Jakarta is the capital and largest city of Indonesia. Located on the northwest coast of the world’s most populous island, Java, over 10 million people call it home.

If it’s on your travel bucket list and you’re wondering where to eat, sleep and explore, then Sheila Rooswitha Putri is a graphic artist who can help.

Born and raised in Jakarta, her comic series is inspired by scenes of daily life in her home city. Currently gearing up to represent Indonesia at The London Book Fair, Sheila shared her top local spots for eating, drinking, and getting around the hustle and bustle of the Jakarta she loves. Sheila, it’s over to you.

Starting off the weekend with breakfast

Time in this city flies, so get started with a delicious breakfast at Kopi Es Tak Kie (Iced Coffee). Located in Glodok, China Town, this coffee shop was founded in 1927 and has since become one of the main culinary destinations in Jakarta.

Go for an Indonesian savoury breakfast and order their signature iced coffee with a side of chicken and pork noodle soup.

After breakfast, take a walk to find some traditional snacks in Kalimati Alley. Formerly known for electronics, it is now a culinary destination. Here you can satisfy your sweet tooth with mochi (Turkish delights), traditional cupcakes and delicious caramel fried banana fritters.

Jalan Jaksa

Jalan Jaksa

Spend some time in the Old Town

Now let’s burn some calories by walking around the Old Town (Kota Tua). It is an area also known as ‘Old Batavia’, the first walled settlement of the Dutch in Jakarta. Dating from the 17th century, this neighbourhood is famous for its old colonial buildings.

Take a stroll around the colonial architecture via the shadow puppet museum, housed in a former church, the Jakarta historical museum, and the Old Town Station. Sunda Kelapa, the historic harbour, is still home to operating pinisi boats, traditional two-masted sailing ships that still carry freight between islands.

Getting around

If you’re tired of walking, there are plenty of alternative transport options to roam around J-Town.

The Trans-Jakarta bus takes you everywhere you need to go and is the quickest way to get around, as it avoids the traffic in its own special lane. Bajaj, meanwhile, are three-wheeled auto-rickshaws which are a zippy option for up to three passengers.

But if speed is important, Ojek (taxi bikes) are by far the fastest way to get around, and can now be tracked and found via smartphone apps.

Old Town, Jakarta

Old Town, Jakarta

Padang food

Padang food

Suggestions for lunch

Padang is the capital city of the West Sumatera province, and famous for some of the best Indonesian cuisine.

Visiting a traditional Padang restaurant is a must. They have a unique way of serving food by stacking the full plates on top of each other, which makes for a touch-and-go eating experience! Recommended combo: green chilli paste, grilled chicken and spied cassava leaves.

They also serve Kerupuk Kulit (skin crackers), which are made from cow or buffalo dried in the sun until crispy.

National Museum of Indonesia

National Museum of Indonesia

Grab a little culture with monuments and museums

Pretty much visible from everywhere in Jakarta is an important landmark of the city, the National Monument, or monas (the Momumen Nasional). Topped by a gold flame, it was constructed by Indonesia’s first President Soekarno.

Also, make a visit to the National Museum of Indonesia to see the rich archaeological artefacts of Indonesia including prehistoric human skulls and mythological statues. The museum is commonly addressed as Museum Gajah or the Elephant museum, referring to the elephant statue in the front yard. The statue was a gift from the King of Thailand in 1871.

After the sun goes down

To spend the evening head south, passing Jakarta’s impressive skyscrapers. Jalan Jaksa is the backpacker street of Jakarta and a popular choice due to its relaxed ambience and cheap drinks.

There are friendly open-air cafés where you can easily meet fellow travellers and young Indonesians. Relax after a day of walking with a well-earned Bintang!

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