If you imagined Jakarta to be full of dusty roads, dingy and technologically backward places like I did, you couldn’t have been more wrong. The roads are wide and clean. It has lots of expensive bungalows and high rise buildings scattered all over the city. Be it coffee, food, music, shopping or entertainment, Jakarta sure does have something to cater to all interest groups. It is full of surprises and interesting experiences. Want to know more? Read on.
1. Foodie Paradise
If you are a foodie, then you are just going to LOVE Jakarta. Mouthwatering Indonesian specialties to choose from – Beef Rendang, Nasi Goreng(Fried rice), Pisang Goreng(Fried banana), Indomie(famous instant noodles), Noodle soup, Round tofu, gadu gadu(vegetarian salad), sweet Martabak and so on, you will be spoilt with choices. Additionally, you will find plenty of cuisine options in the malls ranging from authentic Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Italian, Mexican food and so on apart from various Indonesian cuisine choices. Although it might be tough to find vegetarian food options at times, if you look well enough, you are bound to find good vegetarian food too.
2. Coffee culture
This one is a good news for all coffee lovers! A variety of coffee beans with different levels of acidity and sweetness are indigenously grown at different locations around the Indonesian islands and it is mostly available in Jakarta. Also, if you are ardent coffee and travel freak, probably visiting different regions of Indonesia to try out the local flavors would be a great experience in itself. In some regions, especially Papua, coffee can be so strong that it can actually make you pass out!
Kopi Luwak – the most expensive coffee in the world which is processed from the coffee beans digested by civet cat is available here at around $35-$100(Rs. 2300 – Rs. 6700). Check out this link for suggestions on how to buy authentic and animal-friendly kopi luwak.
3. Great music scenes
Medley of charming restaurants and bars have amazing music and great live band performances. Although Bahasa language is used for local communication, you would be surprised by the varieties of genres of English Pop, blues or rock trending over here.
4. Gigantic shopping complexes
The massive size of shopping malls in Jakarta can just make you go dizzy. Countless malls are scattered all over Jakarta; popular ones being Grand Indonesia, Central Park or Taman Anggrek. The malls are one stop for all shopping and dining experiences as well as skating rink, sky bars, parks, live bands and if you get lucky like I did, musician performances too.
5. Traffic situation in Jakarta
The first thing you notice when you land in Jakarta are zillions of cars and all sorts of them. Buying a car is economical in Jakarta which explains the shit loads of traffic. With respect to taxis, majorly bluebird(low end) and silver bird(high end – mainly Mercs) taxis run over here. If it’s your unlucky day, it could be one of your worst.
6. Value for money
Indonesia, as a whole, is a cheap country with a great value for money. With Rp. 10000 amounting to 75 cents, it’s easy to find reasonable finds within your budget anywhere in Jakarta, be it for food, shopping or entertainment. A meal may cost anywhere between Rp 50,000 and Rp 100,000 at a decent outlet. Evidently, round tofu costs about Rp 10000 for 10 balls and Indomie about Rp 15000 by the street.
7. Luxury movie experiences
For about 220,000 Rupiah($17), CGV blitz in Central Park mall offers unparalleled movie experience for velvet class, in king size beds with wide screens while popping popcorns, delicious food and wine listings that can be ordered from the comfort of your seat. Although, try not to sleep while watching the movie!
8. Cigarettes everywhere
This can come as a shock to a lot of people. The locals are just crazy about cigarettes here. As a consequence, find people smoking just about anywhere. While driving, in shopping malls and even inside office spaces. It’s just ubiquitous. So, expect to catch fancy ashtrays and cigarette ads at every corner. In fact, the richest man in the country owns a cigarette company(Djarum).
9. Huge Shah Rukh Khan fan following
“Have you met Shah Rukh Khan?”, a girl asked me once, all starry-eyed. Someone even asked me to convey their regards to Shah Rukh Khan. Well, I sure will when I meet him for dinner!(haha) Among Shah Rukh Khan movies, Kuch Kuch hota hai and Kal Ho Na Ho are major crowd favorites. If you are an Indian going to a Karaoke, chances are that they will also start playing the “Indian songs” once they see you and try to chat with you about Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit or Bollywood movies in general. Be prepared!
10. Private Karaoke
Private Karaoke is a thing in Jakarta which means you have your own space to sing and dance your heart out with your friends and family. Also, tons of open Karaokes are available, sometimes even in hotels.
Visiting Jakarta? Here’s an itinerary to explore Jakarta in 3 days.