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Discover Jakarta


The second-largest urban agglomeration in the world, and the economic, political, and cultural centre of Indonesia, the capital of Southeast Asia’s most populous nation is also the region’s heavyweight city, a flourishing melting pot of traditional and modern populaces, fused with the vibrancy of a business frontier. Jakarta and its people have come to represent Indonesia in a microcosm, with a variety of ethnicities and historical groups from all over the country making this city the megalopolis it is today.


Originally an area changing hands between Hindu kingdoms and Islamic sultanates, the site of what would become Jakarta changed forever with the arrival of a succession of European traders, seeking the region’s fame spices, nearly 500 years ago. The Dutch, rather than the Portuguese or the English, succeeded in eventually taking over the settlement, renaming it Batavia, and greatly expanding commercial opportunities, external migration, and intermarriage. World War II changed the fate of this colony, like that of many others in Southeast Asia, and Jakarta was thus born together with the promise of the secular republic and new nation of Indonesia.


Islam, particularly the Sunni denomination, is the main creed of Jakartans – as well as Indonesians in general. Although Indonesia is a secular republic with limited freedom of religion, only six major religions are officially recognised and there are strong blasphemy laws in place. In Jakarta, there is a significant presence of Protestants and Buddhists, together constituting about one in ten of the believers in the city.


Jakarta, as the nation’s capital, has been an economic magnet for the myriad of ethnic groups that inhabit the archipelago. Nevertheless, despite the substantial presence of the Javanese from central and east Java, and the Sudanese from west Java, the Betawi, or “people of Batavia”, are the group most tied to Jakarta’s history. The Betawi people exemplify the amalgamation of ethnicities of the Malay peninsula, with labourers brought to the city by its Dutch colonial administrators, as well as Indian, Arab, Chinese, and European traders.


  • PDA frowned-upon, as well as immodest dress (especially on women or visitors to religious sites).
  • Besides handshakes, avoid touching people, and never do so with your left hand as it is considered ‘unclean’.
  • A call of “hey Mister!” or “Bule!” is a common reaction to foreigners in Indonesia, particularly by children – do not take offense or feign surprise for standing out.
  • No public raging (even loud speech) or loss of face.
  • Pay particular attention around the elderly, the pious, and modestly-dressed women.


Jakarta is located on the northwest coast of the island of Java, on Jakarta Bay, an inlet of the Java Sea. Jakarta experiences a tropical monsoon climate, with year-round high temperatures and humidity, and a rainy season that runs from October through May.


Jakarta is located on the northwest coast of the island of Java, on Jakarta Bay, an inlet of the Java Sea. Jakarta experiences a tropical monsoon climate, with year-round high temperatures and humidity, and a rainy season that runs from October through May.

Wild life

Jakarta does not have much in the form of natural greenery reserves, albeit monuments such as Merdeka Square tend to be surrounded by parks. A notable exception is north of the city, in the Java Sea, where the Thousand Islands marine national park offers a beautiful beachy scenery and snorkelling, although prices and pollution have both risen in recent times.

Before you go


  • Language: Indonesian, or Bahasa Indonesia, a standardised registry of Malay
  • Currency: Indonesian rupiah (idr)
  • Time Zone: Western Indonesian Time, utc+7
  • Voltage: 230
  • Electric Socket: Type C/F


  • It is highly advisable you buy a card as you get to the airport.
  • There are 4-5 operators in Indonesia who offer prepaid, local network sim cards compatible with the gsm network.
  • Telkomsel has the highest coverages (country-wide) but the highest prices; Tri has the lowest coverage but cheapest prices; Indosat in between the former two.
  • Expect to pay around $1 for a 7-day, 300-megabyte data credit.


  • ATMs are widely available and are very popular with both local citizens and expatriates, and plenty are open 24 hours.
  • Citibank offers withdrawals in U.S. dollars, whereas other banks working through the main international networks will offer only rupiahs.
  • Credit card cash withdrawals are also commonly accepted.
  • The usual limit per withdrawal is between 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 rupiah ($70-100) and 10,000,000 rupiah per day ($700).
  • Moneychangers are usually open on weekends and after banking hours, but their pricing fluctuates. Changing money at banks is usually good in terms of rates and safety, but it can take a while
  • Most banks close by 3.00pm.


  • Soto Betawi – A traditional Betawi soup made of beef offal, served in a milky broth with diced tomatoes and fried potatoes.
  • Nasi uduk – Betawi-style rice cooked in coconut milk.
  • Nasi goreng – Fried rice, Indonesian-style, also popular in Malaysia and Singapore. The rice is fried in sweet soy sauce with chilli, shallots, and tamarind and mixed with a combination of eggs, chicken, and prawns. Served with traditional krupruk crackers.
  • Gado-gado – A salad from the Betawi repertoire, consisting of blanched vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, and fried shallots topped with peanut sauce.
  • Sate – Grilled meat skewers of chicken, beef, or other meats served with peanut saucea street vendor favourite.


Not mandatory in Indonesia but feel free to show appreciation through small gratuities for great service. 

  • Taxis: Both Indonesians and expats commonly round up the fare to the nearest multiple of ten thousand (e.g. a 27,750 fare would be rounded to 30,000 rupiah).

  • Restaurants: In all kinds of restaurants, it is customary to leave behind any loose change as tip, or at least 10,000 rupiah. In high-end restaurants, a government mandated 10% tax applies. Warungs and other eateries do not expect to be tipped.

  • Hotels: Most hotels charge the mandatory 10% government tax, as well as another 11% of service charge to your bill. Porters can be tipped 20,000-50,000 rupiah for 1-2 guests.


  • Suggested Vaccinations: Hepatitis A and Typhoid
  • Drinking tap water is never truly safe in Indonesia, so do buy bottle water.
  • Protect yourself from sunstroke by wearing a hat and using sun lotion.
  • Drug use and contraband is heavily punished in Indonesia
  • Be wary of people offering free help. Jakarta is mostly free from violent muggings or gun crime, there is little risk of being assaulted, but pickpockets and cutpurses have been for some years making trouble in the tourist areas.  Leave your valuables and passport secured and avoid flashy clothing
  • If injured, you are better off taking a taxi to the nearest hospital, and remember to take cash or a credit card, you may not be admitted until you flash the money.
  • The police is notoriously corrupt, if still polite, most often they will demand payment to do their job 
  • Seriously consider purchasing travel insurance before heading to Indonesia.


  • Ambulance: 118,
  • Search and rescue: 115,
  • Police 110
  • Medistra Hospital (private): Jl. Jend. Gatot Subroto Kav. 59, Tel: (+62) 21 5210 201
  • Central Army Hospital (RSPAD Gatot Soebotro) (public): Jl. Abdul Rahman Saleh No. 24, Jakarta Pusat, Tel: (+62) 21 3441 008
  • Tourism Board: Jl. Kuningan Barat No. 2, Tel: (+62) 21 5205 455 


  • Hello (in general): Ah-pah-kah-bar
  • Excuse me. / Sorry: Mah-ah-f
  • Thank you: Teh-ree-ma ka-si
  • You’re welcome: Sah-mah-sah-mah
  • Good morning/evening: Seh-lah-maht mah-lahm
  • Goodbye: Seh-lah-maht ting-gahl
  • How much is this?: Beh-rah-pah har-gahn-yah
  • Cheers! (Toasts when drinking): Sun-ti
  • Bon appetit!: Seh-lah-maht mah-kahn
  • Where’s the toilet?: Di-ma-na-kah- toilet
  • Help!: Toh-long
  • I understand: Sah-yah meng-ger-ti
  • I don’t understand: Sah-yah ti-dahk meng-ger-ti


How to get into this area, and how to get around it!


Jakarta is served by the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, 20km northwest of the city. The airport is the busiest in Indonesia, with a dozen flights a day to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. To get to the city, the most convenient way is a taxi. There are counters right outside customs that charge 175,000 rupiah to the city centre, saving you some queueing-up. Otherwise, head to the taxi ranks, avoid the touts and go for a taxi company. Silver Bird is a premium company (120,000 rupiah to city centre) whereas Blue Bird and Ekspress are reliable services from Jakarta (90,000 rupiah to city centre)—just line up and tell the driver your destination once inside the cab. These taxis are all metered, excluding tolls, which will not give change. Round up the fare to the nearest 5,000 or 10,000 rupiah to leave the driver a tip. An economical alternative is to take the shuttle bus.


Jakarta is served by several bus stations. The Kampung Rambutan Bus Terminal at Jl. Lingkar Luar Selatan, East Jakarta is the busiest, with multiple daily services to central and southern Java including Bandung and Yogyakarta. The Pulo Gadung Bus Terminal at Jl. Bekasi Raya, East Jakarta goes mostly to cities in the northern coast of Java like Surabaya, though there are some companies going to Bandung and even to Bali and Lombok. For travels to/from Sumatra, most likely the station will be the Rawamangun Bus Terminal at Jl. Perserikatan No. 1 (Jl. Paus), East Jakarta.


Jakarta main rail terminal is Gambir Station in Central Jakarta. There are trains departing nearly every couple hours to Bandung (executive: 60,000 rupiah, three-hour trip). There are also comfortable air-con trains going to Surabaya (executive: 265,000 rupiah, ten-hour trip) and Semarang (executive: 210,000 rupiah, six-hour trip). A dedicated bus also connects the airport and Gambir.


Jakarta is an extremely congested city that lacks a suitable mass transit system. Although a system of busways is currently in operation, the service is quite unreliable during rush hours (1-hour wait), albeit comfortable and air-conditioned. The most suitable mode of transportation is by taxi. Taxis can occasionally even be fast! Two reputable taxi companies, Blue Bird [Tel: (+62) 21 79171234] and Ekspress [Tel: (+62) 21 26509000] offer around the clock, on-call services. They run metered taxis that cost 7,500 rupiah for the flagfall and first kilometre and 400 rupiah for every subsequent 100 meters or minute stuck in traffic. Blue Bird also offers an app with gps location and Silver Bird executive taxis (usually a Mercedes-Benz). Please lock all doors and keep the windows closed when travelling on taxis, and avoid the smaller companies when unsure, especially at night.


Although renting your own car may seem like a good idea, it is generally better to hire a local driver, particularly when unfamiliarly to the highly peculiar driving style of Indonesians. There are several companies, such as and which can offer comfortable vehicles and a professional driver for a basic rate of $20 per day.

Things to see

Top sights

The top locations to visit in this destination.

Fatahillah Square

Take a Journey through History in Fatahillah Square

Old Town & Sunda Kelapa Harbor

The Nostalgic Old Town and Sunda Kelapa Harbor

Thousand Islands

Bathe in the Crystal Blue Waters of Jakarta’s Thousand Islands

Istiqlal Mosque

Marvel at the Beauty of Istiqlal Mosque

Jalan Surabaya Antique Market

Shop for something old and new in Jakarta’s Jalan Surabaya Antique Market

Bogor Botanical Garden

Walk in the Green Pathways of the Bogor Botanical Garden

Pasar Baru

Old-World Shopping in Pasar Baru

Ujung Kulon National Park

Stroll through the Majestic Ujung Kulon National Park

Puncak Tea Plantation

Learn More about Tea at the Puncak Tea Plantation


Big Sales at Bandung