So, you’re traveling to Jakarta, Indonesia? Here are five things I wish I knew before heading there myself.
- The first word I learned when I moved to Jakarta was macet, which means “traffic jam” in Bahasa Indonesia. Jakarta has some of the world’s worst traffic, so exercise patience and always carry a book with you. Sometimes you’ll breeze along the highways. Other times it could take an hour (or more!) to go a few kilometers. It’s not uncommon for taxi drivers to slap their foreheads with the palm of their hand and exclaim “macet!” as you sit in traffic.
- Jakarta doesn’t have an MRT, so you’re going to need to take taxis or ojeks (mototaxis) to get pretty much anywhere. Luckily petrol is absurdly inexpensive in Indonesia so both options are blissfully cheap. If you’re taking taxis stick with Blue Bird – they are the most reputable company, they’re everywhere and they have an app! Rates start at about 7,500 rupiah (roughly $.50) and tick up slightly every kilometer. If you’re taking an ojek, there’s no need to pay more than 50,000 rupiah (roughly $4) for a ride.
- Jakarta is a pretty conservative Muslim city and it shows. Many women wear headscarves (though not all of them!) and it feels like there are mosques around every corner. Travelers (especially women) might want to be mindful about how they dress. I preferred to wear clothes that covered my knees and shoulders while sightseeing and walking around more local areas. But, in my experience, if you’re going to one of the city’s many international malls, bars or clubs it’s perfectly fine to show a bit more skin!
- I was highly impressed by the street food in Jakarta. Pasar Baru and Kota Tua are both chock full of food vendors. If you’re wondering what local food is like in Jakarta, here is a truly excellent guide to Jakarta’s street food. Some popular dishes include gado gado (peanut-drenched veggies and tempeh), satay (meat on a stick slathered in peanut sauce), sayur asem (a veggie soup with a tamarind-based broth) and martabak (a thick pancake filled with sweet and savory fillings). The Nutella and cheese martabak at Martabok Boss is to die for!
- Jakarta is a big city and it can be a tough place to figure out, especially if you’re only visiting for a few days. The first time I traveled there I was at a complete loss as to what to see and do. But after living there for a while I realized there are a plethora of cool things to do in Jakarta, from perusing bustling marketplaces at Pasar Baru to dining at hip restaurants at Pasar Santa to learning about Jakarta’s Dutch-colonial past in Kota Tua.
Need a place to stay in Jakarta? Find hotels, compare prices, and read traveler reviews here.
Have you been to Jakarta? What tips would you add?
Photos courtesy of Travel Lush.