Jakarta is getting better in terms of hygiene and medical facilities
but it still has a way to go. You do not want to have a medical
emergency here - if for no other reason than simply getting to the
hospital through the traffic gridlock. Play safe and make sure you
have medical insurance before you come. Best to have insurance that
will evacuate you if you get terribly sick or have a serious injury
and need airlifted to Singapore or home. Here are a couple of other
common sense points that should keep you in good shape and enjoying
Drink plenty of fluids (water and fruit juices) to avoid dehydration.
Drink bottled water ONLY - ice in drinks, however, is not a problem.
Use common sense when choosing a place to eat. Eat in your hotel
or established restaurants that are clean and well patronized. For
a quick guide to some of Jakarta's better restaurants - click
If you are using prescription drugs bring a sufficient supply. Pharmacies
(Apotiks) often can fill a prescription but the dosage may not be
quite the same as your doctor has prescribed. Take prompt care of
any cuts or burns - do not risk infection in this environment. Malaria
is not a problem in Jakarta. For additional information there's
a list of hospitals and clinics in the Emergency
Info section. Additional information on health matters may be
obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The
CDC home page on the Internet is at http://www.cdc.gov.
You can exchange most major world currencies (cash
or travelers checks) easily into the local coin, the Indonesian
Rupiah. Hotels generally give less favorable exchange rates (the
price of convenience). Or if the hotel you are staying at is connected
to a shopping centre you can usually find a branch office of one
of the local banks. It's really not worth trying to find a money
changer to squeeze out a few more Rupiah. To be sure, money changers
are around but if you choose to deal with one BE CAREFUL. - The
number of stories we hear about people being cheated are shameful
and the authorities are seemingly helpless to shut these despicable
Nonetheless here are a couple of points worth remembering (see
sidebar). First, the rate posted on the door usually is for
amounts in notes of US $100. - lesser denominated notes (i.e. $50.00)
will be given a less favorable rate. Next verify the exchange calculation
(ask to use the calculator or - better yet - bring your own) and
count your change before you leave the window. Lastly, be
prepared, if you are cashing travelers checks you will need to present
your passport for identification and many money changers do not
accept cash notes that have been defaced - or are in less than near
mint condition. The official exchange rate posted is daily in all
Rupiahs come in paper and coins. Paper denominations are 100, 500,
1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000; coin denominations
are 10, 25, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000. Just a word of caution - there
are many styles of the same denomination and together with all the
"zeroes" even we who live here become confused sometimes.
ATMs are quite common and the ones with VISA / Cirrus logos dispense
local currency at that bank's then current exchange rate. Some have
the rate on the screen. (Our guess is that this is still far better
than going to a money changer considering the high probability of
being short changed.) A note of caution though - you
must be absolutely sure to take your card - if not and the
card remains in some machines additional withdrawals may be made
WITHOUT having to reenter the PIN !
Credit cards are accepted at better hotels, restaurants and retailers.
But be aware most retailers add an extra 3 - 5 % on your bill for
the privilege of using plastic. You do not have to accept this:
You're not going to get anywhere arguing with the shopkeeper but
if you want to get this back make sure the retailer or restaurant
writes this surcharge down as an extra charge for using the card
and then claim it from your month end billing.
Tipping is quite standard in Jakarta. Most large hotels and restaurants
will automatically add a service charge of 10 percent to your bill
- which is usually sufficient. Some smaller restaurants may not
add anything extra but considering that the waiter's wage may be
less than $2.00 a day - a tip of 10 percent is very much appreciated.
Other. Bellmen generally get Rp. 1,000 - Rp. 1,500 for a small to
medium sized luggage and at least Rp. 2,000 for those house trailers
some people carry around. For taxi drivers, rounding up to the nearest
Rp. 5,000 or so depending on the length of trip is the norm. If
you hire a car for an entire day it is good form to give the driver
Rp. 5,000 - 10,000 for each meal and a tip (say Rp. 20,000) at the
end of the day.
All telephone numbers listed herein are local numbers.
To reach any number in Jakarta dial: International access code +
62 + 21 + (local number). Wherein "62" is Indonesia country
code and "21" is the area code for Jakarta. Be advised
most Jakarta telephone numbers are 7 digits but some now have 8
digits. Cellular service in Indonesia is GSM. If you bring your
own handphone you may purchase a prepaid calling chip from any Satelindo
distributor (and it's usually cheaper than using your home country
Telecommunication capabilities have improved greatly over the last
few years but patience is the keyword when trying to dial overseas
from Indonesia - especially during office hours. Most better hotels
offer International Direct Dialing (IDD) and Home Country Direct
(HCD) services. Overseas calls can also be made at state-run telephone
offices known as a wartel (warung telephone).
Need to get online? Both AT&T Globalnet & AOL have several
local access numbers in Jakarta. AT&T is 351-7070 / AOL is 345-5011(but
if you have these services you already knew that). If you plan to
be in Jakarta for a while and need to be connected there are several
Here's a neat concept: The local phone company allows anyone
internet access on its network without having to establish an user
account or pay any monthly fees (the telco makes its money by adding
a 50% surcharge to its normal per minute tariff) making it easy
to check web based e-mail accounts (i.e. Yahoo, Hotmail) on your
laptop. To access dial 0809- 89999
/ username: telkomnet@instan
/ password: telkom.
Most shops in the major shopping centres are open from 10 am until
8 p.m., seven days a week. Restaurants start serving from 7 a.m.
or so until midnight. Government offices and banks operate from
8 a.m. till 3 p.m., Monday to Thursday and 8 a.m. till 12 p.m. on
Fridays. Banks are closed on Saturdays.
Jakarta is like most large cities. Unfortunately there many people
without gainful employment and therefore Jakarta has its share of
petty crime - especially in those areas known for nighttime entertainment.
Nonetheless Jakarta is still safer for visitors than many large
cities in this world.
Pickpockets, car break-ins and drive by bag snatching seem to be
the most common complaints. To reduce your risk use plain common
sense and take the same basic precautions you would if you were
visiting any big city. Keep a tight grip on your purse or camera,
never leave any bags (whether valuable or not) unattended, use the
hotel safety deposit box, dont walk around in unfamiliar areas
- especially at night - and dont count money in the open.
Not so hard...
On the flip side don't even think of committing a crime in Indonesia.
You are a long way from home with far fewer rights than you think.
Behave yourself and be a gracious guest.