Welcome to Jakarta
One of the world’s greatest megalopolises, Jakarta is a dynamic city of daunting extremes with surreal juxtapositions on every street corner.
An organism unto itself, Jakarta is a town in the midst of a very public metamorphosis and, despite the maddening traffic, life here is lived at an all-out pace, driven by an industriousness and optimism that's palpable. Dysfunction be damned. It's developing at a pace that throws up challenges. Translation: it's no oil painting, yet beneath the unappealing facade of new build high-rises, relentless concrete and gridlocked streets, fringed with rickety slums and shrouded in a persistent blanket of smog, Jakarta has many faces and plenty of surprises. Its citizens – even the poorest among them – are remarkably good-natured and positive, and compared to many of the world’s capitals, crime levels are low.
City of Contrasts
From the steamy, richly scented streets of Chinatown and Glodok to Kota’s vestiges of a colonial past, the old city is filled with unexpected corners. Newer areas like Merdeka Square are where Indonesia presents the face it wants the world to see: bold and confident. Further south the city’s contrasts are on full display with luxurious mega-developments plopped next to some of Asia’s most humble neighbourhoods. Across the city it’s possible to rub shoulders with Indonesia’s future leaders, artists, thinkers, movers and shakers in a bohemian cafe or a sleek lounge bar and then go clubbing till dawn and beyond, the sober desires of current lawmakers notwithstanding.
In Jakarta, you can find all of Indonesia. It’s not just that people pour in from all corners looking for a better life (as they’ve done for centuries), it’s that they bring along their own cultures, beliefs and desires from the nation’s 17,000 islands. The result is a wonderful melange. Walk down an alley with food stalls and you’ll find a huge diversity of flavours. Who knew chicken could be cooked in so many ways? Produce and goods pour in from all over and can be found being sold from simple shops and street corners around the clock.
Temptation & Allure
Jakarta is where Indonesia puts on its best face. It has the country’s top museums, the greatest diversity of restaurants and public spaces in countless shopping malls that rival anything in Singapore or Bangkok. You can stroll the grand boulevard of Jl Thamrin when its closed to vehicles on Sunday mornings and marvel at all that’s been built. And even if religious pressure has dimmed Jakarta’s reputation as a place to party beyond bounds, it is still a city where people enjoy long nights in lounges and clubs or linger with gatherings of friends.
Top experiences in Jakarta
Food and drink
Kunstkring Paleis in Cikini & MentengIndonesian
Nusa in South JakartaIndonesian
Jalan Kampung Lima Food Stalls in Jalan Jaksa AreaIndonesian
Mamma Rosy in South JakartaItalian
Lenggang Jakarta in Merdeka Square & Central JakartaIndonesian
Pantjoran Tea House in Kota & GlodokCafe
Historia in Kota & GlodokIndonesian
Por Que No in Cikini & MentengTapas
Warung Ngalam in Jalan Jaksa AreaIndonesian
Tjikini in Cikini & MentengIndonesian