4 Ways to Get Around Jakarta Like a Local

Jakarta can be overwhelming to get around, it’s a sprawling city with various privatized public transportation systems. Fortunately, there are many different ways to get around this city. With enough resolution, courage, and a small amount of luck, it’s just possible for visitors to get from anywhere in the city to wherever you want to go within a reasonable time without resorting to renting a car or jumping in a cab.

The key is not only knowing the address of the place but also the general area and its landmarks (malls, museums, or markets). Armed with a good direction from the said landmark, you’ll have a good start in exploring what Jakarta has to offer using public transportation. Here are some the more popular methods of getting around in Jakarta:

Note: at the time of writing 1USD = Rp10.000

Bajaj

Bajaj

What it is
A polluting 3 wheeled-devils-on-wheel, Bajaj is perfect for short rides for 2 people. Due to the rattlings and the shaking, taking a Bajaj for a ride longer than 30 mins could result in temporary deafness and a condition similar to baby-shaking syndrome. I’m jesting… sorta.

Pros and cons
They’re relatively cheap but extremely polluting, noisy, and not really the most comfortable way to get around.

How to and cost
You can hail them whenever you see one without a passenger. A ride usually costs around Rp4000 – Rp5000 for a couple of city blocks worth of distance or about 10-15 mins ride.

Mikrolet/Angkot

Mikrolet

What it is
Usually cyan or baby blue in color (but they also come in a varieties of other colors), mikrolets or ‘angkots’ runs all over the city. It’s a 100% guaranteed that at least one of them will ‘almost’ run you over during your visit to Jakarta. They’re aggressive and will do anything to cram their vehicles as full as possible.

Other drivers hate them with a passion because of their tendency to stop wherever they feel like it to either pick up a passenger, or wait for a passenger (they’ll only leave when their vehicle is full enough to be profitable).

Pros and cons
They run to every corner of the city and beyond. The better way to travel medium distances that the busway (see #4) doesn’t cover. But they will test your patience and their driving skill is not for the faint of heart.

How to and cost
Their routes are usually written on the front of the vehicle. But always confirm! You can get on it wherever you see one even though they tend to congregate most around public markets and bus terminals.

Hailing them is easy… you’ll usually see the fare collector hanging out from the open door trawling for passengers. Get his attention. To stop, you either tap the window with a coin, yell ‘Kiri!’ or let the fare collector know.

You pay on the way out. Ask other passengers for how much it usually costs them for the ride. It can run anywhere from Rp2000 to Rp10000 depending on the distance.

Ojek

Ojek drivers waiting for passengers

What it is
Another common mode of transportation, ojeks are basically rides on motorcycles. They can commonly found near shopping malls, markets, and any major public area. A good way find them is to locate a group of people doing nothing, just hanging out near a row of motorcycles. Fun way to get around if you’re feeling exceptionally risky and happen to have a limb or two to spare.

Pros and cons
They’re ubiquitous and often the only way to travel to alleys and neighborhood areas that other modes of transportation don’t cover. However, they’re also the most risky to travel of the options listed here. With the rise of gas price and driving a car becomes more expensive, cheaper motorcycles flood the streets of Jakarta: they cut in front of cars without warning, they don’t signal as a rule, they swerve unpredictably… You’ve been warned.

How to and cost
Approach one of them and tell him where you need to go. Insist on having a helmet to wear. Once you experience or see the kind of driving that these guys do, you WILL insist on having a helmet. Besides, the cops have been cracking down on this all around Jakarta and you’ll risk a fine if caught.

The cost depends on the distance but it’s slightly on the expensive side. From Rp5000 – Rp20000.

Busway

Busway

What it is
The yellow-red busway is the ‘new’ way to get around Jakarta and the preferred way for the mass of office workers to get to and from work. As a result, in the morning and evenings getting on one of this buses will require some determination along with physical prowess.

Pros and cons
The busway system uses modern and air-conditioned buses and in general are much better maintained than your other transportation options. Oh, did I mention that they’re air conditioned?

But they only run on specific routes, covering mostly central and south Jakarta. There are 8 different lines or ‘korridors’ servicing the greater Jakarta area and you can transfer freely from one to another in order to get to your final destination. It gets extremely busy during rush hour and late services are also not uncommon.

How to and cost
Busway is the only mode of transportation in Jakarta with proper stations and terminals. The buses run on its own lane separated from the other lanes by physical barrier. Stations are strategically located along the route. At intersection points with another route, there’s a terminal where you can get off and transfer to a different ‘korridor’ bus if you need to. Transfer is free.

You need to purchase the ticket before getting on the bus. Cost is a flat price of Rp3500 — a bargain if busway runs in your area. See here for a map of busway routes.


There are other method of transportation in Jakarta on top of the 4 listed above. Buses are plentiful (but I’ve never taken them). They also have routes all over the city and their conditions vary from decent to suicidal.

Taxis are everywhere. Insist that the meter is running. Blue Bird taxis are still one of the most reputable taxi companies around. See this article for a list of recommended taxi companies and those to avoid.

If all else fails, renting a car is always an option. It costs roughly $30-$50 depending on the car, and it even comes with a driver!

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7 Replies to “4 Ways to Get Around Jakarta Like a Local”

  1. I only found out you are from Jakarta, Jill :). I live here, and I have to say, despite the chaos, I still find this place to have its charm. As they say, they call it the Big Durian for nothing – either you love it, or you hate it – and that's Jakarta for some 🙂 Loving your posts, and going to "stroll" for more posts on Indonesia travel since what I plan to do is local travelling from this year onwards!

  2. I can't begin to imagine how noisy the Bajaj would be! I wouldn't want to end up deaf after riding in it!LOL! I guess I'll always prefer the good old bus! 🙂

  3. Wahahahaha…I once went on a metromini with a friend, late in the night. The streets were empty and the metromini driver was crazy. He was driving on the busway lanes with extreme speed. But we sure know how to make a life threatening situation fun! Holding on the seat rail in front of us, we act as if we were on a roller coaster. Yet, the thrill of course was 10 times more scary. Definitely one way to get around Jakarta fast!

  4. Sounds like a chaotic place, but still worth visiting if you like to get out of your comfort zone and experience other ways of life.

    Thanks for sharing it with us. I appreciate the way you've gone through the details and brought them all up here for the others to learn about them.

    Rahman Mehraby
    Destination Iran Travel & Tours

    1. Hehe… it is a chaotic place. Despite the chaos, riding a public transportation in Jakarta can be fun and exciting. Just have to have the right mindset before getting on.

  5. And here I thought Beirut was hell on wheels. Jakarta beats it hands down. At least when I visit, I'll have had some traing from my months in Beirut.

    1. In a way, driving in Jakarta can be easier than the US. There are no rules other than not to hit anything… but other than, everything else goes. Having said that, there's no way I'd drive there.

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