Why Is This Place so Great?
A sprawling metropolis probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind when the typical traveler thinks of Indonesia, but that’s exactly what one would find at Jakarta. With over 10 million residents, Jakarta currently ranks within the top 50 cities containing the world’s largest populations. Typical to South East Asian countries, Jakarta experiences both a dry and wet season. The most popular time to visit is within the Summer months between June and September, when its dry heat lowers the city’s humidity quite drastically. The other months are considered to be “wet” but still have many days full of sun, so pack your bags appropriately!
This city is known as a shopper’s paradise. Home to over 100 luxurious marble-floored malls, one is likely to find four shopping malls within any 2.5-mile radius. Despite the city’s endless amount of towering skyscrapers, Jakarta has not lost its history. Visitors can still find temples, markets, and glimpses into its Old Town around the city. For contemporary culture, we recommend checking out Jakarta’s indie/hipster scene by visiting its many artistic spots and cafés.
Where Should You Stay?
For Luxury Choose: Raffles Jakarta
Located within the Ciputra World 1 multi-use complex in the city’s Kuningan district, Raffles Jakarta is home to a central address with direct access to the 5-story Lotte Shopping Avenue mall filled with restaurants, branded stores, and a cinema. The hotel’s design was inspired by the celebrated late Indonesian artist, Hendra Gunawan. Infamous for his paintings featuring women in front of nature’s backdrop, guests will find large collections of art pieces relating to both subjects throughout the hotel’s public spaces as an homage.
Consistent with the rest of the hotel’s design, Raffle Jakarta’s 173 luxurious rooms and suites are all tastefully decorated with neutral colored furniture accented by carpets and throw pillows featuring nature and the cool color palette of blues, greens, and purples that Gunawan often used in his work. Amenities and services come plenty as well. All rooms offer a deep soaking tub and a separate walk-in rain shower, high quality surround sound audio system, and butler service to ensure that every personalized need is met.
For Lifestyle Choose: AYANA Midplaza Jakarta
Formerly an InterContinental Hotel, the AYANA Midplaza Jakarta is conveniently located in the Sudirman Central Business District directly next to the Citywalk Sudirman mall containing numerous restaurants and shops to choose from. Its 366 rooms and suites are decorated in a traditional luxury manner with marble bathrooms, carpeted floors, and even soundproofing to ensure a great night’s sleep. Book an Executive Room or any of their suites to receive the added luxuries of a room on a high floor, complimentary mini-bar, and access to their Executive Lounge to enjoy complimentary gourmet breakfast, afternoon tea, and beverages throughout your stay.
The Ayana Midplaza Jakarta has a wide range of wellbeing initiatives. In addition to its outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, tennis court, and squash court, the hotel also offers group classes in its aerobics room ranging from step pump, pilates, and yoga during weekdays to help guests keep fit whilst on vacation.
The property’s dining establishments are also very health conscious. The hotel serves a breakfast buffet with options including soufflé pancakes with fruit, white egg frittatas, and smoothie bowls to help kick-start the day. Guests can also dine at the hotel’s all-day-dining establishment, Blue Terrace, to enjoy delectable wraps, salads, and smoothies. For some guilt-free comfort food options choose their Fat-Free Macaroni Gratin or one of their many healthy desserts instead! The chefs at Blue Terrace hold live cooking demonstrations of their delicious desserts on a daily basis, but you can even take a cooking class to take some recipes home with you.
While you’re here, don’t forget to visit the hotel’s JimBARan Lounge! This tranquil river-side themed restaurant offers semi-private lounge spaces ranging from different sizes that can accommodate two to ten people per space. With its menus consisting of both Asian and Western cuisine, guests can enjoy Javanese Fish and Chips, Mie Goreng, and Churros Ice Cream Sandwiches whilst enjoying their time away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Those with gluten allergies can rest at ease here, the menu specifies which dishes are safe to eat so you can definitely enjoy some local cuisine here.
For Boutique Choose: Keraton at the Plaza
Keraton at the Plaza is an independent hotel that has become part of Marwood’s (Mariott-Starwood) Luxury Collection. With “Keraton” literally translating into “palace”, the property is rightly located within the Jalan M.H. Thalan district, arguably the most prestigious area of Jakarta. One of the hotel’s best features is its direct access to the luxurious Plaza Indonesia shopping mall and is also just across the street from the Grand Indonesia, which has repeatedly been named one of the top five malls in the city.
Its 140 rooms and suites are contemporarily designed with wooden floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and Italian marble vanities. Filled with modern technology, guests can enjoy the use of a DVD player, BOSE sound system, and a TV that easily connects to Apple devices. Although the hotel’s basic Grand Deluxe Rooms already provides incredible service through its eager to assist butlers, guests who pay an extra fee (or use their points!) to stay in the hotel’s Club Junior Suite, Keraton Suite, or Keraton Apartment gain Executive privileges. In addition to five pieces of laundry per day, guests will also gain access to the hotel’s Executive Lounge which offers complimentary beverages and a wide range of International cuisine from its à la carte menu.
What Should I do?
For Luxury Choose: Shop ‘Til You Drop
During the Festival Jakarta Great Sale
With 173 operating malls in 2016 (and counting), Jakarta is undeniably one of the best places to shop in the world. With such a vast number of malls, it is nearly impossible to visit them all as a tourist. Consequently, if we were asked to choose one place to go, it would be The Grand Indonesia simply due to its sheer size. Split amongst two wings, the mall contains 1.5 million square feet of retail space that houses over 200 retail brands, more than 100 dining establishments, and enough parking spaces for 5,500 cars. This being said, the Grand Indonesia Mall may not appeal to some of our Luxury travelers, since the mall caters to a more mainstream audience housing brands like Forever21, TopShop, and Nike. Due to this, we suggest those who prefer shopping at luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Alexander McQueen to make their way across the street to the Plaza Indonesia instead.
Those who love a great discount should keep an eye on the Festival Jakarta Great Sale dates, where more than 80 participating malls (including both the Grand Indonesia Mall and the Plaza Indonesia), 40 traditional markets, and a number of hotels offer discounts as steep as 70% off for a couple weeks in a year. The most enticing part of this time is the Midnight Sales, where certain malls offer one to two nights of additional 10 to 20% discounts off the already reduced prices on different scheduled dates. With malls offering insane prizes including shopping vouchers worth 260 Million Indonesian Rupiah (approximately 17,300 USD), motorcycles, and televisions the Midnight Sale is just as, if not more, popular than Black Friday. So our first tip is to do your research beforehand and do some online “window shopping” for the items you desire. Second, go to the mall a couple of hours earlier (the sales normally start at 9 or 10pm) to reserve the items you want and pay for it once the sales officially start to obtain the additional discount. Happy Shopping!
For Lifestyle Choose: Run, Walk, or Bike On Car Free Sundays
Car Free Sundays in Jakarta were first implemented in 2007 with the aim of reducing pollution from the mass amount of traffic jams caused by the capital’s busiest streets of Jalan Sudirman and Jalan Thamrin, closing off the roads to all motorized vehicles (with the exception of the city’s public bus system run by TransJakarta). Although the city’s car-free days only took place three times a year back then, it has since picked up in popularity and has become a weekly occurrence since 2012 with an estimated 100,000 participants each week.
Between the hours of 6am and 11am on Sundays, these streets become the only destination within Jakarta where people can safely run, walk, or bike on the streets for 8 miles (between the Gelora Bung Karno Football Stadium to Monas Park) in peace. Visitors looking to bike the length of this path should try to reserve a rental from a bike store in advance since companies like Ofo or company sponsored “Citi Bikes” or “Boris-Bikes” do not exist in the city due to its unfriendly cycling nature.
Even though Car Free Sunday’s biggest draw is for the weekend warrior seeking their cardio fix, it has also attracted locals and travelers alike through its ever-increasing number of street food vendors (hawkers) ranging from traditional Indonesian drinks, kebabs, and buns.
For Boutique Choose: Book a Private Tour to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah and Bird Park
Taman Mini Indonesia Indah translates to “Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature Park”. This extensive park is set over 100 hectares of land just outside of the city and exhibits all of Indonesia’s provinces by highlighting their architectural and cultural differences. Much like Disney’s Epcot World Showcase, travel enthusiasts will be graced by cultural performances, arts and crafts, events, and local delicacies while traveling through the different archipelagoes the country has to offer in just a day!
We highly recommend hiring a tour guide on your trip to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah since the park provides scarce information in English throughout its exhibitions. Although most tours include the initial park’s entrance fee in its cost, we also suggest bringing an additional 700,000 Indonesian Rupiah’s (approximately $45 USD) per person because many pavilions and all of their transportation services require an additional fee that may not be covered in your tour.
Where Should I Eat?
For Luxury Choose: Plataran Dharmawangsa
Plataran Dharmawangsa is located in Kebayoran Baru, an elite residential neighborhood within the city. As such, the owners decided to design the restaurant to resemble a traditional royal Javanese Family Compound offering a collection of unique spaces including a lush Tempo Doeloe style garden, a heritage Joglo house, and wooden Javanese pavilions. Patrons dining at Plataran Dharmawangsa can expect to find a menu consisting of many South East Asian and Indonesian delicacies. While the restaurant’s Pad Thai is divine, we recommend diners looking for a local dining experience to try its Roasted Duck Curry, Beef Rendang Sapi Singkong, and one of its many Nasi Gorengs. Finish off the meal by trying the restaurant’s signature Jakartan Onde-Onde (a stuffed glutinous rice ball with a red bean baste filing and sesame seed coating) while sipping on one of the restaurant’s many traditional beverages.
For Lifestyle Choose:
For Boutique Choose: Namaaz
Namaaz is the first molecular gastronomy restaurant in Indonesia, serving a 17-course menu consisting of progressive Indonesian food with a twist. The self-taught chef, Andrian Ishak, changes its prix-fixe menu every 6 to 8 months to showcase his creativity through food. Past themes have included Cinema (presenting courses through its various genres), Supermarket (a dining experience with your “what you see is not what you get shopping list” in hand), and Childhood Memories (eating a meal of childhood favorite lookalikes that taste entirely different from what they seem, paired with Indonesian childhood songs and video game favorites like Mario Brothers playing in the background). Since the cuisine uses bold flavors, the restaurant only serves still and sparkling water to maximize on their patrons’ enjoyment of the dishes; however, the restaurant does offer free corkage fees to anyone who decides to bring their own wine.
As a small restaurant, they are able to accommodate up to 28 seats every night, so book in advance if you’re looking to dine here during your visit!
**Bonus Boutique Choice: Nusa Indonesian Gastronomy**
If you’re looking for some of Jakarta’s best affordable local Indonesian cuisine, then we suggest dining at Nusa Indonesian Gastronomy. This restaurant thrives to represent the country’s 17,000 plus islands and 300 ethnic groups in its ever-changing menu by using the best of its local harvests and each region’s authentic cooking processes mixed with modern elements to deliver its patrons an artful story behind each dish. With its multi-course menu options, guests can choose to try items such as Lamb Slow Cooked in Coconut Water, Steamed Cassava and Bananas with Coconut Milk as a Noodle or Rice option, and Durian Foam for Dessert.