Coping with Jakarta’s Traffic Jams

horse carriage in jakarta

Alternatives to taxis?

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.

apartments in Jakarta

Luxurious apartments for those who can afford one

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.

traffic in jakarta

Nothing to do but to wait it out..

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. πŸ™‚

33 thoughts on “Coping with Jakarta’s Traffic Jams

  1. Pingback: Coping with Jakarta's Traffic Jams

  2. I suppose I’m lucky because everything is within walking distance of my apartment. So I haven’t really had to deal with Jakarta’s notorious traffic yet. That being said, it’s a challenge to cross the road as a pedestrian because there are SO MANY cars and motorbikes on the road. Plus people drive really fast and never stop. It definitely takes some getting used to. Out of curiosity, what are some of your favorite tourists destination in Jakarta? I’m trying to figure out places that I should check out but I’m not having a ton of luck since most websites are in Bahasa…


    • Lol, that’s good for you that your area is pretty sufficient for you. It definitely is not something I look forward to when I’m in jakarta. Most of the time, I catch up with friends in the taxi because it just takes too long to get around. Haha…but I do agree about the crossings…have tried it myself and I try to avoid it unless necessary. ..haha…

      Frankly speaking, I’m not too enamored of the tourist spots there but I can look back and check which ones did I go to because I’ve forgotten some…:) I’ll e-mail you the details…:)


  3. Ohh wow, it seems like Jakarta is way worse than SΓ£o Paulo in terms of traffic jams! Is the public transportation bad in Jakarta? It seems to me its very difficult to move around the city, I always see people complaining about it!


    • Oh, does sao paulo have bad traffic too? Jakarta’s traffic is pretty bad..because the roads are usually congested with cars, motorbikes and buses…my friend once took 5 hours to get home from the airport because of bad traffic…some people even leave home before the sun is up to make sure they are not too late to work! To me, that’s crazy but to them, they are just too used to it. So it’s just a matter of managing your expectations instead..

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, in SΓ£o Paulo is pretty bad!!! Once in a while there is a traffic jam of 180Km or so, its pretty crazy! And they even have subway, buses and all. They even have a law regarding the car plates, some days of the week specifics cars are not allowed to be on the streets, lets say, if they end with 06 or something like that…. and thats for everybody! I cant compare with Jakarta, but SΓ£o Paulo is the worse I have see till now!


  4. I think I would take the horse and buggy ride. Now THAT looks like more my style, lol. Are the taxi drivers outlandish as some of the stories you hear about from other countries, or are they safe and sane?


    • Haha, sure, you’ll be going through slow traffic anyway…haha,..

      There is a particular taxi company that I usually take because they go with metered fare. You can try others if you are adventurous, I suppose but it’s not always that bad either. Depends on your luck! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hmmm….I think I’ll pass on the adventurous unless you count the four legged variety. Yeah. I think you have the right idea . Bring a book πŸ˜‰


  5. πŸ˜€ sounds like my city…I was born and raised there. The only reason I keep returning is because of my parents are still living in the city. The traffic is getting worse every year. They have to stop selling new cars and motorbikes!! Perhaps should copy Singapore’s rule on cars…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh really? Which part of Jakarta? My friend stays very far away from the city centre now but she used to stay at Kalibata City and I visit her quite frequently actually…:) And I agree that the traffic can be quite trying, especially when you are stuck for hours just trying to get past a jammed area. My friend liked to joke that I used to complain about the traffic jams a lot but have since adapted to it…’s a good idea to try to limit the vehicles but I don’t think Singapore’s solution will work much there…haha..:)

      Liked by 1 person

      • My parents are staying in the South Jakarta – Ciputat, bit further than Kalibata City. Kalibata is still okay and closed by to the center I think. Yeah, the traffic jam is horrible and now the raining season starts, and add on problem: flooding!!! Yikess…I don’t think I can adapt living there anymore without being grumpy every single day 😦


  6. Pingback: Jakarta..oh Jakarta… | indahs: travel story & photography

  7. yes! I spent 6 hours in a car in Jakarta, trying to get to the airport in the floods. It was not fun, and I ended up missing my flight, but I did have great people in the car with me that made it more bearable!

    Liked by 1 person

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