1. National Monument
Monas Tower is the most famous monument in Jakarta and stands proud in the city as a symbol of independence in Indonesia which was declared in 1945 after years of Dutch colonial rule. The monument is located in Merdeka Square which means ‘freedom’ in Indonesian and there is a gallery where you can learn more about Indonesia’s often turbulent history. The main draw however is a trip to the observation deck at the top of the tower which affords views in all directions across the city.
This monument is open to the public every day from 8 AM to 3 PM, except on the Monday
2. Day trip to the Thousand Islands
Amazingly, the Thousand Islands are considered part of greater Jakarta which means that if you are looking for some beach time in the city you will not have to venture too far. Just a few hours outside of the city center finds you at the Thousands which are called Pulau Seribu in Indonesian and you will find gorgeous beaches, coves, and inlets here. The best way to enjoy the islands is to take a boat tour which will let you hop from one island to another and allow you to take in all the best sights at the same time. If you are looking for a little luxury then Pulau Macan is home to an upscale resort where you can enjoy some fine dining and delicious cocktails at sunset.
3. Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII)
Indonesia is well known for being made up of over 17,000 islands and is split into 26 provinces. As a result, it is unlikely you will even be able to scratch the surface of this immense country on a trip here, but if you want to get an overview of the highlights then head to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah or Beautiful Mini Indonesia. This park is arranged according to province and you will find models of traditional homes and can learn about the local traditions, costumes, and diverse ways of life across the archipelago. This is a great place to come if you are travelling with children and gives you a whistle stop tour of the country if you do not have time to actually visit each province in person.
4. Go shopping in Menteng
One of the main pastimes in Jakarta is shopping, and if you want to take advantage of this fully then head to the district of Menteng which is famous for its flea market. Here you will find a huge range of goods including arts and crafts, miles of textiles, and even food items. The main market is known as Jalan Surabaya Flea Market which first started operating in the 1970s and is also known for its antiques. Some of the signature items that you will find here include ornate wood carvings and vinyl records, and the market is over half a kilometer long which means that you will be spoilt for choice whatever you budget. Bargaining is expected so do not be afraid to haggle if you spot something you like.
5. Istana Merdeka
Istana Merdeka sits in the center of Jakarta and is the presidential palace located close to Merdeka Square. As this is the current residence of the sitting president in Indonesia, it is not open to the public, although it is well worth swinging by and admiring the exterior as this is one of the most historically and politically significant buildings in the country. The building dates from 1879 and it is here that the historic flag changing ceremony happened when the Dutch Colonial period ended and Indonesia declared independence.
6. Ragunan Zoo
Ragunan Zoo sprawls over an impressive 185 hectares of land and you will find an amazing 3,600 species here. Just some of the Indonesian animals that call the zoo home include Komodo Dragons and graceful orangutans, and there are also a variety of species from other parts of the world. The zoo is also home to an array of pretty indigenous flowers and plants and is a great place to come to learn more about the Indonesian wildlife. Note that the zoo is closed every Monday and make sure to wear plenty of insect repellent when you visit to ward off the insects.
7. Ancol Beach
You might not imagine that a big city like Jakarta has a beach but it does in the form of Ancol Beach which is part of the wider Ancol Jakarta Bay City. The beach here consists of a strip of golden sand that skirts along the sea front and although this is technically a public beach you will have to pay an entry fee to enjoy the facilities. There are a number of swimming pools along the shore line and you can recline on a rented sun longer and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere outside of the city center. There are also a range of other attractions in the same complex such as a Sea World and a water park.
8. Kota Tua
Kota Tua also goes by the name Old Town Batavia and is one of the most historically significant parts of Jakarta. As you walk around the area you will find pretty architecture that dates from the Dutch colonial period and you can also visit the cobbled central town square which is the signature feature of the area. This is seen as the cultural heart of the city and many artists and photographers gravitate here to take in the relaxed atmosphere and old world feel, and the area is also studded with cafes so you can have a drink and enjoy the surroundings. It also has a high concentration of museums so you can learn some history here at the same time.
9. National Museum
The National Museum goes by the name Museum Nasional in Indonesian and is the place to come if you want to know more about this fascinating country. The museum tells the story of the history, art, culture, geography, and ethnology of this country, and is separated into different galleries that include collections like early Indonesian ceramics and Hindu art through the ages. The museum has been in operation since 1868 so it is also a historical gem in its own right.
10. Taman Anggrek Mall
Jakarta is a city that is famous for its malls but the biggest of these is Taman Anggrek Mall in the west of the city. Locals claim that some 10,000 people visit the mall every day and you will find a vast array of shops here that are suitable for all tastes and budgets. As well as retail outlets you will also find cafes and eateries all over the mall and it is well worth a trip to see some of Jakarta’s famous mall culture firsthand. Other attractions in the mall include a large cinema and it even has an ice skating rink.
11. National Gallery of Indonesia
Located at Merdeka Square in Gambir is the National Gallery of Indonesia which is one of the best museums in the city and has some 2,000 pieces of Indonesian art work. For any art lovers or those who do not know much about Indonesian artists this is definitely not to be missed and it takes you on a colorful journey through different regional pieces. There is also a separate section dedicated to foreign collections and you will find paintings, ceramics, photographs, and sculptures here.
12. Jin De Yuan
Located in Glodok is Jin De Yuan which is a spacious Buddhist temple that was built in 1755. It is one of the most important places of worship for the Buddhist community in the city and some signature points to look out for include the roof which is topped with two ornate dragons with pearls in their mouths. Inside the temple you can take in the aromatic incense as well as ceremonials bells and a collection of ancient calligraphy.
13. Dine at Seribu Rasa Menteng
Jakarta is a food lover’s paradise and you will find restaurants and street food stalls all over the city. One of the most famous restaurants in the city however is Seribu Rasa which means ‘A Thousand Tastes’ and is set in a beautiful colonial style mansion. The food served here will give you a snap shot of a range of Indonesian cuisines and you will find classic dishes with an upscale twist. Conveniently located in the center of town in Menteng, Seribu Rasa also has a variety of draft beers so that you can enjoy a cold drink with the spicy Indonesian food.
14. Museum Wayang
Wayang is the Indonesian name for traditional puppets and is one of Indonesia most prized cultural traditions. To learn more about the history and cultural importance of wayang, head to the puppet museum which will take you on a journey through time and explain how these amazing objects are made. Located in the old town part of Jakarta, this is a quirky museum that is not to be left off the itinerary and collections include fearsome masks, wooden puppets, and a show that is held every Sunday at 10 o’clock in the morning.
15. Take in the views at Awan Lounge
At the top of the Kosenda Hotel is Awan Lounge which can serve as a welcome break in the middle of the hectic city. This rooftop bar includes a vertical garden with trees studded around the area and the signature feature here is a glass skylight that plunges down over nine floors and is not recommended for those who don’t have a head for heights. In the evenings you can sip a cocktail here and take in the sparking lights of the city below.