Helter-skelter Jakarta is a formidable place to embark upon. The chaotic, hyperactive capital city of Indonesia has undergone a paradigm shift over the past decade. From riots to reinvestment, Jakarta, with a metro population of 23 million people, is now a veritable boom town.
The period of political and financial instability that left the city province in ruin, with myriad lives lost and considerable property damage, is a mere glint in the rear-view window. Present-day Jakarta is a primary world destination, crucial to the economy of Southeast Asia and the fortunes of Indonesia and the region as a whole. Flirtations with democracy, incessant battles with oppressive poverty and untold other obstacles that stem from a painful emergence from the military junta era, make Jakarta a complex but inherently attractive destination.
- National Monument (Monas) – This 132m tower is a Jakarta landmark symbolizing Indonesia’s fight for independence.
- Sunda Kelapa – This old port played an important role in the city’s development and is now home to traditional wooden sailing ships.
- Maritime Museum – Located in a former Dutch East India Company warehouse, this museum shows Indonesia’s maritime history.
- Jakarta Cathedral – This church in central Jakarta has a long history and lovely architecture.
- National Museum of Indonesia – This grand museum was built in the 1778 and has more than 60,000 pieces of artefacts from Indonesia and Asia.
Jakarta Art & Culture
- Museum Wayang – This old Dutch church is home to thousands of Japanese shadow puppets.
- Vihara Dharma Bhakti – A Buddhist temple built in honour of the Goddess of Mercy and is currently home to Buddhist monks.
- Istiqlal Mosque – This national mosque was built after Indonesia’s Dutch independence and is the largest in South East Asia.
- National Archives Building (Arisp Nasional) – This Dutch-style mansion is now a national archive and used for cultural events and exhibits.
- Fine Art and Ceramic Museum – This museum displays Indonesian traditional paintings, art and handicraft.
- Orchid Garden Mall (Mall Taman Anggrek) – This multilevel modern mall is the largest in Indonesia and features an indoor ice rink.
- Jalan Surabaya Antique Market – An outdoor market selling souvenirs and antiques and souvenirs. Haggling is welcome.
- Fish Market (Pasar Ikan) – Observe daily fishermen life at this outdoor fish market.
- Chinatown (Glodok) – This shopping area has a number of shopping centres and is known for electronics.
- Blok M – This shopping quarter is often crowded with locals due to its bargain prices and proximity to nightlife spots.
Jakarta Gay & Lesbian
- Apollo Bar & Lounge – A mixed-scene dance club with large dance floors and a great laser show.
- Moonlight – This disco club caters to gays and lesbians three times out of the week and has an atmosphere for cruising.
- 9M – This modern spa caters to gay men with massage rooms, a lounge and a theatre room.
- Bina Rejeki Massage – A mixed-scene massage spa known for great cruising.
- Mulia Hotel – This hotel has sauna and steam rooms that are gay friendly after 8 pm.
- Taman Mini Indonesia Indah – Featuring life-sized replicas of architecture from Indonesia’s 27 provinces, as well as museums, gardens and a lake.
- Tidung Island – An island three hours from the mainland with great camping, swimming and snorkelling.
- Taman Lapangan Banteng – This park in central Jakarta was the ceremonial square during Dutch colonial times.
- Ragunan Zoo – Established in 1864, this zoo has rides and lots of animals to see.
- Ancol Marina – This popular marina has a café and marine sport centre with boat charter services.
- See the popular Persija home football club play at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
- Jog with Jakarta locals along the Jalan Sudirman during the Car-Free Day on the last Sunday of each month.
- Watch the Indonesian national basketball team play at the Kelapa Gading Sport Mall.
- Play a round of golf at the Cikarang Golf and Country Club.
- Catch an international sport match at one of the venues at the Senayan Sports Complex.
“The Big Durian”, the unofficial and derisive nickname for Jakarta, is home to a rich ethnic stew of native and non-native populations, with a history that pre-dates the Holy Roman Empire. As a result, the city has tremendous appeal for inquisitive, adventure travellers. With inferior public transportation, indistinguishable streets, constant gridlock and a general lack of tourist regard however, patience is essential.
Jakarta, a massive city, is best thought of as a collection of districts. Central Jakarta is home to excellent museums, parks and upmarket retail shops and malls. The National Gallery and National Museum provide a wonderful look into the cultural heritage and history of Indonesia.
North Jakarta is the access point to the popular Thousand Island region. The resort network of 110 small islands off the coast is the primary getaway for wealthy city inhabitants and expats.
The principal attraction in East Jakarta is the massive Taman Mini Indonesia Indah complex, home to a vast array of museums that range from science and military, to sports and transportation.
South Jakarta is popular for a bevy of nightclubs, bars, amusement parks, malls and duty free shops. The district also contains several 18-hole golf courses, posh spas and fitness clubs. One museums of note in the area is the Basoeki Abdullah collection, with superb works from the famous artist from Indonesia.
West Jakarta has some of the most spectacular architecture in the historic city, in addition to indelible landmarks. The Diamond City Hanging Bridge and Diamond Fort, both built in the early 17th century, comprise the two most popular attractions. The Jakarta Museum and Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics are both worth a visit.
The Jakarta Fair celebrates the birth of the city in mid-July every year, with cultural exhibits, shows and fireworks.
August 17 is Independence Day in Indonesia, with formal and informal events all over the capital city.
The Jakarta International Film Festival in early November showcases new cinema from Indonesia and Asia.
Throughout the month of December the National Museum hosts traditional Javanese concerts. Special performances of traditional Indonesian dance and drama take place at the Bharata Theatre and Taman Mini complex.
As a multicultural city, Jakarta celebrates most major Muslim, Hindu and Christian holidays, even though 85% of the population observes Islam.
In close proximity to the equator, Jakarta has a typical tropical climate for the region. The temperature range throughout the year is between 25°C and 38°C, with hot, humid conditions. The notorious monsoon rains run from October to February, with peak precipitation in January. August is the most arid month of the year.
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