Welcome to Jakarta, Indonesia!
Located on the island of Java, Jakarta is the center of all things Indonesia. The politics, economics, and culture of Indonesia are all a part of this mega city’s charm. Jakarta is a melting pot for people as well. The city is huge and is home to over ten million people, including Chinese, Malay, and Sudanese people, and more arrive every day at Jakarta Airport.
Nicknamed the “big durian” after the pungent fruit, the city of Jakarta (like the fruit) may seem a little overbearing at first. Once you get used to it, you’ll discover Jakarta has so much to experience that it’s impossible to see it all. Luckily, this guide will help you get started on your journey in Jakarta.
Get Started with a Dive into Jakarta’s History
A worldwide local knows that paying attention to local history is important when exploring a new city. Jakarta is full of history with people populating the area since at least the 5th century B.C.E. Jakarta also has a colonial past. It was a Dutch colony for 320 years until 1942 when it fell to the Japanese, who then occupied it until the end of WWII. The 433 foot Monas monument was built as a symbol of the country’s independence. It’s located in Merdeka Square in Central Jakarta and can provide guests with an overview of the country’s tumultuous past.
Worldwide Local Tip: When visiting the Monas monument, you can pay an extra fee and take an elevator ride to the top of the tower, where you’ll be greeted with an amazing view of the city from high up. Don’t forget your camera!
Eat Like a Local in Jakarta
A worldwide local will try the local cuisine, as Jakarta is a foodie paradise. There are street vendors all over the city, not to mention hundreds of restaurants and complexes, all serving amazing food. Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Malay, and of course, Indonesian cuisine can be found all throughout the city. Due to the city’s cosmopolitan nature, you can find food to satisfy any craving.
Worldwide Local Tip: Every region of Jakarta has its own specialty street food. Chinatown and Old Town probably has the highest concentration of street food vendors, but you can imitate a member of the Jakarta population by hopping around town to try out each district’s famous food stalls and shops.
Shopping in Jakarta
Now that you’ve gotten some of the best views of the city and eaten some of its tastiest food, it’s time to do a little shopping. Shopping is a local pastime because Jakarta simply has so many places to go, but as a worldwide local, you probably don’t want to spend most of your time in a mall. Head to Mentang and check out the Jalan Surabaya Flea Market for some unique items. Jalan Surabaya is full of crafts, jewelry, food, textiles, and just about anything else you can imagine. The market is less than a half mile long and has been around since the 1970s. The locals go here--and you should too!
Worldwide Local Tip: Bargaining is a way of life here. Don’t be afraid to haggle and try to negotiate a better price while you’re at the flea market. Just don’t try that at your hotel--Jakarta managers won’t appreciate it!
Soak Up the Sun at Jakarta’s Beaches
You might not think that a large city like Jakarta would have a beach, but you’d be wrong. The Jakarta weather is lovely and hot, and in the summer months, locals head to the beach to cool off. The Ancol Beach is a large stretch of sandy beach that goes along the seafront and is open to the public for a small fee to access the facilities.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you’re not into swimming in the sea, then there are other options available here, as well. There are pools to cool off in, Sea World, and a water park, on site. You can always rent a lounger and snooze on the sand while you listen to the sounds of the water.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Jakarta is a melting pot of many things all blended together into something unique and fun. Jakarta may be big, but a worldwide local knows what it takes to dig through the excess and find the best of a city.