The Big Durian: a bustling megacity with 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 – for its many shopping malls, 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 hot Kemang, home to an array of bars, cafés and restaurants, some with live music or resident DJs.

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Things to do

  • Eat of the moment

    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.

  • Small fortune

    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

    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.

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Airport information

Soekarno–Hatta International Airport  opens in new window(CGK)

Distance to city centre 35km

Taxi A taxi into central Jakarta can take anything from 1 to 2 hours depending on traffic. It costs around IDR 150,000-200,000 – book through the official taxi desks.

Bus The Damri airport bus goes to Gambir Station in central Jakarta. It costs IDR 40,000; it can take 1 to 2 hours depending on traffic. 

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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, adding to the constant traffic chaos.

The Java Jazz Festival opens in new window is held over three days every March. The annual Djakarta Warehouse Project opens in new window(DWP) rave party takes place every December, usually at around the same time as Singapore’s famed ZoukOut beach party.

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Getting around

Transjakarta bus opens in new window is a convenient way to get around, with buses operating on fixed routes throughout the city. Metered taxis can be flagged down just about anywhere. Choose the reliable Blue Bird opens in new window brand, and be wary of drivers who offer a fixed price as this is not a common practice. 

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