The Asian Nomad: Jakarta

With a rich food culture, friendly locals, and affordable accommodations, entrepreneurs will enjoy what Jakarta has to offer

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BY RM Topacio - 27 Jul 2018

The Asian Nomad: Jakarta

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Get Your Bearings

Because of bad traffic, it’s safe to say you should plan your day ahead. There are a handful of ways to explore the city. Bajaj, a three-wheel, open-air, motorized rickshaw, will take you around nearby places, with fares typically costing Rp 4,000 to Rp 5,000 ($0.28 - $0.35). Angkots, or a shared taxi, has a fixed destination, and fares cost around Rp 2,000 to Rp 10,000 ($0.14 - $0.71). Ojeks, or motorcycles, will let you navigate through the city’s traffic jams for only Rp 5,000 up to Rp 20,000 ($0.35 - $1.42). Taxis are always metered (flag down rate is Rp 7,500), but scammers are everywhere. Avoid them by booking through a legitimate taxi provider (e.g. Blue Bird, Eksekutif, Transtaxi, Express, or Taxiku), or through popular ride-hailing apps like Grab and Go-Jek. TransJakarta, the public bus system, is also widely available, in case you want to visit major landmarks and popular sites across the city at your own pace and time.


According to global WiFi network Wiman, there are 215,736 free WiFi hotspots throughout Jakarta. Indonesia has three major companies that cover the majority of Indonesia’s local telco market: Telkomsel, Indosat, and XL Axiata. All of them, along with other smaller telcos, offer relatively cheap SIM cards at the Soekarno–Hatta International Airport.

Buying an entry-level SIM card is always the best option, especially when visiting the country for only a few months or less. Not only is it cheap — Rp 10,000 ($0.90) — almost all leading telcos offer cheap monthly plans as low as Rp 70,000 ($5).

Inc Southeast Asia picks:

Telkomsel: The simPATI 4G starter pack SIM includes 25MB welcome data and can be used for three days from activation date for Rp 50,000 ($3.55).

The kartuHalo plan350 includes 10GB of Internet, 300 minutes of call and 300 texts across Telkomsel users for only Rp 350,000 ($24.50).

Indosat: The IM3 Ooredoo starter pack SIM includes 24 hours of unlimited calls and texts, unlimited surf on select apps and streaming on various on-demand content apps for only Rp 5,000 ($0.35).

The Unlimited Jumbo Plan consists of Unlimited Surfing without quota, unlimited free call and texts to Indosat users, 100 free texts and 100 minutes of calls to other operators, unlimited browsing on select social media, messaging, and on-demand streaming apps for only Rp 150,000 ($10.73). 

XL Axiata: The Starter SIM pack includes free calls and unlimited text plus YouTube without one-year quota for one day for Rp 5,000 ($0.35).

Axiata does not have a dedicated monthly bundle plan. However, they have a separate plan according to service. It includes: Super Speeding monthly Internet promo which costs Rp 100,000 ($7) a month; 500-minutes worth of calls to outside networks for Rp 120,000 ($8); and 200 minutes of calls and 400 text messages to all operators for only Rp 35,000 ($3).

Co-Working Spaces

Inc Southeast Asia picks:

EV Hive: EV Hive, being the fastest growing coworking space in the country, has numerous locations across Jakarta. So finding one near your hotel is not difficult. While the ever-expanding coworking space brand is popular for its futuristic sleeping pods and bottomless coffee and energy drink, its weekly, networking-focused events (e.g. seminars, workshops, and even speed dating) that aim to connect entrepreneurs in and out of the city has made it into a household name, especially among young CEOs and startup owners.  Daily pass currently stands at Rp 50,000 ($3.55) while monthly plans range from Rp 1,000,000 ($71) to Rp 4,000,000 ($284).

GoWork: GoWork has barely been in operation for a year, but it has already gained immense popularity amongst coworking enthusiasts in Jakarta. One thing that is hard to ignore is its stunning interior design by renowned designer Revano Satria, balancing its marble tables and wood-heavy wall and furniture accents in the sprawling industrial-type ceiling evoking additional breathing space. Strategically located at the heart of downtown Jakarta in Chubb Square, Thamrin Nine Complex, GoWork is accessible, easy to find, and just a few steps away from Grand Indonesia and Plaza Indonesia, which are both home to the city’s best dining spots. Single day usage is Rp 155,000 ($11), while monthly plans start from Rp 235,000 ($17) to Rp 6,300,000 ($447).

Conclave: Chic and homey are the best words to describe Conclave, which currently has offices in Wijaya and Simatupang, South Jakarta. Unlike most coworking spaces, Conclave ditches superfluous gimmicks and unnecessary furniture that eat up a lot of space. Evident also are the state-of-the-art facilities, latest technological equipment, and ergonomically designed furniture that are available for use 24/7, making it more attractive to those who love working at night.  Plans start at Rp 100,000 ($7) a day.


Treat yourself to an Indonesian Style Massage. Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa is one of the best family spas in Jakarta, it offers various spa packages and boasts of well-trained, licensed Indonesian therapists.

Jog like your Spirit Animal. With a park area of 147 hectares, the Ragunan Zoo is home to 2,000 specimens, 50,000 trees, and shady pavements. A great weekend jogging spot for locals and nomads alike.

Excellent Apps

Gojek: Perhaps the reigning king of on-demand service app in Indonesia. From just simply a motorcycle-hailing app in 2010, it has expanded its realms to whatever service imaginable (for instance, Go-ride for regular transport, Go-food for food delivery, Go-mart for grocery delivery, Go-send for sending and receiving packages, and Go-glam for beauty services).

Google Translate and Babbel: Since most street and establishment signs are in the local language (Bahasa Indonesia), an offline translation app will help you navigate through and explore the city with more ease and convenience.

Zomato: While customer reviews can be unreliable and exaggerated at times, It’s undeniable that its comprehensive catalog and directory of food establishments in and outside Jakarta is topnotch. A special access to every establishment’s menu will also make your food search faster.

BigDish: For early booking discounts and incentives. This table-reservation app offers up to 50 percent discount on selected dishes.

SINDHÈN and Goers: The former is for nightlife-seekers, while the latter is for those who are into music festivals, art shows, and movies.


Cloud Lounge and Living Room: Rooftop lounges have been in vogue lately in Jakarta, but the most sophisticated of them is Cloud Lounge and Living Room, which is located on the 46th and 49th floor of The Plaza Tower in Central Jakarta. Apart from its superb cocktails, the fantastic 360-degree view of the Jakarta’s sprawling urban landscape has made it a sought-after nightlife destination among tourists and locals.

Potato Head: It has become a familiar destination for sophisticated Indonesian diners since its inception in 2009. It has also withstood the test of time after most similar establishments nearby have either downsized or shut down operations. The secret to its longevity is its cozy interior design, good selection of local and international cocktails, a menu built on international cuisine using locally sourced ingredients, and first-rate customer service. Located on the Ground Floor of Pacific Place Mall in Jendral Sudirman. It opens at 11am until midnight, with extended operations of up to 2am on Saturdays but only up to 10pm on Sundays.

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