A Guide to Driving on Jakarta Roads


Jakarta has a huge population, but it does not mean that you will rub your shoulders with people every time you step out from your house. In fact, the one moment when you are in same place with a lot of Jakartans is when you’re trapped in traffic jam. Yes, it’s probably a thing that you hate the most and you’ll avoid it as much as you can.

Even though there are many public transportation options such as TransJakarta, buses, or train available in Jakarta, many people prefer to drive their own vehicles—and maybe you are one of them. If this is the first time you are driving your own car in Jakarta, here is a guide so you can survive in the ocean of vehicles in Jakarta:

Leave ahead of time

Jakarta’s rush hour traffic speed is around 10 to 15 km per hour (sometimes it’s only 5km/hr). If you need to travel for 3 km, at least allow 10 minutes travel time to reach your destination. If you’re riding a motorcycle, you can expect to arrive faster, but it is not guaranteed. All depends on the situation on the road—so it is very wise to leave earlier from your house.

Drive on the right

A common ‘rule’ in the road is that the middle lane is for slow drivers. So, if you need to arrive fast at your destination, never leave the right lane (next to the median). The left lane is also for slow drivers, but in certain roads it is for parking, street hawker, Kopaja stops, or wedding party.

Don’t pass the bus/Kopaja from the left

We never know when those buses stop; sometimes they will stop all of sudden in the middle of the road and drop their passengers. Or sometimes they don’t give you sign that they’re about to turn left. Kopaja especially, are like the king of the road in Jakarta. You need to be really careful.

Don’t panic

Stay calm, don’t be in rush, and don’t drive too slow either. Any vehicles will speed and change lanes and stop at random places without giving any signs. Just be calm, let them live, and continue your journey.

Use Waze

Waze will guide you and tell you when you need to make U turn, to turn left or right, and the fastest ways to reach your destination. So, you will not need to drive too slow to make sure you don’t miss the U turn.

Watch out the motorcycles

When changing lane, be sure to watch for any incoming motorcycles; they are small and quick. Do it slow while look carefully at your rear-view mirror. You also can light your signal lights, but in many cases these signal lights will only let bikers to speed up and try to cut your way. This also applies when you make the U-turn.

Park your car

If you can’t deal with the crazy traffic anymore, park your car in the nearest building and continue your journey with public transportation or call-hailing apps. Even if you’ll get trapped in traffic once more, at least you don’t have to drive for yourself. You can sit calmly at the passenger seat and do your other things.

Hire a driver

If public transportation is still not your cup of tea, hire a driver. They will take you anywhere and you don’t have to even turn on your car. But you still need to spare your time ahead for travel, so you will not be late.