One of the world’s biggest and most mysterious megalopolises, Gay Jakarta has it all – street food, roof-top bars, luxury hotels, mega-malls, and friendly people.
Everything that is, except an acceptance of the LGBT community, and it’s fair to say gay travelers should look instead to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Phuket or Taipei if they want to experience a vibrant and accepted gay scene.
Even other Muslim majority capitals like Istanbul and Kuala Lumpur have large gay scenes – though much like Indonesia LGBT rights are rapidly being rolled back and acceptance is on the decline as history seems doomed to repeat itself. See homosexuality in Indonesia for the latest on-goings here or read an explanation for the latest spike in LGBT bigotry and hatred here.
While homosexuality is still currently legal in Indonesia (except in the ultra-conservative northwesternmost province of Aceh) and we don’t recommend planning your big, fabulous ‘here and queer’ gaycation to Jakarta, there is still a lot of reasons to visit this sprawling capital.
If your travels take you nearby you might want to pop in, use a VPN to connect with local gays here and discretely meet up to learn first-hand about the open oppression here – or perhaps to get the inside scoop on the latest gay gathering places that change overnight.
Public displays of affection or any talk of sexuality in Indonesia is taboo, and so outright persecution of LGBT travelers in Jakarta is unlikely as long as use caution and discretion.
We don’t even want to condone returning to the closet or the ugly events taking place here – but we also strongly believe in cultural exchange and that gay people should travel everywhere and anywhere they want.
In this case that means adapting to a conservative society (though in all fairness Jakarta and even Yogyakarta are liberal compared to the rest of the country – except Bali!), for which you are rewarded with luxury hotels cheaper than you ever imagined, a vibrant design community, history, culture, food and a more than a few epic nightlife venues..
Gay Jakarta Guide: The Essential Guide To Gay Travel In Jakarta Indonesia 2019
In this article we will cover...
Attractions in Gay Jakarta
Because gay life in Jakarta is covert and secretive at best, during the day travelers have nothing to do but sit poolside, indulge at a spa or check out the cities top attractions – which should keep you busy for a few days at least! All travelers in Jakarta should take caution in less-developed areas with valuables and take taxi’s or a ride-share at night – and always listen to local advice when exploring.
Remember – gay or straight – public displays of affection are not normal here and best totally avoided, especially those between same-sex people. Having said this, we loved exploring the hot and crazy markets, finding designer cafes hidden in quiet side-streets and learning more about this fascinating city.
One of the best tips we can give you for exploring Gay Jakarta is to pre-order a travel SIM card for easy airport pickup and activation the moment you arrive so you will not pay a fortune in international roaming charges. Get restaurants recommendation and reservations on the fly, public transport instructions up to the minute, bar opening hours and if it is your thing – access to gay hook up apps to find out more about the local scene.
Mobile data is fast, cheap and available almost everywhere in Asia so it is no wonder most travelers chose to stay connected and to get off the beaten track (without ever worrying about getting lost). So why wait? Pre-order the best local SIM card now to have it waiting for you in Indonesia when you arrive.
Overall, Jakarta is a safe city where a common-sense approach to travel will generally ensure you have no issues exploring this beautiful and diverse city.
- Chinatown Jakarta – Explore the trendy old Chinatown which is rapidly becoming the coolest part of the city as buildings are renovated and hipster cafes move it. You can still visit the oldest temple in Jakarta, Vihara Dharma Bhakti, or explore the street or wet markets thankfully!
- See the Landmarks – Grab your camera and hit the street to see the famous Istiqlal Mosque and Jakarta Cathedral (sitting opposite each other in a sign of harmony) the Merdeka Palace, the National Monument and more as you learn about Indonesian’s complex history.
- Cikini Foodie Tour – Jakarta has a distinct gastronomy thanks to its long history with traders and colonialization. Try some of the best dishes in the Cikini area such as Pempek Palembang, Nasi Gudeg, and Soto Betawi as you explore traditional marts and Dutch-style buildings.
- Hit Up The Malls – It wouldn’t be a trip to South East Asia with shopping up a storm in a mega-mall. This is where many of Jakarta’s wealthy young things head out to escape the heat. Grand Indonesia Mall is probably our favorite but Alun-Alun is also up there. There is also the vastly cheaper Tanah Abang outdoor market.
- Pasar Baru – Explore the oldest market in Jakarta dating back to 1820. Todays it’s just as busy as ever and a great place to taste street food, experience organized chaos and witness Jakarta’s unique blend of Javanese, Chinese and Indian influences.
- Find Old Jakarta – Sure it might seem like a hyper-modern booming metropolis these days but if you look hard enough there are plenty of colonial treasures to seek out seen today in the architecture, food, and museums like Fatahillah and the Puppet Museum.
Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Jakarta
Given the current LGBT hostilities in Indonesia, it is safe to say ni gay hotels in Jakarta will be opening any time soon, but gay travelers to Jakarta are unlikely to experience an outright discrimination if they book upscale international hotels.
In fact since sex and sexuality of any kind are taboo in this society, even at a smaller guest house you are more likely to find the owner doesn’t ask any questions and leaves you to yourself. Still, discretion is advised in this conservative society.
If you are traveling as a gay couple in Jakarta, you should have no problem booking double rooms in high-end hotels and in our experience, we only encountered slightly concerned staff who then became embarrassed for their mistake after questioning if we wanted 2 single beds.
Some hotels might just automatically change your reservation to two single beds – how you want to handle this is up to you, and remember even in the current hostile environment homosexuality is still currently legal in Indonesia (except in the ultra-conservative northwesternmost province of Aceh)
Now that’s out of the way – let’s talk luxury, specifically how Jakarta has the cheapest luxury hotels in the world. Prices are insanely cheap here compared to North American and European hotels, even when compared to the rest of Asia. Standards are still extremely high though – so it’s a great place to splurge!
Some Jakarta hotels are more popular with queer travelers due to their location and inclusive environment or vibe, which are features here.
These gay-popular hotels in Jakarta are frequented by members of the LGBT community and have received rave reviews. Each hotel and area offer something very specific, so be sure to choose the right style and location to meet your needs. Of course, there are also hundred’s more hotel and hostel options in Jakarta if none of these suit your desired budget, facilities or area
- Westin Jakarta ☆☆☆☆☆ – Set on the top twenty floors of the Cemindo Tower, the tallest building in Indonesia, it’s no surprise this is one of the most sought-after hotels in Jakarta. With floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city, rainfall shows, a rooftop Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant and bar and indoor heated pool, this is one of the top luxury stay in Jakarta.
- DoubleTree by Hilton Jakarta ☆☆☆☆☆ – An international renown gay-friendly chain with large pool surrounded by lush forest in the heart of the city. Hyper-modern and stylish without pretense, you won’t feel out of place here in this understated luxury.
- Four Seasons Jakarta ☆☆☆☆☆ – Not your ordinary hotel, this is probably the cheapest Four Seasons in the world and offers many travelers the chance to experience total luxury that won’t have anywhere else. You feel – and are treated – like a king in this glorious property with high ceilings, opulent suites, 5 on-site dining outlets and fabulous Nautilus Bar.
- Le Meridien ☆☆☆☆☆ – A refined gay-friendly hotel in Central Jakarta run by an international chain. Expect a large outdoor pool, elegant suits, spa and sauna complete with a plunge pool. A popular option with gay guests.
- The Dharmawangsa Jakarta ☆☆☆☆☆ – A warm hotel which offers 5-star luxury without the pretense of the big international chain. Tucked away in an upscale residential area we loved the spacious rooms with Indonesia influence, friendly staff, terrace balances and onside amenities with the tranquil outdoor pool, fitness center, and tennis courts.
- Morrissey Hotel Residences ☆☆☆☆☆ – An apart-hotel with one of the best infinity pools in Indonesia. Elegant studios with kitchenette and sofa seating area – perfect if you are having guests over – as well as a self-service laundry room, fitness center and location that can’t really be beaten.
- HARRIS Vertu Hotel Harmoni ☆☆☆☆ – Modern, spacious rooms that won’t break the bank. Newly opened, the National Museum of Indonesia and National Monument Park are only a 15 minute walk away so its no wonder this hotel as one of the best-rated locations in Jakarta. We also loved the modern design, marble lobby and roost-top infinity pool. Try it out while the prices are low before words gets out.
- Sultan Hotel ☆☆☆☆ – A spreading resort in central Sean with 23 acres of lush gardens, outdoor swimming, and six dining options. Sure, it could do with a bit of a refresh decor wise but the lower price and helpful stage make it all worthwhile. Popular spa and massage facilities, as well as a tennis court and daily included breakfast.
- Millennium Hotel Sirih ☆☆☆☆ – In the heart of Jakarta with modern rooms, outdoor pool, international quality and a popular sauna/gym complex.
- YELLO Hotel Harmoni ☆☆☆ – An oh-so-cool fun budget hotel offering quirky art, bright colors and well-appointed rooms. The prices are low, its centrally located in Hayam Wuruk, near Jakarta’s main train station, and the decor is so fun you will probably feature it on your Instagram feed before you go. Our favorite budget hotel in Jakarta and frequently booked by our readers.
- ibis Tamarin ☆☆☆ – A cheap, chic hotel from an international chain. As with all ibis, what you see is what you get. This location offers low prices, an outdoor pool, central location and cheap straightforward rooms.
- Swiss-Belhotel Hotel ☆☆☆ – Clean, modern and stylish hotel centrally located in Jakarta. One of the best value-for-money accommodation options we have seen and one of the top booked option by gay travelers on our site thanks to the indoor pool, sauna, gym, large rooms with views and modern decor.
- Wonderloft Hostel ☆☆ – A trendy, modern hostel – the best in Jakarta according to travelers -with bold colors, great location and plenty of fun amenities. A great place to meet other travellers, save your coins and make friends to head out and party with.
Bars and Clubs in Gay Jakarta
The visible nightlife scene of Gay Jakarta was always small but today while almost every LGBT venue has been closed, even the more mainstream Indonesia party scene has taken a hit.
Spot checks and urine tests for drug use have become increasingly common – and the consequences if they find any trace of drugs can destroy your life. Under these circumstances, it’s understandable why so many people are opting to avoid the nightlife scene in Jakarta, but there are still a few standout venues in Gay Jakarta to visit – even if you should be discreet about your sexuality.
Until late 2017 Apollo was one of the best bars in the city and many in the local gay community in Jakarta would hang out here. It was closed in 2018, opened again in December 2018 and as of late 2019 Apollo has changed its name to True Lounge. The location has also moved too. It is still on the 1st floor but on the other end of the building. No need to worry about getting lost, because big security guys will guide you personally from lobby to the lounge.
Of course, the homophobic and draconian approach taken by Indonesian authorities will never ‘eliminate’ homosexuality and you can still meet plenty of queer guys in the bars and clubs of Indonesia. Indonesian society is very sexually conservative meaning that any form of open sexuality, regardless of preference is taboo. So as long as you’re discreet, you are unlikely to have any issues.
New gay bars in Jakarta pop up and inevitably close down frequently so get a VPN and try to meet locals on Grindr (it’s blocked otherwise) to find the latest hang-outs. For now, these are our favorite bars, clubs, and hang-outs in Gay Indonesia – none are outwardly ‘gay’ but still, you never know who you will meet.
- True Lounge – The best gay club in Jakarta (really the only one) open again every Wednesday-Saturday from 9 pm – 3 am. Saturdays are the biggest nights with drag queen shows at 12.30 am but you can see upcoming events listed on their Instagram. Message the page if you want to check any particular deals before going (and they have an email listed to ensure you are on the guestlist). Previously known as Apollo, it has moved but still within the same building and new place features eclectic interior design and bigger dance floor. True Lounge has very strict with their no-drug policy, so expect to be frisked by a big security guy at the entry. Inside you will find a fabulous crowd dancing away to pop music, lasers, and an electric energy. Especially look out for events including local divas lip-syncing as this is never, ever boring. Admission is Rp 200.000 (USD 14) for the first drink charge. They only accept cash on the entrance, but ATMs are available downstairs. Cards are accepted inside only. The crowd is mostly locals, with a few foreigners.
- Bauhaus 1933 – A subterranean hidden spot surrounded by the busy uptown life, with a hip crowd, great cocktails, and fun events. We are always a fan of pop-up karaoke and accepting vibes but try to head along every Thursday for their gay party night, Inside the Closet. Bauhaus 1933 has closed since April / May 2019. Still no words when it’s gonna open again…
- Oh La La Café – A gay-popular cafe and restaurant which is the closest you will get to a gay bar in Jakarta these days (and it’s not very close). They serve a range of baked goods, signature meals and drinks with several branches around Jakarta. Open all day and busy in the evenings most night – try to chat with people here who are generally shy but happy to speak to foreigners.
- Illegals Club – A popular nightclub in a hotel that hosts international top talent, award-winning resident DJs and upscale nightlife. There is also 24-hour karaoke suites.
- Jenja Club – A nightclub popular with male expats and students who just want to dance the night away. This has to be one of the coolest bars in Jakarta with full-size mosaic sharks hanging over the upscale bar pumping from Wednesday to Saturday. DJs rev play their gigs downstairs with a large dance floor and state-of-the-art sound + lighting system, with a more relaxed lounge and VIP area upstairs.
- Potato Head – The trendy bar and club chain that starting in Jakarta and has now spread to Hong Kong, Bali, and Singapore. A hub for mixology, art, and food which is laid back during the day and positively buzzing at night. Expect crazy cocktails and plenty of young Jakarta fashionistas.
- Gia -A new, happening LGBT-popular space located in the Sampoerna Strategic Building. It’s an upscale Italian restaurant/bar, so the price is a little bit higher than in other places. The crowd is mostly muscular younger Chinese, as they are the ones with money. They have live music most music, shorts are allowed in but most visitors dressed up. Reservations are recommended, especially on Saturday nights when it is standing room only, but it means you get to shoulder bump with all the cute boys.
- Henshin @ Westin Jakarta – A insane multi-level venue with relaxing hours music spun by DJs with spectacular skyline views. Innovative cocktails and a hot & beautiful crowd, this is the hottest spot in Jakarta at the moment.
- LoLa – So hip and trendy it almost hurts, this bar has a string Caribbean vibes with chic decor, incredible cocktails, and a very alternative crowd.
- Social House – A uber-trendy bar, restaurant and wine out-post frequented by celebrities and models. Stunning views, warm design and a enjoyable one-of-kind dining experience by day or night.
- SKYE – Everyone in town knows this fabulous self-described ‘lifestyle resort in the sky’ – and with fabulous interior design, pool and indulgent drinks on a 56th-floor rooftop it is really hard to disagree.
- Beer Garden – A happening bar in Kemang popular with the under 25’s crowd. Relatively cheap and a nice place to chat, meet new friends or arrange a date.
- Lucy In The Sky – As you can probably guess by now there is no shortage of fabulous rooftop bars in Jakarta – but we love here thanks to the incredibly laid-back atmosphere (almost too much so) and lower prices than what you normally pay for skyline views like this.
Gay Saunas in Jakarta
Until recently there were two large gay saunas in Jakarta – Atlantis Sauna and T1 Sauna – but as previously discussed Indonesia as a whole has become increasingly aggressive to those with alternative lifestyles led by a President who has said there is no room for a gay community in Indonesia.
There are some other cruisy hotel saunas in Jakarta often frequented by gay men such as the Meridien, Swiss-Belhotel, Millenium, and Sultan which you can try entirely at your own risk. With increasing police raids, public humiliation of those caught – not to mention the risk of a 5-year jail term – we would only head here if we actually stayed in the hotel and had our own private room.
Even before the gay sauna police raids of 2017 in Jakarta forced there closure, it was largely only lower-income people using these spaces. Wealthy Gay Indonesians’s saw them as dirty and preferred gay hook-up apps which offered them privacy and anonymity, even though most of these are now blocked by a government ban on popular pro-LGBTQ websites.
You can see still get on your favorite hook-up app in Indonesia using a VPN service however we advise caution.