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The peak season within Jakarta is the dry season, which is from May through to September, when rainfall is at its lowest. This is when most tourists book flights to Jakarta. There are a number of festivals which take place during this season and offer another insight into the interesting and diverse city. The annual Jakarta Fair showcases a wide array of goods and products made across the country, including food and arts and crafts. Taking place during June and July, this event also gives visitors the opportunity to watch and listen to traditional music and dancing.
There are other spikes in the travel season, which are the end of Ramadan, Christmas, and school holidays (mid-June to mid-July). Ramadan is an important Islamic festival which lasts a month and is held around September time. Before booking your flight to Jakarta, you should take note that shops and restaurants are likely to be closed during this period.
October through April is the low season as it is the wet period. Heavy rainfall during this time puts off some travellers. During this time you may find cheap flights to Jakarta and lower rates for accommodation. It is important to bear in mind that Jakarta is located at the mouth of the Ciliwung River and heavy rains can cause flooding. If you do wish to visit during the low season, you could choose the month of March, when the Java Jazz Festival is held. Considered one of the musical highlights of Jakarta, this event brings together world-class musicians and artists from all over the world.
Jakarta is Indonesia’s capital city, situated on the northwest coast of the island of Java. Many travellers who take flights to Jakarta will be bound for other parts of Indonesia, and will stick close to the Jalan Jaksa, the backpacker street, for the duration of their stay. Jakarta is not an immediate charmer – its nickname is the Big Durian after all, and one of the kindest meanings is that Jakarta is an acquired taste – but the city has more than enough to engage visitors for a few days.
This 24-hour city is Indonesia in microcosm – a fusion of Javanese, Indian, Chinese, and Dutch cultures. To take the pulse of the historic city, start at Kota and weave your way through the throng to get to Taman Fatahillah. This square is home to Jakarta’s finest museums – the History Museum, Fine Arts Museum and Puppet Museum.
Merdeka Square is flanked by the important government buildings such as the Presidential Palace (Istana Merdeka) and the Supreme Court. In the centre stands Monas, the national monument. The column, topped by a golden flame, was conceived by Indonesia’s first president Sukarno. A lift whizzes tourists to the top from where there are sumptuous views of Jakarta – smog permitting.
When you have had enough of museums, head to Sunda Kepala and watch some old-fashioned toil. The old harbour has been a gateway for traders and sailors since the 1500s.
The old colonial area of the city can be found to the north. Here, visitors can sample the local Peranakan cuisine, which is the product of Chinese influence on an area once under Dutch control.
Those with a hankering for shopping should head south where upscale shopping malls cater for locals and visitors alike while more adventurous types can board a ferry and head out towards Kepulauan Seribu or Thousand Islands, which are actually closer to 100 in number but still worth visiting for a selection of water-based outings including diving and wind surfing.
Jakarta has a tropical monsoon climate which is hot and humid all year round. Temperatures throughout the year are generally between 24 and 33 degrees Celsius and humidity levels are high, about 70 per cent during the whole year. The peak and low season is therefore related to the distinct wet and dry seasons.
Forget about renting a car to get around Jakarta. The traffic is so busy and the taxis so reasonably priced that you won’t need to think about driving. Choose licensed taxis and make sure the meter is turned on to avoid any disagreements later on.
There are more than 20 bus companies in Jakarta, but buses are busy at all times of the day.
Bajaj are orange, motorised tricycles, akin to the Thai tuk-tuk, with space for two passengers. They’re a popular choice in Jakarta, nimble enough to get through the heavy traffic. Motorcycle taxis are nimbler still. Again, set on a price before you set off.
From Soekarno Hatta International Airport (CGK), there are a couple of options for getting to the city centre. The Damry Bus runs from early morning till late evening.
There are official taxis at the airport. There’s a small charge for using the airport taxis – based on the destination. Ensure the metre is on before setting off.