If you’re traveling to Jakarta for the first time then be warned that it’s super easy to get lost in Indonesia’s massive capital city. Jakarta is well-known for its crazy traffic and it’s important to know what your Jakarta transport options are before you arrive so you can navigate the city like a local. You’ll find the worst traffic chaos in the city center in places like Sudirman street, Thamrin street and the Kuningan area which are part of the Golden Triangle. These areas are full of office buildings and nice malls so traffic can get super congested during lunch time and rush hour.
I used to work in one of these areas for 10 years. So I have experience struggling with the traffic, choosing which transportation is faster to get home and at certain times even waiting in the mall until the roads are free. But apart from the crazy traffic, I have to admit that this is a nice area for working as well as a place to stay for travelers because you have lots of great things to do and see nearby.
So I am writing this post to give you some insider tips on everything you need to know about Jakarta transport and how to find your way around Jakarta, especially for first time travelers. First, let me explain briefly the Jakarta transport options available to you;.
Transport options available in Jakarta
Airport bus: There are 2 airports in Jakarta. Soekarno Hatta airport is the biggest one and provides airport bus service from many companies, such as Damri (the most common one), JA Connexion, Big Bird Airport Shuttle, Agra Mas, etc. Some of these buses photos and stop locations can be found on the airport website. Meanwhile the other airport, Halim Perdanakusuma, only runs Damri airport bus which goes to outside of Jakarta.
Public bus: This is the common bus. There’s a minibus and a big bus with AC and without AC.
Transjakarta (known as Busway): A bus rapid transit system in Jakarta. This has its own lane and bus stop. Transjakarta also provides the free city tour bus that I mentioned in my previous post about the top 5 things to do in Jakarta (from a local’s perspective).
Airport trains: Finally Jakarta has a train to our main airport and within the terminal as follows:
- Rail link train: This one goes from the city to the airport and vice versa.
- Sky train: This is the train that runs within Terminal 1, 2 and 3 and the Rail Link airport station.
This is sort of a minivan that turned into public transportation system and it’s the most common option you’ll find in residential areas. The vehicle is painted in a certain color (usually light blue, dark orange, maroon, etc) and codes (KR, R19, etc) to differentiate their route.
Regular taxi: The most used and recommended one is Blue Bird taxi.
Online taxi: It’s like Uber but in Jakarta we use Gocar and Grabcar.
Ojek (motorbike taxi)
Conventional ojek: Usually found in residential areas or at intersections or near red lights. You need to bargain the fare first before using their service.
Online ojek: A motorbike taxi that we order using mobile app, such as Gojek and Grabbike.
This one only can be found in certain areas. In the city center, you can find it next to Sarinah Department Store.
So which Jakarta transport option should a first time traveler choose?
To travel from the Airport to the city center
If you are tired and need a comfortable ride, it would be better to queue for Blue Bird Taxi. It can be a long queue but I recommend this taxi company since this one is the most trusted in the city.
So when you pass through the airport exit gate, just look for the taxi line. Get your queue number from the machine first.
Ignore all offers from other taxi companies or any guy or lady that approaches you. Once inside the taxi, make sure you take a note of the taxi number just in case you forget something or want to complain to the company. The taxi fare to the city center is less than Rp150,000 (without congested traffic) plus toll ticket about Rp30,000.
If you want a little adventure, you can take the Jakarta Airport Train.
Why do I say it’s an adventure? Because you will need to find your way to the big street once you get off from the train. So when you pass through the exit gate, go to the middle of the terminal to get on the Sky Train. Stay on until you reach Airport Rail Link Station. It’s free of charge. When you get off from Sky Train, look for the vending machine to buy the ticket from Soekarno Hatta International Airport (SHIA) to Sudirman Baru/BNI City (SDB). It costs Rp70,000 for fixed time and Rp100,000 for flexi time.
When you arrive in Sudirman Baru Station, you can take a Blue Bird taxi. You can also walk to the big road by following the street in front of All Seasons Hotel and passing Holiday Inn Express Hotel. Then you will find a big road, Sudirman street, where you can catch a Blue Bird Taxi to your hotel. For the airport train schedule, click here.
…Or the Jakarta Airport Bus
Another ‘mini’ adventure option would be to take the Jakarta Airport Bus. This is convenient and affordable and only costs Rp30,000-Rp40,000 to reach the city center. You can also see more of the city view along the road. So once you pass the exit gate, please look for the bus stop (Terminal 1 – across from the arrival gate, Terminal 2 – in the end of terminal after gate F, Terminal 3 – in the end of the terminal, near the car park).
Once in the bus terminal, you can wait and take one of these buses:
DAMRI Bus: If you want to go to Gambir Station get on the big bus or if you want to go to Thamrin City Mall get in the minivan. There’s no schedule and it’s better to pay cash inside the bus.
Big Bird Shuttle: A minibus that goes to Grand Indonesia. The Big Bird Shuttle schedule is here.
JA Connexion: This bus goes to Mall Ciputra World Kuningan.
More Jakarta airport transport tips
So these are the bus options that go to the city center. Some schedules are not fixed so just wait for it patiently. I would recommend that you pay by cash inside the bus, because you won’t know which one comes first. It takes about 1 hour to reach the city center (without congested traffic). When the bus drops you off at your destination, you can go by taxi to your hotel. It’s easy to catch a Blue Bird taxi from the destination I wrote about above.
Using an online taxi in Soekarno Hatta Airport is only allowed for registered cars. You can try sneaking around to use it, but mostly I don’t have the time to play cats and dogs or to wait in the parking lot area or acting like the driver is my relative, etc. Nevertheless, if you are up for it, you can use those scenarios.
If you arrive in Halim Perdanakusuma airport, you can take a taxi to go around. Again it is better to queue for Blue Bird. You can also book an online taxi but you will have to wait for the car in front of A&W a 24-hour restaurant or in the parking lot behind it.
Transportation Around Jakarta City
Taxi: If you are traveling solo or need a ride after 9pm, using a Blue Bird taxi would be a safest option. Just make sure you know how to read Google Maps and activate the navigation in Indonesian. Because some drivers are new and most of them only speak Indonesian.
Busway: I recommend using it for their Free City Tour Bus #JakartaExplorer. But I wouldn’t recommend using the regular busway for a first time traveler. My main reason is safety. There are many pick pockets inside (usually standing near the door), especially when the bus is full. But again, if you really have to take it or you want to try it, then do it when it is not full (usually during working hours). Just make sure you know the bus stop you are heading to and put your bag in front of you.
Bajaj: I recommend this one if you want to have a short city tour to the Jakarta landmark, “Monas” (National Monument). Monas is the symbol of Jakarta city and the view is great at night. You can take a ride from the road next to Sarinah Department Store in Thamrin Street. Bargain the price first to Rp30,000 or Rp50,000 top, and ask the driver to go around Monas. Maybe stop for a photo or two, then bring you back to Sarinah. It will be a different experience 🙂
Online Taxi: It is beneficial to use an online taxi as they have a fixed fare. So if they get lost in the city, the fare remains the same hahaha. It would be better to take this option when it is not rush hour or during daylight. The fare goes above regular taxi during rush hour. Then make sure you wait in a place that is easy to be found, such as lobby of a hotel/mall and in convenient store (Alfamart, Indomart, CircleK). Again, most taxi drivers only speak Indonesian.
Note: If you are traveling solo, it would be better to take it during daylight as there is some unpleasant news lately for rider at night. I myself don’t take it after 9pm anymore.
Finally, Going From Jakarta City Center to the Airport
I would recommend taking a taxi or online taxi. I don’t recommend using the airport bus or train because you never know if they will depart on time or not. Plus due to the crazy traffic at certain times of the day you are never sure how long it will take. I’ve been in that place, frustrated not knowing if I will be able to catch my flight or not because I took an airport bus in heavy traffic. Once is enough hahaha. Other than that, the bus schedule can be changed due to congested traffic. This is one of the issues with transportation in Jakarta.
Well, there you go. These are my recommendations for the safest transportation in Jakarta for first time travelers to my city. But if you ever get lost here, don’t be shy to ask around. Jakartans are very welcoming and will be happy to help you with a smiling face.
Have you been to Jakarta and have your own travel tips for getting around the city quickly, cheaply and safely? Feel feel to share them in the comments section below!
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