Jakarta is a land of push and pull. It’s not always consistent, and you sometimes you have to really dig to find what you’re looking for. But that makes your travel to Jakarta all the more rewarding.
After navigating the streets, solving chaotic directions, and pulling together your daily agenda, you might realize that the way to get the most of your Jakarta travel is to simply happen upon it, rather than trying to make it happen on your own. The heat and smog add to the crowded confusion of some streets, but beyond the madness, you absorb the true essence of Jakarta, and immediately don a sense of ease around its hustle.
Nightlife springs up in unexpected places, and cheery locals will be the first to direct you to the most hopping places. Most of them have risen from poverty – as Jakarta is mainly known for being a constant rags-to-riches story land. Because most have ascended within the ranks here, they happily create the diverse cultural melting pot that makes Jakarta what it is.
Populated by the Bataks from Sumatra, the Ambonese from Maluku, the Balinese, the Madurese and the Timorese, Jakarta maintains its reputation as an amazing microcosm of Indonesia’s spirit.
One thing’s for sure – this place it hot in many respects. No matter when you book your flight to Jakarta, you’ll be welcomed by nearly unrelenting heat, and temperatures that range from a cool 24 to a boiling 32 degrees C. The most rain falls in the winter months of January and February, so if you’re booking Jakarta flights then, be sure to pack an umbrella and galoshes. The driest days land in July and August, but these are also the days of scorching summer afternoons and blistering heat waves.
When to fly to Jakarta
The sunny shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are the perfect times to book flights to Jakarta, since the heat is at a simmering mild level, and the wet months are still out of reach.
Although most of the crowds have already caught on to the trend, the smartest times to book flights to Jakarta are either in spring or fall. In both seasons, the heat is either just cooling down, or not yet boiling. Afternoons are still pleasant, and rainfall isn’t quite so prevalent.
Winter in Jakarta is a classic case of Catch 22: As soon as the heat lets up, the rain makes its way in. While winter months of January and February are known as the cooler months of the year, these months unfortunately welcome downpours – and plenty of them. If you can stand the rain though, budget-minded travellers will easily find cheap flights to Jakarta and deals on accommodations during these wet months.
Getting around Jakarta
There are a few ways to expand your Jakarta travel through public transportation. Four bus terminals (Kaliders, Kampung Rambutan, Pulo Gadung, and Lebak Bulus) run bus lines that trek throughout most of the city’s center. If you’re looking to get a little further from the city though, trains may be your best bet. At Gambir train station, near Merdeka Square, you can catch trains to Bogor, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Solo, Semarang and Surabaya. There are a few express trains, but you’ll need to buy your tickets in advance and show up early to make sure that you get a seat.
Metro mini buses also cruise the city limits, but are known for petty crime and pick pockets, so keep your valuables close, and travel in numbers if you can. If buses and trains don’t sound appealing, then there are plenty of car rental options to make your travel to Jakarta a little bit easier. Most agencies are relatively affordable and reliable.
You can also hail a taxi from the street, or wait in line at a stand. Most of them have meters, but some sneaky drivers “forget” to turn them on for tourists. If you notice that yours isn’t on, politely say the word “argo,” and the driver should remember. Tipping is always expected, and change is rarely given, so be sure to pay with small bills so you can spend only what you’re willing to part with.
Jakarta insider information
Gereja Sion: Some religious advocates book flights to Jakarta to see Gereja Sion, the oldest church in the city. Influenced by early Portuguese settlers, the church’s exterior is very subtle, but the inside is ornate with chandeliers, an ornate organ, and a baroque pulpit. Conveniently located near the Kota train station, this sacred structure was built in 1695, and still attracts hundreds of visitors on a daily basis. Built just outside the city walls, it’s easy to get to, and still rarely jam-packed.
Kali Besar: Just a block west of Taman Fatahilla Square is the perfect place for busy travellers booking flights to Jakarta to find a little rest and relaxation away from the rhythmic city grind. If you’re looking for remote area to clear your mind, absorb the scenery, and appreciate a quiet moment, then the Kali Besar is where you need to be. Settled in what used to be a very ritzy, busy area, is now a peaceful run of trees and greenery that hugs the banks of the canal. Stroll along the water, gaze at the beautiful old homes from the 1800s, and let the remoteness of it all take you away for a while.
Jakarta History Museum: In the old town hall of Batavia, the Jakarta History Museum exists as a powerful reminder of old Dutch rule. The bell tower hall, built in 1627, is just one of the many beautiful structures and artifacts that draw history buffs to add this site to their Jakarta travel agenda. Within its walls lies courts and dungeons filled with solid, carved furniture, ornate woodwork, and memorabilia from the Ditch leaders. Portraits of Dutch generals color the walls, and in the back courtyard, a memorial to Pieter Erbervelt (an anti-Dutch conspirator) resides. To remember him, a bold (and some think, bizarre) statue was built in the shape of a canon that gradually becomes a human fist. Known in Indonesia as a clear sex symbol, some women gather around the statue in pursuit of fertility and luck in love.
Dunia Fantasi: If the kids are restless from the long Jakarta flight, be sure to head straight to Dunia Fantasi, Indonesia’s answer to Disneyworld. A sprawling and chaotic recreation area, this theme park pulls your attention in a hundred directions a minute, dizzying the senses and tiring the kiddies. From its makeshift “Main Street” to its intriguing Puppet Castle, it might not be the scene for a romantic cultural getaway, but is certainly a guaranteed afternoon of fun for bored kids looking for daring thrills.