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..
In this article we will cover...
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 Grab 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.
We recommend getting a full guidebook if you are staying for more than a night or two. It probably won’t have any information on Gay Jakarta – that’s what we are here for – but it will have useful tips and an exhaustive list of the best attractions across Indonesia to assist you on your fabulous adventure!
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
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 but as of December 2018 it is open again for limited nights (and the parties seem to be as wild as ever).
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.
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.
Besides, you never know what other fun surprises your trip might have in store for you…
Now you're all set and prepared to explore our big queer world, why not sort out everything else out all in one go? If necessary for your travel plans make sure you have brought proper travel insurance, protected your privacy by getting a secure VPN, compared all the top hotel booking sites to find just what you're after, reserved an unbeatable rental car price and - of course - booked the best flight deals!
Many gay travelers (including us) indulge in worldwide airport lounge access and pre-arrange airport transfers to take the stress out of travel. Naturally, we would never leave home without a more mainstream travel guide since we couldn’t possibly cover everything here!
Just add an adventurous attitude and plenty of smiles - they go a long way - and that about covers it all! Now go out, find your global rainbow family and don't forget to share your best gay stories with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...We'd love to hear from you!