I had been to Indonesia twice prior to this trip and I had never had a chance to check out Jakarta until now. Jakarta is the biggest city in South East Asia with a whopping population of 10 million, almost doubled that of the second biggest city in South East Asia, Bangkok. The beauty of the capital city of Indonesia does not lie in its attraction or the chaotic character of the city but the kindness within the hearts of the locals that made the city so special. Here are the things I did in Jakarta and how you can do it too.
Where to Stay in Jakarta
Teduh Hostel Kota Tua is such a cool hostel, you might not realize that you are staying in Jakarta. The dorm rooms remind me of Japan, with a zen wooden-style pod bed designed to give you full privacy, while equipped with a curtain, lamp, and a power outlet, all inside your pod. The common area could use some improvements because it was a little hard to meet people with all the scattered tables but the dorm rooms design and how people can hang out outside the pods made up for it. Another downside is that they mentioned they have a "free breakfast" but you have to pay for milk (what?) but the awesome staff also made up for it. All in all, I would stay here again the next time I'm there.
From the airport, I took that taxi to the Jakartakota Stasiun (Jakartakota train station) and from the station, headed south down the Jalan Pintu Besar Selatan road and turn left on the Jalan Gang Asem road where the hostel sign was clearly displayed.
How to Get to Jakarta
The best way to get here is to fly to Soekarno Hatta International Airport as it is the major hub for domestic flights across the country. I would recommend you browse through Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight from where you live to Jakarta so you can pick the best one that fits your itinerary.
If you are already in South East Asia, you can find cheap flights from any major cities via Skyscanner or Momondo to Jakarta. If there is no direct flight from where you live, then try flying to either Bangkok, Singapore or Malaysia and get on an AirAsia flight from there to Jakarta.
How to Travel Around Jakarta
You will have many options to get to the city from the airport. If you want the cheapest and most reliable option, go with the shuttle bus. You can get the ticket from the many counters at the Airport exit. For around 170,000 IDR, you can get a taxi directly from the airport without having to wait for the shuttle bus. We went with the Blue Bird taxi since people have been saying that it is one of the most trust-worthy operator out there.
Getting around by walking can be tiresome, especially during the rush hour in extreme humidity of Jakarta. The pavement for walking was also not very good and you will find yourself walking on the road among the motorcycles most of the time. Go with the Blue Bird taxi if you want to travel a bit further and don't want to sweat your butt off.
This place is quite cheap compare to all the other countries in the world. If you are planning a trip here, you can expect to pay around 25 - 45 USD per day per person and that should include accommodation and 3 meals.
Keep in mind that this is just a suggested daily budget based on my style of traveling, which is leaning more toward the budget side of things. If you want to stick to this budget, expect to sleep in dorms, eat out only a few times, and be comfortable using the cheapest and most convenient way of transportation, which often times involves walking.
If you are looking for a travel insurance to go along with your trip to Indonesia, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for a travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure. They have a simple and flexible search system that allowed me to find the right insurance for the right amount of time at an affordable price in seconds. If you need a travel insurance, give WorldNomads.com a try.
Top Things to Do in Jakarta
Explore the Old Harbour (Pelabuhan Sunda Kelapa) At Night
I was tipped by one local whom we met at the Old Town's square about the old traditional harbour for wooden boats and he insisted on showing us the harbour at night, getting us on the boats and hanging out with the boat workers. If it wasn't for this awesome guy, I would not have known how beautiful the harbour is at night. And the best part is he was genuinely friendly to tourist and did not even ask for a tip!
All the boats parked at the harbour had 2 things in common, they were made out of wood and the were gigantic. I have never seen a wooden boat of this size before. It was almost the size of a cruise ship!
We just went inside the harbour like nobody's business and no one bothered us.. not even the security guards so I'm guessing it's open for everyone who knows this little secret. The location of the pier is shown below:
Find yourself a treat and chill at Kota Tua, the old town
If you are staying in the Kota Tua area, the best place to try street food and go people-watching is Kota Tua. In the evening, right after sunset, you will see merchants setting up shops, and people gathering around the square to socialize.
There was even a little concert when we were there so we decided to sit and enjoy the band playing Peter Pan's music (not the cartoon, but the well known Indonesian rock band). We were the only foreigners there as well, so if you are looking for a local experience, Kota Tua is a must.
Check out the National Monument, the most well-known landmark of Jakarta
The National Monument of Jakarta is kinda like what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. Although, the beauty is nothing like the Eiffel tower, the surrounding park gives you a chance to relax and find solitude within this chaotic city.
Marvel at the Istiqlal Mosque
Istiqlal Mosque is one of the most modern Mosque I have ever seen. It is apparently the biggest mosque in South East Asia with the capacity of 120,000. The mosque is massive with multiple levels, all looking down at the one big main hall.
One tip I can give you is that when you enter the mosque, there will be a guy who will try to lead you to another room to put your shoes and at the end ask you to pay for the tourist/guiding fee. Don't go with him and if he insisted, tell him that you will explore the mosque by yourself. Unfortunately, we did fell for it and even though the gesture seems genuine, it was unnecessary. Plus you will have to wear a robe which no one wears except clueless tourists like us.
Immerse yourself with antiquity at the Jalan Surabaya Antique Market
This market might be a little further out but if you like looking at antique items and fancy buying one, then you should pay this market a visit. They do have some cool items here like gigantic traditional paintings and some impressive hand-crafted items for home decoration. Although you will have to negotiate quite a bit.. like most markets in South East Asia.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.