Despite being predicted to be sinking in 30 years, the Indonesian capital has been successfully developing a new Chinatown in the North Jakarta coast as the latest tourist destination.
What’s the best place to get cultural experiences in Indonesia? You might be surprised if I recommend Jakarta. Yeah, the country’s economic, cultural and political center has been long known for its heavy traffic, pollution, and vibrant shopping areas. But it’s also one of the best places to experience the local culture. Jakarta is the actual melting pot of Indonesia. Hundreds of ethnicities live, work, and contribute to developing Jakarta culture. Try to spend some time in Jakarta, you’d get a closer look at Javanese, Betawi, Sundanese, or Chinese culture. The latter one has been successfully developing a new Chinatown Jakarta, Indonesia and it’s now becoming the new recreation & culinary hotspot in town for both locals and tourists.
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Chinatown Jakarta, The Least Touristy Chinatown in The World
Unlike in major cities around the world, Chinatown Jakarta isn’t touristy although it’s still a fascinating area to visit. There were fewer tourists in comparison to Chinatown in neighboring countries such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. But it also has a more authentic atmosphere. The Chinatown Jakarta is called Glodok by the locals, although Glodok consists of a larger area than only Chinatown Jakarta, you might hear the two terms being used interchangeably within the city.
The Chinatown Jakarta is a bustling area filled with street vendors selling fresh fish and meat in the morning hours, there are some interesting markets to visit such as Pasar Pagi Mangga Dua, Pasar Asemka, Pasar Glodok, electronic centers (Orion Plaza, Glodok Plaza, Harco Glodok), and some Chinese temple. You also could get an interesting culinary experience in Chinatown Jakarta, starting from visiting Pantjoran Tea House, the newly renovated culinary center Petak Enam, and strolling along the small stores selling Chinese snacks throughout Glodok.
The most convenient spot to experience the variety of Chinese and Indonesian cuisine is by visiting Petak Enam di Chandra food center. The former one of the oldest shopping centers in Jakarta currently is known as a food center mainly serving Chinese and Indonesian cuisine. Here, you could taste noodles (bakmi), roasted duck, kwetiau, dumplings (dim sum), Hainan rice, laksa but also the famous nasi goreng and soto ayam on one of the spaces provided, similar to the setting of Singapore hawker center. You also would feel a more Chinese vibe here than most places in Indonesia since it’s built-in ancient Chinese architecture and decorated with hanging red lanterns. To get there, you just need to cross the street from Pancoran Chinatown Point, a shopping mall in Glodok, Jakarta, Indonesia.
Chinatown Jakarta PIK, The New Chinatown & Tourist Hotspot
Meanwhile, Glodok or the actual Chinatown Jakarta still exists, Jakarta also has been successfully developing a new area with a similar Chinese feel. Pantai Indah Kapuk or often referred to as PIK is starting to be dubbed as the new Chinatown in Jakarta since it has pretty rich Chinese cultural elements in the area, such as the building of the Tzu Chi center that is built resembling ancient Chinese palace, an array of Chinese restaurants, hawker centers, and the newest culinary center, Pantjoran PIK, which is built in a rich Chinese ancient architectural style such as red shophouses, ancient Chinese gates, Chinese-themed murals, and a pagoda. Pantjoran PIK is one of the reasons why the area is currently drawing a lot of visits from both locals and tourists hoping to relax and enjoy the culinary.
You’ll get the Chinese vibe as soon you arrive at the gate. When I wandered around Pantjoran, Chinatown Jakarta PIK last weekend, I felt like, I wasn’t in Jakarta. Every spot here is built with Chinese ancient architectural style. The red shophouses with their hip-and-gable roof look like old houses I’ve seen around Hanoi, Vietnam, and in Chinese movies. The pavilions and bridges remind me of a garden in Taipei, Taiwan. Meanwhile, the colorful hanging lanterns and the street arts make the atmosphere feels more lively and touristy. Although it does also feel a bit artificial since Pantjoran is a newly built establishment and just opened in 2020.
Since Pantjoran in Chinatown Jakarta PIK has been quickly drawing a lot of visits from both locals and tourists, its area then being expanded to cater to more visitors. In Pantjoran extension, shop houses and kiosks are not only built with ancient Chinese architectural style but also Peranakan style, the typical architecture you might have seen in Singapore and Malaysia. Hahaha, you will feel like being in a theme park as I had…
But one spot I’ve seen flocked the most by the visitors is a red pagoda with a Guanyin (Kwan Im) statue in front of it. People were seen queuing just to get a chance to take selfies in front of it. Unfortunately, it’s not open for visitors yet, but I hope on my next visit I can climb up to the top to enjoy the view from its summit.
Besides the architecture and art, the main thing that is drawing people to come and keep returning here is definitely its food. You could find any kind of Chinese food in Pantjoran Chinatown Jakarta PIK, halal and non-halal, including some well-known brands such Din Tai Fung, one of Taiwan’s Michelin star restaurants, and Kopi Es Tak Kie, a long-running cafe for Chinese noodle dishes & iced coffee in Glodok, Jakarta, Indonesia.
When is the best time to visit Pantjoran in Chinatown Jakarta? Since it’s currently being the hottest tourist & culinary spot in town, I suggest you come on weekdays to avoid the crowds. You could also be visiting it in the early morning since some stalls are open since morning to cater to the bikers community. The best time to visit Chinatown Jakarta PIK actually is at night. The view looks more stunning with lit lanterns and pagoda, making this area look like a Chinese city from a different era when viewed from a distance.
Tip: You could combine the trip to Chinatown Jakarta PIK with a visit to some other tourist destinations around the area, such as Pantai Pasir Putih (literally means white sand beach) PIK 2, a man-made beach; San Antonio Promenade; and Mangrove Ecotourism Centre PIK to see the mangrove forest.
Both Chinatown Jakarta is fascinating places to visit. You should definitely visit it to experience the different feel of Jakarta and to learn about one of Indonesia’s cultures. If you come from Jakarta airport, it’s very easy to reach it since it’s located only 17 min away. Just take the direction toward Golf Island, Pantai Maju and you’ll be heading to Chinatown Jakarta, Indonesia.
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