{Jakarta} China Town: Sights, Sounds and Smells

I recently visited Jakarta’s China Town, aka as Glodok. The sights, smells and sounds are still embedded on my mind. I have visited many China Towns around the globe but this one in particular was very unique. I would describe it as traditional beyond compare but modern in their mercantile practices. This is a place you definitely need to see but be warned that you might not like everything you catch a glimpse of.

Here are a few sights of Glodok. I hope you can experience a bit of what I did on that day.

Welcome to China Town, aka Glodok

Candy, Nuts, Fruits, whatever pleases your palate


Rosella, a.k.a. Jamaica

Dried fruits and veggies

More candy!

You can find all kinds of ingredients

Wet Market

Buying Coffee Luak

Yum! No, not really!

Most of the fish were still alive

This fish jumped out of the water, he really wanted its picture taken



A bushel of frogs

We HAD to stop for Pork


At the Temple



Inside the temple

It was very smoky

Another view of the Temple

Preparing incense packages

Giant incense sticks

Candles inside the temple



Candles for sale

Another smaller temple

And yet another

Gates leading outside the temple

A gate and a small altar

Indonesian Food Cart

Inside a Chinese Herbal Store

Bananas Galore

We are in China Town, after all

At the Pasar (Market)

Chinese Medicine

Following a prescription

This is supposed to be drunk as tea

A few friendly reptiles

This one was angry.

Political propaganda

Here are some tips if you decide to visit Glodok.

1. I would recommend you do it early in the morning. The heat and the scents do nothing but increase as the day goes by. A friend described the smell as what cities in the middle ages probably used to smell like.

2. Bring some money, not too much. You never know what you will be able to find in Glodok. Bring enough money to indulge in some pork dishes if you are interested and to buy nuts and fresh produce at good prices. Don’t bring too much money just to avoid risking being robbed.

3. Bargain. I’m terrible at that but you can always find a better price than their first offer. Have fun doing it!

4. Take it all in. Although this is a unique place that you might not want to visit again, it is worth savoring all the sights, smells and flavors, at least once.

5. Bring your visitors. This is a sight worth seeing and something you probably won’t see anywhere else, except for China, I guess. I’m already planning on taking my dad there. I know he will love it.

6. Be warned. I saw a cobra getting killed and someone drinking its blood. I also saw a cart full of ashes which I later got told were human ashes that were on their way to a temple. Just be aware of this things and don’t freak out if an eel or frog tries to jump at you.


8 thoughts on “{Jakarta} China Town: Sights, Sounds and Smells

  1. Great capture of the market for all of us to see! Did you go by yourself? I find it very distracting to take pictures when I’m out with my kids and really look forward to exploring Vientiane alone when the kids are in daycare.

    • I went with some friends. I don’t want to take the kids there haha. I’m sure you will find many opportunities to explore Vientiane both with the kids and without. According to my husband there’s not much in the city itself but I’m sure you will get to see tons of amazing things once you leave the capital.

  2. Cobras — eek! Great pictures. Looks a lot livelier/more authentic than DC’s Chinatown, which basically is a couple blocks of Western stores and street signs labeled in Chinese as well as English. Haha.

    • It surely is. I’ve been to China Town in SFO, DC and NY and they are nothing like the Asian China towns. However the China Town in BKK seems cleaner and less chaotic, and smelly, than the one in Jakarta. I do love DC’s China Town, though, some of my favorite restaurants are there!

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