One of the world’s greatest megalopolises, Jakarta is a dynamic city of daunting extremes that’s developing at a pace that throws up challenges and surreal juxtapositions on every street corner.
The city is certainly no oil painting, yet beneath the unappealing facade of high-rises, relentless concrete and gridlocked streets, Jakarta has many faces and plenty of surprises. Its citizens are remarkably good-natured, optimistic and positive, and compared to many of the world’s capitals, crime levels are very low.
From the steamy, richly scented streets of Chinatown to North Jakarta’s riotous, decadent nightlife, the city is filled with unexpected corners. Here it’s possible to rub shoulders with Indonesia’s future leaders, artists, thinkers and movers and shakers in a bohemian cafe or a sleek lounge bar and then go clubbing till dawn (and beyond).
Jakarta certainly isn’t a primary tourist destination, but parts of the atmospheric old city (Kota) offer an interesting insight into the capital’s long history. There are a handful of good museums and dozens of swanky shopping malls.