A charming combination of nostalgia and locally made goods makes the Sarinah Department Store more than a little bit special. This place is credited as Jakarta’s first shopping complex and the first in Indonesia to come with escalators. Ditch the heaving marketplaces for an afternoon and get a taste of this historic department store with a twist.
With a history stretching back to 1962, the Sarinah Department Store (also known as the 'Sarinah Thamrin Plaza') was originally built as a means to stimulate the development of Indonesia’s retail sector. The ethos was to create partnerships with local traders in an effort to build their businesses and therefore fuel the country’s economy. That ethos remains intact today, which is why locals and tourists alike know and love Sarinah for its authentic locally made wares and small-business enterprises.
This multistorey complex offers the usual shopping centre goods on the lower levels. Think electronics, men’s and women’s clothing, cosmetics and perfumes, home decor, furniture and the like. There’s even a grocery store in the basement.
However, the real action is on the upper levels. This is the place to find genuine handicrafts made by local traders. Although there’s no bargaining here, the prices are reasonable, and the quality of the merchandise is good.
Take some time to peruse the colourful displays of traditional puppets and masks, handcrafted silverware, intricate wood carvings, stunning batik textiles, original artworks, handmade jewellery and local leather goods along with a diverse range of homewares. This place prides itself on variety, so it’s undoubtedly the best spot in town to shop for souvenirs and gifts.
You’ll also find ATMs and a moneychanger along with a decent range of Western-style fast-food outlets and Indonesian eateries serving regional specialties. The centre hosts an array of pop-up markets, demonstrations and events throughout the year, so keep an eye out during your stay. The Sarinah Department Store is open to the public every day of the week from 9am until 10pm. Sundays are the busiest days, so if you want to avoid the crowds, plan your visit for earlier in the week.