Jakarta, Indonesia’s biggest city and capital, has a history that dates back to the 4th century CE. Throughout the years, the city and its surroundings were dominated by various kingdoms, the first being Hindu, followed by Muslim, Dutch and Japanese. It wasn’t until 1949 did the country gain its independence. At the same time, the city’s radius increased by three times, from 70 square miles to almost 205 square miles, triggering an increase for development and establishments of suburbs.
Today, Jakarta is a city full of museums to explore, excellent restaurants to eat at, and lots of shopping options where you can buy anything you can think of. If Jakarta is next on your list, here’s a guide to a few places that stick out the most—visit one or visit all!
Jakarta has some of the best coffee options in the world. And although you’ll find more coffee shops than you could drink coffee in a day, we recommend Tanamera coffee shop. They have several branches, but the original one is located in Thamrin City Office Park, Jakarta. The beans are roasted right there, so you know it’s the real deal, with rich flavors that will keep you going for hours. The cafe also sells baked goods and sandwiches—perfect for those who want a light snack before heading out to explore the city. If you fall in love with their coffee, you can purchase a bag (or few) to take back home with you.
Rumah Akar, which literally translates to House of Root, is located in the Old City. If you’re a fan of Jumanji or want to get an interesting photo (or few), then this is the place to go. The entire building is covered in roots, inside and out, and is a site you don’t see often. Although overlooked by those who are in the Old City of Jakarta, it’s definitely a place you will want to take at least 10 to 15 minutes to explore. Although photography outside of the house is free, taking photos inside costs around $7 to $11 USD per hour if you want to do a little photoshoot.
Although Jakarta is overflowing with indoor malls, shopping outside in a market is more exciting—you never know what you might find. We recommend Pasar Baru, a permanent outdoor market with non-permanent vendors. Plus, the street is off-limits to cars, trucks or anything with a motor. The merchants sell all sorts of low-cost items, including clothes, trinkets, suits, silk, shoes and more. Pasar Baru also has a variety of street food, so if you’re not here for the material things, at least come to try some traditional cuisines.
Tugu Kunstkring Paleis
Having a meal inside a mansion can be a wonderful experience that you may not find in other cities in the world. If you’re feeling up for a fancy dining experience, make a reservation at Tugu Kunstkring Paleis. This was home to the Dutch Fine Arts organization back when it opened in 1914, and still features elegant artwork from different artists. The interior sets you back to the 20th century, which is why having an exquisite Indonesian cuisine here can be quite memorable. If you’ve already had dinner elsewhere, you can still enjoy a drink in the lounge and admire the mansion’s beauty.
Prohibition Chophouse & Speakeasy Bar
There are numerous bars around Jakarta, but one that stands out is Prohibition Chophouse and Speakeasy Bar. The theme is set in a 1920s style with green and dark brown leather furniture and wood floors and tables. There’s a live jazz band playing on different weekdays—a classy addition that really sets the theme. Even the staff is dressed in 1920s attire. Since it’s a speakeasy bar, the entrance is through a fake toilet built into the wall. The room is fairly small with a stage for the band and a bar serving cocktails and beer. It’s a nice place to end the evening if you’re looking for something low-key, or as a meetup spot to spend an hour in before heading out to enjoy Jakarta’s nightlife.
Jakarta is a city where you can see and experience all in just a few days, and if you’re here for a limited amount of time, we recommend the above sites, restaurant, bar and cafe to complete your visit (along with any other tourist spots you plan on seeing). According to recent reports, Jakarta is the fastest sinking city in the world, which is another reason why checking it off your list of destinations should be sooner than later.
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