I often receive question from friends of mine (mostly foreigner or Indonesians who live outside Java) or random travellers asking, is it worth it to go to Jakarta? What is there to do in Jakarta? How chaotic is Jakarta? Is a week enough time to explore Jakarta? There’s obviously a lot more questions that I get related to the city. Anyway, I’ve written about how to get to Jakarta (the city) cheaply from the airport (Soekarno Hatta Airport – CGK) here. I should update the article soon since Jakarta now has two airports; Soekarno Hatta and Halim Perdanakusuma. Halim Perdanakusuma airport (HLP) began to serve commercial flights on Jan 10, 2014 (mostly still domestic flights, though).
Ok, I admit, because of the congestion and the mess, I often do not recommend visiting Jakarta to friends. But after a second thought, the reason a place is unique and deserves to be explored is always different. Jakarta is also a unique city and there are a lot of special Jakarta attractions to be discovered! So here are some suggestions about things to do in Jakarta and the best Jakarta tourist attractions and Jakarta points of interest, which I am sure you’ll find make Jakarta worth exploring. Please note that this list is in random order.
To help you arrange your trip to Jakarta I’ve created a helpful shortlist of the best hotels. You can find them below. Just pick the article that suits your travel needs.
Let’s get started with the best things to do in Jakarta.
1. Monas – The National Monument
As an icon of the city and a symbol of the struggle of Indonesia, Monas is a place worth visiting. In addition to the monument, you can also find The National History Museum in the area around Monas. In this museum there are many dioramas depicting the history of Indonesia. In addition to learning about the history of Indonesia, it is quite interesting to take pictures with Monas as a background. Be creative and make your own unique picture!
The monument and the museum are located in central Jakarta. They are open daily from 08.00 – 15.00 throughout the week except the last Monday of each month. The best time to visit Monas is in the evening just before the sunset.
2. Visit TMII – Taman Mini Indonesia Indah
TMII (literary translated as Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park) Jakarta is located in the eastern part of the city and is a very interesting place to visit to learn Indonesian culture. This place is practically a miniature of Indonesia. Although I personally found that riding a cable car in TMII is quite scary, the scenery that can be seen from above is quite rewarding. We could see the pool with a decorative map of Indonesia. Besides the pavilions of each province of Indonesia there are also many museums in the TMII area worth visiting.
3. Go to the beach – Ancol
Honestly, to this day I do not understand why we have to pay for the beach in Jakarta. Supposedly the beach is a public place that is free for everyone to visit! Well anyway, let’s not focus on that thing. Ancol is a beach park, one area with Dufan, the amusement park. Please, do not imagine a beach with white sand and clear water. Sorry to say, but Ancol is quite a dirty beach. Ancol beach could be an option if you want to enjoy the sunset while sitting in a cafe after visiting Dufan. If you love photography, photographing around Ancol is quite exciting as well.
4. Amusement Park – Dufan
Dufan or Dunia Fantasi is one big complex with the beach that I’ve talked about earlier. This is the biggest amusement park in Indonesia (probably? There is also Trans Studio Makassar and Bandung too, I have never been there so I am not really sure). Playing around for a full day in Dufan is like a short getaway from the busyness of Jakarta. I can tell that going to Dufan for some Indonesians who live on another island than Java is like a dream come true. As for me, spending one day with a bunch of friends in Dufan is definitely going to be a super fun day! Don’t go there on the weekend since it will be ridiculously busy.
5. The Istiqlal Mosque and The Catholic Cathedral
Istiqlal is the largest mosque in Indonesia, and also claimed to be the largest in Southeast Asia. The Cathedral is located across the road from the Istiqlal Mosque, an amazing building with neo-gothic style. Both buildings offer beautiful and charming architecture. You could say it’s like the Taj Mahal stands opposite the Sagrada Familia. Many say that these buildings are evidence of the tolerance and harmony that is something to be achieved in this life. Pic source: Flickr.
6. Stroll Jalan Surabaya
A big fan of antique stuff? You should spare one evening to walk down Surabaya street. You can find a lot of stores that mostly sells antiques, but please be careful when you decide to buy something from here. Not all things that seems antique are antique, some of them are newly produced as antiques.
7. Visit The Old Town, Sunda Kelapa Harbour and Cafe Batavia
Old Town or Old Batavia has a very strong historical value, but it is unfortunate that most of the buildings in the Old Town are not well preserved. Around the Old Town, there are several interesting museums to visit. The Jakarta History Museum (Fatahillah Museum), Museum of Fine Art and Ceramic as well as the Puppet Museum are all around Batavia. Usually, local people explore around the area of the old town by renting an old-fashioned bike (it cost around $3). You can cycle around the area to the Sunda Kelapa harbour. Afterwards you can relax, eat and drink at Cafe Batavia. A restaurant that serves good coffee and has an interesting design.
8. Try as many cafe / restaurants as you can
Yup, there are so many cafe, restaurants, bars in Jakarta. If you feel like you don’t want to eat any Indonesian food then you can find a lot of variety in Jakarta. Indian food, Greek food, Italian food, Lebanese food and much more. If you want to eat Indonesian food in a great restaurant with a nice ambiance I would recommend my favorite: Lara Djongrang Restaurant (Cik Di Tiro street No. 4 Menteng). Need one calm day to write emails or probably write an article for your own blog? Here are my suggestion for a good, comfortable cafe with free wifi and nice drinks/food.
9. Chill out in a park
Although there are many skyscrapers in Jakarta, the city also has several city parks. Two of my favorites are Lembang Park and Suropati Park. Sometimes, in the early morning or late afternoon, you can find local people jogging around the park. Oh, there is a community that is trying to turn city parks into popular public spaces and create new experience in interaction with others. At the same time, they aim to make people in the city have a sense of belonging. They have an interesting concept to show people the cities parks and get together. To find out more follow them on twitter: @HiddenParkID
10. Enjoy the nightlife
Jakarta is often called the “city that never sleeps.” Jakarta has a charm of its own in the evening. The cities skyline with millions of lights looks beautiful and the nightclubs and bars are always busy. I have written a post about where to go to experience nightlife in Jakarta, please check it here.
11. Try various public transportation
You want to really feel like a real local, then try the public transport. Trans Jakarta bus, taxi, metromini, mikrolet, motorbike taxi (or we call it Ojek), bajaj, and much more. This is probably the best things to do in Jakarta. Note: You need to bargain for bajaj and ojek, they sometimes give foreigners a quite funny price! Try public transport in Jakarta and melt in with the traffic. Get desperate and frustrated (or probably Enjoy it?)! I won’t guarantee this will be a pleasant experience, but you certainly can learn about what it feels like to live in Jakarta. It is going to be very valuable, right? If the traffic is really bad and you can’t stand it, then just walk and you might get a different experience.
12. If it is Sunday, do the car free day
If you’re in Jakarta on Sunday, then I suggest you try a bit of exercise (or it could be just a walk) on Car Free Day (CFD) in Sudirman-Thamrin street. It starts at 6 am and lasts till 12 noon. It feels so amazing to experience and see the main road (Sudirman and Thamrin) without any vehicles. Many communities also gather there and you have the opportunity to see almost all the communities in Jakarta on one morning.
13. Visit various museums, including my favourite the Kite museum
Besides the National History museum, all the museum in TMII area and all the museum in Old Town, Jakarta still has a lot more museums to see! There is the Jakarta Textile museum, Bank Indonesia museum, Proclamation museum, Maritime museum and my favourite the Kite Museum. So what are you waiting for?
14. Visit tourism attractions near Jakarta
Can not stand the congestion of Jakarta and want to ‘escape’ for 1-3 days from the city? Here are what locals usually do: we often visit Thousand Islands. The Thousand Islands are a chain of islands to the north of Jakarta’s coast. There are so many islands that you can explore with 1-3 hours journey by boat from Ancol (Marina harbor) or Muara Angke harbor. If you want a comfortable trip, then Macan Island and Bidadari Island are both options. If you fancy to do more adventurous things and want to travel on a budget then Tidung Island, Pramuka Island or Harapan Island could be good for you. Other than the Thousand islands, I also suggest you consider Puncak (and probably do paragliding or just walk around the tea plantations), Bandung, Bogor (to visit the Kebun Raya), Krakatau, cultural trip to Baduy or take a look the Megalith site, Gunung Padang.
15. Go to the malls
How many malls are there in Jakarta? The answer is “Too many”! Hahaha.. Ok, this probably sounds a bit of a weird idea to you, but believe me if you want to have a relaxing day, find grocery, probably do some shopping or play bowling, why not going to the malls? There is one store in Grand Indonesia Mall, called Alun-Alun Indonesia where you can easily find some souvenirs for your family or friends back home that truly Indonesia (I consider Alun-Alun Indonesia quite expensive, but some stuff is ok to buy). If you want something cheaper, you should try ITC, Thamrin city, Tanah Abang (Note: I really like to shop for a lot of different fabrics in Tanah Abang. It is amazingly cheap), and traditional markets around Jakarta.
Booked Your Accommodation in Jakarta? Here are the best 3 hotels in the city for Every Budget:
- Luxury Hotel – The Hermitage, Menteng Jakarta
- Mid Range Hotel – Kosenda Hotel Jakarta
- Budget Hotel – Ibis Budget, Menteng Jakarta
Whoaaaa, that is a long list! Btw, I am sure that there is a lot more other interesting stuff to do in and around Jakarta that I might have missed or haven’t done. So if you know other cool things to do in Jakarta, please let me know and I can add it here.