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Top Five Things to Do in Jakarta, Indonesia

Top Five Things to Do in Jakarta, Indonesia

The Top Five Things to Do in Jakarta, Indonesia #whereabouts #wheretonext

Presenting ‘Jakarta, Indonesia’ in partnership with Traveloka

From a distance, the madness of Jakarta may feel a bit daunting to say the least. But the capital of Indonesia and the gateway to the country’s gorgeous natural offerings of volcanoes, verdant rice paddies, and islands filled with dragons is a wonderful representation of everything that is Indonesian. Jakarta continues to celebrate a hard-won independence in the form of monuments and cherishes its culinary identity with streets teeming with food hawkers. If you find yourself visiting, this guide will help you make the most out of your time in the Big Durian, a city that rewards the curious and is loved by the locals no matter its reputation.

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1. Catch a live dangdut show

If you want to know what Jakarta sounds like, head over to a dangdut show. Dangdut is a genre of Indonesian music with rhythms, instruments, and harmony heavily influence by Indian music. Indonesians LOVE dangdut, which is why ithe traditionally folk entertainment is now considered popular music. The full-powered bands feature one lead singer accompanied by a worldly collection of musical instruments ranging from sitars, tablas, and gendangs, to the more modern selection of guitars and synthesizers. Get ready to “goyang” i.e. SHAKE IT UP on to the heady sounds of dangdut.

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Dangdut is the best way to rock out in Jakarta / Photo courtesy of Foto Banjarnegara

2. Eat from kaki lima

The mobile food vendors, the kaki lima, are the keepers of the city’s street food assortment. You’ll find a heavy concentration of of these moving stores (the geropak) in Pasar Baru, the 196-year-old market aka the oldest market in Jakarta although they’re easily found zigzagging through traffic, which is especially fantastic when wrangling the infamous Jakartan traffic jams. The most universal item on every push cart is gorengan, literally anything fried. For something specific, try martabak, a stuffed pancake of Arabic descent. While it can either be savory or sweet, martabak manis, sweet martabak, is a dessert bomb loaded with things like condensed milk, cheese, or even Toblerone chocolate.

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Ready to take on the chocolatey goodness of matarbak?/ Photo courtesy of Afan Oppo

3. Admire the grace of the National Monument

The epicenter of the city is none other than Monas, a 137-meter-high monument that towers over the city situated in the middle of Merdeka Square. The National Monument, topped by a bronze flame, is a symbol of Indonesia’s long struggle for independence from the Dutch. The iconic structure is easily the most popular attraction in town and offers the best sunset views of Jakarta from the observation deck, which is open daily except for the last Monday of the month, from 8 am to 3pm. A trip up costs a mere 15,000 IDR ($1.5 USD) so no there’s honestly no excuse to not visit. At the base of the monument is a hallway housing 51 dioramas of epic scenes from Indonesia History, in collaboration with the Indonesian National History Museum. Fun fact: The dimensions of the design deliberately incorporate the date of the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence: August 17, 1945 (17, 8, and 45).

Where? Gambir, Central Jakarta City, Jakarta, Indonesia

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At night, Monas comes alive in a colorful water show display / Photo courtesy of Mapio.net

4. Say a prayer at Istiqlal Mosque

The national mosque and also largest mosque in Southeast Asia, Istiqlal Mosque, is another reminder of Indonesia’s long struggle for independence with Istiqlal meaning “independence” in Arabic. The mosque can host a congregation of up to 120,000 worshippers. Non-Muslim guests must be accompanied by a guide. For those interested in learning more about the religion, you are shortly briefed about Islam before your tour. Dress appropriately: shorts and sleeveless tops are not allowed. The mosque is directly in front of the Catholic Cathedral, which is evident of Indonesia’s tolerance towards all religions and applied interfaith practices.

Where? Jl. Taman Wijaya Kusuma, Ps. Baru, Sawah Besar, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10710, Indonesia

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The mosque is the region’s largest Islamic house of worship / Photo courtesy of Visit All Over The World

5. Learn more about Indonesian culture at Taman Mini

One of the biggest hardships for tourists subjected to fast-pace itineraries is not being able to appreciate a new country in its entirety. Fortunately for Jakarta tourists, the Tamam Mini Indonesia Indah exists. The “Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park” was erected at the behest of former first lady Siti Hartinah. The intent of this cultural theme park was to instill more national pride in the hearts of Indonesians and also to celebrate the rich heritage and diversity of Indonesian people. The park is mapped out in sections meant to represent the main islands of Indonesia: Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulawesi, the lesser Sunda Islands, Maluku and Papua. Beyond the replicas of the varying architecture found around the archipelago, you can catch theatrical, musical, and dance showcases. There are also rides, museums, and gardens found all around the premises, a perfect recreational outing.

Where? Ceger, Cipayung, East Jakarta City, Jakarta, Indonesia

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Take in the miniature replica of Indonesia from a cable car ride / Photo courtesy of Specindo


Honorable Mentions

  • Are you a fan of antiquing? Head over to Jalan Surabaya and procure some cool collector’s items but keep a sharp eye out for imposter commodities.
  • Get a taste of Japan’s finest by way of Jakarta at the Little Tokyo neighborhood located behind Blok M Bus Terminal.
  • If you’re in need of a new talisman, Rawa Bening is your one stop for all things magical. The large collections of stones, amulets and other mystical objects are perfect for those looking for a bit of luck.
  • Chinatown in Glodok is home to some of Jakarta’s finest foodstalls. If you’re looking to get lost and/or do a sizeable amount of people watching, the narrow alleyways of this Chinese enclave is your best bet.
  • Every Sunday, from 6 am to 12 noon, the main street of Jalan Sudirm-Thamrin is cleared for Car Free Day. That’s right: you can ride your bike without having to bob and weave between cars or worry about breathing too much smoke exhaust!

Accommodations:

To escape the hustle and bustle of Jakarta, The Pullman Hotel Jakarta offers the best rate. The Pullman Hotel Jakarta located in Thamrin, the posh financial district of the capital, is an upscale treat featuring five on-site dining experiences, most notably Sana Sini, the signature restaurant that boasts culinary delights from all corners of the world and was voted ‘Best Buffet’ in the city, a connectivity lounge for those who need to mix work with play, and an infinity pool with an adjoining sun deck. The stylish rooms are soundproof, outfitted with memory foam pillows, and are serviced with toiletries by C.O. Bigelow. Indulge yourself in this truly cosmopolitan getaway. Rooms at the Pullman Hotel Jakarta start at just $100 per night.

 

All photos courtesy of Pullman Hotel Jakarta. Special thanks to Catriona for local insider knowledge.

Disclaimer: This post contains sponsored links by Traveloka. All opinions and graphics are my own.

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Izzy Pulido is a Bostonian by way of the Philippines who loves to vagabond. At twenty-seven, she’s traded in gallivanting around Europe for the 9-to-5 grind… but don’t count out the vagabonding! With a new long distance relationship, she’s bringing American travel to the forefront. She lives for good times, good food, and good peeps.

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  1. Sally

    31 October

    What interesting combinations of food: banana and chilli, chocolate and cheese! I can’t wait to try them all if I get a chance to travel to Jakarta.

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 December

      Lots of savory flavors is what it shows right?? I love Southeast Asia’s attention to rich flavor!

  2. Amanda Williams

    31 October

    It sounds like there is loads to do in Jakarta. I’ve never been myself, but maybe I should consider it. I love checking out the street food in any place that I visit, it is a great way to explore local cultures, so I would definitely want to check out the kaki lima.

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 December

      Kaki lima would definitely be the first thing on my list when visiting Jakarta as well!

  3. Anne

    31 October

    I’ve been to Indonesia a few times but never to Jakarta. It’s great that there is so much to do but seriously that pool and jacuzzi has me wanting to go the most!

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 December

      It’s definitely not on the Indonesia circuit that much but I think that if you can appreciate the opportunities for exploration in a big city, you’re golden here 🙂

  4. Five is not much but reading through the article, there are actually more do to and few days om Jakarta will surely cover all the major stuffs and attractions. I am excited to the attend the concert and eat the sweet martabak.

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 December

      Yea exactly! This is just the best of what there is, it’s good for priorities sake!

  5. Veronica

    1 November

    What is that chocolatey goodness? What’s on the other half?
    I have only been to Bali but you really inspired me travel more around Indonesia! Thank you!

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 December

      One side is chocolate, the other side is condensed milk and cheese! So decadent!!!

  6. Looks like a really metropolitan city with lots of old and new charm! I could love to see those old temples and architecture. The pool looks divine! I cant ever resist a good buffet, either. Looks like I’m adding Jakarta to the list!

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 December

      It’s a very metropolitan city! I think the old charm is dying out but I love that they honor their history!

  7. Emre

    12 November

    That mosque looks like a photographer’s dream! I hope I will be able to visit Indonesia someday and certainly want to go to Jakarta. Since I’m Dutch, I want to go to the National Monument as well to pay my respects. After that I want to try Martabak. Since I’m crazy about desserts, it looks like something I would wholeheartedly enjoy.

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 December

      As most temples of worships are… 🙂 I think that’s a beautiful sentiment to want to observe your history in relation with that of another country. Desserts are my weakness too 😛

  8. Wendy

    12 November

    I feel old for the live Dangdut Show hahaha!

    To be watching the National Monument and its changing of colours must be breathtaking. It looks big! And the mosque does look huge. I’m quite surprised that you mentioned it’s directly in front of the Cathedral. It’s good to know that Jakarta respects and tolerates other religious practices. That must be a very meaningful location and symbolism for Jakarta.

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 December

      Hahah I feel too young for the Dangdut show! It’s a bit risque (so Ive heard) and any monument that has a light show component is always a-okay in my book!

  9. Rocio Cadena

    13 November

    What a great guide, Izzy!! I intend to visit Indonesia in the near future so I now can reference this post when it comes time to go. I love that the mosque is across from the Catholic church, yay to tolerance 🙂

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 December

      Yay to tolerance indeed! I love how socially aware you are Rocio 🙂

  10. Travel with Karla

    13 November

    I love how you edit the first picture. What software are you using?
    Sweet Martabak looks yummy! I’ll definitely try it when I go there.
    Btw, have you noticed any Protestant/Born Again churches around?

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 December

      Oh I’m a graphic designer, all the graphics are custom and take a lot of time to make 😛 And I didn’t visit myself so I’m not sure about protestant minorities but i’m sure they exist!

  11. Kayley Chislett

    14 November

    This makes me really sad! We spent a few2 hours in Jakartas airport on our way home from lombok and Bali. If only I’d done some more research and been able to get out for a bit and see some of these. (Mostly just eat that deliciousness of a pancake haha). Are any of these close enough to the airport to be able to get out on a long enough layover? That mosque seriously is eye catching!

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 December

      I’m not sure how close the city is to the airport, it’s actually just a compilation of ideas given by friends who live in Jakarta! But I think you wouldn’t be able to do most of this on a layover unless it was a full 12 hours!

  12. Alla Ponomareva

    14 November

    I’m in the same boat as Kayley Chislett and didn’t venture out of the Jakarta airport on our way back from Bali. Knowing that there’s much to see and to taste will make me more adventurous about big cities next time. I think that based on Indonesian heat, a hotel with a pool is a must and Pullman Hotel looks great!

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 December

      I’m a huge fan of big city traveling as well as cultural travel, not so much a fan on the island life. It’s too laid back 😛

  13. Nicky Kim

    14 November

    I’ve never been to Indonesia, but these photos are amazing! And Holy Moly, I am going to get me one of them sweet martabak!! Did you say they have Toblerone chocolate versions? AH that sounds like a dream come true 🙂
    I also like the interior of the hotel. Elegant and modern!

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 December

      Hahaha yea Toblerone chocolate… I can only imagine discovering those little chunks of toffee with so much glee in them!

  14. Jackie

    14 November

    My favorite of your photos is the one at night of the National Monument. I also found it surprising that the locals are very supportive of their local music. I say that because I don’t think Filipinos support traditional music as much! I hope that changes one day too!
    Btw, the Taman Mini looks like an Indian temple!

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 December

      Oh it wasn’t mine but from “Visit All Over The World!” The link is in the caption 😛 And definitely, Filipinos need to be better with supporting our music but we do a fine job at keeping our culture of dance alive at least!

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