Many of you might be wondering, “What to do in Jakarta? What lies beyond its chaotic streets and rapid changing skyscrapers?” Okay, I must admit that public transportation system in Jakarta is not as much as good as Kuala Lumpur or even Bangkok, its cleanliness is nothing compared to Singapore. But let me tell you, as Indonesian capital and the biggest metropolis in South East Asia (2nd in the world after Tokyo – Yokohama), Jakarta is a place where ethnics and languages gather, a melting pot that worth for adventure seekers.
One of Jakarta’s tourist attractions beside its tasty foods and old Dutch buildings are: Chinatown. Yes, like any other cities in Asia, Jakarta has a Chinatown.
Jakarta’s Chinatown is a district called Glodok, located just next to the Old City (Kota Tua) in Central Jakarta area. But administratively, it is located in Tamansari, West Jakarta. It’s easily accessible with public transportation, either TransJakarta (Jakarta’s BRT system), Commuter Line (Jakarta’s urban transit system), or the brand new MRT Jakarta.
How to Get There?
Take TransJakarta – Corridor 1 (Blok M – Kota route) to Kota, or Mangga Besar, or Glodok bus stop. By Commuter Line, take a train to Jakarta Kota station, see the map below. If you ride the MRT Jakarta, take a train to Bundaran HI, then transfer to TransJakarta or simply take a GOJEK or GRAB ride.
Or simply take a taxi or motorcycle from wherever you are in Jakarta.
While for transport mode to and from Jakarta, you can book trains, buses, vans, or ferries on Bookaway. It’s easy!
1 – Jakarta Kota Station
This will be a good place to start your little adventure. The Jakarta Kota station is one of the oldest train stations in Indonesia, and it’s still in use now as a terminus station for Commuter Line network and several inter-city trains. This station has been in operation since 1873, connecting Batavia (Jakarta) and Buitenzorg (Bogor). It was an East Java-born Dutch named Frans Johan Lowrens Ghijsels who artistically designed the building.
Go inside the station and you will admire its architecture. Despite the modernization, Jakarta Kota station maintains its old Dutch architecture with high ceilings. It’s comfortable inside, thanks to the art-deco style which allows natural air and light come inside easily. There are several shops and convenience stores in the station for you fill your tummy.
2 – Jalan Pancoran (Pancoran Street)
From Jakarta Kota station, cross the street toward Jalan Gajah Mada, then turn right toward Jalan Pancoran. Welcome to the Jakarta’s Chinatown! Jalan Pancoran is a street lined with Chinese shops selling Chinese attributes like lantern, candles, hio (Chinese red stick), and food. The street might be too crowded, so walk carefully and mind your belongings.
I went there on Chinese New Year, February 7th, and the street was so busy! Full with people and vehicles. But I love the atmosphere where red lanterns were hanging above the street and the aromatic smell fled into my nose.
3 – Toa Se Bio Temple
At the end of Pancoran Street, you’ll see a junction. Turn left into Jalan Toko Tiga, then walk straight ahead until you find a Chinese temple called Toa Se Bio. Toa Se Bio, or Vihara Dharma Jaya, is named after its main god, Toa Sai Kong. The temple takes place at Jalan Kemenangan III, covered in red color. It was formerly named Hong San Bio.
4 – Gereja Katolik Santa Maria de Fatima
At first, many people may think this is a Buddhist temple, regarding its architecture style, but this is a catholic church! Yes, Santa Maria de Fatima is a catholic church built with strong Chinese architecture and cultural influence. See? Jakarta is a melting pot, where ethnics meet. This church represents Chinese and Christian blend, making it a unique place to visit in Jakarta.
It was a Chinese man from Family Tjioe who owned the house, a Lieutenant der Chinezen when Jakarta was in Dutch colonialism. Then, the house was sold by the owner before it was officially opened as a catholic church in 1955 (not sure about the exact year). Now, the church holds the original architecture with its swallow roof and Chinese inscriptions.
5 – Petak Sembilan
Enter a small alley between Toa Se Bio Temple and Gereja Katolik Santa de Fatima. Walk straight about 100 meters, you’ll end up at a street traditional market. That is Petak Sembilan! The market is small, but full with Chinese people selling their goods like vegetables or flowers.
6 – Dharma Bakti Temple
Just at the end of the market, there is a larger Chinese temple called Dharma Bakti. The temple was crowded when I visited it on February 7th.
Dharma Bhakti, or Jin De Yuan (Temple of Golden Righteousness) was built in 1650 by a Chinese Lieutenant, Guo Xun Guan, for the goddess of compassion — Kwan Im or Guan Yin. At first, the temple was named Kwan Im Teng. The temple was then burned down when the Geger Pecinan happened in 1740 as thousands of Chinese were murdered by Dutch and Angke River turned into red! (in Chinese, “Angke” means the red river).
The temple was once burned in March 2015, but now you may safely enjoy its beauty as the big candles spread in the praying hall.
7 – Browsing for Cheap Electronics (or Anything)
Chinese are well known for their trading skill. Take a walk back to Jalan Gadjah Mada toward Jalan Mangga Besar. Along the street, you will find shops, street vendors, and shopping malls selling electronics, gadgets, textiles, and anything. Get what your wants at low prices, do the bargaining! Simply take a walk to Pasar Pagi Asemka, Pasar Glodok, or Lindeteves Trade Center.
8 – Dining at Jalan Mangga Besar
Getting hungry? Calm, the food paradise is just a few steps away. From Jalan Gadjah Mada, turn left into Jalan Mangga Besar. In the evening, the street is lined with restaurants, small cafes, and street vendors. Pick a spot, and have a tasty Chinese dinner! You may have a delicious kwetiaw, fried rice, Hainan rice, or other Chinese cuisines.
I myself had a delicious fried rice, served with pork, costs IDR 45,000. It’s a bit expensive, but the taste and compositions worth the price.
Not into Chinese food? There are several street vendors selling Indonesian halal food like satay, Pecel Ayam, and many more.
9 – Durian Party!
Indonesia is well known for its durian! Good news, Jalan Mangga Besar is a good place to have some durians. You can enjoy the ‘party’ with your friends.
10 – Nightlife
Mangga Besar is popular as one of red districts in Jakarta. Bars, adult spas, and hour-rate hotels are spread along the street. I can’t tell you much about this, but you can easily find any bar you want at the area, like Malioboro Adult Spa, Kartika Bar and Massage, Atlanta, etc.
There are many cheap and budget hotels at Jakarta’s Chinatown, lined along Jalan Mangga Besar, Jalan Pancoran, and Jalan Gadjah Mada. I suggest you to stay at this area since it’s a strategic location, near TransJakarta bus stops, Commuter Line station, and Jakarta Old Town (Kota Tua). Cafes, restaurants, and street foods are everywhere. Souvenir shops are just a few steps away.
This might be not your complete guide to explore the hidden treasures of Jakarta’s Chinatown. There are other interesting attractions, like Tak Kie coffee shop (kopitiam) at Gloria Alley, Toko Merah, and many more. But may this post gives you an inspiration and passion of adventure!
So, are you ready to rock Jakarta? Enjoy Jakarta!
Hey, you might want to read these posts too, written by my blogger fellas: