Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, is a vibrant and dynamic destination that offers a mix of rich cultural heritage, modern attractions, and diverse culinary experiences. While not necessarily as famous of a tourist destination as cities like Bali, it still presents its unique blend of offerings. The result is a travel experience that gives a specific flavour, an urban experience that’s dynamic and multi-faceted.
Jakarta’s history as a tourist destination is closely tied to its historical and cultural significance, reflecting the diverse influences it has experienced over the centuries. Over the years, Jakarta has transformed into a bustling metropolis with modern infrastructure, shopping malls, and entertainment options. The city continues to evolve as a tourist destination, blending its historical roots with modern amenities and attractions.
Must Visit Attractions in Jakarta
As mentioned, Jakarta offers a mix of historical, cultural, and modern attractions that cater to a diverse range of interests. Because of this, no matter what you enjoy, you’ll be able to find something that caters to your specific tastes. Here, we’ve compiled a list of some of the essential must-visit attractions in the city, so these are a good place to start planning our itinerary.
- National Monument
The Jakarta National Monument, also known as Monas, is an iconic landmark located in Merdeka Square. It’s a towering structure that reaches a height of 137 meters, consisting of a concrete obelisk topped with a flame sculpture coated in gold foil. The flame symbolizes the spirit of the Indonesian people and their struggle for freedom.
Visitors can take an elevator to the observation deck at the top of the monument, providing panoramic views of Jakarta. On clear days, you can see the cityscape, including many of Jakarta’s other iconic landmarks and skyscrapers. There’s also a museum at the base of the structure with many historical artifacts and exhibits.
- National Museum of Indonesia
The National Museum of Indonesia, also known as the “Museum Nasional,” is the most well-known museum in the country. True to its reputation, it features a comprehensive collection of artifacts and cultural objects representing the diverse history, art, and cultures of the Indonesian archipelago.
The museum houses over 140,000 objects, including ancient inscriptions, Hindu-Buddhist sculptures, traditional textiles, ceramics, ethnographic items, and artifacts from Indonesia’s diverse ethnic groups. Highlights include its many detailed dioramas, the fossilized remains of a 1.7 million humanoid named the Java Man, and treasures from Borobudur and Prambanan.
- Taman Fatahillah
Taman Fatahillah, also known as Fatahillah Square, is a historical square located in the heart of Jakarta’s Old Town. It preserves the remnants of the city’s colonial past, with many of the buildings surrounding it showcasing Dutch colonial architecture. It’s also home to the famous Jakarta History Museum, housed inside the Stadhuis, the former Court of Justice building.
The square tends to host street performances and local cultural events, which attract swathes of locals and tourists. These tend to make the square more vibrant, especially with so much street art around every corner. Local vendors sell snacks, souvenirs and handicrafts around the square as well if you’re looking to spend.
- Taman Mini Indonesia Indah
Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, often referred to as TMII, is one of Jakarta’s premier cultural and recreational parks. The park was designed to represent the cultural richness and unity of Indonesia, between its many diverse ethnic groups and traditions.
To that end, the park features replicas of traditional houses from each of Indonesia’s provinces. These pavilions are constructed to scale and showcase the unique architectural styles and cultural elements of each region. On top of that, other offerings like a reptile park, a bird park and cable car rides give the attraction some variety.
- Ancol Dreamland
Ancol Dreamland is a large recreational and entertainment complex located along the waterfront in North Jakarta. It is one of the most popular destinations for both locals and tourists, offering various theme park rides and splendid views of the waterfront. There’s a little something for everyone here, with an aquarium, a water park, a thrill park and an ecopark.
The complex includes several hotels and resorts, making it convenient for visitors to stay overnight and enjoy multiple days exploring the attractions. Whether you’re interested in amusement parks, marine life, or simply enjoying the beach, Ancol offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages.
Best Museums in Jakarta
Jakarta’s rich history and culture mean there are a lot of museums dedicated to preserving various slices of the city. Many of these specialize in certain aspects of the city that you wouldn’t know from a glance, which is why many of these museums are a must-visit for history buffs.
- Jakarta History Museum
The Jakarta History Museum, also known as Museum Sejarah Jakarta or Fatahillah Museum, is located in Taman Fatahillah. The museum is housed in the former Stadhuis, a Dutch colonial-era building that served as the City Hall of Batavia, the capital of the Dutch East Indies. The museum’s exhibits focus on the history and development of Jakarta, spanning various periods from prehistoric times to the present day.
The museum’s permanent exhibitions cover topics such as the prehistoric era, the Hindu-Buddhist period, the Islamic era, the colonial period, and the struggle for Indonesian independence. Each section provides insights into the different phases of Jakarta’s history.
- Museum Bank Indonesia
Ever wanted to learn the history of banking and finance in Indonesia? Then you’re in luck, as the Museum Bank Indonesia focuses on exactly that, particularly the role of the country’s central bank in it. The museum is situated in the old part of Jakarta, known as Kota Tua, a historical area with well-preserved colonial architecture.
The museum is housed in a heritage building that was formerly the De Javasche Bank, the central bank during the Dutch colonial period. The museum features a range of exhibits and displays related to banking and finance in Indonesia, such as an extensive collection of Indonesian bank notes and coins.
- Wayang Museum
The Wayang Museum, is a museum dedicated to, naturally, wayang. Wayang is a traditional form of puppetry in Indonesia, often accompanied by music and storytelling, and the museum displays a diverse array of wayang figures from different regions and traditions. Each type has its unique characteristics and is used in different regions and performances.
The museum is housed in a colonial-era building that was originally the former Church of Old Batavia. It acts as a cultural repository for Indonesia’s traditional puppetry, offering a glimpse into the country’s rich heritage and storytelling traditions.
Monuments to Religion in Jakarta
Jakarta features a diverse range of races and religions within itself, and as a result, the country has several buildings of significant religious importance. Many of these buildings are well-known, representing ideas of faith and unity that kept the city together during its hard times. Make sure to be respectful if you visit them!
- Istiqlal Mosque
The Istiqlal Mosque is the largest in Southeast Asia, making it one of the country’s most prominent religious landmark. Outside of being an architectural marvel, the mosque continues to hold great significance as a place of worship. Istiqlal Mosque has a large prayer hall capable of accommodating tens of thousands of worshippers, which makes for a staggering sight during prayers and events.
While Istiqlal Mosque is primarily a place of worship, it is open to visitors of all faiths. Tourists can explore the mosque’s architecture, interior, and surrounding gardens. Visitors are required to dress modestly, and women are encouraged to cover their heads when entering the mosque. If you’re visiting, keep this in mind!
- Jakarta Cathedral
Adorned with stained glass windows, religious artwork, and ornate decorations, the Jakarta Cathedral stands as the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Jakarta. It’s a reflection of the country’s history and commitment to religious diversity and harmony. The cathedral’s architectural beauty and historical legacy make it a notable landmark in Jakarta.
The cathedral hosts various religious festivals, events, and celebrations throughout the year, attracting Catholics from Jakarta and beyond. Visitors can explore the cathedral’s architecture and interior, and learn about its historical and cultural significance.
Nature-based Attractions in Jakarta
Wildlife is surprisingly rife in Jakarta, and as a result, a fair number of popular attractions with nature and wildlife as their main theme have sprouted in the city. These are all well-maintained attractions, so if you’re an avid fan of nature, animals or the outdoors, then you can’t go wrong with visiting these attractions.
- Ragunan Zoo
Ragunan Zoo, officially known as Kebun Binatang Ragunan, is a large zoo located in Pasar Minggu. It is one of the oldest and most popular zoos in the country, and naturally boasts a huge number of animal exhibits. You’ll find sections for different habitats, as well as specific areas for birds, reptiles, and fish. There’s also a primate center, housing various primates in their natural habitat.
Apart from the animal exhibits, Ragunan Zoo offers recreational facilities for visitors. There are playgrounds for children, picnic areas, and open spaces for relaxation and leisure. The zoo aims to contribute to conservation efforts and education by showcasing both local and exotic species, making a fun visit.
- Jakarta Aquarium
In the heart of Jakarta city lies the Jakarta Aquarium, which holds the record for being the largest aquarium in Indonesia. The aquarium divides itself into multiple different zones, each representing a natural habitat with its own ecosystem. Outside of fish, Jakarta Aquarium also houses a rainforest section, with animals like axolotls, iguanas, an insectarium and an owl house.
The sheer variety of aquatic wildlife on display can be quite staggering to witness, especially with how big the Jakarta Aquarium is. It’s also an enjoyably laid-back experience, allowing visitors to peruse the exhibits at their own pace.
- Suropati Park
Suropati Park is a popular public park recreational spot known for its greenery, open spaces, and amenities. It’s located in the Menteng area of Central Jakarta, a tranquil oasis amid Jakarta’s urban landscape. The park is equipped with benches, gazebos, and other amenities where visitors can rest and enjoy the surroundings.
A prominent feature of the park is the statue of Raden Suropati, which stands as a tribute to the historical figure. walking paths and jogging tracks, making it an ideal location for those who enjoy outdoor exercise. If you’re looking for a relaxing outdoors experience, or maybe to have a picnic, then this is the place.
Best Spots for Shopping in Jakarta
Shopping culture in Jakarta caters to many different backgrounds, which is a big part of what makes it so much enjoyable. No matter what your tastes are, or what sort of price range you’re shopping for, there’s always something for you in Jakarta. You just need to look hard enough, and you’ll find what you’re looking for.
- Kota Kasablanka
Kota Kasablanka is a mixed-use modern complex that combines residential, commercial, and entertainment facilities. The centerpiece of Kota Kasablanka is its shopping mall, which offers a wide range of retail stores, fashion boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and entertainment options. It’s the key draw of Kota Kasablanka, and a popular destination among tourists and locals alike.
For visitors, the next big attraction of Kota Kasablanka has to be its vibrant culinary scene. With numerous dining options, ranging from local Indonesian cuisine to international flavors, you can find something to suit your tastes. The complex also often hosts events, exhibitions, and entertainment activities, which you can check out if you’re lucky!
- Grand Indonesia Mall
The Grand Indonesia Mall is one of Jakarta’s premier shopping and lifestyle destinations, being one of the largest and most expansive shopping complexes in Southeast Asia. It comprises multiple buildings and two main towers, the East Mall and West Mall. Grand Indonesia Mall offers a diverse shopping experience with a wide range of retail outlets, including international and local brands.
A unique feature of Grand Indonesia is the Sky Bridge connecting the East Mall and West Mall. The Sky Bridge provides panoramic views of the city and offers a convenient way for shoppers to move between the two towers.
Best Food You Need to Try in Jakarta
Jakarta, as the capital city of Indonesia, is a melting pot of diverse culinary influences from various regions of the archipelago. The city offers a rich array of local specialties that showcase the flavors and traditions of Indonesian cuisine. As a result, many of its specialties are staple foods all across Indonesia!
- Nasi Goreng
Nasi Goreng, or fried rice, is a staple dish in Indonesia. While fried rice is popular worldwide, the Indonesian version of this dish is different, utilizing different sauces and seasonings that give it a unique flavour. In Jakarta, you can find variations of this dish, often served with a fried egg on top and accompanied by condiments like sambal, pickles, and shrimp crackers.
- Soto Betawi
Soto Betawi is a traditional soup originating from Jakarta. It features a rich broth made with coconut milk, beef or offal, and a blend of aromatic spices. Soto Betawi is typically served with rice, lime, and sambal, though there are variations of the dish served with noodles instead.
Ketoprak is a Jakarta street food favorite. It consists of rice cake, tofu, bean sprouts, and rice vermicelli, topped with a peanut sauce and served with a side of crackers. It’s a flavorful and satisfying dish.
- Nasi Uduk
Nasi Uduk is a fragrant coconut rice dish often accompanied by side dishes such as fried chicken, beef rendang, fried anchovies, and boiled eggs. It’s commonly enjoyed as a breakfast option.
Gado-Gado is a popular Indonesian salad featuring mixed vegetables, tofu, tempeh, and hard-boiled eggs, all drizzled with peanut sauce. In Jakarta, you can find variations of this dish with additional local ingredients, as well as spicier takes on the dish.
- Sate Betawi
Sate Betawi is a Jakarta-style satay made with marinated and skewered meat, usually beef or lamb. The meat is grilled and served with a sweet soy sauce, rice cake, and pickles.
- Kue Pancong
Kue Pancong is a traditional Betawi coconut pancake with a distinct shape. It’s made from a mixture of grated coconut, rice flour, and palm sugar, resulting in a sweet and fragrant delicacy.
- Es Selendang Mayang
Es Selendang Mayang is a refreshing drink made with layers of colorful rice flour jelly, coconut milk, and palm sugar syrup. It’s a popular choice to cool down in Jakarta’s tropical climate.
When is the Best Time to Visit Jakarta?
Typically, the best time to visit Jakarta is during the dry season, between May to October. It offers lower humidity and less rainfall, making travel and exploration a lot easier to plan out. June to September in particular is the best time to visit, with the weather usually being quite pleasant.
Between November and April is the wet season, with frequent rainfall. We generally don’t recommend visiting during this time, especially between January and February when the rainfall hits its peak. However, if you plan to visit mostly indoor attractions, then visiting during this time can mean fewer crowds.
How Many Days Do You Need In Jakarta?
The ideal duration for a visit to Jakarta depends on your interests, the purpose of your trip, and the activities you plan to undertake. We recommend a stay of at least 5 days, allowing you to delve deeper into Jakarta’s many cultural and historic offerings. This amount of time allows for a lot of leisurely day trips, while still allowing you to see most of the things the city has to offer.
Where to Stay in Jakarta?
Jakarta is a city with tons of people moving in and out of it, and as such there are also a vast number of hotels to fulfill this demand. Down below, we’ve listed some of the better hotels available, each one with its own upsides. Generally, if you’re browsing for hotels in Jakarta, make sure to check reviews before making a decision!
- Grand Orchardz Hotel – Lovely 4-star hotel with a premium vibe and all the amenities.
- Aloft South Jakarta – 4-star hotel with many amenities, bars and a rooftop pool.
- Hotel Daily Inn – Simple 3-star hotel that’s affordable, comfortable and clean.
- Shangri-La Jakarta – Luxurious 5-star hotel with all the bells and whistles.
- Wyndham Casablanca Jakarta – Top-of-the-line 5-star hotel with a beautiful view.
- Daima Norwood Hotel – Stylish boutique hotel with a rooftop restauraunt.
- Putri Duyung Cottage – Seaside hotel with picturesque ocean view.
- Holiday Inn Express Jakarta – Simple and affordable 3-star hotel with many modern amenities and glowing reviews.
How Do You Get Around in Jakarta?
Jakarta is a bustling metropolitan, and as a result, it differs from many other Indonesian cities in its intercity travel infrastructure. The roads are hectic and can be challenging to navigate, so we recommend taking the TransJakarta Bus Rapid Transit for an easier time. These go almost everywhere, operating on specific routes with good ticketing systems.
Otherwise, e-hailing services like Grab and Gojek offer competitive prices with plenty of convenience. Motorcycle taxis, known as ojek, are prevalent and also a lot of fun, so you might want to try one for the experience. Renting a motorcycle or car is also an option, though as we mentioned, the roads can get quite hectic, so be careful.
A visit to Jakarta is a true slice of Indonesian culture, while also a showcase of the many ways Indonesia has grown and modernized. It’s diverse, bustling and vibrant, filled with life and noise at every corner. There’s history and a story behind many things, but it doesn’t forgo modern sensibilities and comforts either. Because of this, Jakarta has grown popular as a tourist destination, and it’s really not surprising as to why.