Don't forget to always bring a lot of fresh-from-the-bank (or the ATM) paper money since most money changers in Jakarta won't accept used dirty, crumpled, slightly torn money or if they do, they will drop the exchange rates significantly. This goes for local banks as well.
From my experience, it is very very difficult to exchange used US Dollars at the published rates.
Fun Alternatives: Exchange your currency to Rupiahs before you arrive in Jakarta.
Rainy season , there is nothing you can do against it.
During daytime it is hot , HOT , hot...
And the suddenly , one drop , two and before you know it , it is like being under a waterfall...
Unique Suggestions: Ok , I had this jacket to keep dry. Only , the temperature doesn't drop worth mentioning...
So you get wetter from sweating then from the rain.
Fun Alternatives: Since there is nothing you can do about it , just enjoy it en see it as a delight.
Just make sure you can protect your camera and other vulnerable equipment well
Pay attention while you check in for an hotel or go for dinner in a fancy restaurant...
Taxes and/or services are not always included..
Don't forget those 21%
It can be quit an amount of money that you did not expect to pay in the end.
Maybe an obvious tip...But it is so hot here. You have to drink all day...
Don't forget to take a bottle of water with you when taking a taxi. I know that sound ridiculous. Our experience.
I did make some fun about the traffic jam. Till you got stuck. It took us almost 3 houres to the hotel. And boy I was thirsty. I didn't had any small money to buy water in front of the stop lights...
When you arrived at Jakarta International Airport, get your baggage and get ready to exit, be ready for a lot of men offering you taxis. First, give them a body language that you know where you are going and that you are familiar with the situation. Don't look puzzled. It's even better to pretend that you have someone pick you up there.
If you don't have someone pick you up, you will have to pick a taxi. This is where you'll have to be careful. Some taxi drivers would take you with his metered taxi, then on the road he would "offer" you a high flat tariff - if you wouldn't take it he would "kick" you off his cab in the middle of a highway or road.
Unique Suggestions: When you are trapped, there is nothing you can do except to play with the driver's rule.
Fun Alternatives: To avoid the trap, pick a taxi from a reputable company. Currently the most reputable one is the Blue Bird Group
After getting your baggage, go to the Blue Bird Group counter and ask for a Blue Bird or a Silver Bird taxi. The Silver Bird taxi has a small counter outside, but make sure to ask for the direction from the counter officer before you exit, because when you are outside it might be difficult to find the counter.
Tourists should take note that the so-called free maps of Jakarta are not free ! Sarinah Shopping Centre sells the free maps of Jakarta, Surabaya and Bandung published by PT Indo Multi-Media, the publisher of Garuda Indonesia's official inflight magazine. Hotels and guesthouses do not stock the free maps of Jakarta. So, if you want to get around Jakarta alone with a reliable map, think twice. The most reliable free tourist map of Jakarta is actually on sale. Whether the sale is legal or clandestine, I cannot confirm.
Unique Suggestions: Avoid buying the free maps of Jakarta. Buy the Jakarta Travel Map published by Sirnabaya Mandirancan. It shows the futuristic Jakarta Monorail and Monas on its front cover. This map on sale shows all the building names and street names in great detail as well as Jakarta's intra-bus transport routes. It is the best travel map of Jakarta.
Fun Alternatives: Ask your Blue Bird Group taxi driver to bring you to your destination if you cannot find your destination on the maps of Jakarta !
If a guide comes to you and starts to explain whatever things in the museum. Please realize that it is not a FREE of charge service! even when the guide works for the museum!
Unique Suggestions: Be sure to ask the guide whether you HAVE to pay for their service. This service should be free!
Fun Alternatives: please agree on a price in advance! US$3/traveller is the highest deal for taking you to those 2 places.
Keep in mind that Donation is not a must.
Go by meter. Probably always cheaper.
Why? Because you can newer know excactly how far it is. And to judge what is best you have to know. They would not suggest a fixed price if it is not higher than what they get by meter.
You can order Bluebird taxi from a counter on yhe right side just after imigration on Soekarno Hatta airport. They offer various standard of car transport from limo with fixed price to Bluebird by meter.
There is also a counter beside the taxi counter where you can book hotel.
When taking cabs, it's a common practise for the cab drivers not to return any change to you if the difference is small (less than US$1). However, some drivers may take advantage of tourists/foreigners by not returning any change at all irregardless of the amount.
Times like this, you must ask for it politely. The best way of course is to keep lots of small change if you plan to use the cab most of the time.
Traffic jam has become a "lifestyle" in Jakarta. Lately it happens mostly everyday, almost all day long & at night too, and almost everywhere. The PEAK hours are at about 7 - 9 am and 5 - 7 pm.
Unique Suggestions: 1. Be patient.
2. You can ask the driver to find an alternatife way, but don't hope too much on that.
3. Be patient and go with the flow... You have to.
Fun Alternatives: To avoid the worst traffic, do not be on the street during peak hours. Or best, try to be on the street as short as possible.
Plan your day trip carefully, considering the streets you are going and the hours - when you are going out and going back.
Be aware that on Saturdays the traffic can be worse than on weekdays.
It was not a serious a trap.. But actually they get surprised of being a tall black human hanging around in the city (which I am not tall, but comparing to them HEY! I am TALL)... most of Indonesian females stopped me and looked at me touched me in my face and hands like a sculpture... (wow!! black tall woman!! what a pretty worthy to stare on!!!) All the citizens there are such a small people... hardly you could figure out who is the father from the kid!!... They are really cute and friendly.. And, well educated people,, do not hesitate to talk to any body there in English...
Sometimes, people on the street or the sellers on the corners yelling at me (Hey Africa!!)
Unique Suggestions: Just contact the hotel costumer services they have much of attractive tours around the city and sometimes, around all Indonesia,,, do not miss the early morning bus tour... ;)
Fun Alternatives: It's extremely fun... you have to notice that Indonesia is so beautiful and precious to discover any spot in it.
On the main streets in Jakarta (Jl. Jend. Sudirman, Gatot Subroto), there is the regulation called 3-in-1. Every weekday on 7 - 10 am and 4 - 7 pm, every private vehicle that is going through those streets (the 3-in-1 area) must have at least 3 people in it. This doesn't apply to public vehicles (e.g. taxis).
Fun Alternatives: If you are using a rental or private car during 3-in-1 hours and there are only 2 persons or less, you'll have find an alternative way. Use the city map to help you.
Never entertain any watch enquirer at Soekarno-Hatta Airport, for they may just want to sell an expensive fake watch on their hands to you, or pressure you to give your watch to him for a better deal.
Unique Suggestions: Walk away from Indonesian guys that pose the watches to you.
Fun Alternatives: Find a transport to bring you to the city or roam the airport premises.
Arriving in Jakarta's airport Soekarno-Hatta, doesn't matter who you are, there would be so many poeple waiting for you (though you wouldn't know who the hell they are, but, see it this way, it's a welcome anyway) they will offer you to send you to your hotel, etc. Don't trust them 100%, just go to the information and book for a registered taxi. Or, if you have no choice, make sure you agreed the price first before you get in to any car. Or maybe, pay first and tell them no more payment after that. Most likely, the one you will negotiate the price with you wouldn't be the one who drive the car. He will ask you to wait and a car will come and you will go with the driver. He'll be looking for other customer,...
Beware with 'pengemis', local lingo for beggars. If you feel sorry about them and wanna give money, just do it quickly with your coins. But if you use your paper money or open your wallet in front of them, suddenly their 'friends' will coming and disturbing you with calling, 'Mister, Mister' or 'Lady, Lady' .... I am sorry, that's one of our National problem --not yet successfully give them field of work :( You can find them at pedestrians, traffic lights, pedestrian bridges, front of restaurants.
+ Picture courtesy of Arya. A. Sadhana