Jakarta loves to shop. In this megacity, it’s a national pastime that expats are quick to adopt. From the most basic of local markets to the fanciest of mega-malls, there is a plethora of possibilities for parting with your pennies.
How to get the most out of a shopping trip
The main rule to live by for Jakarta shopping trips is stamina. Pack copious amounts of bottled water, snacks and books in your car or bag to keep you hydrated and happy for a long day ahead. That’s not to say Jakarta’s shopping destinations don’t provide refreshments – most do, from the simplest of kaki lima (food stalls) to the hippest of happy-hour havens. But you might just find it takes longer than planned to get there and get around – so wear comfy clothes and get stuck in!
Take advice from friends and from your driver on when planning routes and destinations. Want to hit Mangga Dua and Blok M in the same day? It may not be possible – give yourself a realistic target!
Research your destinations before you go, particularly opening times and addresses. It’s not easy to find reliable information on the Indonesian internet, so it’s usually best to call ahead and verify the essentials first.
Types of shopping destinations in Jakarta
Malls: Ubiquitous and impressive, Jakarta has its fair share of fancy megamalls. In the city centre, the sprawling, landmark Grand Indonesia sits just across from Plaza Indonesia on the HI Bundaran roundabout. Almost every big, upmarket brand can be found in Plaza Indonesia, and popular international brands like Forever 21 and Zara are housed in Grand Indonesia. Both have myriad dining options and are, in their own right, enough to distract you for a whole day.
Further south the also-upmarket Pacific Place is in the Kuningan area, while Senayan City sits just below the business district. Pacific Place has Lafayette Department Store, while Senayan City houses H&M as well as high-end brands.
In the southern residential districts, Lippo has two malls, in Kemang and Pejatan Barat. Both are very useful mid-range offerings: Debenhams and Marks and Spencer are good department stores, while brands like Mothercare and New Look are popular. There are also large branches of the supermarket chain Hypermart in both locations, and an ACE Hardware in Kemang.
Pondok Indah has one of the largest mall complexes, in fact three malls networked into one, and including a SOGO department store. You can lose an entire day in there!
Supermarkets: The high-end chains are Kem Chicks (locations in Kemang and Pacific Place), Ranch Market, and Hero. All have many imported goods from the USA, Europe and Australia.
Mid- to lower-end options are Hypermart, Carrefour, Grand Lucky and smaller mini-supermarket chains like Indomaret, Alfamart and 7-11.
Local malls: these are where many of the most exciting hidden gems of Jakarta shopping can be found. It’s all about who – and what – you know. For example, Ratu Plaza is the place to go for computer supplies and DVDs. Pasaraya and Mayestik can be good for material and fabric shopping. Fatmawati (a street rather than a mall) is home to many home decoration shops, as is Kemang Timur, where you can buy lots of teak furniture.
Local markets: Not many expats do much shopping true local food markets (known here are ‘pasar’). If you want to buy cheap veggies, it’s not a bad idea to ask your maid or driver to go shopping in the local market for you. You can buy a week’s worth of veggies for as little as Rp.20-30,000, but it may not be the most enjoyable experience for you if you like your shopping air-conditioned, easy and in English!
Guide to opening hours
In general most malls don’t open until at least 10am, so don’t try to be an early bird here! They usually stay open until 10pm. In contrast local markets begin and end very early in the morning, as most of the population is up at 4:30am for prayers. Local malls may keep more moderate hours, but to be safe aim for between 10am-10pm. You won’t be able to haggle (i.e. bargain) in malls and established branded shops, but try in local malls, local markets, and independent shops.
Shopping in Jakarta can be enormous fun – with patience and a smile you will certainly enjoy yourself!