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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in jakarta

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A view of western Jakarta on a typical dayA view of western Jakarta on a typical day
A view of western Jakarta on a typical day

Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia, located on the central island of Java.

jakarta Travel Guide :



Quite frankly, Jakarta is not an attractive city: a sweltering, steaming, heaving mass of people packed into a vast urban sprawl, the contrast between the obscene wealth of Indonesia's elite and the appalling poverty of the urban poor is incredible, with tinted-window BMWs turning left at the Gucci shop into muddy lanes full of begging street children and corrugated iron shacks. The city's traffic is in perpetual gridlock and its polluted air is matched only by the smells of burning garbage and open sewers. On the upside, there is less crime, and a friendlier population than in most Western cities and Jakarta has a creeping charm which many longer term visitors eventually succumb to. Having said this, there are few sights to speak of and most visitors transit as quickly as possible.

Though Jakarta may prove to be a bit overwhelming, if you can withstand the pollution and can afford to indulge in her charms, this is one of Asia's most exciting cities. There is plenty to do in Jakarta, from the towering Monas monument to cosmopolitan shopping at Plaza Senayan.

Keep in mind that rules and regulations are very rarely enforced in all aspects of life in Jakarta. This is not so much an encouragement for you, but an explanation on why many of its citizens act so haphazardly, particularly on the road.



Map showing Jakarta within IndonesiaMap showing Jakarta within Indonesia
Map showing Jakarta within Indonesia

The port of Sunda Kelapa dates to the 12th century, when it served the Sundanese kingdom of Pajajaran near present-day Bogor. The first Europeans to arrive were the Portuguese, who were given the permission to erect a godown in 1522. Control was still firmly in local hands and 1527 the city was conquered by Fatahillah, who changed the name to Jayakarta. By the end of the century, however, the Dutch had pretty much taken over and the razing of a competing English fort in 1619 secured their hold on the island.

Under the name Batavia, the new Dutch town became the capital of the Dutch East Indies and was known as the Queen of the East. However, the Dutch made the mistake of attempting to replicate Holland by digging canals throughout the malarial swamps in the area, resulting in shockingly high death rates and earning the town the epithet White Man's Graveyard. In the early 1800's most canals were filled in, the town was shifted 4 kilometers inland and the Pearl of the Orient flourished once again despite a brief occupation by the British in 1806-1810.

The name Jakarta was adopted as a short form of Jayakarta when conquered by the Japanese in 1942. Since independence Jakarta's population has skyrocketed, mostly thanks to migrants coming to the city in search of wealth. The entire Jabotabek (Jakarta-Bogor-TangerangTangerang-Bekasi) region is estimated to have 16-18 million people, a figure projected to double to 30 million by 2016.

In bureaucratese, Jakarta is frequently referred to as DKI, short for Daerah Khusus Ibukota, meaning "Special Capital Region".



Jakarta is administratively divided into the following unimaginatively named districts:

  • Central Jakarta (Jakarta Pusat) — an aptly named district and the site of Jakarta's symbol, the National Monument
  • North Jakarta (Jakarta Utara) — containing the districts of Kota, which was the city center in Dutch times and still retains many old buildings, and Glodok, Jakarta's Chinatown
  • West Jakarta (Jakarta Barat) — between the center and the airport
  • South Jakarta (Jakarta Selatan) — the business center of the city featuring the Golden Triangle of Jalan Sudirman, Jalan Rasuna Said and Jalan Gatot Subroto
  • East Jakarta (Jakarta Timur) — urban sprawl which hides the cultural jewel of the Utan Kayu Community (KUK - Komunitas Utan Kayu) home of free speech and artistic expression.

Get in


By plane

Departure taxes

As of September 2005, Soekarna-Hatta Airport charges departure taxes of Rp 100,000 for international flights and Rp 30,000 for domestic flights, payable in cash only. Forgetting this could be very awkward!

International and nearly all domestic flights land at Soekarno-Hatta Airport (, 20 km to the northwest of the city in Cengkareng (hence the unintuitive airport code CGK). The 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).

Visas are available on arrival, but expect to queue first to pay, once more to collect it and a third time for immigration itself. 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 fastest and safest option is to follow the Taxi signs out of the terminal and take a taxi from the ranks; ignore the many touts. Silver Bird (, between the D and E exits of Terminal 2, 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.

If you have more time than money, hourly DAMRI shuttle buses connect to Jakartan destinations Rawamangun, Blok M and Gambir (Rp 10,000) as well as directly to the neighboring cities of Bekasi, DepokDepok and Bogor (Rp 12,000).

The older Halim Perdanakusuma Airport (HLP), to the southeast of the city, is used only by charter flights, Deraya Air ('s commuter flights to Bandung, and Merpati Airline scheduled flights to Cilacap (Central Java).


By train

Train services from other parts of Java connect to a number of train stations around the city, the biggest (and most chaotic) of which is Gambir.


By car

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 your own. The chaotic and no-rule traffic will certainly give you headache. Rent a car with a driver is much a better idea.


By bus


By boat

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 Thousand Islands (Java)Thousand Islands (Pulau Seribu), depart from Ancol also on Jakarta's north shore.


Get around

Getting around Jakarta is a major 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 there is no metro rail transit or canal boat system. The construction of a monorail system, started in 2004, soon ground to a halt over political infighting . The only glimmer of hope at present is the growing trans-Jakarta busway, or bus rapid transit, 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).


By busway

The Trans-Jakarta Busway ( (in Indonesian known as busway or Tije) is the only remotely functional and comfortable form of public transport in the city. As of January 2006, there are three lines operational:

  • Line 1: Kota Station-Harmoni-Monas-Plaza Indonesia-Blok M
  • Line 2: Kalideres-Ciputra-Harmoni
  • Line 3: Pulogadung-Harmoni

Unlike Jakarta's other buses, busway buses shuttle on fully dedicated lanes and passengers must use dedicated air-conditioned 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.

Tickets cost a flat Rp 3,500 and transfers between lines are free. There are ambitious plans to expand the system in the coming years.


By bus

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 2500, while air conditioned buses (Mayasari or Patas AC) cost Rp 5000. 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 may need to spare one or two Rp 500 coins before boarding the bus, since there are on-board "entertainment" and distraction. On a typical day, you may find street musicians singing unplugged version of Indonesian and western pop songs asking for donation 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. It's good idea to keep your last coin, in case threatening-looking young men getting on board promising good behavior in exchange for some coins.


By taxi

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 ( (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 SilverBird taxis. Some other large, generally reliable companies include Express and Dian Taksi. You can generally suss out a reasonable cabbie by asking "argo?" ("meter?") - if they say no, get someone else. As of October 2005, flagfall is Rp 5000 and the meter then ticks up by Rp 2600/km. Tipping is not necessary but rounding the meter up to the nearest Rp 1000 is expected.

Keep the doors locked when traveling in a Jakartan taxi, as your bag and watch make attractive targets when stuck in a traffic jam. Think twice about using the smaller 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!


By bajaj

The Jakartan equivalent to Thailand's tuk-tuk is the bajaj (pronounced "budge-eye"), orange mutant scooters souped up in India into tricycles that carry passengers in a small cabin at the back.

They're a popular way to get around town since they can weave through Jakarta's interminable traffic jams much like motorbikes can. Although slow, boneshaking (suspension is not a feature in a bajaj), hot (locals joke about the "natural A/C") and the quick way to breathing in more exhaust fumes than you ever thought possible, riding around in these little motor-bugs can really grow on you.

There are no set prices, but a short hop of a few city blocks shouldn't cost much more than Rp 5000. Be sure to agree (read: haggle) a price before you set off! Bajaj drivers often think nothing of overcharging visitors. Also, since bajaj aren't allowed on some of the larger roads in Jakarta, your route may well take you through the bewildering warren of backstreets. Try to keep an eye on what direction you're going, because some unscrupulous bajaj drivers see nothing wrong with taking the "scenic" route and then charging you double or triple the price.


By ojek

If you're 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. Haggle furiously.



Jakarta's sights are generally less than scintillating, unless you happen to like dusty museums and socialist-revolutionary monumental sculpture.



Monas up close and personalMonas up close and personal
Monas up close and personal
  • National Monument (Monumen Nasional, often abbreviated Monas), Lapangan Merdeka (BRT Monumen Nasional), Gambir; tel. +62 21 384 0451. A towering 137m-tall obelisk with 35 kilos of solid gold shaped into flames up top, this is the most famous landmark in Jakarta. The monument was commissioned by Sukarno in 1961 to celebrate Indonesia's independence, it was completed in 1975 after his death and is consequently known irreverently as Sukarno's Last Erection. The 1 Medan Merdeka (Freedom Square) plaza/park around it was created by bulldozing a squatter community. Entry to the monument costs Rp 1100 (including Rp 100 "insurance"!), open 9 AM to 4 PM daily. Note that only the north entrance, via a poorly signposted pedestrian tunnel, is currently open.
    • An observation platform perched atop the monument offers stunning views of Jakarta and cool breezes on a hot day. Combined entry ticket Rp 5100.
    • National History Museum (Museum Sejarah Nasional). In the basement of Monas — look for the small staircases leading down from the outside — is a collection of dioramas depicting the struggle for Indonesian independence from a firmly revolutionary point of view. More amusing than educational, but entry is free with your Monas ticket.


Jakarta History Museum, KotaJakarta History Museum, Kota
Jakarta History Museum, Kota

Jakarta's most interesting cluster of sights can be found around the square Taman Fatahillah in north Jakarta, once the center of Batavia. Kota Station and the busway line 1 terminus are one block to the south. Entry to any museum costs Rp 2,000 and they're open from 8:30 AM to 3 PM daily except Mondays.

  • Jakarta History Museum (Museum Sejarah Jakarta), Jalan Taman Fatahillah No. 2, North Jakarta. Housed in the beautifully restored former Batavia City Hall (1710), the exterior is more interesting than the interior, which seems to consist mostly of tables and chairs labeled "made from teakwood, 18th century, Batavia". The exhibit on prehistoric Jakarta is mildly interesting though, and the colonial-style Museum Cafe (entry from the inner courtyard) provides a nice Cafe Batavia) experience at under half the price.
  • Puppet Museum (Museum Wayang), Jln. Pintu Besar Utara No. 27 (west edge of Taman Fatahillah). Houses a good collection of wayang (puppets) from all around Indonesia and a few from around the world, labeled in English (well, sort of). Best visited on the last Sunday of every month, when free wayang kulit (shadow theater) performances complete with full-scale gamelan orchestra are held hourly from 10 AM to 2 PM.
  • Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics (Balai Seni Rupa & Museum Keramik), Jalan Taman Fatahillah No. 1. Rounds out the museum trio, with, as the name promises, Indonesian fine arts and ceramics.

There are a few museums of some interest elsewhere around town.

  • National Museum, Jalan Merdeka Barat 12 (BRT Monumen Nasional), Gambir; tel. +62 21 381 1551. Has a fine collection of stone Hindu sculptures and cultural artifacts from around the region, as well as an impressive treasure room filled with gold items. Look out for the elephant statue at front, a gift from the King of Siam (Thailand) in 1871.


Golf is the number one pastime of the upper classes and, as so many other things here, relatively cheap by Western standards. Green fees can go as low as Rp60,000 on weekdays, although the better courses are twice that, and weekend rates are considerably steeper at Rp300,000 and up.

  • Klub Golf Cengkareng, Taman Niaga Soewarna, Blok G, Cengkareng, tel. +62 21 5591 1111. 18-hole course just next to the airport, famed for the miniskirted Cengkareng Girls who go around offering refreshments, and with more of a focus on business schmoozing than playing. Open to the general public on weekdays only, when a green and caddy fee package will set you back Rp240,000. On weekends you'll need an invitation from a member and will still have to cough up a whopping Rp550,000.
  • Pondok Indah Golf and Country Club, Metro Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, tel. +62 21 7464906. A huge sign "Pondok Indah Golf and Country Club - 1983 World Cup Venue" marks the entrance. Has a driving range. Rp40,000 for 100 balls. + Rp20,000 (caddy fee). 2 levels of driving range bays, with a beautiful view. The range area is water, with several islands for you to aim at.

Movies are a more affordable escape at around Rp25,000 for a plush seat in any of the capital's shopping malls. Beware the heavy hand of the Indonesian censor though.







If you're stopping in Jakarta, consider buying an extra suitcase, because there's lots of good shopping to be done.


Shopping malls

Despite the crushing poverty exhibited in many parts of the city, Jakarta has a large number of giant, glittering malls. Note that, for imported goods, prices in some of the Plazas' designer shops can actually be higher than what would be charged in the same shop in the West.

  • ITC Kuningan and Mall Ambasador, Jl. Prof. Dr. Satrio, Kuningan, South Jakarta. Two adjacent and interconnected middle-class shopping malls packed with a jumble of clothing, mobile phone, computer and pirate music/movie/software shops (head for the upper levels). Far from the most glamorous malls in Jakarta, but not a bad option for low prices without the hassle of the markets.
  • Mal Kelapa Gading, Jl. Bulevar Kelapa Gading, Blok M, North Jakarta, 1 ( Expanded 4 times and still growing, this strip mall on steroids is by far the biggest in North Jakarta. Good mid-range selection of pretty much anything, but the focus is on fashionable clothing.
  • Plaza Indonesia (also known as Sogo after its anchor tenant), Jl. MH Thamrin No. 28-30 (BRT Bunderan HI), Central Jakarta, 2 ( The standard-bearer of swank, but no longer the only game in town. Well located at the very center of Jakarta, but good luck finding anything not imported (and priced to match). Good food courts and a well-stocked Periplus bookstore in the basement. The eX annex is a popular nightspot featuring Hard Rock Cafe and F Bar.
  • Plaza Senayan, Jl. Asia Afrika 8, Central Jakarta, tel. +62 21 572 5555, 3 ( Anchored by Sogo and Metro department stores, this is the self-proclaimed "most stylish mall in Jakarta" and they just might be right, at least if you equate style with the ilk of the Louis Vuitton, Prada and Gucci shops that fill up the first floor. Check out the Kinokuniya book store on the 5th floor of Sogo, the largest in Jakarta with an excellent selection of English books. The Arcadia annex, lurking in the back across a parking lot, has a cluster of high-end restaurants.
  • Plaza Semanggi, Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav 50 Lt 6, South Jakarta. Lies beside the Jakarta's landmark Semanggi Bridge. This large, airy and brand new mall (opened 2004) has something for everyone, with floors devoted to fashion, IT, and even furniture. Good selection of restaurants on floor 3A. Good place to find Wi-Fi / internet hotspots.
  • Pondok Indah Mall, Jl.Metro Pondok Indah No. 1, Pondok Indah, South Jakarta. Two malls connected by a skybridge, the complex claims to be the biggest in Jakarta. Sogo, Metro, cafes, restaurants and the usual suspects.
  • Taman Anggrek, Jl. Letjen. S. Parman No. 21, Slipi, West Jakarta. The largest of all Jakartan malls, Taman Anggrek sees 100,000 people pass through on a good day. In addition to the usual department stores and cineplexes, this cavernous complex contains an ice-skating rink!


In addition to malls, there are also numerous extremely large shopping centres, quite a few of which can be found in the Mangga Dua (Two Mangoes) area. These include the huge Pasar Pagi Mangga Dua and the gigantic WTC (Wholesale Trade Center) Mangga Dua, massive indoor markets with hundreds upon hundreds of shops selling everything at wholesale prices. Note that Pasar Pagi Mangga Dua does not have air conditioner installed. When you shop in those places, you can always bargain the price.

  • Pasar Tanah Abang, located in Central Jakarta, is the largest textile market in Southeast Asia. Not advisable to go, except if you're a big wholesaler and want to buy a large quantity of textile. The security is one of the worst in Jakarta.
  • Pasar Taman Puring, located in South Jakarta, is the infamous bargain market in the city. This market offer you anything you can imagine from electronics to clothing at a very cheap price. Don't forget to bargain. The security is not so bad and foreigners friendly environment.


Jakarta has a vast range of food available if you know where to find it. In addition to selections from all over the country, you can also find excellent Chinese, Japanese and Korean food thanks to the cosmopolitan population. Longer-term visitors will wish to dig up a copy of Aksara ('s encyclopedic Jakarta Good Food Guide ISBN 9799708303, although unfortunately the last ion dates from 2002.

You can find Jakartan versions of many dishes, often tagged with the label betawi (Indonesian for "Batavian").

  • sop iga sapi — Beef spare rib soup that takes a simple Dutch dish and piles on Indonesian spices.
  • soto betawi — Coconut milk broth with beef tendons, intestines, tripe.

Unless you've brought your own food from home, count on at least half a day of being on the toilet before your body adjusts to the local bacteria you will undoubtably consume. But after that half-day, you should be fine for the rest of your duration.



The food courts of Jakarta's shopping malls are a great way of sampling Indonesian and other food in hygienic and air-conditioned comfort. Plaza Senayan (basement), Plaza Semanggi (level 3A), Taman Anggrek's Dapur Anggrek (level 4) all have good selections, but Mal Kelapa Gading's Food Temptation (level 3) claims to be the largest in Indonesia. Also at Mal Kelapa Gading are Gading Food City, offering a vast selection of mostly Indonesian outdoor eats with live music, and the more upscale La Piazza.

  • Bakmi GM, Jl. Gajah Mada No.92, West Jakarta, tel. 633-4689. One of Jakarta's most famous noodle joints, now with franchises in shopping malls across the city. The best-known dish is bakmi pangsit goreng, with chewy bakmi noodles, a topping of chicken and mushroom and a deep-fried wonton dumpling on top. Dishes Rp10,000-20,000 (US$1-2). Open 10 AM-3 PM, 4:30 PM-9:30 PM daily, except Sundays 8 AM to 3 PM only.
  • Bale Air, Jl. Gatot Subroto Kav. 18, South Jakarta. Popular "food village" with half a dozen restaurants, take an outdoor table in the central seating area near the fountain and order from any that strike your fancy. Most dishes Rp 20-30,000.
  • Sapo Oriental Restaurant, Mall Taman Anggrek 3F. Chinese-Indonesian restaurant specializing in claypot (sapo) dishes from Rp 20,000.
  • Spice Garden, Plaza Indonesia B1F. Worth a special mention, this upscale food court has been done up to resemble a cluster of rustic kaki lima, only with air-con and without the cockroaches. Indonesian choices from all across the archipelago, plus token Japanese and Korean options. Meals from Rp. 20,000.
  • Super Kitchen, Mall Ambassador No. 16, Jl. Prof. Dr. Satrio Kav. 8 (and 7 other outlets). Features waiters in bowties and marble tabletops, but basic rice/noodle dishes in fairly authentic Hong Kong style start from under Rp. 20,000. Seafood dishes are more expensive.


  • Chamoe-Chamoe, Gedung Millenia Lt. 2, Sudirman Business Center, Jl. Jend. Sudirman, tel. +60-21-515-2905. A popular Manadonese restaurant, slightly tuned for the local palate — no pork, bat or alcohol — but still spicy and tasty. The house speciality is ikan bakar woku (Manado-style herbal baked fish), but also try the breneibon (kidney bean soup) and the zippy ayam rica-rica (chicken with chili sauce). Most dishes around Rp 20-30,000.
  • Penangbistro, Jl. Kebon Sirih Raya No. 59, Central Jakarta, tel. (021) 3190 6000 and Jl. Pakubuwono VI #2, South Jakarta, tel. (021) 7260303, 4 ( Asian food include tasty if not particularly authentic versions of Penang dishes from Malaysia, served in one of Jakarta's newest and hippest spots with sleek, atmospheric lighting, interior garden and a full-wall waterfall. Main courses mostly in the Rp 20-50,000 range. Open daily from 11 AM to 10 PM.

The Setiabudi One complex on Jl. Rasuna Said has several dozen restaurants offering all sorts of food. Restaurants on the ground floor are fancy, while the first floor is more utilitarian.

  • Sushigroove, Setiabudi One GF #A-107, Jl. HR. Rasuna Said Kav. 62, tel. +62-21-522-9955, 5 ( This stylish restaurant looks more like a nightclub, but the food is funky and fairly priced: try a Godzilla Roll with mango and avocado (Rp 19000), a bowl of Curry Fried Rice Bibimbap (Rp 31000) and wash it down with a tall glass of Bling Bling juice (Rp 15000).

If you have nasi goreng and gado-gado coming out your ears, an interesting cure is a trip to Little Japan just south of notorious nightlife district Blok M. Some familiarity with Japanese cuisine will come in handy though.

  • Ajihara, Jl. Melawai IX No. 3A, Blok M, South Jakarta, tel (021) 7201340, 7220687. Long-running and very authentic Japanese eatery that specializes in hand-made noodles (around Rp 40,000 a bowl) but offers a mind-bogglingly large selection of other dishes, most of them excellent. Ask the chef for recommendations if you can't read Japanese. Open daily for lunch (11 AM-2 PM) and dinner (6 PM-11:30 PM).
  • Shabutei, Plaza Semanggi floor 3A, Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav 50 Lt 6, South Jakarta. Rp 63,000++ gets you a large set (enough for two) of reasonably authentic cook-it-yourself Japanese shabu-shabu (hotpot).


Colonial swank at Cafe BataviaColonial swank at Cafe Batavia
Colonial swank at Cafe Batavia

The best gourmet splurges in Jakarta are the opulent buffet spreads in the five-star hotels, which offer amazing value by international standards.

  • Airlangga, 1F Ritz-Carlton, Jalan Lingkar Mega Kuningan Kav E11. The latest competitor in the hotel buffet market, in the evenings Rp 148,000++ gets you a vast spread of top-quality Italian, Indonesian, Chinese and Japanese food, plus not one but two excellent dessert tables.
  • Asuka, 3F JW Marriott, Jalan Lingkar Mega Kuningan Kav E12. Very expensive but very, very good Japanese food. The opulent bento sets from Rp 140,000++ are excellent value, but if you really want to splurge you can go for some teppanyaki Kobe beef at half a million a serve.
  • Blowfish, 29F Menara Bank Danamon, Jl. Prof. Dr. Satrio Kav E IV/6, Mega Kuningan, 6 ( California-style fusion sushi and Japanese eats with a twist. The hippest place in town in 2003, now merely very popular. Lunch sets reasonable at 54,000++, dinner is more expensive. Bar/club section upstairs.
  • Cafe Batavia, Taman Fatahillah, Kota, North Jakarta, tel. +62 21 6915531, 7 ( This establishment in the heart of Kota oozes old-school colonial style: it serves international and Indonesian food at brunch, lunch and dinner and doubles as a party spot at nights. Quite expensive though: most meals are well upwards of Rp 100,000++ and an appetizer of caviar will set you back a cool Rp 2 million. Open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
  • Jewel of India, Ambhara Hotel 1F, Jl. Iskandarsyah Raya No. 1, South Jakarta, tel. +62-3-2700704. Arguably Jakarta's best Indian restaurant, offering up a wide selection of dishes from Rp 30,000, many of them vegetarian. Be sure to finish off with some chai masala. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
  • Lara Djongrang, Jl. Cik Di Tiro 4, Menteng, Central Jakarta, +62-21-315-3252, 8 ( Old house named after a legend from Prambanan and retrofitted with the contents (and roof!) of a 300-year-old temple in Semarang, serving up self-styled "imperial Indonesian cuisine" at Rp 30-50,000 per dish. The staff will be happy to show you around if it's quiet, be sure to check out the gorgeous Lara Djongrang room.
  • Sailendra, 1F JW Marriott Hotel, Jalan Lingkar Mega Kuningan Kav E12. At lunch, Rp 112,000++ gets you all you can eat for very competently prepared Indonesian, Western, Japanese, Chinese and Indian food, not to mention an extensive salad bar and occasional visiting chefs preparing their specialities. Spare a thought for the occasional disfigured staff member, as they had the misfortune of being here when the bomb went off right next to the large glass windows (an area now fenced in and turned to a garden).
  • SATOO, 1F Shangri-La Hotel Jakarta, Kota BNI, Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 1, Jakarta 10220. The superposh yet hip buffet restaurant at Shangri-La Jakarta. Serving eight open kitchen stations with delicious meals from around the world. The buffet includes traditional jamu, juice, and coffee. Lunch is Rp. 130.000 ++ while dinner costs Rp. 165.000++.


If you're the clubbing type, there are many nightclubs to choose from. From the upscale X-Lounge to the seediest discos, Jakarta caters to all kinds of clubbers. Bring a friend if you decide to brave the seedier joints, though they tend to have the best DJs.

Jakarta's most (in)famous nightlife district is Blok M (, or more specifically the single lane of Jl. Palatehan 1 just north of the bus terminal, packed with pubs and bars geared squarely towards Western visitors. While lacking the bikini-clad go-go dancers of Patpong, the meat market atmosphere is much the same with poor country girls turned pro. Blok M is now easily accessible as the southern terminus of BRT Line 1. For a more off-the-beaten track experience, head a few blocks south to Jl. Melawai 6 (opposite Plaza Blok M), Jakarta's de-facto Little Japan with lots of Japanese restaurants, bars and (what else?) karaoke joints.

To hang out where Indonesia's young, rich and beautiful do, head to Plaza Indonesia's EX annex, packed full of trendy clubs and bars. Plaza Senayan's Arcadia annex attempts to duplicate the concept, but with more of an emphasis on fine dining.

  • B.A.T.S., Shangri-La B1F, Kota BNI, Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 1, 9 ( Bar at The Shangri-La, now featuring Flashdance for the top 40 live music and jazz sounds Kemala Ayu for the After Work Club, the traffic-beating entertainment from 17.00 - 19.00.
  • F Bar, Plaza Indonesia L1-2#EX, Jl. MH. Thamrin Kav. 13, tel. +62-21-31909079. Super-stylish bar/club with DJ spinning nonstop and Fashion TV on all the walls, and an expensive fusion restaurant downstairs for quieter moments. Draft Bintang a mere Rp 25,000, but this is the kind of place that calls for a strangely named cocktail (Rp 50,000++).
  • Hard Rock Cafe, Plaza Indonesia L2#EX-07, Jl. MH. Thamrin Kav. 13, tel. +62-21-31990164, 10 ( In most of the world the HRC is synonymous with rock'n'roll kitsch and overpriced hamburgers for tourists, but Jakarta's is famous as a place to party and it gets packed on weekends. Recently reopened at a new location and, moan the old-timers, not the quite the same anymore (although there are still long queues to get in on weekends).
  • Red Square, Plaza Senayan Arcadia?Unit X-105?Jl. New Delhi No.9, tel. ? 021-5790-1281, 11 ( Jakarta's first vodka bar, in chic black and red, serves up all sorts of vodka-based cocktails (how about a Bloody Red Square?) plus "fusion Russian" cuisine with items like Russian Bruschetta and Borscht Buntut. Open from 11:30 AM to past midnight, most cocktails from Rp 50,000 up.




Jalan Jaksa is Jakarta's main backpacker hangout, with numerous low-priced hostels as well as some mid-range hotels. Whilst the area itself has a laid-back feel (which may be what attracts backpackers), it's not worth hanging around at the expense of seeing greater Jakarta. The area is just south of Kota station and now fairly accessible on the busway.



  • Sparks Hotel Jakarta, Jl. Mangga Besar Raya 42 (BRT Mangga Besar), West Jakarta, tel. +62-21-6252534, 12 ( New funky designer hotel in the heart of Kota, around the corner from Mangga Dua and with good BRT access. You can choose not only your room type, but color as well (green, blue or purple). Internet rates from US$60.


Jakarta has more than its fair share of luxury hotels, and after the prolonged post-crash hangover new ones are now going up again. Many remain good value by world prices, but opulent lobbies do not always correspond to the same quality in the room though.

  • Ciputra, Jalan Letnan Jenderal S. Parman, tel. +62-21-5660640, 13 ( The main redeeming points of this Swiss-managed hotel are predictability, the adjoining shopping mall and the fact that it's halfway to the airport along the tollway, although the flipside is the location in one of West Jakarta's less pleasant slums. Singles from US$80.
  • JW Marriott, Jalan Lingkar Mega Kuningan Kav E12, tel. +62-21-57988888, 14 ( Quite possibly the best of the bunch, with opulent yet tasteful decoration, huge rooms with broadband internet, and nasi goreng Rp 70,000++ from room service. Security has been beefed up to near-ludicrous levels after the 2003 car bomb though. Rooms US$120 and up.
  • Ritz-Carlton, Jalan Lingkar Mega Kuningan Kav E11, tel. +62-21-2551-8888, 15 ( One-upping the JW across the street is this super-swanky five-star, opened in May 2005. Bathrooms have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the other skyscrapers popping up in this fast-growing area. Rooms from US$138.
  • Shangri-La, Kota BNI, Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 1, tel. +62-21-5707440, 16 ( Very centrally located just off Sudirman, the Shang is one of Jakarta's older luxury hotels, but it has been kept in good shape with modern features like broadband and the wood-panelled colonial-style rooms have aged gracefully. Rooms from US$135.




Wartel telephone shops are ubiquitous on the streets of Jakarta.



If you have your own laptop, CBN Hotspot ( runs free WLAN networks at many of the capital's malls. Ask at the information desk for access codes.


Stay safe

Strict gun control laws make Jakarta safer than many Western cities, but theft and robbery are problems. Keep a close eye on your valuables and choose your transportation options carefully, especially at night.

  • Never show or carry your valuables like wallets or gold watches prominently.
  • Avoid quiet or dark places.
  • Choose reputable taxi companies and make sure the doors are locked. 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.
  • 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).
  • 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 karate black-belt, you can try to practise it (but don't say we didn't warn you).

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.




Get out

  • Thousand Islands (Java)Thousand Islands — an archipelago of countless small islands just north of the city
  • Bandung — some 100 m/150 km southeast of Jakarta, another popular tourist destination.
  • Bogor — cooler climes and a beautiful botanical garden an hour away

External links

Jakarta's official websites are even less stable than the local power supply.

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