Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, has long been overlooked by business travelers and those in transit to other parts of the country. This city has a treasure trove of delightful finds amid the crowded streets and spaces.
Business traveler and Trippy user, Anthony from Baltimore wanted to squeeze in two days of his trip to discover Jakarta. He sought advice from other users. This was his question:
I’m sneaking in two days of sightseeing at the tail end of a business trip I’m taking to Jakarta. Trying to create a super-tight itinerary, so I don’t waste time. I’d like to try to see at least one museum or cultural site, eat at one great restaurant, go to one store to pick up some presents (I’d like something that shows off local culture—not just a chain store), and maybe find one good place for people watching. I’m booked in a hotel in downtown, but if there’s another neighborhood I should stay in for site-seeing, I would like to hear about it. Thanks!
Get a centrally located hotel
It’s best to stay at a hotel that is close to all the major attractions, restaurants, bars and cafes. You’ll spend less time in traffic and more time exploring Jakarta. Fran from Jakarta suggested the following hotels:
Jakarta is a big city and very disperse. Public transportation is not that great plus traffic is horrible. Depending on what you want to do, then it will be better to stay around that area.
Central Jakarta Hotel: Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta, Mandarin Oriental, Grand Hyatt Jakarta, Hotel Pullman Jakarta Central Park. That is right in the middle of the business district. There are two big malls there. This is near Monas and Selamat Datang monument.
South Jakarta Hotel: Hotel Mulia Senayan, Jakarta
North Jakarta: there is Kelapa Gading area, where they have everything there (hotel, lots of food, malls).
There is Mangga Dua Square area (bargain shopping clothes, computers, DVD, etc.) there is one hotel that is attached to the mall, but I forget what it’s called.
It’s a matter of preference and budget when it comes to choosing accommodation. I picked Pondok Indah neighborhood in South Jakarta when I visited a few years ago. Check out InterContinental Jakarta Pondok Indah.
It is known as the “Beverly Hills” of Indonesia, Pondok Indah has a few mega malls equipped with restaurants, bars, and entertainment. It is close to Jalan Kemang Raya, Jakarta’s best street for nightlife, food and unique Indonesian souvenirs. If you’re like Anthony, you’ll benefit by staying at a hotel in South Jakarta where you can eat in at least one great restaurant and pick up a few souvenirs before heading home.
When in Kemang go to ARA, an independent store that showcases locally made ready-to-wear designer clothing. Check out designs by local talents like Friederich Herman, Peggy Hartanto and Toton.
Places for lunch or dinner
Besides Kemang and Pondok Indah, Trippy users Valencia and Claudia suggested the following places for an unforgettable traditional Indonesian fare:
Valencia’s list of restaurants:
You should try Bunga Rampai, and they provide Indonesian food with a really lovely place to have lunch. Cafe Batavia has very great dining scene if you don’t mind spending more. You should check Tugu Kunstkring Paleis at Menteng for an unforgettable Indonesian dining experience.
If you don’t mind less comfortable places to eat, you should try local street foods. Most of them would cost around IDR 10.000 – 25.000. I would argue that you should try Indonesian Fried Rice. I would also suggest trying Martabak Boss; they taste heavenly!
Claudia’s list of restaurants:
I have three favorite restaurants and one favorite coffee shop:
Ikan Bakar Cianjur – Cipete (IBC) – traditional Sundanese food. I recommend trying their signature dish, the gurame goreng (fried freshwater carp) and tahu goreng (fried tofu with sweet chili sauce) – see photo below. IBC has several locations.
Pondok Ikan Bakar Ujung Pandang – Makassar (South Sulawesi) seafood. This restaurant serves the freshest and spiciest seafood in Jakarta. It’s located on Jln Gandaria 1 No 5 Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta.
The Café in Hotel Mulia Senayan – the best buffet in Jakarta with options of Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian and Western cuisines, each in separate stations. In each station, there are over 20 dishes. There’s also a dessert room.
One Fifteenth Coffee – the place to go if you’re craving flat white/latte/espresso, salad, pancakes, and toasts.
Here are 3 of my favorite foods in Jakarta:
- Ikan bakar – grilled fish, served with chili and rice
- Soto ayam – spicy chicken soup served with rice
- Gado gado – Indonesian salad with peanut sauce
Visit Jakarta’s main attractions
Trippy user Maira from Indonesia suggested:
If you want to see some local culture, you can go to
1. Kota Tua
2. Monumen Nasional (MONAS) (icon of Jakarta)
3. SKYE Menara BCA – 56th Floor for bird’s eye view of Jakarta
Tita, a Jakartan wrote:
Try to go to the Museum Nasional you could find all about Indonesia there. Go to Pasaraya Blok M for a one-stop shopping area.
Seto, another Jakartan, summed it up with the following:
There’s a place called Kota Tua, an old city in Jakarta which is home for Museum Bank Indonesia, Museum Mandiri, Museum Sejarah Jakarta (Museum Fatahillah), Museum Seni Rupa dan Keramik and Museum Wayang.
You can reach there by TransJakarta (bus transportation), KRL Commuter Line (check schedule at krl.co.id), Bajaj, or by taxi.
Rumah Makan Nusa Indah provides a wide range of Indonesian food.
There’s a place called Kemang, where a lot of expatriates usually held a gathering.
So, if you have 24 hours, you have two options, either spend a full day at Kota Tua, old town Jakarta or spend the day at MONAS and end the day at SKYE for dinner and enjoy the panoramic view of Jakarta. If you want to see it all, spend a short time in one museum, join a private full day tour that takes you to MONAS and Kota Tua.
MONAS, the National Monument is the place to learn about Indonesian history. Start your tour of the National Monument on the top floor. On a clear day, you can see as far as the Java Sea to the north and Salak Mountain to the south. MONAS is a famous landmark and a symbol of freedom for Indonesia. The top of this 137-meter marble obelisk was made of bronze, gold-plated and shaped like a flame.
The National History Museum is located on the first floor of the monument. There are 48 dioramas showing ancient Indonesia through colonial times and the Sukarno era.
When the Dutch came to Indonesia, they established their hub in Kota Tua or Batavia Old Town. Check out the old colonial buildings, canals, squares and end your tour at Cafe Batavia. Café Batavia is located in a 200-year-old Dutch building in Fatahillah Square Jakarta.
While you are there, visit the old port in Sunda Kelapa, a 500-year-old working port where ships once set sail throughout Indonesia and beyond. Today it’s no longer a busy port, but you can still see wooden boats and a few old Dutch buildings.
If you’re planning a one or two day trip to Jakarta, here’s what Trippy user Wayne from Brisbane wrote:
Depends on what you want to experience in Jakarta? I have been there a few times and have different experiences each time I have been there. If you are a foodie, then there are some excellent restaurants to try or even in some cases better street foods to try. If you want to party then, Jakarta has one of the best night life’s scenes anywhere in Asia. Or you could try travel to one of the resorts like Pantara Island around the group of islands the locals refer to as Thousand Islands, which is popular with the locals and quite close to Jakarta.