I HATE Jakarta

Such a wonderful country, but such a horrible capital city. Yep, I truly HATE Jakarta – and here’s why.

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I hate Jakarta because there seems to be no end to the amount of chaos on the roads. Generally, driving standards here in the Indonesian capital are fairly good (better than in Dubai, for example), but there are simply too many vehicles on the roads, and the roads themselves are at breaking point, literally crumbling under the stress. Jakarta is well-known for being a traffic-related nightmare, and is maybe right up there with Manila as having the most congested roads anywhere on the planet?

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I hate Jakarta because of the dense haze and smog that is beginning to fill the air. This is now becoming the norm, whereas in the past it was mainly only due to the illegal logging in Sumatra and Kalimantan that produced wildfire smoke. Now every time I visit here there seems to be a dense haze in the air (and in Singapore, too!). I can only imagine what the poor Jakarta residents must have to put up with being stuck here permanently – not to mention the state of the rivers here

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I hate Jakarta because – unlike most other big cities in Indonesia – there is a big discrepancy between the rich and the poor. A lot of people won’t realise until they get here that Jakarta has swathes of people living in poverty in riverside ‘houses’, whereas the backdrop to this poverty is rapidly growing skyscrapers and business districts. In all countries there will be the rich and the poor, but in such an advancing nation as Indonesia you would think more would be done to try to combat these horrible areas of Jakarta that really drag down the image of the city.

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I hate Jakarta because all I ever seem to do is encounter people trying to sell my dodgy stuff, whether it be clothes or electronics, or dodgy tours to the seaside at Anyer or Ancol! These people are so pushy! I always have to prepare myself for this kind of hassle when I land in Jakarta, and it’s a shame as all of my Indonesian friends are really very nice and polite, and that is why I love Indonesia so much (because of the people). However, for some reason, the people of Jakarta just live at 200mph and they don’t take prisoners when trying to earn an extra few thousands Rupiah. If they see me walk past their stall, they always seem to pester me!

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In the end, though, what I must always remember is that there are plenty of other people like me who try to avoid Jakarta at all costs. Indonesia is a beautiful country, with great natural attractions such as jungle, volcanoes, beaches, and ancient temples. It’s just a shame that its capital city is the absolute WORST part of the country – and is not a good example of what Indonesia should be about when travellers land at the airport.

And I am not the only one who has this opinion about Jakarta. Check out these blogs from two people who have lived in the city. First from Nico Prins, who is desperate to get away and go to Jogja instead, secondly this piece from Boots N All, who gives us some lessons learned from being in Jakarta, and thirdly take time to look at this great blog from Leave Your Daily Hell, who artistically tells both sides of the argument.

Arrghhh! I HATE Jakarta!

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25 thoughts on “I HATE Jakarta

  1. Is Jakarta worth visiting? Are there Indonesian food/delicacies that are distinctly Jakarta? I still have to plan my trip though but would probably go straight to Yogyakarta and visit Borobudur.

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    1. hi sorry for disturbing but i’m from Indonesia and i wanna answer your question
      yes, there is some food that distinctly from Jakarta but it’s hard to find nowadays. you can only find it in a special occasion like Jakarta Fair. i suggest you to try visit another city like Bandung, Yogyakarta or Surabaya instead of Jakarta to try explore more Indonesian food and culture

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      1. Hi mhfajrin! Thanks for commenting! 🙂 I found kerak telor to be a nice street food Jakarta (it’s like a pancake or crepe), but overall Jakarta food was not my favourite of Indonesia. I prefer dishes from Bali and Padang. Bandung is a good choice and is a lovely city, but it doesn’t have an international airport, so you’d probably still have to fly to CGK and then get the bus/train to Bandung?

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        1. yes, kerak telor is the most popular dish from jakarta but it’s so hard to find it nowadays in the street. Yeah, I live in Bandung, its a lovely city. Sorry but Bandung has an international airport and AirAsia fly from Spore and KL directly. It is small airport indeed compare to Jakarta and Bali airport.

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  2. Agreed! I hate Jakarta too, because of its traffic jam, too many vehicles, hot, big discrepancy between the rich and the poor. Many people say Jakarta is cruel/brutal for new comers. I think it’s good idea to move the capital of Indonesia to Kalimantan (Palangkaraya) as Bung Karno dreaming.

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    1. That’s interesting. 😮 I didn’t know they were planning to move the capital. I would have thought Medan would be a more logical choice, if ever to move away from Jakarta. There are WAY TOO many vehicles on the roads in west Java…there needs to be better investment in public transport, like a good subway system (similar to Singapore’s MRT) so people don’t need to use their cars/mopeds all the time.

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      1. Medan is too close with volcano like Mt. Sinabung, too risk. Palangkaraya free from earthquake, volcanoes 🙂

        Yes, too many vehicles! I’m so frustated with the traffic jam 😦 Wish so 🙂

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    1. That is very true. There are not many places I visited that I didn’t like, but unfortunately Jakarta has to be one of them. There is not enough reason to go there for tourism, so I would always advise against use Jakarta Airport, and go somewhere else instead like Jojga or Bali.

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  3. I believe not all places we visit makes us feel comfortable, so it’s great to see an honest opinion out there. The pollution and traffic jams can drives us insane, so I can see why you wouldn’t like it. I had this issue in Morocco. The first few hours in Marrakech were very scary, as I had to watch, on very narrow streets, for donkeys, scooters, cars, bikes. I guess once you get in the rhythm, it seems normal.

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    1. I haven’t been to Morocco, Lucy, but I imagine that is also a country where I may have problems adjusting. You’re right, after a few days in Indonesia, everything seems normal, but it’s often better to come to the country in a better frame of mind rather than landing in Jakarta and then getting in a bad mood because of everything that goes wrong regarding traffic, pollution, crime etc! 😡

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      1. Is better to not visit a place if you have certain expectations in mind. It might make you sad or angry or both. Before I visit a location, I keep an open mind, I don’t really research before, and I try to see what’s to do when I get there. Is a much healthier way of travel. Saves you a lot of disappointment 🙂 And if you have only pleasant surprises, even better.

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  4. lol. i don’t blame you. just tonight i had to spend 2 freakin’ hours from work place to dinner appointment due to the damn traffic. hence i was super late.

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    1. Ouch, 2 hours is bad, but I hear that’s pretty normal for Jakarta. At least the roads (in general) are not too bumpy in west Java. Shame about your dinner appointment though. I hope they forgave you – and saved you some food? 😉

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  5. I can completely understand where you’re coming from. Jakarta has been a really tough city to live in. I’ve been here for almost a year and I’ve really had to keep an open mind and keep trying to love this city. It took awhile but in the past few months I’ve actually really enjoyed myself here. I’ve enjoyed learning about the city’s history. It’s hard to believe there’s still so much damage from the 1998 riots. Jakarta is a city that’s full of ugly realities but it is fascinating to me. I’m the first to admit that Jakarta is hard to love, but I’d say it’s still worth a visit for those who are traveling to Java and have the time. I’ve been trying to tick off all of the touristy things to do in Jakarta before I leave next week and I’ve honestly really enjoyed myself! I do, however, HATE the traffic and the pollution here. I will not miss those things AT ALL.

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    1. Hi Justine! I don’t envy you living in Jakarta, but at least it’s an experience that you challenged yourself to find positive eventually! You obviously found good things in the city that I haven’t been able to find (yet). I will say one good thing about Jakarta though…the people in general are very nice (apart from the market hasslers), which is true of all of Indonesia. Where are you off to live next?

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  6. Never been to Jakarta. Only Medan, Semarang and Bandung.

    I agree with you that Indonesia has vast landscapes and beautiful places to visit. A visit from one point to the other will show you how rich this country is in terms of its nature.

    But the traffic jams in Jakarta is simply bad. Last month, I met some Indonesian women in Penang. Whilst descending the Penang Hill train, we chatted. I complaint about the traffic jam in KL. Their answer: wait until I ‘feel’ the traffic jam in Jakarta!

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  7. start is planned that the capital city of Indonesia will be moved. And I agree that Jakarta was terrible :)) I was as genuine Indonesia can not afford to stay there. At work you’ll get yelled continue since it is often too late and even then that fact. And now I live in North Sulawesi, but lately will be moved to Bali to get a job there. But, I Love Jakarta!!

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  8. Jakarta is famously nicknamed Big Durian like New York Big Apple. The fruit itself says all about itself: some people love it but others don’t. I have been working and living in Jakarta since 2003 and I agree with you in many cases. I come from Jogjakarta, my favorite town, and is sometimes culturally shocked with life in Jakarta. Much more expensive meal, higher crime rate, higher pollution, frequent traffic jam, tough job competition, etc. But I admit loving durian as I like Jakarta in certain cases. It is the financial center of Indonesia so people expect to earn more in living compared to, say, Jogja. During my stay here, I’ve got some opportunities to visit other countries twice a year, which I think is harder if I live in Jogja. I can go to the best language courses such as Goethe Institut and French Cultural Center. I can enjoy lots of international dishes and make friends with people if different races/nationalities. I think if I can enjoy durian, I should be able to enjoy the bigger version 🙂

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  9. I live in Jakarta because I follow my husband. I’m Indonesian but yeah! I hate this Jakarra also. I originally came from a peaceful little town called Tomohon (Manado) in North Sulawesi.

    I dont understand why people wanted to spend 2 hours driving for 21km to their office everyday, not to mention when there is rain, they can spend like 4 hours in traffic. That was me before I quit my job and chose to be a stay at home mom.

    I hope this city will get better in the future. I was once stayed in Kuala Lumpur for 4 years, I think I prefer Kuala Lumpur rather than this city.. Hmmm

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