With the population approaching 10 million, Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta is a colorful smorgasbord of different experiences, races and social culture.  If you’re looking for a relaxing island vacation full of spiked fruity drinks and powdery white sand between your toes, Jakarta may not be your best bet.  If you want to get down to the true heart of Indonesia, however, then the cramped, steamy streets and vigorous hustle of this pulsing metropolis is exactly where you want to be. 

Beneath the smog and grit of Jakarta’s first impression is a layer of hidden gems sprinkled through the city.  The arts community seems to be doing nothing if not thriving, and it’s very easy to bump into many of the prominent writers, artists, thinkers and shakers that keep the town afloat.  The numerous galleries around Jakarta, such as the Koong Gallery or Duta Fine Arts, throb with vibrant color and intrigue.  There are more than a handful of excellent museums in the area, such as the National Museum of Indonesia, where visitors can delve into the cultural history of the country.  The Fine Art and Ceramic Museum is a smaller collection, but features everything from masterpiece paintings to contemporary sculpture crafted by local artists.

Despite Jakarta having a large Islamic population, the nightlife scene is one that rivals the best of Asia.  A beat-thumping club or rowdy corner bar can be found on most any block in the downtown area.  Blok M and Little Japan are two popular nightlife districts that both locals and tourists alike frequent.West Jakarta is home to the city’s Chinatown, and is also seen as a shopping and entertainment center for the city, with museums, cinemas, spas, clubs, galleries and lounges. Regardless of what you do, Jakarta, Indonesia, is a true kaleidoscope of experiences that won’t soon be forgotten.

With Jakarta travel, also comes a vast variety of cuisine choice.  From street food delicacies to traditional Jakartan dishes like nasi ulam (coconut rice with beef) and gourmet cuisine from around the world, there is always something new and interesting to test your taste buds. The food courts in Jakarta malls are great ways to find a good, budget-friendly meal. Food Temptation on the third level of the Mal Kelapa Gading shopping center is said to be the largest indoor food court in all of Indonesia. For a fusion of Indonesian and Italian flavors, Pisa Café offers outdoor seating and the best pizza and gelato in the city. Blue Erawan serves authentic Thai cuisine, which includes many vegetarian options.

Located 12 miles northwest of the city in the suburb of Tangerang, Soekarno Hatta International Airport (CGK) provides all international and most domestic flights to and from Jakarta. There are several shuttle services to get from the airport into the city, such as Xtrans and DAMRI, both of which bus passengers to stops all throughout Jakarta. Due to the chaotic layout of the streets, getting around Jakarta can be bewildering. Commuter trains are the best bet for travel from the city center to outer lying areas. Taxis are the most popular travel option when it comes to navigating throughout downtown areas, as it is inexpensive and occasionally fast, though traffic can be horrendous.

Jakartais characterized as having a tropical climate, with year-round hot temperatures and distinct wet and dry seasons. The wet season tends to span the majority of the year, running from November through June. July through October are the dry months, and also when the city tends to be the hottest, with an average high temperature of 91.4° F (33° C) in September. The average low only falls to around 75.6° F (24.2° C) in the coolest month of January. Though the weather will be very hot, this dry season is the best time to visit Jakarta.