People always tell me they are confused about what to do in Jakarta. The city has some beautiful spots and a unique charm. To experience it for yourself you need to leave the traffic jams behind and slow things right down (aka on foot). Taking a walking tour of Jakarta you get to see another side the city.
So let me share with you a few ideas of what to do in Jakarta (you have checked out my guide of 15 things to do in Jakarta for other ideas right?). Here is an example of a great walking tour that I’d recommend if you were visiting the city for the first time. Let’s get started with an action packed itinerary.
Jakarta Cultural & Religious Tour plus Old Batavia Tour
Monas, the National Monument, is an obvious starting point for any tour of the cities cultural highlights. The monument was built in 1954 to celebrate the Independence of Indonesia. In fact Monas is even located in Merdeka Square (that’s Indonesian for Independence). The tower is 132 meters in height and at the time of its construction it was one of the tallest structures in the city.
A bit like the Eiffel Tower, Monas is one of those places that you should just tick off your list if you’re a tourist visiting the city and there’s a good reason for that. On the ground floor of Monas you’ll find a small museum. You’ll enjoy looking around the museum, but it’s the view from the top of the tower that you’re going to remember. 😉
After visiting Monas and enjoying Merdeka Square it’s time to head off to the Istiqlal Mosque, which is a short taxi ride away. The Mosque is the National Mosque of Indonesia and it is big. At full capacity Istiqlal Mosque can hold 120,000 people (believe me it’s a really impressive place to visit during religious holidays).
It takes about around 30 minutes to take the full tour of the Istiqlal Mosque. You’ll be amazed by the size of the Istiqlal Mosque. My two favorite parts of the Mosque are the main prayer room and the colonnaded walkway that you visit at the end.
The main prayer room is five stories high. Light floods in from the large windows, slanting across the prayer room. The temperature is cool and there’s a relaxing ambience. Depending on when you visit you’ll see people sitting down and chatting between the 12 pillars on the carpeted floor, children running around and people in prayer. The colonnaded walkway is just as interesting, but this time purely for the architecture.
Opposite the Istiqlal Mosque is the cities cathedral, The Church of Our Lady of Assumption. The cathedral dates back to the colonial era and was built between 1890 and 1901. The architecture is neo-classical. Like most cathedrals the design is impressive. You can have a quick look at the cathedral, before heading off to the next stop, Bank Indonesia Museum.
Bank Indonesia Museum was opened in 2009 and is housed in the old central bank building. This is one of the more interesting museums in Jakarta. Exploring the premises you’ll learn about the history of Indonesia from the pre-colonial era to the present time. There are sections about spice trading, the VOC (the Dutch Colonial Authority), the Japanese occupation of Indonesia and the economic crises of 1997.
Before Jakarta became Jakarta it was known as Batavia and it’s at the historic center of this city and it’s a great place to explore on a walking tour. The best place to start is Fatahillah Square. The Square is at the center of old Batavia and is surrounded by impressive grand buildings and beautiful cafes.
Around Fatahillah Square you’ll find the Jakarta History Museum, the Wayang Museum (a museum dedicated to Javanese Wayang puppetry) and the Fine Arts and Ceramics Museum. It gives you a lot of option for places to visit. but one of the best ways to explore Batavia is on an old bicycle.
From Fatahillah Square you can head towards Sunda Kelapa port. On the way to Sunda Kelapa port you’ll follow one of the old canals in Jakarta and cross the Old Chicken Market Drawbridge (the drawbridge dates back to the 17th Century and is the last example of its kind in Jakarta).
Just before arriving at Sunda Kelapa port you’ll pass Toko Merah building. This is the oldest building in Jakarta (it was built in 1730). During the Dutch colonial era this used to be a Naval Academy and was even the residence of the Governor General of Batavia.
The final stop is Sunda Kelapa port to see the wooden Phinsi boats that still travel through Indonesian waters unloading goods between the islands. It’s a nice peaceful area to explore and the setting is a perfect place for photographers looking to take some great looking photos.
A great way to end the day is by taking a wooden boat ride around the Sunda Kelapa harbor. It’s a great way to explore the harbor and get a few unusual photos.
Book A Jakarta Walking Tour
I’ve always said that the best way to really learn about a city is to walk around its neighbourhoods. Jakarta is no different. The city has plenty to offer you if you get out of the car and start exploring the streets. If you’d like to arrange a walking tour in Jakarta I’d be happy to help. I’ve partnered with an independent travel agency that offers three personalised tours of the city.
Included in the package:
- Experienced local guide to take you around the city
- Transport costs for getting around while on the tour
- Entrance costs for Museums and other attractions
Email me to find out more about the Jakarta Walking tours. I’ll be happy to arrange everything for you.
I reply to every enquiry personally and only ever recommend tours I would join myself. Look forward to hearing from you.
Have you ever taken a walking tour in Jakarta? What was your experience, what places would you recommend visiting?