Jakarta Travel Guide

yohanes budiyanto

Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia is very much like its namesake, the Big Durian. At first glance, this overcrowded city is full of thorns – traffic jams, smoggy hot air, dirty slums and much more. But once you pry it open, the soul of Jakarta shines through: an immediate turn off to some but impossibly alluring to others. Just like the durian.

This is a city of contrast and contradiction – on one side you have luxurious malls, towering skyscrapers and gourmet treats, while on the other side you have children sleeping on the streets, constant flooding and overcrowded slums.

Tourists rarely pay any attention to Jakarta, but those who do will find a mega-city filled with vibrant culture, where people of all ages and class come together to pursue their dream of a better living. For history buffs, parts of Jakarta's Old City (Kota Tua) offer interesting insights into the long 350 years period of Dutch colonialism. Jakarta was previously known as Batavia, during which it became a major port of trade and a city of cultural exchange. Much of this history is still evident in the various colonialism-inspired heritage buildings around the Old City (Kota Tua) area, such as the Fatahillah Museum, National Museum and Jakarta Museum of History.

Jakarta is also home to some of the best gourmet treats in the country. With the influx of Indonesians from other parts of the archipelago, their varied traditions and cultures have become embedded into city's very own fabric. Here, you can find a wide variety of Indonesian food – spicy Padang and Ambon food, tasty Soto Kudus, Peranakan-influenced cuisines from Pontianak, Medan and Bangka, grilled seafood, and more; this is truly the capital of Indonesian gourmet. Try TeSaTe for an eclectic interpretation of traditional Indonesian cuisine, while Rustic and Immigrant serves some of the best steak in town.

For those travelling with kids, the Ancol Dreamland area, a family friendly resort area can be found in North Jakarta. The area is home to a theme park (Dunia Fantasi), a water park (Atlantis Water Adventure), an oceanarium (SeaWorld), a 4D theater (Ocean Dream Samudra) as well as an Art Market for handicrafts and art products. This area can easily fill your itinerary for a whole day or two, but be warned that they will be very crowded during the weekend.

Finally, party lovers will find Jakarta a happening place, with plenty of venues catering to a wide range of revelers. The Kemang area, in South Jakarta, is popular with expatriates. Here, you will find rows and rows of speakeasy bars, eclectic lounges and hip nightclubs plying their trade. Nearer to the city center, the Menteng area in Central Jakarta is home to Social House, the current flavor of the town. You can also find other local favorites around the area such as X2, BlowFish and DragonFly, as well as the only Asian branch of the famed Buddha Bar. These establishments are trendy and lush, catering to the high-end market of Jakarta. Not far from Menteng, is the Kota area, where plenty more nightclubs ply their trade. This area however, caters more towards the lower end of the market.

Where to Go in Jakarta

TOP PICKS BY OUR LOCAL EXPERTS

Ambassador Mall

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Professor Dr. Satrio Street
Karet Semanggi

Enjoy the Luxurious Atmosphere

Pastis

Jl Setiabudi Barat Kuningan

Italian Restaurant in Setiabudi

Daily Bread

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Jalan Metro Pondok Indah
Pondok Indah Mall

After-shopping Tea in Delight

Jakarta Blog Posts

UPDATES FROM OUR TRAVEL TEAM

Luxury Living: The Grand Hyatt
If you’re looking to treat yourself why not head to the Grand Hyatt. The hotel is in the heart of the business district and next to Plaza Indonesia. It boasts over 450 rooms and suites and is one of the largest luxury hotels in Jakarta.  Read more

One Night in Jakarta
If you’re short on time in Jakarta here are some suggestions to make the most of the night. Before heading out on any night out in Jakarta you might want to make the decision to stay put in one area all evening. Traffic on a Friday and Saturday night is far worse than normal (and that’s bad)... Read more

Learn To Cook - Indonesian Style
Why not try something completely different next time you visit Jakarta? Instead of eating out – eat in. There are a few cooking courses offered in the city and what better way to keep your holiday fresh in your mind when you get back home?  Read more


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