Whether you’re a tourists or a new resident, our Jakarta Survival Guide series will help you navigate the Indonesian capital’s chaos and have fun at the same time. First up, some essential apps for your time in Jakarta.
Did you know you can go three days without water, three weeks without food but only three minutes without your smartphone? Being connected is a big part of life in Indonesia and is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture. So plug in, log on and get going with these apps essential to life in the nation’s buzzing capital city.
GoJek is the one app to rule them all in Jakarta. Using the app to order an ojek (motorcycle taxi) from location A to B is one of the fastest and most convenient way to get around the city.* Plus, since its 2010 inception the app has expanded big-time. You can now also order cars, food, cleaners, masseuses and more direct to your door through the app for a small fee.
*Although ojeks aren’t a great option if you’re wearing a skirt or dress, carrying bulky things, or for big groups.
This funky-looking map app uses real-time data to help you navigate the roads in a way that doesn’t make you want to claw your own eyes out. Waze receives user and police reports to kept up to date with real time traffic conditions, instantly changing your route to suit if need be. Although more visually cluttered, it offers much more accurate trip-time estimates than the naively optimistic Google Maps.
Traveloka is an award-winning one-stop-shop for planning your next escape. Book transport and accommodation anywhere quickly and easily. Based in Asia, this app is packed with information, has easy payment methods and suits weekend getaways perfectly. Look out for online-only discounts.
Also try: Trivago.
Definitively Jakartans’ number one favorite activity, eating plays a massive social and cultural role in everyday life. From the best kaki lima (street food stalls) in the capital to the best bars and restaurants can easily be found with a few clicks.
Zomato is a comprehensive directory of bars, cafes and restaurants in Jakarta (and lots of other cities) at your fingertips. Listings often have menus, photos, user reviews, booking details and ratings for each place to help your breakfast/lunch/dinner decision. It’s an easy way to collate lists of places you’ve been and want to go, and help you find the ramen, tacos or martabak you’re craving as fast as humanly possible.
- Go-Food (inside the Go-Jek app)
The Indonesian answer to Uber Eats, the idea behind Go-Food is simple. Choose a restaurant, decide what you want to eat or drink, and get it picked up by a Go-Jek drive who delivers it to your location. Genius. Granted, the speed of delivery itself is often hit and miss – don’t order with a timeline in mind – but Go-Food gives you the best access to a wide range of food at a competitive price.
- McDelivery Indonesia
Yep, this is McDonalds’ food delivery app and there’s no more efficient way to get your fast food fix (you can also order through mcdelivery.co.id). The app lets you order ahead or on the go and keeps you updated on your Big Mac’s progress until it arrives at your doorstep. Don’t pretend you don’t love it.
Only the trendiest of restaurants in Jakarta really require reservations, but BigDish gives some great incentives for booking. Reserve a table with the app and you can sometimes get an easy 50% off your bill if you book at a quiet time slot. Even popular times give between a 10 and 30% discount, and considering it takes seconds and is free, it’s no-brainer for saving your hard-earned rupiah.
- Chope Restaurant Reservations
A similar concept to BigDish, Chope has a more-refined search tool for finding particular cuisines, locations and times, but instead offers free meals through its loyalty program and access to ‘exclusive’ promotions.
- HappyFresh – Grocery Delivery
The mobile version of the main grocery delivery site for Southeast Asian cities, HappyFresh purchases and delivers your groceries from most of the major supermarkets to your door. The app is designed smoothly, looks good, and gives you the option of choosing your own delivery times, including a speedy one-hour delivery.
Also try: HonestBee.
Nobody can escape Jakarta’s macet, not even the President of Indonesia. Luckily, there’s plenty of apps to keep you entertained while you’re stuck in the traffic or waiting for somebody who’s abusing the notion of ‘jam karet’.
- SINDHÈN Nightlife App
For the capital city of a reputably conservative country, Jakarta has some surprisingly raucous nightlife – but only if you know where to go. SINDHÈN is a nightlife directory app with a load of other features added in, including an in-app booking system, GPS navigation to your after-dark destination and artist profiles.
- Goers – Activities Finder & Cinema Booking App
Although Jakarta is busy 24 hours a day, it can be difficult for newcomers to find out what’s happening. Enter Goers, designed to help you discover movies, concerts, festivals and activities nearby and book in-app. A not-so-clever user interface makes it hard to use at times, but the collation of 1000+ things to do is still useful. Text is written in an indecisive mix of Indonesian and English so keep Google Translate handy
A regional alternate to streaming giant Netflix, iFlix offers a varied library of TV series and films with subtitles in English, Malay, Indonesian, Thai, Burmese, Vietnamese and Sinhala. It also has the handy option of downloading for offline viewing and costs a whole lot less than Netflix.
Also try: Netflix
Probably the best music streaming service out there, Spotify gives your device free access to millions (and they mean millions) of songs. All you need is internet access. You can also subscribe to their Premium service to get rid of the advertisements between songs and download music for offline listening. The app is designed intuitively and looks great on any screen.
Also try: YouTube
- Warung Chain: Go Food Express
If you enjoyed the likes of Diner Dash, you just can’t go past this locally-made arcade game based on Indonesian street food. Play as a local warung owner serving up plates of iconic bakso, martabak and nasi goreng and build up your empire across the city. Adorable graphics and easy-to-play controls make this game incredibly addictive, and easily one of our favorite Indonesian games around.
A mobile-friendly version of Indonesia’s online shopping giant Tokopedia.com, you’ll need a bit of Bahasa Indonesia to navigate the interface, but doing so will allow you to browse and shop for millions of items, including many hard-to-find products. You don’t even need a credit card or bank account to make purchases – payments can be made through convenience stores such as Indomaret or Lawsons (among other options).
- Coconuts Feed
The all-in-one feed for Coconuts content from across Southeast Asia, including video channel Coconuts TV. The app gives you ASAP access to juicy news, lifestyle and travel straight from the source. Social media integration means you can also share articles direct to your feed.
COMMUNICATION & SOCIAL MEDIA
After eating, Indonesians’ second favourite pastime is probably chatting. Locals (especially with a global background) sometimes have two separate numbers for ‘WA’ (WhatsApp) and SMS (text, phone, etc). Emojis, slang and selfies are all a big part of internet culture, so don’t hesitate to join in.
- WhatsApp Messenger
WhatsApp is probably the most popular messaging app in Indonesia (after dethroning Blackberry Messenger). It uses your device’s internet connection to send and receive messages as well as make calls, making it easier to use and easier on your pulsa (phone credits). The app also uses end-to-end encryption (neither WhatsApp nor third parties can see your messages, unlike SMS) and its Groups feature is a favorite among Indonesian.
- Google Translate
If you’re a foreigner in Jakarta, you will inevitably end up attempting charades at some point, trying to mime a sentence you don’t know how to say in Indonesian to a confused-looking local. The tech-savvy alternative is to whip out Google Translate. Granted, the translations aren’t always spot on, but generally you can convey the gist of what you’re saying. Hot tip: download the Bahasa Indonesian language pack for offline access.
Download it for Android or iOS.
Telkomsel is by far the biggest phone network operator in Indonesia, with almost 180 million users. Their app, MyTelkomsel, is one of the only English-friendly options for managing your credit plan. This is important because Indonesian credit plans are, for some reason, very averse to simplicity. A prepaid plan with 10GB of internet is more than likely not actually 10GB of data – it’s split up into set quotas for ‘4G’, ‘VideoMax’, ‘Facebook’, ‘Lokal’, etc. Keep an eye on your credit with this app to avoid being caught out. You can also recharge in-app. Other network operators have their own app equivalents.
- Google Duo
Google’s video-calling app is an easy, cost-free way to contact home and offers relatively high-quality video and audio (even over spotty networks) and an intuitive interface. The best thing is that, unlike Apple equivalent FaceTime, Google Duo is cross-platform so is available for both Android and iOS. It’s a much better option than trying to navigate international phone calls. The main drawback is no option for multi-person calling.
Also try: Facebook Messenger.
- Qlue – Smart City App
Part of former Jakarta Governor Basuki Purnama Tjahaja’s ‘Smart City’ campaign, Qlue was launched in 2014 to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the city’s government. Users can report local problems to city officials (such as potholes in the road) and share them with others. A great app for those here for a while, and fans of civic engagement.
With about 45 million active Instagram users, Indonesians take the ‘gram seriously. If you’re not already established on the popular photo-sharing social media app already, sign up and get snapping. Don’t forget to add at least 37 hashtags for maximum exposure and follow all your favorite celebrities.