Jakarta does not have a good reputation in Asia, and many of the stereotypes about it are true: It is polluted, dirty, clogged with traffic and disorganized. There is also a limited number of tourist attractions. If you do not like to get out of your comfort zone, then this is not a destination for you.
On the bright side, and despite the fact that Indonesia is a majority-Muslim country, Jakarta has a vibrant and crazy nightlife, which is a reflection of the fun-loving and friendly character of Indonesians. And even if you wanted to venture away from Jakarta, you can find a fun nightlife scene in Bali.
Wherever you go out, either luxurious nightclubs or local pubs, you’ll find it easy to meet people and mix with the crowd. Ending a night out in a karaoke room with total strangers is just standard partying over here.
I hope this short guide will help you prepare your trip more efficiently. If you still have questions after reading it, you can always contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
General Party Information on Jakarta
Geography – Where to Stay:
Jakarta is an enormous city, at the heart of the second most populous urban area in the world. It is often scary for first-time visitors, but things aren’t as complicated as they seem.
You should understand that almost all the interesting things to do in Jakarta are along a 15-km line running from the north to the south, from Kota Tua to Senayan. The north is the oldest and historical part of the town, the center is the Central Business District, and the south is mostly residential and upmarket.
I recommend you to choose a hotel in the center, if possible near the streets “Jalan Sudirman” or “Jalan Thamrin”. Travelers on a budget can go directly to Jalan Jaksa or Jalan Wahid Hasyim. You can read Jakarta Hotel Guide for more information.
Getting Around Jakarta
Transportation is undoubtedly the worst aspect of any trip to Jakarta. Traffic jams are massive during the week from 7.30am to 10am and from 4.30pm until 8pm. You should try to avoid the road during these hours (particularly on Fridays or rainy days). For party-goers though, the conditions at night and on weekends are normally way better.
If you can afford taking taxis or app-based transportation like Uber or Grab, going around in Jakarta will take time, but it should be comfortable. The most reputable companies like Blue Bird, Gamya or Express have modern fleet of vehicles and their drivers will very rarely cheat you.
Even though taxis are cheap (around 4-5$ for 20 minutes on average, 25% less with Uber/Grab), it may end up being pricey for a single travelers.
The best alternative is to use one of the moto-taxi services like Go-Jek or GrabBike. It costs about 2$ for a 20-minute ride and it is faster than going by car. It is not convenient for long distance though and it is quite dangerous.
Public transportation do exist, but the options are limited at night and only the TransJakarta busway system is tourist-friendly. I often use the Line 1, which goes from Blok M in the south to Kota Tua in the north. The price is Rp3,500 per trip.
The Party Scene in Jakarta
There are various communities in Jakarta, and each has its favourite nightlife spots. If I wanted to make generalizations, I would say the following:
Most young Indonesian Muslims do not drink alcohol and only hang out in coffee shops or eateries. The more westernized will go to beer gardens, live music bars and sometimes to clubs and karaokes. The guys may also head north to visit “one-stop-entertainment centers” that combine discos, karaokes, massage parlours and restaurants.
Wealthy Indonesian Chinese tend to party in large groups, opening bottles at VIP tables in nightclubs or in karaokes. From what I’ve seen, they are heavy drinkers and it is not rare to see a few of them passing out or vomiting. Some may also visit massage parlours and naughty clubs, usually the most exclusive ones, also in the north.
Younger expats will go wherever there is good Western food, a dancefloor or unattached ladies. If they are into prostitution, they’ll prefer the freelance scene of the bars in Blok M, Shangri-La and Mulia over the brothels of the north.
Cost of Partying in Jakarta
Alcoholic drinks can be very costly in Jakarta, from 4-5$ for a beer to over 10$ for a cocktail. Entrance fees can also reach up to 20$ without free drinks in the most prestigious venues. I think that only Singapore nightlife is more expensive in Southeast Asia.
If you are a heavy drinker, you should set aside at least 150$ for a decent night out. You can save money on this amount if you drink before heading out (for instance a bottle of liquor from the duty free) or if you stick to local beers like Bintang or Prost. Note that convenient stores are not allowed to sell alcohol: You’ll need to go to supermarkets for that.
Jakarta nightclubs are always strict with their dress code and the best ones will not let you in if you are wearing shorts, singlets, t-shirts, sandals or even torn jeans. Girls should wear high heels in places like Dragonfly, Immigrant, Blowfish or X2.
The government has just passed a new rule stating that 19 was the minimum age to enter nightclubs. Many Indonesians don’t really care as they can just buy fake IDs from the police. Some clubs implement a higher age limit, for instance Dragonfly (21). On the contrary, some like Fable or Blowfish are known to have a younger crowd.
Where to Party in Jakarta:
South and Central Jakarta:
The Central Business District (CBD), also called the Golden Triangle, is by far the best area for partying in Jakarta. It is made of several neighborhoods, for instance Senayan, SCBD, Mega Kuningan or Thamrin, each with a high density of bars, clubs and restaurants. It is also where almost all the 5-star hotels and luxury malls in the city are located.
At the southern tip of the CBD, Senopati is the most expensive residential neighborhood in Jakarta. Hip restaurants and bars open almost monthly there, only to be closed a few months later for some.
Kemang is the major expat neighborhood in Jakarta. Until a few years ago, it used to be made almost entirely of low-rise buildings, villas and small shops. This is starting to change with the building of new malls and skyscrapers. Its nightlife has two sides: A cheap one, popular with a young Indonesian crowd and a more expensive one, popular with older expats.
This is the historical part of the city, where most tourist attractions can be found. It has a vibrant nightlife, but rather seedy. Almost every nightclubs and bars in that area, even the most luxurious ones like Colosseum, have prostitutes and sometimes drugs. In the past few years, several high-profile venues have closed because of the latter, namely the Stadium and Mille’s.
The most happening areas in north Jakarta are Mangga Besar (excellent for 24h street food), Glodok, Mangga Dua and Harmoni.
Near the seafront, Pantai Indah Kapuk is an up-and-coming nightlife area which is currently very popular with young Indonesian Chinese. Most venues are small restaurants, cafés and dessert houses, but there are also more and more bars and clubs (for instance Hugo’s, Locale, Hangover and Wu Bar)
Top Bars and Clubs in Jakarta
My recommendations below are based on the assumption that you are a tourist looking for “clean” fun in Jakarta.
Best Rooftop Bars in Jakarta
Whenever I have friends visiting Jakarta, I like to bring them to a rooftop bar just before sunset. It is an excellent way to wait for the traffic to improve.
My favourite is Cloud, on top of The Plaza tower in Plaza Indonesia. It is rather expensive and upscale, with a lot of expatriates. It can get crowded sometimes so it is best to book a sofa to make sure you’ll have a place to sit down. On weekends, after 10pm, they normally have louder music and a DJ.
The Plaza Tower 49th floor
Jl. M.H Thamrin Kav. 28-30
Phone number: +62-21 2992 2448
Only 500 meters from Cloud, SKYE is another fun rooftop but with a view that is not as spectacular. Still, it is even more busy, with a really diverse crowd. They have decent food and a lot of special events (live music, fashion show, guest chefs, etc).
Menara BCA – 56th Floor
M.H. Thamrin No.1
Phone number: +62-21 2358 6996
Best Bars in Jakarta
There are really a lot of recommended bars in Jakarta, but I’ll limit myself to just three of the most popular. Alternatively, you should know that each luxury malls in Jakarta has at least a couple of happening drinking spots.
Loewy has been a favorite among expatriates for almost 10 years. During the day, it is a busy French restaurant with a typical retro café design. At night, the music get louder and the bar area becomes a great place to socialize and meet people.
Oakwood Premier Cozmo
Jl. Lingkar Mega Kuningan E4.2 No. 1
Phone number: +62-21 2554 2378
Lucy in the Sky is a happening spot as well. It has a sort of bohemian vibe, yet the customers are mostly wealthy 20-something Indonesians. It is a chilled hangout most of the time, except at night on weekends. It is so packed then that you’ll barely be able to get a drink. Next to it, you have several other trendy bars and nightclubs (Fable, Hide & Seek)
Central Business District
Phone number: +62-21 515 2308
Beer Garden is a chain of affordable beer gardens (obviously) with four locations in Jakarta. Since the branch in Menteng is not far from the backpacker street of Jalan Jaksa, it is a good option for budget travelers. They have live music almost every day and they serve cheap snacks.
Jl. KH Wahid Hasyim, No. 108
Phone number: +62-21 3192 6588
Best Nightclubs in Jakarta
Nightclubs are normally open on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday until 4-5am. Ladies nights are usually on Wednesdays but they aren’t that generous. If you are partying with a group, it is wise to consider buying a bottle instead of paying the first drink charge.
The mega-club X2 has 3 rooms, among which Equinox is the largest. Undisputedly, it is the most crowded nightclub in Jakarta, holding up to 2,000 people at the same time. It is considered a pick up spot for many westerners trying to meet local girls. The music is commercial hip hop/Rn’B in Equinox, and EDM/Top 40 in the other rooms.
Plaza Senayan, 4th & 5th Floors
Jl. Asia Afrika no. 8
Phone number: +6221-5725559-60
Immigrant is a smaller venue located on the 6th floor of the luxury mall Plaza Indonesia. It attracts an older crowd, particularly expats. It has commercial music as well, most often trap or hip hop.
Plaza Indonesia Level 6
Jl. M.H. Thamrin Kav. 28-30
Phone number: +62-21 3983 8257-58
Jenja is a new nightclub in South Jakarta, about 20 minutes from the city center when driving at night. They have more sophisticated DJs, including famous international acts, who play tech-house, deep house or minimal. It is very popular among foreigners as well.
Town Square Cilandak (CiToS) – 2nd Floor
1 Jalan TB. Simatupang, Kav. 17
Phone number: +62 822 1181 3383
We hope you get the chance to visit Indonesia, and if you have any questions about partying in Jakarta, please comment below and we will do out best to answer them!