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Indonesia

Guide to Arriving in Jakarta

Written by Charlotte

Most people travelling to Jakarta will arrive via Jakarta International Airport (Soekarno-Hatta) is the main airport serving the city of Jakarta on the islands of Java in Indonesia. The airport is located about 25km (15miles) west of the city centre.

There are currently 3 airport terminals in operation making it one of the busiest and most accessible airports in South East Asia. And the rise of budget airlines over the last couple of years means that you can now get some very cheap return flights from Asia’s main transport hubs including Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. There is a free skytrain service linking all three airport terminals.

Please note that their customs checks are quite strict, please make sure you read and fill in the customs for correctly unless you want to get into trouble at border control!

Most visitors are permitted to enter Indonesia without a visa for 30 days, if you would like more information on visa regulations please go HERE!

Taxis are definitely the most expensive option to get into the city centre but you’ll be dropped off exactly where you want to be and it’ll be a comfortable ride with air-conditioning and some mighty fine tunes on the radio if your driver allows it!

You can find taxi ranks outside all airport terminals. When you step out of the terminal you will be bombarded by unofficial taxi drivers offering their driving services. I thoroughly recommend only relying on the official taxi services standing outside the terminals. These ‘Black Taxis’ operate on fooling visitors into thinking they’re offering a cheaper service but don’t be fooled! Any deal you make with the unofficial drivers won’t be any cheaper than a metered taxi and you may be running the risk of getting robbed or getting lost. Go straight to the airport taxi service rank to get a metered ride.

The most widely recommended taxi company is Blue Bird Group. You’ll be able to identify this company by the sticker on the side of the car. Some taxi companies have tried to mimic the look of the Blue Bird Group cars so watch out that you’re not getting into the wrong taxi. If you’re looking for an upgrade on your ride then look out for Silver Bird, the more upmarket version of Blue Bird. You’ll find that the cars are in better condition!

When you’re taking a taxi from the airport you’ll be asked to pay a small surcharge based on your destination. You’ll be able to verify this fare or read up on this on the taxi card that you are given when you request a taxi and after giving your destination address. You’ll also be responsible for paying the motorway tollways so don’t be surprised if your driver asks for cash! Most drivers will wait until you arrive at your destination to tally up the total of the metered fare with the airport surcharge and the tollways.

If you’re looking to estimate your taxi fare you can use this CALCULATOR.

You can also choose to take buses from the airport to the city centre, the most popular destination is Gambir Station located right in the city centre and where you can change for alternative methods of transport. It is also possible to get to other points in the city other than Gambir, namely Blok M Bus Station and Lebak Bulus Bus Station both in South Jakarta. This is the most budget friendly option (particularly if you’re travelling solo and can’t share a taxi with anyone) as fares start at Rp.20,000 (US$1.45). Not to mention that it’s actually quite a flexible option of travel, despite being a scheduled bus service with specific stops people have been seen to get dropped off at different points on route to the scheduled destination if it’s convenient to do so. The bus driver won’t be able to get you to the doorstep of where you’re staying but he can get you pretty close!

Simply follow signs for the DAMRI Airport Bus once you’ve exited the airport terminal. The buses pass every 15 minutes or so (keep in mind that frequency of service may be affected by traffic), between the hours of 3:00AM and 10:00PM. You don’t need to book in advance, just pay your fare either on the bus or just before getting on the bus, and enjoy the ride!

Soekarna-Hatta International Airport recently welcomed an airport train linking the airport to Jakarta, called the Soekarno–Hatta Airport Rail Link. The route begins at Manggarai Station in South Jakarta and ends at SHIA (Soekarno-Hatta International Airport Railway Station), this journey takes approximately 45 to 55 minutes. This train service also connects West Jakarta at Jakarta Kota Station to SHIA, which takes about 45 minutes.

To get to and from SHIA you can use the airport Skytrain which connects all three terminals and the Airport Railink station, it’s free of charge!

One of the most convenient things about this service is that you can book your trip in advance online or via the Railink smartphone app, on Android or iPhone. This will avoid having to queue at the station. But you can also choose to book your tickets on the day of travel at the station. This service is also extremely flexible in terms of hours of operation, departing every half hour from 4am to 10pm. Please check HERE for scheduled train times.

The journey cost as little as Rp.70,000 (US$5) for a one way journey, making it one of the cheapest alternatives for travelling to and from the airport in Jakarta. The only thing is you’ll probably need to connect at one of the line’s stations to complete your journey as the stops on this line are limited. So if you’re not used to travelling around Jakarta and are a bit worried about getting lost then it’s probably best to avoid this option!

Other than flying into Jakarta you could also take the train, especially if you’re already in Java or even further afield in Bali or Lombok, it’s possible to hop to the next island over by boat and then take the train all the way across Java to reach Jakarta. Jakarta’s main train station is Gambir Station.

Train services in Indonesia are very reasonably priced and you can choose from 3 classes of travel: economy, business and executive trains. And you can choose from both day and night services, so if you’re travelling alone and feeling squeamish about travelling at night then you’ve always got the option to complete your journey by day and also see more sights along the way! Note that economy and business class do not have air conditioning and much slower than the executive trains. If you’re looking for the most comfortable journey then I recommend taking an executive train with air conditioning and a reclining seat.

For details on scheduled services and to book in advance please visit this PAGE.

To complete your onward journey after arriving into one of the city’s train stations you could take a taxi or call on demand for a car or motorbike taxi service.

The most comfortable way to travel around Jakarta is by taxi but likely to not be the most convenient. Traffic is really bad in Jakarta (for those of you who have been to Bangkok and thought it’s bad there, this is worse!) so at least if you’re going to be stuck in traffic you can be stuck in it with air conditioning and radio. If you’re not one for traffic and you’d rather get to your destination quickly and don’t mind looking like a hot mess then I recommend calling a GO-JEK or Grab Bike. Of course this will only work if you’re travelling light, though you can always give it a try, you’d be surprised about how much they fit on to their bikes!

NOTE: both services offer more than just motorcycle rides, you can also book cars.

Both are highly dependable and convenient, and they’re extremely cheap services. They’re metered so you won’t run the risk of getting scammed, simply pay the amount indicated on the app once you’ve booked your ride. And they’re totally safe to use as they’re professionally run and you even get a helmet (with hair net in most cases to keep your hair clean) which can’t be said for other cities in Asia. All you need to do is download the applications to your phone (best to do so before travelling and before you’re out of reach of data or wifi), open one up, enter your pick-up and drop-off location, you’ll get an estimate for the cost of the journey and then hit confirm!

NOTE: if you’ve booked a ride and you step out of wifi and don’t have any network service it will not cancel the ride so I would wait patiently in your wifi zone until your ride has arrived so you can locate him easily. 

You even get cheeky notifications sent to your app with discounts and promotions, it’s worth browsing through the apps to get the hang of them so you can make good savings on your trips! It’s likely that both applications will be handy to you as GO-JEK have more drivers on the road so it’s likely that you’ll want to use this application to call a motorcycle driver but Grab is useful if you’re looking to call a taxi or even order food! So both will probably be of use at some point during your stay in Jakarta.

NOTE: both applications do more than just enable you to order transport on demand, we discovered on our last trip that we can order food and even order massage services straight to our hotel rooms.

WARNING: please watch your belongings when riding on motorcycles in Jakarta. This means put phones away and keep your bag close to your person as unfortunately bag snatchers have become a real issue in the city. One of our group got their phone snatched just standing on the side of the road and I almost had mine snatched whilst riding on the back of a motorcycle. Be cautious with your belongings!

Other than booking a taxi service (as this will only work if you’ve got a functioning local sim card  or you’ve given in to roaming) it’s usually quite easy to find a taxi in public places such as at trains stations. Just like I mentioned above please avoid using the non-metered taxis, don’t accept rides from unofficial ‘taxi drivers’, you’re likely to get scammed or sometimes worse. It’s best to stay safe by using a reputable taxi service, search for cars that belong to the Blue Bird Group. Even they have an application you can download and use to locate taxis nearby, it’s just not worth running the risk of anything happening to you that could jeopardise your trip!

You could also decide to move on from the main train station by commuter train. That is if you’re staying by a train station then it’s worth giving the KRL (Kereta Rel Listrik or Electric Rail Train) a try! The older trains have been replaced with newer, more spacious and air conditioned trains so it’s a comfortable method of transport. Using the train system will also mean you avoid the horrendous city traffic and it’s an extremely cheap way to navigate through the city, costing as little as Rp.5,000 (US$0.4) to get from one side of the city to another. Not to mention you’ll catch a glimpse of the city from a different angle on board the train. You can plan your journey and find more information HERE.

If you’re really into trying different methods of public transport then you’ll also be glad to know that you could also be transported across the city on the TransJakarta Bus. And this isn’t just any kind of ordinary city bus, this one has 10 wheels, it’s extremely capacious and it’s fast! Jakarta’s buses have their very own lane, allowing them to avoid all (if not at least most) of the traffic, even during rush hours! And all for a cost of Rp.3,000 (US$0.20)! The ticket includes all transfers within the TransJakarta Bus routes which cover a vast area of the city. Unfortunately some people try to ruin all the fun and will attempt to drive their cars or motorcycles in the designated bus line which creates some delays but all in all the bus is very quick and for that price is the cheapest method of transport to get you from one corner of Jakarta to another!

Only as of March 2019! But for those curious minds you can check on their progress HERE.

About the author

Charlotte

My mission lies in acting as your virtual festival tour guide and relieving you of all the hard work that goes into planning for a festival so you can focus on having fun and making the most of your music festival experiences!

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