Before travelling to Indonesia, I never would have thought of Jakarta as a cultural hub. Most people I know only ever talk about Bali when they mention travel in Indonesia and I felt pretty blind on arrival, having no clue what to do in Jakarta.
Luckily for me, Tourism Indonesia had lots of cultural activities lined up for us on our #TripOfWonders, and a little research by some of my more intrepid and adventurous friends has allowed me to put this list together of the top things to do in Jakarta for culture vultures!
What To Do in Jakarta: A Cultural Haven
1.The National Museum
To see the sights and sounds of Jakarta, the iconic National Museum is the best place to start. Monas, as it is referred to locally, is the centre of performing arts,sporting events and cultural festivals which are organised from time to time, and are generally open to the general public. The Museum portion houses a rich collection of historic Indonesian artefacts and other archaeological objects. With the gold plated peak shining at night, it presents a pretty picture after dark as well during the day.
2. Setu Babakan Cultural Village
Visiting Setu Babakan cultural village was the highlight of my time in Jakarta. This place has so much to offer the visitor and just keeps on giving. From the hilarious welcome dance on arrival to exploring and photographing the stunning architecture followed by the chance to sit down and learn how to make small, traditional Betawi Dolls (known as Ondel Ondel dolls) was such a treat.
3. Taman Mini Indonesia Indah
This is by far one of the most unique attraction in Jakarta as it allows you to take in the wonders of the entire country in a single day. Directly translated it means “Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park” and thus shows all the top places in Indonesia in miniature format. This cultural park presents the ethnic traditions in permanent exhibits showcasing all the 33 provinces. Depicting buildings and landscapes from Sabang to Merauke, and across Indonesia, TMII also has an IMax theatre and a museum to keep you entertained for an entire day.
4. Museum Layang Layang
While you might not know this, kites and kite-making are extremely popular in Indonesia and the Indonesian are known to be very skilled kite-designers and makers. The Museum Layang Layang is small kite museum in Jakarta where you can not only see many incredible kites from around Indonesia, and other various countries, but you can also sit down and learn to make a kit from scratch yourself. This museum is privately owned and contains a beautiful collection of kites to feast your eyes on. Well worth a morning or afternoon visit! If you’re wondering what to do in Jakarta with kids, the kite museum should be your first stop!
5. Walk around Kota
Another top tourist destination in the city, the Kota district (situated in the Old Town of Jakarta) has it’s own distinct Dutch flavour and is home to many other top city attractions. With great eateries, set amidst old surroundings, Kota presents an ideal getaway to walk around and escape from the hustle and bustle of Jakarta. Standing as a relic of Jakarta’s colonial past, the town though a bit rundown, still boasts of beautiful buildings, a reminiscent of the Dutch era and is a beautiful place to visit in the late afternoon or evening.
6. Ancol – gateway to the islands
Did you know you don’t have to fly to Bali to see the best of Indonesia’s beautiful beaches and islands? Ancol is the gateway to the scenic Thousand Islands region and an entertainment centre in its own right. Situated in Jakarta bay, just north of the city, Ancol can be easily accessed by any public transport. A cruise boat or ferry can be used to go around the harbour area and there are lots of amenities on offer from golf course to hotels, nightclubs, and even a theme park!
7. Eat at Sederhana Ampera
You can’t say you’re a culture lover without experiencing some local food. Sederhana AMpera is one of the most popular restaurants in Jakarta for those that like to share food – and you have to experience lunch here to understand what we are truly talking about. They bring out dish after dish after dish, stalked up one on top of the next, and you then pick and choose what you want to eat and what you don’t. You only pay for what you eat, and it makes for a very unique dining experience! I believe this is called “Padang food” in Indonesia.
8. Walk across Jembatan Pasar Ayam
Jembatan Pasar Ayan is the one and only remaining Dutch draw-bridges in Jakarta, standing on the Grand Canal. Though the bridge itself is no longer in operation, it still stands as a photogenic and historic landmark separating the Dutch and the British forts and is great place for photography.
Where to stay in Jakarta
With umpteen stay options to choose from and a wide variety of choice based on your budget of budgets or locales within the city, Jakarta has no shortage of accommodation options which you can check out in www.traveloka.com to get the best deals in town!
I stayed at Aston Priority Simatupang, a 4 star hotel with on-site restaurant, outdoor swimming pool and a small cafe / bar. Rooms were spacious and had floor to ceiling windows with a view of the city. My friend and fellow travel blogger Conor stayed at Harris Hotel in Jakarta and made a short video about his stay which will be live in my FB soon!
NOTE: Special thanks to Tourism Indonesia for inviting me on the #TripOfWonders blogger trip this year. I can’t wait to share more of my top Indonesian experiences with you all.