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Jakarta is the capital and largest city of Indonesia, located on the northwest of the island of Java. Jakarta is the country's economic, cultural and political centre and the most populous city not only in Indonesia but in Southeast Asia as a whole.
Although the city is known for its heavy traffic and high level of pollution it is filled with an exciting nightlife and vibrant shopping areas. The city is also the centre and melting pot of Indonesian culture which might be the thing for you to enjoy Jakarta.
Jakarta is administratively divided into the following named districts (note that these district except central Jakarta are very dense in terms of area):
Central Jakarta (Jakarta Pusat) - The Heart of Jakarta's Administrative, Government and financial, an aptly named district and the site of Jakarta's symbol, the 132 metre Monas (Monumen Nasional) which is located in world's largest city square "Lapangan Merdeka". Surrounding the area lies the presidential palace, government building, Istiqal Mosque (the largest Mosque in Southeast Asia), Jakarta's gothic cathedral and also the National Museum of Indonesia. There are also various museums within this part of the city such as National Gallery of Indonesia or Jakarta Planetarium. The area is also home to Jakarta's major landmark Bundaran HI or the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, which is where Jakarta's top most exclusive malls are located. One small road in the area called Jalan Jaksa or Jaksa road, a backpacker street, houses numbers of budget hotels and restaurants for travelers.
West Jakarta (Jakarta Barat) - Home to Jakarta's only surviving old town area "Jakarta kota tua" a small area consisting of dutch colonial buildings, its streets are throng with hawker food, crafted good vendors, artist as well as Jakartans youth hanging around. This area is home to the Fatahillah Museum or Jakarta History Museum, and numbers of few other museums cafes converted from old Batavia's offices, banks, warehouses and shops. It is also home to Jakarta's Chinatown called "Glodok" area. Glodok is more of electronic promenade of Jakarta, however is rich in street hawker food and Chinese cuisine restaurant as well as old Chinese temples complexes. There are alot of shopping going on in this area as well, as it is home to Indonesia's largest shopping mall "Mall Taman Anggrek"(Orchid Garden Mall).
South Jakarta (Jakarta Selatan) - Jakarta's middle upper class and elite's residential area and is also part of Jakarta's business centre. Where you can find upscale shopping centres and malls, restaurants, hotels, bustling nightlife and entertainment centre and affluent residential areas. One of the famous area in south is Kemang, a street filled with lanes of restaurant, pubs, night clubs, and boutique shops which are popular among the Jakartans and expats alike. The Senopati area is also a burgeoning food street with some of the city's hippest and best restaurants and lounges, quickly displacing Kemang as the place to go and be due to Kemang's unbearable weekend traffic and new flashier options. These are where the elite local's go to eat and drink. The SCBD, Central business district also has some great options for lunch and the best clubs and lounges in the city. South Jakarta is also home to Gelanggang Bung Karno stadium in Senayan sport complex area, which is Indonesia's largest stadium.
East Jakarta (Jakarta Timur) - Industrial Quarter of the city, and Location of Taman Mini Indonesia Indah where you can see parts of Indonesia's multiethnic community rounded up as 1, also crafted good at Utan Kayu art community, Cibubur camping ground, and Jakarta's 2nd airport, Halim Perdanakusuma airport.
North Jakarta (Jakarta Utara) - Jakarta's main harbor area famed for its seafood and is the gateway to Thousand Island province of Jakarta. The Place is home to area filled with excitement and bustling entertainment The Ancol Bayfront City Asia's largest integrated tourism area consiting of fascinating Dufan theme park, Sea World, art markets, eco parks, shopping mall and beachside entertainment. The beautiful Thousand Islands is located just across the sea of Jakarta, it can be crossed by jetty service and is a place where people could escape the city's heavy combustion and pollution and enjoy beautiful beach with marine parks and world class resorts.
Thousand Islands (Kepulauan Seribu) - Off-shore the mainland, lie hundreds of small islands, some of which are inhabited, but many are not and some are part of Marine National Park. Excellent diving spots will be difficult to find as the more popular ones are perhaps have been destroyed by tourism. To reach the islands, simply go to Muara Karang Port where scheduled passenger boats leave every 7am in the morning.
At the airport
Departure taxes|As of February 2015, Soekarno-Hatta Airport departure taxes (Passenger Service Charge) are included in the cost of the air ticket. There is no need for further cash payment at the airline counters.
Soekarno Hatta International Airport (CGK), at Tangerang, Banten. All international and nearly all domestic flights land here 20 km (12 mi) to the northwest of the city. The counterintuitive airport code comes from Cengkareng, a district near the airport. If you don't have non-stop options between your origin city and Jakarta, try connecting via Singapore or Kuala Lumpur as there are more than a dozen flights a day between these cities and Jakarta.
One excellent surprise you'll find in Jakarta is that once you past the taxi drivers who offer their services at the airport and really meet the locals, you will find that the people are among the most friendly, hospitable, and helpful people you'll find on earth, if you keep away from the mini-bus drivers who are notorious for being the harshest on earth. However, understand that Jakarta being a melting pot, you are guaranteed to meet people of all sorts here.
When buying tickets for buses out of Jakarta, you're better off to buy them at each bus company's booth. Do not buy from anywhere outside the booth as the prices are more expensive and the bus they will take you to is questionable. Jakarta has many bus terminals, but not all of them have inter-city services. Look for the sign AKAP (Antar Kota Antar Provinsi or Inter-city and Inter-Province).
Getting around Jakarta is more often than not, problematic. The city layout is darwinistic and bewildering with horrendous traffic jams slowing the city to a crawl during rush hours and the current public transportation is still not adequate enough to alleviate the congestion.
Various areas of the city have different levels of chaos. The better organized traffics are mainly at the business districts.
If you can afford it, it is highly recommended to hire a private car, else use a taxi everywhere.
By public bus
A multitude of bus companies operate at the streets of Jakarta. However buses do not run on schedule. Most maps bought not from Indonesia do not show bus routes, so Google Maps would be the best method to figure out what bus you should take. Most bus stops also posted what route number and destinations stop there. If you want to get somewhere quickly and are not prepared to get lost, avoid the buses (remember that taxis are cheaper than most local buses in the West). However, they make for a good adventure if you're not in a rush and don't mind being the centre of attention.
What to see
Monas (National Monument). Located at Lapangan Merdeka (Freedom Square), Jakarta's best known landmark, the 137 metre monument is located in the centre of Merdeka (Freedom) square.
Presidential Palace, (north of the National Monument). Official residence and office of the Indonesian president is open to the public on weekends for free, preferably make reservation first and use formal clothes, no sandals.
Gelangang Bung Karno Stadium, (Senayan Sport complex in South Jakarta). A large stadium surrounded by a large park, the area is a good way to enjoy a fresh air away from the congestion and as well to see a large stadium provided you are interested in it.
Bundaran HI, (Hotel Indonesia Traffic Circle). A large fountain with a statue, located in Central Jakarta and is in front of the city's grand major malls.
Ancol Dream Park (Taman Impian Jaya Ancol). Ancol Dream Park is located right on the coast. The Park itself is well worth the visit, however, don't hold high expectations for the beach or for the quality of the sea water. Both the beach and the sea water are polluted and best avoided.
Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, (Beautiful Indonesia in little park). See the whole Indonesian culture from here. It offers an exciting tour of 30 provinces of Indonesia with samplings of the country's more than 250 cultures.
Jungleland Sentul City, located in Bogor regency however far from the city center lies Indonesia's largest and newest themepark.
Kota Tua, (Old town Batavia). Is the old town of Jakarta, situated at north of Jakarta nearby the Glodok China Town. The area collides modern Jakarta with its old Dutch colonial charm.
Jembatan Kota Intan, (Kota Intan drawbridge). The bridge was developed coincide with the development of Batavia by Jan Pieterzoon Coen in 1628, and the only one of the rests of many suspension bridge ever decorating Batavia city.
Sunda Kelapa Port/Old Harbour. The old port area of Sunda Kelapa remains today as a bustling hub for inter islands trade. Graceful Bugis phinisi schooners, the world's last wind-powered sailing fleet used for trade, still berthed at the quay as they have for century.
Fish Market and Museum Bahari, ("Maritime Museum), (at the mouth of the Ciliwung river). This market area bustles with activities related to the sea. The Museum Bahari situated at the harbour, is housed in restored Dutch warehouses dating back to the first trading post of the Dutch East Indies.
Pasar Baru. Although the name means New Market, it doesn't mean the place is new at all. Dating back to the Dutch colonial era, it has been one of the main hub for commodities trading.
Paleis Van Daendels. Formerly a palace for a notorious Dutch East Indies Governor General, Herman Willem Daendels, now is the financial department building. You are not allowed to go inside, however this building is a must for colonial architecture fans and is just a little further from the Monas area.
Typically unbeknownst to the world, Jakarta boasts some of the world's largest music events and the many youth fans have attracted artists all around the world to regularly stop by Jakarta as part of their world tour, from rock concerts to Korean pop.