Common knowledge tells you Jakarta is the sprawling capital of Indonesia — a city as notorious for its traffic jams as much as its full-flavoured cuisine. For most travellers, it’s usually seen as the gateway to the paradisiacal island of Bali but Jakarta bears it’s own unique cultural appeal. From the historic Old City flanked by towering high-rise buildings to kerbside warungs and shopping malls, the city invites exploration.
We tap on the travel smarts of content creator and freelance fashion editor, Ayla Dimitri, who also happens to be an Instagram celebrity. She has worked for numerous fashion and lifestyle names including ELLE Indonesia and Style.com, which contribute to an impressive knowledge of the city’s best urban finds.
Jakarta is always hectic. The streets are always crowded and traffic jams are a real issue.
Favourite thing about Jakarta…
Everyone knows everyone, so it’s easy to gain access to events or clubs.
Least favourite thing about Jakarta…
The traffic jams, and sometimes people can be so ignorant of proper public conduct — littering and spitting in public places and such.
Fun fact about the locals…
People in Jakarta love drama and gossip.
Best time to visit…
All year round. We only have two seasons here — summer and rainy.
What to pack…
Vitamins and antiseptic
Jakarta black book
National Gallery of Indonesia — I love going for art exhibitions around the city and I usually make the National Gallery one of my first stops.
Morrissey Hotel — The Morrissey Hotel is a good choice for longer stays. The modern, minimalistic rooms are equipped with a kitchen and everything you need to create a comfortable temporary home.
The Hermitage Hotel — The Hermitage Hotel is set within a beautifully restored Art Deco building that was once the Dutch Telecommunications building. The rooms and service are excellent.
As a general guide, I’d recommend friends to stay around the Kemang or Senopati area.
Mandala — This restaurant has been operating for five decades and is one of the best Chinese food you can find in South Jakarta.
Pagi Sore — Its specialty is in West Sumatran cuisine. The spread is huge and worth every calorie.
Chung Gi Wa — If it’s affordable Korean BBQ you’re after, this is the place to go.
Cikajang — You can’t say you’ve been to Jakarta without a taste of mee goreng. This street stall has the best instant noodles, which makes a good hangover cure after partying hard.
Papilion Duo — Located in the upscale Pacific Place mall, Papilion Duo offers a mix of international high-end and designer brands.
Jade Boutique — Jade is where the capital’s best dressed shop. The store’s extensive catalogue of premium designer brands includes Azzedine Alaia and Missoni and several exclusive labels.
The Goods Dept — If you’d rather shop local, The Goods Dept offers a wide array of fashion and lifestyle products from mostly young, independent designers.
ARA – A hub for emerging and established Indonesian fashion designers
Go to Kota Tua and explore the museums (Fatahillah Square). While you’re there, make a rest stop at Café Batavia and soak in its historic atmosphere.
Schedule a workout at a micro gym
Go island hopping around the Thousand Islands or “Pulau Seribu”, a cluster of almost 128 islands located in the Bay of Jakarta. Be sure to cover Tiger Island!
You can’t leave Jakarta without…
Sampling West Sumatran cuisine at a Padang Restaurant! Leave time in your itinerary for a trip to the hair salon. It’s so cheap here!