If you are going to visit Jakarta for the first time or you are still feeling uneasy navigating the capital city's notorious traffic, taking a taxi is the best way to get around. But taking a taxi in Jakarta is not without risks.
It is important to follow some simple guidelines to avoid getting scammed or worse, robbed.
Regular taxi or premium taxi?
Taxi rates start at Rp 7,000 (S$0.70) and work their way up Rp 4,000 per kilometer. Communication can be difficult with regular taxi drivers, as they often speak little English.
If you take a premium taxi such as Silver Bird or Tiara Express, the rate begins at an even higher rate. But they also come with advantages. In addition to a more luxurious trip, drivers usually speak good basic English to help get you where you want to go.
Call to order a taxi
Calling to order a taxi is perhaps the most common way to ensure safety, especially if traveling at night.
Dependably safe taxi companies like Blue Bird Group and the Express Group are good numbers to keep in your phone.
A computerized reservation system for some taxi companies (e.g. Blue Bird Group) can trace the telephone orders of each vehicle, including the taxi number, driver's name and taxi route. These details might not be recorded if you choose to hail a taxi by the roadside.
Get your taxi using mobile applications
Ordering a taxi using a mobile application on your smartphone is perhaps the next best thing to do to ensure your safe travel in Jakarta.
Dubbed as the safest taxi fleet in town, Blue Bird taxi has a reliable application-based ordering system. This Blue Bird application comes in handy, especially if you are going to book a taxi in advance (i.e. going to the airport in the morning). It has a special column for Soekarno-Hatta International Airport to help you ensure that your taxi picks you up at the right time.
GrabTaxi is another smartphone application increasingly popular among Jakartans. It can be used to order taxis from Blue Bird Group, Express, and Gamya. The application also allows you to book premium taxis and operates in several cities across Southeast Asia, such as Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.
Before getting into a taxi
Sharing a picture of the taxi with a family member is another way of ensuring safety.
You can also anticipate your routes prior leaving your departure point so you can see if the driver tries to take you in a circuitous (and more expensive) route. Turn on the GPS on your mobile phone so you can monitor where you are going. Show the driver the route that you want to take by showing it on your phone's map.
Make sure all doors are locked
Although taxi fleets like Blue Bird are already equipped with central locks, taxis from other companies may still lack this simple feature.
Check again if the rear doors are already locked to ensure noone can come inside.
Unless very urgent, try not to pull out and use your fancy gadgets on your way inside the taxi since it may attract attention and make you an easy target for theft.