Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is the main airport serving the greater Jakarta area and is situated in Tangerang city, west of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. Its name was derived from two distinguished Indonesian politicians - the first president of Indonesia, Soekarno and the first vice-president, Mohammad Hatta, but is sometimes referred to by locals as Cengkareng Airport. The airport consists of three terminals, with Terminal 1 handling domestic travellers, while Terminal 2 and 3 handle both domestic and international travellers.
To get from the airport to Jakarta, the easiest option is to arrange an airport transfer with your hotel. Otherwise, you can hop on a taxi but before doing so, there are a few things to note. Don’t be tempted or pressured by the taxi touts at the arrival area. Instead, head directly to the taxi ranks operated by Silver Bird, Blue Bird or Ekpress taxi. The taxis provided by these operators are generally reliable and honest as they run on meters. Otherwise, a cost-effective option would be taking public or shuttle buses that will connect you to numerous destinations in central Jakarta and the surrounding areas.
It won’t be long before you get to experience Jakarta’s notoriously chaotic traffic. However, take it in your stride as it certainly won’t be an authentic experience without the horrendous traffic jams, especially during rush hour. As such, it is advisable to use the train instead of taxis to get around within the city. Commuter trains in Jakarta ply networks within the city and also beyond the city, connecting it to outlying regions like Tangerang and Serpong. If you’re not travelling during rush hour, another option will be the gradually expanding Transjakarta Busway system, which is generally comfortable and convenient as it currently has 12 operational lines. Another authentic Indonesian transport option would be the bajaj, a local equivalent to Thailand’s tuk-tuk. Due to its compact size, bajajs can easily weave through the traffic jams, making it popular way to get around town. However, if you’re suffering from respiratory ailments, its best to avoid them because you’ll likely inhale plenty of exhaust fume during a short ride.
When you’re in central Jakarta, the National Monument (abbreviated Monas) is one landmark you shouldn't miss out on. The 132m tower in the centre of Merdeka Square was built to commemorate the country’s struggle for independence. A total of 51 dioramas charting the growth of Indonesia can be found in the National History Museum located just below the tower. Alternatively, to view various symbols and artefacts related to Indonesia’s independence, head to the The Hall of Independence situated inside the “cup” portion of the monument. You will find significant objects like the original text of the Proclamation of Independence.
Just north of the National Monument lies the Presidential Palace, also known as Merdeka Palace. It is the official residence and office of the Indonesian president, on top of serving as a venue for state events such as the Independence Day ceremony and the official state banquet.
Finally, make a pit stop at Kota Tua, a small area in Jakarta that was once a centre of commerce due to its strategic location and abundant resources. The area exudes Dutch colonial charm and is home to several museums, historically important sites and buildings, including the Wayang Museum and one of the oldest buildings in Jakarta, Toko Merah. With numerous street vendors, museums and cafes, the area is popular with both locals and tourists alike.
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