Jakarta is often dismissed by many travelers as a simple stopover city, somewhere convenient to fly in an out of, but also somewhere to get out of as quickly as possible. But if you take the time to explore Jakarta, you will be very pleasantly surprised. Here are the top 10 things to see and do in Jakarta.
Jakarta is an energetic, frenetic city that has something for everyone, whether you want to enjoy the awesome food, take in some of the history, relax in some of its awesome accommodation options or even enjoy the pounding nightlife, there really is something here for everyone.
Here are the top attractions and things to do that should make you stay in Jakarta for an extra few days at least.
This isn’t so much a specific attraction as it is an entire area, nicknamed Old Town Batavia it is one of the most historically significant parts of Jakarta with cobbled streets winding around old Dutch Colonial buildings and a huge town square that is a magnet for artists and creatives. There are a multitude of cafes that spill out onto the streets here and a cluster of unique, small museums including a must see puppet museum.
Jakarta War Cemetery.
For a more sombre and poignant afternoon take some time to pay your respects to this forgotten chapter of World War II at the Jakarta War Cemetery. There are servicemen from Indonesia, the Netherlands and the UK buried here and a memorial to all who lost their lives in this conflict is a moving tribute.
Istana Merdeka And Merdeka Square.
Merdeka Square, or freedom square, is a pleasant park in the centre of Jakarta that is worth a visit not just for the park itself but for the views of the Istana Merdeka, the current presidential palace and one of the most historically and politically significant buildings in the city as it is here where the historic flag changing ceremony occured when Indonesia declared independence from the Dutch.
The Monas Tower is also located here in Merdeka Square, another must see site in Jakarta. This is the city’s monument to their independence and has an observation deck with stunning views of the city.
Located next to Merdeka Square is Istiqlal Mosque, not the most beautiful or picturesque mosque in the world but it does hold the title of the largest mosque in south east Asia, fitting in 120,000 worshippers at any one time and is worth a quick visit for that reason alone!
Ancol beach is a long stretch of golden sand that is technically part of the larger Jakarta Bay City area, and even if you don’t fancy a day at the beach it is worth coming down here to enjoy the gentrified waterfront area which include a Seaworld and water park.
I am a huge lover of museums at the best of times, but this impressive building houses some stunning collections, the ancient history section in the newer wing is amazing, and it has a truly impressive ethnology collection. If you are heading off to explore the rest of Indonesia after your stay in Jakarta, then this is an excellent way to get to know some of the rich history and culture of the country before you do. If you go on a Tuesday or Thursday there are even free English speaking tours.
Glodok is Jakarta’s Chinatown and is a bustling hive of temples, markets, incense, cafes and shops that make for a perfect way to spend the day just exploring and taking in the sights, sounds and smells.
Enjoy The Nightlife.
Jakarta lulls everyone into a false sense of security, so many people are shocked to learn that the city boasts some of the best nightlife in the region, with world class DJs and clubs that pulse all the way into the early hours, but for those looking for a more sedate and classy pace there are countless traditional teahouses and cocktail bars too. A particular highlight is the Skye bar with a rooftop lounge with unparalleled views over the city.
Jakarta boasts some of the best malls and markets in Indonesia, so if you are here at the end of your trip and looking to buy a few souvenirs or two then you have a whole raft of options open to you. There are many upmarket and glitzy malls such as Plaza Indonesia and FX mall (which even has a giant slide down its numerous floors) with a wide range of boutique stalls and local and international designer brands, and Pasaraya has all those batik and traditional woodcarving trinkets from all over the archipelago if you missed out buying one at the time. The flea market however is an absolute highlight and is worth going to just to wander round and explore. Be aware however that not all antiques are genuine, and you will need to bargain hard.
Taman Mini Indonesia.
This spectacular park makes for a great day out all on it’s own, and I highly encourage you to take your time and allocate a full day to stroll around and explore it. Set in a vast 100 acre park, this open museum is essentially a snapshot into every culture and monument in Indonesia, with miniature scale traditional houses and handicrafts of numerous tribes and provinces, a tiny Borobudur and much more. Couple this with a visit to the national Museum and you will be itching to explore the rest of Indonesia.
Take just a few days to explore Jakarta instead of rushing out straight from the airport, and you will discover there is far more to the city that meets the eye!
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