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A First-timer in Jakarta June 23-25, 2016

A First-timer in Jakarta

GPS waypoint: 6°10'31.4"S 106°49'37.7"E
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia

Destination Options
As my Malaysian visa was expiring in 1 day, I had to quickly decide which country to go to next. India required 4 days visa processing...too late. Kunming, China was suggested by a yogi friend but at $100 flight, it was too pricey and I didn't have cold-weather clothes. Bali was also at $100. Using, Jakarta was the cheapest at $57 from Kuala Lumpur - it also excited me a bit as I've never been to Indonesia. Without knowing anything about Jakarta, I was off to this capital city.

Travel Time
Arriving at Soekarno-Hatta Airport (CGK) in Jakarta, it was painless getting a Damri bus to Gambir Station (IDR 40k) to get me to Central Jakarta where I rode at the back of a motorcycle to my hostel (IDR 20k), Six Degrees. It would have been a short ride but the traffic was horrible at 3pm. It wasn't even rush hour. On the motorcycle, rain poured down getting me wet even with a partial poncho. By the time I got to my hostel and settle down, it has been nearly 9 hours of being in transit. That's the reason why I try not to move too much. If a place resonates, I don't rush to leave it. That way, I don't spend too much time on a bus or plane. Why rush? I don't have a home to go back to anyway.

I hedged my bets by pre-booking at Six Degrees Backpacker Hostel after reading good reviews. It's pricey for my meager budget but it turns out, it's already the cheapest - Jakarta is an expensive city. Six Degrees is an ideal place for a backpacker - movie screening, rooftop bar, pool table, a/c dorm rooms, central location, cool staff, and most of all, a backpacker community I can interact. I was just glad to finally dry myself from the rain and get some rest. I already met some cool travelers on my first night. I had to make a hotel deal fast if I am to stay longer in Jakarta as I was hemorrhaging cash. I knocked on a few doors but nothing came out of it. I had to make my exit plans. Besides, Jakarta didn't seem to do it for me despite honest efforts to make it happen.

A First-timer in Jakarta
rest stop from walking at the Taman Suropati Park

Jakarta is perhaps the city that most closely resemble Manila - and I don't mean that in a good way. Jakarta has a horrific traffic situation, it's crowded, congested and polluted. But hey, as a big city, and I mean a really BIG city, there was lots to explore. I tried exploring around my area - the antique market, the embassy road and the big mall. Walking wasn't a good option - crossing the street was Russian Roulette, the muggy air sticks to your skin, rain comes down almost daily and it's polluted - and the deal-breaker, people smoke inside restaurants and cafes.

Ending Thoughts
After 3 days, I decided I've seen enough. Like Manila, I would consider Jakarta as a jumping board to the more exciting destinations in Indonesia - not as a destination to stay and explore. I'm sure though that a city as big as Jakarta has chock-full-of-gems. I just don't know where they are or how to get to them - paralyzing traffic factored-in. If I had a local friend who could take me around, I'm sure it would be a totally different experience.

Jakarta's highlight for me would be meeting cool travelers at Six Degrees. I had a fab time chilling there watching a movie or having random chats with fellow travelers who shared ideas and destinations. I'm sure I'll be crossing paths with some of them along the way.

--- TheLoneRider

Jakarta, Indonesia

hotels in Jakarta - hotel
tourist attractions in Jakarta tourist attractions
  • Merdeka Square Merdeka Square
  • Planetarium Jakarta Planetarium Jakarta
  • Antique Market Antique Market
  • Grand Indonesia Mall Grand Indonesia Mall
from IDR 50k, I negotiated the price to IDR 20k with this motorcycle driver...haggle for the right price meeting Gabriel at the hostel and sharing insights on life and the future pounding the pavement of Jakarta the noodle guy
noodle soup come in pairs, IDR 15k freeze-frame on city life Jakarta boasts of vibrant cafes...heard the expression, Java anyone? like Hollywood's Walk of Fame, Jakarta has the Mural Kawasan Cikini
SOMA Coffee by Javanero is minimalist with high ceiling at the antique shop in Jalan Surabaya antique Wayang Golek and traditional guitar Taman Suropati Park
walking along the embassy strip passing by the Philippine Embassy the phallic building at the Grand Indonesia Mall showingcasing Jakarta's mall
chic cafe in the mall the Murtabak guy...IDR 15k meeting Dave of Six Degrees....he's doing a great job! meeting Florence and sharing insight on the just-announced Brexit result

Brief History

  • 669–1527 - Jakarta has always been a shipping port by the Sudanese people for its spice trade under the Kingdom of Sunda
  • 1610–1942 - Dutch East India Company established trading posts in Indonesia. The Dutch colonizes Indonesia until WWII breaks out
  • 1942-1945 - Japanese occupation during WWII with the Dutch capitulating. Japan surrenders to the Allied forces and leaves Jakarta. The Dutch returned to resume control but were fiercely rejected by the Indonesians who saw the infallibility of the Dutch when they capitulated against the Japanese might
  • August 1945 - the Dutch grants independence to Indonesia. The seat of government was established in Jakarta

Jakarta Cost Index

backpacker places (US$1 = Indonesian Rupiah IDR 13,265 = Philippines Php 46.51 as of June 24, 2016)
  • IDR 30,000 one small beer (alcoholic beverages are priced higher in Muslim countries)
  • IDR 17,000 standard noodle soup with meat dish
  • IDR 40k Damri bus to from airport to Gambir Station
  • IDR 50k/load laundry
  • IDR 120k dorm bed in a backpacker hostel
  • IDR 7k Planetarium entrance fee
Currency Converter

Jakarta FYI / Tips

  • the backpacker area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located along the short, narrow and seedy Jalan Jaksa area
  • an iconic and very identifiable landmark in Jakarta is the Merdeka Square where you find the Monumen Nasional (Monas)
  • rush-hour traffic in Jakarta is crippling...avoid at all costs! 8:30-10:00am and 5:00-7:30pm
  • haggle and's expected
  • crossing a main street in Jakarta is like playing Russian take your chance
  • Jakarta is HUGE and it's best to explore the city using the trains - the buses are crippled during rush hour. Best to choose a hotel close to a train station otherwise you make long walks or ride the expensive tuk-tuk
  • people in Jakarta smoke inside public restaurants and cafes
  • Indonesia drives on the left side of the road
  • Indonesia uses the Type F electrical plug

How to Get to Central Jakarta from the airport

  • walking out of the arrival section of the airport, you'll see the Damri Bus counter. Once the ongoing construction is done (still on-going as of June 2016), the Damri counter may move back to its original location left of the arrival section. Buy your ticket going to Gambir Station and wait for the Damri bus with the Gambir sign, IDR 40,000, 1.5 hours (with bad traffic). Last bus leaves at 11:30pm. At the Gambir station, you can ride a bajaj (tuk-tuk) or ojek (motorcycle taxi) or just a regular taxi for IDR 20,000 within 2 kms (they'll initially charge you IDR 50,000 and do you a 'favor' by lowering down to 30,000 but they'll take 20,000 if you pretend to walk away)

Things to do, Places to go near Cikini (Jakarta) area

  1. Merdeka Square - where you find the Monumen Nasional (Monas)
  2. Grand Indonesia and Plaza Indonesia - 2 big malls beside each other
  3. Antique Market - at Jalan Surabaya
  4. Cafes - along Cikini Street

Useful Indonesian Words and Phrases

  • ojek - motorcycle taxi
  • baja - tuk-tuk
  • angkot - mini-bus
  • nasi - rice
  • goreng - fried

Suggested 'Next Destination' after Jakarta

  1. Bogor - Botanical Gardens, Wayang Golek maker
  2. Bandung - 2 volcanoes, Kawa Putih and Tangkuban Perahu
  3. Yogyakarta -
  4. Semarang -
  5. Surabaya -
  6. Bali - surfing, yoga, beach, Hindu culture

Popular Destinations In Java

  • Jakarta Jakarta - big city, capital of Indonesia
  • Bogor Bogor - 80 hectare botanical garden, cool climate
  • Bandung Bandung - visit 2 volcanoes, Tangkuban Perahu and Kawah Putih
  • Tangkuban Perahu Tangkuban Perahu - volcano 30 kms north of Bandung
  • Kawah Putih Kawah Putih - white crater lake, 50 kms south of Bandung
  • Ujung Genteng Ujung Genteng - beach, surfing
  • Pangandaran Pangandaran - beach and surfing
  • The Palace of Yogyakarta Yogyakarta - palace complex of the Sultan of Yogyakarta, Borobudur Temple
  • Malang Malang - 2nd biggest city of Indonesia, cool climate, colonial architecture, grand mansions, volcanoes
  • Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park - national park, 2 active volcanoes
  • Kawah Ijen Kawah Ijen - expansive volcano system, night time blue flame

Indonesia Blogs by TheLoneRider

    Jakarta, Java

  1. A First-timer in Jakarta June 23-25, 2016
  2. Bandung, Java

  3. Visiting the White Crater (Kawa Putih) of Bandung Jun 28, 2016
  4. Bogor, Java

  5. Exploring Bogor, Indonesia Jun 25-27, 2016

  7. 21 Days of Abundance, Yoga and Friendship in Ubud June 30-July 21, 2016
  8. Hatha Yoga with Andrea Paige at The Yoga Barn July 21, 2016
  9. Roll and Release by Rusty Davis at Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio July 20, 2016
  10. Kundalini Yoga with Ketut Bandiastra at Taman Hati Yoga Ashram July 20, 2016
  11. Kundalini Meditative Movement with Sandeh at White Lotus Meditation Center July 19, 2016
  12. Andrea Paige - Health Crusader and Yogini July 18, 2016
  13. Power Yoga with Ni Made Murni at The Yoga Barn July 18, 2016
  14. Vinyasa Yoga with Daniel Aaron at Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio July 17, 2016
  15. Mass Cremation (Ngaben) in Ubud with Louisa July 16, 2016
  16. Mysore Ashtanga with Laruga at Ubud Yoga Center July 15, 2016
  17. Kalimasada at Yayasan Segara Giri July 14, 2016
  18. Hiking Campuhan Ridge July 14, 2016
  19. Vinyasa Flow with Nina at Intuitive Flow Yoga Studio July 14, 2016
  20. Laughter Yoga with Kadek Suambara at Ambar Ashram July 12, 2016
  21. Dance til you Drop at Bollywood Night with Punnu Wasu July 11, 2016
  22. Mayan Calendar Readings by Vasumi July 10, 2016
  23. Yoga Pranala with Chiara at Intuitive Flow Yoga Studio July 10, 2016
  24. Visiting the Elephant Cave (Goa Gajah) July 9, 2016
  25. Pranawayu Yoga with I Ketut Bandiastra, S. Ag at Taman Hati Yoga Ashram July 7, 2016
  26. Astrology Talk at The Yoga Barn July 6, 2016
  27. Yoga with Sasha Lang at the Ubud Yoga House July 6, 2016
  28. Ananda Mandala Meditation by Punnu Wasu at The Yoga Barn Jul 4/5, 2016
  29. The Wild Monkeys of the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary July 7, 2016

Facebook Users
June 23-25, 2016

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Jakarta Hotels

Six Degrees Backpackers Hostel, Jakarta
Six Degrees Backpackers Hostel
Jakarta, Indonesia