I’m Jakarta born-and-raised, so let me show you my city. I love Jakarta, the massive capital of Indonesia, its good and its bad, its beauties and its, ahem, less-than-classy points. For any tourist visiting South East Asia, this is a city that’s not to be overlooked; constantly moving (except, perhaps, the traffic!) give Jakarta a chance and you might just surprise yourself. Here’s my list of top things to do when you visit us…
Immerse Yourself In History
Jakarta has a long history of being colonised, most notably by the Dutch. The result is a rich history to explore and discover across Jakarta with plenty of national sites and museums. Don’t miss the downtown area, referred to as Old Town or “Kota Tua”. The neighbourhood structure is based on the 17th century Dutch style, reminding the locals of their heritage but also doing wonders for your Instagram likes! The iconic structure of the national monument to independence, Monas, is situated in the beautiful Merdeka Square, and it also has an observation deck open to visitors with views across the city.
Go Island Hopping
Indonesia does islands in a big way. The archipelago country (quick geography lesson: means it has lots and lots of islands (18,307 to be precise) that constitute the whole of Indonesia), while Jakarta itself has a thousand of them. The islands are the perfect escape from the urban scene, with open skies, clear blue seas, and soft sands. It’s paradise for stressed and busy city-dwellers in need of a well-deserved break. Tiger Island, known as Pulau Macan, is one of the islands most often visited by Jakartans: so grab a snorkel and dive into the fun.
Taste Indonesian Food
Indonesian cuisine may not be as famous as Chinese or Indian, but expect flavour and texture with every mouthful. Food is always on hand, with street vendors everywhere around Jakarta, and you’re bound to find many selling a fried rice called “Nasi Goreng”. This is basically a national dish, and while it might sound generic I promise you won’t have tasted anything like this. Also get your hands on some chicken satay to go along with it (we call it “Sate Ayam”), grilled on charcoal and usually served in peanut sauce; it’s divine.
Jakarta has so many shopping malls! I’m guilty of always going out to different one each time so take your pick, there’s a very long list, but it’s where I socialise. The shopping is great, the centre and south of the city play host to malls like Grand Indonesia, Plaza Senayan and the Pondok Indah Mall and it’s not just about consumerism. This is where regular Jakartans come to hang out, so you’ll see families, teens and couples in any number of Jakarta’s malls.
Hit The Clubs
Jakarta’s vibrant nightlife is continuously developing with many of the best clubs found in the central business district. Beer Hall, in a warehouse-inspired building, provides a dark and classy atmosphere of dark ambiance and chill music to unwind after work. And if that’s not enough, cross over to one of the many impressive mega-clubs, like Empirica Club, Colosseum or Fable.
Grab A Cuppa
In Indonesia, we know coffee. This commodity is one of our biggest exports and we make a pretty mean cup ourselves. A coffee shop that’s really taking off is Anomali. Found in Jakarta and Bali, Anomali promotes local coffee beans and guarantee a rich taste that’s impressing coffee professionals and lovers throughout the city. Don’t miss it, and if you needed any more urging then my mother swears by it.
Lie Back In Luxury
Set in the heart of the city, this 5-star hotel will provide you the fullest of amenities and services to your satisfaction. The Keraton is designed in an Indonesian-style that will give you a glimpse of the local culture. This strategic location places you right smack in the middle, and luckily right next to one of the big malls, Plaza Indonesia. So not only will shopping be a hop away, but it’s an area big enough for you to explore to get to know the city right away.
Eat, Drink And Be Merry
Jakarta is a city inhabited by 10 million people, who all need somewhere to meet, eat, drink and socialise. In the evenings Jakartans swap the malls for the bars and restaurants as they head to any number of really chill places to hang out until late o’clock. A popular dining spot, Loewy, is a 1940s-style Paris bistro with amazing food and cocktails while my personal favourite, speakeasy Prohibition transports you to 1920s America at the height of prohibition and hot jazz entered through a secret back door. Cloud Lounge, feeling the most exclusive, is a rooftop bar on the 49th floor of The Plaza Office Tower with an almost 360 degree view of the capital.
Park Run may be all the rage in the UK, and the congestion zone has helped reduce London’s emissions, but Jakarta takes both these ideas and merges them in the form of a weekly run as Jakarta’s main thoroughfares of Jalan Sudirman and Jalan Thamrin go car-free every Sunday from 6am-11am. The three kilometre run is immensely popular and you’ll often see communities and families gathering and running together. It’s also a relief to enjoy the capital’s usually congested streets.
Check Out Our Culture
Jakarta holds dear to its traditions and roots, no matter how developed the city gets and the perfect place to learn about Indonesia’s history and culture is the huge park dedicated to Indonesia’s heritage in the form of various themed pavilions. Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, or “Beautiful Indonesia’s Miniature Park”, has gathered landmarks from all over Indonesia in smaller scales that are spread across the park. From one end to the other, you’ll experience culture faster than you can imagine.