One of the world’s greatest megalopolises, Jakarta is a dynamic city of daunting extremes that's developing at a pace that throws up challenges and surreal juxtapositions on every street corner.
The city is certainly no oil painting, yet beneath the unappealing facade of high-rises, relentless concrete and gridlocked streets, Jakarta has many faces and plenty of surprises. Its citizens are remarkably good-natured, optimistic and positive, and compared to many of the world’s capitals, crime levels are very low.
From the steamy, richly scented streets of Chinatown to North Jakarta's riotous, decadent nightlife, the city is filled with unexpected corners. Here it’s possible to rub shoulders with Indonesia’s future leaders, artists, thinkers and movers and shakers in a bohemian cafe or a sleek lounge bar and then go clubbing till dawn (and beyond).
Jakarta certainly isn’t a primary tourist destination, but parts of the atmospheric old city (Kota) offer an interesting insight into the capital’s long history. There are a handful of good museums and dozens of swanky shopping malls.
A city in the fast lane, life is lived here at a headlong pace, driven by a surging economy and an industriousness and optimism that's palpable.
Best places to stay in Jakarta
Indonesia shopping tips
A Thorn Tree member asked on the South-East Asia branch: What are the best things to buy in Indonesia, and what is the shopping etiquette?Here is nasuhime's excellent reply: What is the proper/polite way to bargain in Indonesia? Smile, smile, and smile. And bargain for only what you really want to buy.
Jakarta destination guides
World's worst sleepless nights
Travellers learn to grab forty winks in some pretty taxing situations: overnight bus trips, hostel rooms of 15 snorers, humid places with no air-con. But some nights test even the most hardened sleeper.
Jakarta to Ubud
Don’t be fooled into thinking Indonesia is ‘just another island getaway’, because the scale of experiences you’ll have in this magical country are truly epic. Miles of empty beaches, steamy verdant rainforests, volcano studded valleys, culture rich cities, ancient temples - and that’s just the places they tell you about.
Bangkok to Bali on a Shoestring
Slurp down rice noodles under the streetlights of Bangkok and wander the paddies and temples of Java—this epic adventure covers the best of Southeast Asia. Party in chaotic Bangkok, bliss out on stunning beaches and gaze out across the ‘sea of sand’ from Mt Bromo’s summit at sunrise.