Thursday, November 22, 2012

Jakarta Trip for First Timers. Good Info!

I found this on Trip Advisor and thinking of sharing it here as I found it pretty informative. I know it's way too long to read through but you may check out the sentence at the end of every para. That's my writing and it's simpler of course. Here we go! 

Jakarta is an amazing and wonderful city. Do not be put off by the bad press it sometimes receives and enjoy a stay in one of the most vibrant, friendly and surprising cities in Asia. - Travelers know this best!

You will most likely be arriving at Soekarno Hatta International Airport. You will have two forms to complete. One is for immigration and the second for customs. Check before you arrive if you need a visa in advance, can obtain one on arrival, or are entitled to visa free entry. Indonesia is also strict on enforcing that your passport has six month validity remaining. - Standard SOP. Small matter.

Follow the signs for foreigners and visa on arrival. If you can obtain a visa on arrival then you need to pay and obtain that first before proceeding through immigration clearance. Should you not require a visa or already have one in your passport head straight to the immigration desks for foreigners bypassing the visa on arrival booths. Outside of peak hours arrangements may vary so just ask one of the staff. In general they are helpful, and will point you in the right direction. - I'm going on vacation. So this is actually nothing. 

Once clear of immigration head to the baggage reclaim to collect your bag, porters are available for a small fee. There are also a range of ATMs so that you can get your local currency. Having collected your baggage head towards the customs exit. The officer will want your customs form and will normally direct you to have some or all of your bags x-rayed. This area can be quite crowded and chaotic so remain calm but be assertive enough not to allow too many people to get ahead of you in the queue. Outside there are money exchange and transport booths. The rates at the exchange booths are reasonable but you will find better shopping around in the city. The Indonesian currency is the Rupiah, and contrary to popular belief it is this currency that you will need to get by. Shops do not accept American Dollars and there is no real advantage to having Dollars against other currencies. Hotels will convert Dollar quoted rates to Rupiah anyway. - The porter would be my husband. Yeay! Crowded and chaotic environment are very well expected at Jakarta. I need to be extra cautious with everything around me, everything attached to me. 

There are a wide range of transport options however if you are a first time visitor it is recommended to get your hotel to arrange the transfer. For more experienced or braver travellers use the local taxis outside. Ignore the touts who will approach you and head towards the taxi line. Taxis have improved a lot in Jakarta over the years however the most well known and safest company is the Blue Bird group of taxis. Their taxis are blue unsurprisingly and a bit more expensive than others but safe, clean and modern, They always use the meter. Other safe taxi companies include Express (white), Gamya (green) and Cipaganti (burgundy). - Ok. As hubby mentioned earlier, same thing with his Indonesian colleagues, only Blue Taxis!

To get to the city will take a variable amount of time dependent on traffic and the time of day you arrive. Jakarta is notorious for its traffic and for good reason at peak times. At off peak hours traffic is not such a big problem. To make the experience as pleasant as possible avoid travelling from the airport between 0700-1000 and 1600-1900. Journey time to the CBD, will normally take 45 minutes off peak and 2 hours or more at peak times. It is definitely worth picking flights that arrive at off peak hours if you can. - Super massive and extremely congested traffic are pretty well expected too. I'm going to a country who has billions of human in there. Sabar and time management is key.

It is definitely best to pre-book a hotel on a first visit to any city, this applies to Jakarta, and there is a huge range of good quality accommodation available ranging from top quality five star establishments through mid range hotels and budget hotels. Make sure you have the hotel's address and phone number. If the taxi driver does not know the hotel name give him the street name and all should be well. - Will be staying at hubby's huge serviced apartment. Save cost. 

For a first time stay it is recommended to book a hotel in the Thamrin area of the City, home to the major shopping and entertainment areas. Getting around at peak hours can be difficult and time consuming so location is key. Some of the biggest malls of 5 Star hotels attached, such as Kempinski at the Grand Indonesia, Hyatt at Plaza Indonesia, Ritz Carlton Jakarta-Pacific Place and Pullman at the new Central Park Mall. For a less expensive version with similar benefits try the Harris Hotel at FX Sudirman or possibly Ciputra Hotel attached to Ciputra Mall (although this is a little bit further from the city). - Hubby has went to most of the places and that is why I'm planning to go there. Most of Jakarta POIs are just are a walking distance from the place he's staying.  

Once you have safely checked in to your hotel. You will want to explore the city. Jakartans divide their city into geographic areas: south, north, east and west and central Jakarta. South and Central is the main CBD, shopping and entertainment area, North Jakarta contains China Town and also the port and old Jakarta areas. West and East becomes more residential but still with plenty of shopping and entertainment. - He's in Jakarta Pusat. Meaning the center of entertainment. I bet Faheem gonna love his trip!

There are numerous options for getting around the city but most are impacted by traffic.Travel at off peak times will save you lots of time and frustration. The cheapest means of getting around are the buses but as a first time visitor these are not recommended, nor are the motorbike taxis or motorized trikes. The best way by far for any distance is taxi. Simply hail one in the street, and use the companies mentioned earlier. Careful here, some of the less reputable firms disguise their taxis to look a lot like the ones from the safe companies, copies of Bluebird taxis are especially prevalent. The good companies will always use the meter and go the quickest route. Tipping is optional. Rounding up to the next nearest -500 or -1000 multiplication is sufficient.- Only Blue Bird or perhaps pinjam his kawan's car + driver. 

There are a couple of options which are not impacted by traffic, walking and bicycling. There are two car free Sundays a month when local Jakartans take in huge numbers to two wheels and cycle on the normally congested and polluted streets. If you would like to meet local people why not join them. Enjoy the weather, the temporarily clear air and get some health benefits as well. - I love the idea. But not in Jakarta. I won't be bicycling around the concrete jungle with 3-ply surgical mask.

A second option is walking. This is a great way to meet the local people who are overwhelmingly friendly, The pavements will be blocked by food carts, cars and motorcycles. There may also be significant pot holes and uncovered drains so care is definitely required. Not an activity for example to be conducted when under the influence of any intoxicants. However it is in some areas possible to enjoy a pleasant walk, and meet some of the locals. Menteng is a good area near the center for walking, as is the old town area in North Jakarta, Like any big city Jakarta has its dangers however it would be very unlucky especially in central Jakarta to come under any threat. One of the best elements of the city is its friendly inhabitants so don't be scared, A smile to an adult or a child will inevitably be returned. Wear comfortable clothing so you don't overheat. If you have breathing problems walking on a hot weekday is not to be recommended because of the pollution. Try it first on a cooler cloudy day or a Sunday morning. - Walking.. This applies to back packers I guess. 

Eating is plentiful in Jakarta and you can find every type of food at every type of price. Street food abounds however hygiene levels are not high so recommended only if you have a strong stomach and are partial to spicy food. Mall food courts are a good half way house as are local restaurants. Meals can be good value and authentic here. Also worth looking for are lunchtime specials in restaurants which are priced to attract local office workers on their lunch break and will normally include a drink (often iced tea) these can be extremely good value. Fast food, mid level restaurants and top notch restaurants abound so one thing is guaranteed. You will be able to find a tasty and safe meal within your price range. - As been advised by the husband, we will only be having home-cooked (that will surely prepared by me) or 5-star restaurants only. We're not going to be bed ridden for suffering stomach ache or anything else. Nauzubillah.. Hygiene is key. In shaa Allah..

Shopping is varied and a favorite occupation of Jakartans. There are a huge range of shopping malls, ranging from the high end with all the designer labels you could wish for. Examples of these are Plaza Indonesia and Plaza Senayan. Mid range which have mid to high end Western brands, good starting places are the massive Grand Indonesia and the newer Senayan City and Central Park Malls. There are also the malls that cater to the local middle class population such as Ambassador Mall and Plaza Semanggi. Whatever your shopping needs they will be catered for in Jakarta. The malls are also excellent places to find food that is of good quality and value, entertainment such as cinemas, night clubs and billiards (pool) halls. People watching is a pass time here so grab a coffee and take a seat and watch the tremendous variety of people that are using the mall as a hang out place as well as a place to shop and eat. - Initially I'm not into shopping. But hubby keeps on telling me of how cheap the stuff at Jakarta. He keeps on sending me pictures with price tags ok! And I told you I had lunch with his Indonesian mate yesterday and she also told me the same thing - The madness of shopping in Jakarta. Err.. Dah sampai baru update pasal ni I guess. Heee...

Traveling is fun. But not packing. Argh!

2 comments:

  1. wahhhhh... bestnya! bila nak gi? shopping lagi wehhh.. hahahaa

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  2. soon mash! heeee...

    aku mcm xde mood sgt nk shopping skg. lebih kpd nk sight seeing n mkn tdo mkn tdo jek. sbb stress sgt dgn keje lately. but.. we'll see how laa =D

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