- Download our Jakarta Schools Guide
With a thriving economy and attractive expat salaries on offer, an expat’s lifestyle in Jakarta can be full of comforts and luxuries.
Traffic around central Jakarta can sometimes hinder leisure time during the week, so weekends are perfect for playing on the golf course at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, scuba diving expeditions in the Thousand Islands, and short holidays to nearby places like Bandung or Yogyakarta. There are plenty of sights to see and activities to do.
The vast expat communities and associations in Jakarta provide a little taste of home to expats with their constant balls, special charity events, and participation in local festivals like the Jakarta Fair and Java Jazz Festival. From medieval banquets to Latin balls and Mardi Gras soirées, expats are able to enjoy the buzzing nightlife of Jakarta as often as they please. There are also plenty of activities for expat kids and families.
Shopping in Jakarta
Shopping can be seen as a national sport for Indonesians, with popular destinations like Grand Indonesia Shopping Town and Plaza Indonesia. The immense variety of shopping malls, markets and boutiques make Jakarta a shopper’s paradise. Like most countries in Asia, Jakarta boasts extravagant world-class malls with designer stores galore, as well as smaller local designer boutiques. Renowned designers and interior decorators frequently visit Jakarta and showcase their latest creations at runway shows and special exhibitions at the many malls around the city.
Visiting shopping malls is a central activity in the lives of many Jakartans. Malls provide an escape from the heat, humidity and rain, and the many entertainment options make them pivotal in the lifestyle of Jakartans and expats alike.
Shopping malls in Jakarta can be described as lifestyle centres. Expats can leave the mall with a fresh new haircut after getting a massage, enjoy international cuisine and buy stationery, a pair of shoes, and food for their pets. Malls are truly the cornucopia of shoppers, where products are bountiful, ever-changing and always follow the latest trends.
Markets are excellent venues for buying fresh produce, live fish and beautiful freshly picked flowers. These markets are usually crowded with bajajs (two- or three-wheeler cars), carts and even motorcycles, and they are bustling with life and colour.
There are often price fluctuations between locals and foreigners, so it’s best to go in with at least a slight idea of how much something is worth. Bargaining is expected, so be prepared to negotiate prices until finding a good discount of about 10 to 20 percent.
- Grand Indonesia Shopping Town boasts an impressive range of retailers, making it a prime destination for both locals and expats.
- Plaza Indonesia is a premium shopping complex offering a mix of high-end brands and delightful dining experiences.
- Jakarta Tourism provides insights into the vibrant traditional market culture and bargaining tips.
Dining in Jakarta
Jakarta is home to a colossal variety of international cuisine, particularly in areas like Kemang and Menteng. Specialities range from high-end teppanyaki restaurants to small hole-in-the-wall venues offering authentic Javanese fare.
For those with a sweet tooth, Jakarta is also known for its decadent desserts like dadar gulung, klepon, and onde-onde. Local street foods, such as satay, gorengan (fried snacks), and the ever-popular nasi goreng (fried rice), are must-tries for anyone seeking to truly taste Indonesia.
Even though Indonesia has a large Muslim population, alcohol is widely available and served in most restaurants. Alcohol can sometimes be pricey compared to other countries due to high levies on imported spirits and wine and the value-added taxes.
Nightlife in Jakarta
With various bars and nightclubs in Jakarta, the capital’s nightlife exemplifies Indonesia at its best: diverse, swarming and intense. From small pool bars to swanky and hip nightclubs with queues of partygoers lining up for hours outside, Jakarta offers expats whatever kind of diversion they desire.
Several neighbourhoods, such as Kemang, Senayan and Kuningan, are popular among expats due to their exuberant party scene. In South Jakarta, Kemang is frequented by groups of friends looking to watch sports, listen to live music, play pool or enjoy a beer in an informal atmosphere. The Senayan and Kuningan areas are home to the hippest, trendiest and most expensive clubs Jakarta has to offer.
Expats and locals attend the clubs to see and be seen, and booking a table for the night is common practice. Single men looking to have a cheap beer with friends and mingle with the locals often visit the area of Blok M.
- Indonesia Travel’s Jakarta Nightlife Guide offers a comprehensive look at the city’s vibrant nightlife, from clubs to bars and beyond.
- Asia Bars’ Jakarta Club Reviews provides insights into the capital city's most popular and trendsetting nightclubs.
Outdoor activities in Jakarta
The lush environment, featuring beautiful beaches and exciting adventure activities in Jakarta, has plenty to offer expats looking to enjoy the great outdoors. Plenty of adventures await the adventurous expat, from volcanoes and hot springs to waterfalls and forests.
Beach days are another viable option. Most of Jakarta’s beaches require a boat trip, which is a fun way to get around, but for those who prefer something a little bit closer, Ancol Beach is easily reached from the city.
Meeting people and making friends in Jakarta
Establishing friendships and building connections is integral for expats to fully embrace life in Jakarta. Whether seeking professional networks or more casual meet-ups, the city offers various platforms for newcomers to integrate.
EXPATS JAKARTA and Jakarta Expat Indonesia on Facebook
A significant number of expats in Jakarta are active on Facebook. Groups like these provide a forum for members to ask questions, share experiences and connect with one another.
While the title suggests specificity to British women, the association is open to all nationalities. They offer support and camaraderie, organising events ranging from coffee mornings to charity initiatives, fostering a sense of community among expat women.
This group welcomes American women and those with ties to the US. It offers various social, cultural and volunteer activities to help its members adjust to life in Jakarta.
For expats working remotely or those starting a business venture, co-working spaces are excellent avenues to network. Not only do they provide a conducive working environment, but they also host events, workshops, and socials, making it easier for professionals to connect.
Expats with a passion for the performing arts can join the Jakarta Players Community Theatre. This English-speaking theatre group often holds auditions, workshops, and shows, providing an artsy avenue for newcomers to immerse themselves in the local theatre scene and make friends.
International community groups at various embassies
Some embassies in Jakarta run community groups for their nationals, offering cultural events, networking opportunities, and support services.
►For more useful information about expat life in Jakarta, have a look at Pros and Cons of Living in Indonesia
►See our Moving to Jakarta page for an overview
Are you an expat living in Jakarta?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Jakarta. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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