Screenshot: Condé Nast Traveler
Okay, we get that Jakarta has many intimidating qualities, especially for first-time travelers (we even wrote a guide for them specifically for that reason). Obviously there’s the horrible traffic, which requires months if not years to learn how to avoid (or grudgingly accept). There’s also the flooding, the pollution, the lack of adequate public transport, etc etc.
But while our city may feel unfriendly to visitors, we would never say that Jakartans themselves are unfriendly. Many of the nicest people we know live here! There’s something about living in a city as chaotic and densely populated as ours that forces you to rely on strangers for help. Fortunately the spirit of gotong royong is strong here.
Which is why we think the results of a recent survey of Condé Nast Traveler magazine are pretty unfair. The survey asked travelers to rank 266 cities across the globe on numerous categories, including “the friendliness of their people” in their Reader’s Choice Survey. The magazine turned the results of that survey into a list of the “Top 10 Friendliest and Unfriendliest Cities in the World.”
Jakarta came in as “9th Unfriendliest City in the World”.
In their caption for Jakarta’s ranking, the magazine wrote: “Besides being ‘dirty and congested,’ one traveler found it ‘the scariest place I’ve ever been to,’ with ‘aggressive locals.’”
Seriously, somebody said Jakarta is the scariest place they’ve ever been to? That person must have lived a very sheltered existence before coming here.
The caption at least ends on a positive note: “That said, travelers should ‘try the Padang food stalls.’ They might intimidate at first, ‘but the meals are incredible.’” (We also have a video to help people navigate the mysteries of eating Padang food).
Jakarta does have some good company on the “unfriendliest list”. Also featured are the glamorous city of Cannes in France (#10) and Moscow (#8). The unfriendliest cities of them all are Morocco’s Casablanca (#2) and Caracas, Venezuela (#1).
So what do you think? Is Jakarta an unfriendly city? Is it one of the unfriendliest cities in the world?