Lonely Planet calls it one of the world’s greatest megalopolises, and mega certainly does seem to describe the somewhat daunting city of Jakarta in Indonesia. With so much to see and do – from the frenzied Chinatown and the decadent nightlife to the many extravagant and beautiful temples or the opulent, high-end shopping malls – it’s hard to know where to start. So, to make things easier, here are five of the best things to do in Jakarta…
National Monument (Monas)
Monas, Indonesia’s National Monument, towers above Mederka Square at 132m high. It is the best known landmark in Jakarta and stands a symbol of the extravagance of the former president, Sukarno. The monument is built from Italian marble, and topped with a sculpted flame gilded with 35kg of gold leaf.
Taman Mini Indonesia Indah/TMII (Miniature Park Of Indonesia)
TMII, in the city’s far southeast, is a 100-hectare park filled with full-scale traditional houses for each of Indonesia’s provinces. There are also displays of regional handicrafts and clothing, a mini-scale Borobudur, an orchid garden and a bird park. Cultural performances are staged frequently (usually around 10am), and for an additional fee there are also museums, theatres and an IMAX cinema dotted throughout the grounds. This is an incredible park and it’s one of the best things to do in Jakarta – especially if you want to learn more about Indonesian culture.
Jakarta Old Town
A small area of about 1.3 square kilometres across Pinangsia, Taman Sari and Roa Malacca in North West Jakarta, Jakarta Old Town is also known as Old Batavia. With Dutch and Chinese influences, and many historic buildings, the Jakarta Old Town has an antique atmosphere. There are also some great shops and restaurants, as well as dozens of museums.
There are tons of great museums in Jakarta, but one of the most fascinating has to be the Wayang Museum of traditional puppetry in the old town. Wayang puppets are traditional, two-dimensional puppets operated by sticks, which are often used for shadow theatre. They are a fabulous part of Indonesian culture, and the Wayang Museum has one of the best collections, all set in a beautiful colonial building dating from 1912. A visit to this incredible museum is definitely one of the best things to do in Jakarta.
Taman Ismail Marzuki
The TIM, Jakarta’s performing arts centre and theatre, is home to frequent traditional Indonesian performances and is a great way to get acquainted with the country’s rich and fascinating culture. There are often outdoor performances in the courtyard, such as Sundanese dance and gamelan music, and there’s also a cinema and some decent restaurants within the complex.
Have you been to Jakarta? We want to hear from you! Share your best tips in the comments…