Indonesia’s sprawling capital is one of the fastest-growing, most chaotic and most exciting places in South-East Asia. It is the gateway to a vast, vibrant and varied island nation that’s home to dozens of fascinating cultures.
Formerly the colonial capital of the Dutch East Indies – when it was known as Batavia – Jakarta has grown from its original seaport district into a huge modern conurbation of high-rise hotels and apartments, thronged shopping malls and wide, crowded avenues.
Jakarta is a continuously growing and expanding metropolis, with new suburbs springing up on its outskirts and new high-rises reaching for the sky in the downtown area. The hub of the modern city is Taman Merdeka (Independence Square), which is dominated by the showy, 132 m tall National Monument, crowned by a glittering, stylized metal flame. Taman Fatahilla is the epicentre of Kota, the original heart of Dutch Batavia, and still has a sprinkling of picturesque old buildings.
The nearby Glodok district is the heart of Jakarta’s substantial Chinese community, and in recent years has also seen gentrification. Sunda Kelapa, the old port, is lined with warehouses dating back to the colonial era and filled with old-fashioned schooners that still carry cargo between Jakarta and the outlying islands. South of the centre, Jalan Jaksa is a colourful thoroughfare, lined with antique and souvenir shops, budget restaurants, guesthouses and tour agencies.Read More