layover in jakarta

The Layover: entertaining myself in Jakarta for 12 hours

Like most bustling cities, having an enjoyable layover in Jakarta (without having to stay in the airport) will take a lot of effort. If you have not been to this city yet, let me warn you about the very bad traffic in this Indonesian city. Most of my Indonesian friends say they leave their houses five (5) hours before their flight just to make it in time (ouch!) because as exaggerated as it may sound, you cannot play with the traffic in Jakarta – it’s really a pain!

However, if you have over 12 hours layover in Jakarta, it is also not that pleasant to stay in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. Personally, I find this airport very limiting when it comes to dining experiences and things to do but the wifi connection is really good.

Either way, when in a long layover in Jakarta, you still need to choose between staying in the airport and going out of the city. In my fourth time in Jakarta, I opted for the latter.

Before going out of Soekarno–Hatta International Airport, check if you need a visa to go out of the airport in Jakarta.

Getting to Jakarta City Centre

By taxi. Below are the taxi companies that operate in in Soekarno–Hatta International Airport:

Blue Bird taxis are blue and provide basic taxi service from a reliable company.
Silver Bird taxis are black and provide premium taxi service at slightly higher rates.
Golden Bird is a limousine service.

Visas and entry requirements

As a Philippine passport holder, I am allowed to enter Indonesia for 30 days visa-free. If you want to know if you can enter Indonesia without a visa, you may refer to this list.

Accommodations in Jakarta

If you’re only staying for a few hours, you won’t necessarily need to book an accommodation in Jakarta. In my case, I arrived late in the evening so I decided to stay at Swissbell Airport Jakarta. A private room for 2 pax costs $85 USD (approx).

  • Currency in Indonesia is called “Indonesian rupiah” (IDR). 1 IDR = $0.000070 USD.
  • Weather in Jakarta: You will experience a lot of rains in Jakarta in January (the wettest), February, March, and December. September is the warmest while July is the coolest. Meanwhile, August is the driest month.
  • Wifi in Soekarno–Hatta International Airport: Wifi in Soekarno–Hatta International Airport is free and has a really strong connection. It also doesn’t have hourly limits like other airports. When you go to Jakarta City Centre, all restaurants and establishments have a good wifi connection. Internet is not a problem in Indonesia!
Layover in Jakarta, Indonesia

10:00 AM – 12:00 NN: VISIT FATAHILLAH MUSEUM

layover in Jakarta

Erected in 1710 as the city hall of Batavia, this building used to be the headquarters of the Dutch East Indies company which housed dungeons and water prisons. Prisoners include Dutch rebels and Indonesian natives who were barbarically executed in what we call today, the Fatahillah Square.

Today, the museum displays an amazing collection of the pre-historic period such as the founding of Jayakarta in 1527 and mostly relics from the Dutch colonization fro, the 16th century until Indonesia’s independence in 1945.

Fatahillah Museum is called many names such as Jakarta History Museum, and Batavia Museum. Don’t be confused if you hear people calling it in different names!

What’s interesting here?

  • In this museum, you will find the richest collection of Betawi style furniture from the 17th to the 19th century
  • A Portuguese cannon called Meriam Si Jagur which locals believed possesses “magic energy”.
  • Over 1,000 books from the colonial era written in languages such as Arabic, English, Dutch, and Malay
  • The Fatahillah Cinema shows documentaries and movies from the Batavia era.

Open from Tuesday – Sunday, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm; closed on Mondays. To get here, use the TransJakarta bus going to Kota from Blok-M (Corridor 1). Stop at the last terminal, Kota.

Layover in Jakarta, Indonesia

12:00nn - 2:00 pm: Lunch at Cafe Batavia

Literally a few steps from Fatahillah Museum, Cafe Batavia sends me back to the 1940’s movie Casablanca where everyone is smoking and playing music in a restaurant bar called Rick’s Cafe Americain. The ground floor is a full smoking area with a stage for live performance while the second floor is for great dining with an exclusive view of Fatahillah Square.

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Layover in Jakarta

The walls are filled with pictures from the old jazz in 1930’s theme which played perfectly in the mix as the building where the cafe is located in the second oldest building in Fatahillah Square.

A 2-page long menu of Asian and Western menus are available but if you are confused with the 4-course dining setting, here’s what I ordered:

  • Appetizer: Caesar salad (with blocks of good parmesan cheese)
  • Starter: Erwten Soup, a dutch soup made from green peas
  • Main: Roasted half chicken with mashed potatoes
  • Dessert: Tiramisu!

They also have a full menu of Western and Indonesian coffee that will go with your tasty tiramisu. Of course, always go local!

Layover in Jakarta, Indonesia

2:00 pm - 3:30 pm: Visit Museum Wayang

layover in jakarta

Just next to Cafe Batavia is Museum Wayang which houses a large collection of puppets from all over the country and some parts of Southeast Asia. The word Wayang (Javanese) is a form of puppetry art in Indonesia.

In 1640, this building was once the Old Dutch Church but was destroyed during an earthquake in 1808. In 1912, it was rebuilt to function as a warehouse for Gedung Geo Wehry & Co until 1939 when it was converted to the Old Batavia Museum. Since Wayang has a large collection, it was inaugurated to be a separate entity in 1975.

What’s interesting here?

  • There are over 4,000 puppets in this museum not only from Indonesia but also from Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Colombia, and even India.
  • Puppet show performances are held every second, third and fourth Sunday every month. I was lucky enough to have seen one during my visit! However, the language is in Bahasa Indonesia so just enjoy the visuals!

Open from Tuesday – Sunday, 09:00 am – 03:00 pm. The entrance fee is 5000 IDR ($0.35 USD) for adults and 2000 IDR ($0.14 USD) for kids.

Layover in Jakarta, Indonesia

3:30 pm - 7:30 pm: Work, coffee, early dinner and beers at The Pier (Ancol)

layover in Jakarta

Finally, before flying out, I decided to have a more relaxed afternoon at The Pier (Ancol). While I was checking work e-mails and writing on my journal, coffee and sweets were the first highlights of my afternoon. The Pier’s topmost floor gives you a nice view of a river where you can take a peak tram to a larger view of the Ancol.

The Pier also offers nice meals (I had fish and chips!) and beers for a cheap price. It’s probably the best long hangout I had in Jakarta!

Have you ever had a layover in Jakarta?

What did you do? Did you go out of the airport? Which places in Jakarta did you visit with the time you had? I’d like to hear your thoughts! Please leave your ideas and suggestions (that may not be in this post) in the comment box below!

Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak, and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. In no particular order, her favorite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Tel Aviv.

Comments

  • Linda (LD Holland)
    December 10, 2018

    We visited several places in Indonesia. But never made it to Jakarta. Good tip about being aware of the traffic in the city when you plan to travel around the city on a short layover. I am impressed that you actually went into some museums on your stop. But good thing you had a food and beer stop before heading back to the airport.

    reply
  • Medha Verma
    December 11, 2018

    I am one of those people who’d rather get out to explore the city during a long layover rather than just sit at the airport. It’s a pity that the traffic in Jakarta is bad but I’d probably do it anyway if I have enough time. I’m not a fan of visiting museums however I would love to try the food so I’d definitely go to the city centre and eat some really good Indonesian food!

    reply
  • Danik
    December 12, 2018

    Good guide on what to do for a few hours in Jakata but apart from museums was there anything else you say on your list or researching you would recommend apart from museums? I dont know much about the city but I am not really a museum guy. Just love to know your thoughts.

    reply
  • Jim Whittemore
    December 14, 2018

    I’d have to say, after reading this article I’d honestly be willing to spend my time in the airport. Feels like we’d get super frustrated leaving and trying to fight against time and work against the traffic. Might have to give this a try next month when we land there for our layover 🙂

    reply
  • Vetrin
    January 18, 2019

    Hello, i’m an Indonesian and just read about this post. Jakarta is an incredible city and offer some activities. You’ll see mostly city view because it’s hard to find like waterfall, or any village ambience in Jakarta. Maybe you can visit Kota Tua Jakarta, and knowing the history. Oh yeah, you can try to visit Lampung. It is in Sumatra Island (you have to cross the sea approx 2 hours) and Lampung offer some interesting places, love to read ur posts. Xx

    reply

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