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Things to do in Jakarta, Indonesia: An interview with a resident

Jakarta is the sprawling, metropolitan capital city of Indonesia, home to over 10 million people of diverse Indonesian backgrounds from Aceh to Papua. Surrounded by the satellite cities of Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, South Tangerang, and Bekasi, Jakarta’s population swells up during the day as people come to work in the capital, and goes back down in the evening. We spoke to Novi, a resident of Jakarta, to learn more about the city.

Hi Novi. Let’s say a tourist is visiting Jakarta for the first time. What are some nice places to visit?

Novi: Hi. Well, if they want to find some food, I’d recommend they go to Glodok or PIK. PIK in particular, you have a lot of options. Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Western, whatever you want. If you want to do some sightseeing, Ancol could be a good place to check out. There’s a beach and a theme park called Dufan. We have some interesting museums where you can learn more about Indonesian culture and history. Kota Tua has the Jakarta History Museum and there’s the National Museum of Indonesia in Central Jakarta, which is quite near our National Monument, Monas. And if shopping is your thing, we have a lot of malls. Grand Indonesia and Plaza Indonesia are nice malls to visit and they’re next to each other.

Which part of Jakarta do you like the best and why?

Novi: For me, I like West Jakarta the most because I think it’s greener. But I also like the South, places like Kemang and Blok M for hanging out. I like the vibe in these places. Occasionally it’s nice to go out to the metropolitan area and stay overnight, for example in Bogor, where the weather is a bit cooler and you can visit Taman Safari, the Bogor Botanical Garden or go hiking around Mount Gede.

Jakarta is a big city. What’s the best way to get around?

Novi: We have various public transport options but taking a Grab or Gojek is convenient. With Grab, you can choose if you want to go by bike or car. They are quite cheap and they take you directly to your destination. You can also hire a driver for a day, and they can take you around the city.

A bus and Grab and Gojek drivers outside Lotte Shopping Avenue, Kuningan, Jakarta, Indonesia
A row of Grab and Gojek drivers outside Lotte Shopping Avenue, Kuningan, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Do you feel safe in Jakarta?

Novi: Well I’ve never experienced anything too bad here but I think you should be careful with your belongings if you’re taking public transport.

You mentioned PIK and Glodok earlier as places to get good food. What about street food in Jakarta? Is it ok for tourists to try?

Novi: I love the street food here. Tourists can try it too. A lot of street food is really good but maybe they should be prepared in case it doesn’t agree with them. If you’re worried about hygiene, there are some malls like Citraland that sell street food in a more hygienic setting. Sometimes I visit Neo Soho to eat batagor.

Is there anything in particular you like about living in Jakarta?

Novi: People are mostly friendly here. When you need help, you can ask help from strangers and they’ll most likely help you. I appreciate the weather too. The air quality needs to get better but the weather makes life easier, right? You don’t have to prepare for winter. You don’t have to prepare clothes for different seasons.

Do you have any tips for someone visiting Jakarta?

Novi: Sunscreen! It can get really hot here and if you’re not used to it, sunscreen will really help. Oh, and definitely don’t drink the tap water.

What other cities do you recommend a tourist visit in Indonesia?

Novi: Bandung. For me, the food is amazing. It’s much greener than Jakarta and the air is cleaner. I’d also recommend Jogja. Prices are cheap, the city is clean and the people are really friendly. There are lots of tourist attractions like Borobodur and Prambanan, and there are lots of cafés.

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