Travelling to Java and checking out the sights in Jakarta? This guide will give you everything you need to know about visiting the capital, from getting to and from the airport, to the best Indonesian music you should listen to before you go, to the cool local events you should check out.
You can take the the Damri Airport Bus, which costs about IDR 40,000 (USD 2.85) to/from the city centre. It has different routes that go to Blok M (South Jakarta), Gambir Train Station (Central Jakarta), and Mangga Dua (North Jakarta) — so make sure you’re on the right one for wherever you’re staying! The bus operates from 3am to 9pm.
If you’re arriving late at night or want a personal ride into the city, there are metered taxis that operate 24 hours a day. Expect to pay about IDR 150,000 (USD 11) to reach the city centre, depending on traffic. Blue Bird (look for the bird logo) is the most recommended taxi, and is safe. You can hail one from the Blue Bird taxi shelter at the airport. Alternately, you can take an Express Taxi (white in colour), which are also recommended. Since Blue Bird is so popular, some other taxi companies will try to make their taxis look similar by using the same colours — be sure to find the bird logo to know you’re taking the right one.
Alternately, if you’re going out of the city or want to jump right into sightseeing, you can rent a private car and driver for the day. The normal price for a six-seater is about IDR 500,000 (USD 36) for 12 hours. You can usually barter for the price.
Public transit: The Trans Jakarta bus system costs IDR 3,500 (USD 0.25) for one-way travel, and operates from 5am to 10pm. You can buy an e-ticket card (Mandiri E-Money), which costs IDR 40,000 (USD 2.85) for the card with IDR 20,000 (USD 1.50) as the balance. You can use this card for the commuter train as well, with a minimum balance IDR 12,000. Find an Alfamaret or Indomaret to reload the card.
Taxi: Again, opt for Blue Bird (with a bird logo) or Express taxis (white in colour), which are safe and metered. The cost will be anywhere from IDR 50,000 to 70,000 (USD 3.50 to 5), depending where you’re going in the city. There is a designated taxi shelter at the shopping mall, but you can also hail them from anywhere.
Walking: It’s safe to walk around Jakarta, and it’s a great way to see the city. Jakarta is big and traffic can be quite congested, so walking is a good option if you want to avoid the traffic jams.
Ojek: Ojeks are motorcycle taxis. They’re easy to book if you download the GoJek app (available for both Android and iPhone).
If you’re in town on a Sunday, you can join Jakarta’s Car Free Day, which happens on Sudirman and Thamrin streets from the Senayan Sports Center to the National Monument. These streets are closed to cars and motorcycles from 6am to 11am every Sunday morning, opening up the streets for biking, walking, jogging, and just hanging out.
Culture vultures should check out Komunitas Salihara, which is one of the best places to experience music and art in Jakarta. They’ll have upcoming performances listed on their website — some free, some for a fee, depending on the show. For info, you can email them at email@example.com, or call them at +62 21 789 1202 or +62 857 193 111 50.
If your trip to Jakarta brings you to town for New Year’s Eve, you must go to the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout, where you can join in for a free celebration. Every year, Jakarta rings in the new year by closing Sudirman and Thamrin streets from 4pm onwards, and setting up several stages for live music performances of all various genres.
Discover Jakarta’s street scene with the movie Jalanan (translation: ‘Streetside’), which won for best documentary at the 2013 Busan Film Festival. The movie follows three street musicians over a five-year period, revealing their personal struggles as well as the struggles of a city plagued by corruption and moving to globalisation.
Get a listen for Indonesian music with Naif, a retro-style band that’s been around since the mid 1990s. Two of their songs were ranked by Rolling Stone Indonesia as among the best Indonesian songs of all time. The band is originally from Jakarta, and all their music and videos are inspired by city.
For ideas on what to do in Jakarta, pick up Jakarta: 25 Excursions In and Around the Indonesian Capital. It was written by an expat couple who felt overwhelmed when they first moved to Jakarta, but then came to discover many of the cool things on offer in the city.
To check out what else is happening in town, visit the Enjoy Jakarta website, which is run by the government and has up-to-date info on Jakarta.