Let me tell you, flying to Australia for Christmas is not cheap. This was my second trip back since moving and last time I went around April so the prices were rather reasonable and I got straight on a Qantas flight. This time though, not so much. I couldn’t believe how much the prices were higher, plus we were flying an odd route, into Sydney but out of Brisbane. So, we put off booking flights for ageeees, eventually we managed to find some reasonable flights but they were still extortionate – we were flying via Jakarta with Garuda Indonesia on the way out, and then on Singapore airlines via Singapore on the way back.
Now, we were planning on doing it all in one on both legs – it is a horrible experience but it does mean that you get more time in Australia when you finally get there! Unfortunately, Garuda had other ideas and moved our first flight 24 hours earlier, but not the second. After struggling with our travel agency we decided to just accept this day move and have a night in Indonesia to split the journey. We would arrive in Jakarta at 5pm, then fly out at midnight the next day.
24 Hours in Jakarta
When looking at hotels for Jakarta, we decided to get somewhere nice as we would be spending most of our time there. I ended up booking the Shangri-La Hotel as I knew I probably couldn’t afford it in many other countries but it was only around £120 a night. After landing in Jakarta airport, we jumped in our taxi to the hotel – here was where I faced the worst traffic I have ever seen. And I live in London. Oh my, honestly, it took us 2 hours to get from the airport to the hotel when it should have taken about 10 – the place is a giant car park! And after a 14 hour flight I can’t say I was too pleased!
However, once we got to the hotel, it was lovely – of course, it was baking outside so walking into the air conditioned giant lobby was a relief. It was all decked up for Christmas with giant lights and trees too. The staff at the Shangri-La were honestly so lovely, checking us in quickly before we headed up to the 35th floor. The view from our room was amazing – looking out at all the lights of the buildings surrounding us. The room was divine too – huge with a giant soft bed and big free standing bath. After a little bite to eat, we fell into bed and must have slept about 12 hours.
For our one day in Jakarta, I started the day by the pool which after the grey skies of London, it was just nice to sit out in the sunshine! We obviously didn’t have much time that day but were determined to get out and about somewhere. There was a big shopping district near the hotel so we headed over there to have a wander. The shopping centre was pretty standard, but we decided what with the traffic to walk back to the hotel. I felt like we got a real taste of Jakarta then, wandering past all the street sellers and people sitting around eating exotic foods. We had the terrifying experience of trying to cross a road where there were about 6 lanes and seemingly no traffic control, but we made it back!
In the afternoon before the flight, I went and had a lovely massage at the spa in the hotel – the therapists there were so attentive and it was just what I needed to relax and recuperate before the next flight. Overall, the Shangri La was honestly such a great hotel and I would really recommend staying there if you are ever in Jakarta – though I always recommend travelling outside of rush hour! We then hiked back to the airport to wait for our next flight onto Sydney.
Garuda Indonesia Review
I wanted to make a mention of this as I hadn’t heard of Garuda when I booked the flights. I did do some googling and saw it had an awesome review and score on Skytrax but I still was unsure about what to expect! From what I read, Garuda used to be a bit of a dodgy airline, and actually couldn’t fly in Europe for awhile, but has had a huge turn around with new planes and a total rebrand to be one of Asias premium airlines.
Overall, I thought they were really pleasant to fly with – the highlight was definitely the service, the flight attendants were all really nice and so attentive – always bringing things through and constantly cleaning! They also really helped when I had a mini panic about flying to calm me down. The food was also good for an airline, with the seats being pretty standard for a economy class.
The main downsides for me were the in flight entertainment which did have some good films but definitely lacked on the TV side – I didn’t find much I wanted to watch, though they do have a big selection of Asian titles. I also wished they had the dreamliners for the long haul flights – we flew on a 777 which was fine, but I find them so much louder than the A380s and the thing I hate about flying is the noises. It also didn’t absorb the turbulence quite so well, with our first leg being reeeeally bumpy in parts, a nightmare for me.
Overall, it was definitely an experience heading to Jakarta but I probably wouldn’t recommend it as a stop over if you are flying long haul to Aus. The airport wasn’t great and I don’t think they fly direct back to London. That said, if it’s affordable then definitely give it a go or if you can stay in the city for a bit longer. I think that it’s easier if you are doing it all in one to stop in Singapore or Hong Kong as you can have a smoother transition.
Have you been to Indonesia?