Welcome to JakartaHotels.com
Welcome and thank-you for visiting. We at JakartaHotels.com have
put together this information more as a primer for the first or
second time visitor - certainly 'old Jakarta hands' will already
know most of this material. That said, this should get most people
off to a good start. If you are looking for more information on
Jakarta there are any number of good guide books from which to choose.
BTW, if you are one of those Old Jakarta Hands and you think we
missed something, don't hesitate to drop us an email.
Jakarta is located on the island of Java and is the capital city
of the sprawling Indonesian archipelago. As such it is the seat
of the Indonesian Government as well as the center for business,
arts, culture and religion. With an ever increasing population of
approximately 13 million people, just everything about Jakarta is
bigger, more complicated, more crowded and more expensive than any
of the other travel destinations in Indonesia.
However, if you happen to be in Jakarta on business or in transit
for a few days do not despair. The fact is, that with a little guidance
and some careful planning you can have a very pleasant stay in Indonesia’s
The present day metropolis was founded by the Dutch Governor
Jan Pieterzoon Coen in the year 1619 on the site of an existing
Javanese village known as Jayakarta. Renamed Batavia it was located
on coastal flatlands near the mouth of the Ciliwung River because
it provided a safe harbor for the trading ships of the Dutch East
India Company. Following the customs of their homeland, the Dutch
built gabled houses and narrow streets and dug canals. Unfortunately,
what worked in Northern Europe was a disaster in the tropics and
the canals have been a source of foul odors and disease since they
For a period of five years (1811 – 1816) the British occupied Java
and it was governed by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles who made improvements
to Jakarta visible to this day. Sidewalks five feet wide (kakilima)
were added to the streets and many public buildings were put in
place, including the present day Presidential Palace.
From 1817 to 1945 the Indonesian Archipelago under Dutch Colonial
Rule became known as “The Spice Islands”. The Dutch East India Company
a.k.a. “Die Kompanie” was based in Jakarta and plantations throughout
the islands provided, coaco, cloves, cinnamon, paprika and other
spices for the tables of Europe and beyond.
1941 saw the ouster of the Dutch by the Empire of Japan as part
of it’s grandiose “East Asia Co Prosperity Sphere”. This amounted
to little more than Indonesia supplying the Imperial war machine.
The Dutch returned in 1945 and attempted to reclaim their lost colony.
A bloody civil war followed. Led by the charismatic Sukarno, Indonesia
won independence from the Dutch in 1947. Bung Karno as he is still
affectionately known, was elected President of The Republic of Indonesia.
He began to convert Indonesia into a productive “developing country”
and reshape it’s capital, now known as Jakarta. Monuments and statues
celebrating Independence were put up throughout the city. In the
1970’s locals and visitors alike used these various monuments as
landmarks to navigate around the city.
The very first 5 star hotel, Hotel Indonesia was opened in 1960.
In 1966 Sukarno was “replaced” by a little known general, named
Suharto. Under Suharto’s “Guided Democracy” there was a thirty two
year period of economic growth and industrial development. Most
obvious to residents and tourists alike, was the variety of architectural
styles reflected in the skyline of this modern looking metropolis.
Long, wide thoroughfares with shrubs and flowers planted in the
medians now cut through the Central Business District (CBD), and
toll roads crisscross over the slower moving traffic. Skyscrapers,
office buildings, high rise apartment buildings pierce the sky and
shopping malls and five star hotel complexes dot the landscape.
There are only 5 religions recognized by the Indonesian Government.
These are; Islam (90%) Christian Protestant & Christian Catholic
(8%), Buddhist and Hindu (2%). Because 90% of the Indonesian population
is Muslim it is often noted that Indonesia is the world's largest
Social and religious requirements have, over time, been modified,
combined and refined to form an acceptable code of conduct known
as adat or traditional law. While Islam is the predominant religion
of Indonesia, the daily practice of this religion is somewhat tempered
by elements of Hindu-Buddhism, adat and vestiges of animism. It
is therefore somewhat different from what is commonly understood
as traditional Islam.
Throughout Indonesia there is a very pronounced belief in a “spirit
world.” In Java there are literally hundreds of places where “spiritual
energy” is believed to be concentrated. The belief is that this
spiritual energy can be absorbed by followers and can be used for
either good or evil.
Despite a lengthy colonial period, missionaries were only successful
in converting small pockets of the Indonesian population to Christianity.
Jakarta is home to the largest Cathedral in Indonesia St. Stefan’s
Cathedral which is located within sight of Indonesia’s largest Mosque.
Cultural etiquette has been described as the unspoken but assumed
behavior that conveys politeness. Therefore it is important that
you take the time to learn about and follow “local etiquette”. In
Indonesia, there are a few specific rules that visitors should be
sure to know about and follow.
Never hand anything to an Indonesian with your left hand. As in
most Islamic countries the left hand is considered “unclean” and
thus insulting. If this makes the action somewhat cumbersome by
having to change hands, take the time to do it anyway. Handshaking
is customary for both men and women on introduction and greeting.
Indonesians will frequently touch one or both hands to their chest
after shaking hands as a sign of sincerity.
There are a few differences in the use of hands and feet for indicating
actions or getting attention. The proper way to summon someone is
to use one of the Indonesian words Pak, Mas, (for men) and Bu, Mbak
(for women) and make a scooping motion toward you with your hand,
fingers facing down. Crooking the index finger as is common in
the West is not polite here.
Also, be aware of where & how you position your feet. Exposing
the sole of your shoe is considered impolite as is pointing with
your foot to indicate an object. Shoes should be removed when entering
mosques or, usually, when entering someone’s home. If you are unsure,
Be aware that emotional displays of any emotion are considered rude.
Women should avoid wearing halter tops or shorts as well as tight
fitting or revealing clothes in public.
Lastly, visitors should keep in mind the importance of status in
Indonesian society. In Indonesia everyone has status, but that status
is situational. A street vendor or cab driver may have very high
status in his home community either through leadership ability or
religious training. Try to understand the different situations that
arise in day to day activity and modify your personal behavior to
meet those situations appropriately.