One of the biggest challenges about being a tourist in Jakarta is the massive amount of traffic jams and logistics of navigating the city. Arriving at night or early morning isn’t so bad when taking a rideshare or taxi, but most other hours of the day, the already 40 minute hike from the airport to the downtown can last upwards of several hours. Thankfully a new airport to downtown train has been completed and it is cutting commute downtime significantly.
The train is still very new and many would be passengers either do not know it is running or are confused about how it works. It departs from the airport and makes two stops on the way to Jakarta and it terminates at BNI central train station that is just minutes from Plaza Indonesia where the Keraton and the Mandarin Oriental Hotels and many transfer points are located. There are trains running every fifteen minutes or half an hour.
It costs 70,000 rupees each way ($5 USD) and it can be paid for in several ways: There is an app which functions on smart phones and there are platform machines at the airport as well as in the final station. The machines are supposed to accept debit and credit cards but we had trouble because it was asking for a PIN number which our credit cards do not have. We went to an information desk and ended up paying in cash with the help of an attendant, so if your credit or credit card has a pin know it to use it, otherwise be prepared with local cash.
The train itself it super modern and sleek. The journey takes 45 minutes. During the day the train is really the best call as the traffic in Jakarta can be insane. Once in the airport the train does not arrive directly to any of the three terminals, but stops in a central location and connects to the skytrain which connects to all three terminals and is free for all passengers. These run every five to ten minutes.
It is important to know that it is necessary to hold onto your train ticket for the duration of the journey because you need it to enter and to exit. It works very similar to the airport city trains in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Jakarta has been needing and wanting such a system for quite some time.
Since Jakarta is so spread out you will likely need to take a taxi or ridesharing app like GRAB to your final destination from this central point. Be aware that it may be difficult to connect to wifi for the app to work if you don’t have cell coverage.