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Jakarta is a continuously growing and expanding metropolis, with new suburbs springing up on its outskirts and new high-rises reaching for the sky in the downtown area. The hub of the modern city is Taman Merdeka (Independence Square), which is dominated by the showy, 132 m tall National Monument, crowned by a glittering, stylized metal flame. Taman Fatahilla is the epicentre of Kota, the original heart of Dutch Batavia, and still has a sprinkling of picturesque old buildings. The nearby Glodok district is the heart of Jakarta’s substantial Chinese community, and in recent years has also seen gentrification. Sunda Kelapa, the old port, is lined with warehouses dating back to the colonial era and filled with old-fashioned schooners that still carry cargo between Jakarta and the outlying islands. South of the centre, Jalan Jaksa is a colourful thoroughfare, lined with antique and souvenir shops, budget restaurants, guesthouses and tour agencies.
Jakarta blends harmoniously newly-restored areas with its ancient parts, creating a metropolis provided with both entertaining and culturally interesting options. The city is equipped with several museums such as the Art Museum or the History Museum, in which the traveler can be given an understanding of the country´s Dutch colonial era or traditional artifacts. Having developed into a modern metropolis in recent years, Jakarta is filled with a comprehensive offering of dining options, food hawkers and lively gathering hubs, as well as endless shopping destinations.
The lure of Jakarta’s bright lights has attracted Indonesian migrants from all over this huge country. As a result, the capital’s menu is stupendously varied. Staples such as noodles and nasi goreng (mixed fried rice) are on the menu everywhere, but there’s much more to try. Meat dishes are predominantly composed of chicken or beef, as Indonesia is mostly Muslim and pork is a rarity. Fine dining destinations can be found at most of the hotels that litter the city in great numbers, but what truly shows Jakarta's culinary traditions is its vast assortment of street food, a delicious, yet wallet-friendly, option.
Café culture is something that the Indonesian capital has developed in the past 30 years, though hawker stalls and street food still remain the most popular option among locals and tourists alike. As the coffee culture took over, street vendors started selling instant brews, and international brands of cafeterias began popping up at a fast pace, making the coffee routine an unmissable tradition throughout the diverse Jakarta.
Jakarta is a fast growing city of entertainment where the traveler can be truly spoilt for choice, ranging from down-to-earth bars, to happening discos and karaoke. When the sun starts setting, folks pour merrily down the city's intricate maze of streets, filling the upmarket clubs and lounge bars that tend to be located at most of Jakarta's iconic five-stars hotels. Night-owls can opt for bar-hopping throughout the vast city-centre, or decide to spend the night dancing until the early hours in one of the hectic nightclubs.
Over the last decade, Jakarta has become a major shopping destination, with numerous brand-new, air-conditioned shopping malls springing up all over the city, competing for popularity with long-established malls such as Blok M. International department store chains such as Sogo, Mark’s and Spencer’s and Metro, have also made an appearance, enriching Jakarta's shopping scene. A perfect souvenir might include traditional items, such as ikat and batik textiles, wood carvings from Bali and other islands, antique pottery and Dutch colonial antiques (though these are very often faked). Many international sports and leisure wear brands have factories in Jakarta, and sports footwear, sports clothing and designer wear are available at convenient prices.
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