For the adventurous traveler looking for a city break with an edge, there's never been a better time to visit Jakarta.
Each of the capital's districts has its own distinct identity that alternatively soothes and thrills. Central Jakarta is home to Lapangan Merdeka, or Merdeka Square, as well as the National Museum of Indonesia and the National Gallery of Indonesia. Some of the best shopping malls are here, too, while backpacker hub Jalan Jaksa is full of budget hotels and affordable restaurants and cafes.
At the west is where you'll discover Old Jakarta, also known as Kota Tua. Here, you’ll find the Jakarta History Museum and Indonesia's largest shopping mall, Orchid Garden Mall (Mall Taman Anggrek). There are colonial buildings dating back to the Dutch rule (Jakarta was known as Batavia during the European Colonial empire), and then there’s Chinatown (or Glodok), with its delicious street food and mesmerizing temples.
Well-heeled South Jakarta is the city's most affluent area, with malls, hotels, restaurants, and nightlife venues all catering to those with a penchant for the more extravagant. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Kemang, a heady mix of backpackers and younger locals filling an increasingly trendy selection of lounges.
No trip to Jakarta is complete without seeing the stunning Thousand Islands, which actually comprise more than 100 small islands, many of them uninhabited. North Jakarta (Jakarta Utara) is known as the gateway to this terrific network, and it’s a district well worth visiting for its famous seafood and beaches.
All in all, Jakarta is one of the most lively, exciting, and cosmopolitan cities in Asia.