How To Maximise Your Time In Jakarta

December 20, 2019
By Ili Farhana

Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia is home to about 10,075,310 people and is one of the busiest cities in the world. However, most tourists stop by Jakarta in transit before moving on to other cities in Indonesia. For those not in the know, Jakarta is a melting pot of cultures and with that also comes a diversity of  art, food and lifestyle. Want to explore Jakarta during your transit or holiday but don’t want to go the normal tourist route? Here are our suggestions on what you can do in Jakarta:


Experience The Culture

Culture, both traditional and popular, is a big thing in Indonesia. Jakarta being capital of the country has unlimited resources for you to experience this. There’s always music shows of different scales in Jakarta and ticket prices are often very affordable, even for concerts by international acts. Yearly staple festivals in Jakarta that you can check out are Djakarta Warehouse Project, Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival, We The Fest and so many more.

During our last trip to Jakarta, we managed to take a peek at the newly opened M Bloc Space on Jalan Panglima Polim and we love what we saw. What used to be a row of gorgeous 1950’s house is transformed into a row of art galleries, music shops, cafes, restaurants, comic shop that sells only local comics and so much more. Talk about an easy one-stop introduction to Indonesia’s popular art and culture.

Explore markets and shop till you drop

Want to look for batik and modest wear or Muslim-wear? Thamrin City is your best bet. Sarinah is also a good option, but we reserve Tanah Abang and Pasar Baru for very brave souls or for visitors with local friends. If you’re thinking of something upmarket, the grand old dame of a mall, Sarinah in Thamrin and Alun-Alun at Grand Indonesia is worth checking out. Plaza fX near the SCBD area is also a good place to stop by. Want something trendy? Pacific Place is always a good idea. And then there’s always antique shopping on Jalan Surabaya, or for music lovers, go for a second-hand vinyl hunt at also Jalan Surabaya or Blok M.

If you want fabric, we recommend the area around Pasar Mayestik (Mayestik Market), where you really can shop till you drop for all types of fabric. And while you’re there, do pop by the actual market that’s housed in a 10-floor building. The wet market is at the basement. If you’re like us, always curious about local farm produce and wares, Pasar Mayestik can be a wonderland!


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#pasarbasah #pasarsegar #mayestik #ayamhidup lantai basement . . #Repost @arcana.putu • • • • • Salah satu kenikmatan berbelanja di pasar “tradisional”, menemukan jalinan interaksi yang intim antara pembeli dan penjual. Proses tawar-menawar berujung pada kesepakatan: tidak ada yang merasa dirugikan, keduanya merasa beruntung. Keindahan proses interaksi sosial semacam itulah yang tidak didapat dari supermarket. (Seorang ibu setiap 2 hari sekali membeli ayam kampung hidup di Pasar Mayestik. Gambar diambil Minggu, 16/12 saat Blusukan Pasar bersama #ACMI). Tunggu Blusukan Pasar berikut… #blusukan #blusukanpasar #pasarmayestik #acmi #jelajahrasa #kisahrasaindonesia #kuliner #pasartradisional #tradisionalmarket #mayestik #pasar #market #belanja #transaksi

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Pamper Yourself

Jakarta is home to a lot of traditional body treatments and has an amalgamation of modern and traditional care. Jamu, the traditional Indonesian health drink made from local herbs are now given a hip touch. Just search for ‘jamu cafe Jakarta’ and see the number of names that pop up. Perfect for newbies who want to try this natural health supplement. For ladies, do allocate some time and go pamper yourself at ladies-only or muslimah-only salons that’s available almost everywhere. One of the more popular services that you should try is to have a ‘creambath.’ In essence, it’s the local answer to hair treatment that usually takes around an hour to complete and it usually comes with a relaxing upper body massage. But go ahead add on body scrub as well manicure and pedicure, and you’ll step out of that salon feeling like a million bucks. We did exactly that, and it only cost us 21USD.  Totally worth our money.


Eat, Eat, Eat!

There’s plenty to eat in Jakarta! And where do we even start? There are a lot of amazing restaurants in malls (if you are conscious of sanitary standards) and there are even more options of tasty local fares at standalone restaurants and streetside ‘warungs’. We are big fans of the eateries on Jalan Sabang. A lot of restaurants and cafes there have been around for ages. Another popular stop is around Cikini, especially for coffee shops. ‘Little Tokyo’ area around Blok M is always good for Japanese food. If you want to try something but don’t feel like stepping out from your accommodation, don’t fret. Most food establishments provide delivery.

Find A Perfect Stay

Artotel Thamrin

This one’s for the art aficionados. Every level is decorated with artwork by different local artist. And we’re not talking about just a framed artwork or a sculpture on a table. Here, the illustrations and paintings span from floor to ceiling along the corridors and in every room. There’s also an art gallery on the Mezzanine floor that hosts exhibitions.  It’s also very near Jalan Sabang (for food) and Sarinah (for shopping). Please don’t skip the breakfast here. They have very good croissants and coffee.

HARRIS Suites fX Sudirman

Comfortable upmarket hotel with a touch of retro chic near Senayan area and Gelora Bung Karno (main stadium in Jakarta), perfect for those heading for concerts around the area or business people heading out for meetings around Senayan and SCBD area. fX mall is attached to this hotel, that means endless food supply and if shopping at the mall is not good enough, Plaza Senayan and Senayan City is a skip away. Bonus- there’s a very useful MRT stop right next to the hotel. The view from the rooms on the higher floors is amazing and the breakfast buffet spread is excellent.

Pop! Hotel Tebet

Stay at a budget but without being out of the way from all the action and without sacrificing the comfort. The hotel is attached to a popular batik brand boutique and is surrounded by countless local food outlets. You definitely won’t go hungry here.  Transportation anywhere is easy with e-hailing services and local metered taxi. The hotel is also near Cawang train station where you can board the local commuter train to explore Greater Jakarta. While the room may look compact in pictures, we can assure you we got a very good sleep and rest here. We love that there’s a convenience store across the hotel, easy access to ATMs and if local food is just not working for you, there’s a McDonald’s and Starbucks right next to Pop! Hotel Tebet.

Now that we’ve listed down some suggestions on things to enjoy in Jakarta, we hope that this interesting city will not go past your radar next time you are planning for a holiday.

Cover Photo by ekoherwantoro on Unsplash
Other photos by Ili Farhana

Room photos by respective hotels

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