Getting around: Jakarta


Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital: with a population of more than 10 million (and counting) has become synonymous with traffic jams, or “macet”, which are discussed endlessly and inevitably. To tackle the issue, the city has even implemented a policy known as “Peraturan Ganjil-Genap” (or “Odd-Even Policy”) whereby only certain numbered plates can access designated roads on allotted dates.
But such attempts to alleviate the city’s rampant macet have only gone so far.

Denizens and savvy travellers get around the city the best way possible: through Jakarta-based app service provider, Gojek.

A play on the word “ojek” Go-Jek – worth USD2.5 billion and the only Southeast Asian business on Fortune Magazine’s 2017 “56 Companies That Change the World” list – is the Grab equivalent for motorcycle taxis. With over 900,000 drivers in Jakarta alone, using Go-Jek is the most efficient and reliable method to get the most out of the bustling metropolis without wasting time.

Go-Jek users can also buy movie tickets and order delivery take-out. Forgot to purchase your groceries on your way back from work? Not to worry – Go-Jek’s got you covered, too.

If the weather gets cloudy one can also use Go-Jek to book either a Go-Car or a Bluebird taxi. Opt for the latter, as its drivers are well-versed with the city’s intricate network of roads and will be able to find shortcuts that a navigation app simply won’t detect.

The 661.5-square-kilometre metropolis has much to offer young professionals looking to wind down from work and experience the trendiest local spots.

Check out Jakarta’s neighbourhood of Menteng and fine dine at Plataran Menteng to savour Indonesian food. Though a bit steep price-wise, the cuisine attentively reflects a diverse and genuine range of cooking traditions from across the archipelago.

If you’re a coffee junkie, you can then head to 1/15 Coffee, also located in Menteng – and 5 minutes away by Go-Jek. Its respectful and minimalist approach to coffee and interior aesthetic reflects Jakarta’s thriving contemporary mode.

For a more budget-friendly experience, you’ll find many of the roadside food stalls on Jalan Kuningan Madya to be more than reliable. They offer many iconic dishes, from ayam penyet to gudek which originates from the Indonesian art capital of Jogja.

Jakarta isn’t just a place to treat one’s taste buds. The city’s vibrant and thriving art scene also offers a feast to the senses.

The National Gallery of Indonesia in central Gambir district is an important centre of art that both preserves the republic’s cultural heritage and showcases new works by up and coming artists. If you’re looking to push your boundaries and immerse in more contemporary vibes, look no further than Museum MACAN, a private art gallery opened in 2013.

Tickets should be bought several days in advance to avoid the long lines as the gallery will inevitably be packed, especially on weekends. The beauty and value of MACAN is that it’s not just a place for art connoisseurs or bourgeois intellectuals: many visitors are middle-class Indonesians from all over the sprawling archipelago– who are finding themselves more and more fond of contemporary art.

While Jakarta is a busy, condensed and messy city, Jakartans are very warm people. Enjoy the poetic and rhythmic sound of Bahasa Indonesia – and make the effort to learn it. The language enfolds both speaker and listener in a deep embrace of intimate affection – a trait that is very much embedded in Indonesian culture.

Yuk, let’s go!


Hezril Azmin is a Research and Advisory Executive at KRA Group. While he calls Kuala Lumpur home he finds Jakarta to be his favourite Southeast Asian capital.