A night in… Jakarta, Indonesia

WHAT hits you most about Jakarta is simply the sensation of being enveloped by the sheer mass of humanity. It’s far from an uncommon sensation for those used to Asia and her cities but it strikes you here again, nonetheless. And the facts bear this out – Jakarta is home to around 9.6 million people and is the world’s 13th largest city. Although nicknamed the ‘Big Durian’, as a world city and the capital of Indonesia there is much to see and experience in Jakarta.

What’s the best way to get around?
Buses and taxis offer the best modes of transport but, as befits a city of this size trains and rental cars are available as well. It pays to stick to the more reputed companies and to make enquiries about routes prior to boarding these vehicles. Some of the more interesting options are the ojek (motorcyle taxis) and the bajaj (a counterpart of Indian autos and Thai tuk tuks).

Where to stay?
Budget: The Jalan Jaksa area in Jakarta is known for its prolific roster of budget accommodation with a concomitant sacrifice of the finer niceties, for the most part anyway! Lodging is plentiful in this area and there’s little need to plan ahead.

Mid-range: Menara Peninsula Hotel offers good online deals on its accommodation making it rather good value for money as opposed to simply turning up there. The hotel offers free internet and the restaurant serves reasonably priced food along with other amenities. Jl. Let. Jend. S. Parman 78, Slipi, Jakarta 11410.

Splurge: The Shangri-La hotel is one of the many luxury hotels which abound in Jakarta – this centrally located hotel has won a slew of awards for its facilities and takes its green cred seriously. Kota BNI, JL. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 1 Jakarta 10220,

Find accommodation in Jakarta to suit your budget at Agoda.com

What’s for dinner?
Asian street food has long been a byword and Jakarta is no different from its counterparts – Kebon Kacang in central Jakarta is especially noted for the variety of food on offer. Your stomach may not necessarily thank you but your taste-buds certainly will! Map: http://g.co/maps/ae53h

Serving food from all over Indonesia with some other countries thrown in for good measure, Spice Garden is a nice place to head to for traditional cuisine in a kaki lima (the colloquial name for food vendors with mobile carts) ambience. 1st Floor, Plaza Indonesia, Central Jakarta, Tel: (62)(21) 3107575.

A place for the seriously well-heeled, Cafe Batavia, does a double shift- restaurant by day and club by night. Jalan Taman Fatahillah, Kota. Map: http://g.co/maps/wcy7z. Tel: (62)(21) 691 5531.

I need a drink…
If you’re looking at a night which both literally and figuratively ends at dawn, you’d do well to head to the Plaza Indonesia’s EX annex- a homage to conspiculous (alcohol) consumption if ever there was one! But if you’re torn between a quiet drink and the former, you could do worse than to head to Tiga Puluh, the wine bar at Le Meridien which has a nightclub just beyond the wine bar’s portals.

Culture Vulture
1. National Gallery of Indonesia, Jl. Medan Merdeka Timur No. 14. Tel: (62)(21) 3483 3955

2. National Museum, Jalan Merdeka Barat 12. Map: http://g.co/maps/5zeyt. Tel: (62) (21) 381 1551.

Shop ‘til you drop
Jakarta takes the above phrase very very seriously and the city’s visitors are advised to do much the same. Head to Surabaya Street for a street of shops and a flea-market atmosphere where you can bargain your heart out and buy artifacts and ethnic curios. If splurging is more on the agenda, take your pick from enormous malls which include Taman Anggrek Mall, Plaza Indonesia and Plaza Senayan to name just a few.

Anything I should take with me?
Common sense (that essential and regrettably underused traveller’s talisman) – in a city which sees such a stark representation of income inequality, scams unsurprisingly abound. Keep your wits about you, stick to known companies for taxis, be careful of pick-pockets and carrying cash around, do some research on routes and average fares and be careful of the water you drink!

What should I avoid?
As everywhere, if something seems to be too good to be true, it usually is. A perfect case in point would be knock-offs of designer goods – the Chanel bag you’ve been coveting is unlikely to be sold at that steep a discount without either divine or counterfeit intervention!