Ask any Jakartan how they spend a typical weekend and shopping will no doubt be part of the answer. Given the city’s paucity of sidewalks, and its sweltering climate, retail experiences generally revolve around air-conditioned shopping malls. One of the most popular is Grand Indonesia (www.grand-indonesia. com), opposite Mandarin Oriental, Jakarta in the heart of town. The mall delights with Gucci, Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana boutiques. For a local flavour, stop by Alun Alun (www. alunalunindonesia.com) in the west wing – 4,000sq m of Indonesian arts, antiques and handicrafts. More home-grown talent is on display at Plaza Senayan (www.plaza-senayan. com), where you’ll find flagship stores from prominent Indonesian designers such as Ghea, Biyan and Sebastian Gunawan. The boutiques that line the streets of Kemang, a vibrant enclave in the south of Jakarta, are among the best for high-end homeware. Highlights include the warehouse-like Moie (www.dereusarch.com) , crammed with lacquered tables, chestnut dressers and handwoven pillows, and Toimoi (www.toimoi.co.id) for quirky furniture and pop art.
Fourteen years in the making, the National Monument is not the prettiest structure in Jakarta, but it’s probably the most recognisable – the 132-metre-high edifice comes topped with a sculpted flame gilded with 35kg of gold leaf. Although queues to visit the observation deck at the top of the tower can be daunting, the view is worth it – an endless sea of mosques, skyscrapers, colonial buildings and snaking roads. To begin to understand the history and culture of the world’s most populous Muslim country, don’t miss a tour of the Istiqlal Mosque. Said to be the largest of its kind in South- East Asia, it accommodates more than 120,000 worshippers in its main hall alone.
Art and crafts
Jakarta’s museums and galleries are dotted across the city, making it difficult to see more than two in a day. Begin at the National Museum (www.museumnational.org.id); built in 1862 it’s home to a large collection of artefacts, from musical instruments to costumes and ceramics. To see Java’s traditional wayang puppets, visit the Puppet Museum (+62 21 692 9560) on Taman Fatahillah, a cobbled square in Kota. Dozens of contemporary galleries, including Ark Galerie (www.arkgalerie.com) and Art Seasons (www.artseasonsgallery. com), offer a more modern take on Indonesia’s artistic talent.