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From hanging out with the "chi chi" in an upscale lounge, to exploring the seediest discos, or just grabbing a beer at the local sports bar, Jakarta offers a wide selection of over 200 bars, clubs, pubs and lounges scattered across the entire city to cater to every whim and preference.
To hang out with Jakarta's young, rich and beautiful, try the Red Square in the Plaza Senayan Arcadia annex, reported to be Jakarta's first vodka bar and restaurant and which is very popular with expats in the city. X2 Club nearby is also a place to see and be seen, although some say that it has lost some of its luster recently, but still the music and cocktails are excellent.
The fashionable Kemang area in South Jakarta is popular with expats and locals alike. It has numerous places to explore for haute cuisine, excellent cocktails and to dance the night away. Casa, a small bar and restaurant in Kemang, is a haunt for creative types, and trendy in its own restrained way. Nu China is a club and bar that is currently popular with college types.
If you are looking for a place for a good, quiet glass of wine, check out the Cork and Screw, a bistro and wine bar in Kuningan. Known for its good food and even better wine selection, Cork and Screw is arguably one of the most affordable wine bars in the city today.
Segarra is an outdoor lounge by the sea in the Ancol resort area of North Jakarta that is a world away from the grim of the city. With an amazingly unique beach bar atmosphere that you wouldn't find anywhere else in Jakarta, you can relax while chilling on a sofa in the sea breeze or on one of the lounge chairs that dot the deck along the shore.
The Hard Rock Café in Plaza Indonesia is an old favorite for burgers and fries, with a live music band on most weekends. Cazbar in Mega Kuningan, just behind the Ritz Carlton Hotel, also offers a local sports bar like atmosphere that is a nice, relatively quiet spot to hang out over a beer and on slow weekday evenings. Jaya Pub , probably the oldest pub in town, models itself after the old pubs in Amsterdam and is a great way to blend a little Batavian culture with a good beer.
A nightlife district popular among single expats is Blok M in South Jakarta, or more specifically Jalan Palatehan 1, a single lane just north of the bus terminal which is packed full of pubs, bars and clubs geared almost squarely towards the single Western male expat.
When going out in Jakarta, be aware that a fairly high number of working girls, known in local parlance as "ayam", congregate in nightspots, so much so that many female clientele often get mistaken for being on the take. So be careful when going out as a female in the city - always go in groups.
Be sure to avoid the Kota area in North Jakarta, considered to be the seediest part of town after midnight. If you must explore just for the sake of trying it once, we suggest you restrict yourself to the regular discos in Kota, such as Stadium and Crown, but, even so, these clubs have special areas designated for prostitutes.
To address some practicalities, night life in Jakarta does tend towards the pricey end, for local living standards at least. In general, dress codes are strictly enforced in most bars and clubs in the city: dress sharply, or at the very least smart casual and definitely no shorts or slippers. During Ramadan, the holy Muslim fasting month, all nightlife ends at midnight and some operations close for the entire month.
Posted in: July 9th 2008
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