Kek Lok Si Temple
See & Do,  Travel Guides & Tips

Jakarta & Penang: Paint the town red in these urban playgrounds.

Those of us who live and work in cities often nurture an odd, love-hate relationship with them.

Visiting a city in another country, however, is a completely different experience altogether.

Whether it’s the cacophony of foreign tongues or the unfamiliarity of the local cuisine, there’s always something exciting to discover as you peel away a city’s layers.

If you love exploring bustling concrete jungles and uncovering well-kept secrets that only locals would know, then Penang and Jakarta are two cities that are definitely worth a trip.

What marvels will you come across in these two distinctly diverse cities? We’ve got your answers here:


Jakarta cityscape

Welcome to the Big Durian! With a population of over 10 million people, it’s the largest city in Southeast Asia and packed full of fun things to get up to.

To avoid spending too much time stuck in its notorious traffic snarls (colloquially known as macet), jump on an ojek (motorcycle taxi) and speed off to see what the metropolis has to offer:

What to see & do

  • Shop ‘til you drop
    With over 170 shopping malls spread out across the city (among the highest concentrations in the world!), Jakarta is a shopaholic’s dream come true.

    Most Jakartans are loathe to move from one location to another unless they absolutely have to due to the traffic, so these shopping meccas cater to pretty much every entertainment need you could have, from retailers to restaurants to recreational venues.

    Check out Plaza Senayan, Grand Indonesia Shopping Town, and Mal Taman Anggrek.

  • Appreciate its vibrant music and arts culture

    Indonesians are a very creative people, so it’s no surprise that Jakarta is a hotbed of up-and-coming musicians and artists.

    If you fancy yourself a culture maven, be sure to listen to some live music or drop by a local art gallery.

    Check out the annual Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival, BlackCat Jazz & Blues Club, BIASA ArtSpace Jakarta, and Galeri Hadiprana.

    Jakarta music
    Violin practice at Taman Suropati Menteng. Source: GeorginaCaptures /
  • Party the night away
    Jakartans both work hard and play hard, so once they’ve clocked out, you can be sure that they’ll head to their favorite watering hole to kick back and relax.

    You’ll have a wide variety of bars and clubs to choose from, ranging from chill hangouts to swanky nightclubs.

    Check out Lucy in the Sky, Fable, and Skye Bar.



Kek Lok Si Temple
Kek Lok Si Temple lights up with a grand fireworks show in George Town, Penang.

Penang Island is where most food-obsessed travelers perform their pilgrimage to enjoy some of the best street food around.

It’s a curious mix of contrasts, from the old and new to urban comforts and natural wonders. Here, you can find a cool hipster establishment just down the road from a grandiose Chinese clan house.

The state’s capital, George Town, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage City, and it’s one of the few remaining bastions of the Peranakan (also known as the Straits Chinese, or Baba Nyonya) community.

What to see & do

  • Scour the streets for hidden murals
    In 2012, the city of George Town commissioned contemporary artist Ernest Zacharevic to liven up its rundown streets, which he accomplished by creating a number of constructive public art pieces.

    They’ve since become tourist attractions in themselves, and have inspired other artists to add their own works of art to the collection.

    You can find a map guide to some of the more famous pieces at Tourism Penang.

  • Chow down on the local grub
    When we said Penang has some of the best street food around, we meant it.

    If you want to try a bit of everything, the best place would be the hawker centers, where you can find rows upon rows of stalls offering popular dishes such as char kuey teow, rojak pasembur, and satay.

    Check out New Lane Hawker Center, Gurney Drive Hawker Center, and Long Beach Food Court.

    Penang street food
    Street food stalls on Lebuh Chulia in George Town, Penang. Source: Elena Ermakova /
  • Take a trip back in time
    Penang has a long and storied history, so if you’re a history buff, you’re in for a treat. But even if you’re not usually into the historical stuff, you’ll still find the stories of the past and various curios and artifacts on display fascinating.

    Thanks to its legacy as a famed port, it’s a melting pot of cultures, and you can visit remnants of its colorful past at various heritage attractions.

    Check out Kek Lok Si Temple, Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (Blue Mansion), and Fort Cornwallis.

Ready to hit the cafes and admire the remarkable architecture of Jakarta and Penang? Check out our
‘Walao-Eh!’ promotion from 7 – 9 July for exclusive coupon codes! Save up to RM188 when you book your flights and hotel to these cities on the Traveloka App.

A storyteller with an insatiable sense of curiosity. Travel junkie. Card-carrying member of many fandoms. Heavily dependent on caffeine. Loyal cat servant. Former journalist at the New Straits Times and Hybrid News.