Despite having lived in Toronto, Canada for 10 years, Jakarta, Indonesia is and always will be home for Ayu Larasati. After years studying and working as a product designer abroad, Ayu decided to move back home last year to start a ceramic studio, and she’s thrilled to be back in the thick of this vast and culturally rich city, located on the northwest coast of the island, Java.
Just like caffeine, Jakarta is a jolt of energy. Made up of a historic mix of cultures – from Javanese, Malay, Chinese, Arab, Indian and European – the city’s architecture, language and cuisine are diverse and layered. With a population reaching just over 10 million, Jakarta boasts a quickly-growing economy and an abundance of choices when it comes to places to visit and things to do. After some time away, even Ayu was a bit overwhelmed, but it doesn’t take long to adjust and fall for Jakarta’s dynamic energy and atmosphere of optimism. “Jakarta offers surprises — new and unexpected experiences — daily,” Ayu says. “I can definitely see that there is a steady growth of emerging creatives, [which play] an important role in the enhancement of many aspects of this city.”
For today’s City Guide, we’re spending 24 hours in Jakarta, Indonesia with virtual tour-guides Ayu Larasati and photographer, Fransisca Angela — who are guiding us through the best places to grab coffee, find street food and fare, and enjoy the best of what this city has to offer. –Sabrina
Photography by Fransisca Angela
7 am: Start off the morning in the neighborhood of Dharmawangsa, perfect for a quite morning stroll at SNCTRY, short for sanctuary, with a Coconut Breeze Bowl and Holy Water.
SNCTRY is one of the first health-bars in Jakarta, offering a raw, organic menu using ingredients proudly grow in the eatery’s own gardens.
While here, grab your coffee at But First Coffee, located within the same complex. Its small, charming semi-outdoor space is made to put you at ease and make you feel at home. Plus, they serve all lattes in handmade ceramic cups!
9 am: Motorbikes are the best way to get around Jakarta, so choose GOJEK, one of the most popular, reliable and affordable transportation services (downloadable via app store). Considering how congested Jakarta traffic can be, this service is the best to be able to use time efficiently to see many places in one day. For some morning inspiration, head to the ceramic studio Bengkel Keramik Puspa 5. Bengkel Keramik Puspa is run by a talented potter, Pak Haryo Adiputro Soenggono, who also offers pottery lessons from Monday to Friday (except Wednesday from 10 am – 1 pm). The studio is located at Jalan Puspa no. 5 Senopati, Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta Selatan.
10 am: It’s now time for an adventure. Head to Petak 9, a quaint narrow alley in the area of Glodok Central Jakarta.
It’s excellent for shopping for all kinds of vegetables, herbs, meat, or seafood. This is also a perfect location for those who want to see how the local people in Jakarta go about their daily activities.
11:30 am: While here, grab an early lunch at Bakmi Ahong at Jalan Kemenangan VIII.
This hidden gem is tucked inside the alley of Petak 9. This chicken noodle stall has been operating from their garage since October of 1985, and it is open everyday from 7 am – 1 pm.
The place is packed with loyal customers, especially on Sunday! Next, grab your second coffee of the day at Kopi Es Tak Kie for their famous iced coffee that has been around since 1927.
1 pm: See some history on the free city tour bus that goes on a route between the National Monument to Pasar Baru. This is the touristy part of the city where you can find a lot of charming places — perfect for photo opportunities.
Stop by the National Museum of Indonesia, which holds some of the most important archaeological artifacts from all over Indonesia. It highlights Indonesian history and showcases artifacts from the prehistoric age to the Dutch colonial era. The building reflects a strong influence of European architecture from the colonial era, especially in their beautiful, majestic courtyard.
Afterwards, visit Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta Cathedral and Te Cong Ong Temple; these three places are famous for historical value and astonishing architectural details that signify the diversity of culture and religions in the city of Jakarta.
3 pm: The rest of the afternoon should be spent checking out the good things in life, literally!
The Good Things in Life provides everything from home décor items, to apparel to indoor plants.
Woodpecker Coffee, which is also hosted under the same roof, offers an assortment of baked goods and a great cup of coffee to accompany your shopping.
5 pm: Continue your hunt for locally designed goods at the Dialogue Artspace. Their selection of hand-picked artisanal goods and design objects is highly recommended, and they always have art exhibited in their gallery space. While you are in the area of Kemang, which is an area filled with shops, restaurants and cafes, take the opportunity to walk around the neighborhood.
7 pm: Jakarta is famous for its street food, especially at nighttime when everything comes to life. One of our favorites is the Chicken Satay Apjay on Jalan Panglima Polim Raya. Their chicken on skewers are grilled on a charcoal with a peanut butter sauce on top, served with rice cake cooked inside banana leaves and topped with a fried shallot. There is a lot to choose from at the Panglima Polim strip, from the famous Lamb Fried Rice, to Chicken Soto to Lamb Stew. They are open from 5 pm – 2 am in the morning.
If you are up for some more nighttime action, you can head to Potato Head Garage to enjoy some of the best tunes, drinks and cocktails.