At first glance, Jakarta appears to be caught between a concrete jungle and a provincial town. Its sky-high structures and steely megamalls are bordered by chaotic roads, frenzied pavements and shabby street-side stalls.
However, delve deeper and you’ll find that Jakarta is a dynamic and surprisingly harmonious Indonesian city with many flavours. Its significant history and mixture of tradition and culture has been blended with modern-day business dealings and a wild nightlife. This city on the northwest coast of Java is now a pulsating hub of activity fused with an unexpectedly down-to-earth and cheerful populace.
Travellers embarking on a trip with Princess Cruises, Crystal Cruises, P&O Cruises or Holland America Line can often find Jakarta on their itineraries.
The Jakarta Cruise Port, or Port of Tanjung Priok, is Indonesia’s busiest seaport with 20 terminals servicing both trade and passengers. The port is located in North Jakarta and is approximately 13 kilometres from the centre of town.
There are very limited facilities at this industrial port. Most cruise liners offer their passengers a shuttle bus into the city centre; otherwise, taxis are easily found at the port’s exit.
How to Get Around
Jakarta’s sights are best reached via taxi or bajaj, the latter of which is a motorcycle with a small, covered cabin on the back. Both are easily found waiting along the city’s busy streets; however, the advantage lies with a bajaj that can easily weave through afternoon traffic jams. Travelling long distances on foot is often a challenge and not recommended, as sidewalks have either been neglected or simply haven’t been built.
Travel times from the port:
It is a 2 hour and 4 minute journey to Kota Tua
It is a 2 hour and 24 minute journey to the Istiqlal Mosque
It is a 2 hour and 37 minute journey to the National Monument
It is a 2 hour and 40 minute journey to the Presidential Palace.
By car (allow extra time for traffic congestion):
It is a 25 minute journey to Kota Tua
It is a 30 minute journey to the Istiqlal Mosque
It is a 31 minute journey to the National Monument
It is a 34 minute journey to the Presidential Palace.
Currency – The Indonesian Rupiah is the official currency of Jakarta. Coins come in 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 rupiah. Coloured bank notes come in 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 rupiah.
Time Zone – Jakarta itself follows Western Indonesia Time, which is 7 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The entire island of Java, however, falls under three different time zones. Central Indonesia Time and Eastern Indonesia Time are 8 and 9 hours head of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) respectively.
Weather – Jakarta has a tropical monsoon climate that results in a distinct wet season for most of the year. From October to May, rainfall increases while a much shorter, dry season is typically observed from June to September. The average daily temperature sits around 27-30 degrees Celsius all year around, and hardly drops below 25 degrees Celsius. Humidity levels are high all year round.
Kota Tua – Also called ‘Oud Batavia’ in Dutch, Kota Tua was the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company during the 16th century. Situated in Jakarta’s northwest, this old town, although slightly faded, still provides a glimpse into its colonial days, thanks to the presence of old-world architecture, landmarks and a handful of museums. You can also find streets filled with a vibrant symphony of colourful sights, scents and sounds.
Istiqlal Mosque – Southeast Asia’s largest mosque was opened in 1978 to commemorate Indonesia’s independence from The Netherlands in 1945. The impressive structure can hold up to 120,000 worshippers and took 17 years to complete. Finished with marble structures and stainless steel ornaments, the mosque is truly a majestic sight. A pool and fountain also sends water streams 45 metres high into the air over the gardens. Visitors are welcome and conservative dress (covered shoulders and pants or skirts covering the knees) is required.
Indonesia’s National Monument (Monas) – Towering 132 metres above Freedom Square (Lapangan Merdeka) stands the city’s most well-known landmark. With a design based on a pestle and mortar, Monas signifies the country’s struggle for independence. The top of Monas is shaped like a flame, representing the Indonesian spirit that is unable to be extinguished. Visitors can take the elevator up to the observation deck for a bird’s eye view over the city, or find out more about Jakarta’s colonial past at the History Museum.