Indonesia’s bustling capital is an enormous metropolis known for its colonial-era relics, stunning mosques, bountiful shopping strips and its family-friendly activities.
The Indonesian capital is a city defined by contrast, often-dubbed the “Big Durian”. Just like the fruit, Jakarta, positioned on the northwestern corner of Java, is characterised by a rugged exterior and a heart that overflows with flavour and colour.
Begin your discovery of the city in the visually stunning district of Kota. Once known as Batavia, the central area still shows signs of the Dutch influence around the cobblestoned Taman Fatahillah square. Learn about the city’s history since the Stone Age with a visit to the Jakarta History Museum. Afterwards, see the work of Indonesia’s top artists at the Balai Seni Rupa gallery and the nearby Ceramics Museum.
Make the journey to the historic port precinct of Sunda Kelapa to watch as colourful fishing boats return from the outer islands. Find out about the nation’s rich naval history by stopping by the Maritime Museum, located within a 17th-century spice warehouse.
Admire the top of the 137-meter (450-foot) high National Monument (Monas Tower). Located in the heart of the city, its summit provides sweeping city views. Ride the elevator to reach the top. Drop past the National Museum to see its collection of ethnographic artifacts, join a guided tour of the Presidential Palace or be blown away by the size of the Istiqlal Mosque, capable of holding up to 120,000 people at a time. See over 2,000 traditional fabrics at the Textile Museum.
Shop in the crowded aisles of Jalan Surabaya, a grand market place. Find traditional Indonesian wayang puppets and sarongs, perfect for souvenirs and gifts. Savour the flavours of Indonesia with some street food. The local dishes combine Arab, Chinese, European and Indonesian culinary styles to create a fascinating blend of flavours. Browse the stores at Grand Indonesia or head outside the city for the enormous shopping and entertainment complex, Living World.
Families will love riding the waterslides at Ocean Park and the roller coasters at Taman Impian Jaya Ancol (Ancol Dreamland). For a cultural day out that will keep the kids entertained, visit the replicas of traditional Indonesian homes at the Taman Mini Indonesia Park.
Between November and March the city experiences hot, smoggy and monsoonal conditions. Thanks to a network of cheap taxis and an air-conditioned bus network you can avoid being exposed to the elements.
Jakarta, while fascinating in its own right, is a great gateway to Indonesia’s natural beauty. Coral reefs, volcanoes, surf breaks, orangutans and Komodo dragons await your visit.