Visiting Jalan Surabaya – Home to Jakarta’s famous Antique and Flea Market

street view of pasar jalan surabaya, Jakarta
The market on Jl. Surabaya stretches over 450 metres along one side of the street and consists of more than 84 shops

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!

Jo

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

Vintage Folding Camera
An assortment of cameras
Box Brownie Camera

Clocks

This is but one of many clocks in various shapes, sizes and mechanisms which can be found on Jl. Surabaya. There’s sure to be one that gets your heart ticking that little bit faster 😉

Music (including a good selection of vinyl records – not shown here)

Brass instruments are a common and endearing sight on Jl. Surabaya

Find the interesting and the obscure..

Jl. Surabaya Market is the perfect place to find your perfect gong!
One of my favourite instruments, the Piano Accordion
Megaphones are a plenty on Jl. Surabaya

Games and Puppets

An assortment of puppets are available on Jl. Surabaya – be sure to inquire about the story that each is associated with
A giant marionette puppet was a surprising find on Jl. Surabaya. This beauty stands over 2 metres tall and packs into the box upon which it stands
Many versions of the traditional game, ‘Congkak’ can be found on Jl. Surabaya
This beautiful Javanese rocking horse really captured my interest (In case you’re wondering, I didn’t buy it  – but I was still thinking about it for days after…)

Ceramics and Storage Vessels

Find an assortment of vintage and contemporary ceramics at Jl. Surabaya
This hanging vessel from West Sumatra is traditionally used to store herbs for medicinal purposes
These stackable enamel storage containers known as ‘rantang’ have become a serious collector’s item. The vintage ones which often feature brightly coloured embellishment are becoming more difficult to find

Typewriters and Telephones

Lots of different models of typewriters are available
And what about these telephones? I particularly like the green one

Vintage Technology

Vintage Arithmometer – an early version of the calculator
You will find a variety of old-fashioned and vintage sewing machines at Jl. Surabaya

Miscellaneous

If you’re looking for timber carvings, Jl. Surabaya is a good place to go. From intricately carved garudas to these simple bride and groom carvings, there is surely something that will catch your eye
Vintage padlocks are some of my favourite items for sale
Vintage transistor radios from the Dutch Colonial era
batik cat stamp
A copper Batik stamp featuring the Javanese traditional motif, ‘Parang Rusak’
Books, books and more books..

Friendly faces of Jalan Surabaya

shop vendor Jl Surabaya, Menteng
Pak Lukman of Yudhistira Art Shop lives in Bogor (approx 50km south of Jakarta) and commutes via train each day to work. He loves working on Jl.Surabaya as he enjoys meeting new people and each day is a new experience
Pak Ewin of Jl Surabaya market
Pak Erwin of West Sumatra has worked on Jl. Surabaya for 40 years – since the market was first established. He is knowledgeable about all the items in his shop and keen to share the history with you
Shop 190 Jl. Surabaya
At Toko 190 on Jl. Surabaya, not only will you be greeted by a most friendly smile, but also an amazing assortment of curios – definitely worth a visit

Advice Section

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.

back of Jl. Surabaya
Almost all of the market runs along a sealed road, however, there is a small section that requires you to cross a rickety bridge, so sturdy footwear is a good idea 😉

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).

keranjang palembang
This beautiful hand-crafted antique caught my eye. When I asked Pak Is, the shopkeeper, how much he would sell it for, he told me the price was fixed at 1.5 million rupiah (about $140 AUD). He explained the vessel is more than 100 years old and is from Palembang, Sumatra. It was used to carry food, in particular traditional cakes.

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).

A Journey Bespoke blog
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve visited Jl. Surabaya but each occasion, I’ve enjoyed myself more and learnt something new…

Other Top Spots to Stop in Menteng:

Some recommended nearby coffee and eating destinations

Giyanti Coffee Roastery
Chicory European Patisserie
Kaum Indonesian Restaurant
Shophaus Menteng
Seribu Rasa Indonesian restaurant

Some nearby places to rest and enjoy some greenery

Taman Suropati
Taman Menteng

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

Leave a Reply