Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta is a steamy city of fast-paced extremes, where glittering shopping malls, modern high-rises and bohemian nightlife hustle alongside gridlocked traffic, and ramshackle slums. With a population of over 10 million people, its busy, and while perhaps not to everyone’s taste, it is worth a visit to experience the industrious energy and huge diversity found there.
Highlights include a visit to the National Monument, where you can ascend to the 115-metre high observation deck for amazing city views; a stroll around the Kota district, north of the city which was once known as Old Batavia and is full of lovely old colonial buildings and museums, particularly around the cobble-stoned Fatahillah Square and a trip to the old port of Sunda Kelapa, dating back to the 13th century and still operating as a fish market today.
For atmosphere, take a walk around Glodok, Asia’s largest Chinatown, where you can see some beautiful Chinese temples and for shopping, browse the clothing, homewares, art and crafts stalls of Pasar Baru market, located within a maze of alleys and arcades. In fact, your shopping options in Jakarta are endless, with everything from the antique stalls of Jalan Surabaya, to the massive modern shopping malls found throughout the city.
Jakarta’s reputation for partying has been somewhat dampened down, but it still has a lively vibrant nightlife. Sip cocktails in one of the rooftop bars, listen to live bands, or linger over a meal in one of the city’s excellent restaurants.