Durian — that infamous thorny, pungent Southeast Asian fruit — is also possibly one of the most divisive foods on the planet. Heavenly or hellish, the so-called King of Fruits inspires a legion of lovers and an army of critics. A perfect metaphor, then, to describe Jakarta, the heaving mass of a city often referred to the Big Durian.
Once the initial shock of first impressions subsides (congested, polluted, crowded — to be fair, ailments all big cities suffer from), it's not hard to imagine why the Indonesian capital was once given a much fairer name — Queen of the Orient. Leafy suburbs and even leafier city parks work to balance the urban thrills, while numerous museums, a scenic old town area, and an antique shopping street round up the heritage hit list. When all else fails, Jakarta is littered with shiny malls and more fantastic food joints than you can shake a bowl of nasi goreng at.
Bali and Lombok might shine bright in the well known constellation of Indonesia's tourism campaign, but to really get to the heart of the country's culture and cuisine through luxury travel experiences, there really is no bigger star than Jakarta.