Ask anyone who knows Jakarta’s city centre (‘kota pusat’), and it’s likely they will mention traffic congestion, the incessant sound of car horns, and a bustling hive of innumerous high-rise buildings (‘menara’) which may just include a high-end shopping mall thrown in for good measure! Yet also within the boundaries of the city centre exists a leafy and tranquil oasis known as Menteng; a suburb that is home to many of Indonesia’s ‘Well-To-Do’, along with executive residences for government officials and ambassadors.
Within Menteng is Jalan Surabaya, home to Jakarta’s most famous flea market. This is where both locals and tourists alike seek out all sorts of goods, from rare antiquities to more everyday bric-a-brac and everything in between. The treasures span a wide price range and price tags are fluid, depending upon your bargaining prowess.
Today we take you on a tour of Jl. Surabaya, and through the following photographs, we share a range of wares available at the pasar which will no doubt get you planning your own trip to this enticing part of Jakarta.
And even if you’ve already visited, now is the time to rediscover this market, as I recently found. With my expanded knowledge of the archipelago combined with my (somewhat) improved Bahasa Indonesia, a morning spent at Jl. Surabaya proved to be an enriching experience.
Happy treasure hunting!
Ps: Whilst you’re in the Menteng area, we recommend you visit some other destinations. Be sure to read to the end of today’s post to discover additional Top Spots to Stop in Menteng.
What can I buy at Jalan Surabaya Market?
It would be near impossible to list everything that’s available at this market. Instead, below you will find some of the items which I found particularly interesting, or items we know are often sought after by our AJB Readers. However, to really appreciate the vast array of objects on offer, you really must visit for yourself!
Cameras and Camera Equipment
Music (including a good selection of vinyl records – not shown here)
Games and Puppets
Ceramics and Storage Vessels
Typewriters and Telephones
Friendly faces of Jalan Surabaya
What to wear when visiting Jl. Surabaya:
Dress appropriately for hot weather (light weight, breathable clothing)
Wear a hat
Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes
The market is mostly under cover so although there’s no need to pack wet-weather gear, it’s not a bad idea to bring an umbrella to shield you from the sun.
What to bring to Jl. Surabaya:
Bring a water bottle
Bring money! Although some vendors have card facilities, sometimes these are offline so money will buy you more flexibility when making a purchase.
When shopping at Jl. Surabaya:
Looking for something in particular? Bring a photo or image of what you are seeking. The vendors likely know what each is selling (or who has the best chance of sourcing the item for you), so by showing the vendor your picture, you’ll maximise your chances of acquiring your treasure!
Work for the best price. For a lot of the items at this market, you should pay a maximum of half the original quoted price. In fact it’s not unreasonable to achieve a price less than this.. but ultimately if you love the item that caught your eye, haggle for a price that you are comfortable with. (Note: there is far less flexibility in negotiating the price on genuine artefacts).
Ask lots of questions and practise your Bahasa Indonesia. Even if you don’t make too many purchases, you can learn a lot from the vendors at this market. Ask about the history and function of unusual objects. The vendors enjoy demonstrating how instruments work and appreciate sharing the story behind these less common objects. And although most vendors speak English, speaking some Bahasa is a wonderful way to practise your Indonesian whilst learning some new words (and who knows, it may secure you an even better price! 🙂 )
And how can we give you advice without including our local coffee recommendation. If you’re looking for a fantastic coffee, head straight for Giyanti Coffee Roastery (also on Jl. Surabaya) – but take note as Giyanti is closed on Mondays.
Did you know that this pasar goes by many other names including: Jakarta Flea Market, Jakarta Antique Market, Pasar Antik dan Koper (Antique and Luggage Market), Pasar Barang Antik (Antique Items Market), but most commonly it is simply known as ‘Jl. Surabaya’ due to its location.
Jalan Surabaya Market
Trading Hours: (most) shops open from 9am and generally close around 5pm (7 days a week).
Other Top Spots to Stop in Menteng:
Some recommended nearby coffee and eating destinations
Some nearby places to rest and enjoy some greenery
What about exploring some other markets in Jakarta? Here are a few of our favourites:
Pasar Minggu – South Jakarta’s major centre for Fresh Produce
Pasar Mayestik – Jakarta’s famous Fabric and Haberdashery precinct
Pasar Glodok & Pasar Petak Sembilan – Jakarta’s Chinatown Markets
Pasar Modern – Bintaro’s Fresh Produce Market
Do you have visitors coming to Jakarta and are looking for more ideas for ‘Things to Do? Here is our list of suggestions…
We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s AJB blog post and that you find it useful when planning your next Jakarta adventure.
Have you been to Jalan Surabaya Market? If so, what were your most interesting purchases? Let us know in the ‘Comments’ section below! Until next week, bye for now 🙂
Words: Jo Stevens Photography: A Journey Bespoke