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First Timer's Guide to Jakarta

20 Jul 2018

Felicia Malolos

Klook Travel Curator

First Timer's Guide to Jakarta

Most tourists fly to Indonesia mostly to visit its pristine beaches down at Bali. However, what people end up missing out on is the dynamic, bustling capital of the country - Jakarta. Home to an eccentric mix of cultures, soaring skyscrapers, and mouthwatering food, this is one Asian destination that you absolutely cannot miss.

Klook Activities in Jakarta

1. Jakarta Old Batavia Walking Tour

  • Start: 10:00 AM
  • End: 3:00 PM

Places of Interest Covered:

  • Historical Old Train Station
  • National Museum of Bank Indonesia
  • Museum Fatahillah
  • Puppet Museum
  • Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics
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2. Jakarta Landmarks Tour

  • Start: 9:00 AM or 1:00 PM
  • End: 12:00 PM or 4:00 PM

Places of Interest Covered:

  • Jakarta Cathedral
  • Istiqlal Mosque
  • National Monument/Monas
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Jakarta Highlights

1. Chinatown

Jakarta’s Chinatown is more commonly known as Glodok by its locals and has been around since the 17th century! Apart from being one of the oldest Chinatowns, it also happens to be the largest in the world! Rightfully so, since Chinese-Indonesians make up a large proportion of the country.

Here at Glodok, tourists can explore the town’s historical buildings, ancient temples, and as well as delicious Chinese delicacies! For some great bargains, you can visit Petak Sembilan Market, which offers anything from medicine to textiles. However if you want to dive into the town’s cultural background, a visit to the oldest Buddhist temple in Jakarta, Vihara Dharma Bhakti, may be enjoyable!

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2. Jakarta Aquarium

In a city filled with huge shopping malls, it isn’t surprising to find out that the Jakarta Aquarium is tucked inside one of them! Perfect for both children and adults, this indoor aquarium showcases Indonesia’s unique biodiversity through various exhibits and activities like Aquatrekking! However, if you’re up for something a little more adventurous - you can also opt to swim the sharks here too! Plus, you may even get a chance to see a mermaid swimming in one of the aquariums - so keep your eyes peeled!

Klook Tip: As it is located in a mall, try as much as possible to visit as early as you can to avoid the crowds that come in the afternoon!

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3. Old Town Batavia

Also known as Kota Tua, Old Town Batavia may seem like a long way from Jakarta’s highly developed city centre! Instead of soaring skyscrapers, tourists will notice remnants of the country’s previous Dutch colonization. From its European-like architecture to its interesting museums, any tourist will be absolutely in awe of this charming part of town!

Start your Kota Tua exploration at the Fatahillah Square and work your way down through the area’s many museums, cafes, and boutiques! This is the perfect place to explore without worrying about traffic in Jakarta!

4. Monas Tower

Peeking out from Jakarta’s skyline is the iconic Monas Tower, or the National Monument. This tower, which stands at 132m tall, is representative of the country’s previous struggle for independence and serves as constant reminder of Indonesia’s history to its citizens.

Situated at the Merdeka Square, you’ll find that both locals and tourists alike flock to this area of the city to meet with friends and stroll through the park! The tower is conveniently located nearby many malls and attractions, so you can easily use this as a starting to point to all your Jakarta adventures!

Klook Tip: Make your way to the top of the monument for the best views of Jakarta!

5. National Museum

Right after visiting the Monas Tower, head down just across the street to the National Museum! Here you’ll find a wide collection of historical and archaeological artifacts that have shaped Indonesia’s culture and way of life. You can easily spot this museum thanks to the elephant statue in the forecourt, hence the museum’s local name Gedung Gajah (the Elephant Building)!

6. Wayang Museum

While you’re in Old Batavia, make sure to stop by the Wayang Museum for a bit of a culture fix! This museum is dedicated to an extensive collection of puppet art, which happens to be a vital part of Indonesia’s culture.

In the past, Indonesians would use wayang, or wooden puppets, to tell dramatic stories of the country’s history and folktales. To this day, wayang performances are still featured in special Indonesian occasions such as weddings, circumcision parties, and festivals. Visitors can catch a special wayang performance every Sunday from 10am to 2pm at the Wayang Museum, as well too.

7. Jakarta Cathedral

In the middle of all the buzz of the city, you can find peace and solace at the Jakarta Cathedral. Whether or not you’re Catholic, this is a must-visit attraction in Jakarta. The cathedral’s stunning architecture is truly something to behold and is often compared to historical beauties such as the Notre-Dame in Paris, France.

If you’re planning a visit to the Jakarta Cathedral, do make sure to be respectful to the members of the church! Although it is a point of interest, it still happens to be a place of prayer for many attendees.

8. Istiqlal Mosque

Just across the Jakarta Cathedral is the largest Mosque in all of Southeast Asia - the Istiqlal Mosque. With Indonesia holding the largest group of Muslims worldwide, the country deserves to have a place of worship that can accommodate their lot! The Istiqlal Mosque has a capacity of 200,000 and has four balcony levels to comfortably accommodate worshippers.

The mosque is also open to non-Muslim visitors year round, but only with a guide and through permitted areas only. Additionally, non-Muslims are also obliged to wear appropriate attire (hijab for the women) and follow the Muslim custom of removing footwear.

9. Grand Indonesia Shopping Town

True to its name, the Grand Indonesia Shopping Town definitely seems like a small town filled with shops within the city of Jakarta. It’s sheer size (6.9 million square feet) is enough to make you stop in your tracks! But in general, shopping malls are typically hard to miss when in Jakarta with its abundant malls and shopping areas.

With shopping seeming like a national hobby, you’ll need to join in the fun, too! Here at the Grand Indonesia Shopping Town, visitors will be able to shop a various range of goods at prices that can fit any budget. Once you’ve maxed out your credit cards, make sure to watch the dancing fountain show just right outside the mall!

10. Taman Mini Indonesia Park

No time to see all of Indonesia? No problem! At the Taman Mini Indonesia Park, visitors will get a glimpse of Indonesian incredible culture all in one place! The amusement park boasts multiple elaborate centers that showcase Indonesia’s incredible architecture, costumes, traditional performances, and even replicas of iconic attractions!

Whether or not you’re visiting with family, a visit to the Taman Mini Indonesia Park will definitely be an enjoyable activity! Some unmissable attractions onsite include the flower garden, the Chinese temple, the bird park, and of course the park’s castle for the kids!

What to eat

1. Indonesian Satay

There are a multiple satays served in Indonesia - sate ayam (chicken satay), sate kambing (goat satay), or sate padang (beef satay). Whichever one you try, we’re sure you’ll be coming back for more! Grilled to perfection, these satays are marinated and soaked in a generous amount of peanut sauce.

For some legendary Satay in Jakarta, there’s no other place to go than Sate Ragusa!

Sate Ragusa Address: Sate Ragusa, Jl. Veteran 1 No. 10, Gambir, Jakarta Opening Hours: 10:00 AM to 11:00 PM Daily

2. Beef Rendang

With its famous rich flavour and spices, no tourist can skip a visit to Indonesia without having a Beef Rendang meal! This curry dish takes quite some time to create - making the beef incredibly tender and juicy. For an authentic Sumatera Beef Rendang dish, make your way to Simpang Raya in Central Jakarta! This chain restaurant is originally from West Sumatera, and this is their first Jakarta branch, so you can expect nothing but the best!

Simpang Raya Address: Jl. Kramat Raya No.71, RT.1/RW.7, Kramat, Senen, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10430 Opening Hours: 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM Daily

3. Nasi Goreng

A trip to Indonesia is incomplete without a plate of their national dish - Nasi Goreng! This is Indonesia’s take on the Asian fried rice, but mixed in with thick soy sauce and acar (pickled cucumber and carrot mix)! You’ll find multiple variations of this dish but the best one happens to be at a stall called Nasi Goreng Kambing Kebon Sirih!

Nasi Goreng Kambing Kebon Sirih Address: Jalan Kebon Sirih Barat Dalam I, RT.3/RW.2, Kb. Sirih, Menteng, Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10110, Indonesia Opening Hours: 5:00 PM to 2:00 AM