Exploring Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta and Indonesia became an unexpectedly fantastic destination I stumbled upon after watching the 2014 movie After The Dark. The destinations featured in the film were cinematically stunning and became an instant inspiration to explore this country.

In the subsequent years, I returned to Indonesia quite a few times to continue exploring the amazing destinations. The country is massive; there are 17,000 islands, and the country width (end-to-end) spans 5,120km (3,181 mi) – It’s HUGE.

The best time to visit

Indonesia’s climate is primarily hot at sea level and can be significantly cooler in the mountains that dot the landscape. The tropical climate is responsible for the daily rain and thunderstorms; however, Indonesia’s dry season runs from April to October and is ideal for island-hopping and exploring the area’s numerous destinations and beaches.

Sadly, the air quality is poor, primarily in heavily populated areas, and smog is especially prevalent in Jakarta, the country’s capital. I can’t stress enough how disappointed I was to see stunning skylines and landscapes obscured by thick smog, even at night.

Smog and hazy conditions in Jakarta, Indonesia
Smog and hazy conditions in Jakarta, Indonesia

Destinations to explore in Jakarta, Indonesia

As stated before, Indonesia is HUGE! Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Lesser Sunda Islands, Sulawesi, Maluku Islands, and Western New Guinea are the seven geographical areas of the country. They are home to stunning destinations, all of which are on my list to visit.

The country straddles the equator and is on a tectonic boundary between the Eurasian and Australian plates, which gives Indonesia its rugged mountains, numerous volcanos, and tectonic activity (earthquakes).

Places I’ve visited

Place on my wanderlust list

  • Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park
  • Bukit Lawang
  • Komodo Island
  • Raja Ampat Islands
  • Tanjung Puting National Park

Exploring and navigating Jakarta

The population centers of Indonesia, especially Jakarta, are a total and complete disaster for any and every form of transportation. The traffic in Jakarta is solidly in the top 10% of the worst traffic on the planet, which is why >37% of locals walk. It’s a common occurrence to sit in hours-long traffic jams no matter the day or time. There’s a mix of cars, scooters, tuk-tuks, and horses splitting lanes to get through the gridlocked traffic.

Transportation in Jakarta, Indonesia
Transportation in Jakarta, Indonesia

Rideshares are popular and easy to hail using Gojek and Uber (in some areas). Rideshares or tuk-tuks are my preferred option for short-term visits if you’re staying in one geographic area. However, renting a car or hiring a driver is strongly recommended if you’re traveling between regions.

Public transportation is beginning to take hold in Jarkarta to combat the smog problems; however, the bus network is still in its infancy but growing steadily.

Planning your trip to Jakarta, Indonesia

Because of the size of Indonesia, there are a handful of major international airports. In addition, there are more regional/local airports, but for planning a trip to Indonesia, these will likely be your most cost-conscious ports of entry.

Soekarno Hatta International Airport (IATA: CGK) international arrivals hall
Soekarno Hatta International Airport (IATA: CGK) international arrivals hall

Major ports of entry

Soekarno Hatta International Airport (IATA: CGK)
Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport (IATA: DPS)

Other ports of entry

Juanda International Airport (IATA: SUB)
Banyuwangi International Airport (IATA: BWX)
Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman International Airport (IATA: BPN)
Kualanamu International Airport (IATA: KNO)
Sultan Hasanuddin Airport (IATA: UPG)
Ahmad Yani Airport (IATA: SRG)
Husein Sastranegara International Airport (IATA: BDO)
Sultan Muhammad Kaharuddin III Airport (IATA: SWQ)
Kalimarau International Airport (IATA: BEJ)
Kertajati International Airport (IATA: KJT)

Getting to Jakarta, Indonesia

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