Jakarta Chinatown, better known to locals as Glodok, was born after the massacre of 5,000 Chinese in 1740, when the remaining population were moved to a separate settlement outside the city walls. Today it’s a bustling hub where Chinese eateries, temples, street markets, and medicine shops nudge up against electronics stores.
Glodok highlights include the historical Jin De Yuan temple (built in 1755), the Da Shi Miao temple (built in 1751), and the chaotic Petak Sembilan street market. While it is perfectly easy to explore independently, many opt for the cultural and historical insights—and expert food recommendations—that come with a guided Jakarta Chinatown tour. Glodok is also a common stop on Jakarta night tours and city overviews.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A visit to Chinatown is a must for foodies and history buffs—the latter often pair it with a trip to Kota, the old city.
- Tensions between ethnic Indonesians and the Chinese community still exist. Anti-Chinese racism last had a major impact on Jakarta Chinatown in 1998, when rioters swept through Glodok.
- Even in Chinatown, do not expect all Chinese Indonesians to speak Mandarin. Some speak Hokkien and other dialects; others speak only Indonesian.
How to Get There
Until the long-awaited MRT opens, getting around Jakarta by public transit is difficult, and driving is even more so in one of the world’s most gridlocked cities. If you’d like to experience the bus, Glodok is on the Kota-Blok M Transjakarta route. Alternatively, book a tour for cultural insights into the rich world of Jakarta Chinatown—along with transportation.
When to Get There
As with Chinatowns the world over, Glodok is at its most colorful during the big Chinese festivals—especially the Lunar New Year celebrations, when lanterns deck the streets alongside colorful symbols of the animal that represents the incoming year. You might well see the occasional lion dancer. Even outside festival times, Glodok is lively throughout the day and into the evening: time visits to avoid the worst of Jakarta’s gridlock (rush hours are typically 8am–10am and 4:30pm–8pm).
Chinese Indonesian Food
Chinese communities have lived in the Indonesian archipelago for many centuries and shaped the nation’s cuisine. One of the joys of any trip to Glodok is trying classics of Chinese Indonesian fare, such as mie pangsit (pork dumplings, noodles, and more), ayam saos mentega (butter chicken), or sop asparagus kepiting (crab and asparagus soup).