Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia is a metropolitan like none other. The city is colourful and you can never run out of things to do. The one thing that cripples the city is the notorious traffic jam. When travelling in Jakarta be strategic in the route to avoid being stuck in traffic for hours. There are so many places and endless shopping mall but here is a short-listed what I think is the best of my beloved city.
1. Kota Tua
Kota Tua is a precint of Jakarta heritage sites. In the middle there is Fatahilah park surrounded by a number of museums like the must-visit history museum (Museum Sejarah) and Museum Wayang. It also has few of the hippest cafes in town Batavia Café and History Bar and Café. You can soak up the old Batavia architecture and vibe at Batavia Café.
Kota Tua is a great place to snap pictures too for photographers. Located at the centre of the city, it is close to the main train station (stasiun kota), Mangga dua shopping complex, china town and the city centre. Tips: Avoid public holidays and the weekend, it will be stuffed with people. Stay until the evening to see the many street performance and street artists in weird costumes.
Monas is the emblem of Jakarta. It used to be the highest monument in Jakarta with a flame on top that is made up of pure gold. Now it is obviously not the tallest building in Jakarta after countless sky scrapers have been built and the golden chunk of flame is no longer pure gold after so many been trying to steal/carve gold pieces from it. Nevertheless it is still a worthy destination. From the top of the monument you can see Jakarta from bird-eye view. Monas is located near other attractions like Pasar Baru, The Raguna Ice Cream, and city centre.
You can take a ride in Horse chariot in Monas. Bargain hard for best price.
Menteng is the elite suburb in Jakarta. Embassies, international coorperations and a lot of expat settles here making it a tourist friendly place. Some of the attraction in Menteng is the Tugu Kunstring Paleis Restaurant, Jalan Surabaya, Jalan Sabang, malls like the epicentrum, Kemang Village, Kuningan City and Gandaria City. It is also famous for the lapangan banteng (direct transtelated to Bull Park) an open-plan park with a lot of local food stalls.
4. Jalan Sabang
Jalan Sabang near menteng is a street full of restaurants, cafes and arcade full of local foods. One of the stop we made here is Kopi Oey, a café with a gone-by era ambience and unique food.
Giyanti Café is located in Jalan Surabaya next to Cali Deli and Madame Ching Restaurant. Cali Deli is a place that sells in my opinion the best Vietnamese baguette sandwich in Jakarta. I vote Giyanti simply the best Café in Jakarta. Other than Giyanti there are countless other awesome café and coffees all over Jakarta. Coffee lovers won’t be disappointed and don’t worry that you can’t get decent caffeine fix in Jakarta. To name a few, here are some of the cafes that I’ve tired and absolutely adores:
– Monolog in Plaza Senayan
– ABCD Coffee
– Common Grounds
– Ombe Café in Pluit
– Penny Royal in Pantai Indah Kapuk
– That’s Life Coffee
Dammm now I need a coffee!
6. Jalan Surabaya
Jalan Surabaya is an antique flea market. After or before visiting Giyanti, you can take a stroll in Jalan Surabaya and buy an antique or two. It is important to bargain hard here. This place is famous for tourist and local themselves rarely visited this area. All the vendors speaks decent English for that reason.
7. Shop at bargain centre – Mangga Dua
Mangga Dua is a shopping complex that sells cheap stuff. It has clothing, dress, household items, accessories, bags and shoes. Mangga Dua is divided into ITC (clothing and accessories), Pasar Pagi (Wholesale and raw materials for craft/sewing needs), Harco and Orion Dusit (Electronic). Other than Mangga Dua, some other really cheap places to shop in Jakarta are Pasar Baru, Pasar Senen, Tanah Abang, Pasar Pagi Asemka and Blok M. When visiting these places, wear casual comfortable clothing, don’t wear/bring eye-catching valuables and always keep an eye on them.
8. Shop at nice air-conditioned mall – Grand Indonesia
Almost the total opposite of Mangga Dua, Grand Indonesia is one of the biggest mall in Jakarta and my personal favourite. There are a lot of restaurants especially in this mall and it hosts a market event almost every weekend. Grand Indonesia is great to shop international brands. While you are there, relax at the rooftop bar SKYE by taking the elevator inside the bookshop, Gramedia. Other than Grand Indonesia some of the recommended mid-high end mall of Jakarta are Plaza Senayan, Senayan City, Pacific Place, Kuningan City, Kemang Village, Central Park, Mall Taman Anggerek, Sumarecon Mall Serpong and AEON Mall.
9. The Hermitage and other roof top bars
The executives of Jakarta work hard and play harder. Hence there are a lot of place that are build for a perfect chilling-out evening. Many roof tops in Jakarta offer great view of the city and beautiful ambience.
Senopati at South of Jakarta has some of the best fine restaurants and cafes in town. To name a few they have Pipiltin Cocoa and Cacaote for desserts and Namaaz Dining, the first gastronomy dining in Jakarta. Senopati is close to Pacific place, the SCBD Fairground and Pasar Santa that are also on this list. Another district that is increasing in popularity for its strips of good restaurants and food is Pantai Indah Kapuk in the Northern Jakarta. The both offer unique experience but they have potential to break your budget.
11. SCBD Fairgrounds – Potato Head Garage
Potato Head Garage is a restaurant/bar turns club sometimes with one-of a kind interior. With a high ceiling and open space, the place is decorated with many beautiful sparkling chandeliers from the ceiling giving it a romantic and luxurious ambience. Within this fairground you can find other hang out place like Lucy in the Sky, Blumchen Coffee and more.
12. Pasar Santa
Pasar Santa is reasonably new joint of market stalls, food and indie labels run by youngster or young at heart in Pasar Santa, Kebayoran Baru. It is located near Senopati. What was use to be the upper floor of empty traditional market has been transformed into one of the hippest place to hang in town. This collective booth shows the creative spirit and entrepreneurships of young Indonesians.
13. The Popping up Events
This past few years there is a major boom in food festivals and tending markets. Food trucks is abundant and young people endlessly comes up with highly innovative products, food and they all compete to come out with the most unique and distinctive packaging and visual of the food. The more instagram-worthy a food, the more people go ga-ga over it. There is always an event somewhere on the weekend or even weekdays. There have been rise in food blogger as well. EatandTreat and anakjajan are the unbeatable tops of food bloggers in Jakarta and they always post events on their instagram. Other than this market, Jakarta has a lot of fairs, expos and events. Things like book fair, food fair, industry fair, craft fair, there are countless others happening at different time of the year.
14. Pampering Time
If you go to Bali very often you knows that Indonesia is good at pampering you but Jakarta price is not as high Bali. Things like massage are as low as $4 for one and a half hour during happy hours. And the place is really decent with great ambience and privacy. Spa, facial, massage, manicure, pedicure, hair treatment, hair spa, hair blow drying, nail art are all really awesome things to do in Jakarta with fraction of the price you’ll have to pay elsewhere.
15. Watch movie
Watching movie, what? Watching movie in Jakarta is so cheap especially on a Tuesday. Different place has different rate but it can be as low as $2, so why not!? Best of all, the premiere experience is as low as $5 on a weekday and $10 all other times. Watch something in the premiere cinema at the cinema 21. With individual blanked, ultra comfy adjustable chair and royalty treatment for just $5 I’d say go for it.
16. Taman Mini Indonesia Indah
Taman Mini Indonesia Indah is a miniature park of everything that sums up Indonesia. It was build by the second lady of Indonesia many years ago and remains an authentic travel destination for tourist and school field trip to learn about Indonesia. The location itself is rather far from the city centre and almost at the outskirt of Jakarta.
Puncak means peak and to visit will require at least a day trip from Jakarta. A lot of people come here for a short getaway and stay overnight. In Puncak the air is cooler and so much fresher. There are a lot of restaurant that over great views. You can visit the chocomory, Cisarua Mountain, and one of the highlight for me is the safari adventure where you remain in the car and many animals will come approaching for up-close and personal experience.
18. Ancol Dreamland
Ancol is the themepark in Jakarta. It has beach (not recommended), art market, SeaWorld, and an amusement park. One of the things I like most about this place is the outdoor seafood restaurant, Bandar Jakarta.
19. Kepulauan Seribu
From ancol you can catch a ferry direct to the thousand islands, the closest cluster of islands to Jakarta. Kepulauan Seribu translates to a thousand Islands. Just outside Jakarta there are so many islands within reach from Ancol as short as one hour by ferry. Make sure you make pre-arrangement. There are a lot of islands but some are more popular and tourist friendly than others. Some of the more popular island in Kepulauan Seribu are Tidung Island, Ayer Island, Pramuka Island, Bidadari Island, and Umang Island.
Jakarta is a food heaven; there are so many restaurants it is hard to attempt what are recommended. What I can tell you are the local food that we always eat in Jakarta.
Soto – Soto is broth or soup that has many varieties. It can be soto betawi, a coconut soup with meat and other filling, soto ayam (Chicken), soto ayam ambengan, soto padang and the list goes on.
Bakso – Bakso is a smooth grey colour meatball (made up of beef) served in a clear broth and usually served with egg noodles, flat rice noodle or rice vermicelli. Places that are good for bakso that I know: Bakso Lapangan Tembak, Bakso Lestari and Bakso Akiaw.
Gado-gado – Gado-Gado is basically a salad of boiled vegetables, egg and tofu mixed with sweet peanut sauce.
Martabak – Martabak is the ultimate dessert in Jakarta. Now there has been revamp with so many various topping and even a red velvet martabak but nothing beats the traditional good old chocolate and crushed peanuts martabak.
Sate – Satay is meat on bamboo skewer cooked on the coal and served with pickles and peanut sauce.
Bakmi – There are countless bakmi in Jakarta. Bakmi is the ultimate comfort food. We eat it for anytime of the day, breakfast, lunch or dinner bakmi is never a bad idea. Some of my favourite bakmi are bakmi permata (Grand Indonesia), bakmi kepiting siantar, bakmi abadi (Pluit), bakmi Akong (Pluit), bakmi Aloi (Pantai Indah Kapuk) and Bakmi Alok (Greenville).
Nasi Uduk – Nasi uduk is a serve of rice with other dish that you choose like chicken, fried egg, fried chicken etc. Usually this are sold in traditional market and eaten for breakfast.
Nasi Padang – Nasi Padang is a combination of rice and a lot of side dish cooked in Padang Style. Some of the most famous ones are beef rendang, chicken cury, egg balado, fried chicken, pop chicken, sheep brain curry, beef tendons, cassava leaves and others. This concept of padang food is unique. They have cooked all of the food and will serve it in small portion and spread it all in front of you. You pick what you want to eat and will pay for it. A lot of people are scared to try Padang Food because of food safety concerns. Tips: Go to ones that are full packed and popular or bonafide so you know that the food is fresh.
In Jakarta there is as much international food available as well local cuisine. Basically people of Jakarta loves to eat and there is never ending food and newly opened place to try.
My personal favourite restaurants:
- Fresh Market Pantai Indah Kapuk (only open at night, come for dinner) – You can try the soto bang Mamat here which are excellent, try some local desserts and kway teow Bagan – my other favourite thing to eat in Jakarta.Address: Pantai Indah Kapuk, Penjaringan, Kota Jkt Utara, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 14470, Indonesia
- Aroma Seafood – A seafood restaurant in Muara Karang serving fresh seafood.Address: Jalan Muara Karang Blok Z3 Timur no 7, Jakarta Utara, Jakarta, Indonesia
- Bakso AkiawAddress: Jalan Mangga Besar Raya No. 2B, Kec. Tamansari, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 11160, Indonesia
- Bornga –It is a Korean Restaurant that has YuSangyup that I love so much that every visit to Jakarta it’s a mandatory visit to Bornga.Address: Ruko Crown Golf Blok D No. 53-55, Jl. Marina Indah Raya, Pantai Indah Kapuk, Jakarta Utara, DKI Jakarta, Indonesia
- Branch 1: Jalan Bulungan No.14, Kebayoran Baru, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 12130, Indonesia
- Branch 2: Jl. Wolter Monginsidi No.29, Kby. Baru, Kota Jakarta Selatan, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 12180, Indonesia
- Branch 3: Jalan Raya Boulevard Barat Blok LC6 No. 56-57, Kelapa Gading, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 14240, Indonesia
- Warung Tekko -A restaurant specialised in beef ribs and other local yummy dishes. It has now since opened a lot of branches all over Jakarta. For location nearest you check here.
- Angke Restaurant for Chinese food –This restaurant serves the most generous portion and best chinese hakka food. They have now open branches but I still love the original best. Their signature dish is the fried noodle and eels cooks with Yumak green vege.
Branch 1: Komplek Ketapang Indah
Jl. KH. Zainul Arifin , Gajah Mada – Jakarta Pusat
Branch 2: JL Raya Boulevard Barat, Kelapa Gading Square, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 14240, Indonesia
- Sop Buntut in Hotel Borobudur –
Oxtails soup is originally a peasant food that are commonly sold on the street side but the oxtail soup in 5 star hotel Borobudur has been increasing in popularity and deemed the best oxtail soup. Try it for yourself at Hotel Borobudur. 5 Star Hotel overpriced oxtail soup versus Road Side Oxtail soup which of the two reigns supreme.
Address: Jl. Lapangan Banteng Selatan No.1, Sawah Besar, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10710, Indonesia
There are so many different types of public transport in Jakarta but I recommend having a private car with driver. If that’s not convenient taxi is a good way to get around in Jakarta. The most recommended taxi is blue bird. They are so efficient they will come to you upon calling them on (021)791711234 within minutes; they are also reasonably priced.
If you are not a nature person and just like to shop, Jakarta will be perfect for you. With countless shopping malls and bargain shopping, you won’t run out of places to shop.
I personally recommend new budget hotels like holiday inn express as they are excellent and reasonably priced. If you would like something cheaper for group, you can rent an apartment that joint to shopping mall. Don’t think a luxury apartment but with the same price to hotel you get a whole apartment that can sleep up to 5.
When to go
Jakarta is a good place to visit all year around as there is no extreme weather fluctuation. Jakarta is wettest at the end and start of the year so watch out for potential flooding. Flood mostly occurs around November to February but only rarely. Other than that, I personally love Jakarta during Idul Fitri as everybody went back to their hometown to celebrate the Muslim New Year, Jakarta has become quieter and there’s no traffic jam for like a few days.
I hope this guide outlines and gives you some idea about Jakarta and help you make the most of your visit. If you have any other recommendation about Jakarta, I’d love to hear it!