I should admit that Jakarta can be such a difficult place for people who travel here and just meet the face of the city in the first time. I am living here almost my whole life and still learning how to enjoy to live in the city. Inspired by so many travelers that asking the same time to me such as ; “Is Jakarta safe to travel?” “Is Jakarta a dangerous city?” “Can female traveling alone in Jakarta?” “Is Jakarta a nice city to visit?” I am moved to write this tips things you should know for traveling in Jakarta (perhaps it makes your staying here easier).
1. In the airport
If you are flying to Jakarta, either you will stop in Soekarno Hatta or Halim Perdana Kusuma. Mostly airlines stop in Soekarno Hatta. You have two options to go to the city (city center) since it’s quiet far from the airport to city center, so think twice before you taking the taxi. With the highway expense, you probably need to pay around USD 15-20, depends on how far you go. There are so many people will try to offer you private car or taxi once you get out from the Arrival Gate. My suggestion is to always taking Blue Bird taxi. It’s a blue car with a bird logo – take attention for the logo and the name, since there are also another blue taxi as well. Go follow the board that inform you where the taxi’s line. Then you need to tell the crew that you need their taxi. They will give you a card with written number, and you need to be in queue.
To avoid the long line in taxi’s waiting, I normally go to the Departure area (in another floor) and stop the Blue Bird’s taxi there. This is the fastest way to get the taxi, but it’s actually not allowed because taxi here supposed to be only for dropping passengers. So be hurry and quick. If you bring too many bags and you can’t be a flash runner, you should avoid my tips 😛
Second option is to take Damri Bus. If you are from international flight, it’s located in the end of the lobby of arrival gate. The cost of Damri bus may vary but mostly IDR 40,000/person. Personally I prefer to take this bus. Since it’s comfortable, big seat and also have lots of destination. To know more about the direction where they are going: Majalah Transportasi. (It’s in Indonesian, but you can see the destination you wanna go and the time schedule).
2. Buy Indonesian Simcard
If you stay a bit longer in Indonesia, I suggest you to take Indonesian simcard. You can get one in the airport or you can buy it in the simcard/phone credit small store in the street. Different with some countries, in Indonesia, is very easy to buy simcard (you even can ask the guy who sold to you to register the number!). There are prominent simcard as Telkomsel, XL and Indosat. To travel around Indonesia, Telkomsel and XL are having good signal (even yeah, in some area they can be so low too).
If you stay around 1-2 weeks, you can buy phone credit for IDR 100,000 and ask them to register you for the unlimited monthly internet.
3. Take an official Taxi
Still about taxi. Once you are in the city, I also suggest you to take Blue Bird taxi if you need a ride. Make sure they use the meter (even they usually always turn on the meter, but checking also good), write their ID and the number of the car in your note – just in case you leave your stuff, you can easily call the company and tell them your condition, and ask the driver whether he knows the place you are going or not.
You can call Blue Bird to order them.
Be friendly with the driver, even sometimes they can’t speak English, but smile and greet them will make them feel valued.
4. Jakarta’s Public Transportation
There is many kind of public transportation in Jakarta that probably confuse you. Our biggest improvement is to having Transjakarta (local people call it “Busway”). It is a good choice for you who going around the city center. They have some lines that bring you from one stop to another. I know the line is still confusing because Jakarta is a huge city. But you can always ask the crew where to stop to reaching your destination.
Transjakarta is having 2 separate places for female and male. Female taking the front area. That’s because previously so many case of sexual harassment in peak hours. Be extra very careful with your belongings if you are taking Transjakarta in peak hours (when people going to the office or return home). Pickpocket is still there and they are quite professional. Same tips if you are taking Metro Mini or Kopaja (3/4 bus). Short destination in Sudirman or Thamrin area can take Kopaja – but still take care of your stuff. Don’t put wallet on your back pocket, or put your bag that’s inside is your phone/wallet/tab on your back. In Jakarta, we are learned to put our bag in front our chest when walking, to avoid robbery.
5. Use Couchsurfing to meet up with the locals
This is a travel community that allow you to meet up with the local. It’s not merely to staying in their house, but you also can ask their tips or time to show you around the city. Indonesian people naturally are kind and friendly people. But my tips to you, if you know that you wanna come here, you can go search for the profile of people you wanna meet from long time ago. I also do that when travel abroad. Later on, try to build more communication to them so you know more about your host. Following to each other in social media also good so you both know that you “real person” and you can feel more safe.
This is my Couchsurfing profile if you want to ask more about Jakarta 😀
6. Take care of your health
Best tips from me is to let you know that water is not drinkable in Indonesia. Furthermore, if you are not get used to take street food, please choose places to eat that clean. Eating in mall or proper restaurant, probably a good way if you are not sure about street food in Jakarta (but our street food is so delicious!). Don’t ruin your trip because of wrong food you eat, but don’t ruin your sense of adventure by worrying what you eat.
7. Be careful when passing the street
I also don’t understand, since when our city is a place that full with vehicle! The worse ones are motorcycles. They can be everywhere! (Pedestrian, Bridge, your behind….) so be careful when passing the street. For your information, we do have bridge to crossing the road, but in some areas, there is no certain place to crossing the street, so you need to wave your hand asking way to crossing or just wait until there is less of vehicle… then run.
8. Changing money
It is better to change money in the airport or in official money changer. There are lots of official money changer in the city center or mall. Otherwise, it is better to take money from your ATM. Be careful when you carry your money. This is actually should be done everywhere you go. But counting money in the street is not recommended. Plus, if you carry your “one shoulder bag” and wanna walk in the street, make sure that your hand is always touching the bag. Another tips from me is, if you are walking and the street is on your right, put your bag on your left – vice versa. It is to make sure that someone won’t able to take it away during your walk.
9. Booking ticket
Do you know that you can book ticket online? It is better price than you buy in travel agent. For domestic flight, some of them can be paid through Indomaret (the supermarket) or ATM. Most convenient absolutely to book via credit card.
If you wanna buy ticket for train, you can also buy online https://tiket.kereta-api.co.id/ ; only it’s in Indonesian, so you perhaps can ask your local friend how to buy the train ticket, otherwise, you can go to the train station and buy it. For long journey, it’s not advisable to suddenly come to the train and buy the ticket because probably it’s already full. But you always can try, anyhow 😉
10. Bring the copy of your passport
I know for traveler, passport is their life. For me as well. So my strategy is to bring the copy of my passport every where I go (in another country). Keep your original passport in safe place. At least, once someone asking your id, you can show the copy. Plus, take a picture of your passport. You never know that probably you will miss the copy somewhere.
If you still worry to come to Jakarta, perhaps this can encourage you to go ;
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.” – James Michener
The most important thing is don’t do drugs. You don’t want your trip become a series of nightmare. Plus use your common sense. And you will be fine.