Jakarta is the capital city of the Republic of Indonesia. Jakarta is a huge, sprawling metropolis, home to over 10 million people with diverse ethnic group background from all over Indonesia. During the day, the number increases with commuters making their way to work in the city and flock out again in the evenings.Located on the northern coast of Java, the province of Jakarta has rapidly expanded through the years, absorbing many villages in the process.
As capital city of a Indonesia, Jakarta is not only the seat of the national government and the provincial government, this city is also Indonesia’s political center. Moreover, Jakarta is also the center and hub of Indonesia’s national finance and trade. It is no wonder, therefore that you will find Jakarta an ever dynamic city, a city that never sleeps.
Places to Visit
National Museum of Indonesia
Located just to the west side of Merdeka Square is the National Museum. The museum houses a great collection of Archaeology and Ethnography collections from around Indonesia. If you enjoyed walking visiting museums, it’s a good place go when you’re in Jakarta.
The Grand Istiqlal Mosque
First opened to the public by Indonesia’s first President, Soekarno, on 22 February 1978, the grand Istiqlal Mosque of Jakarta is the largest mosque in South East Asia both in structure and capacity, as it can accommodate congregations of up to 120,000 people. Located at Jalan Taman Wijaya Kusuma in Central Jakarta, on the north eastern corner of the Merdeka Square, the Istiqlal Mosque stands out with its 45m diameter dome and tall minarets. Standing almost right across the old Catholic Church at the corner of Jalan Lapangan Banteng, the Istiqlal mosque was designed in 1954 by Frederich Silaban, a Christian architect from North Sumatra. The idea for the need of a national mosque was inspired by Muslim leader KH Wahid Hashim and executed by Cokro Aminoto, then minister for religious affairs. Istiqlal meaning ‘Independence’, is a reminder of Indonesia’s struggle for national Independence. Its 17 years construction was personally supervised by President Soekarno.
Taman Mini Indonesia Indah
Popularly known as Taman Mini, it is located in East Jakarta, and consist of 26 exclusive replicas of traditional houses of chieftains found throughout the Indonesian archipelago from Aceh to Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Java and Papua. These are pavilions displaying the history, arts and crafts and traditions of each of the provinces. Built for education and family fun, Taman Miini has large areas for family recreation, a number of flora and fauna parks, various museums, performing theatres, an Imax theatre and accommodation facilities. Here visitors can at a glance view the exceptional breadth and full range of regional architecture in the Indonesian archipelago, where pavilion presents at least three typical examples of each regional style.
The Park has as chief mission the preservation and development of the various Indonesian cultures as a media to strengthen the nation’s unity and integrity and to in still these values especially in the young generation. To further express Indonesia’s tolerance and peaceful coexistence among the different religions in the archipelago here stand in a row the different houses of worship that are still actively used. Taman Mini is a good introduction to what Indonesia has to offer in diversity and culture. During weekends and holidays Taman Mini is an ideal theme park for families to become more acquainted with other regional cultures. Taman Mini has various types of transportation to take you through and around these extensive grounds. They include the Aeromovel fast train, a Sky lift, and shuttle buses.
The National Monument
The main Sudirman-Thamrin avenues in Jakarta lead to the Merdeka Square, where in its center stands the National Monument (also known as Monas or Monumen Nasional) which houses the first red-and-white flag flown at the Proclamation of Independence on 17 August 1945. This flag has now become threadbare, and so nowadays on Independence Day ceremonies, the original flag is taken out but only to accompany the replica flag to be flown in front of the Merdeka Palace. The 137 meter tall National Monument is obelisk shaped, and is topped with a 14.5 meter bronze flame coated with 32 kilograms gold leaf.
Today especially on weekends and public holidays, Kota Tua - or Old Batavia - draws large crowds, who take leisurely strolls or play at the plaza, admire the artifacts in the manyMuseums found here, or enthusiastically ride bikes to go cycling around this huge historic area.
Jakarta Street Food Scene
Never miss trying Jakarta’s incredible street foods for your crazy culinary adventure. Jakarta always captures foodies’ attention to experiment with varied tastes. The melting pot capital is where the most colorful blend of delicacies originated. The Chinese, Malay and Sundanese influences on Betawi dishes are very strong (Betawi refers to “Batavia,” the Dutch name of old Jakarta). You can find street food stands and vendors almost in every corner of this congested city. Here in Jakarta, you can find almost all of popular dishes in Indonesia.
Are you a vegetarian? Try the typical Betawi dish called Ketoprak. You will be excited to delight in its peanuty, spicy and sweet flavor. This legendary street food is made of fried tofu chunks, lontong (Indonesian compressed rice cake), rice vermicelli, sliced cabbage, bean sprout and boiled egg. They are served with peanut dressing, fried shallots, rice crackers and spicy sambal.
KERAK TELOR (EGG CRUST)
An egg crust, or as the locals call it, kerak telor, is a unique Betawi dish to try. The omelet-looking street food is made of a combination of egg and glutinous rice, slowly cooked on hot charcoal. It’s served with dried shrimp, crunchy fried shallot, and fried shredded coconut (serundeng). Kerak telor is regarded as the city’s cultural heritage.
SOTO BETAWI (JAKARTA BEEF SOUP)
Soto Betawi is a spicy soupy dish highly recommended when you visit Jakarta. Unlike other soto dishes commonly having clear broth, soto Betawi is very thick. It comprises of coconut milk, beef, and some aromatic spices like galangal and lemon grass. The steamed rice and condiments (fried shallot, emping crackers and lime juice) are enjoyed together with the soup.
NASI UDUK BETAWI (STEAMED COCONUT RICE)
Nasi uduk Betawi is basically steamed rice cooked in aromatic coconut milk (usually with bay leaves and lemon grass). This widely known specialty is eaten with some additional dishes such as semur jengkol (giant stink bean stew), sambal kacang (spicy peanut sauce), balado stewed egg, fried vermicelli noodle, and sambal goreng tempe (sauteed tempeh).
LAKSA BETAWI (JAKARTA COCONUT SOUP)
Laksa Betawi is another soupy food using light coconut milk and chicken. The typical curry dish is different from Malay or Singaporean laksa. It’s super rich in flavor due to the big amount of spices like kaffir lime leaves, galangal, red chilies, turmeric, and coriander. Don’t forget to add fresh basil, boiled egg and vermicelli noodles while devouring it.
RUJAK JUHI (MIXED SALAD WITH DRIED SQUID)
Are you craving for salad? Rujak juhi would satisfy you. This dish has much Chinese influence, uniquely using “juhi” (dried squid). The gado-gado looking salad consists of juhi, yellow noodles, tofu, steamed potato, lettuce, and cucumber. Those ingredients are topped with tasty peanut sauce and rice crackers.
The other popular delicacy often sold by street vendors is satay. It is a dish consisting of chunks or slices of dice-sized meat (chicken, goat, lamb, beef, pork, or fish) on bamboo skewers, which are grilled over a wood or charcoal fire, then served with various spicy seasonings, mostly made of ground nuts.
Bargain Shopping in Metropolitan Jakarta
Confronted with Jakarta's gleaming lights and sparkling metropolitan life, you may well be forgiven to think that Indonesia's capital city has only high end exclusive malls, haute couture fashion, and luxurious shopping experiences. Well, this is where you're wrong. For, aside from being the center of international branded items, top designers fashion, and exclusive products in Indonesia, the city is also a hotspot for bulk and bargain shopping.
The wide variety of items that you can buy in Jakarta is mind boggling. From the best of local handicrafts, popular fashion products, accessories & decorations, to unique souvenirs, wedding gifts and a whole lot more, all of these are up for grabs at relatively pocket-friendly prices and can often even still be bargained for, if only you know where to look.
So here are among some of the hotspots in Jakarta for your perfect budget shopping:
1 | ITC (International Trade Center) Mangga Dua
This is indeed a shopping paradise, the favorite destination, not only for domestic visitors but also for those from neighboring Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, where the gamut of imported and domestic products are available. Here, you will find anything you many need, from imported winter clothes, boots, to flimsy underwear, fashion wear, perfumes, baby's outfits to fridge magnets and other small souvenirs in bulk that you may want to give out as your tokens of thanks to weddings guests. When you decide to visit Mangga Dua, better have ready your shopping list, preferably buy in bulk as this is, in fact, a wholesale area.
2 | Pasar Baru
Literally translated as “The New Market”, Pasar Baru is actually one of the oldest shopping centers in the city, having been built in 1820. Today, even after many years, Pasar Baru , which is located close to the Lapangan Banteng still maintains its past popularity. Observe and you will see a plethora of shops, many owned by those of Indian descent living in Jakarta, which, for this reason, it is sometimes called “little India”. Pasar Baru Street which is open only for pedestrians, is lined with numerous shops, restaurants and several shopping centers. Most of the shops here sell textiles, shoes, clothes and other fashion itemss, such as sportswear, watches and jewelry. While the shopping centers on the north side specialize in selling cosmetics, cameras and photographic products.
3 | Blok M
Whether you're looking for that great deal or take in the sights and sounds of the city, Blok M (or the M Block) in Kebayoran area, South Jakarta, is definitely worth a stop. The main shopping centers here are the Blok M Square and Blok M Plaza. At Blok M, you can find everything you need at discounted prices. These super shopping centers have everything from belts to sunglasses, head scarves to jewelry. In the mega complex you'll find a supermarket, clothing stalls, jewelry, art, glasses, toys, cellphones, gadgets, cameras and electronic kiosks; everything and anything you can think of is available at Blok M Square. Don't forget to practice your bargaining skills since this is the perfect place to do get the best bargain.
4 | Tanah Abang Market
When it comes to wholesale and bulk shopping, Tanah Abang Market is definitely the ultimate hotspot. Located in the center of the city, Tanah Abang has been famous for centuries for its wholesale and raw materials. Cheap of the cheap – very famous for resale - it has a massive range of products, especially in textile and garments. With over 13,000 kiosks and 75,000 shoppers per day, Tanah Abang is recognized as the largest textile and garment wholesale center in Southeast Asia. With over 5 shopping areas (with block A and Block B as the main areas), Tanah Abang is an extremely massive shopping areas, so if you are here for the first time, be aware of your surroundings since you can easily get lost. Be also aware of pickpockets.
5 | Thamrin City Mall
Besides Tanah Abang, the nearby Thamrin City shopping mall, located behind Hotel Indonesia Kempinski, is another place that is frequently visited by shoppers seeking new clothes, and batiks, especially during the Ramadhan fasting month and prior to the IdulFitri holidays. Apart from locals, the place is also popular with foreigners from Singapore and Malaysia. Although smaller in size, Thamrin City offers goods similar to those sold at Tanah Abang. As it is less crowded, and nicely air-conditioned, some people find this a more convenient place to shop.