Pusat / Menteng
There are many affluent neighborhoods in Jakarta, but most of them are located on the outskirts or even in satellite cities surrounding the capital. Menteng, on the other hand, is one such posh neighborhood that’s located right in the heart of Central Jakarta. Menteng is famous for its lush greenery as much as its decadent mansions. It’s not surprising then that the neighborhood was initially planned as Jakarta’s first garden suburb at the turn of the 20th century. The floral atmosphere of the neighborhood remains today, as Menteng is home to some of the city’s best-known and well maintained parks, such as Taman Suropati and Taman Menteng. Cynics, however, like to suggest that Menteng is only so well maintained because it is the residential area for many political figures, such as the governor of Jakarta, the ambassador of the USA, and former President Megawati Soekarnoputri among others (US President Barack Obama also lived in Menteng during his childhood). Other than having a reputation of being Jakarta’s “garden”, Menteng can be a lot of fun after the sun sets. Jalan Sabang transforms into a hawker center of sorts come nightfall, with numerous street food vendors setting up on either side of the long street and spoiling the city’s hungry eaters for choice. Adjacent to Jalan Sabang is Jalan Jaksa, which has often been described as Jakarta’s mini Kuta, in reference to the famous tourist strip of Bali. That reputation is quite well deserved, as Jalan Jaksa easily has the highest concentration of backpacking bules (foreigners, often Caucasian) than any other area in Jakarta. Though its size and length is only somewhere between that of a street and an alleyway, Jalan Jaksa boasts numerous cheap bars and hostels to entice budget travelers.