10 Things To See & Do In Jakarta
If you’re heading to Indonesia, there’s a strong chance your final destination won’t be Jakarta but there’s an equally strong chance you will fly into this bustling airport terminal. For many people, all they get to see of Jakarta is the airport, as most people will be heading to places such as Bali, Lombok and the Gili Islands… yet this frenetic asian city has an incredible amount to offer those in search of culture.
Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia, known as one of the world’s greatest megalopolises whilst retaining a sincere warmth and welcoming vibe from the optimistic local crowd.
Most people visiting Jakarta are there because they have a connecting flight. Indeed, many tourists treat Jakarta solely as an entry and exit point into Indonesia, without even giving the city a go - which is a shame, as there is no real tourist season in Jakarta, meaning you have access to a genuinely local and authentic experience.
A number of westerners will visit Jakarta for business, meaning there is infrastructure for tourists, but the majority of leisure travellers pass it up. In terms of the weather, the rainy season runs from October to May, when it can rain more than half the time, which means May to October is probably a better time to head to Jakarta.
Essentially, if you can spare 48 hours to explore this quirky city you’ll find a hidden gem and diamond in the rough amidst the chaos and frenetic pace of life that Jakarta is known for.
Here are some great suggestions on things to do whilst in Jakarta:
1. Go Shopping in Menteng
Similar to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, shopping in Jakarta is a huge pastime with several prestigious malls and street markets alike. If you’re looking for more traditional local fare then head down to the district of Menteng where you’ll find a famous flea market with a range of arts, crafts, textiles and food; just be sure to bring comfortable shoes as the market is over half a kilometre long. Conversely, if you’re looking for a more fancy and prestigious mall experience you might want to check out this guide for more insight.
2. Take a Day Trip To The Thousand Islands
The Thousand Islands are considered part of greater Jakarta, meaning, if you’re looking for some beach time in order to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city - you don’t have to venture too far from Jakarta to find natural beauty, peace and serenity.
Just a few hours outside the city centre you’ll find beautiful beaches, covers and inlets that are a million miles away from the chaos and congestion of Jakarta. The best way to explore the islands is to take a boat tour that allows you to island hop.
Be careful with the sun though, as the UV rays are incredibly strong in this part of the world, and you want to protect your skin - indeed, this is even more true if you’re travelling with a child or baby.
Furthermore, as the climate is particularly humid in Indonesia, if you are travelling with a child there’s a good chance they will develop a rash. It might therefore be wise to check out the best ways to treat your baby’s skin rash: your complete guide before heading out to this part of the world.
It’s also important you factor in the heat and intensity of the sun, if you are going island hopping, as it’s very easy to get heat stroke in Indonesia - particularly if you’re on a boat tour, as the wind can make things feel deceptively cool, yet you are still subjected to the same intensity of the sun.
3. Check Out Monas Tower
The Monas Tower is by far the most famous monument in Jakarta; which symbolises the independence of Indonesia, declared in 1945, after years of Dutch colonial rule. The tower is located in Merdeka Square, and here you should head to the observation deck at the top of the tower on a clear day to get a tremendous views across the entire city.
4. Visit Taman Mini Indonesia Indah
Indonesia is made up of over 17,000 islands that are split into 26 provinces. It’s therefore unlikely you’ll scratch the surface of this immense country on a trip here, so for an overview of the highlights of this archipelago head to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah or “Beautiful Mini Indonesia” as it translates.
The park is arranged according to the twenty six provinces, and here you’ll find models of traditional homes and learn about the local traditions and diverse ways of life across this varied country. This option is a great place to come with children whilst offering you an interesting way to get your bearings and understand the geography of the destination.
5. Visit the Zoo
Ragunan Zoo is a place where you’ll find over 3,600 species spread out over 185 hectares of land. Here you can find the infamous Komodo Dragons and Orangutans; both from Indonesia though there are a variety of species from all other parts of the world. In addition to animals, the zoo hosts an array of indigenous flowers and plants that is worth the trip in itself. The zoo is, however closed every Monday and does have an issue with insects meaning you’ll want to be sure to wear plenty of bug repellent.
6. Hit The Beach
The beach within Jakarta itself is called Ancol Beach. This consists of a strip of golden sand that is free to walk on but will require payment to enjoy facilities such as sun loungers.
7. Head To A Theme Park
Dunia Fantasi is Jakarta’s version of Disneyland. Whilst it doesn’t really compare it is a novel and interesting experience that’s well worth the visit.
8. Atlantis Water Adventure
Atlantis Water Adventure is a large water park complex that’s perfect for cooling down on a hot summer day. The park is huge, with eight areas where you will find a large wave pool in addition to a plethora of fun slides and pools for various age groups.
This is a great family activity that offers a much more fun and relaxing side of Jakarta than the hustle of the city centre.
9. Museum Tekstil
This textile museum is one of the less visited museums in Jakarta, but it is well worth the trip if you have an interest in fashion or textiles, as you’ll get the chance to learn about traditional Indonesian weaving and fabric painting techniques. It is more akin to an educational experience than the fun of a water park, but this can be good, in terms of balancing learning and play time - if you have kids with you.
The museum has over 2,000 pieces on display including some famous Indonesian batik items, and one of the best things to check out are the taster classes where you can learn how to make Batik art work yourself.
10. Take a Walk Around Glodok
The area of Glodok is essentially Jakarta’s Chinatown. It is the largest Chinatown in the country and one of the biggest in the world. It started out in the Dutch Colonial Period, and today its range of temples, markets, and shops draw in tourists and locals alike - many of which will spend the afternoon and evening strolling around to admire the traditional Chinese architecture and interesting purchases one can make - such as the traditional medicine shops that offer a wide range of peculiar remedies.
In summary, Jakarta has much more to offer than just a connecting flight; so take a deep breath, venture out into the city, and you’ll be surprised by how much there is to see and do - not just in terms of activities but in terms of soaking up the atmosphere of such a vibrant and bustling city.