What to do in Jakarta? A guide to the capital of Indonesia

Most often, tourists heading to Bali do not plan to visit the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta. Typically, they go there for important matters for a couple of days. And then the question arises, how to spend time there effectively? There are reviews that the capital is not particularly attractive, on the contrary, it's noisy, hot, and uninteresting. Is this true? What interesting places can be visited in this enormous metropolis?

Pros and Cons
To be honest, if you're looking for a place to have fun, Jakarta isn't the best vacation spot. And getting to desired places isn't very convenient either. In the city, residents and visitors get around using motorcycle and car taxis (Gojek, Grab). There are buses and a new metro, but public transportation is rarely used. This is because motorcycles and scooters are a very common mode of transportation in Indonesia, and pedestrian paths and sidewalks are not frequently found. Jakarta is no exception.
The city is very hot and noisy, but there are still places where you can relax pleasantly. But more on that later.
Let's briefly touch on the future of the capital. Unfortunately, Jakarta is losing its status. Currently, a presidential decree is being prepared to relocate the capital to another island — East Kalimantan. A new city is being built here, called Nusantara. According to forecasts, this is planned to be completed by early 2024. What prompted the authorities to take this step?
Firstly, the rivers running through the city erode the soil, causing the capital to sink by about 15 cm each year. Poor people build new houses near the rivers, settling here for their entire lives, so garbage accumulates and water bodies get polluted. Secondly, due to heavy rains, frequent flooding occurs, which is unsafe for the metropolis.
The city is overcrowded, with around 30 million people living here, leading to frequent traffic jams, similar to those in Mumbai, India.
Jakarta has often held the first place in the ranking of road congestion. So finding a quiet place to relax will be challenging, but possible.
However, upon discovering the pros of visiting the capital of Indonesia, the cons are not so noticeable anymore.
Interesting places to visit in Jakarta 
Jakarta is a fantastic place for shopping. Indonesia ranks first among all cities in the world in terms of areas designated for commercial entertainment centers. There are over 200 such establishments here. Inside each, there are numerous shops, restaurants, play areas, and various forms of entertainment. Let's take a look at a few of them.

Grand Indonesia

The luxurious shopping center Grand Indonesia, with multiple floors, was built in 2007. It is divided into wings, suspended bridges, an avenue, green relaxation areas, an observation deck from a height, fountain shows, and boasts a whole arsenal of video games.
Grand Indonesia Shopping Center. Photo: https://jenishotel.info/
On specially designated floors, there are numerous shops. Indonesians are avid shopping enthusiasts. Since the country hosts a large number of clothing factories, a vast quantity of clothing is sold here, and it's relatively inexpensive.
On one of the floors, it's as if several countries are lined up on a single street. Vietnamese, Chinese, French, Japanese, and Italian restaurants fill the air with unique aromas of various dishes.
It's both enjoyable and torturous because it's really difficult to choose - everything is diverse and beautiful.
On weekends, Grand Indonesia is always crowded with people, as if the entire capital has gathered.
Apart from this, there are many other similar popular centers.
Plaza Senayan - a huge food center where you can order a luxurious lunch:
Pacific Place - a luxury shopping center that features fashionable branded clothing:
Mal Taman Anggrek - with over 500 stores, hosts various concerts, and has a massive indoor ice rink.

Jakarta Aquarium and Safari

On a protected area of about 1 hectare, 3,500 species of animals and marine creatures reside. There's an opportunity to swim in the aquarium, get acquainted with and closely observe stingrays, turtles, groupers, and dolphins.
At the attractions and shows, visitors can get close to snakes, sharks, and Madagascar cockroaches.
But kids will definitely find it interesting to feed the meerkats, touch sea stars, and listen to the amusing conversations of macaw parrots.
You should also watch the beautiful show of adorable dolphins and binturongs, and even an underwater mermaid dance show.
Operating hours are from Monday to Sunday, from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Last entry at 7:00 PM.
Prices start from 111,550 Indonesian Rupiah (Rp.) as part of a promotion.
The regular ticket price for adults over 120 cm tall is 142,500 Rupiah (approximately $10). For children over two years old, it's 109,250 Rupiah (a little over $7).
To confirm ticket prices for each specific day, you can call:
(0811 - 1111 - 2586; 021-2789-3435).

Taman Mini Indonesia Indah Complex (TMII)

You can have an affordable getaway at the thematic park of Indonesian culture in Jakarta. The complex covers an area of about 150 hectares. Traditional buildings, structures with their own style, and platforms are situated near a lake and a small archipelago. Several pavilions showcase the traditions of their regions, local clothing styles, and dances.
The premises also host museums, a cable car, theaters, a water park, and a sports area. Renting a bicycle, visitors can breeze through the park, adding a touch of romance to their adventure.
Thrill-seekers will experience pure excitement riding the Aeromovel - a rideable lift-car. This unique experience will leave an unforgettable impression!
You can view attractions at the 'Golden Snail Park' and also watch movies in the theater designed in the shape of a snail.
After a fulfilling stroll or watching movies, you'll want to refuel. The area has numerous stalls where you can purchase dishes like beef soup, bananas with ice in dough, and more.
Operating hours: Monday to Friday: 6:00 AM - 5:00 PM. Weekends and holidays: 5:00 AM - 5:00 PM.
Ticket prices: Entry without transport - 25,000 Rupiah; by car - 35,000; by motorcycle - 15,000; by bicycle - 10,000; by large bus - 60,000.
For detailed information, you can contact them at: +62 21 87792078.

Monumen Monas

At Independence Square, a 132-meter tall golden-colored foil monument named Monas stands. It's designed in the shape of a flame, symbolizing the struggle for Indonesian independence. The construction took around 14 years.
This place is frequented by many visitors and history enthusiasts, especially on weekends. To ascend to the top of Monas, you need to manage to purchase a ticket as they sell out incredibly quickly.
Operating hours: 06:00 AM - 04:00 PM.
To enter the Monas area, you need to have a Jakcard, which costs 45,000 Rp.
The ticket price for adults to take a stroll to the top of Monas is 15,000 Rp; for teenagers - 8,000 Rp; for children - 4,000 Rp.
For visiting the museum, the prices are: adults - 5,000 Rp; students - 3,000 Rp; children - 2,000 Rp.
For exact prices, you can contact them at: (021) 3504333.

Setu Babakan Lake

In Indonesian, 'setu' means lake, and 'Babakan' means a new village. In other words, it's a village surrounded by two lakes. It covers an area of 300 hectares. A very beautiful and relatively quiet place, with an extensive area for walks.
You'll also find traditional food and a very tasty drink called Bir Pletok (not beer, as the name might suggest). It's made from cinnamon, ginger, lime leaves, pandan leaves, cloves, and various spices. Trying this vitamin-rich drink once will make you want to return for it again and again.
You can rent fishing gear and go fishing. It's a great mood therapy. There's also the option to rent water bicycles for rides on the lake.

Flea Market

For antique enthusiasts, there's an interesting place with numerous kiosks, particularly popular among tourists. Because of this, the cost of antique items is high. Beautiful swords, doll figurines, woven baskets, hats, and many other interesting items are sold. By talking to the vendors at the Flea Market, you can learn about the history, traditions, and past of antiques.

Perpustakaan Nasional (National Library)

A 24-story library with tall shelves filled with a vast number of books will attract those who haven't forgotten how to flip through book pages. You can also admire the beautiful architectural forms of tall buildings, take a stroll in the courtyard, visit a museum, an exhibition, an old gallery, and enjoy paintings and maps that help immerse in the past and the history of books.
While there may be many people on the library premises, a walk through the floors will undoubtedly leave readers with an unforgettable impression of what they see.
For locals, there's the opportunity to borrow a book with a special reader's ticket, read, and dive into the world of stories and narratives. However, foreigners need to provide the following documents and data: KITAS visa, passport, phone number, and email. Then, it's also free for them.
Visiting hours: Monday to Thursday - 08:00 AM to 06:00 PM; Friday - 09:00 AM to 06:00 PM; Saturday and Sunday - 09:00 AM to 04:00 PM.
Admission is free, but you need to register and get a membership card. The number of visitors is limited to 500 people on weekdays and 400 on weekends. The library is closed on public holidays.
Location is not far from the Monas monument.

Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (MACAN)

In 2017, a museum was established with around 800 exhibits, featuring unique fiberglass creations and paintings by renowned artists. The museum provides public access to a significant and expanding collection of contemporary art from Indonesia and around the world. The museum features an active program of exhibitions and events across a 7100 m² space, including educational facilities.
Visiting hours: Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
The ticket price is approximately 70,000 Indonesian Rupiah, sometimes there's a promotion, and the ticket costs 56,000.
For detailed information, you can contact them at: (021) 22121888.

Kinzania Jakarta

Families with children can visit the Kidzania entertainment center, which was established in 2007. Here, children can imagine themselves as pilots, hairdressers, chefs, chocolate makers, bank employees, and more. They can participate in a children's parade, learn dances in a studio, act as a doctor in a hospital, or become an agent. A variety of educational games will provide young visitors with unforgettable enjoyment.
Operating hours: Monday - Sunday, 09:00 AM - 07:00 PM.
On weekdays, the cost of a child's ticket (2 to 16 years old) is 250,000 Rp; over 16 years old - 215,000 Rp.
Infants and the elderly have free admission at all times.
On Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays, a child's ticket (2-16 years old) is 295,000 Rp; over 16 years old - 235,000 Rp.
For more information, call the Call Center at (021) 5154-888 (Monday - Sunday, 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM).

Bogor - a city near Jakarta

It would be great to include a visit to the city of Bogor in your itinerary, where there are many attractions and interesting places. It's very beautiful here! You can take a stroll in the botanical garden, visit the presidential palace where tame deer roam the grounds. There are also protected areas, observation platforms, architectural, and religious landmarks. Activities such as tennis, golf, water parks, and more are available. For extreme adventure enthusiasts, there's a mountain paragliding option for soaring above Indonesia's beauty. 
Entrance fee: 13,000 Rp., and 1 flight - 350,000 Rp.
Nusantara Flower Garden covers an area of 23 hectares. It's beautifully landscaped and features a garden labyrinth, go-karting, boats, quad bikes, and a musical fountain. 
Admission fee: 30,000 Rp.
Cibaliung Waterfall with its clear blue water is known to few. 
Admission fee: 10,000 Rp.
The Tirta Sanita hot spring is beneficial for health and improving skin beauty. The water contains salt and sulfur, which strengthens the body. 
The cost for adults is 12,000 Rp, and for children it's 10,000 Rp.
Jungle Water Adventure is suitable for both children and adults. Exciting water adventures on inflatable rafts along a gentle current through the jungle will mentally transport visitors to a beautiful and magical world. Visitors can also explore a 4D cinema and a beautiful fountain. 
Weekday cost is 80,000 Rp, and on weekends it's 95,000 Rp.
Devoyage - a little piece of Europe in the city center.
Here, you'll find a mini Eiffel Tower, meandering canals in the Venetian style, a mini Bruges, and more. 
The cost on weekdays is 25,000 Rp, and on weekends it's 35,000 Rp.

National Gallery of Indonesia

At the National Gallery of Indonesia, you can see around 1700 paintings by Indonesian and foreign artists. It will be interesting for art enthusiasts. Opening hours: 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM. 
Admission is free. +6285894443839.

Ragunan Zoo 

Is a large tropical forest zoo where you can find more than 270 species of animals, including birds, 171 plant species, and many other interesting things. Founded in 1864, it ranks third in terms of its age - it's already 150 years old. An artist donated about 10 hectares of land for the zoo's establishment to cater to flora and fauna enthusiasts. Here you can find turtles, crocodiles, gibbons, orangutans, leopards, tigers, bears, and many other animals. Among the birds: swans, pelicans, eagles, pigeons, cockatoos, ostriches, and snakes. Families can thoroughly enjoy relaxation and observe the behaviors of animals in this paradise-like place. 
Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday 7:00 AM - 4:00 PM. Monday is a rest day for the animals. 
Entrance fee for adults - 4000 Rp; for children - 3000 Rp. Higher prices apply when entering by vehicle. You can inquire about prices by phone: (021) 7884 7114.

Kota Tua (Old Town)

Is one of the most popular tourist areas where Dutch colonial buildings are constructed, including the Wayang Museum, Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics, and the Maritime Museum. In the 16th century, this old town was dubbed "Permata Asia" and "Ratu dari Timur," which translates to "Pearl of Asia" and "Queen of the East." On the territory of the old town, you'll find the National Archives building, numerous paintings, and ancient maps. Indonesia preserves relics of historical atmosphere, even conserving antique furniture, ceramics, and handmade items.
Street performances take place on spacious squares. Here, you have the opportunity to rent bicycles of various colors and explore all the beautiful places. The best cafe in this area after such walks is Cafe Batavia. You can enjoy a delicious meal here. For example, the Cheese Burger (soft bread with juicy meat, smoked bacon, and cheese) or Bitterballen (a typical Dutch snack: meat croquettes served with mustard sauce) are popular options. There's also a 'sea' of pastries and beautiful cakes to suit every taste. The Old Town charms with its view and can be visited for free. However, you'll need to pay for a ticket when entering one of the museums in the region.

Good restaurants in Jakarta

For those tired of Indonesian cuisine:
- Turkish - Turkuaz
- Italian - Osteria Roma
- International cuisine - Seasonal Tastes
For lovers of seafood dishes like salmon, tuna, and lobster, you should visit the steakhouse restaurant - Wolfgang's Steakhouse Jakarta.
If you're looking for a pint of beer with a burger, then the restaurant Lucy in The Sky is a good choice.
To enjoy delicious wine, beefsteak, steak, and many other dishes, you can visit the restaurant Henshin.
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