Many tourists skip the capital when they travel to Indonesia, but there are good reasons to spend a few days in this bustling megacity. Here are the best places to visit in Jakarta, Indonesia.
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Welcome to Jakarta: the Largest City in Southeast Asia
The area of modern-day Jakarta has been home to various settlements since the 4th century AD. In the 16th century, Muslim troops led by Fatahilla conquered the area and renamed the then-settlement “Jayakarta,” meaning “complete victory.”
In the 18th century, the Dutch took over Jakarta and renamed the city “Batavia.” It became the capital of the new Dutch East Indies colony that is today Indonesia.
After Indonesian independence in 1945, the city was renamed Jakarta and grew into one of the world’s largest agglomerations. Today, the metropolitan area of Jakarta is home to around 33 million people, making it the largest city in Southeast Asia.
Jakarta is Indonesia’s economic, cultural, and financial center, but not a major tourist destination. Most foreigners briefly stop here or skip it altogether.
Jakarta is an intense city and can be overwhelming. Nevertheless, the sights and unique things to do in Jakarta make a visit worthwhile.
On this basis, here is a guide to the top places to visit in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The Best Places to Visit in Jakarta
Many of the top sights in Jakarta are located around Merdeka (Independence) Square. As such, the square is an excellent place to start your Jakarta visit.
The National Monument
One of the most famous landmarks in Jakarta, the National Monument is a 132m (433 ft) high obelisk on Merdeka Square.
The monument is dedicated to Indonesia’s independence struggle and features a museum and an observation deck with stunning views over the megacity.
Kota Tua: Jakarta’s Old Town
Kota Tua is one of the oldest parts of the city. Known as “old Batavia,” it’s one of the best places to visit in Jakarta thanks to its canals and colonial architecture.
The area is home to Fatahillah Square – the main colonial square in Jakarta – and the History Museum.
Istiqlal: the Largest Mosque in Southeast Asia
Istiqlal Mosque opened in 1978 and underwent extensive renovations in 2020. Today, it is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia with a capacity of around 200,000 people.
As a non-Muslim, you can visit the mosque. You have to register at the office. You will then get a free tour from one of the mosque attendants.
Right next to Istiqlal Mosque, you’ll find the neo-Gothic Roman Catholic Jakarta Cathedral. It was consecrated in 1901 and is today one of the largest churches in Indonesia.
The Best Museums in Jakarta
To learn something about the fascinating history of Indonesia, a visit to some of the best museums in Jakarta is a must.
In this context, one of the top places to visit in Jakarta is the National Museum right next to Merdeka Square. It details the history of the country and explains its diverse geography.
Other museums that are worth visiting in Jakarta are the History Museum (Kota Tua), the Museum Bank Indonesia, and the National Gallery.
If you want to learn something about Indonesia’s incredible fauna and flora, Ruganan Zoo is one of the best places in Jakarta.
Located in the southern part of the megacity, the zoo is also a conversation center that helps endangered species like orangutans.
Jakarta’s Chinatown area (Glodok) has existed since colonial times when the Dutch forced Chinese communities to live here.
Today, the Glodok area holds various markets, Chinese buildings, and lots of beautiful temples.
Thousand Islands: the Best Day Trip from Jakarta
North of Jakarta, you’ll find a chain of islands with stunning beaches and recreational areas.
Boats depart from the Marina Ancol in the Bay of Jakarta. Some of the most popular islands are Pulau Bidadari, Pulau Ayer, Pulau Macan, and Pulau Tican.
The ferries take between 30 minutes and two hours, depending on which island you want to go to, making the Thousand Islands an excellent day trip from Jakarta.
Where to Stay in Jakarta
If you’re looking for the best neighborhoods in Jakarta, there are two that I can recommend.
First, the area around Grand Indonesia Mall is arguably the best area to stay in Jakarta. It’s home to various hotels, Airbnbs, malls, restaurants, and nightlife options. Better still, it’s centrally located and well-connected.
I stayed at the Jambuluwuk Thamrin – and its price/quality ratio was phenomenal. Its rooms were comfortable, and its breakfast buffet was sumptuous.
Another area that’s among the best places to stay in Jakarta is SCBD. It’s one of the most modern and wealthiest neighborhoods but a bit further away from the primary tourist attractions in Jakarta.
Find more places to stay in Jakarta here.
Places to Visit in Jakarta: Know Before You Go
To complete our guide to the top attractions and places to visit in Jakarta, here are some FAQs.
How to Get Around Jakarta
Jakarta has some of the worst traffic you’ll ever witness. Public transportation exists in the forms of metro buses and several trains.
By and large, the easiest way to get around Jakarta is to use a Grab bike taxi.
Is Jakarta Safe?
Overall, Jakarta isn’t a particularly dangerous place to visit. Nevertheless, have your wits about you, as snatch thieves and pickpockets are common. Apart from that, common sense should suffice to stay safe in Jakarta.
The Best Time to Visit Jakarta
The best period to visit Jakarta is between June and September when the rainfall is low and the temperatures aren’t as scorching.
Jakarta sits in a subtropical region. As such, it’s warm and humid throughout the year. There are two seasons in Jakarta: dry Season (May – September) and wet season (October to April).