Visit Indonesia’s capital city, with colonial-era relics, gorgeous mosques, abundant shopping and family entertainment, to find out why it's known as the Big Durian.
Like the durian fruit, Jakarta, in the northwestern corner of the island of Java, has a somewhat rugged exterior but beneath this there is plenty of flavour and colour.
Begin your exploration of Jakarta in centrally located Kota district, formerly known as Batvia. Don’t miss the cobblestoned Taman Fatahillah Square, which still shows Dutch influences. Follow the city’s history from the Stone Age to the present at the Jakarta History Museum. See local artwork at the Ceramics Museum and at the Seni Rupa gallery.
Watch painted fishing vessels come in from the outer islands at Jakarta’s historic Sunda Kelapa port. Browse the Maritime Museum, located in a 17th-century spice warehouse, to learn about Indonesia’s extensive naval history.
In the heart of Medan Merdeka Public Square is the National Monument (Monas Tower), which rises to 137 metres (450 feet). Take an elevator to the top of the tower to get superb views of Jakarta. Visit the National Museum to see some of the best ethnographic artefacts Indonesia has to offer. Admire the architecture of the Presidential Palace and the iridescent Istiqlal Mosque, which has a capacity of up to 120,000. At the Textile Museum see over 2,000 beautiful fabrics and materials.
Buy traditional Indonesian wayang puppets and sarongs in the market stalls of Jalan Surabaya. Be sure to try to local street food. You’ll taste culinary influences from Arab, Chinese, European and Indian foods. For high-end brands, shop at Grand Indonesia or at the Living World, the retail and entertainment complex located just out of town.
Beat the heat by plunging down the waterslides at Ocean Park. For a thrill, ride the roller coasters at Taman Impian Jaya Ancol (Ancol Dreamland). To see replicas of traditional Indonesian dwellings, visit the Taman Mini Indonesia cultural park.
During the monsoon season, from November to March, Jakarta is muggy and smoggy. Take taxis or buses from destination to destination to avoid the heat and rain.
Use Jakarta as a base from which to take trips to see volcanoes, reefs, surfing beaches and exotic wildlife, including Komodo dragons and orangutans.