14 Things To Do In Jakarta, Indonesia
Jakarta is now the largest metropolitan city in Southeast Asia being home to over 10 million people. It was once named as the “Jewel of Asia” because of the opportunities it offered to European businessmen especially those involved in the trading industry.
Jakarta as the main economic center of Indonesia during the Dutch colonization. It had largely contributed to the thriving trading business of the Dutch East Indies. At that time, Jakarta was named “Batavia”.
Despite being a large mass of land, Jakarta for some may find that there isn’t much to do in this city. But! The differences between various areas of Jakarta make it more interesting and make you wonder the extent of change this city has undergone and for what reasons.
So dive into the rich history and evolution of Indonesia through the contrast of skyscrapers and old buildings in Jakarta and scratch Indonesia off your bucket list!
Visit The Largest Mosque in Southeast Asia in Jakarta
The Istiqlal mosque is a place of prayer and can accommodate over 120,000 worshippers at once. The Muslim community gathers here to pray during Ramadan and on Fridays but you will see this grand space of peace and quiet packed and filled with people during their time of fasting and prayer on Ramadan.
It is considered to be the biggest mosque in Indonesia and 4th in the whole world. Indonesia is predominantly a Muslim country with 80% of the population practice Muslim and is, in fact, the country with the most number of Muslim people.
You can have the privilege of entering the mosque to witness the prayer life of Muslims, you can pray yourself, and also witness the grandeur of the mosque’s architecture made largely of Javanese marble and stainless steel. The dress code is strictly observed and you should wear something that covers your arms and legs to enter.
Just across the street, you may find the twin spikes of Jakarta’s Roman Catholic Cathedral. Being this close in proximity, the two places of worship and prayers, although of different religions, reflect the religious tolerance that Indonesians consider to be one of their guiding principles. The cathedral is built with a neo-gothic style.
Explore Jakarta’s Chinatown
The Chinatown of Indonesia is also known as Glodok. As a city characterized by diversity, Indonesians welcome and enjoy the Chinese culture’s ways of trading and their food. This part of town offers a market place for fresh produce, stores that sell affordable clothing and textile, and their famed street food.
While you’re there, I recommend trying their coffee shop by the name of Kopi Es Tak Kie. It is a Chinese-Indonesian coffee shop with an old school vibe to it. The shop also serves various fried food and a full meal. Just order them from the stalls outside and they will deliver your food to your table inside the coffee shop.
Try Indonesian Streetfood
Indonesians are known for frying almost anything. You should definitely try their Pisang Goreng or the fried banana. Also, don’t miss the chance to try other street foods.
Bubur Ayam is congee with rice and topped with different crispy veggies. Nasi Campur is an Indonesian dish of rice served with a mix of vegetables and/or meat. Indonesia’s signature dish is the Kerak Telor. It is found in almost any street. It is a crusted pancake made from chicken or duck’s egg topped with rice and coconut.
Dine Like An Emperor
The history of Indonesia is not only portrayed by its historical places and museums. At Lara Djonggrang, the goal is to portray the Indonesian cultural dining through the tastebuds of King Hayam Wuruk throughout his royal expedition in the 14th century. Fine dining and theatrical setting are what would greet you in the restaurant to fully experience the gastronomic exploration the King had back in those days.
Visit Indonesia’s Old Town
Fatahillah Square is found in the heart of Jakarta’s old town, Kota. The place exhibits the old heritage architecture of Indonesia during the Dutch colonization. The city of Jakarta was once called Batavia during this era.
The place is now mostly the place to be for fun and recreation for the Indonesians. It is packed during weekends with people riding colorful Dutch-inspired bicycles, skateboarders, people trying to get selfies with their friends or family, and tourists beholding the modernization of the people in contrast to the preserved old place of Fatahillah.
Within the Fatahillah Square, you will find museums and historical places worth coming for like the Jakarta Historical Museum, the Wayang Museum, and Cafe Batavia.
Discover Indonesian History
Within the Fatahillah Square is what is also known as Fatahillah Museum or Batavia Museum. Jakarta Historical Museum museum is located in what was once known as the City Hall of Batavia and it displays the culture and evolution of Indonesia way back from the prehistoric ages to the early 20th century. This is where you’ll get a glimpse of how colonization and business tradings have affected the culture that Indonesians have today.
Coffee In The Olden Days
Inside Batavia Cafe in the old town (Shutterstock)
Also located within the Fatahillah Square, Cafe Batavia is a preserved building that dates back to the Dutch rule. The open windows of the cafe show the old town in all its fun glory today. The 200-year-old building used to be the offices of the Dutch East Indies Company. It has been repurposed to serve coffee with this old charm for 3 decades now.
Be A Kid At Heart
In English, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah means “Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park” located in East Jakarta. The amusement park consists of replicas of traditional houses of Indonesian chieftains. The park basically represents the different archipelagos and provinces in Indonesia, inviting you into their culture, history, and tradition. You’ll see the temples of Bali, Bull Races of Madura, and various parks, theatres and themed parks.
See The MONAS
Once a buffalo field, the 1 km square Merdeka Square is the 3rd largest city square in the world. It tells the story of Indonesia’s way back from the earliest kingdoms down to the Dutch Colonial Rule. It is where you’ll find the 132-meter tower with the golden top of the National Monument called MONAS built to commemorate Indonesia’s independence from the Dutch. At night, MONAS is a sight to behold with colorful lights to light up the place.
Also within the square, you’ll locate the National Gallery, The National Museum of Indonesia and just nearby on the northeast side is the Istiqlal Mosque.
Dreamland Becomes Reality
Another amusement park to visit, this time on the Northside of Jakarta is the Jaya Ancol Dreamland or in the local language, Taman Impian Jaya Ancol. It is the largest integrated tourism park in Southeast Asia. Here you’ll find various adventure-driven parks such as Seaworld, Fantasy World, and Marina Beach all in one place. The park is situated in Ancol Bay City.
Cross A Fancy Bridge
This newly inaugurated pedestrian bridge in Jalan Sudirman is one of the famous places Indonesian millennials go to to take Instagram pictures and stories. The crossing bridge is LED-lit equipped with CCTV and trash cans on corners.
It is meant for people crossing the streets but it is also a place to stay if you want to take in the scenic view of the city’s busy streets. With its architecture, the bridge embodies the modernization of Jakarta and at the same time serves a great function for the safety of the pedestrians. The bridge lights up wonderfully at night.
The city of Jakarta is a city that embraces modernization and glamour and malls are all over the city specifically in Central Jakarta. You may find restaurants, luxury brands and stores from all over the world and they have amazing architectural designs as astonishing as any other building you may find in Jakarta. Grand Indonesia Mall and Plaza Indonesia are walking distance from each other. Other smaller malls that are a short drive from this area are Plaza Senayan, Senayan City, Ratu Plaza, and FX mall.
See Seafarers In Action
Just a short walk from the north of the old town of Jakarta is the Sunda Kelapa or to what most locals call the Pasar Ikan which means “fish market”. Catch a boat ride to explore the waters of the Ciliwung River.
The place has been a sustainable port for five centuries. This is where the Dutch first saw the potential of Jakarta and Indonesia as a resource for the trading industry and thus the beginning of Dutch domination.
Traditional and vibrant Makassar schooners can be seen transporting goods in action up to this day. The sight of sailors and fishermen loading and unloading goods from boats or ships is the main attraction in this part of town.
Hop the Indonesian Islands
The beautiful island of Pulau Macan (Shutterstock)
Tiger Island or Pulau Macan are two islands just a two-hour speedboat ride from Central Jakarta. It is a well-preserved island with a small village.
The accommodation includes in this eco-resort involves huts that literally face the ocean. The first thing you see when you wake up and the last thing you see before you go to bed is the beautiful clear waters.
The resort has made great efforts to preserve as much of the virginity of the islands. Snorkeling the waters, diving with the schools of fish, delicious Indonesian cuisine, sunsets and sunrise watching, and bubbly staff are all the perks of visiting the islands.