Spotlight City: Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, with a population of about 9,600,000, is the capital and most populous city of Indonesia. The city is the cultural, business and political center of Indonesia. Jakarta is an international hub in Southeast Asia and is listed as an Alpha Global city. The city is notable for its tremendous rate of growth, which has outpaced that of Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, and Bangkok. Jakarta experiences moderate crime rates, including a high level of petty crime. As a visitor to the city, you should be aware of a handful of safety tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.

Threats and Risks to Travelers in Jakarta

Crime rates in Jakarta are moderate. Although the country is reasonably safe, travelers are at a high risk of encountering petty crime. Pickpockets and thieves frequently operate in crowded public locations, such as popular tourism attractions and onboard public transportation. Take caution with your belongings when out in public. Muggings and other violent crime also cannot be ruled out. Crime tends to increase slightly during and right before Ramadan, due to financial pressures.

Traffic in Jakarta can be quite dangerous. Locals will often drive aggressively and have little regard for traffic laws. Traffic lights at night can be potentially unsafe and serve as traps for robbery, so stay alert.

Scammers frequently operate around popular tourism destinations. Known scams include posing as staff or salesperson with an alluring holiday offer or lottery to get the victim to an ATM and withdraw money from his or her account; pretending to recognize the victim to chat him or her up and subsequently offer them a laced food item; and pretending to offer a ride to the victim, only to mug him or her during the trip. Avoid local bars, sketchy currency exchange services and unofficial taxis. Try to agree on taxi fares ahead of time based on advice from trusted locals, as taxis overcharging is a common trap.

Organized crime remains a problem and has not been addressed effectively, though it does not usually pose a threat to foreigners.

Be aware that the threat of terrorism in Jakarta is high. There have been a number of incidents in past years that have specifically targeted foreigners in public areas.

Best Practices for Personal Security in Jakarta

Remain attentive at all times, as thieves can relieve you of your possessions very quickly. Be aware of personal space and exercise caution if you find people bumping into you haphazardly, as this is a common way pickpockets steal. Thieves can also work in pairs: some types of beggars can be insistent and distract you while another thief quietly pickpockets your person. Do not carry high amounts of cash on your person, and keep personal documents separate from your wallet to minimize the chance of loss.

Whenever possible, stick to larger, well-lit roads and avoid side-alleys or isolated streets, especially after dark. At night, it is best to remain in areas with lots of people. If you can help it, avoid travelling alone.

There are specific areas of Jakarta that visitors should avoid. Block M in South Jakarta is notorious for nightlife establishments of dubious reputation concerning criminal activity. The general South Jakarta region has seen elevated crime in recent years. The Ancol Port area and other areas (Glodok) in North Jakarta are also notorious for sketchy establishments and higher crime rates.

What to Do in an Emergency

In the event of an emergency, dial 112 to access emergency fire, medical and police services. Be advised that assistance in English is not guaranteed. Contact the representation of your country in Indonesia as they may be able to provide further assistance. Be aware that Indonesian police have a reputation for corruption and may not be extremely helpful.

Enjoy Your Trip!

Jakarta is the heart and melting pot of Indonesian culture. People of all kinds of culture blend here, and the city reflects the most vibrant and colorful characteristics of Southeast Asia. Jakarta’s ample opportunities for commerce as well as its potential to offer a higher standard of living means the city attracts migrants from all over Indonesian archipelago. It is certainly worth a visit to experience all the diversity found within Indonesia.

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