Indonesië is more than Bali part 1: Jakarta Utara
You’re probably thinking: Yeah, duh. Obviously. But I hear Indonesia and Bali mentioned in one breath all around me so often. I feel as though a lot of Western people idealise Bali. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful island. But it is also very touristy. In some places you can’t walk two steps without tripping over some (Australian) tourist. And the famous spots of Bali have also lost a great deal of their Balinese character, catering too much to the tourists. This is why I want to stand up for beautiful places in Indonesia outside of Bali in an irregular series of articles. This time: Jakarta Utara, the northern part of the Indonesian capital.
Jakarta is so immensely large you could spend a week there and not even see everything. But if you only have 1 or 2 days, go to Jakarta Utara. You’re close to the coast of the Java Sea, near shopping and food paradise Kelapa Gading and close to the Ancol amusement park.
Taman Impian Jaya Ancol
When it was just called Ancol, about 20 years ago, it was a (large) swimming pool surrounded by a few aquaria. Nowadays it’s a huge (water-themed) amusement park where mostly locals go to enjoy a day out. Taman Impian Jaya Ancol is also known as Ancol Dreamland, which makes more sense to foreign tourists. Ancol is by the beach, where you can cultivate a tan or dip into the ocean. If you prefer a swimming pool, you could do that too. There are several (outside) pools. On the Ancol grounds there is also a Seaworld park, boasting many lovely aquaria.
Across all of Jakarta there are many large shopping malls, but you’ll find most of them in Kelapa Gading, a subdistrict of Jakarta Utara. You’ll also find the largest shopping mall of Jakarta here, Mal Kelapa Gading.
“Pergi ke mal yoh!” Or: let’s go to the mall! I often hear many a person, including myself, say this whenever I’m in Indonesia. Especially when the day is at its hottest it is wonderful there, with the a/c on full blast. Going to a shopping mall, or ‘mal’ for short, is a great outing for any Indonesian. And it doesn’t even matter whether you spend your money or only go window shopping. The malls in Indonesia are huge and there are plenty of places outside of the restaurants and shops where you can just hang out or take a little nap (just on a bench somewhere, nothing weird about that).
Mal Kelapa Gading is my favourite. There are daily activities there, you can eat great food from several cultures and there are shops to suit any shopper’s tastes. Soon you will find a more extensive article on Kalapa Gading here.
A fish market (pasar ikan in Indonesian) is always fun to visit, at least if you’re a foodie. And enjoy fish. It’s an up and coming hotspot in town. You have to go early, though, to see the local fishermen in action. The hustle and bustle starts at around 3am and continues until about 6am.
The best part is that you can buy your favourite fish there and get it prepared in one of the nearby restaurants. You may end up with this as a result:
Pasar ikan Muara Angke is located here:
Jalan Pendaratan Udang No.3, RT.22/RW.11, Penjaringan, Kota Jakarta Utara.
Island hopping near the coast of Jakarta
If you happen to have a few days extra and feel like enjoying some tranquillity and nature after all the commotion of Jakarta, take a boat trip to one of the island of Pulau Seribu. This literally means a thousand islands. There aren’t that many, but there are more than a 100, of which you can only visit 45. On these islands there are few people, few tourists (for now) and lots of nature.
Resorts have been built on the larger islands now, but mass tourism hasn’t struck just yet. The resorts vary from basic to very luxurious. The most luxurious ones are on Bidadari. Depending on the island you’re headed for, your boat ride can take from 15 minutes to 4 hours.
Boats leave at around 6am from Muara Angke Port or Ancol Marina. So rise and shine nice and early.
Looking for a good hotel in Jakarta Utara?
I myself am a great fan of Hotel Harris Kelapa Gading. Beautiful, spacious and clean rooms, friendly staff and a massive breakfast buffet with a selection of European and Asian dishes make this a very good hotel. By Indonesian standards this is a more expensive hotel, mostly catering to tourists and businessmen. A room costs about €60 a night. Hotel Harris is a hotel chain with several establishments in Indonesia and other parts of Asia.
Have you ever been to Jakarta Utara? Got any tips? Share them below.