural performances. The annual arts festival at the Jakarta Arts Building presents one with a superb opportunity to see world-class dance, music, and theater performed by local and foreign artists.
For the film buff, award-winning pictures from various countries are shown during the annual Jakarta International Film Festival (JiFFest), offering viewers a rare chance to enjoy quality films that would otherwise not make it to the big screen in Jakarta.
Jakarta Dress Code
In business circles, wearing a suit is the norm for both men and women. The dress is generally informal in Indonesia. Light fabrics are recommended due to the warm, humid climate. For men, a jacket and tie are considered appropriate when making officials calls or non-formal occasions. Or, follow local custom by wearing a long-sleeve batik shirt. It is recommended to bring a sweater or light jacket for travel to mountain areas. Shorts and beachwear are not considered appropriate except at sports facilities and on the beaches, and never appropriate for visits to temples, mosques and other places of worship. For formal occasions, either a suit or a long-sleeved, good quality, batik shirt are recommended for men, whilst evening or cocktail dresses are suitable for women. As Indonesia is primarily a Muslim country, modesty in dress is advised; remember to cover up if you intend visiting a mosque.
Greeting Someone in Jakarta
The usual way to greet people in Jakarta, particularly where business is concerned, is by shaking hands. Some Muslim women do not shake hands, due to their religious beliefs.
Jakarta Business Hours and Banking
Hours of business in Jakarta are Monday to Friday, 09:00 till 13:00 and 14:00 till 17:00. Most places of business will also trade Saturday mornings 09:00 to 13:00. Banks will not be open on Saturday morning but will be open during the week from 09:30 to 15:00.
Jakarta Smoking time
There is a ban on smoking on public transport in Jakarta and the visitor should observe this even if the locals often do not. In business, it is advisable to refrain and take cues from the host.
Banks: 08:30 to 15:30, Monday to Friday; 09:30 to 12:30 on Saturdays
Post Offices: 09:00 to 15:00, Monday to Friday; 08:00 to 13:00 on Saturdays
Department Stores and Shops: 08:00 to 17:00, daily
Museums: 09:00 to 15:30, Tuesday to Sunday; closed Mondays
Business Offices: 09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday
Indonesia offers superb luxury hotels and resorts along the beach on secluded mountains or in city centers across the country. Medium sized, three stars hotels can be found in many cities as well as in holiday resorts. For those who travel on shoestring budgets, clean and friendly homestays or losmen are available.
In Jakarta, the small losmens at Jalan Jaksa, near the Gambir train station is a favorite with students and backpackers. While businessmen will go for the deluxe hotels. Medium sized three and four-star hotels are spread out in this vast city. Near the Soekarno Hatta Airport, there are two airport hotels available; one located outside the airport and another inside the airport terminal.
In Bali, there are hotels along the beaches, and in the hills overlooking lush valleys. From three storied buildings to Balinese styled villages, all offer comfort and luxury service. There are of course smaller hotels with cheaper rates. All are available, but during peak season in July, August, September or around Christmas and New Year, make sure to book early.
In Yogyakarta, comfortable and clean homestays, as well as medium and luxurious hotels, welcome visitors to this cradle of Javanese culture.
The local currency is the Rupiah. Major world currencies, either banknotes or travelers' cheque, are easily exchanged at banks and moneychangers in major tourist destinations. It is advisable to carry sufficient amounts of Rupiah when traveling to smaller towns or outer provinces. Banknotes are available in denominations of 500, 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000, 100000, while coins come in denominations of 25, 50, 100, 500 and 1000. (You'll need to show your passport to exchange money, and make sure you count what you're given). Major credit cards are accepted at most hotels and restaurants in main cities.
Visitors to Jakarta should encounter little trouble exchanging money at any of the more obvious tourist areas. Banks typically offer the best exchange rates, but there is also a thriving private money exchange business in the city. These small kiosks can be found all over town and usually offer competitive rates. Hotels, shops, and restaurants can normally exchange money for you, but their rates are commonly the worst available.
ATMs can be found in all tourist areas and at banks. Withdrawing rupiahs from an ATM is an increasingly popular way to take out a daily amount of cash, but be careful the bank doesn’t charge an excessive service charge per transaction. Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, Eurocard and American Express are widely accepted at most large shops, restaurants, and hotels in the city. If you shop at a small shop, you’ll need to use cash, so always carry a small amount with you for sundries like drinking water or taxi fares.
GETTING TO JAKARTA
Several international airlines, including Garuda, KLM, and Lufthansa, fly into Jakarta, as do several domestic airlines. A toll road links the airport to the city and the journey takes about an hour - longer in rush hour. There's a good Damri bus service every half hour and metered taxis are available from ranks. Avoid unregistered taxis. Arrival is also possible by boat from Singapore. The passenger line timetables are tough to track down, but generally, services run each way three times a week.
The boat is also a popular way of getting around once in Indonesia; many services run from Jakarta to destinations throughout Indonesia. The island of Java has a good rail network, centered in Jakarta. Bus travel is also popular, but Jakarta's four main bus stations are all a long way from the city center - it can take longer to get to the bus stop than to take the bus trip itself.
Getting Around Jakarta
DAMRI buses run every half an hour to five city terminals and the arrivals information desk can advise which one travels the closest to your hotel. The fare is 7,000 rupiahs (one US dollar). In town, visitors are advised to use only licensed taxis or to hire a car. Most hotels will be able to arrange a car and driver for the duration of your stay.
Getting around Jakarta really deserves an entire website. In short, it's nigh-on impossible to get around quickly. The traffic is relentless and congested - you could literally lose days of your visit once you add up time spent stuck in traffic jams. As a pedestrian, you're even worse off; few attractions are close together, you have no right of way at all and it's usually too hot anyway. At least in a car, you're unlikely to be knocked down. The good news is that even if the traffic moves slowly and the pickpockets move quickly, the Jakarta bus network is one of the best in Asia.
If you keep your wits about you and have some idea of the direction of your destination, Jakarta's taxis are also an efficient form of transport. Although some drivers have given customers impromptu scenic tours, most will take the most direct route. A bajaj (motorized rickshaw) ride also requires you keep your wits about you. Short trips are best and haggling is essential.
Jakarta’s local airport is Soekarno Hatta International Airport, located 20kms west of the center of town. As Indonesia’s main airport, flights from all across the country, Asia, and most major international destinations are serviced by the two terminals.
Soekarno Hatta International Airport has two terminals, one for domestic flights and one for international flights. A free shuttle bus connects the two terminals. Terminal 1 is the domestic terminal and is equipped with banks, currency exchange kiosks, and a post office. Terminal 2, the international terminal, has ATMs, banks, currency exchange kiosks, a post office and 24-hour fax and telex services.
Both terminals have dozens of options for eating, drinking, and shopping. Information desks can be found in both terminals, and there is a convenient 24-hour tourist information desk in Terminal 2 (tel: +62 21 550 5179).
There are only a couple of transport options to get from the airport to your destination in Jakarta. The DAMRI shuttle bus runs between the terminals and downtown Jakarta, stopping at Rawamangun, Gambir, Blok M/Kebayoran, Bekasi, Depok, and Bogor. This shuttle takes about an hour to reach downtown Jakarta, but it’s cheap and easy to use. Taxis are also available for hire at special taxi counters in the Arrivals area and take around 40 minutes to reach the city. A new light rail train link will connect the airport to the city center in 2009. Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is twenty miles (thirty-four kilometers) west of Jakarta city center.
For those looking to hire a car on arrival in Jakarta, there are many car rental companies with representation at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. These include Avis, Hertz, and Thrifty. Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport has both long-term car parking and short-term car parking options.
Since Jakarta is located on the island of Java, nearly every visitor arrives by plane. However, if you are already in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia or a neighboring country, it is possible to get to Jakarta by boat, train or bus. The capital has four train stations run by the state operator PT Kereta Api at Kota, Gambir, Pasar Senen and Tanah Abang. Most travelers arriving from another city on Java will disembark at Gambir Station, which can be found on Merdeka square, right in the heart of the city.
Dozens of bus companies operate between Jakarta and other cities around Java. The most popular and reliable are Kramat Djati and Safari Dharma Raya, both of which operate out of all four of the capital’s bus terminals. Express motorways connect Jakarta with the other large cities on the island, but driving conditions on some routes on Java can be bad. Driving your own car is not recommended, but is an option.
Once in Jakarta, visitors will find a wide range of colorful transport options, ranging from minibusses to motorized rickshaws. Unless you are exploring the old town of Batavia, you will need transport to get around this sprawling, congested metropolis. Fortunately, the city is currently undergoing a major public transportation overhaul. A new bus network and innovative monorail system is in progress and should be fully operational by 2008.
The public bus network has improved greatly in the past few years, with new dedicated bus lanes making travel much easier in the city. There are seven special bus corridors which service nearly all of the city’s districts, but if you need an easier option, try the ubiquitous minibusses which follow more localized routes.
Motorised rickshaws called Bajaj can be found on every corner, offering a very cheap way to get around. Taxis are also readily available, but it’s better to call for one instead of hailing one on the street, where you’re more likely to get overcharged. Given the constant congestion and overcrowded public transport in Jakarta, most travelers find taxis the best way to go.
In Indonesia, the power sockets are of type C and F. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
Type C: also known as the standard "Euro" plug. This socket also works with plug E and plug F.
Type F: also known as "Schuko". This socket also works with plug C and plug E.
As this is a city of twelve million people and a melting pot for over 200 ethnic groups, Jakarta really does boast some of the most diverse cuisines in the whole of Asia and this is reflected in the variety of restaurants and meeting places. All the major hotels have Western and Indonesian restaurants and many also offer Chinese food. Elsewhere, dining options range from formal restaurants with fine cuisine to Western fast-food outlets and inexpensive street stalls where you can find interesting and delicious dishes. If there is a typical Indonesian meal then it probably consists of steamed rice and a number of main courses, sometimes including soup, all of which are served together. Desserts often consist of tropical fruits, offering a fabulous feast.
Jalan Jaksa offers, next to various guesthouses with neon-signs and small cafes, innumerable restaurants and eating stalls. Most tourists who arrive at the haphazard move on after a short stay and don't see anything but Jalan Jaksa. Try one of the side streets of Jalan Jaksa where you can still eat tasty Indonesian food prepared in an original way. Besides the 'rijsttafels', you can find a broad variety of other cuisines, such as Korean, Thai, Indian, Mexican and American. At the shopping centers, you'll find eateries where you can either grab a meal or sit for half a day eating away all the sweetmeats.
As a footnote to the above, this Jakarta resident would not even consider Jaksa as a place to go to eat. Unfortunately, it is hard to point the short-term visitor to a good area for food as restaurants are scattered so widely. For Indonesian food try a good Nasi Padang, such as Natrabu or Sari Bundo, or satay on the street or even the food courts in the shopping malls can be surprisingly good. If you are staying longer try to get hold of a copy of the Jakarta Good Food Guide, which has excellent and unbiased reviews of hundreds of eateries from street stalls to the most luxurious restaurants
The main staple food of the majority of the population is rice. Coconut milk and hot chili peppers are popular cooking ingredients nationwide. Tastes range from very spicy dishes of meat; fish and vegetables to those that are quite sweet. The most popular dishes are "nasi goreng" (fried rice) which is often served for breakfast, lunch or dinner, "satay" barbequed meat or chicken on skewers and "gado-gado", a vegetable salad with a peanut sauce. All are most compatible with international tastes. In the main tourist centers and cities, restaurants catering to international visitors are many, from fine continental grill rooms to Japanese specialty restaurants. Chinese restaurants are found in all towns throughout Indonesia. Tropical and subtropical fruits are available year round. Bottled drinking water can be purchased everywhere.
The cuisine in Jakarta is representative of Indonesia as a whole. With more than 6,000 populated islands in the country’s archipelago, the nation’s food is as diverse as its population. As the capital, Jakarta has a staggering range of places to eat covering every budget and just about every style of food. Colonial powers such as the Portuguese, Dutch and English have all influenced the local cuisine, but the majority of dishes resemble those from neighboring Malaysia and Singapore.
Soy-based dishes using tofu and tempeh are very popular, but it’s the staple rice that keeps most of the city fed. Unlike most Western meals, dishes in Jakarta tend to be quite small. Meat and fish find their way into many of the curries and stir-fries, with fiery sambal sauce lending a touch of heat and flavor to just about everything. Coconut milk also plays a big role in many of the curries and tasty desserts.
Most of the dining in Jakarta tends to happen along the streets, which are lined with small food stalls known as warungs and traveling snack vendors. Sampling a barbecued satay or Chinese soup known as bakso tok-tok is a great way to keep hunger at bay. There is, of course, a whole range of Western fast food joints, but if you want to immerse yourself in a sea of moderately-priced restaurants head to the downtown districts of Jalan Jenderal Sudirman, Jalan Jenderal Gatot Sobroto and others in the area.
Nearly all the smart cafés in these areas serve interesting menus featuring star dishes from Sumatra, Java and the smaller islands to the east. Visitors can spend as little as a dollar on a meal, or splash out for a real five-star dining experience at one of Jakarta’s swankier spots.
Hotels and restaurants catering for international visitors include a service charge on all their bills. However, small tips for good service are always appreciated. Whether you tip or not, you will find the people of Jakarta very friendly and you can expect good service.
Jakarta is both a buyer’s paradise and a bewildering nightmare due to the frenzied nature of commerce in this busy city and the way the shopping centers are spread out, making mall-hopping time-consuming. There are a number of massive air-conditioned malls such as Plaza Seneyan and Plaza Indonesia, where shoppers can find famous name brand stores. There are also hundreds of small, independent shops scattered across Jakarta selling locally-produced items such as batik, wood and bronze work.
If you want a more authentic shopping experience, then your best bet is to check out one of the traditional markets. For handicrafts and antiques, head to the flea market at Jalan Surabaya. This expansive and fascinating market in the Menteng district is fun, vibrant and offers just about every handicraft and art available in the city. The Cikini Traditional Market is another good spot for buying gold and trinkets. If all else fails, the endless Tanah Abang Market sells everything under the sun.
Most private shops open from 08:00 to 17:00 on weekdays, closing around noon on weekends. The mega-malls stay open later.
Many of Indonesia's main cities have department stores, supermarkets, and large shopping complexes. Retail hours vary considerably, though most shops open from 09.00 AM to 21.00 PM, seven days a week. All department stores and many shops have fixed price policy, however, bargaining is expected in traditional markets and smaller shops.
Shopping mall with many facilities, from cinema [called EX], gym to live performance. There's a hub, connecting bridge from EX to Plaza Indonesia at the 2nd floor. Open until 3 am on the weekend. Situated in the very heart of Jakarta.
Indonesians, in general, are very forgiving of foreigners who don’t understand the social rules of their culture, and in Jakarta, you’ll find most locals even more tolerant than those in the countryside. However, there are a few rules of etiquette which will serve you well if you can remember them.
Shoes should always be taken off when you enter someone’s home, a temple and certain shops. You’ll need to dress appropriately before you entering a temple; a sarong should be tied around your waist and most of your body should be covered. Dress codes for entering mosques are even stricter, but the locals normally provide gear.
Try not to point at things or people, as this is considered rude. Use your entire hand when you need to point at something. Don’t use your left hand to eat, give or receive things, as this is considered the ‘dirty’ hand. People in Jakarta take pride in not losing their temper. Showing anger or aggression is considered socially embarrassing, so keep your temper no matter how frustrating the situation may be.
Just as the feet are the lowest part of the body, the head is the highest. Never touch someone on the head, as this is very rude. Never use a pillow as a seat cushion or use your feet to point or move something. The best rule of thumb is to follow the locals whenever you are unsure of how to act. Also, be aware that public displays of affection are frowned upon, so avoid contact with local women and don’t kiss your partner in public.
There aren’t too many rules in Jakarta when it comes to eating since the society as a whole is fairly relaxed about the art of dining. Try and remember not to use your left hand during the eating process, and wait for your host to begin eating before you start. Indonesia is primarily an Islamic nation and the month of Ramadan puts special restrictions on when and where you can eat. This doesn’t necessarily apply to foreigners on holiday, but you’ll find most of the smaller local restaurants are closed during the Ramadan fasting period. Hotels and touristy eateries still serve food throughout the day.
If you are invited to eat out with an Indonesian, expect them to be about 30 minutes late. Forks and spoons are used to eat food, which is often rice-based and tough to maneuver with only one utensil. Don’t expect Muslims to eat pork or consume alcohol, and men are typically served first. Always wait until your host indicates where you should sit and when to begin eating. If you invite someone to dine out, you will be expected to pay the bill. Tips are not normally expected, but a small amount is appreciated if the service was good.