48 Hours in Jakarta Indonesia
If you read our 48 hour guides on Wroclaw Poland or Varna Bulgaria then you will know that Euromentravel.com focuses on European destinations.
To broaden our horizon we are very fortunate to have travel writer Pramod Kanakath step forward and provide us with another episode in the 48 Hours series. His guide will be about his favorite city and home of the last ten years Jakarta Indonesia.
Let’s get right into it.
How to get there
Jakarta is connected by air to most Asian cities and some European cities.
The state carrier, Garuda Indonesia, flies from Amsterdam to Jakarta with a stopover in Singapore. Most travellers from Europe or America may prefer taking one of the Middle-Eastern airlines – Emirates or Etihad– to fly to Jakarta with a stopover in the UAE.
Why would one prefer a Middle-Eastern airline when flying to Indonesia? Because money talks!
A roundtrip-ticket from Frankfurt, Germany to Jakarta with Garuda Indonesia will cost you a hefty 1523€ while the same route is only 623€ with Etihad. And if you are flying from Amsterdam, then a roundtrip to Jakarta is offered by Emirates for only 685€ (all prices through skyscanner.com). Compare these prices to Garuda Indonesia and the Middle-Eastern airlines will save you no less than 50% of your money.
Recently, Turkish Airlines and Oman Air have also upped their ante by introducing direct flights to Jakarta from their respective countries. If the price is right then it can be a good idea to combine Indonesia with one of these exotic locations.
In case you are travelling from a south-east Asian destination, there are a number of budget airlines vying with each other to canvass passengers. Watch out with your bait to trap rampant promo ticket offers from of newcomers like Air Asia, Tiger Airways, Malindo Air, Cebu Pacific, Jetstar and may more.Check their websites as some will have great offers:
Though there are ferries available from some ports in Indonesia, these are not highly recommended due to frequent overcrowding and mishaps in the mid seas.
Where to Stay
Since Jakarta is not a major tourist destination in the Indonesian archipelago, you will not have big problems finding rooms at any time of the year.
At the same time, care must be taken to ensure that you are accommodated at the right hotel with a convenient location. Traffic is notorious in the city and you would best avoid all those hotels which witness the jam on a daily basis. Some of the hotels which are not that far from either the airport or the city centre are:
- Fave Hotel (Pluit, north Jakarta, 29€/night, Fave Hotel on Tripadvisor)
- Hotel Santika Premiere (west Jakarta, 47-65€/night, Hotel Santika Premiere on Tripadvisor)
- Swiss Bel-hotel (Mangga Dua, west Jakarta, 51€/night, Swiss Bel-hotel on Tripadvisor)
- JW Marriot (Kuningan, central Jakarta, 147€/night, JW Marriot hotel on Tripadvisor)
- Ritz-Carlton (Kuningan, central Jakarta, 197€/night, Ritz Carlton Jakarta on Tripadvisor)
All of these have very good track record and serve different varieties of food. The last two are sought after by many businessmen based in south-east Asia so it will be better if you could book your rooms in advance. And since it is Indonesia and not Ukraine upper class hotels in Jakarta come with a better cost-benefit ratio than Kiev Hotels.
Alternatively, you may book apartments at certain locations in the city.
Batavia Apartments (84€/night) at Benhil in Central Jakarta is usually occupied by short time travellers and businessmen. North Jakarta also has a few cheap apartments like CBD Pluit (no homepage), Mitra Bahari (37€/night) and Laguna (price upon request). These apartments are your first choice if you do not wish to find yourself in the jungle that is urban Jakarta, but want to get to your destination as fast and convenient as possible: most taxi drivers know the routes to these locations by heart and will get you there asap.
Airbnb has offers with a surprisingly wide margin of prices.
Starting at just 18€ and going up to 175€ you will find basically every type of apartment under the sun. In comparison to Eastern Europe the majority of the apartments on Airbnb are in a surprisingly good shape. Here is a picture of a 1-bedroom apartment for just 20€ per day:
Note that just like hotels all rooms/apartments in Jakarta are located in 25-floor and above skyscraper building with security, elevators and the like.
Trying to find a place to stay that is literally more “down to earth” might take you some time. If you decide to book an apartment instead of a hotel then be sure to check our travel tips on how to save money with Airbnb.
What to Do
Check in to your hotel or apartment and head straight to west Jakarta, where the mute witness to colonial bloodshed, the Taman Fatahillah Museum awaits your arrival. The area around the museum is known as Kota Tua (Old Town). The museum holds many artifacts and miniatures of Javanese, Sundanese and Betawi life all three of which are different Indonesian cultures.
All around the museum you may find Dutch colonial buildings. On the ramparts of the museum, street performers catch your attention with their amusing, yet intelligent shows. There are magicians, musicians and vendors who sell kitsch items and souvenirs.
However, the cynosure of all eyes here are the dozens of colourful bicycles with colourful hats ready to be rented. Take your pictures with the bicycle with the background of the museum to serve as a great memory of the city.
The nearby Café Batavia is the perfect place to have lunch. This is not just a café Built in the colonial style and with the interior design to match upon that Café Batavia is not just a café but also a mini-museum itself.
You will find hundreds of old and rare pictures of Jakarta on the walls as well as a stylish atmosphere that comes close to none in the whole of Jakart. Just look:
Take a walk on the bridge on the sea connecting the southern and the northern parts of the Ancol Amusement Park. Here, children will love many of the attractions found here such as Sea World Indonesia and the many rides which are usually found in theme parks. Come dinner time, Ancol offers a variety of seafood and western delicacies restaurants with great views of the ocean. Bandar Djakarta, Segara are some of the very popular fine dining places here. If you are still brimming with energy and looking for some nightlife after dinner, head back all the way to south to central Jakarta.
For some cheerful live music and beer in central Jakarta, B.A.T.S. at Shangri-La Hotel is one of the choicest rendezvouses at Sudirman Street in central Jakarta (“Designed with exposed brick and wood panelling, B.A.T.S. offers oversized portions of Western food” – B.A.T.S. homepage).
A bit further away from B.A.T.S., near Plaza Senayan (mall), you may find X2, a nightclub popular with a young and classy crowd, many of them being single.
Take a taxi from Sudirman to Gatot Subrato Street and you will find Dragonfly, another upmarket club popular with youngsters and Indonesian celebrities. For the sportive and the competitive, Afterhour at Serena Shopping complex in central Jakarta would provide a great arena with pool tables and billiards.
Nevertheless, in case you are looking for a place steamy and hot with an aura of smoke-filled floors and lovey dames, head straight to Falatehan Street at Blok M, close to Pasaraya Grande Mall. This dark street has one of the most alluring night scenes and on either side of it you may find arrays of clubs like ‘My Bar’, ‘D’s Place’, “Oscar’s’, ‘Top Gun’, etc.
The place gets lively by 11 pm every night and the party runs into the wee hours. Not far from Falatehan Street is Melawai Street, noted for its karaoke parlours. Beautiful hostesses sit outside and gawk at you as you get confused as to which parlour to choose. Some of parlours cater to Japanese customers exclusively.
In case you were wondering about how such thriving nightlife goes along with Indonesia being a muslim country then you most know that Indonesians practise a moderate form of Islam.
While all muslim rituals like the five daily prayers and helal food are observed by the people everyday life is by far not as reglemented as it is in the Arabic world. People do drink alcohol and smoke like chimneys and sex outside or before marriage is very common. If you don’t mistake Jakarta for one of Indonesia’s torist-ridden locations like Bali or Lombok then you can party there like you would in the West.
With much lower prices, mind you. Drinks and cover fees are nightclubs are cheap, an average beer even at an established bar/nightclub will only cost about 28,000 Indonesian Rupiah which is about 1,90€.
The one thing that you should shun like the Devil shuns holy water is drugs. Getting arrested for the comsumption, let alone the posession of even the smallest amount of “party drugs” like Marihuana or Ecstasy will not result in some late night calls to the embassy – it will make you face death as the outcome of your rendezvous with the local authorities. In one word: Dont even think about. I mean that.
On Day 2, start your proceedings with getting into one of almost twohundred malls in the city.
Yes, you read it right! Jakarta is a city of malls and ‘malling’ is undoubtedly one of the favourite pastimes of Jakartans (Wikipedia has basic list of Jakarta malls while the Expat site Living in Indonesia goes a lot more into the details of Jakarta shopping malls).
At Bunderan HI, the very heart of Jakarta, two executive malls, Plaza Indonesia and Grand Indonesia, steal the limelight of shoppers and window-shoppers. Spend your time in these two giant shopping realms (selling mostly international branded items) till noon and get into one of the two hotels attached to these malls for lunch.
Hotel Kempinski is attached to Grand Indonesia and Hyatt is attached to Plaza Indonesia. However, if you are looking for more modest shopping, Surabaya Street at Menteng (a 10 minute taxi ride from Bunderan HI) is the apt choice. Hunt for souvenirs, antiques and embroidery works.
Time is ticking and what have we missed so far? — Jakarta’s street food is as glamorous as its malls though both these individuals shine in different ways. By dusk, the street food scene gets lively.
Take a taxi from Bunderan HI (10 minutes) to Benhil Street and all along this road you will find plenty of vendors cooking and selling delicacies from various islands on the archipelago.
This is also a great way to mingle with the locals.
— Avid world traveler Pramod Kanakath has chosen Jakarta Indonesia as his adoptive home. As a Jakartian of more than 10 years he knows the city in and out. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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- Linklist with helpful resources about Jakarta (forums, blogs, newssites)
- Even more nightlife venues and daytime activities
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