The bustling megacity known as the Big Durian is the nation’s commercial centre and the place to go for tasty eats and a party atmosphere
The world’s second largest metropolis, Jakarta is Indonesia’s capital and the axis on which the national economy turns. Every day, the population nearly doubles as millions of people commute from surrounding areas into the city to work. As a result, Jakarta is notorious for its heavy traffic but it has such a colourful dynamic that no one should let the city’s infamous traffic jams stop them from visiting. Check out the “Golden Triangle”– Sudirman, Kuningan and Thamrin – to browse the many shopping malls here, all of which stock the same international brands you’d find in nearby Singapore. Head to Kelapa Gading to find culinary specialities from across Indonesia. And don’t miss the chance to enjoy a drink or two in Kemang, home to an array of bars, cafés and restaurants, some with live music or resident DJs.
Things to do
Eat of the moment
The Kelapa Gading area in North Jakarta is the city’s restaurant central. Here you’ll find delicious eats from all corners of Indonesia. Be sure to try the pempek kapal selam (submarine fishcake with egg) served with vinegar sauce at Pempek 161 opens in new window on the main road.
Join the club
Any visit to Jakarta is incomplete without a night or two of clubbing. Well known throughout the region as a party capital, Jakarta is the place to put on your dancing shoes and shake it ’til dawn. Head to X2 opens in new window at Plaza Senayan, Dragonfly opens in new windowon Jln Gatot Subroto or SHY rooftop in Kemang and stay into the wee hours.
Plenty in store
Pick and choose from the many shopping malls spread across Jakarta, especially those in Jakarta’s Golden Triangle. Covering a staggering 640,000 square kilometres, Grand Indonesia Shopping Town in Thamrin is home to many international brand shops, including H&M’s flagship store, the biggest in Southeast Asia.
Gain some insight into the nation’s cultural diversity by visiting Taman Mini Indonesia Indah opens in new window, or Beautiful Miniature Indonesia Park, home to traditional garb and homes from each of Indonesia’s 33 provinces. Jump on the Sky Lift and see the main lake with its faux islands in the shape of the Indonesian archipelago.
The old guard
Get a sense of old-time Jakarta by visiting the Kota Tua, or Old Town, area. Check out Fatahillah Museum opens in new window aka the Jakarta History Museum to learn about local history, then explore the surrounding area on foot to admire the well-preserved old buildings. Finally, hop on a rickshaw or bajaj for the trip to Sunda Kelapa port, where you’ll find the old Phinisi boats once used by fishermen and merchants.
Travel time 45 minutes
Taxi Approx IDR100,000-200,000
Bus IDR30,000, journey takes about 70 minutes
Private care hire with driver costs IDR180,000-500,000Back to top
When to go
It’s sunny in Jakarta nearly all year round, which makes it pleasant to be outdoors and even more pleasant to be in the air-conditioned comfort of the nearest building or shopping mall. During the wet season from October to March, it typically rains for a few hours on any given day, which only adds to the traffic chaos.
The Java Jazz Festival is held over three days every March. The annual Djakarta Warehouse Project (DWP) rave party takes place every December, usually at around the same time as Singapore’s famed ZoukOut beach party.Back to top
Metered taxis can be flagged down just about anywhere. Be wary of drivers who offer a fixed price as this is not a common practice. Choose Blue Bird or Silver Bird taxis whenever possible. You can also book a taxi by phone. Transjakarta bus is another convenient way to get around as buses operate on fixed routes throughout the capital.Back to top