Monday, October 7, 2013

Business trip from Singapore to Jakarta

Last week I traveled to Jakarta from Singapore for a business meeting. It was less than a day travel and I only stayed one night. I have flied there by AirAsia and came back by Jetstar. This was the first time I have been in Jakarta since 2009.

AirAsia operates 6x daily flights from Singapore to Jakarta. The 1 hour 45 minutes flight was smooth and ended up in a terminal which seems to belong to AirAsia. Last time I have been to Jakarta I had to take visa from Indonesia Embassy in Singapore. This time it was a very easy on-arrival visa which took less than a minute to queue and take and cost 35 SGD (25 USD). But i think the queues in immigration were short because this was a terminal solely serving AirAsia in Jakarta.

This was also my first time in Jakarta without a colleague. I did not have time to check the address of hotel, how to get there, which taxi to take. Before leaving the terminal I asked the information counter about the cost of taxi from Jakarta Airport to Le Meridien Jakarta hotel. They told me that it should cost 125,000 Rupiah. When I went out of terminal I have directly walked to bus platform and avoided all those smiling faces trying to direct me to an expensive taxi ride. Indonesia is famous for scams so it is best to avoid anyone trying to direct you to a vehicle.

I was watching the taxis and trying to decide which to take when I have seen a Blue Bird taxi. I have heard about this company in Bali and knew that it is advised to take taxis belonging to Blue Bird to avoid overpaying. I have waited an available one and jumped into a Blue Bird.

You need to pay for all high-way tolls on your way to central Jakarta by cash and taxi driver either pays them on his own and takes the total from you later or requests them one by one from you. Mine has requested them one by one.

I was preparing myself to a very heavy traffic but there was not traffic on my way to hotel. I think this is because I have arrived on Friday night and the heavy traffic was from Jakarta center to outside. On the other hand my boss, who arrived early Thursday needed 2.5 hours to arrive from airport to the hotel. Taxi ride from Jakarta Airport to my hotel, Le Meridien Jakarta cost me 105,000 Rupiah without highway tools. So Blue Bird was a good choice.

Le Meridien Jakarta Hotel is a central hotel which was quite near to our meeting location in Jakarta. It was my first time in this hotel and I enjoyed the stay. The room, the bed and the bathroom was quite large and with a price tag of 100 USD per night it was reasonably priced. The dinner was not included in my booking so I (or my company) paid 40 USD for an open buffet dinner which was quite nice. I also enjoyed the breakfast but having arrived late with some work to do, I had no chance to try facilities such as swimming pool and gym.

I would definitely recommend Le Meridien Jakarta Hotel but the most important criteria in Jakarta to choose a hotel is the location. Given the horrific traffic in the city which has no meaningful public transformation, you should choose a hotel near your most visited destination.

This is the second time I stay in a hotel operated by Starwoods hotels in the last 3 months (previously I have stayed in ALoft Bangkok Hotel Sukhumvit 11) and I have enjoyed both of the hotels.

From Jakarta to Singapore, I flew with Jetstar. I both like AirAsia and Jetstar. The food on the plane is reasonably priced and for an almost 2 hours flight, I am quite OK with a budget airline even for business trip.

While flying in and out Singapore, I have realized that there are many tropical islands in Riau Islands below Batam and Bintan to visit.

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