Jakarta - Abbey Travel, Ireland


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Welcome to Jakarta


Jakarta is not a city for everyone but many find it an inevitable stop on the way to more tranquil Indonesian destinations. What has amassed is a decentralized sprawl of low slung buildings amidst occasional high rise towers. With no central Jakarta area it is difficult to experience the city's highlights which are scattered about the enormous districts. Jakarta has a reputation as a rich person's playground. Grungy streets contrast to modern shopping complexes and examples of ostentatious wealth. Visitors can enjoy a bit of this in garish nightclubs and elegant restaurants. Travelling far in the city is laborious and adding to the difficulty is heavy traffic and haywire street grids throughout dense and stretching sprawl. Yet despite, or possibly because of, Jakarta's reputation as a difficult city, little visited areas and unique attractions feel like personal discoveries. Jakarta is a boiled down representation of everything Indonesian giving visitors a quick introduction or synopsis of the country's various and incredibly diverse cultures, architecture, food, languages, religions, and combined histories.

Information & Facts


Jakarta is regularly hot and humid despite the season with fairly level temperatures between 82°F (28°C) and 95°F(35°C). Humidity averages around 70 percent in the afternoon. Between monsoon season months, late October to early May, there are usually daily spurts of heavy rainfall often causing flooding in the city. It seldom rains for the rest of the year.

Getting Around

Travel across Jakarta is often a combination of many forms of transport. Commonly used is the Transjakarta, a modern bus system that are allocated special street lanes to circumnavigate traffic in the city centre. These are cheap and plentiful although going long distances can become confusing when transferring. Other bus lines are more crowded and less safe and do not run on a fixed schedule. Taxis are abundant but can be expensive for longer rides. Blue Bird taxis are the most trusted although there are many impostors with questionable reputations. Many narrow street lanes are better suited for ojeks, also known as motorbike taxis. Also popular for shorter trips are three wheeled vehicles known as bajaj. Be sure to bargain with both ojek and bajaj drivers before accepting rides.

Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, but many dialects are spoken. English is widely understood in Jakarta and tourist resorts.

Rupiah (IDR) is the official currency and is divided into 100 sen. Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, hotels and money changers in major tourist destinations; US dollars is the most accepted currency. Cash often yields a better exchange rate than travellers cheques, which are not always accepted. It is recommended that travellers cheques also be in US dollars. Most major credit cards are accepted at hotels, restaurants and stores catering to the tourist trade. ATMs are available in main centres. Small change is often unavailable so keep small denomination notes and coins for items like bus fares, temple donations and cool drinks.

Indonesia spans three time zones. GMT +7 (West, including Java and Sumatra), GMT +8 (Central, including Bali, Sulawesi and Lombok), GMT +9 (East, including Irian Jaya).

Contrary to its name, the Indonesia Miniature Park covers 100 hectares of land in cultural examples of all 27 provinces that make Indonesia. The best examples of these are the architectural structures that are true to their region's traditional designs. The park also regularly hosts food sampling and cultural performances from each province. For those preferring even more exhibit variety the park has a great orchid garden, fauna museum, and bird aviary which are again representative of the wildlife from around Indonesia. Attached to Taman Mini is the Museum Indonesia which exhibits both historic and contemporary art collections.

The Orchid Garden in Jakarta has collected hundreds of species from around Indonesia and began several impressive gardens. The Orchid Garden in Slipi Jakarta is one of the largest in South East Asia and draws orchid enthusiasts and the casually curious alike to see some of the exotic types of the elegant flower such as the black orchid. The Slipi Orchid Garden is a commercial enterprise but is open to public viewing. A small facility near the gardens can sometimes offer classes to visiting enthusiasts in orchid cultivation and breeding. There is an indescribable attraction of certain people to orchids and these gardens are a gathering spot of both the most exotic species from around Indonesia and their admirers from around the world.

Most South East Asian capitals have a backpacker area, and Jakarta's Jalan Jaksan district is grubbier than most. Plopped in an unremarkable part of downtown, it is thick with travel agencies, laundromats, currency exchange offices and guesthouses. A few bars with live music cater to the travel crowd. The cheapest guesthouses are bare to say the least and it is worth extra money to rent a nicer room. It's a good place to stay if you want to spend as little as possible on accommodation in Jakarta, but don't expect to get much real local flavour.

Kota, also called Old Batavia or Old Town Jakarta, is the surviving piece of Dutch colonial district from its heyday as the centre of Asia's trade with the west. Today the area's colonial buildings are falling into disrepair but the central cobble stone square Taman Fatahillah still lets visitors recall life in the 16th century. The area is free to roam about in although information and attractions are lacking. Yet it is a rare glimpse into the city's history which is mostly swallowed by new development elsewhere. The area is set pleasantly on the waterfront and gives a quiet and cooler reprieve from the bustle of Jakarta's inner city.

Visitors will inevitably be pulled to the National Monument to inspect the enormous phallic obelisk that can be seen from much of the city. The first president Sukarno began to build the structure as a symbol of nationalism complete with 35 kilograms of gold shaped into the tip's flames. For visitors it serves as a great landmark in an otherwise confusing city centre and it also offers elevator rides to the top for a bird's eye view of the city. The surrounding park and monument are open to the public which includes a museum and hall of mediation at the monument's base.

Looking for something a bit different?  Check out our selection of cultural & adventure holidays or if you're looking to go it alone then see our selection of solo holidays.

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