Browsing "Older Posts"

Browsing Category " Traveling "

20 Best Luxury Yachts to Cruise Indonesia

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago with over 17,000 islands, yet most tourists only visit the overcrowded and saturated island of Bali.

Until recently, it was still difficult to access some of the most remote parts of Indonesia. It required using local transports which, while adventurous, often turned out to be unsafe, uncomfortable, and inconvenient in terms of schedule. If you are on a budget, you can still travel this way and enjoy a truly unique experience.

A much nicer alternative is to book a luxury cruise, or even to charter an entire boat and its crew. There are now several ships operating in Indonesia offering liveaboard experiences, mostly in the eastern part of the country (Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, Papua and Sulawesi). The best are privately owned and managed by foreigners who are passionate about sailing, diving, and discovering the culture of the islands they visit.

Almost all the luxury boats mentioned below are Indonesian/Dutch schooner (also called phinisis), an iconic ship used to transport goods within Indonesia since the 17th century. They have either been renovated or built on purpose for tourism with modern amenities and equipment. Some are among the most luxurious in the world, catering to a crowd of jet-setters, rich businessmen and celebrities.

The season for sailing is typically from February to October, with the best months from June to August. 

The best luxury yacht cruises and charters to explore the Indonesian islands are the following:

The famous luxury resort chain Aman offers unforgettable experiences on one of their two traditional boats, the 52-meter long Amandira and the 32-meter long Amanikan.

Their Komodo expedition departs from the Amanwana Hotel on Mojo island. The cost for 7-days is USD$42,850 for a couple. They also offer a Raja Ampat expedition departing from Sorong in Papia for USD$45,750 per couple. Don't worry, there will be cheaper options below!

More information on their website:

The luxurious Alila Purnama is a floating 5-star boutique hotel. It is a 46-meter phinisi boat built on 3 decks with 5 suites. The 16-member crew includes a chef, a PADI-certified dive instructor and a masseuse.

There are several cruises every season in destinations such as Komodo, Raja Ampat, Maumere and Ambon.

Prices are on the high side, starting US$7,250 for a 3-night trip to Komodo in a standard suite. To charter the boat, you'll need to spend at least US$12,500++ per day.

More information on their website:

Silolona Sojourns is one of the most luxurious private cruise companies to operate in Indonesia. As of 2016, it sails with 17 crew members to 5 destinations : Sulawesi, Banda, Papua, Komodo and Savu Sea. Their trips include carefully-planned land excursions by the American owner, Ms. Patti Seery.

The ships boasts 5 wooden suites that are each decorated with unique Indonesian artifacts. Numerous activities are available from water skiing to kayaking and sport fishing. You can also get your PADI certification onboard.

Prices are available on request. You can expect to pay at least US$10,000 for a 7-day trip. They have a second smaller liveaboard boat called Si Datu Bua.

More information on their website:

Owned by Veronika Blomgren, a successful Russian designer behind the Oazia brand in Bali, this growing company is planning to operate 8 ultra-luxurious ships in Indonesia within the next few years.

For now, they first one is a splendid 31-meter long phinisi boat with just one spacious cabin that can only accommodate a couple. Ideal for honeymooners, the current routes may take you to Moyo island, Komodo or Raja Ampat. The price starts at US$3,895 per night.

More information on their website:

Owned by American businessman Mark Robba, this 52-meter phinisi yacht can be rented for expeditions in Komodo and Raja Ampat from February to October. 

The price for booking all of its 7 suites is around US$87,000 for a week.

More information on their website:

The 65-meter yacht is the longest wooden sailing boat in the world. It was designed by the Argentinian Marcelo Penna and built in Sulawesi.

It is owned by Dominique Gerardin, a former yacht captain from France. The destination portfolio includes Raja Ampat, Alor, Komodo, Sumba and Flores. During the wet season, it travels to Thailand and Myanmar.

The boat can accommodate up to 14 guests in 1 double master cabin, 4 double cabins and 2 twin cabins. The price for charter is US$22,000++ per night (minimum 3 nights). It includes all drinks, all dives, all spa treatments, internet, gourmet meals and the use of the jet skis.

More information on their website:

The 40-meter luxury El Aleph ship is owned by a Frenchman and managed by an international crew. Built in Sulawesi, it features 5 cabins, including a 50m2 master suite with its own terrace.

It sails in the islands of eastern Indonesia from Bali up to Raja Ampat. The price for chartering El Aleph is approximately US$10,000 per day. It is popular with Russian clients.

More information on their website:

Managed by expats, Plataran Private Cruises have 8 luxury boats, including 4 wooden phinisis and 4 yachts.

The yachts are 15 meters long and 4,7 meters wide, with an overnight capacity of 5 guests. There are 2 bathrooms and the 3 cabins all have air-conditioning.

The phinisis each have their own specifications. The largest can accommodate up to 12 sleeping guests. Operated by 8 crews, they are all with air-conditioning and private bathrooms.

Their most popular cruise is a 3 days/2 nights itinerary taking the passengers island-hopping to Rinca, Kalong, Pink Beach, Manta Point, Kanawa and Sabolon island. The price is a reasonable US$900 per person.

More information on their website:

Under French management, this company operates two boats, Ambai and Calico Jack. It focuses on dive cruises in spots like Raja Ampat, Komodo, Alor, Flores, Banda and the lesser known "Forgotten Islands".

They offer more affordable rates than some of the competitors listed here, starting US$1,720 per person for 5 days.

More information on their website:

This 34-meter long phinisi boat can welcome 12 passengers in 5 cabins, each with their own bathroom. It sails to Komodo, Maluku and Papua.

You can either book an individual cabin, or charter the whole boat for US$4,400 per day.

More information on their website:

Owned by Amanda, a retired Australian lady, this company only has one boat, the 37-meter Al Iikai (which means Queen of the Sea). It features 5 king-size luxury bedrooms with air-conditioning and private bathrooms. 

As it is a smaller company, the prices are rather affordable, starting US$1500 for a 7-day Island Explorer Cruise that will take you around Lombok. They also have cruises with special themes (Yoga, Cooking or Golf). You can charter the boat starting at US$3,100 per day.

More information on their website:

The expats owners manage two amazing boats: The Katharina, a 40-meter long phinisi boat with 6 cabins and a 14-guest capacity, and the Ombak Putih, a 42-meter traditional Indonesian schooner renovated in 2015 that can accommodate up to 24 guests in 12 cabins.

They sail to some of the most beautiful spots in Indonesia, including Banda, Maluku, Wakatobi, Alor, Lembata, Tidore, Savu and Raja Ampat. Their scheduled cruises often have a special guest on-board, for instance a renowned writer, a scientist or an adventurer. The price starts at US$2,500 for a 7-day cruise. You can also charter the whole boat with the crew starting US$5,400/day.

More information on their website:

The Adelaar is a Dutch schooner that offers diving trips departing from Bali. Most of the guests go to the Komodo national marine park, but there are longer excursions to Sumba and Moyo islands on Sumbawa.

Their popular 10-nights/11-days-trip to Komodo in a standard room with ensuite bathroom, air-conditioning and a 120 cm bed costs US$4,000 per person.

More information on their website:

The Mantra is a medium-sized (30 meters) phinisi yacht built in 2015 with 3 cabins. The management organizes cruises in Alor, Raja Ampat and Komodo for prices starting at US$3,000 per night.

More information on their website:

Headed by Dutch national Leo van Oostenbrugge, the Mutiara Laut (Pearl of the Sea) is a schooner inspired by both Western and Indonesian design. It is 46 meters in length and can carry up to 14 passengers plus 15 crew members.

It sails in various parts of Eastern Indonesia: Bali, Lombok, Papua, Banda and Maluku.

Promising the services and amenities of a 5-star, it is available for charter for over US$10,000 per day.

More information on their website:

Designed by the Frenchman Georges Carraz, the 31-meter Raja Laut boasts 6 cabins with ensuite bathrooms and air-conditioning.

The crew is made of 7 members from different nationalities and includes a dive instructor and a chef.

Its main destination is the Komodo National Park, but it also sails to Alor, Sulawesi, Papua and Maluku. Charter price approximately US$5,000 per day.

More information on their website:

This cruise ship can accommodate up to 20 passengers in luxurious cabins and its destinations include Raja Ampat, Bali, Komodo and Ambon.

You can book a room for a price starting at US$1,600 per cabin per night, or charter the whole boat for a price between US$10,000 and US$20,000 per day.

More information on their website:

The Samata is a 42-meter phinisi boat with 5 French-designed cabins that can fit up to 10 passengers. Its most frequent destinations are the Komodo marine park, Raja Ampat and the Banda islands. The team can also organize tailor-made trips depending on the customers wishes.

The price is approximately US$10,000 per day or US$60,000 per week.

More information on their website:

The elegant Zen phinisi is a 53-meter yacht belonging to a Polish national based in Hong Kong. With an emphasis on modern design, it boasts 6 bedrooms including a two-level suite master cabin.

It is available for private rent for US$85,000 per week.

More information on their website:

If you are planning a trip to Indonesia and you haven't considered buying travel insurance yet, please read my article: Travel Insurance for Indonesia.

Guide to Choosing the Best Travel Insurance for Indonesia

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
When I speak with short-time travelers in Indonesia, I am baffled to realize only a few have a proper travel insurance or a medical evacuation insurance. Among long-term residents and expats, there are also many who do not have health insurance, particularly among those without a working permit.

The objective of this article is to convince you that spending a few dollars per day on an insurance is not a waste of money. Even if you are on a tight budget, you can get a cheap one (as low as 3$ per day if you take a yearly subscription - check here) that will at least save your ass in case of a serious illness or accident. If you cannot afford it, then you probably should not travel to Indonesia.

Why you need a travel insurance in Indonesia
While you certainly need insurance everywhere, there are even more reasons to get it when you travel in Bali, Jakarta or the rest of Indonesia:

You are exposed to more risks
There are several risks specifically related to being in Indonesia. Some are unfortunately too common: Dengue fever, malaria, dog bites, food poisoning or motorbike accidents are really not that rare. If you've lived in the country long enough, you probably know a few people who had these problems.

There are generally lower safety standards in everything in Indonesia: Construction, food, transportation, roads, activities, etc. This increases the likelihood of an unfortunate event as well. You can read more tips about this topic here: WorldNomads Travel Safety Tips.

Medical care in Indonesia is very expensive
According to the AAMI, a day in an intensive care unit in Indonesia can cost up to 3,000$. Even in the cheapest hospitals you can expect to pay 800$/day.

Facebook groups like Bali Expats or Jakarta Expats are full of horrible stories of people who had their lives ruined in a few minutes because they did not plan their trips properly. Here are just a few examples (click on the photos for the whole story):
Some of them actually had an insurance, but they didn't read the fine prints. Not having a a motorbike license is often a reason for not being reimbursed for instance. I will give you tips later in this review on what you should be looking for to make sure your risky activities are covered.

More banal problems can be quite costly as well. Among my friends, several ended up in shitty situation for common accidents or diseases:

First one hit his head by diving into a pool: 1000$ in Sanglah Hospital (local one) for a few stitches and X-rays.

Second one got bit by a street dog in Legian: 3,000$ including anti-rabies medication.

Third one got a very bad case of dengue fever combined with malaria. He went into a coma and he had to stay 4 weeks in hospital. Total bill: 25,000 dollars. Luckily, he was covered and everything was paid for. It was after this unfortunate event that I rushed to get an insurance actually.

Private hospitals will never accept you if you cannot pay
In Indonesia, the decent hospitals are run as a strict business and not a charity. If you arrive bleeding to death after an accident, the doctors will not treat you until they make sure you can pay. If you can't, you'll be left outside. It's as simple as that.

An American will probably understand that. For a French, this concept is a bit hard to grasp as we are used to get healthcare for free.

Hospitals will overcharge you
You should know that as a foreigner with or without a working permit, you will be charged more for medical treatment in Indonesia. Expect to pay at least 2 times more than locals, more if you don't have a resident visa.

Many doctors have a poor ethic. If they can find a way to inflate your final bill, they will probably do it. It is a bit like going to a random auto repair shop in Europe: Most likely you will be charged for stuff you don't need.

Serious accidents will need a medical evacuation
Since many hospitals cannot treat the most serious patients, medical evacuation is often needed. To give you an idea of current prices:

Evacuation from Indonesia to Singapore: From 25,000$ to 50,000$
Evacuation from Indonesia to Australia: From 40,000$ to 70,000$
Evacuation to Europe: Up to 100,000$

Don't expect compensatory damages
The concept of third party responsibility is foreign to most Indonesians. If you are hit by an Indonesian drunk driver, don't expect you'll get any money from the person who was responsible. Actually, even if he is at fault, he could possibly still manage to get money out from you if he is a well-connected assh*le. The same thing apply if you have an accident within your hotel or while doing an activity with a company. If you are dealing with a local company, don't even think about getting compensatory damages.

What types of insurance do you need in Indonesia?
The type of insurance you need in Indonesia depends on your activity (working, retired, tourist, etc), your length of stay, your activities and your area of travel.

Travel Medical Insurance:
An insurance that will cover your medical bills for a limited duration (usually less than 90 days) when you are traveling outside of your home country. If you are traveling to Indonesia, it is the minimum you should get. For expats it is not necessary as long as they have an expat insurance.

Travel Insurance:
A generic term for an insurance that will cover several aspects of a trip: Medical problems, but also flight cancellation, theft, lost luggage, etc.

There are several websites where you can get a price estimate for your travel insurance in Indonesia. You can check WorldNomads which is a partner of Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. Among the famous ones you also have SmartTravel from AXA and Travel Guard from AIG.

You can find more options in your home country. The advantage of WorldNomads is that it is very easy to apply online and you do it even if you've already left home.

You can also search through the comparator Insure My Trip.

International Health Insurance or Expat Medical Insurance:
Travel insurance is for travelers and covers emergency situations. If you live permanently in Indonesia, you need coverage for regular health expenses such as dental care, optics, medical check ups, pregnancies, cancer treatment, etc. Those are typically not included in Travel Insurance policies.

Expats working in Indonesia should subscribe to the mandatory BPJS health insurance scheme. It is cheap, but don't expect to much from it. Many will also have their employer's insurance.

For the other expats without a company plan, you can either purchase a normal travel insurance for long term travel (but then you won't be covered for non-emergency situations) or purchase a dedicated Expat Health Insurance from a private company.

The latter is usually more expensive, but you should consider that you'll get more reimbursements as well. Reputed companies include Allianz, April-International, AXA, GMS, etc.

Repatriation/Medical Evacuation Insurance: An insurance that guarantees your medical evacuation will be paid for if needed.  The cost is usually reasonable, as little as 150$ per year, and it can save you tens of thousands of dollars. Remember that for serious injuries, you will not be able to be treated properly in Indonesia. This insurance is particularly needed if you plan on visiting remote areas.

If you purchase an insurance from WorldNomads, it is already included.

Things to check before purchasing a travel insurance

The obvious first step before purchasing a travel insurance is to make sure you don't already have one. You are probably aware that when you buy your plane tickets with a Visa or Mastercard, you are entitled to some kind of (limited) insurance. If you are traveling on a tour group, you may also already have one automatically added (though you can refuse it and buy your own instead).

Once you know for sure that you will need a travel insurance in Indonesia, you should be careful to check the following:

What is the maximum payable amount that I can get?
I think 200,000$ is the minimum amount to get considering how high some hospitals bills can be in Indonesia.

Is the medical evacuation included or not?
If not you will have to pay extra with another company. This is an essential part of your insurance and you need a high ceiling as well (minimum 150,000$).

Can you contact your insurance company 24/7? Can they approve a quotation 24/7?
This is a must in case of a major emergency. If you cannot prove quickly that you can pay for your treatment, the best hospitals may refuse you.

Do you have to advance the money?
Some insurance can give a guarantee to the hospital that your bill will be covered so you don't need to pay upfront.

Are there any exclusions?
There are always a lot of exclusions (things that the insurance does not cover). Read carefully to avoid any surprises. If you are planning to do dangerous sports and outdoor activities in Indonesia, ask for instance if surfing, scuba diving, diving, rafting, hiking, jet-skiing or paragliding are included.

What is the motorbike situation?
Motorbikes are a major cause of accidents for foreigners in Indonesia. Be careful as almost all insurers require a valid international license for the driver (even if you are a passenger). A specific motorbike license is also required for vehicle with more than 150cc. If you were drunk, high or not wearing a helmet at the time of your accident, you can also say good-bye to any potential claims.

What if you hurt someone?
Check if you can get reimbursement for third party damages.

The website of WorldNomads provides a lot of great tips to help you choose the right insurance. You can also make a simulation for your trip so you'll know exactly how much it will cost you and how long you will be protected. Don't forget to read the fine print very carefully to make sure you won't have any unexpected surprise.

How to save money on travel insurance?
The companies I've mentioned before are quite affordable. You'll only pay a few dollars per day for coverage. You can try to make a test on WorldNomads to see how much you will pay depending on your age, your country of origin, and the number of people you want to protect.
Click to get a a travel insurance quote from WorldNomads
If the amount is really to big for you, there are a few ways to lower the price even more:

Buy longer
This need some commitment, but naturally the longer you purchase, the cheaper it get. I made a test on WorldNomads for myself and got the following:

  • 7 days travel insurance to Indonesia (for a French): 26.70 euros (3.8 euros per day)
  • 4 weeks travel insurance to Indonesia (for a French): 93 euros (3.3 euros per day)
  • 365 days travel insurance to Indonesia (for a French): 804.30 euros (2.2 euros per day)
Make your own simulation here: Quote from WorldNomads.

Buy for several people at once
If you travel with your girlfriend or your family, you should choose the same reputed company for everybody.

Don't insure flights and valuables
This is what I do. Considering I travel alone with cheap flight tickets, last minute hotels bookings and few valuables, I don't really care about getting reimbursements on those things. The only thing I care about is not jeopardizing my whole life with an accident I can't afford to have.

Choose high deductibles and excess
Your insurance deductible and your excess are minimum amounts your insurance will charge you on any claims, not matter what. If your deductible for an accident is 1,000$, the insurance will reimburse you any medical expenses above 1,000$.

The philosophy of choosing a high deductible is the same as the previous point: It is for people who only want help if they are in big trouble. Having to pay 1,000$ from your own pocket sucks, but you can always find the money.

Don't buy it from your airline
When you book a flight, your airline or your tour operator will offer you to buy an insurance. Those are usually pretty bad deals and the prices are not interesting.

You can use Insure My Trip to search for the best deals. Be careful with cheap insurance companies though. If they can give a very cheap price, it probably means they don't reimburse much. You cannot have it all.

Rely on your credit card insurance only
This is possible but you must know the limitations of this strategy. In general, when you pay your trip with a classic Visa or Mastercard, you get 3 months of insurance with maximum reimbursement of less than 15,000$ (please check again with your banker to be sure). This ceiling is really too low in my opinion. You also have a lot of restrictions on what you can claim as well as high deductibles.

What insurance do you use?
This article would be greatly improved with your input. Which insurance did you choose for traveling to Indonesia? Did you succeed in making claims? If you are an expat, do you have a health insurance? Do you recommend it?

Personally, I have an expat insurance company that only insure French nationals. The name is CFE, if you are French and need more information about it you can email me I pay 100 euros per month and I've made 2 claims that went well. The main one was for a gallbladder infection that kept me a week in Kasih Ibu hospital in Denpasar. The total bill was 7,000$ for 8 days and I had 5,000$ reimbursed.

Guide to Choosing Your Hotel in Jakarta

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
I am asked daily by readers for tips about choosing a hotel in Jakarta. This little guide should answer all the questions I've ever received such as:

- What is the best area to stay in Jakarta?
- Where can I find a cheap guesthouse for under 10$ per night? Is there a backpacker area in Jakarta?
- What are the best budget hotels in Jakarta? Which hotel chain offers the best value for money?
- What is the best accommodation for less than 50$?
- Which 5-star hotel should I choose? Which 5-star hotel is the closest from action? Which 5-star hotel has the best bars and restaurants?
- Can I bring girls to my hotel in Jakarta? What are the names of girl-friendly or guest-friendly hotels in Jakarta?
- Can I actually sleep in Alexis Hotel, Malioboro Hotel, Travel Hotel or Classic Hotel?
- Is there a spa or massage parlour near my hotel?
- Which hotel do you recommend near the airport?
- Which hotels are connected to popular malls?

Important: I included a direct link to Agoda to help you book your hotel. I make a small commission on every booking so if you like this review and value the hours I spent writing it, I would be really grateful if you used one of these links. If you don't like Agoda, you can also use my links to (hotel comparator) or  Booking.comThe price is the same for you!
16 Cheap Girl-Friendly Hotels in Jakarta

If you have other questions, please write them in the comment section below and I'll do my best to answer it.

What is the best area to stay in Jakarta?
Since Jakarta is so big, deciding on where to stay in Jakarta really depends on what you will do there.

Traffic should be your main consideration and you should choose the location that will minimize as much as possible the time spent going from one place to the other.

1) If you are in Jakarta for work and you need to go to a lot of meetings, choose a hotel close to your meeting points or close from your office, even if they are not in central locations. The traffic usually gets better starting 9pm so you can still go out quite easily after that.

Anyway, there are now malls almost everywhere in Jakarta so wherever you'll stay, you will be close from a fair number of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, gyms, cinemas and hang out spots.

If you are having meetings all over the city, then choose a location near the major roads such as Gatot Subroto, Sudirman, Thamrin, Gajah Mada or the Jakarta Inner Ring Road.

2) If you are in Jakarta for fun or for party, then you must decide what is your style:

- You want to party in the expensive nightclubs in Central and South Jakarta?
It is best to stay anywhere near from Jalan Sudirman, Plaza Indonesia, Mega Kuningan, Jalan Rasuna Said, Plaza Senayan. Kemang is too far in my opinion but it could be an option if you want to be close from the best Western food options.

If you are with a group, you can consider renting an entire apartment:  Check for apartments in Jakarta.

- You want to party with locals in North and West Jakarta?
Choose a hotel in one of these neighborhood: Chinatown (Glodok), Gajah Mada, Mangga Besar, Hayam Wuruk, Tamansari, Lokasari, Pecenongan. Hotels in these areas usually offer a much better value for money than in the South but the surroundings are more dirty and less safe. You also won't have nice malls, only Gajah Mada Plaza and Lokasari Square. Mangga Besar hotels are all girl-friendly and they are close from hundreds of great street food options.

Another good point with this location is that you can still reach Central Jakarta quite easily within 30 minutes. There is a very convenient busway line running from Kota Station to Blok M that you can use.

Alternatively, if you are mostly interested with karaokes and massage parlours instead of clubs, you can go to Kelapa Gading, Mangga Dua, Grogol and Taman Anggrek. These areas also have huge malls nearby and they are not too far from the airport with the toll road.

Read my guide: Bachelor Party in Jakarta

3) If you are in Jakarta as a tourist, then I would recommend staying near Thamrin or Wahid Hasyim. Alternatively, you could also stay near Mangga Besar or Kota, but if you are not familiar with Jakarta you may feel uncomfortable as those areas are 100% local.

Where can I find a cheap guesthouse under 10$ per night? Is there a backpacker area in Jakarta?
As you will read in any guidebooks about Jakarta, the backpacker district is located in Jalan Jaksa. It is nothing compared to other popular traveler hubs in Southeast Asia like Khao San Road in Bangkok or Bui Vien in Saigon. You will only find a handful of guesthouses, usually not well-maintained and not very clean. Nearby, Jalan Wahid Hasyim has more choice but the prices are higher (at least 30$).

To find a decent room in Jalan Jaksa, you need to go inside the gangs (small streets) and look for guesthouse signs.  The prices are currently set at around Rp70,000 per night for a room with a fan. AC will cost you at least double.

In the past few years, there has been an increasing number of backpacker hotels that have opened elsewhere in the city, sometimes with higher standards. Teduh Hostel in Kota Tua or Six Degrees in Cikini are good examples. Their prices are quite high though, even for a bed in a dormitory.

I would still recommend Jalan Jaksa because of its very central location. It is next to Gambir train station (from where you can go to Yogyakarta or Bandung). It is also near from several key things to do in Jakarta like the Monas or the Istiqlal Mosque. 500 meters from Jaksa, the Sabang street is famous for its street food options.

What are the best budget hotels in Jakarta?
There are several budget hotel chains in Jakarta: Ibis Budget, Neo, Fave Hotels, Amaris, Pop Hotel, Whiz, Hotel 88, D'Prima. The price vary between 20$ and 45$ per night.

One of the cheapest budget hotel chain in Jakarta is RedDoorz. They have dozens of locations in the city which are in fact independent small residences. The level of comfort is good considering the price, usually less than 20$ for a double bed room. In particular, they have some very-centrally located property that I've review here: 5 Best Budget Hotels in Central Jakarta.

I also recommend to check the properties of ZenRooms. They are cheaper than traditional budget hotel chains yet they offer the same value for money. They have quality linens, flat screen TVs, free WIFI, individual AC and clean bathrooms.

They are currently available in several locations in Jakarta and in the rest of Indonesia.

Fave Hotels also have a great value for money, though they are a bit more expensive than RedDoorz.

Based on my experience though, the standards can be quite different within the same chain depending on who is the owner. For instance, the Fave Hotel in LTC Glodok is fantastic, probably because it is owned by Agung Podomoro Land (one of Indonesia's largest developer). Another great one is Fave Hotel Gatot Subroto. On the contrary, I stayed in Fave Hotel Kemang and Pasar Baru, both disappointing.

Also, the price may vary a lot depending on the location: The Fave Hotel Thamrin costs double compared to the one in Kelapa Gading.

If you plan on going bar-hopping in Blok M, you may want to stay in Fave Hotel Melawai which is walking distance from the infamous hostess bars. It is guest-friendly/girl-friendly.

Finally, there is also a Red Planet Hotel in Pasar Baru. If you have been to the Philippines, you will know it's one of the best budget hotel chains there.

What are the best 3-star hotels in Jakarta?
3-star hotel chains in Jakarta are Ibis, Harris, All Seasons, Santika and Holiday Inn. The price depends on the location and the day of the week (cheaper on weekends). In general, they will cost between 45$ and 60$ per night.

Again, within a chain there can be big differences. Ibis Tamarin and Ibis Arcadia on Jalan Thamrin are getting old but Ibis Harmoni is brand-new. 

I think it is best to find out when the hotel was open and to choose the more recent ones. All Seasons Gajah MadaAll Seasons Thamrin and Holiday Inn Thamrin were all opened less than 3 years ago.

What are the best 4-star hotel chains in Jakarta?
The prices of 4-star hotels in Jakarta vary greatly depending on the location. The cheapest ones, located outside the city center in Mangga Dua, Gajah Mada or Ancol can cost less than 60$ while those located near Sudirman or Thamrin cost up to 100$ per night.

The best chains are Novotel, Mercure, Santika Premiere, Aston, Swiss-Belhotel and Best Western. Again, don't trust a chain blindly, make sure that the hotel was built recently.

The newest 4-star hotels in Jakarta are: Harris Harmoni VertuFour Points By Sheraton, AONE ThamrinMercure SabangHotel Santika Premiere Hayam Wuruk and Novotel Gajah Mada

Which 5-star hotel should I choose? Which one is the closest from nightlife?
5-star hotels in Jakarta are almost all located within the Golden Triangle (Sudirman - Rasuna Said - Gatot Subroto). For this reason, all are rather close from any happening places.

Still, it is even more convenient to choose a hotel attached to one of the big malls. For this reason, you may want to choose:

- Kempinski, attached to Grand Indonesia
- Grand Hyatt and Keraton at the Plaza, attached to Plaza Indonesia (other options nearby include the Pullman Thamrin and the Mandarin Oriental). The Hyatt is a great option as it is close from Immigrant club, Cloud Lounge, Dreams Ego Lounge and Skye Rooftop.
- Ritz Carlton SCBD, attached to Pacific Place (there is also a Ritz-Carlton in Mega Kuningan)
- Fairmont, attached to Plaza Senayan (2 minutes walk)
- Pullman Grogol, attached to Central Park
Sheraton in Gandaria City
Raffles Hotel in Lotte Shopping Avenue - Ciputra World

A JW Marriott was suppose to open in Lippo Mall Kemang Village in 2014 but the project seems to be late.

The Shangri La and the Mulia are also popular with male because of their live music bars, BATS and CJs.

Can I bring girls to my hotel in Jakarta? Which hotel is guest-friendly or girl-friendly in Jakarta?
People are always wondering if they are allowed to bring a girl to their room in Jakarta. The answer is: 90% of Jakarta hotels are girl-friendly.

The only places where you may have problems are family guest-houses or small family hotels located in conservative areas. Outside Jakarta, there have been a few cases of over-zealous mayors raiding hotels to hunt unmarried couples sleeping together. These raids are actually against the law since it is not unlawful to sleep with someone you are not married to. The rule of law does not always apply in Indonesia, but hypocrisy does.

If you stay in any hotel with 3 stars or more, you will be most certainly allowed to bring guests overnight.

An ID is generally required so make sure your girl has her papers.

Hotels located in red-light districts are used to receive night visitors. If you are planning to go wild, then you may want to choose a room in Chinatown, Mangga Besar, Gajah Mada, Kelapa Gading, Mangga Dua, Blok M or Taman Anggrek.

Some naughty hotels also offer plus plus massage services in the room or in their spas. For example: Orchardz Industri, Orchardz Jayakarta, Orchardz Hotel Airport, Sparks LifeB'Fashion, Fashion Hotel (Gunung Sahari), Prinsen Park, Olympic Hotel.

At last, you also have some famous transit hotels such as Hotel BI Executive in Ancol. In this hotel, rooms have mirrors and porn movies are available at reception. You can also park you car just under your room if you want to be discreet.

Can I actually sleep in Alexis Hotel, Malioboro Hotel, Classic Hotel, etc?
Brothels in Jakarta often have a hotel license because it gives them more flexibility with the law. In particular, it allows them to open during ramadan.

Even though they are not listed on the traditional online booking engines like Agoda or, they do accept guests.

Update August 2016: You can now book a night in Classic Hotel on Agoda.

Is there a spa or massage parlour near my hotel?
I wrote a long review that I update regularly about the location of all spas in Jakarta. Please read it: Where are the massage parlours in Jakarta?

Where can I sleep near the airport?
There is a growing number of budget hotels that have opened near the airport. You even have one, Orchardz Bandara, which is a hidden bordello.

The airport hotels are located on both sides of the highway. If you have a flight early morning, it is best to choose a hotel on the left side of the road so it will save you 10 minutes.

A very good choice is the Swiss Bellinn or the Ibis Styles Airport.

Which hotels are connected to popular malls?
Choosing a hotel located inside a mall is a great idea as it will save you a lot of time. I already listed above the 5-star hotels located inside luxury malls:

Grand Hyatt and Keraton at the Plaza, in Plaza Indonesia
Fairmont in Plaza Senayan
Sheraton in Gandaria City
Raffles Hotel in Lotte Shopping Avenue - Ciputra World

You also have the following:

Mangga Dua Square: Amaris and Novotel
Pluit Junction: Fave Hotel (also not far from Emporium Pluit)
FX Mall: Harris Suites FX
ITC Mangga Dua: Le Grandeur
Seasons City: Amaris
Mahaka Square: Hotel Santika Gading
Mall Kelapa Gading: Pop Hotel, Harris Hotel and Conventions (and there is a Fave Hotel accross the road as well)

Some hotels are not connected to malls, but they are just located within walking distance. For instance:
Mall Of Indonesia: Whiz Prime
WTC Mangga Dua: Hotel Neo Mangga Dua
Emporium Pluit: Holiday Inn Express CityGate
Mal Ciputra: Hotel Ciputra
Plaza Semanggi: Crowne Plaza
Plaza Senayan: Century Park
CityWalk Sudirman: Intercontinental MidPlaza
Sarinah: Sari Pan Pacific, Artotel, KosendaFour Points By SheratonAONE Thamrin
Rasuna Epicentrum and Pasar Festival: Aston Rasuna and JS Luwansa
Kuningan City: Manhattan Hotel
Kota Kasablanka: Park Lane
Ciputra World One: Somerset Grand Citra
Bellagio Mall: Oakwood Premier Cozmo
Blok M Plaza: Oak Tree Urban, Hotel Melawai, Amaris Panglima Polim

Which Hotels are Gay-Friendly in Jakarta?
Only one hotel is openly gay-friendly in Jakarta to my knowledge. It is "House of Bare", a small guest house located in West Jakarta, not far from Taman Anggrek and Central Park.

I hope this Jakarta hotel guide will cover all your questions about where to stay in Jakarta. Again, if you have any questions, just type them below and I'll answer them.

10 Best Things to Do In Jakarta

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
Many tourists hate Jakarta because they visit it the wrong way. They check the things to do in a guidebook or on the internet, and then try to do as many as possible in a short time.

Since they are not familiar with the city, they get stuck for hours in traffic, walk in the heat from one sight to the other, and spend more time bargaining than actually talking with Indonesians.

I am not saying that Jakarta is perfect, but if you know what to do, you can definitely have a good time.

Below is my list of the 10 most recommended things to do in Jakarta, starting from the best. An alternative title for the article could probably have been "How Not To Hate Jakarta". Your suggestions are welcome, please just write a comment at the end.

You can also read Is Jakarta worth visiting? for more information.

1) The best thing to do in Jakarta is to date a local (at least for guys)
Let's be honest here. Would Jakarta be as interesting for expats as it is today without Indonesian girls? Certainly not.

Dating local girls is the main activity of most guys I know who live here, and even for those who already have a Western wife. It is a fascinating introduction to Indonesian culture and the best way to learn the language. Leaving Indonesia without this experience is a bit like leaving Italia without eating pizza.

As a traveler, an easy way to get a date is to use online dating apps like Tinder. I wrote an article with the best services you can use: Online Dating Apps and Sites in Indonesia. Many girls in Jakarta will be suspicious about your intentions if you are a tourist though. If online dating does not work, you can read more advice in How to Meet Girls in Jakarta.

2) The second best thing to do in Jakarta is to party
The nightlife is one of the few areas where Jakarta can compete with Bangkok or Singapore. If you go to X2 on a Saturday night, you have at least 200 tourists. I don't think there are as many visiting the National Monument (Monas) over the whole weekend.

Clubs in Jakarta are not perfect but they are fun. Foreigners get a special treatment as long as they dress well and, unlike in Europe, you stand a chance with girls.

My whole website is about Jakarta nightlife. If you are not familiar with it already, start with Best Nightclubs 2016, Jakarta Nightlife 2015 and Jakarta Nightlife Guide.

3) The third best is to eat Indonesian food
I advise you to do the same when you visit Jakarta. You can go to Sabang street in Central Jakarta or Mangga Besar street in Kota (for more ideas, read Street Food in Jakarta) and choose one of the crowded food stalls. The prices are low: A dish without meat usually costs around Rp10,000, a dish with chicken or fish about Rp20,000 and a dish with beef or lamb between Rp30,000 and Rp50,000.

Don't make the mistake of only trying Nasi Goreng as you'll miss hundreds of delicious specialties. My personal favorites are Gudeg (cooked jackfruit), Ayam Gulai (chicken with Indonesian curry), Beef Rendang (slow-cooked beef with spices), Bebek Mercon (duck with extra spicy sauce), Grilled Fish with Dabu-Dabu (Manado spicy sauce), Lawar (minced vegetables and meat), Konro (ribs soup), etc.

You can also read: How I Became Fat in Indonesia.

4) The fourth best is to get a massage

Indonesia is one of the best countries in the world to get an excellent massage.

In Jakarta, for just US5$ you can have a professional masseuse at your door who will massage you for an hour. The easiest way to find a therapist is to download the app Go-Jek and to use the feature "Go-Massage". Alternatively, almost every hotels in Jakarta with more than 3 stars have an in-house spa or 24/7 massage services.

You can also check independent spas. The prices are between 15$ and 30$ for a 90-minute treatment in a decent venue. For a luxurious one, you can read my article: Best Luxury Spas in Jakarta.

To find the spa nearest from your place, you can use my guide Finding A Spa In Jakarta. Beware as I'm also mentioning plus plus spas (that are also quite an experience... you can try Delta if you are curious).

Expat women would tell you that Jakarta is a great place to have an inexpensive creambath, a nail polish or a scrub. Beauty salons are not expensive and they can be found everywhere.

5) The fifth best is to do nothing 
"Nongkrong" ("hanging out" in English) is the trademark hobby of Indonesia. Basically, it means doing nothing with other people.

You can hangout pretty much anywhere: In a coffee shop, on top of a rooftop bar, in a restaurant, in front of a 7-eleven, in the street, at a friend's place, at the mosque, etc. All you need is at least another person. You may also add a beer, a kretek, a coffee and some snacks. A chair is not required as you can see on this photo:

You may feel it is a waste of your time but it's not. It is a time for relaxing, eating, drinking, socializing and adapting to a new environment. In such a hectic city, slowing down is essential to avoid going mad.

6) The sixth best is to walk around
As surprising as it may seem, my favorite day-time activity in Jakarta is simply to walk around in normal Indonesian neighborhoods. It is a free and simple thing to do, yet very rewarding.

Whenever I have guests coming to Jakarta, I always take them for a walk and they love it. It allows them to discover the softer, slower-paced side of the city, where regular folks live.

This is something you can do almost anywhere as long as you understand how Jakarta is organized. Most of the malls, offices, luxury residences and hotels are located along huge streets like Rasuna Said, Sudirman or Gatot Subroto. As soon as you venture behind those skyscrapers, you have smaller and smaller streets (also called "gangs"), where only motorbikes can enter. The atmosphere changes completely: It becomes almost rural with no traffic, low-rise houses, chicken running wild and women going to the mosque with their daster (a sort of daytime pajamas).

This drawing may (or may not) help you understand:
Three nice areas for walking around are Glodok (Jalan Kemenangan, near the Chinese temple Vihara Dharma Bhakti), Tanah Abang (you can go to Jalan Kebon Kacang I, II, III, etc) or Pasar Baru (Jalan Kelinci).

7) The seventh best is to visit the tourist spots
Some tourist spots in Jakarta are interesting, but it would be a mistake to visit them before doing the things listed above.

My most recommended attractions are the Istiqlal Mosque, the National Museum, Taman Fatahillah (a square in the Old Town with several museums and coffee shops) and Sunda Kelapa (the old harbour). All of these can be done within a day if you start early and if you choose a hotel in a central area (Where to Stay in Jakarta).

Other sights that you can skip:
Monas is not that special and the surrounding park is not well maintained.
Taman Mini is too far from the city center so it will take you the whole day to visit it.
Waterbom and DuFan are two themed parks that are only interesting if you have kids.

If you need more ideas, I have been to most tourist attractions in Jakarta and I reviewed them on Jakarta100bars here: Things to Do in Jakarta. You can also check my ranking of the best museums: 16 Best Museums in Jakarta.

8) The eighth best is to learn Indonesian
Indonesian is one of the most spoken languages in the world. It is easy to learn because there are no verb tenses or declensions (noun modifications). You can make sentences just by putting up words together. The pronunciation is also simple: Every letter has a sound.

A traveler I know managed to reach a conversational level within two weeks only. All he did was to memorize 200 words, then seize any opportunity to start a conversation with Indonesian people. He was dating a girl also, that helps.

If you stay in Jakarta more than a few weeks, or if you live in Southeast Asia, I recommend you to learn at least a few words. It will make your Indonesian experience richer and more enjoyable.

9) The ninth best is to go shopping
Indonesia is a protectionist country. This means anything imported or requiring imported components will be expensive, and anything that can be made local is (normally) cheap.

Shopping in traditional markets and shopping streets is a great local experience. I've written a complete article about these here: 25 Best Markets and Shopping Streets in Jakarta.

Shopping in middle class malls is also fun and you may find a few bargains (though not as good as in Thailand or Vietnam). Indonesian-made clothes and accessories are generally cheap. Electronic equipment, mobile phones, computers and cameras with a local brand don't cost a lot as well, but the quality can be poor. There are always a lot of fake products too. Some of the best middle class malls are ITC Mangga Dua, Mall of Indonesia, Mall Kelapa Kading, Mall Ambassador and Mall Taman Anggrek.

Shopping in luxury malls like Plaza Indonesia, Plaza Senayan or Pacific Place is not really interesting in terms of prices. Most items sold are more expensive than elsewhere. Those malls are still worth a visit if you want to see the glitzy side of Jakarta. It is also where you will find the most popular caf├ęs, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and cinemas.

10) The tenth best thing to do in Jakarta is to get out
If you don't get out from Jakarta once in a while, you will start to hate it. There are flights from Jakarta to most airports in Indonesia, making it the best base to visit the country. 50$ will take you thousands of kilometers away to white sand beaches, world-class reef corals and indigenous tribes.

Get some travel ideas here: 11 Indonesian Islands You've Never Head Of and Bali Cheap Travel Guide.