Indonesia’s capital city is an impressive megalopolis, and you’re sure to need several days to experience even a fraction of its offerings. However, there are some situations where you have limited time to explore. In such cases, you’ll want to make the most of your visit. Whatever the reason for your short trip to Jakarta—whether it’s a short business trip or a quick break before heading off to Bali—here’s a quick list of things to do and places to visit as soon as your plane lands on Terminal 3 Soekarno Hatta.
Visit the National Monument
Also called Monas (for Monumen Nasional), the National Monument is Jakarta’s icon and a symbol of Indonesia’s fight for independence. Surrounding Monas is the National History Museum, where you can learn more about the history of Indonesia. Outside in the museum’s yard, you can find reliefs that show how Indonesia was colonised, how it fought during WWII, and how it achieved independence. If you’re in the area in the evening, make sure to take a snapchat of Monas. It’s quite a sight when it’s lit with colourful lights.
Drop by Taman Fatahillah
Taman Fatahillah or Fatahillah Square is located at Jakarta Old Town (Kota Tua) and is a famous tourist destination. You can maximise your time here since there are plenty of attractions in the square. You can visit the Jakarta History Museum, Wayang (Puppet) Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics which are near the square. You can also rent a bike to explore Kota Tua.
Eat at Cafe Batavia and Sample Some Street Food
When you visit Kota Tua, it’s almost a requirement to drop by and have some coffee or tea at Cafe Batavia. This iconic cafe’s charming old world decor, with dark woods and soft lighting, is also perfect for selfies and photos. Meanwhile, for some traditional Indonesian street food, you can find vendors by the southwest side of Taman Fatahillah. Try some kerak telor, sate ayam, bakmi, bakso, and pempek, among many other savory and unique dishes.
Go to the National Museum
Another icon that’s a definite must-visit in Jakarta is the National Museum of Indonesia or Museum Nasional. It’s located right in the middle of Jakarta in Jalan Medan Merdeka. The museum houses archaeological, ethnological, geographical, and historical collections numbering up to more than 140,000 individual objects. Museum Nasional is often called the Elephant Building (Gedung Gajah) because of the bronze elephant statue that stands in front of the building.
Visit the Istiqlal Mosque and Jakarta Cathedral
The Istiqlal Mosque or the Independence Mosque is the largest in Southeast Asia, with a capacity of 200,000 people. It features seven gates, each named after the names of God in Islam. For a unique view, go up to the gallery to catch sight of a multi-colored sea formed by the hijabs of worshippers. Non-Muslim visitors are welcome inside but will need to register for the guided tour. Those who are not wearing proper attire will be given a gown to help cover up. Of course, it is mandatory to remove your shoes. You can either leave them at the entrance or carry them inside in a bag and put them in the cloak room for storage.
Across the road from the mosque is the Jakarta Cathedral (St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral), which boasts a neo-gothic architecture with three grand spires. The two spires beside the main doors are called The Ivory Tower and the Tower of David, while the spire on the roof is called the Angelus Dei. You can also find a statue of La Pietà on the south side. On the second floor of the cathedral is a museum that showcases relics of the history of Catholicism in Indonesia.
Tour Indonesia at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah
If you want to get a glimpse of Indonesia in one convenient place, visit TMII or Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, which in English means “Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park.” TMII is composed of pavilions representing the 26 provinces of Indonesia. These pavilions house collections and exhibits that display the rich and colorful Indonesian culture. Apart from the pavilions, there’s also a cable car that you can ride to view the park from above. There are also theaters, museums, and other recreational attractions located in the TMII complex.
Shop at Pasar Baru
If you have time for some shopping, visit Pasar Baru (literally “New Market”) in the Sawah Besar subdistrict. Here you can find mom-and-pop stores selling vintage fashion items, accessories, watches, and more, both new and second-hand. There are also a lot of Indonesian food stalls here, as well as Indian-Indonesian shops selling traditional textiles. Toward the south gate, you can find the Gedung Kesenian Jakarta or the Jakarta Arts Building.
Jakarta is just too big to visit in one day or two, but hopefully, the places and activities listed above can help you appreciate this charming city, even if you’re visiting for just a short while.
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