I contributed this very basic overview of Jakarta to the wiki-style online travel guide Travelerspoint . . . and it’s still there.
Jakarta sprawls from the port to the mountains, with true centers hard to find. There is plenty to see at Sunda Kelapa port while Ancol is a separate seaside recreation area. Kota (“downtown”) refers to a crowded, poor but generally very interesting area that begins south of the port. Kota has shopping, nightlife, traditional markets and Chinese temples. Just to the south, Pasar Baru has a shaded Indian market and interesting environs. The national monument (MONAS) is a large park in an area which used to be central but is no longer, as the city has shifted vast distances in all directions, but especially southward. Not far from Monas is Jl. Jaksa, Jl. Sabang and the long-standing Sarina department store. This area retains a central feel, as does the Cikini area just to the east of Monas.
The old Dutch neighborhood of Menteng separates the Sarina area from Plaza Indonesia, Kuningan and the banking district (Jl. Sudirman). Official residences, churches and embassies are housed here, often in attractive buildings under large trees. As the sprawl finally reached Bogor and the Puncak mountain resort areas, new centers emerged. The Plaza Indonesia area and the old Hotel Indonesia has received considerable developer attention as has Kuningan, especially Mega Kuningan. However, these are more real estate concepts than neighborhoods. Just five years ago the focus was on Semanggi, less of a neighborhood than a shopping mall.
In South Jakarta, the Senayan area is full of attractive shopping centers, parks, and nightlife. To the south — once again — is Blok M, which is due for a renovation but remains popular. Even further (from Kota), are other true neighborhoods such as Kebayoran Baru, Senopati and Dharmawangsa. Here you find houses, trees, and space to breathe. Kemang, a popular residential area for foreigners, has a lot to offer in terms of galleries, restaurants, boutique stores and nightlife, but also narrow roads. Blok M is between 30 and 90 minutes from Kota, depending on traffic. Suburbs like Cilandak and Cipete are as many as two hours from Kota in bad traffic, but otherwise a part of Jakarta.