Useful Apps and Things to Bring to Jakarta Indonesia!

We just came back from Jakarta and I figured I would just put this tip guide out there for future reference - the mobile apps we used and the essentials to bring for the trip! Hope you'll find this list useful as well 😊


In no particular order, I would advise you to bring/download the following:

Things to Bring

  • Masks - The pollution and cigarettes are everywhere in the city. If you are highly sensitive to dust, smoke and smell like me, please bring disposable masks and allocate around one per day. The hotel we stayed at also had a strong smell in the lobby, elevators and hallways. You might also need this during car rides.
  • Ecobag - This is for groceries. I'm not certain if I just didn't see plastic bags during our trip, but I can only recall small ones for weighing of fruit.
  • Umbrella with UV - The sun was a bit harsh when we were there.
  • Sunblock and Sunglasses
  • Rubber shoes - Aside from walking long distances while commuting or inside the mall, this is to make sure not step on poop or puddles. Some roads are pretty dirty with people sleeping on the streets. 
  • Cardigan or jacket - If you get cold easily while inside the malls and establishments, I would advise to wear a light cardigan or jacket. While commuting, this is also to cover yourself if you get a little conscious with people staring at you. Majority of the locals wear a hijab, long sleeves and pants, I think due to the predominant Muslim religion in Jakarta and they don't want to get dark. Sleeveless shirts with exposed neck and arms and skirts may not be usual for them. The air conditioning at the airport can also get cold if your return flight is delayed like us.
  • Bag - This is to carry any bottled water with you at all times. We found ourselves constantly thirsty during the trip - not sure if due to the heat. In restaurants, water is charged and locals usually order juice. It is cheaper to buy water in supermarkets. There are some areas/restaurants/movie houses that don't allow outside food and drinks though.
  • Power bank - This is very important because we mainly used our phones for navigation, translation, booking rides and all. You wouldn't want to run out of battery anywhere in the city.
  • Outlet plug - They have a 2-pronged round tip outlet. Bring this with you from your country.
  • Cash for currency exchange - This is very important. Good thing the front desk lent us some money because we could't pay the Bluebird Taxi via the app, even though it was linked to my Philippine credit card. The concierge was able to guide us to a money changer and they needed my passport for the receipt.
  • Credit cards - Good thing they accepted our Philippine-issued credit card for most restaurants, supermarkets and stores. They do require you to sign the charge slip every time like in the Philippines. I also linked this to the Gojek app for easy ride-hailing everywhere! Some stores do require a minimum to use the credit card so a little cash also comes in handy. I only exchanged like $100 for this trip and we still had around half left over. Exchange at this time is around 1590000IDR to $100.
Get When You're There
  • eMoney by Mandiri bank - It was great that our hotel (Artotel Thamrin) was next to a Mandiri bank. We bought an eMoney card for 127500 IDR (100k for load and 27500 as non-refundable fee) for transportation (bus, BRT, minibus, MRT) and convenience stores (tried Alfamart, Indomart). You need to activate it via Mandiri ATM for every top up so we asked the teller for help for this one. The MRT was around 3500IDR per trip so we didn't get to finish the 100K IDR. They said the load doesn't expire.
Apps to Download
    • The Gojek app with the linked credit card to book cars can also check the eMoney by Mandiri balance! Use 2 accounts for discounts for GoCar! Haha
    • We tried to install Gopay and Qris but is only successful for locals with local bank accounts. The Gojek app is linked to Gopay though and my credit card.
    • GrabCar with linked credit card was also useful, especially when booking cars in the PIK2 area. We noticed there were fewer Gojek GoCars there and it took a long time to book. 
    • The Bluebird app unfortunately doesn’t work with the linked Philippine card. You can still take this trusted Bluebird taxi but be ready with cash. Maybe you can book through the app and pay cash, just not sure.
    • We purchased an E-sim per person via Klook before arrival to Jakarta. You need to scan a QR to pass through immigration and customs at the airport so you need internet access right away. Free internet is scarce outside and sometimes you need to scan the menu to order at a restaurant. Usually, there is free Wifi in the malls but not very fast and disconnects. 5GB was enough for us per person (1.5 weeks) with Google Maps being the biggest data use. You can also share your mobile data with your partner if he runs out. Both our hotels had decent free WiFi. Instagram and Facebook both work, Reddit does not.
    • Google Translate for reading menus and signs was of great help. Be careful not to sit on the special Wanita (women) only sections on the bus and MRT. The Indonesians speak little English. We found them mostly shying away and just smiling and nodding when we start speaking English.
    • Google Maps was the primary tool we used for navigation bus, free minibus by Transjakarta, MRT directions and schedules, our pinned must-see locations, as well as restaurant reviews. Oh, and the traffic is real so make sure you are well fed and plan accordingly. I guess it is also forgivable if your friends are a little bit late from the meeting time.
    For now, these are all I could think of. I would update this post if ever I think of more but I think this is a pretty comprehensive note to self if ever we come back to Jakarta, Indonesia again 😉