Getting there & away
Jakarta is the main international gateway to Indonesia. Jakarta is also a major centre for domestic travel, with extensive bus, train, air and boat connections.
Jakarta’s four major bus terminals – Kalideres, Kampung Rambutan, Pulo Gadung and Lebak Bulus – are all a long way from the city centre. In some cases it can take longer getting to the bus terminal than the bus journey itself, making the trains a better alternative for arriving in or leaving Jakarta.
Tickets (some including travel to the terminals) for the better buses can be bought from agencies.
Buses to the west of Jakarta go from here, about 15km northwest of Merdeka Sq. Frequent buses run to Merak (11,000Rp, three hours) and Labuan (35,000Rp, 3½ hours). A few buses go through to Sumatra from Kalideres, but most Sumatra buses leave from Pulo Gadung bus terminal.
Buses that travel to areas south and southwest of Jakarta leave from this big bus terminal, some 18km south of the centre. It was designed to carry much of Jakarta’s intercity bus traffic, but it mostly handles buses to West Java, including Bogor (normal/air-con 7000/10,000Rp, 40 minutes) and Bandung (20,000Rp to 45,000Rp, 4½ hours). Note that it is quicker to take the train to Bogor or Bandung.
Twelve kilometres east of the city centre, Pulo Gadung has buses to Cirebon, Central and East Java, Sumatra and Bali. Many of the air-con, deluxe buses operate from here. This wild bus terminal is the busiest in Indonesia.
The terminal is divided into two sections: one for buses to Sumatra and the other for all buses to the east. Most buses to Sumatra leave between 10am and 3pm, and you can catch a bus right through to Aceh if you are crazy enough. Destinations and fares from here include Bengkulu (150,000Rp to 200,000Rp), Palembang (140,000Rp to 180,000Rp) and also Padang and Bukittinggi (155,000Rp to 220,000Rp). Prices listed are for air-con deluxe buses with reclining seats and toilets – well worth it for those long hauls through Sumatra.
This terminal is 16km south of the city centre, and is another departure point for the long-distance deluxe buses to Yogyakarta, Surabaya and Bali. Most bus departures are scheduled for the late afternoon or evening.
Jakarta’s four main train stations are quite central, making trains the easiest way out of the city into Java. The most convenient and important is Gambir station, on the eastern side of Merdeka Sq, a 15-minute walk from Jl Jaksa. Gambir handles express trains to Bogor, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Solo, Semarang and Surabaya. Some Gambir trains also stop at Kota, the train station in the old city area in the north. The Pasar Senen train station is to the east and mostly has economy-class trains. Tanah Abang train station has economy trains to the west.
For express trains, tickets can be bought in advance at the booking offices at the northern end of Gambir train station, while the ticket windows at the southern end are for tickets bought on the day of departure. You can call for schedules and departure times (3842777, 3523790) or consult the helpful staff at the station’s information office (6929194; 24hr).
To get to Jl Jaksa, avoid the taxi booking desk inside Gambir station and head outside to the long line of taxis, or make your way to the main road and hail a bajaj (motorised three-wheeler taxi); the fare will be around 20,000Rp or 10,000Rp respectively.
If you need a hotel, there is an Indohotel (345080) desk inside the station.
No-frills, economy-class trains from Gambir to Bogor are part of the city rail network and can be horribly crowded during rush hours (watch your gear), but at other times they are quite tolerable and provide an efficient service. They can also be boarded at Gondangdia train station, only a short stroll from Jl Jaksa. They leave Gondangdia every 20 minutes from 7am until 9.13pm and cost 2500Rp for the 90-minute journey. Better Pakuan Express trains (10,000Rp, one hour) leave from Gambir much more infrequently.
The easiest way to get to Bandung is by train. The journey is very scenic as the train climbs into the hills before Bandung. It is best to book in advance and essential on weekends and public holidays.
The efficient and comfortable Parahyangan service departs from Gambir train station heading for Bandung (business/executive 45,000/65,000Rp, three hours) roughly every hour between 4.40am and 10.15pm. The more luxurious Argo Gede (executive 75,000Rp, 2½ hours) departs approximately every two hours from 6.20am to 7.30pm.
Most trains that run along the north coast or to Yogyakarta go through Cirebon. One of the best services is the Cirebon Express (business/executive 50,000/65,000Rp, 3½ hours) departing from Gambir train station at 5.55am, 9.40am, 10.45am, 1.45pm and 6.15pm.
The most luxurious trains are the Argo Lawu (210,000Rp, seven hours) departing at 8pm, and the Argo Dwipangga (210,000Rp, eight hours) departing at 8am. These trains go to Solo and stop at Yogyakarta, 45 minutes before Solo, but cost the same to either destination.
Cheaper services from the Pasar Senen train station to Yogyakarta are the Fajar Utama Yogya (business 100,000Rp, eight hours), departing at 6.20am; and the Senja Utama Yogya (100,000Rp, nine hours) at 7.30pm. The Senja Utama Solo goes to Solo (100,000Rp, 10 hours) at 8.25pm and also stops in Yogyakarta.
Most trains between Jakarta and Surabaya take the shorter northern route via Semarang, though a few take the longer southern route via Yogyakarta. Express trains range from the Jayabaya Selatan (business 120,000Rp, 12 hours), that departs from Kota at 2pm and travels via Yogyakarta and Solo, to the luxurious Argo Bromo Anggrek (special executive class from 200,000Rp, nine hours), which departs from Gambir at 8.05am, 9.15am, 3.50pm and 9.15pm.
The Pelni ticketing office (4212893; www.pelni.com; Jl Angkasa 18) is northeast of the city centre in Kemayoran. Tickets plus commission can also be bought from designated Pelni agents: Menara Buana Surya (3142464; Jl Menteng Raya 29), in the Tedja Buana building, 500m east of Jl Jaksa; or Kerta Jaya (3451518; Jl Veteran 1 27), opposite Mesjid Istiqlal.
Direct Pelni destinations from Jakarta include Padang, Tanjung Pandan (Pulau Belitung), Surabaya, Semarang, Muntok (Pulau Bangka), Belawan, Kijang (Pulau Bintan) and Batam. Services on the Lambelu to Padang and the Kelud to Batam (near Singapore) are of most interest to travellers. To Kalimantan, the Lawit goes via Tanjung Pandan to Pontianak. A number of Pelni boats go to Makassar (Sulawesi) via Semarang or Surabaya, but there are no direct services.
Pelni ships all arrive at and depart from Pelabuhan Satu (Dock No 1) at Tanjung Priok, 13km northeast of the city centre. Take bus 1 from Jl Thamrin, opposite Sarinah department store; allow at least an hour. The bus terminal is at the old Tanjung Priok train station, from where it is a 1km walk to the dock or 5000Rp by ojek (motorcycle that takes passengers). A taxi to Jl Jaksa will cost around 35,000Rp. The information centre (4367487) at the front of the Dock No 1 arrival hall can be helpful, or try the nearby Pelni Information Office (4301260; Jl Palmas 2), though you can’t buy tickets here!
Other passenger ships also go from Dock No 1 to Pulau Bintan and Pulau Batam, from where it is just a short ferry ride to Singapore. The Samudera Jaya is a small but reasonably comfortable air-con hydrofoil that seats up to 300 passengers. It leaves Tanjung Priok on Saturday at noon and sails to Tanjung Pandan (150,000Rp, 12 hours) on Pulau Belitung, before continuing on to Tanjung Pinang (200,000Rp) and Batam (200,000Rp). Count on a 24-hour trip to Batam. In the reverse direction it leaves Thursday.
International and domestic flights operate from the modern, efficient Soekarno-Hatta international airport; only domestic flights are handled out of the little-used Halim airport.
Domestic airline offices in Jakarta include the following:
Batavia Air (3840888; www.batavia-air.co.id, in Indonesian only; Jl Ir H Juanda 15)
Garuda (2311801, 0807 1807807; www.garuda-indonesia.com; Garuda Bldg, Jl Merdeka Selatan 13)
Lion Air (6326039; www.lionair.co.id; Jl Gajah Mada 7)
Mandala (3144838; www.mandalaair.com; Jl Wahid Hasyim 84-88)
Merpati Nusantara Airlines (6548888; www.merpati.co.id; Jl Angkasa Blok B/15 Kav 2-3, Kemayoran)
Sriwijaya Airlines (6405566; Jl Gunung Sahari)