Jakarta Travel Guide
Jakarta is Indonesia’s capital, largest and most interesting city. It’s not for everyone, however, being somewhat of chaotic hodgepodge of intense traffic, lanky skyscrapers, throbbing old markets, yet has one or two interesting colonial areas.
The city lies on the north coast of West Java and spawned from a Dutch colony in the 17th century. It has something like eight million residents today and is split into districts, of which central Jakarta is the most appealing to tourists with most of the interesting attractions and shopping.
Major attractions in Jakarta include the 140-meter National Monument in Merdeka Square, Jakarta’s old town of Kota, the Adam Malik Museum, the touristy Ancol Bay City and nearby Ancol Marina, and the idyllic Thousand Islands area farther afield.
If you’re here for the shopping, Jakarta is well endowed with malls and street markets. Jalan Thamrin is the main shopping street in town, with Plaza Seneyan and Plaza Indonesia having everything under one roof. There are also numerous independent handicraft stores in Jakarta, while the Jalan Surabaya Flea Market in Mentang district is a must-see.
Eating options are aplenty in the Indonesian capital, what with influence of colonial powers Britain, Dutch and Portugal, along with the tastes of all regions of the country. Prices are generally reasonable, with budget travelers through to high-flyers all taken care of.
West Jakarta, including Chinatown, is the area to head for nightly entertainment in the form of bars and clubs. Jalan Jaksa is especially well known for its collection of hip pubs. Hotels are also good in this part of town, while east Jakarta has budget options.
In the city proper there’s not much in the way of activities on offer, apart from the several city parks. If you want to get active, your best bet is to head north to the many islands and beaches. The Ancol Dreamland complex lies on the coast just north of the city and is a very popular place, with its beach resort and amusement park.
Getting There & Away
Most flights land at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport just west of Jakarta in nearby Tangerang. Flights come in from all over the world and the Jakarta-Merak highway makes light of travel times to downtown Jakarta. There is also a domestic terminal here with flights all around Java and elsewhere in Indonesia.
Things to Do
- National Monument
A huge obelisk in the center of town rising 140m into the air and featuring solid gold flames atop.
This is jakarta’s old town and is the place to come to check out colonial jakarta, with its ancient dutch buildings and the jakarta history museum.
- Jakarta Chinatown
This bustling area of town lies in west jakarta and features endless shopping, eating and hotels.
- Ancol Bay City
A huge tourist park on jakarta harbor in the north of town, with loads of scope for activities and entertainment, including a theme park, golf, beaches, and hotels.
- Ancol Marina
The launch point for boat trips around jakarta bay where ferries depart frequently and boats can be chartered for trips out to the thousand islands region (pulau seribu).
Side trips from Jakarta
This old dutch hill station lies just to the south of town and features some of the most stunning botanical gardens of anywhere. bogor is actually almost part of jakarta today.
Banten old town lies to the west of the capital and is ideal for those who fancy a break from the bustle. there are many old buildings here and it is quite fast to access due to the jakarta-merak toll way. pulau dua bird sanctuary is just north of here.
- Sunda Kelapa
This pretty harbor to the north of town and west of ancol is one of colorful, old schooners and museums and has a pleasant laid back look and feel.
- Jakarta Fair
This festival goes off in june and features traditional dance and music that ultimately showcases the culture of the region over seven weeks.