Noisy, dirty and full of smog? The capital of Indonesia doesn’t exactly have the best reputation. 15 Millions of people live in Jakarta. In the metropolitan area it is even over 30 (!) Millions. Jakarta is a swamp of skyscrapers, traffic chaos and air pollution.
Honestly: We didn’t expect much from Jakarta. In the end, however, we were taught better. Jakarta certainly doesn’t make our list of favorite travel destinations, but we had a really good time in the mega-metropolis. In this article on our travel blog we tell you our tips for Jakarta.
1 . Jakarta: Information at a glance & personal experiences Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia and by far the largest city in the country. 15 Millions of people live in the metropolitan area of Jakarta – crazy, right? Jakarta is located on the island of Java. Because Jakarta is home to Indonesia’s largest airport, Soekarno-Hatta Airport, many travelers inevitably end up in the mega-metropolis.
Jakarta is nicknamed “The Big Durian” (the infamous Asian stinky fruit) – and not without reason, we think. The combination of smog and exhaust fumes is repulsive and Jakarta is not a city to fall in love with. It takes time to like Jakarta – the same usually applies to durians.
Is it worth a stopover in Indonesia’s capital? “Better skip it.”, “Even one night in this Moloch is too much.” This is how the city was described in various travel reports on the Internet. In short: Our anticipation was limited. (And that’s putting it nicely, because we really didn’t feel like going to Jakarta at all.) We had prepared for the worst and were pleasantly surprised in the end.
The negative opinion that prevails over Jakarta, we can share only partially. Yes, the traffic is hair-raising, and yes, it is loud and dirty at times. But you don’t expect an idyllic country life from a big Asian city, do you?
If your time in Indonesia is very limited, then if we were you, we would think twice about whether you would like to want to let in the big city chaos of Jakarta. For example, if your flight lands directly in Bali, we wouldn’t recommend taking the detour to Jakarta. However, if you end up in Jakarta anyway and would like to see a little more of Indonesia than the classic tourist hotspots, then you can definitely spend two nights in Jakarta.
Jakarta is a challenge, a adventure to embark on. Personally, we are very happy to have seen the capital of Indonesia with our own eyes.
2. Attractions in Jakarta Old Town Jakarta: Kota Tua Indonesia was once under Dutch colonial rule. The capital was called Batavia – today The historic district is considered the old town of Jakarta. Probably nowhere else in Jakarta are the traces of the colonial era as visible as in Kota Tua, or “Jakarta Old Town”, as the area is often called. Kota Tua is arguably the most important tourist attraction in Jakarta.
Kota Tua is located in the north of Jakarta. You can reach the district quickly and easily by train (KRL Commuterline – which roughly corresponds to our S-Bahn). The train station (Jakarta Kota Station) is located in the heart of Kota Tua, so to speak.
The most famous square is Taman Fatahillah Square in the center of Kota Tua. This spacious square is lined with some of the area’s most famous colonial buildings, most notably the historic Stadhuis. It was once the city hall and now houses the Jakarta History Museum. Taman Fatahillah Square gets very busy, especially on weekends. In the midst of the street stalls, musicians and young people, you feel a bit like you are in a southern European holiday resort.
As beautifully renovated as the heart of Kota Tua is – you notice immediately in the side streets that it lack of money for the large-scale renovation. How big the gap between rich and poor is in Indonesia becomes clear at the latest when you see the corrugated iron huts.
North of Taman Fatahillah Square After about a kilometer you will reach Jakarta’s oldest port called Sunda Kelapa. There you can watch the traditional Indonesian pinisi ships loading will.
Monas Tower The National Monument (Monumen Nasional – abbreviated Monas) rises in the center of Jakarta in the form of 132 Meter high tower with gold plated flame at the top. The tower was built in the 60he and 70 erected and symbolizes the struggle for Indonesia’s independence.
Unlike in the otherwise densely built-up city, you can expect around the Monas Tower, at the so-called Freiheitsplatz (Medan Merdeka), a lot of free space. Therefore, many locals are drawn to the monument, who sit in groups around the tower, talk to each other or play with their children. Seems like the Monas Tower is a bit the Indonesian counterpart to the Viennese Burggarten.
The Monas Tower is also known for its viewing platform from which you can enjoy a fantastic panoramic view over Jakarta – provided the smog makes you uncomfortable on the day of your visit no spanner in the works.
You can easily reach the viewing platform with a lift. Our tip: Unfortunately, the queue for the lift is often real endlessly long. It is not uncommon for people to stand in line for an hour or even two before they are finally allowed to go upstairs. So try to avoid lunchtime. It should usually be quicker in the morning. Then the view is sometimes clearer than in the afternoon.
Price: 000.000 IDR Opening hours viewing platform:
8 to 16 clock and 19 until 22 Watch (until midnight on weekends); closed on some Mondays
Istiqlal Mosque Right across from the National Monument you will come to the second major attraction in Jakarta, namely the Istiqlal Mosque, also known as the Independence Mosque. The dimensions of this mosque are enormous: It is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia and one of the largest in the world. 30.000 Believers find space in the mosque – sometimes even from 200.000 the speech.
The huge proportions of the Mosques only really become visible during a guided tour. We didn’t find the inside of the mosque really beautiful (in the classic sense), but the Istiqlal Mosque is very impressive due to its size.
Important tip for guided tours: At the entrance you will usually be met fairly quickly by an employee who will offer you a guided tour. (As a tourist, you can hardly go inside the mosque without an escort.) Of course, the employee expects some money at the end. We ourselves have approximately 22. IDR given for both of us which our guide was happy with. However, we have also read about experiences that have shown that extremely excessive prices have sometimes been asked for. It is best if you agree on the amount in advance.
Appropriate clothing is of course mandatory for a visit to the mosque. Although we were dressed rather modestly, we were given a kind of kimono (or bathrobe) to put on on site.
Jakarta Cathedral A Catholic church towers directly opposite the mosque – what a contrast! The neo-Gothic church was built at the beginning of 15. Century built. In our opinion, the Jakarta Cathedral is not one of the big highlights, but if you are already there, it is worth a stop.
Funnily enough, a wedding was taking place during our visit and the solemn one Church music was in incredible contrast to the muezzin we had just heard. Admission to Jakarta Cathedral is free.
3. Getting around Jakarta: Our tips The traffic on Jakarta’s streets can get on your nerves (especially during rush hour). . The word “traffic jam” really takes on a new meaning in Jakarta. We were therefore as possible outside the rush hours and then traveled by train if possible. In our opinion, a combination of train and taxi is ideal.
KRL Commuterline The KRL Commuterline (formerly called KRL Jabodetabek) roughly corresponds to our S-Bahn. With the KRL Commuterline you can travel faster and cheaper than with buses or taxis.
The route network is quite extensive and covers the entire Greater Jakarta area. It is best to research in advance whether the KRL railway is suitable for you. For example, it stops right in the old town (Jakarta Kota Station).
You can buy your ticket in the station before you start your journey (either at the counter or at the machine). There are both single-journey tickets (Tiket Harian Berjamin = THB) and multi-journey tickets (Kartu Multi Trip = KMT). The price for a route within the city is usually 3. IDR.
When you first get confused at the train station and have no idea which train to take should: Don’t worry, that’s how we felt too. Most of the staff are very helpful and friendly.
Jakarta MRT Only since 2019 there is a subway in Jakarta. Currently (as of April 2020) There is only one line, which, however, is not of interest for tourist purposes. For example, you cannot reach the historic old town (Kota Tua) with the Jakarta MRT. If you want to take the train, the KRL Commuterline is currently even more attractive.
Taxis in Jakarta If you want to take a regular taxi in Jakarta, you should definitely use the Blue Bird Taxis. This taxi company is considered to be the safest and most trustworthy.
You should insist that the meter be turned on before boarding. Taxis in Jakarta are fairly cheap. However, the price also depends on how long you are stuck in traffic.
Meanwhile, Blue-Bird even has an app that you can use to order your taxi. However, we have heard that this does not always work reliably. Anyway, it’s worth a try. Otherwise, there are a number of other apps that you can use to enter your desired destination directly can use These include above all Gojek and Grab. You can also use these apps to order a motorbike taxi.
4. Overnight stays in Jakarta: Our hotel tip The range of hotels in Jakarta is largely aimed at business travellers. You will therefore find many 5-star hotels in popular chains. We personally recommend a small boutique hotel, namely the Kosenda Hotel.
The Kosenda Hotel is a stylish , modern hotel, the style a little bit of Japan or the 60 remembered. The rooms are quite small, but very comfortable and tastefully decorated. The breakfast is very good: It is served as a buffet, but you can also order hot dishes.
A highlight is the small but nice and very cozy rooftop bar on the roof of the hotel – the perfect place to end a day in Jakarta. Our conclusion: great value for money!
You can book the hotel here: Kosenda Hotel
5. Our verdict on Jakarta As you can see: Smelly, dirty, ugly Jakarta? Certainly not everywhere! Unfriendly people? But on the contrary! Of course, we are aware that there is an incredible amount of poverty in Jakarta. We know very well that some of the people here live in corrugated iron shacks in the poorest of conditions, and that’s really bad. We don’t want to downplay that.
But what we want to say with our contribution: Jakarta also has beautiful sides – maybe not beautiful in the classic sense, but Jakarta is a bit of an adventure anyway. We have experienced young people as incredibly open-minded. They were so interested in talking that we were approached more than once in the middle of the street. And the other people we met were all friendly and helpful.
We therefore recommend that you best make your own picture of Jakarta. . And if you were there, please leave us a comment – we are curious how your experience was.
Transparency : Affiliate Links This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!
Have you ever been to Jakarta? How did you like it? Do you have any other recommendations? We look forward to your comments with your additional tips!