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Lunch at the Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta, Indonesia

Best Places to Visit in Indonesia for Christmas Cheer

By Betsy Burlingame

SJB Global
SJB Global

Summary: Plan a day trip or weekend getaway to get some holiday cheer. This article highlights the best places to visit in Indonesia for Christmas cheer.

Indonesia may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of Christmas, but the archipelago offers a unique holiday experience for expats and digital nomads looking to celebrate the festive season. From vibrant city celebrations to serene beachside festivities, Indonesia's diverse locations provide a variety of ways to get into the holiday spirit. Here are some places to visit in December where Christmas cheer is in full swing.

Jakarta's Menteng Neighborhood

In the heart of Indonesia's bustling capital, Jakarta, the Menteng neighborhood transforms into a festive wonderland during December. The area is known for its upscale residences and embassies, many of which are adorned with beautiful Christmas lights and decorations. Shopping centers like Plaza Indonesia and Grand Indonesia join in the festivities with elaborate holiday displays and events. The annual "Jakarta Christmas Festival" typically takes place in early December, featuring live music, food stalls, and a variety of vendors selling holiday crafts and gifts.

We Recommend: Don't miss the chance to try seasonal treats like 'kue nastar' (pineapple tarts) and 'kue putri salju' (snow white cookies) that are often found at the festival's food stalls.

Bandung's Braga Street

Bandung, known as the Paris of Java, has a charming historical district along Braga Street that comes alive during the holiday season. The street is lined with colonial-era buildings, cafes, and boutiques, all decked out with festive lights and ornaments. The "Braga Christmas Walk" is a popular event where locals and tourists can enjoy the holiday atmosphere while exploring the street's offerings. Art performances and live bands playing Christmas carols add to the merry ambiance.

We Recommend: Be sure to visit the local cafes for a warm cup of 'bandrek,' a traditional Sundanese ginger drink that's perfect for Bandung's cool December weather.

Surabaya's Tunjungan Plaza

Surabaya, the capital of East Java, boasts one of the largest shopping malls in Indonesia, Tunjungan Plaza. During December, the mall is transformed into a Christmas paradise with a giant tree, Santa's grotto, and themed decorations throughout its six interconnected buildings. The mall hosts a variety of holiday events, including choir performances and meet-and-greets with Santa Claus. The festive atmosphere is contagious and provides a delightful shopping experience for those looking for Christmas gifts.

We Recommend: Explore the mall's food court for a taste of 'klepon,' a sweet rice cake ball filled with palm sugar and coated in grated coconut, a festive favorite.

Bali's Seminyak Village

Bali may be synonymous with beaches and temples, but during December, the island's Seminyak Village becomes a hotspot for holiday festivities. The upscale area is known for its boutique shops, restaurants, and beach clubs, all of which embrace the Christmas spirit with special decorations and events. The "Seminyak Christmas Market" is a highlight, offering handmade crafts, local products, and international cuisine. The market is a great place to find unique gifts and enjoy the tropical holiday vibe.

We Recommend: Don't leave without trying the 'babi guling' (Balinese roast pig), a local delicacy often served during festive occasions.

Yogyakarta's Malioboro Street

Yogyakarta, a city steeped in Javanese culture, sees its famous Malioboro Street light up with Christmas cheer. The street is known for its vibrant market atmosphere and during the holidays, vendors sell a variety of Christmas-themed items alongside traditional Javanese crafts. The "Malioboro Christmas Carnival" typically takes place in mid-December, featuring parades, cultural performances, and a festive street fair atmosphere.

We Recommend: Try the 'wedang ronde,' a warm ginger drink with rice flour balls, perfect for enjoying while strolling through the lively carnival.

Medan's Merdeka Walk

In Medan, the capital of North Sumatra, Merdeka Walk is a popular destination for both locals and visitors during the holiday season. This pedestrian-friendly area is surrounded by historic buildings that are beautifully lit up with Christmas lights. The "Medan Christmas Festival" offers a range of activities, including live music, dance performances, and a variety of food stalls serving both local and international holiday treats.

We Recommend: Sample the 'saksang,' a traditional Batak dish made from minced pork, coconut milk, and spices, commonly served during festive celebrations.

Manado's Boulevard Area

Manado, located on the island of Sulawesi, is known for its strong Christian community and exuberant Christmas celebrations. The Boulevard Area, with its scenic seafront promenade, becomes a hub of activity during December. The "Manado Christmas Festival" features a large Christmas tree, a nativity scene, and a series of events including choir competitions and fireworks. The entire city exudes a warm, festive atmosphere, making it a memorable place to celebrate the holidays.

We Recommend: Enjoy the 'klappertaart,' a Dutch-influenced coconut custard tart that is a specialty in Manado and a must-try during the Christmas season.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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SJB Global

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Lunch at the Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta, Indonesia

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