Bounded to the north by the Java Sea and the south by the low Bogor Hills, Indonesia’s overwhelming capital, JAKARTA, has long been the focus of the country’s changing political face, most dramatically with the student-led demonstrations against Suharto in 1998. Indonesia’s most populous city, it has grown from a mere 900,000 inhabitants in 1945, to well over thirteen million (and over twenty million if you take into account the greater urban region known as Jabotabek).

The capital sprawls over 661 square kilometres of northern Java. Unfortunately, few foreign visitors find the city as alluring as the local population do. However, the suburb of Kota in the north, the former heart of the old Dutch city, still retains a number of beautiful historic buildings, as does the neighbouring port of Sunda Kelapa. The capital also has some of the country’s finest museums, including the Maritime Museum, the Wayang Museum and the National Museum.

Jakarta boasts what many believe to be, one of the best sights in south-east Asia; Sunda Kelapa, the old Dutch port, is brimming with magnificent Makassar schooners and is a must for any visitor, as is the nearby Pasar Ikan, the colourful early-morning fish market.

Today, having undergone dramatic growth over the last few decades, the city’s skyline is dominated by skyscrapers while vast shopping malls and recreation centres abound.

An interesting representation of Indonesia is on display at the Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, an extensive park in which all the country’s islands are realistically reproduced in miniature, around a lake; pavilions represent the twenty-seven provinces.

Jakarta Attractions

Sunda Kelapa
Near Pasar Ikan, ten minutes walk north of city centre
The picturesque old harbor of Jakarta was built in the early 17th century (reconstructed and expanded in 1817) and today still serves as the port of call for perahu pinisi (sailing cargo vessels). Navigated primarily by Bugis and Makassarese traders, these charming and colorful vessels form one of the world’s few major commercial sailing fleets, transporting raw materials from Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi. Visitors will marvel at the amazing strength of the sailors and workers who load and unload goods manually without the help of any equipment. A conversation with them sometimes earns an invitation aboard.

Taman Impian Jaya Ancol (Jaya Ancol Dreamland)
Jalan Laksamana R. Martadinata, Jakarta
This colossal recreational resort faces the enchanting Jakarta Bay. Its prime attraction, the Fantasyland amusement park, keeps children of all ages entertained the entire day. Art buffs and tourists in search of souvenirs should visit Pasar Seni art and handicraft market. Others might like to check out Sea World (an oceanarium) for an educational tour on marine life or Ancol Water Park for yet more fun. The Ancol Marina operates as the gateway to the neighboring Thousand Islands .

SeaWorld Indonesia
Taman Impian Jaya Ancol
This giant oceanarium proudly introduces visitors to more than 4,000 fish and sharks from 300 species. Come and enjoy the deep-sea panorama while strolling through an 80-meter tunnel. The fascinating creatures live in some 500 million liters of seawater and are fed three times a day (some hand-fed). The attraction also features a theater which plays three educational films in English and Bahasa Indonesia.

Ancol Marina
The gateway to Jakarta Bay’s Thousand Islands, Ancol Marina is more than just a pier from which ferries depart. It is a recreational, historic and scenic location that offers a cafe, dockyard and marine sports center. Large groups have the option of chartering a boat for the purpose of fishing, diving or exploring the Thousand Islands, Ancol Beach or Jakarta Bay. Cost: Ferry ride around the area or to the Thousand Islands costs about IDR25,000 per person. Chartering a boat for the day costs IDR1,000,000-IDR2,500,000, depending on the vessel’s size.

Pulau Seribu (Thousand Islands)
Dotted throughout Jakarta Bay are 120 tropical islands and coral atolls known, rather misleadingly, as the Thousand Islands. With a total population of only 13,000 people, the bay contains a sprinkling of virgin islands, although the majority are inhabited. Many are privately owned. Popular islands to visit include Bidadari , Onrust, Kelor , Kahyangan , Putri and Ayer. Ancol Marina (where further information on travel arrangements can be found), provides the departure point to this cluster of individual paradises.

Istana Merdeka (Presidential Palace)
North side of Merdeka Square
Originally called Koningsplein Paleis, this palace established between 1873 and 1879 Originally called Koningsplein Paleis, this palace established between 1873 and 1879 features a neoclassical architecture. Set in well-maintained gardens, it was home to 15 Dutch governor-generals, three Japanese commanders and the first president of Indonesia. In 1949, the Indonesian founding fathers and the Dutch government signed an agreement here, ending the War of Independence. Now it functions as an official venue for presidential meetings and state functions. Expect a security check before entering. Dress modestly. No trousers for women.

Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature)
Jalan TMI Pintu 1, Jakarta
Situated on 120 hectares of land in the east of Jakarta, this unique complex offers visitors with limited time and the opportunity to see all of Indonesia’s 27 provinces in an afternoon! The complex features life-sized replicas of traditional architecture from each province, a miniature version of the Indonesian archipelago, a series of museums and a number of well-maintained parks and gardens. The park’s centerpiece is a beautiful artificial lake.

Monas (National Monument)
Standing at 132 meters and topped with 35 kilograms of gold, this imposing obelisk is Jakarta’s most famous landmark. Construction started in 1961 under President Soekarno but was not completed until 1975, under President Soeharto. The monument houses a couple of museums. The Freedom Hall depicts Indonesia’s struggle for independence through a series of dioramas, whereas the Hall of Contemplation displays the original Declaration of Independence document and a recording of the speech. An elevator takes one to the observation platform, which commands a bird’s-eye view of the cityscape. Admission is free.

Jakarta Planetarium
The planetarium was officially opened in 1969 as an exhibition center for meteorology, physics, space science and astronomy. Equipped with a high-precision telescope, the observatory hosts important gatherings with famous astronomers from time to time. The planetarium itself projects various exciting and educational images of planets and stars regularly – twice daily from Tuesday to Saturday and four times on Sundays. Screenings in English can be arranged.

Pasar Ikan (Fish Market)
Jalan Pasar Ikan, Jakarta
This fish market is probably the most exotic of its kind in Jakarta. Here, one gets to observe the working climate of Jakarta’s modest, hardworking and outspoken fishermen. Although it markets primarily fresh fish, you can also find shops here selling anything from household goods to seashells and boat fittings. Many late-night revelers also come here to savor some grilled fish served up by the food stalls. The more adventurous might like to cruise across the Old Harbor, between Pasar Ikan and Sunda Kelapa, on a raft. Negotiate first with the abang (raftsman) for a good rate.

National Museum
The Batavian Society of the Arts and Sciences was established on this site in 1778. Due to its rapid growth, the building was transformed into a museum in 1862. Among its collections are fine ethnographic and pre-historic items, including china, bronze and gold objects, stone sculptures and textiles that provide an excellent overview of ancient Indonesian culture. The elephant statue in the front yard was a gift from King Chulalongkorn of Siam in 1871. The Indonesian Heritage Society provides free guided tours in various languages.

Museum Fatahillah (Jakarta History Museum)
Jalan Taman Fatahillah No.1, Jakarta Barat
Tel: +62 21 692 9101 Fax: +62 21 690 2387
This old City Hall of Batavia occupies the site of its two predecessors. The current building of fine Dutch architecture was completed in 1710 and once served many civic and judiciary functions. Beneath the front portico lie some cells which were used as dungeons. The museum took over the premises in 1974 and offers a fine glimpse into the city’s colonial past. Thirty-seven ornate rooms display Dutch furniture, old maps, antiquities and Dutch East India Company (V.O.C.) memorabilia, recreating the atmosphere prevalent during the Dutch era. In the rear courtyard stand two ondel-ondel statues.

Museum Wayang (Puppet Museum)
Jalan Pintu Besar Utara No.27, Jakarta
Tel: +62 21 692 9560
The site of this museum bears witness to decades of natural disasters and colonialism. It was originally occupied by a Dutch reformed church until a devastating earthquake in 1808 and then by a warehouse until 1912. Some prominent Dutch officials are buried in the small cemetery at the back. The museum boasts thousands of puppets from all parts of Indonesia. Two of the most famous are wayang kulit and wayang golek. These shadow puppets entertain here–usually with gamelan music–at 10am on Sundays, lending an exotic insight into the native theatrical scene.

Museum Bahari (Maritime Museum)
Jalan Pasar Ikan No.1, Jakarta
Tel: +62 21 669 3406
The Maritime Museum occupies a sturdy construction completed in 1774 and once used by the Dutch as a warehouse for storing spices and commodities. The historical building alone justifies a visit. The front section is probably the only ancient city wall surrounding Batavia (old Jakarta) still standing today. Inside, the museum showcases Indonesia’s maritime history. Its modest collection includes traditional Indonesian sea craft and interesting photographs taken on board some steamships between the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Taman Safari (Safary Park)

Taman Safari Indonesia (TSI) is a former conservation site which was inaugurated as a national tourism object on March 16, 1990. The park located on the village Cibeureum – district Cisarua – Bogor – West Java. The park is located at an altitude of 1076 – 1416 on sea level, with average temperatures between 18-24’C. It is about 70 km from Jakarta.

Taman Safari I has around 2,500 animals, the majority of which are Indonesian, including Bengal tigers, Giraffe, Malayan Sun Bear, Orangutan, Hippo, zebra, cheetah, elephants, and komodos. There are also many conserved faunas here, including the Bali Starling, a small white Mynah bird. The safari is a drive through and it is possible to be extremely close to all the animals. The animals can literally stick their heads in your vehicle if you do not keep your windows closed as advised. Most of the herbivores can be fed vegetables from your vehicle though this is not condoned by the park and may result in scratches and dents from large animals like bulls and Blackbuck crowding your vehicle. Six wildlife shows are on property including a Wild West Show, Dolphin Show, and Elephant Show. Also, inside the amusement park section of Taman Safari are a few small rides and exhibits that include Humboldt Penguins, bats, nocturnal animals from Indonesia and India,wallaby, crocodiles, and kangaroos. Camping and bungalows are available for guests who would like to pay to stay in the park overnight.

The zoo features a small petting zoo which is themed to look like the Taj Mahal. The petting zoo also includes photo areas where for a small fee guests can take pictures with various animals such as baby lions, tigers, and leopards. Taman Safari’s map that a guest receives at the front gate says “National Tourism Site Indonesian Center for Reproduction of Endangered Wildlife.” This seems to be true as occasionally the animals can be seen mating by guests.

Shopping Malls
When planning a trip to Jakarta, consider spending a day at one of the manymodern shopping malls the city has to offer. You may welcome a day off from tourist and cultural sites and enjoy spending time in air-conditioned comfort, where you can relax and shop.

If you’re traveling with your children, almost all malls have some sort of activities to amuse them. Kids Fun, a small amusement park for younger children, short train ride around the mall, numerous climbing frames, video arcades are just a few activities that will keep your children occupied. Don’t worry about them being bored.

Enjoy a great shopping adventure … at one of Jakarta’s premier malls.

  • Bintaro XCchange
  • Bintaro Plaza
  • Pondok Indah Mall
  • Gandaria City
  • Senayan Plaza
  • Senayan City
  • Ratu Plaza
  • Blok M Mall
  • Plaza Indonesia
  • Grand Indonesia
  • Pacific Place
  • Mangga Dua Shopping Centre
  • Kelapa Gading Mall