Jakarta Travel Guide

Jakarta Overview

Indonesias big and brash capital, Jakarta, sits on the far north-western corner of the island of Java, looking down on all which it commands. The Big Durian is a bustling city of fascinating contrasts, from the old world charm of Dutch colonial times to the fast paced frenzy of its vibrant shopping districts, colorful food markets and abundant nightlife thriving until the early hours. In some respects a lower key Bangkok, Jakarta is a fast developing metropolis with something for everyone yet, at the same time, an acquired taste that may take some time before it grows on you.

 
On first impressions, like many big Asian cities, Jakarta can best be described as an urban sprawl suffering from the typically overcrowded, polluted and frenzied way of life of its counterparts. However, as is usually the case, behind the intimidating façade is a city of charm and surprises. From the Dutch influenced old town of Batavia (Kota) to the effervescent Chinese district, from avant-garde shopping malls to local street markets, to cutting edge nightlife and entertainment, the city is packed full of hidden treasures blending yesterdays time honored traditions with tomorrows pioneering developments. Moreover, when the heat and intensity of the city becomes too much, wander down to the port of Sunda Kelapa and hop on a boat bound for the idyllic and ever so laidback Thousand Islands.
 
One major hindrance of Jakarta is that, with poorly indicated and confusing street names, getting around the city can often be frustrating. Those ready for an adventure can tackle the extensive connection of trains and buses, but be prepared for severe overcrowding, keep an eye out for your stop and be vigilant with personal belongings. For short distances it is often quicker to walk, especially if the route is known, otherwise taxis are the best bet.
 
Getting in and out of the city however is less of a challenge. As the main transport hub of Indonesia there are constant bus, train, boat and air connections. With the bus stations sat a long way out of the city, trains are arguably the best option for coming in and out. The main station, Gambir, next to the national monument, serves Bandung, Solo, Surabaya and Yogyakarta, amongst others. Boats leave from the port at Tanjung Priok for Padang, Pontianak, Surabaya and Singapore. Northwest of the centre, Soekarno-HattaInternationalAirport connects across Australia, Europe, and South East Asia and domestically to the likes of Denpasar in Bali.
 
Jakarta has suffered a few problems with terrorist attacks in recent years; therefore anyone thinking of travelling there should check the current situation ahead of departure. That aside, for the open minded traveler the city provides a fine introduction to the changing faces of Indonesian culture and the ability to confuse charm and captivate at the turn of every corner.

Things to do in Jakarta

Jakarta Museums

Jakarta History Museum - Displays on the history and development of the city and paraphernalia from the Dutch colonial time, housed in the old town hall. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 9am to 3pm.
ShadowPuppetsMuseum - History and legacy of wayang puppets, popular throughout Indonesia and especially on Java. Visitors are treated to displays of puppets from across South East Asia and Europe. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 9am to 3pm.
T.I.M. Art Centre - Exhibition centre for traditional and contemporary Indonesian art, named after the famed local musician Ismail Marzuki. Within the centre are cinemas, theatres and auditoriums. Keep an eye out for impromptu street performers whilst you enjoy the bars and cafés.
 
Sunda Kelapa - Jakartas old port and Pasar Ikan (fish market) are a hive of activity with an unimaginable amount of brightly painted ships coming and going from the outer islands. A visit to the port is a must, to see the seafarers unloading cargo from their ships and, for a small fee, the skippers will allow you on board the schooners for a closer look.
 
Taman Fatahillah - Visit the old town of Batavia, the former seat of Dutch colonial times, a cobblestone plaza providing a glimpse of the district at its peak. In its earlier years the square served as a venue for public death penalties/punishments and vibrant festivals.
 
Taman Mini - One of Jakartas most popular tourist spots is a 100-hectare park showcasing a miniature form of Indonesian culture through a tour of each of the 30 provinces, all possessing a full-scale traditional house amongst handicrafts, clothing, museums and theatres with regular cultural displays. Open daily from 8am - 5pm for day-trippers and 24-hours a day to those staying in the park.
 
Keong Emas - Imax theatre within Taman Mini showing Beautiful Indonesia, a 3D presentation related to the islands art culture and environment.
 
Thousand Island - Group of 120 pristine tropical islands located in the JakartaBay that are a popular getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. The islands, of which the majority are sparsely inhabited, are home to sandy coconut palm lined beaches and warm waters home to abundant sea life. Boats and tours depart for the islands from Sunda Kelapa and Ancol Marina.
 
Jaya Ancol Dreamland - Jakartas largest recreational park home to an endless amount of entertainment, including water park, sea world, swimming pools, beach, restaurants, nightclubs and drive-in theatres. There is also an open-air market showcasing Indonesian arts, crafts and antiques.
 
Jakarta Nightlife
As any capital city, Jakarta knows how to party with a whole host of options for its visitors. Popular districts are Blok M in South Jakarta, a favoured expat hangout in the form of Bangkoks Patpong market, and Plaza Indonesias EX annex, home to swanky bars and clubs, like Hard Rock Café, and frequented by the beautiful people. Bars and clubs worth checking out include, BBs Reggae and Blues Bar, Café Batavia and the citys longest survivor The Jaya Pub. For late wild nights head to either Centro or Embassy.

Hotels in Jakarta

Budget Hotels Jakarta

Anara House - Cheap, clean and walking distance to sights and amenities. Tel (62) 21 7591 2533.
Blessing Mansions - Budget apartments, ideal for longer stays or families. Tel (62) 21 5013 6138.
Sunny Days Hostel - Funky boutique hostel in the heart of Jakarta. Tel (62) 21 81 6188 1088.
 
Midrange Hotels Jakarta
Hotel Ibis Tamarin - Decent midrange chain hotel with good facilities. Tel (62) 21 3912323.
Novotel Hotel - Located in Mangga Dua Square and similar in standard to the Ibis. Tel (62) 21 6231 2800.
Crowne Plaza Hotel - Large businesslike hotel with pool, spa and plenty of entertainment. Tel (62) 21 5268833.
 
Luxury Hotels Jakarta
Four Season Hotel - Contemporary, squeaky clean and pricey rooms set in a tropical garden. Tel (62) 21 2523456.
Mandarin Oriental - Arguably the citys most lavish hotel with bar, restaurant and poolside café. Tel (62) 21 2993 8888.

Jakarta Weather

Jakarta Travel Resources

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