One of the most lively metropolitan cities in Indonesia, Jakarta moves with an energy fuelled by diversity, history and modern culture. From upscale shopping malls to colonial-era squares, traditional markets and a vibrant nightlife scene, there’s a constant buzz of activity in this sprawling capital city.
Things to do in Jakarta
Get oriented in Jakarta by visiting Merdeka Square and the Kota Tua “Old City”, home to colonial architecture, museums and winding canals. From there, you can explore diverse neighbourhoods, such as Glodok, Jakarta’s Chinatown. To see traditional “pinisi” ships sailing into port, head to the Sunda Kelapa district.
Culture in Jakarta honours traditional Javanese art forms, such as gamelan orchestras and “wayang” shadow puppetry at Museum Wayang in Kota Tua. It also embraces modern art at galleries like Art:1 in Kemayoran. The National Museum in Merdeka Square features ethnological exhibits dating back to the early Java man and Flores hobbit, while the Museum of Bank Indonesia traces commerce from the Spice Trade up to the present day.
Feel like experiencing a typical shopping day in Jakarta? Contemporary fashionistas can head to Kemang’s Colony 6, while luxury shoppers can cruise the boutiques at Plaza Indonesia. Traditional markets throughout the city offer everything from batik fabrics to Java coffee beans, spices, herbal medicines and curving keri daggers.
Pan-Indonesian diversity is most evident in Jakarta’s street-food scene, which thrives in the Kemang District of South Jakarta. Try specialties, such as “sate” skewers dipped in peanut sauce, Chinese “Kwetiau” noodles and Indonesian “gado gado” salad. Stay into the evening to enjoy its thriving nightlife scene of late-night clubs and bars.
Getting around Jakarta
Public and private transportation in Jakarta comprises standard taxis, motorcycle taxis, rapid-transit buses and mini-bus shuttles. You can also rent a car or explore the city on an electric trike.