Jakarta in Indonesia
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. Read more...
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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.
Departure taxes As of November 2011, Soekarno-Hatta Airport charges departure taxes of Rp 150, 000 (USD 17) for international flights, payable in cash only. You cannot pay in any foreign currency. Forgetting this could be very awkward!
Soekarno Hatta International Airport, http://www.soekarno-hatta-airport.com at Tangerang, Banten. All international and nearly all domestic flights land here 20 km (12 miles) to the northwest of the city. The unintuitive airport code comes from Cengkareng, a district near the airport.
There are only two seasons in Jakarta – dry season and rainy season. During the raining season the road to and from Cengkareng can be flooded, so be prepared and allow more time to reach the airport if you have a flight to catch.
The Soekarno Hatta airport has two terminals, further split up into subterminals, which are really just halls in the same building. Terminal 1 (A-B-C) is used by domestic airlines except Garuda, while Terminal 2 is used by all international airlines (D-E) and Garuda domestic flights only (F). A free but unreliable shuttle bus runs between the terminals; if you're in a hurry, it's a safer bet to take a taxi, although they'll ask for a rather steep Rp 50, 000 for the service (not entirely unjustified, as half of this goes to paying their parking fees).
For many country's citizens, visas on arrival are available at the airport, see the main Indonesia article for the details of the rules. If possible, use exact change (in US dollars) and ignore any requests for bribes. ATMs and currency exchange services are available in the baggage claim hall, and Terminal D has a left luggage service.
To get to the city, the easiest option is to contact your hotel to pick you up in the airport, as many hotels in Jakarta provide free airport transfers. If you want to take a taxi, follow the Taxi signs out of the terminal and take a taxi from the Silver Bird counter; ignore the many touts. Silver Bird is a very reliable operator but pricier than the rest at around Rp 120, 000 to the Golden Triangle (including airport surcharge and tolls). Other operators will charge you in the vicinity of Rp 70, 000-90, 000.
Xtrans, Telephone: (62)-(21)-5296-2255 and (62)-(21)-5296-4477. Provides airport shuttle service from Soekarno Hatta airport to major hotels in Sudirman and Thamrin Street in Jakarta and Bumi Xtrans in Cihampelas Street in Bandung. Cost: US$ 3.30/adult and US$ 2.20/child. Schedule: once every hour from 05.00 to 24.00. Xtrans booth are available at Terminal IA, IB, IC and IIE.
If you have more time than money, hourly DAMRI shuttle buses connect to Jakartan destinations Rawamangun, Pasar Minggu, Blok M and Gambir (Rp 20, 000) as well as directly to the neighboring cities of Bekasi and Bogor (Rp 25, 000).
The older Halim Perdanakusuma Airport, to the southeast of the city, is used by military, VIP flights, charter flights, helicopter leasing companies and private jets. There are no longer any scheduled services from it.
The current main station for long distance passengers in Jakarta is the Gambir station, located in Central Jakarta, just east of the Monas. Eksekutif (AC) and some bisnis (non-AC) class trains depart from this station. Trains to Bandung are frequent, providing almost a two-hourly service, departing throughout the day. Most trains to farther cities ( Purwokerto, Yogyakarta, Solo, Semarang, Malang and Surabaya ) depart in the mornings and the late afternoon to the evening.
More economical trains without air-conditioning generally use the Pasar Senen station located two blocks east of Gambir. Beware that the location is rife with crime.
Most trains arriving in Jakarta also stop at Jatinegara station in the eastern part of the city, giving better access to the eastern and southern parts of the city.
Jakarta Kota station is located in the old part of the city, and serves as the departure point for commuter trains and some trains to Merak. It is almost worthy of being a tourist attraction in itself.
Information about train ticket from PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) is available on the Web, but no on-line reservation is possible. Ticket reservations are generally made in the Juanda station, across the Istiqlal mosque and the Roman Catholic Cathedral, north of Gambir. Ticket sales for same-day travel is made in the north part of Gambir station. Beware of ticket scalpers! They will offer their wares even to people waiting in the queues in front of the ticket sales points. On the other hand, if tickets have been sold out, you might make use of the ticket scalpers, although you should expect to pay 50-100 percent more.
An airport bus service connects Soekarno-Hatta Airport with Gambir station.
Passengers from other cities arrive in bus terminals such as Kampung Rambutan (Southeast Jakarta), Pulo Gadung (East Jakarta) or Lebak Bulus (South Jakarta). You'll need to speak at least functional Indonesian to manage, and the terminals are notorious for muggers and pickpockets, so observe the safety precautions under #Stay safe.
The national ferry company, PELNI, and other sealines, operate passenger services to destinations across the archipelago from Tanjung Priok port in the North of the city. Some smaller speedboats, particularly to the ThousandIslands(Java) Thousand Islands (Pulau Seribu), depart from Ancol also on Jakarta's north shore.
How to speak prokem like a Betawi The everyday speech of Jakartans (Betawi) is liberally laced with slang (prokem) expressions. Like any slang, words come in and out of fashion with bewildering rapidity, but some features can be distinguished: f becomes p z becomes j The prefix me- for verbs becomes ng- The suffixes -i and -kan turn into -in
A short glossary of common Jakartan expressions: ; no : tidak → nggak ; I : saya/aku → gua/gue ; you : kamu/anda → lu/lo ; sorry : maaf → maap ; to come up : menaik → naek ; to take : mengambil → ngambil ; to look : melihat → ngeliat ; to use : memakai/menggunakan → pake/ngegunain ; to visit : mengunjungi → ngunjungin
Getting around Jakarta is a problem. The city layout is chaotic and totally bewildering, traffic is indisputably the worst in South-East Asia with horrendous traffic jams (macet MAH-chet ) slowing the city to a crawl during rush hour, and the current railway system is inadequate to say the least. The construction of a monorail system, started in 2004, soon ground to a halt over political infighting and the main glimmer of hope is the gradually expanding busway system.
Various areas of the city have different levels of chaos. For example, North Jakarta (the poorer area of the city) is more chaotic than areas in South Jakarta (more upscale).
Commuter trains in Jakarta connect the city center with outlying regions, namely Tangerang, Bekasi, Depok, Bojonggede, Bogor and Serpong. Air-conditioned limited-stop services are available, but not as frequent as the economy service with no air-conditioning. Visits to tourist attractions in Bogor is best made using expresses, which are fast and relatively comfortable.
Riding the ekonomi class is not advisable: crime and sexual harrasment are known to happen inside packed trains. During the non-rush hours, though, economy train travel is quite an interesting experience. It is a tour of Jakarta's darker side, with peddlers offering every imaginable article (from safety pins to cell-phone starter kits), various sorts of entertainment, ranging from one-person orchestras to full-sized bands, and a chance to sample real poverty; you are riding a slum on wheels.
The Sudirman station, formerly Dukuh Atas, located just south of the Hotel Indonesia in Central Jakarta is an important hub, providing access to the heart of the city from the outskirts. Commuter services operate from 5 a.m. (first train departing Bogor to Jakarta) to almost 9 p.m. (last train leaving Jakarta for Bogor). Trains often run late and theft can be a problem. Weekend special services connect Depok and Bogor with the popular Ancol entertainment park in Jakarta.
Commuter services operate over these lines:
Central line (1): JAKARTA KOTA-Jayakarta-Mangga Besar-Sawah Besar-JUANDA-GAMBIR-GONDANGDIA-Cikini-Manggarai-Tebet-Cawang-Duren Kalibata-Pasar Minggu Baru-Pasar Minggu-Tanjung Barat-Lenteng Agung-Universitas Pancasila-Universitas Indonesia-Pondok Cina-DEPOK BARU-DEPOK-Citayam-BOJONGGEDE-Cilebut-BOGOR Central line (2): Angke-Duri-TANAHABANG-Karet-Manggarai-Tebet-Cawang-Duren Kalibata-Pasar Minggu Baru-Pasar Minggu-Tanjung Barat-Lenteng Agung-Universitas Pancasila-Universitas Indonesia-Pondok Cina-DEPOK BARU-DEPOK-Citayam-BOJONGGEDE-Cilebut-BOGOR Tangerang line (1): JAKARTA KOTA-Kampung Bandan-Angke-Duri-Grogol-Pesing-Kembangan-Bojong Indah-Rawabuaya-Kalideres-Poris-Batuceper-Tanahtinggi-TANGERANG Tangerang line (2): MANGGARAI-SUDIRMAN-Karet-TANAHABANG-Duri-Grogol-Pesing-Kembangan-Bojong Indah-Rawabuaya-Kalideres-Poris-Batuceper-Tanahtinggi-TANGERANG Serpong line (1): JAKARTA KOTA-Kampung Bandan-Angke-Duri-TANAHABANG-Palmerah-Kebayoran-Pondokranji-Sudimara-Rawabuntu-SERPONG Serpong line (2): MANGGARAI-SUDIRMAN-Karet-TANAHABANG-Palmerah-Kebayoran-Pondokranji-Sudimara-Rawabuntu-SERPONG Bekasi line (1): TANAHABANG-Karet-Manggarai-Jatinegara-Cipinang-Klender-Buaran-Klenderbaru-Cakung-Rawabebek-Kranji-BEKASI Bekasi line (2): JAKARTA KOTA-Jayakarta-Mangga Besar-Sawah Besar-JUANDA-GAMBIR-GONDANGDIA-Cikini-Manggarai-Jatinegara-Cipinang-Klender-Buaran-Klenderbaru-Cakung-Rawabebek-Kranji-BEKASI Bekasi line (3): JAKARTA KOTA-Kampungbandan-Rajawali-Kemayoran-PASAR SENEN-Gang Sentiong-Kramat-Pondokjati-Jatinegara-Cipinang-Klender-Buaran-Klenderbaru-Cakung-Rawabebek-Kranji-BEKASI
Station names written with CAPITALS are regular express stops. This means that express trains stop at other stations only at certain times (usually the mid-day services). Non-airconditioned trains do not stop at Gambir station.
There are news recently suggesting that the train network in Jakarta will be using the same ticketing system as the Transjakarta Busway to reduce fare evasion beginning in 2007. It is not yet known whether the ticket will be fully integrated with the Busway.
The Transjakarta Busway (in Indonesian known as busway or Tije) is the only remotely functional and comfortable form of public transport in the city. The bus is often crowded during rush hours. As of January 2006, there are three lines operational:
Line 1: Blok M-Masjid Agung-Bundaran Senayan-Gelora Bung Karno-Polda Metro-Benhil-Karet-Setia Budi-Dukuh Atas-Tosari-Bundaran Hotel Indonesia-Sarinah-Bank Indonesia-Monas-Harmoni-Sawah Besar-Mangga Besar-Olimo-Glodok-Kota Line 2: (to Harmoni) Pulo Gadung-Bermis-Pulomas-ASMI-Pedongkelan-Cempaka Timur-Rumah Sakit Islam-Cempaka Tengah-Pasar Cempaka Putih-Rawa Selatan-Galur-Senen-Atrium-RSPAD-Deplu-Gambir I-Istiqlal-Juanda-Pecenongan-Harmoni Central Busway (to Pulo Gadung) Harmoni Central Busway-Balai Kota-Gambir II-Kwitang-Senen-Galur-Rawa Selatan-Pasar Cempaka Putih-Cempaka Tengah-Rumah Sakit Islam-Cempaka Timur-Pedongkelan-ASMI-Pulomas-Bermis-Pulo Gadung Line 3: (to Kalideres) Harmoni Central Busway-Pecenongan-Juanda-Pasar Baru-Juanda-Pecenongan-Jelambar-Indosiar-Taman Kota-Jembatan Gantung-Dispenda-Jembatan Baru-Rawa Buaya-Sumur Bor-Pesakih-Kalideres (to Harmoni Central Busway) Kalideres-Pesakih-Sumur Bor-Rawa Buaya-Jembatan Baru-Dispenda-Jembatan Gantung-Taman Kota-Indosiar-Jelambar-Harmoni Central Busway Line 4: Pulo Gadung-Pasar Pulo Gadung-Tugas-Pertamina-Telkom-Tarakanita-Sunan Giri-Ikip-Kehakiman-BPKP-Utan Kayu-Pasar Genjing-Pasar Pramuka-Matraman-Manggarai-Pasar Rumput-Halimun-Dukuh Atas Line 5: Kampung Melayu-Pasar Jatinegara (to Kampung Melayu)-Kebon Pala-Slamet Riyadi-Tegalan-Matraman-Salemba UI-Kramat Sentiong NU-Palputih-Senen-Departemen Keuangan-Budi Utomo-Golden Truly-Lautze-Kartini-Jembatan Merah-Mangga Dua Square-WTC-Ancol Line 6: Ragunan-Departemen Pertanian-SMK 57-Duren Tiga-Pejaten-Buncit Indah-Warung Jati Indah-Imigrasi-Mampang Prapatan/Hero-Kuningan Timur-Depkes-Patra Kuningan-Pasar Festival-Kuningan-Kuningan Madya-Menara Duta-Latuharhari-Halimun-Dukuh Atas Line 7: Kampung Rambutan-Tanah Merdeka-Makro-Rumah Sakit Harapan Bunda-Pasar Induk Kramat Jati-Terminal Cililitan-Mayjen Sutoyo-UKI-Bakornas Narkoba RI-Rumah Susun-Gelanggang Remaja-Depkeu-Kampung Melayu
The transfer points for the Transjakarta Busway lines are: Dukuh Atas: Busway Line 1, 4 and 6 Halimun: Busway Line 4 and 6 Kampung Melayu: Busway Line 4 and 7 Harmoni Central Busway: Line 1, 2 and 3 Juanda: Busway Line 2 and 3 (for those who is coming from Pulo Gadung and want to transfer to Line 3) Pulo Gadung: Busway Line 2 and 4 Matraman: Busway Line 4 and 5 Senen: Busway Line 2 and 5
Unlike Jakarta's other buses, busway buses shuttle on fully dedicated lanes and passengers must use dedicated stations with automatic doors, usually found in the middle of large thoroughfares connected to both sides by overhead bridges. The system is remarkably user-friendly by Jakartan standards, with station announcements and an LED display inside the purpose-built vehicles.
Buses run from 5 AM to 10 PM daily. Tickets cost a flat Rp 2, 000 before 7 am, and Rp 3, 500 after. Transfers between lines are free. The buses can get very crowded, especially during rush hours at 7 AM and 4 PM, when office workers are on the move.
It's advisable to refrain from using other buses for intracity travel; stick with taxis as they are safer. If you're feeling adventurous, as of October 2005 the flat fare for regular buses is Rp 2000, while air conditioned buses (Mayasari or Patas AC) cost Rp 5000. Some buses have a box at the front next to the driver where you can pay your fares, while others employ a man or a kondektur who will personally collect the fares from passengers.
Cheaper yet are mikrolet (mini-buses) and angkot (small vans) that ply the smaller streets and whose fares vary from Rp 1500 to 2500, but good luck figuring out the routes. You pay the fare directly to the driver after getting off.
You may need to spare one or two Rp 500 coins before boarding the bus, since there is on-board entertainment and other distractions. On a typical day, you may find street musicians singing unplugged versions of Indonesian and Western pop songs asking for donations at the end of the performance, and street vendors, one after another, trying to sell almost everything, starting from ballpoint pens, candies, to boxed donuts and health goods. If you do happen to be travelling in a bus, refrain from sitting or standing at the back area of the bus as this is where muggers find their prey. Always keep an eye on your belongings and be alert at all times as pickpocketing occurs.
Do note that buses do not run according to any schedule or timetable. Sometimes a bus may take a while to come, in other circumstances it is possible that two of the same bus routes may come together and these drivers will definitely drive aggressively in order to get more passengers. They do not stop at any particular bus stop and can stop just about anywhere they like. If you want to get off, simply say kiri (to the left) to the kondektur or just knock on the ceiling of the bus for three times (be sure that the driver hears your thumping), and the bus driver will find a place to drop you. An additional tip to alight from these buses is to use your left foot first to maintain balance and try to get down as quickly as possible as they do not fully stop the bus.
Also note that seats in these buses are built for Indonesians who're typically shorter and more slender and agile than people with a larger build such as caucasians and africans. Non-Indonesians might find the seats in these buses to be confined and uncomfortable.
List of bus terminals in Jakarta: Blok M (South Jakarta), Lebak Bulus (South Jakarta), Pasar Minggu (South Jakarta), Grogol, Kota, Kalideres (West Jakarta), Manggarai (South Jakarta), Pulogadung (East Jakarta), Rawamangun (East Jakarta), Kampung Melayu (East Jakarta), Kampung Rambutan (South Jakarta), Tanjung Priok (North Jakarta), Senen (Central Jakarta).
Rental cars are available, but unless you are familiar with local driving practices or lack thereof, take reputable taxis. If you're from foreign country, it is not recommended to rent a car and drive on your own. The chaotic and no-rules traffic will certainly give you a headache. Renting a car with a driver is much a better idea. The fixed price of gasoline is Rp 4500/litre and the price of diesel fuel is Rp 4300/litre (since October 1, 2005).
Toll roads circle the city and are faster when the traffic is good, but are very often jammed themselves. The drainage systems of major roads are poorly maintained and during rainy season (Dec-Feb) major roads may be flooded, leading to total gridlock as motors stall.
Finding parking places in residential areas can be difficult due to the narrow roads. Paid parking in shopping malls, offices and the like is Rp 1000-2000/hr.
If you do decide to drive by yourself or having a driver in Jakarta, please remember that there is a 3 in 1 system implemented in certain roads in the morning from 7.30-10.00 AM and in the afternoon from 4.30-7.00 PM where there is a requirement of having a minimum of three people in a car. The routes include the whole stretch from Kota train station through Blok M via Jl. Hayam Wuruk, Jl. Thamrin and Jl. Sudirman; Jl. Gatot Subroto from the Jl. Sudirman intersection to the intersection with Jl. HR Rasuna Said. There are intentions from the local government to change this system to an Electronic Road Pricing system beginning in 2007.
Beware the false Blue Bird Blue Bird's reputation has spawned a host of dodgy imitators, so just because it's blue doesn't mean it's safe. Check the following before you get in: Door and roof logo is either the Blue Bird or the Pusaka/Lintas flying egg Windshield says Blue Bird Group Driver is in uniform Headrests have Blue Bird logos
Most visitors opt to travel by taxi, which is cheap and occasionally even fast. There are a multitude of taxi companies of varying degrees of dependability, but Blue Bird group (tel. +62-21-7981001, 24 hours) is known for their reliability, has an efficient telephone order service and will among other things actually use the meter. The Blue Bird group also runs Silver Bird, Morante, Cendrawasih and Pusaka Nuri taxis; the Silver Birds executive taxi charges a premium.
A cheaper option is to take a TARIF LAMA (old tariff) taxi-Putra (dark blue) is regarded as good safe TARIF LAMA taxis, though not of quite the same standard as Blue Bird. These can work out about half the cost of taxis such as Blue Bird, which can be significant if you take a lot of taxis in Jakarta traffic.
Some other large, generally reliable companies include Gamya and Dian Taksi. You can generally determine a good cabbie by asking argo? ( meter? )-if they say no or tidak, get another taxi.
The standard taxi rate (effective October 2005) is Rp 5000 flagfall, and Rp 2600/km after the first 2 km. Some taxis (marked TARIF LAMA) use the older, cheaper rate, while Silver Bird is more expensive. Tipping is not necessary but rounding the meter up to the nearest Rp 1000 is expected, so prepare for small changes, or else you will be rounded up to the nearest Rp 5000.
Keep the doors locked and the windows closed when traveling in a Jakartan taxi, as your bag and watch make attractive targets when stuck in a traffic jam or traffic light. Criminal groups in Jakarta often attack passengers who use their cellular phone during traffic jam or near traffic light.
If you always kept a notebook with you, please DO write the taxi number and name, with the driver's name and ID number, so in case you left something in the taxi you can claim it to the taxi company.
Think twice about using the smaller taxi companies if you are alone, and try to know the vague route-the driver might well take you a roundabout route to avoid traffic, but you will know the general direction. Stating your direction clearly and confidently will usually pre-empt any temptation to take you on the long route. It is also not uncommon for taxi drivers to be recent arrivals in Jakarta-they often don't know their way around and may be relying on you to direct them-establish that they know the way before you get in! Make sure they don't take you the wrong way around the Toll!
17:44, 2 April 2008 (EDT)
If you're poking around narrow back streets, or just in such a hurry that you're willing to lose a limb to get there, then Jakarta's motorcycle taxis (ojek) might be the ticket for you. Jakarta's ojek services consist of guys with bikes lounging around street corners, who usually shuttle short distances down alleys and roads but will also do longer trips for a price. Agree on the fare before you set off.
If you're in a hurry and seriously loaded, Janis Air Transport (tel. +62 21 8350024) will be happy to charter a helicopter for you.
Jakarta is launching waterway using canals as a medium for public transportation manage by Transjakarta (busway). As of August 2007, the new service is still being pilot tested.
There are still many parts of Jakarta which are traffic free and full of trees, flowers, little red roofed houses and friendly people. These areas are generally safe for walking.
Some people would say that walking around the center of Jakarta is not recommended. With the exception of a few posher areas, sidewalks are crowded with pushcart vendors, drivers disregard pedestrians, crossing streets can be suicidal. On many busy streets there are no pedestrian crossings, so it's best to latch onto a local and follow them as they weave their way through the endless flow of cars. Muggings do occur, especially on overhead bridges, and can happen even in the daytime. If you use pedestrian bridge, watch out for motorcycle and bicycle that often use the bridge illegally.
In the near future, it will be probable to walk around the Jakarta Old Town area as the local government is currently undertaking a project to create the old town area into a pedestrian-friendly zone.
When to go
To avoid heavy traffic in Jakarta, the best day to go around is on Saturday and Sunday.
If you come at Hari Raya or Moslem Idul Fitri, it best to go sightseeing around main street like Sudirman, Thamrin and Kuningan..The street 3/4 empty, but many places are closed too.
Jakarta is administratively divided into the following unimaginatively named districts:
Jakarta/Central Central Jakarta (Jakarta Pusat, postal code: 10XXX)-an aptly named district and the site of Jakarta's symbol, the National Monument. Presidential palace, office buildings, hotels, Mangga Dua shopping center, Menteng residential area.
Jakarta/West West Jakarta (Jakarta Barat, 11XXX)-Jakarta's Chinatown, museums, trading centers, nightlife entertainment centers, shopping centers and malls.
Jakarta/South South Jakarta (Jakarta Selatan, 12XXX)-shopping centers, malls, restaurants, hotels, nightlife entertainment center (Blok M), Senayan sports complex, residential areas.
Jakarta/East East Jakarta (Jakarta Timur, 13XXX)-Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, Utan Kayu art community, Cibubur camping ground, industrial parks, Halim Perdanakusuma airport.
Jakarta/North North Jakarta (Jakarta Utara, 14XXX)-Beautiful Thousand Islands, Ancol Bayfront City, and Kelapa Gading shopping centers.
Tangerang (15XXX)-Soekarno Hatta airport, golf course, industrial parks. Bogor (16XXX)-Beautiful palace, botany garden, golf course. Depok, Bogor (164XX)-Universities. Bekasi (17XXX)-Industrial parks.
Strict gun control laws make Jakarta safer, but theft and robbery are problems. Be on your guard in crowded places such as markets, because pickpockets often steal wallets and cellular phones. Keep a close eye on your valuables and choose your transportation options carefully, especially at night. For all-night party excursions, it may be wise to keep your cab waiting — the extra cost is cheap and it's worth it for the security.
Theft and robbery are the main security problems for a foreign tourist. Don't leave cash, valuable items and important documents in an empty hotel room. Put it on hotel's safe deposit box. Put a copy of your passport and the original ID Card/Driver License on the hotel's safety deposit box. If you are inside the hotel room, always use the deadbolt/chain lock. If you suspect something is wrong, call the front desk. This only happen if you stay in a cheap hostel. But quality hotel are safe. No doubt.
Bring your passport and a copy of your ID card/driver license all the time. If you in a remote area, never show or carry your valuables like wallets, jewelry, gold watches, cellular phones, personal digital assistant (PDA), mp3 player, large camera prominently. But big cities are Ok. In cheap hotels, the hotel's safe deposit box is probably safer than leaving valuables in your room. Deadbolt/chain lock the room when inside, and call the front desk if you suspect an intruder. Avoid quiet or dark places. Choose reputable taxi companies and make sure the doors are locked and the windows are closed. Blue Bird Group taxis are the safest bet. Check for Blue Bird Group in large white letters emblazoned at the top of the taxi's windscreen. But Blue Bird cost you more money as well as Silver Bird. I choose Express Taxi (white color) and Gamya (Green color). It's safe but cheaper. There is about 3 different ranges of taxi meter in Indonesia. Always split your valuables in 2 places (e.g. keep your money in your wallet and also in your pocket. You may also want to keep some in reserve under your socks). Police are largely useless when it comes to crime prevention, and may attempt to extract bribes from any foreigners (the going rate for not having your passport with you is Rp. 50, 000). If you're very unfortunate and meet some bad guys, just let them take your valuables. By doing so, at least your personal safety is guaranteed. Of course, if you have ju-jitsu black-belt, you can try to practise it (but don't say we didn't warn you). Keep/remember the contact number of your country's embassy and other important emergency numbers. Stay away from the transsexual prostitutes (banci or waria in Indonesian) in the 'Taman Lawang' area. These are unemployed and often drug addicted people who have no other source of income than prostitution. Therefore they are known to rob and steal.
The high-profile terrorist bomb blasts at the JW Marriott in 2003 and the Australian Embassy in 2004 mean that security in Jakarta is heavy, with car trunk checks, metal detectors, and bag searches at most major buildings. Still, statistically this is more a nuisance than a real threat, and enforcement of the security rules tends to be lax at best (They use the metal detectors in the trunks of cars).
Tap water in Jakarta is not drinkable. Always use bottled water. I can brush my teeth with tap water, its absolutely fine.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), Jakarta is the 3rd most polluted city in the world after Mexico City and Bangkok.
During rainy season (December, January, February, March), lower parts of Jakarta (mostly those to the north) are often flooded.
There is a new law against smoking at public places in Jakarta, and the smoker can (in theory) be fined up to US$5000. If you want to smoke, ask other people first: Boleh merokok?
Jakarta's earliest history is centred around the port of Sunda Kelapa in the Kota district of present-day Jakarta. A bustling port of the Pajajaran dynasty, it was the last Hindu kingdom of West Java when the Portuguese arrived in 1522. The Portuguese had set up in the region to take advantage of the spice trade, but their stay was brief; in 1527 they were driven out by Muslim saint and leader Sunan Gunungjati, who established a fiefdom in the Banten sultanate. He renamed the city Jayakarta, meaning 'victorious city', and by the early 17th century both Dutch and English merchants had set up shop in the area. The Europeans jostled for control, exploiting the intrigue between local leaders and in 1618 a force of Jayakartans and Brits attacked the fortress of the Dutch Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC). Banten, annoyed at the actions of his vassal Jayakartans, intervened. The Dutch celebrated the reprieve and renamed their fortress Batavia. A few months later, they stormed the town, razing it completely. Their fort was extended and soon became a walled town, and, eventually, the capital of the Dutch East Indies. Several local forces mounted disastrous attacks on the Dutch over the next decade, but the fort was never really threatened.
Over the next hundred years, Indonesians and Chinese began flocking to the now-prosperous town. The walled Batavia grew to such an extent that strain was becoming apparent. Deportations commenced, and ethnic gangs began creating unrest in Batavia's outposts. In October 1740 the government ordered a search of Chinese premises. This prompted a terrible massacre of 5000 Chinese by Batavia's Dutch citizens. A year later Chinese residents were moved to an area outside the walled city, and soon after, many other residents-discouraged by 45 years of epidemic disease in Batavia-also relocated. The city began to spread. For the next 200 years, until the end of WWII, the Dutch oversaw a growing network of suburbs.
Dutch colonial rule came to an end when the Japanese took Java in WWII. At the conclusion of the war, nationalist leader Soekarno-with tacit Japanese backing-declared the Republic of Indonesia. However, the Dutch paid no attention and returned to their old colony. Trouble soon broke out and the Dutch, aided by a large British force, fought hard to retain control. On 10 November 1945 (now called 'Heroes Day') the British launched a bloody attack, killing thousands of Indonesians. Thousands more fled to the countryside, though numerous republican forces continued fighting for three weeks. As world opinion began turning towards the local republicans, the British scooted out, leaving 55, 000 Dutch troops to keep the peace. Indonesian republicans were jailed and cities were bombed. Up in Suluwesi a Dutch officer reportedly murdered 40, 000 Indonesians in an attempt to stabilise the area. In Jakarta there was relatively little trouble, though Soekarno and his deputy Hatta had to move their capital to Yogyakarta to avoid a confrontation with the Dutch. In November 1946 the Dutch recognised the Republican government, but in 1947 they mounted a huge offensive, causing the UN to step in. The Republicans were also on the defensive against internal opposition from the communist PKI. But when the Dutch, in contravention of a UN directive, launched a huge assault on the Indonesians in 1948, massive international condemnation forced their withdrawal. On 27 December 1949, power was officially handed to the Republicans.
In 1957, after a rudderless period of parliamentary democracy, Soekarno overthrew the parliament, declared martial law, and initiated a more authoritarian style of government, which he dubbed 'Guided Democracy'. Soekarno's usurpation of power drew immediate response: rebellions that broke out in Sumatra and Sulawesi were eventually crushed in 1958. Soekarno's vision of Jakarta was taking shape at the same time. His dream city of grand structures glorifying the Republic were slowly emerging. As his power was being whittled away from within the military, his grand plan for the capital was passed to Lieutenant General Ali Sadikin, who dramatically improved infrastructure at the expense of the city's huge slum dwellers. The power-struggle between Soekarno and other senior military officials boiled over in 1965 with bloody conflicts on the streets of Jakarta. It's worth a look at Peter Weir's 1982 film The Year of Living Dangerously for an evocative glimpse into this period. Emerging from the killings to seize control was Soeharto, a mid-level general and superb tactician.
After he assumed control, Soeharto's government was marked by large scale corruption and barely-disguised nepotism. During the Asian economic meltdown of the late 1990s, the Indonesian economy was hit harder than most. Food shortages and price rises implemented under the IMF's economic bailout package sparked anti-government demonstrations, which peaked in May 1998 after six students were shot dead by the army. More than 500 people died in Jakarta in the ensuing riots, and Soeharto eventually stood down on 21 May. Attacks on Indonesia's Chinese population were particularly fierce, and thousands of Chinese fled the country. In accordance with Indonesia's constitution, Soeharto was replaced by his (none-too-popular) vice-president, B.J. Habibie.
Habibie dabbled his toes in the waters of democracy with a half-hearted probe into Soeharto's comings and goings, a promise of economic reforms, and an announcement of independence or autonomy for the beleaguered East Timorese. Many of these reforms were continued and given more strength by Abdurrahman Wahid, but opposition forces and Indonesian students still wanted more.
Indonesia might be vast and Jakarta a long way from the powder-kegs of East Timor, Aceh and West Papua, but ripples from the outlying areas usually find their way to Jakarta in some way or another. Jakarta is at the epicentre of a program of renewal that straddles areas of the economy, the political system and society at large. Managing that renewal-and keeping a lid on spiralling ethnic and religious violence-is the nation's biggest challenge-a challenge it occasionally cannot meet, as indicated by the bombing of an international hotel in August 2003 in which 18 people died, and a similar attack on the Australian embassy the following year that killed nine.