Jakarta is not exactly the best place I would recommend to a tourist. Rather than a city for sight-seeing, I see it as a city of contrast. The poor co-exists with the rich, huge malls stand surrounded by slums, middle class citizens carves out their own income as best that they can.
As a frequent visitor there, the one thing that I had to get accustomed to was the traffic jams. My friend once attempted to bring me around to the tourist spots in Jakarta. That day, I spent the majority of my time in the car, stuck in traffic rather than out and about. One time, she missed an exit and had to make a round to get back to that exit. It took us more than 1 hour just to get back to the same spot.
Since then, I’ve picked up a few tips to manage my expectations and time management whenever I’m back in Jakarta. This is one time when you just have to dig deep and find your inner patience.
Get a hotel nearby, otherwise, you waste too much time in traffic jams
Research the area that you wish to visit. Try to get accommodations nearby so that it is within walking distance. Otherwise, a short trip by taxi will still be manageable and will not take hours because you will have to deal with the traffic not just on your way out but on your way back. Believe me, I’ve been stuck in traffic for more than 2 hours before, even for distances that would usually take only 30 minutes of travel.
Bring along a book or a form of entertainment or snacks.
I used to wait impatiently in the taxi, sometimes even the driver gets frustrated and starts taking it out on the car which only serves to frustrate me more. Now, I try to block it all out and expect a long ride the moment I get into the taxi. I sometimes play a game, watch a movie or read during the lull moments. I get carsick if I read while the car is moving so I only read when the car stops.
Try to avoid travel during peak period (if possible).
This applies to weekday evenings (especially Fridays) and weekends. Weekend traffic are manageable before noon. In any way, you can’t avoid the jams, so the best way is to manage your travel time. Traffic is also sometimes faster by going through toll gates instead of the main roads.
Factor in travel time when planning a day out.
If planning to go around Jakarta in a car or taxi, my best advice is to be flexible with your travel time. This is especially true if you are heading to the airport as traffic can be hard to predict. I usually try to plan my return trips in the early afternoon but head out before noon to ensure I am not late for my flight.
Avoid travelling in the same car with someone you cannot talk to for hours.
This is a personal experience which I would totally advise to be heeded. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a car trying to carry on a stilted conversation on a journey that seems never to end. I would rather just suffer in silence instead.
So there you have it! This list is not exhaustive but it’s based on my own experiences and tips that I have found useful. On my first few trips to Jakarta, I could still remember being so frustrated with the jams that I couldn’t wait to get out of the taxi. To others, like my friend, it is part of their daily routine so they make adjustments to manage accordingly.
Have you experienced Jakarta’s traffic jams before? Do you have your own methods of coping with traffic jams? Please do share! I can perhaps give it a try during my weekend trip in Jakarta. 🙂