I am Harvie, a Bangkok expat who runs his own Bangkok travel blog, where I talk about everything regarding Bangkok including Thai girls. I recently went on a two-week trip to Jakarta for a “cultural holiday”. For me a cultural holiday in Asia involves staying in my hotel with the air-con on until around 8pm. After chugging a few beers in my hotel room I head on out with the plan on getting blast out drunk, before finally starting the search for any human that has a pulse who is willing to go home with me.

After spending two weeks in Jakarta, I will share my thoughts on the similarities and differences between Jakarta and Bangkok. I’ll try and keep it as un-biased as I can, and please remember that I was only in Jakarta for two weeks, all information is based on my own experience, picking a different day may have yielded different findings.

I was drunk when I went out most nights, so the prices mentioned are what I remember paying, feel free to tell me if I have gotten a few of them wrong.

I took no pictures so all of those on this post are from Bangkok's nightclubs.

Kemang in Jakarta
From what I read on Jakarta100bars and various internet forums was that Kemang is the “upper class” area of Jakarta. This was where I based myself. Kemang is to Jakarta what Thong Lo is to Bangkok.

Kemang is a nice little area although a bit small, I could walk to all the bars, clubs, restaurants, and even the mall. I visited Nu China and Triple 999 nightclubs, both had entry fees which I thought sucked, I remember paying 70,000IDR entry for both. Once inside the club it was fairly modern, had good music, but wasn’t very big.

I was the only westerner inside and some may think that’s as bad thing, but I actually like it that way, as I stick out like a saw thumb and become more visible to girls. The atmosphere seemed a bit dead, although it was only 2 am on a Tuesday. The people inside seemed like wealthy Indonesian kids who were spending their parents money, I didn’t see many of them dancing, and felt like they were just there for the sake of it, almost to be seen or something.

Girls seemed a bit more reserved, and had their bitch shields up, which I find quite common for the upper class parts of Asia. I went with a friend and neither of us were drunk or doing any of that PUA (Pick Up Artist) rubbish, we were just sitting at the bar chatting to one another, then when a girl sat next to us, we tried to be polite and friendly, but they were as cold as ice!
Central Jakarta
With hindsight, I should have based myself in the city centre. The place is a total cluster f***, but that’s what I love in a city (and it's the same thing in Bangkok). Finding good information on where to go in Jakarta is kind of hard, apart from this website, it’s just a bunch of dated forums which weren’t too much helpful.

My first night started off in the backpacker district where I went to some Mexican bar (sorry forgot the name) with a buddy of mine, it was mostly Indonesian people inside who all looked friendly and happy with $2 tequila shots, awesome! I guess this would be the equivalent of Koh San Road in Bangkok, but it felt 100% better, and way less tacky, maybe I just picked the right bar to drink at, I don’t know.
A few nights later I ended up at Red Square, I got no problems with the P4P scene, but I am 26 years old, I do Crossfit (lol just joking!), and see myself as a reasonably attractive guy. It was way to early to be visiting a place like this at 1am, I need to take a shot at the regular girls first, and only after getting shot down several hundreds times (which is quite common for me btw), do I head to a place like Red Square.

When inside the music was good, and the girls were quite forward which triggered my working girl radar, quite a few middle aged western men inside too all having a good time. The club it self was very small, it felt more like a lounge with super loud music. I hung around for a beer which I got free with my overpriced entry fee, and checked the place out, it was cool and the girls were okay looking, but a bit too early in the night for me to stay here, so I headed to Dragonfly.

As I enter Dragonfly my wallet takes another pounding with a $10 entry fee that gets me one free drink. When I got inside, WOW! I got an instant boner due to the amount of hot girls inside, I ran into the toilet, tucked my penis up into my belt line, and walked back out trying to act smooth as f***.

Drinks were kind of overpriced, but the club itself was nice and much bigger compared to other venues in Jakarta. Music was good and the girls unlike in Kemang were very friendly and welcoming. I had several conversations with different girls who all were smiling, dancing, and overall seemed pretty damn happy. I couldn’t quite put my finger on if it was the booze, or talking to me that made them so bubbly, I guess we will never know. Dragonfly was by far one of the better nights out I’ve had in Asia in a long time, I went on a Saturday night too, the club had nice ratio of guys to girls, and it looked pretty safe.
How would I compare the Bangkok nightlife to Jakarta?

Same same but different!

They both have certain similar traits. In Kemang I thought the people were a bit more stuck up and really didn’t want to socialize (with westerners), or even try to be friendly. Bangkok has similar spots in Thong Lo and Ekkamai, these two regions are considered the “hi so Thai” areas, where Asian people go to been seen. Most of them will look bored out their minds and like they’d be somewhere else, I got the same impression with Kemang.

Red Square is quite similar to P4P clubs in Bangkok, expect the clubs in Bangkok are usually 3-4 times bigger. I think this is due to more tourists coming into Thailand than Indonesia, creating more demand. I know the P4P clubs in Bangkok don’t get busy until after 2am, as this is when the go go bars and brothels usually close, flooding the girls into such clubs. I only went to Red Square at midnight, and it was a bit dead so I can only assume the same applies for Jakarta.

Now for Dragonfly, it reminded me of Route 66 in Bangkok. Both clubs are stacked to the rafters with locals, hot girls who are open to talking to westerns, good music, and people just having a good time. Route 66 is about 5 times bigger than Dragonfly, it has 3 rooms and a huge outside area where it’s much easier to talk to people.

The only thing I didn’t really enjoy about the nightlife was the entry fees at all clubs and how expensive bottle service is. In Bangkok your average club will charge you around $35-$60 for a 1 liter bottle of Smirnoff vodka, which provides entry for 5 people into the club, so it works out good value. If I remember correctly the bottles in Jakarta were a hell of a lot more, at least $120+ which for me was a major letdown. Clubs such as Funky Villa, Wip, and Nung Len in Bangkok all provide free entry on weekdays to westerns.
Overall I enjoyed my time in Jakarta, I only wish I had stayed somewhere else, Kemang is not a bad area, it’s actually quite nice, but the logistics to travel north to the better clubs was a bit annoying. At this point I can’t really tell you which city has the better nightlife as I only saw a snapshot of Jakarta, but what I saw I really liked. I hope to come back at some point and investigate further, as I’ve been told Immigrant and X2 are two clubs I need to see.


I hope you enjoyed my comparison of Jakarta to Bangkok, and if you have any questions about my experience, or Thailand, feel free to ask them in the comments below and I will do my best to answer.
For more reviews about nightlife in Asia, you can check my articles about Vietnam: Saigon Nightlife Top 10 Bars and Clubs.

9 comments to '' Jakarta vs. Bangkok Nightlife - By a Bangkok Expat "

ADD COMMENT
  1. Thanks for posting, I hope your readers enjoy it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Can we have your bangkok night life webpage link?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dude, you need to go to Kota, where everything is happening. you run the range of uber sleaze to glitzy clubs with a variety of working girls and straight partiers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never heard of Kota, I will look up on that the next time I am in town, thanks. as I said in the interview, I only went off what I knew. It's always hard finding your bearings when you are in a new country for the first time.

      Delete
    2. So once you got out of Kemang I assume you found a body with a pulse willing to go home with you?

      Delete
  4. Harvie!

    My man it looks like you did no research what so ever before coming to Jakarta. Hanging out at some lame clubs in Kemang and then hitting Hi-So favourite Dragonfly is not every scratching the surface of what Jakarta has to offer. Definitely next time stay somewhere in the centre preferably close to a mall so it's easier to do something during the day when you are not hitting the clubs. Plaza Indonesia, Pacific Place Mall or Mega Kuningan area are all great bases.

    As another commenter noted if you don't end up in Kota on a night out you haven't really been out at all in Jakarta. Kota is where all Jakarta nightlife ends and if you like more then beer ;) your possible day clubbing session begins with some clubs extending opening hours into late afternoon especially on weekends if you can go the distance.

    Check some great nightlife reviews and suggestions from this very site:

    http://www.jakarta100bars.com/2009/06/jakarta-nightlife-tips-summary-of.html

    a few different route guides. "From one World to Another" is a particular hard partying expat favourite:

    http://www.jakarta100bars.com/2011/10/bar-hopping-in-jakarta-10-great-routes.html

    and finally a 2014 update including some newer clubs:

    http://www.jakarta100bars.com/2014/03/jakarta-nightlife.html

    Unfortunately you missed out on visiting - Stadium - The underground superstar club of Jakarta which was finally shutdown after 16 years of excess but you can read a great eulogy of it here. A club like no other in Asia with an absolute cult following (over 100,000 Facebook fans) and the legendary 48 hour non-stop weekend parties.

    http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/jakarta/govt-stadium-nightclub-shuttered-forever/

    We can only hope they pay a huge bribe somehow get the place reopen.

    Hope you get to return one day and see some more of the great nightlife this city has to offer.

    Cheers,

    Jakarta Jack

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the informative comment Jack, yeah seems like I missed a few places and went up doing the tourist things. After reading your comment, it makes me want to come back to Jakarta sooner than I originally planned :)

      Delete
  5. "Girls seemed a bit more reserved, and had their bitch shields up, which I find quite common for the upper class parts of Asia."
    - interesting comment because in western countries are even worse!!.

    ReplyDelete