In Indonesia, school is compulsory for a total of nine years. Some children start attending playgroup at the age of two, while others go to kindergarten once they turn four. However, early childhood education is completely optional. Compulsory education includes six years of primary school, followed by another three years of secondary schooling.
After graduating from middle school, children must choose whether or not they would like to continue their education or start working. It is important to note that there are two different types of senior high schools (ages 15 to 18): the SMA (Sekolah Menengah Atas) prepares students for university, while the SMK (Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan) prepares them for the workplace, i.e. acts as vocational training.
Expats with children will be pleased to discover that Jakarta has a number of international schools available as well. For instance, there are schools catering to the American, Australian, British, French, German, Indian, Japanese, Korean, New Zealand, Russian, and Singaporean expat communities specifically.
Institutions like the Jakarta International School provide the International Baccalaureate program as well as other college prep courses. However, tuition at such private schools is pricier than a public education in Jakarta. Many international schools are also located in the outer suburbs of Jakarta, which, depending on which neighborhood you live in, may cost your child a daily commute of several hours.
Due to its location, Jakarta is an ideal spot for taking weekend trips. If you have a car — which may be a worthwhile investment considering the difficulties of public transportation — you can simply drive out of the city and head to a nice secluded beach or hike along the rice paddies and visit one of the numerous temples scattered throughout Indonesia.
Within its city walls, Jakarta has several performing arts centers featuring traditional Indonesian dance and music shows. There are also several arts and culture festivals which are internationally renowned, such as the Jakarta International Film Festival or the Jakarta International Jazz Festival. In fact, Indonesia as a whole is a very festival-intense country, hosting traditional festivities almost every month.
For the intellectuals among you, Jakarta also has a number of museums. They are located around the Jakarta Old Town and the Merdeka Square area. If instead you prefer leisure activities such as shopping, mini golfing, or ice skating, the Taman Anggrek Mall in West Jakarta is the place to go!
For regularly updated info on all things related to leisure time in Jakarta — from history and culture to the latest hip night spots and shopping malls — we can wholeheartedly recommend publications like the bi-weekly Indonesia Expat. The magazine is a highly useful as well as entertaining resource catering directly to expats. Featuring a wealth of different article series, reviews and leisure time tips which aim to open up expats’ eyes to the hidden gems of Indonesia, both seasoned expatriates as well as newcomers can definitely find something in every issue!
Foreign nationals are required to have a valid visa when entering Indonesia for non-tourist stays. There are several visas which can be applied for, depending on the purpose of your visit. First and foremost, it is important that you have a valid passport and have several passport photos taken for your visa application. It is best to either contact the nearest Indonesian embassy or consulate directly, or to visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Indonesia in order to receive up-to-date and more elaborate information.
Please also read our guides on moving to Indonesia and living in Indonesia to learn more about the various visa categories aimed at tourists, business travelers, and expatriates. Regardless of which visa you will be applying for, be sure to do so well in advance of your intended departure date, as you may have to collect a lot of paperwork and the application process can take longer than expected.
We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.