Small in size but touristy, Solo (or Surakarta) is often considered the little sister of Yogyakarta. I was in the city to visit a French friend who lived there for 8 years. He showed me the nightlife on a Friday and a Saturday night.

Here's what you need to know before partying in Solo: 

Nightlife Areas + Hotels
Note: You can click on the map above to enlarge it.

Solo doesn't have an obvious city center. It is a rather low-rise city where the interesting sights are spread over a large area. This means you will need to get around by car (Grab or Gojek) instead of walking.

In my opinion, the most strategic location to stay would be on Jalan Brigjen Slamet Riyadi, between Grand Solo mall and Fort Vastenburg. Some of the best bars and nightclubs in Solo are located within 5-10 minutes, and it is also close to most of the famous attractions in the city (see nightlife map below).

Hotels in that area include Ibis Style (25$ per night), Solia Hotel (35$ per night), and Novotel (40$ per night). If you are a digital nomad, you might also want to check out JW Naungan Coliving (45$ per night).

For a romantic weekend, the Royal Surakarta Heritage - MGallery Collection is also perfectly located and its rooms are all decorated in a Javanese style.

Be aware that Solo is a conservative city. Some hotels may refuse you if you are staying with your boyfriend or girlfriend. As a rule of thumb, avoid small family guest-houses and any hotel with the name "syariah" on it (obviously).

The newest part of town is called Solo Baru, in the South, but it is far from the main attractions and from the best nightlife (Grand Mercure Solo Baru is the best hotel there).

Solo Nightlife Tips
Cost of partying
Solo is rather cheap compared to other cities in Indonesia. In the beer gardens, you can normally buy alcohol at almost the same price as you would in a supermarket. A small Bintang often costs around 50,000rp and a bottle of Smirnoff vodka around 500,000rp.

On weekends, some clubs have a first-drink-charge policy, meaning you need to buy at least a drink to enter. This is usually 50,000rp and rarely more than 100,000rp.

Dress code
There is no strict dress code in Solo and you can dress pretty much any way you like.

Restaurants, cafés, bars and clubs in Indonesia always allow you to smoke inside.

Bottles and tables
The concept of nightclubs in Solo (and elsewhere in Indonesia) is different than in Europe. Few people come alone, expecting to meet other people. Instead, they come with a group, order bottles, and stay static around a table. That's why the dance floor is usually small and replaced by tables and sofas.

If you can, it's better to order a bottle, knowing that if you don't drink all, you can come back to the club another day to finish it. With a bottle, you can also get a table and you won't have to pay any entrance fee. 

Lady companions
Another difference with Europe is the concept of lady companions. In some clubs, it is possible to ask for the company of girls, who will then drink and party with you. If you are alone, they might come to introduce themselves. I'm not sure how it works exactly for payment as I've never done it myself. I guess they get a commission on drinks you order and you should certainly give them a tip.

Events in Solo
To stay up-to-date with the latest events in Solo, you can check the Instagram pages Surakarstage and SoloWheng

Dating in Solo
As a foreigner, either a guy or a girl, you will probably draw a lot of attention while in Solo. Your profile will get plenty of matches on dating apps, though the number of profiles is limited if you compare to Jakarta or Surabaya. The popular dating apps in Solo are Tinder, Bumble, Badoo, OkCupid.

If you don't live in the city and if you are only passing by, you may find it more difficult to meet someone. To avoid this, you can try IndonesianCupid which is a more traditional dating site where users are specifically looking to meet with foreigners. This allows you to start chatting with Indonesian girls or guys even before starting your trip.

Best Bars and Nightclubs in Solo

Sixth Sense is currently the largest nightclub in Solo and it is the number one party spot in the city. This is where most young people go on weekends, especially students. It is quite modern but the sound system is very average and too loud, which can be unpleasant. 

Similar venue: District23

Trendy bar with live music/DJ. Many students.

This is one of the most popular hangout spots in Solo. It is spacious with an indoor space and a garden. Prices are reasonable but the choice of alcohol is limited. Their Indonesian food is okay but avoid the western dishes (pizzas, steak, pasta). Live music and DJ every day until 2am.

Similar venue: La Folla

Small nightclub with a mixed crowd depending on the events. Usually they have a DJ or live band playing famous hits. They also have sing-along (karaoke) nights.

11 12 Beer Garden
11 12 Beer garden is the biggest beer garden in Solo. It was really packed when we visited. I was surprised to see that even girls wearing the jilbab were among the guests. You can smoke shisha as well. Beware the music is loud and the place smokey. Open from 4pm to 2am. It's usually free (unless there is a concert) and the drinks are cheap.

This is the closest thing from an expat pub in Solo. American-owned. Not a party place but nice for chilling with home-cooked American food and beer. Open from 4pm to midnight every night except Mondays.

Musro is the night club within the Sunan Hotel. It may belong to Tommy Winata considering he also owns Musro in Bali and Jakarta.

It is more male-oriented and older than the clubs mentioned above. The place is small and does not really feel high class. They have first a local band, and then a DJ playing house/progressive music.

The entrance is usually free unless there is a special event. Ladies night on Wednesday. Open from 6pm to 2am from Monday to Saturday. 

Similar venue: Pion Executive Club and KTV which also seems to have lady companions.
House of Beer is located in Park Mall in Solo Baru. More polished than other venues in the city and also more expensive. Daily live band including acoustic sessions and jazz. They have various kind of beers, all famous brands produced in Indonesia (around 50,000rp per bottle). They also serve soju and average-tasting food (pizzas, pasta, snacks). Beer towers available. Ladies night on Wednesdays.

Agra Rooftop Bar (Alila Solo)
On the 29th floor of the Alila (15 minutes from the town center), this is the highest rooftop bar in Solo. It is not that sophisticated for Jakarta standard, but the view is worth going. They serve expensive cocktails and tapas.

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