If you’re reading this article, you probably a) don’t know much about Jakarta and its various attractions and b) don’t want to read a Wikipedia page about it (because, let’s be honest, those articles are so dry and way, way too long).
Don’t worry – to educate yourself about Indonesia’s sprawling capital city, just keep scrolling! We’re about to give you the complete run-down on what to eat, where to visit and what to do when you’re enjoying your Jakarta getaway. Ready to dive in?
Jakarta, Who Even Are You?
Jakarta is Indonesia’s largest city, and, in a country of 264 million people, you know it’s pretty busy. Yup, with 10 million Jakartans living, working and commuting between the city’s various kampungs and suburbs, you’ll definitely be aware you’re visiting a mega-city.
So many people in one place also means the population is pretty diverse. Javanese, Betawi, Chinese and other ethnic groups all live in close proximity, and you’ll probably hear a range of different languages, including Dutch and Portuguese.
For you, a tourist, this is awesome! You’ll never get bored, and such an eclectic line-up of cultures means a bunch of different foods, festivals and fun activities.
Jakarta has existed, in one form or another, since prehistoric times, and its long history means there’s plenty of attractions for you to check out.
Speed down the city’s titanic boulevards and superhighways, or explore warrens of narrow alleys at a more sedate pace.
No matter where you go, Jakarta always has something different waiting just around the corner.
Although this massive city is often portrayed as a concrete jungle groaning under the weight of its fast-expanding population, we say: don’t judge a book by its cover!
Jakarta has so much to offer, and its various attractions are some of the most spectacular in Indonesia.
Uh, duh! How could you visit Indonesia and not go temple-hopping? Although Jakarta’s temples aren’t as spectacular as those in Bali and Lombok, they’re still attractions that are definitely worth a look.
The city’s relatively high Buddhist population means places like Jin De Yuan, Dharma Bhakti and Wihara Ekayana Arama are all in great condition – these Chinese-influenced temples are both aesthetically-pleasing and historically-significant.
If ancient temple ruins are more your thing, check out the Gunung Padang Megalithic Site – it’s estimated to be the oldest and largest megalithic site in South-East Asia.
Yep, as the world’s largest Muslim country, Indonesia has its far share of mosques, and some of the most impressive call Jakarta home.
Istiqlal Mosque definitely takes the cake – this giant, dome-roofed building is the largest mosque in South-East Asia, and visiting is one of those bucket-list experiences you sort of have to do.
Al-Azhar Great Mosque is the city’s second-largest, and its white-washed exterior lends it an Indian aesthetic.
For something a bit different, check out Cut Mutiah – it was originally a Dutch government building before being converted to a mosque in 1987.
Remember how we said Jakarta had a seriously long history? Well, there’s no better way to learn about it than by visiting Jakarta’s line-up of museums.
The crème de la crème? The National Museum. This gorgeous, Dutch-influenced building has been in operation since 1868 (established in 1778), and is considered one of South-East Asia’s most expansive historical collections.
Alternatively, Wayang Museum is a very specific type of museum – it’s dedicated to wayang, traditional shadow puppetry, and guests are able to learn about plays, characters and styles of performance.
Jakarta’s Cultural Attractions
Although you’re going to be running into Indonesian culture left, right and centre on your Jakarta holiday, the city has a couple of great cultural hubs that are worth dedicating some time to.
Kota Tua, for example, is one of those Jakartan must-dos – also known as Old Town Batavia, it’s the city’s historical quarter, and couples Dutch architecture with dozens of hole-in-the-wall eateries.
At Sunda Kelapa Port, you can see antiquated wooden schooners with colourful sails, while the Glodok precinct is officially the World’s Largest Chinatown. Yeah, we wouldn’t want to miss that either!
Jakarta’s Family Attractions
Even though there’s a lot of cultural and religious offerings in Jakarta, there’s also plenty of ways for you and your family to have fun.
Visiting in summer means a day at Atlantis Water Adventures is a day well-spent; this water park is perfect for kids and adults of all ages.
For a more Disney-esque vibe, hit up Dunia Fantasi, with its puppet castles and shockingly-fast twisters.
If you ask five different locals about Jakarta’s culture, you’ll probably get five different answers.
With so many different demographics in one place, it’s hard to pin down exactly what modern Jakarta’s culture looks like – Chinese, Arabic, Dutch, Portuguese, British and traditional Indonesian ethnic influences all blend together to produce a unique, intoxicating urbanism that’s unlike anything else in the world.
You can listen to a traditional gamelan orchestra, and then walk five blocks and see locals fangirling over J-Pop-style boy-bands.
Handmade arts and crafts on sale at street marts co-exist with upscale establishments like Art:1.
The Taman Mini Indonesia Indah is an attraction actually dedicated to giving visitors an overview of Indonesia’s various cultural regions.
There’s no single Jakartan culture, so we’re not even going to try to define it – just visit, and experience the awesomeness that is Jakarta for yourself.
Where to Eat in Jakarta
Warning: this section is going to make you hungry. We’re totally fine with eating whatever you want on holiday (that’s what a holiday’s for, right?), but do yourself a favour and stay away from Western-style restaurants when you’re in Jakarta.
There’s just too many amazing local foods that you have to try!
From quirky snacks like pisang goreng sambal roa (fried banana with sambal chillies) to bakpao (meat dumplings) and ketoprak Jakarta (a vegetarian amalgamation that’s a little bit spicy), there’s a huge range of traditional Jakartan cuisine on offer.
Top 5 Places to Eat in Jakarta
We’re not going to go into Jakarta’s restaurants in detail (we’d need a whole other article for that!), but we’ve put together a quick list of the top 5 places to eat in Jakarta. Bon appetit, or, as they say in Jakarta, selamat makan!
- Café One Asian Fusion
Location: On-site at Wyndham Casablanca Jakarta
- Namaaz Dining
Style: Fine Dining
Location: Jl. Gunawarman No.42, RT.5/RW.2, Selong, Kec. Kby. Baru, Kota Jakarta Selatan, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 12110, Indonesia (23 minutes from Wyndham Casablanca)
- Tugu Kunstkring Paleis
Style: Fine Dining
Location: Jl. Teuku Umar No.1, RT.1/RW.1, Gondangdia, Kec. Menteng, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10350, Indonesia (38 minutes from Wyndham Casablanca)
- Plataran Menteng
Style: Fine Dining
Location: Jl. HOS. Cokroaminoto No.42, RT.6/RW.4, Gondangdia, Kec. Menteng, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10350, Indonesia (27 minutes from Wyndham Casablanca)
Location: Jl. Tebet Timur Dalam II No.43, RT.3/RW.3, Tebet Tim., Kec. Tebet, Kota Jakarta Selatan, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 12820, Indonesia (7 minutes from Wyndham Casablanca)
- Café One Asian Fusion
What to Do in Jakarta
Would it be clichéd if we said we don’t know where to start? Jokes aside, Jakarta is jam-packed with so many different activities that it’ll be difficult to get it all done in one holiday.
The inner city has cool options like luxury spas and cooking classes, but its main draw is shopping.
If you’re desperately stressed thanks to the work-family-life conundrum, take a step back, unholster your credit card, and start spending. Retail therapy works, we swear!
Families, head to kid-friendly zones like Sky Rink ice-skating and the sprawling Ragunan Zoo; the latter has over 400 different animal species and the world-class Schmutzer Primate Centre.
If you want to give the little ones a taste of local culture, take a side-trip to one of Jakarta’s many markets – Petak Sembilan Market in Glodok and the Flea Market in Menteng are both a lot of fun.
Despite its metropolitan nature, Jakarta has quite a few outdoorsy activities on offer, so you don’t need to be worried about missing Indonesia’s gorgeous natural environments.
Kepulauan Seribu, or the Thousand Islands, are a pristine counterpoint to the cityscape of Indonesia’s capital, even though they’re only 20 minutes’ ride away. Explore the inhabited sections, or charter a boat and escape to islands that are almost completely people-free!
Alternatively, the scenic Gunung Mas tea plantation, located in Cisarua, is well-worth the 3.5-hour-drive.
And, hey, we can’t forget to mention Jakarta’s nightlife.
To get a taste of how Jakartans live it up, head to clubs like FABLE, BLOWFISH or Jenja Jakarta; for something a bit cheekier, migrate to North Jakarta and check out attractions in the Glodok/Kota neighbourhoods.
Where to Stay in Jakarta
Opulence embodied. That’s how we’d describe Wyndham Casablanca Jakarta.
It’s 5-star accommodation in the heart of Jakarta, so it’s already got a lot going for it, but we’re going to give you all the details on this awesome inner-city hotel.
With an extensive collection of deluxe rooms, executive rooms, suites and residences, you’ve got a choice between luxurious and ultra-luxurious.
All rooms come equipped with free Wi-Fi (yes, millennials, you can Instagram everything), a flat-screen TV, a bathtub and views of Jakarta’s steel-edged skyline.
Decompress after a hard day exploring with complimentary amenities like an outdoor lagoon pool, kids’ club, health club, in-house clinic, concierge service and executive lounge.
If you’re anything like us, you know that going out to dinner is sometimes just too much effort, which is why it’s so great that Wyndham Casablanca has three on-site eateries!
We already mentioned the delicious Café One Asian Fusion, but RIVA Grill Bar and Terrace is the perfect place to kick back in the evening with a glass of red and an organic steak. The Bakery, located right next to Café One, is your one-stop-shop for late-night sweets and those beautiful long blacks (yep, we’re addicted to caffeine too).