Jakarta is a chaotic yet dynamic city that is steamy and raw and once you get past the ugly facade – it has many faces with plenty to do. It’s residents are generally good-natured and have a happy outlook on life – even with Jakarta’s many slums, when you compare it to other world capital’s the crime rates are actually very low. The great Jakarta region has more than 28 million residents, so you can imagine the clash of that many people coming together will surely result in some unexpected turns and pleasant surprises.
Let’s take a quick dive into the top 5 things to do in Jakarta whether you are visiting for a few days or a few weeks.
Here you’ll find the best museum in Indonesia. Kids may be flying kites outside and this old colonial gem is a source of patriotic pride. Filled with various exhibits (such as old Dutch furniture & maps) it’s a cornucopia of Indonesian history and well worth the visit for a touch of class & culture. A great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the maddening Jakarta traffic or to round out a rainy day on the road.
There’s a wealth of excellent places to experience what is considered the best nightlife in Asia (and deservedly so). You’ll meet many locals (generally upper class) as well as the usual Western expats which has a comfortably familiar feel. A vibrant part of the city for nightlife is the area of Kemang, with many great venues close together making it easy to hop between them for a good night out. Also check out the Skye bar which offers stunning views over the city on the 56th floor of a skyscraper. Another one to visit is Potato Head which offers an artistic and brilliant warehouse style bistro and bar with a definite vintage feel.
Swing by Jakarta’s Flea Market in Mentang for all sorts of knick-knacks such as woodcarvings to vinyls and textiles to jewelry – best to wear your bargaining boots. For the truly dazzling shopping experience check out The Grand Mall which will give you some great insights into the modern lifestyle scene of Jakarta.
This may be the number one tourist attraction and definitely worth a visit. Located in Merdeka Square, the Monas was opened in 1975 and along with being a symbol of Indonesia’s independence it also offers some of the better views in the city. The admission fee is only about Rp 15,000 (which is approximately $1.25 USD) you’ll be hard pressed to find a reason that you shouldn’t visit this iconic monument. At 137 meters high, go right up to the top observation deck and bring your camera.
Also known as Kota Tua – this is the old Dutch colonial district and is a historical look at Jakarta’s past and the huge Dutch influence upon it. Whilst slightly run-down now, it’s a relic of the city and a must see. Chinatown (Glodok) is crowded and crazy but if you’re an extrovert and gain energy from the buzzing of life around you this is the spot to meander through. Lots of shops and stalls selling all sorts of market type food and objects lines the streets. Nothing special here, but worth a walk through as you get a feel for Jakarta.
This metropolis may not be the prettiest city in Asia but it has a gritty soul and good humoured charm.