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Jakarta Travel Tips

Healthy Traveling Money Matters Tipping
Phone Home Business Hours Street Wise


Healthy Traveling
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 your visit.

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 here.

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.

Money Matters
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 characters down.

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 major newspapers.

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
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.

Phone Home
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 telephone service).

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 local ISPs.

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.

Business Hours
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.

Street Wise
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, don’t walk around in unfamiliar areas - especially at night - and don’t 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.

Jakarta Hotels - Handycraft
Travel Tip

Outward Bound - When planning your departure, on the way out of the hotel, keep a little extra money handy.

The hotel can advise you approximate cost for taxi ride to the airport (don't forget the tolls). As well, keep in mind that all foreign visitors departing Indonesia from Jakarta's Sukarno-Hatta International Airport are required to pay an airport tax of Rp. 100,000.- That said, as mentioned earlier it is against the law to leave Indonesia with more than Rp. 10,000,000.-.

Departure for domestic travel is also taxed (Rp. 20,000) though most of the time this has already been included in the ticket price - but every so often you are surprised...

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