Jakarta is not a city that appeals to everyone but many find it an unavoidable stop on the way to more tranquil Indonesian destinations. A decentralised sprawl of low slung buildings and occasional high rise towers, the lack of any real city centre makes it difficult to experience Jakarta's highlights, which are scattered about the enormous districts. Jakarta has a reputation as a rich person's playground and, although it is a city of grungy streets and some conspicuous poverty, travellers will also find modern shopping complexes and examples of ostentatious wealth. Visitors can enjoy a bit of this glamour in the garish nightclubs and elegant restaurants.
Travelling far in the city is laborious, with heavy traffic and haywire street grids throughout this dense and stretching metropolis adding to the difficulty. Yet despite or, possibly, because of Jakarta's reputation as a difficult city, little visited areas and unique attractions feel like personal discoveries. Jakarta is a melting pot of everything Indonesian, giving visitors a quick introduction or synopsis of the country's various and incredibly diverse cultures, architectures, foods, languages, religions, and combined histories.
Although it can be a polluted and frustrating city to visit, Jakarta has some hidden gems and confronts tourists with the realities of urban Indonesia, providing an interesting contrast to the peaceful rural villages and glorious coastal areas.