Jakarta Tourism Information
Jakarta is not the most famous city to visit in Indonesia. What's more, when people talk about Indonesia, they often refer to Bali and the beautiful islands around there. Jakarta can appeal to those who are looking for something different, with a little difference, chaotic, unorganised. Jakarta has a decentralized sprawl of low slung buildings and occasional high rise towers; but lack of any real city centre, which makes it difficult to experience Jakarta's highlights, which are scattered around the enormous districts. The capital of Indonesia does offer some varied contrast, with luxurious districts and shopping malls to more basic, rundown neighborhoods where poverty is very evident.
Travelling far in the city is laborious and adding to the difficulty is heavy traffic. Although it can be a polluted and frustrating city to visit, Jakarta has some hidden gems and confronts tourists with the realities of urban Indonesia, providing an interesting contrast to the peaceful rural villages and glorious coastal areas.
The climate in Jakarta is tropical, which is hot and humid with year-round rainfall. There is little fluctuation in temperature throughout the year: in summer (June to September) temperatures average around 30°C, while winter (December to February) has an average of 28°C.
The wet season officially runs from November to June, while July to September is the driest and is considered the best time to visit Jakarta.
Being the capital of the country, is not really a big attraction as tourists normally stop in Jakarta as a transfer point. Generally, the city can be very polluted and the traffic jams might be horrendous. Jakarta is an overall safe city, however scams and rip off to tourists can happen. Some taxis can also not adjust the meter or take you on a longer trip around the city. Generally, the north of Jakarta is poorer, here you have to just be extra vigilant. Known as the Old Town, it has strong cultural value, but unfortunately, many of the buildings are not well preserved. The area is safe, however big flow of tourists attracts pickpockets and scammers.
The safest areas are: Menteng (with the oldest and most expensive mansions in the country. Well known for proximity to the business district and popularity among political officials and business elite). On the opposite side, Ciliwung is one of the poorest areas. (Jakarta’s biggest slum. Poverty provokes the social instability resulting in crimes). The potential risks in this area are higher than other parts of the city, refrain from visiting this area, both during the day or night. The Ancol Port area and other neighborhoods in North of the city, has the highest crime rate among other districts. Poorly known for a divert illegal activity and prostitution is also very present.
Getting around in Jakarta is easy in spite of the heavy traffic in this bustling capital city. Traffic jams are worse during the early morning and evening time, specially in certain central business areas. Taking the MRT, trains or the BRT busses, which have their own lanes, are the quicker options when moving around. Taxis are also handy, as they are not expensive.
Download the APP "GRAB" which will give you local rates when using taxis. Other options include tuk-tuk style bikes, minivans, motorcycle taxis (locally referred to as ‘ojek’).
First of all, when arriving to Jakarta by air. The city has one main airport located 20 Km from the city centre. You can access the city by rail or busses. The Damri Bus service costs Rp. 40.000, which takes you to the city centre at Gambir train station, a central spot in the downtown. Tickets are bought in advance in the kiosk of the company which costs around 3 USD, buses take 50 minutes Saturdays/Sunday and at least an hour and a half weekdays. They leave from 5 am to 11 pm every 20 to 40 minutes.
Alternatively you can travel by train, it's the newest option since 2018. It can be a good way to avoid the traffic jams. It is not a high speed train, but the trip is comfortable and takes 45 minutes. The cost of a one way ticket is 70,000 Rupiah, but if you buy it online can cost as little as 40.0000 Rp. (€3.5). In addition to the airport, the train will stop at three stations. The most central station is BNI City, where you can change for local train or taxi. To get your tickets, check timetables and more info check the website for the Jakarta Railink.
Once in the city, its handy to take the BRT busses by Transjakarta, if you are not staying closer to a MRT or trainline. The busses are modern, fully air conditioned offer digital info. TO access them you will need to buy an e-card. You can buy it from convenience stores or from the Bank Mandiri, which have lots of branches around the city. The card costs 100.0000 Rp with 80.0000 credit for travelling. (you can also use it for trains, MRT and shopping). However, be advised that the busses can be very crowded and they are known to be irregular. Busses by Transjakarta, locals refer to them as simply ‘busway’. The bus stops or ‘halte’ are like platforms with digital info for the busses, have front areas reserved for women only and are also manned by security personnel. Ticket prices start from a IDR 3,500 per trip.
If taking the trains, these cost 6.000 Rp, depending of distance travelled. They are more comfortable than the busses but can also get crowded at peak times. MRT or the new metro which started in Summer 2019, is the best way to travel in comfort, with fully air conditioned trains and frequent trips. Please refer to the maps below, available to download for details on stops and lines of the different modes of transport.
You will also see pale blue minivan, which are like busses, with selected itineraries. They are cheap to ride and take you to other areas of the city not covered by other modes of transport. They are public vans that the locals refer to as either ‘mikrolet’ and ‘angkutan kota’ ‘angkot’ for short. They aren’t metered and aren’t really recommended for foreigners. They are usually driven by drivers known for their disregard of road rules and haphazard manoeuvres just for the sake of picking up passengers and any spot. Nevertheless, if you’re in for some urban adventure, these can prove to be economical, ranging between IDR 2,000-5,000 for a single trip.
Additional ways of transport include the Tuk-tuk style bikes, famous around other southeast Asian countries like Thailand. You can stop them anywhere on the road and they can charge anything from IDR 5000, but it's important for foreigners to negotiate the price before you board! The same rule occurs with the taxi-scooters. They are quicker if you are in a hurry and have little or no bags with you which are the "ojek".
❗Attention: In Jakarta, as well as, all Indonesia there is a limitation on where you can use APP based taxis and normal ones. The normal taxis must be taken to/from Hotels, Airports, ports and Malls. Where as the APP based taxis can be taken from all other locations. This is imposed by law, which means drivers could get fined if found taking travellers from the wrong destinations. Unfortunately it means that tourists need to get the normal taxis on most trips. The reality is, that many drivers try to chance it, in order to get more customers.
You can always ask your hotel/accomodation for more info or for them to arrange a pick up for you.
The history of Jakarta dates back to at least the 14th Century with the development of a small port of the Hindu Pajajaran kingdom at the mouth of the Ciliwung river. Searching for spice, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive and establish a fortress on the site in the early 16th Century.
The old port was attacked by a neighboring sultanate under the leadership of Prince Fatahillah. After the assault, the Portuguese navy fleet was destroyed. Fatahillah changed the name of the Sunda Kelapa port to Jayakarta, meaning “Total Victory”. It was to this town that Dutch spice merchants came in the late 16th Century and began a trading association with Europe that was to dictate the history of Jakarta. Following the Japanese invasion and rule of the country from 1942-45, on August 17,1945, Indonesia's first president Soekarno, proclaimed Indonesian independence and Jakarta became the accepted nation's capital.
Today the city is directed at stimulating services, trade and tourism. There are many museums and galleries to keep you busy whilst in Jakarta an help you learn more about this fascinating city. Also Jakarta is a starting point to many tours and excursions out of the city.
Below you will find the highlights of what to see and do in Jakarta:
- The National Monument: Located in Jakarta’s city centre at Merdeka Square, stands the National Monument (Monumen Nasional (Monas)) tower. It is a must visit for every tourist in Jakarta. It stands to symbolize the fight for Indonesia and constructed under direction of President Sukarno. It is open daily from 800-1500 everyday except mondays. It is possible to go up to the tower top to observe the views. However there are limited tickets sold. Sometimes they also open during the evening to see the sights at night. Tickets cost 15.000 Rp. To get there take busway to Monas station.
- The Old Town: also known as Kota Tua, it is north of the city, full of heritage buildings from the Dutch colonial years. Despite the fact that this city during many years has been under Portuguese, British and at the end by the Holland influence, it is these last that left cultural legacy is the Port area also known as Old City. This ancient quarter gives a snapshot of how the landscape of the city looked like before the modern buildings moved in. The main buildings around the central square are mostly museums, including exhibitions on puppets, ceramics and Jakarta’s history. The Museum Maritime and Museum Bank Indonesia are also in this area and easily accessible by foot. To get there you can go by train or busway to Kota Station.
- Jakarta National Museum: Being two centuries old, the Museum is an icon that you must visit. It is located at Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat in center of Jakarta city and it is an archeological, historical, ethnological, and geographical museum. Jakarta’s national museum is well known as Elephant Building (gedung gajah) because of the elephant statue there. Visit here to get yourself acquainted with Jakarta and also Indonesia’s history and culture. To get there take the busway to Monas station.
- Istiqlal Mosque: Is the biggest mosque is South East Asia both by structure and capacity, first opened to the public by Indonesia’s first President, Soekarno, on 22 February 1978, the Istiqlal Mosque can accommodate congregations of up to 120,000 people. Located in Central Jakarta, on the north eastern corner of the Merdeka Square, the Mosque stands out with its 45m diameter dome and tall minarets. Standing almost right across the old Catholic Church (see below). Something interesting to note, is that during Christmas mass, the mosque’s parking lot is used by the Cathedral’s congregation across the road. And vice-versa during big prayers ceremonies. The mosque has a large rectangular prayer hall with a 45 meter diameter dome supported by 12 round columns, and has 4 levels of balconies. Its interior is mostly simple.
To get to the mosque, it is near the Gambir Train Station. From there you can walk around 10 minutes to reach the main entrance.
✔️Tip: Visiting the mosque is possible for free, but only with a guide. Just go to the main entrance and register at the reception desk. One kind gentleman will show you around and take pics of you whilst explaining the history and customs at the mosque. At the end, they expect a tip naturally.
- Jakarta Cathedral: from the opposite of the mosque you are able to distinguish the impressive Roman Catholic place of worship in the center of the city. Consecrated in 1901, the cathedral displays an attractive Neo-Gothic architectural style, with two main spires stretching high into the sky, assisting the effect of the symmetrical facade. Head inside to see the Belgian-made Neo-Gothic-style organ and arresting vaulted ceilings. An upstairs museum details the history of the cathedral and Christianity beliefs in the country. To access the catedral is free, but you need to register at the reception desk.
- Taman Mini Indonesia: The country of Indonesia is a vast place and it would take many holidays to explore the whole archipelago. But there is one place where you can see all the highlights! A trip around Indonesia Miniature Park is useful and interesting because it offers samples of the different cultures and architecture to be found on some of the islands, including replicas of famous landmarks. The park itself is not small actually and covers 100 hectares of land. It includes examples of traditional buildings and cultural artefacts from all of the 27 provinces that make up Indonesia. The park also regularly hosts food sampling, dancing and other cultural performances from each province. Attached to Taman Mini is the Museum Indonesia which exhibits both historic and contemporary art collections. Visiting the museum and the park together gives tourists a great overview of the country and it isn't a bad place to start your Indonesian travels if you have some time to spare in Jakarta.
The park can be accessed for only 15.000 Rp which is a good price for walking around the area, but some of the inner displays require an additional entrance ticket.
Also, you must be prepared for the heat. There are bikes available to rent, as well as a train link to the other side of the park, a mini-train, or a cable car option to see the park from above. You can also drive around the park and stopping at the places of interest. To get to Taman Mini you can go by busway number 7D. Alternatively, take the train to Tanjung Barat Station and take a taxi/grab car to the park.
Taman Mini Park Photo Show:
- Jalan Jaksa: is the backpacker area of Jakarta. Its located in an unremarkable part of downtown, with plenty of travel agencies, laundromats, currency exchange offices and guesthouses. A few bars and live music venues cater to the travel crowd. The cheapest guesthouses are bare to say the least, and it is perhaps worth spending the extra money on renting a nicer room. Jalan Jaksa is a good place to stay if you want to spend as little as possible on accommodation in Jakarta, but don't expect cleanliness, organization or comfort!
Jalan Jaksa📍 is actually the name of a single street but a wider area around the road has started catering to budget travellers. The street was once frequented by students studying at the Jakarta Law Academy, which is perhaps the origin of the area's youthful vibe. It is friendly and cheap, good for those travellers who want to save their money for attractions and activities and don't mind simple sleeping arrangements. Jalan Jaksa hosts a street festival annually to encourage tourism and showcase local traditions, cuisine, dancing and music.
- Chinatown: Jakarta’s Chinatown is a district called Glodok, located just next to the Old City (Kota Tua). Once you arrive head to Jalan Pancoran, it is a street lined with Chinese shops selling Chinese attributes like lantern, candles, hio (Chinese red stick), and food. The street might be a little crowded, so walk carefully and mind your belongings. At the end of Pancoran Street, you’ll see the Chinese temple called Toa Se Bio or Vihara Dharma Jaya. It is named after its main god, Toa Sai Kong. The temple takes place at Jalan Kemenangan III, covered in red color. Also, you will find the Church of Santa Maria de Fatima, At first, many people may think this is a Buddhist temple, regarding its architecture style, but this is a catholic church! It is a catholic church built with strong Chinese architecture and cultural influence. This church represents Chinese and Christian blend, making it a unique place to visit in Jakarta. To get there take the busway to Glodok station.
- Pasar Baru (Jakarta’s market): It is one of the rare streets of Jakarta that is actually pedestrian friendly. You will find many locals here and family-run business selling clothes and watches. There are many vintage fashions here such as shirts, dresses, belts and jackets selling as low as USD1 from second hand to new. Also, catch the best local Indonesian food you can find, for example, bakmi. To get take the train line to Sawah Besar Station and walk about 10 min. Can also take bus 12/12M.Can also take bus 12/12M.
✔️Tip: If you cross the river at the end of the street you will come to see a small street lane filled with local art stands.(Located opposite the Jakarta Art Building📍).
Located one hour away by train, Bogor is the next biggest city away from Jakarta, Although no longer the quaint town it once was, it still retains much of its small town charm.
The good thing about Bogor, that it is much cooler (and fresher) than Jakarta, so it's a welcome respite of the intense heat of the capital! Some of the sights to see are a short walk from the train station, like Zebaoth Church (Nicknamed the 'Rooster Church' for the chicken statue in its tower, this quaint Bogor Church was built in 1920).
Bogor Palace, (Built in 1744, the Bogor Palace functioned as a country getaway for Dutch colonial governors, Sir Stamford Raffles being one of the most notable. To see the Palace it's best to access it from the Botanical Gardens). The Ethnobotany Museum (opened in 1982, contains more than 2,000 artifacts which focus on the relationship between indigenous people and the plants they use).
The star of Bogor must the the Botanical Gardens, opened in 1817 by Gustaaf Willem, Java's then Dutch Governor-General. The park, spanning 87 hectares and filled with natural goodness, is a testament to preservation. Walk around the many paths and admire the flora which is originated from different countries, the wide trunk trees, get close up to the Bogor Palace, cross the bridges over the river and plenty of green open spaces where to sit and relax. An admission applies of 25.000 Rp for foreigners.
Also in the area you can visit the chinatown and the Hok Tek Bio Temple.
Getting to Bogor is simple, take the train from Sudirman Station (trip only costs around 6.000 Rp.) and takes one hour.
Bogor Photo Show:
Jakarta, being a large city, is definitely not short of things to do at night. For nightlife, you have many choices of clubs and bars. There are places like Kemang for the younger but dynamic crowds in Jakarta clubbing scene or cafes like Ecobar. It is one of the coolest place to party in Jakarta and the club are trendier yet affordable. Or you can go to the more famous traveler street Jalan Jaksa for some choices of bars, clubs and cafe, the better reason to party here is there are more food choices. The most dynamic part of the city for clubbing is around Kemang with popular haunts like Barcode.
If shopping is your thing, Jakarta offers a lot from high-end to budget shopping, from malls to markets. Recommended malls or markets in Jakarta are :
Plaza Indonesia of FX Mall (designer goods), Grand Indonesia, Mangga Dua (cheap yet quality imitation goods), Blok M (shoes, clothes, bags), Pasar Baru and Pasar Ikan (Clothes, jewelry, souvenirs and household items).
Staying in Jakarta for budget minded travellers is not a big problem, with average hotels starting at €30 per room, in the city centre. There is a lot of competition so its always a good time to find a good deal, even if you buy last minute. For health reasons, its recommended to pay a little higher in Jakarta to get a clean room as many accomodations can suffer from insects and other bugs if not cleaned properly.
Private accomodation is not widely popular, as Airbnb has not really kicked off in Indonesia yet. If looking for hostels, you can find shared accommodation from as little as €10 a night in the city centre.
It is also advised to check the location, as you don't want to be walking a lot to catch a bus, mrt or train line, since its so hot and humid outside. There are many cheaper options out of the city centre but they might not be so conveniently located, plus the neighborhoods can be less tourist friendly.
Checking reviews and location therefore is a must before you stay in Jakarta!
Jakarta is mix and match city, which can make people think, there is not much to see around. However, there can be many attractions to enjoy in Jakarta. The only problem can be the heat, humidity and heavy traffic year round! For a comfortable stay with plenty of time to relax while cooling down, a 4 night / 5 days trip is enough to see the highlights of Jakarta including the major museum, the National Monument, the big Mosque, Taman Mini Indonesia and the old city.
However, if you are looking to go further and take some tours, then a week to ten days would be more practical.
Jakarta Photo Slide 📷