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As the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta is a sprawling, culturally-diverse city that is always humming and buzzing with activity. Whether you’re looking for a bit of luxury or want to learn some history, there are so many things to do in Jakarta — from shopping and nightlife to Buddhist temples and museums.
If you’re not sure what to do in Jakarta during your visit to the busy city, we’ve put together this list of 12 awesome things to do to get you started, in no particular order.
- Chloe Mallett
- From England
Kota Tua (pictured above), or Old Town, is full of signs of Jakarta’s complicated colonial past. Stroll through the beautiful Fatahillah Square, which is surrounded on all sides by Dutch-style buildings that house wonders like the Wayang Museum (dedicated to puppetry) and the Fine Art and Ceramics Museum. Be sure to enjoy some street food while you’re there.
Tip: Visit on Sunday to get the full Kota Tua experience, when the locals come out in full force to enjoy the weekend as a community.
It’s impossible to miss this impressive monument as you travel around Jakarta. Standing at an impressive 137 m high, climbing Monas (short for Monumen Nasional) gives you beautiful views of the capital city in all its glory. The monument is a proud symbol in Jakarta as it symbolizes the Indonesian fight for independence.
Tip: The Monas observation deck is open daily, except for the last Monday of the month when it (along with the National History Museum) is closed.
Fee: Visit both attractions with a single ticket, costing IDR 15,000 (USD 1.1)
Unlike the peaceful, relaxing beaches of Indonesia’s island resorts, Jakarta is often referred to as “the city that never sleeps” — which is fortunate for visitors who love to experience a taste of a city’s nightlife! Jakarta has many bars and nightclubs just waiting to be discovered by party-goers. We highly recommend visiting the Skye Bar. Sitting atop a 57-story-high building, sip your cocktail while taking in incredible views of the city.
Tip: Wear your fanciest clothes and pop by around sunset for the best views from the Skye Bar.
With 33 different provinces, each with their unique culture, it would take a very long time to see every corner of Indonesia and experience all it has to offer. If you want to make the most of your trip, one of the best things to do in Jakarta is to visit the Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII), or the ‘Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park’. Ride the cable car above the park to see its pavilions, each dedicated to a different Indonesian province. If you’re scared of heights, there’s also a train that runs around the park’s borders.
Tip: Allow for at least a half a day to see all the displays.
Fee: IDR 15,000 (USD 1.1) per person.
Jin De Yuan (also called Vihara Dharma Bhakti or Kim Tek Le temple) is a spectacular Buddhist temple that has sat in the heart Jakarta’s Chinatown since 1755. The temple is worth a visit if only to see its ornate architecture, particularly the temple’s roof with its two dragons with pearls inside their mouths. Go inside the temple to ring the ceremonial bells, light some incense, or look at the ancient Chinese calligraphy on display.
Tip: Don't leave without trying the Chinese food in Chinatown. We heard it is delish!
The beautiful Jakarta Cathedral dates all the way back to 1901. It is truly gorgeous, built in the neo-gothic style with ornate spiralling twin columns giving it a distinct look from any cathedral you’ve seen elsewhere. Be sure to bring your camera along for this one.
Opening hours: Everyday from 05:30 AM to 07:00 PM. Daily mass is at 6 AM and 6 PM.
Tip: Visit between 8 AM to 10 AM so that you can visit the Cathedral Musuem as well. Fridays and Sundays have special masses.
Just across the road from Jakarta Cathedral, you will find the Istiqlal Mosque, built there in 1978 as a symbol of religious tolerance that the diverse, multicultural city of Jakarta is so proud of. The Istiqlal mosque is the largest mosque in all of Southeast Asia - so large, in fact, that it will take you at least one full hour to visit the mosque and the grounds surrounding it! We can see why it should be on your list of 'top things to do in Jakarta'.
Tip: Free guided tours are available, but you must book in advance.
Foodies rejoice — Pasar Baru is Jakarta’s oldest market (it’s been around since 1820) and is full of tasty goodies that will make your mouth water. Be sure to visit on an empty stomach, as Pasar Baru is teeming with stalls selling Javanese, Indian and Chinese cuisines. If street food isn’t your thing, you’ll also find everything from fresh flowers to vintage cameras.
Tip: Be sure explore the old colonial-style buildings that surround the market.
Alternatively, you can even visit Jalan Sabang, another culinary hub where you can find Betawi, Javanese, and even Acehnese foods!
Jalan Pintu Besar Selatan is Jakarta’s main art street - a vibrant, colourful stretch of the city where you’ll always find passionate painters with their works on display. Be sure to take a stroll down the street after visiting nearby Fatahillah Square. Trust us - among all the beautiful colours and different art styles, you’re sure to find something you like.
Jakarta is certainly known for its shopping, with countless shopping malls full of designer stores and fancy restaurants. However, nothing compares to the city’s tiny, old, often messy shops dotting Surabaya Street. These shops can typically only hold a couple of people at a time as they are so packed with handicrafts, antiques, and other goods. While you might stroll the street just for the experience, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for some treasures!
There’s no need to go all the way to Bali if you want to experience Indonesia’s beach life — simply hop on a boat or a jet ski for a tour of the Thousand Islands. Just off the coast of Jakarta, there are actually 108 islands (not 1000 as the name would suggest), several of which have been developed for tourist use. Drop by for a sunshine-filled day of swimming and snorkelling, or stay overnight in a coastal cottage.
Fee: Tours vary in price.
Whether you’re a true history buff or just want to brush up on your general knowledge, a visit to the National History Museum is one of the top things to do in Jakarta. With over 2000 artefacts and dioramas, the museum will tell you all you need to know about Indonesian history, archaeology, geography and more!
Tip: Wrap up your day by visiting just before sunset when the crowds are thinner, after visiting the Monas monument.
Fee: A ticket to both attractions is just IDR 15,000 (USD 1.1)
While Indonesia’s capital may have a reputation for always being boisterous and busy, it simply means that you’ll never find yourself asking what to do in Jakarta. Our best suggestion is to let yourself get lost among Jakarta’s crowded cosmopolitan streets and you’ll never be at a loss for things to do.