Jakarta Chinatown is the only place in Jakarta where you can eat traditional Chinese food, shop for anything from Chinese herbal remedies to cut-price electronics, and enjoy sightseeing walks around exotic Chinese temples, some of which have stood the tests of time and are silent witnesses to the formation of Jakarta as Indonesia’s capital city.
Profuse with history and Chinese heritage, Jakarta Chinatown is oftentimes included on tours to the old town area, where you can enjoy a nostalgic walk with hints of far eastern architecture dominating the streetscapes. You will find numerous 17th century-old temples forming part of the townscape. In between are rows of family-run shops and restaurants.
The oldest landmarks include several temples at its town hub, which the locals refer to as pusat Glodok or the ‘Glodok centre’. The narrow route is also known as the main street market of the same name, where you’ll find rows of Chinese shops and vendors akin to a kung-fu movie scene. Come around Lunar New Year and see Chinese lanterns and red banners adorning the street.
Unfortunately, the main important landmark temple of Jakarta Chinatown, known as Jin De Yuan and later officially renamed in modern times as Vihara Dharma Bhakti, was reduced to ashes in March 2015, due to an overwhelming fire. Plans are underway however, to restore it to its former glory, complete with its ornate carvings, fine calligraphy and magnificent paintings. Nevertheless, a walk through Glodok can be a sensory treat, with sights and scents that lure you into colourful Chinese culture.