Jakarta city guide: How to spend a weekend in Indonesia’s vibrant, different capital

Why go now? 


A approach moody between London and Jakarta on Garuda Indonesia has done south-east Asia’s many culturally-diverse collateral permitted from a UK as never before. Some 10 million people live here, though roughly all have roots elsewhere, ensuing in an generous mix of Javanese, Balinese, Chinese, European and countless other cultures. Jakarta is a collateral of a world’s many populous Muslim-majority nation, though Hinduism, Christianity, and Confucianism also thrive. Tolerance rules, exemplified by sharp-witted restaurants portion sharp dishes cleared down with cold beer, and an on-the-pulse clubbing stage that pounds until a diminutive hours.

Gridlocked trade is a frustration, though seeking out pockets of story and enlightenment amid a maelstrom is partial of Jakarta’s allure. Sunda Kelapa docks and a aged city of Batavia are reminders of Dutch colonial times, while a hip hotels and potion skyscrapers of Menteng spin we behind to a 21st century.

Day one

Take a view

The high-speed lift that whizzes adult 56-storey Jakarta Skye Tower (1) (ismaya.com/skye) in 10 dizzying seconds feels like a fairground ride. On a transparent day (or night) a views are dazzling. There is an alfresco patio and restaurant, though we can go for coffee or a cocktail depending on a time of day.

Take a hike

During 3 centuries of colonial rule, Batavia on a southern border of Jakarta Bay, also now famous variously as Kota or ‘Old Jakarta’, was a blurb heart of Dutch Indonesia. Get a ambience of this epoch with a accoutrements of majestic energy by starting in a Taman Fatahillah block (2) flanked by noble structures such as a Jakarta History Musuem (3) in a aged Stag Huis (town hall), built by a Dutch in 1710. 

Follow a Kasar Besar Canal (4) bordered by exploding European-style mansions, adult to a photogenic 16th-century wooden Kota Intan drawbridge (5). Continue down a waterway to a Bahari Maritime Museum (6) in an aged Dutch East India Company warehouse. 

Then stand a Syahbandar Watchtower for autocratic views over a port. 

Lunch on a run

The northern dilemma of Kota district spills into a warren of cobbled alleys where blazing scent wafts from Taoist temples and markets hum with bustling food stalls. This is “Glodok”, traditionally a enclave of a Chinese village and a place to graze a bewildering array of travel treats. You’ll find crispy fry steep wings on wooden skewers and steamed dumplings pressed with belligerent beef or H2O chestnuts, all wrapped in banana leaf. More exotically, Jalan Pancoran travel (7) specialises in Rujak Shanghai Encim, a mixture of cuttlefish, spinach and peanuts soaked in sour red sambal sauce. Or if your longing is for pig’s viscera stewed in a sweetish pulp, sekpa is a things to spot out.

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Window shopping

Strung along a waterway in a shaggy Menteng district, alfresco Jalan Surabaya marketplace (8) is a plentiful amalgam of stalls and shops bringing together Dutch, Javanese, Balinese and Chinese artefacts, both antique and modern. You will find fragments of Jakarta’s different story are on display: barnacle-encrusted Delft porcelain salvaged from wrecked galleons; Javanese puppets; Chinese mount dragons; forged wooden statues from Borneo; and normal masks from a Indonesian archipelago’s genealogical fringes. Good variable skills essential.

An aperitif

Sip a cold Bintang drink during a Batavia Marina Bar (9) (bataviamarina.com) on a seafront subsequent to aged Sunda Kelapa pier where rows of glowing pinisi masted schooners are moored. Watch stevedores bucket load firm for a supposed “Thousand Islands” of Jakarta Bay, in wharf scenes suggestive of past centuries. 

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Dine with a locals

Mix with cocktail stars, actors, politicians and other glitterati during a dainty Dapur Babah (10) grill (tuguhotels.com) usually off Merdeka Square. Owner Anhar Setjadibrata and his daughter Lucienne competence be there to acquire we to a span of aged businessman houses they have easy and pressed with mementoes from a city’s history. Especially distinguished is a collection of Hindu, Buddhist and Chinese statues. The tenure “Babah” refers to a time when Dutch-influenced Javanese women married Chinese settlers. This alloy of cultures resulted in a character of cuisine exemplified by dishes such as Tahoe Goreng Petis – boiled tofu with honeyed shrimp paste.

Day two

Out to brunch

Savour a abounding decoction of Java coffee with pastries or normal Indonesian nasi goreng (fried rice) during Waris 13B café (11) on Taman Amir Hamzah in a select Menteng district. The travel is lined with terracotta-tiled houses including one where a immature Barack Obama lived with his mom and stepfather after they changed to Jakarta in 1967. Round a dilemma is his aged school, Sekolah Dasar Negeri Menteng (12); outside, a lovable statue of “Barry” (as he was known) in his shorts, stands atop a plinth where an marker quotes a President’s proclamation: “The destiny belongs to those who trust in a energy of their dreams.”

A travel in a park

Part paved, partial grassy expanse, Merdeka Square (13) is a city centre, covers some-more than a block kilometre, and is claimed as a world’s largest city square. At a heart is a mountainous National Monument (14), a 132m crypt surfaced with a golden-leaf “flame”, lifted to applaud Indonesia’s autonomy from The Netherlands in 1949. Chances are there will be some arrange of activity going on as we wander through. A troops parade, perhaps, or a demonstration. If not, we competence find nets strung adult on a weed for games of volleyball or badminton. 

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Take a ride

Hop on a commuter sight to Gambir Station (15), a city’s categorical railway heart on a easterly side of Merdeka Square, to strech Jakarta’s dual wonders of dedicated architecture. Istiqlal Mosque (16) is done of radiant Javanese marble and is a largest place of ceremony in southeast Asia with a ability of 120,000. The triple-spired neo-Gothic Jakarta Catholic Cathedral (17) faces a mosque opposite a canal, a integrate of minutes’ travel away. The vicinity of a span is a source of honour to many Indonesians, presented as black of pacific eremite and informative co-existence. 

Cultural afternoon

The National Museum (18) on a west side of Merdeka Square soars to informative heights on a standard with a National Monument’s earthy stature. Beyond carrying an forlorn  collection of treasures clinging to a history, ethnology and geology of a Indonesian archipelago, this is a museum that celebrates a country’s informative diversity. Over 4 floors learn a origins, as good as a benefaction manifestations, of civilisation on islands as different as Java, Sumatra, Bali, Flores, Sulawesi, Borneo and Papua.

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Travel essentials

Getting there 

Garuda International (0203 770 9661, garuda-indonesia.com) flies 3 times a week between Heathrow and Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta airfield (19). Return fares from £693 economy or £1,711 business class. A cab into a city costs Rp250-300,000 (£15 to £17) 

Staying there

The Dharmawangsa (20) (the-dharmawangsa.com) is a breakwater of ease and exemplary Javanese character and oppulance in a Kebayoram Baru area of south Jakarta. It offers outrageous rooms, pools, gardens, Javan sculptures, sauna and tennis courts. Doubles from £210, BB.

Hotel Aryaduta (21) (aryaduta.com/jakarta/default-en.html) is large, complicated and good-value, and centrally-located within an easy travel of Merdeka Square and pivotal sites such as a National Museum, Istiqlal mosque and Cathedral. There’s a poetic swimming pool. Doubles from £52, room only.

Max One Hotel (22) (maxonehotels.com) is a bright, airy, hip hotel in a Jalan Jaksa area, a categorical heart of a general backpacker scene. Rooms are tiny and frills are few, though it has a intelligent feel. Doubles from £28, room only.

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