How to Spend 1 Day in Jakarta
The capital of Indonesia and its dominant island, Java, Jakarta is a megacity—predicted to topple Tokyo as the world’s most populous metropolis by 2030—yet its historic center is remarkably compact. In fact, you can see all the city’s signature sights in just a day and enjoy some delicious Indonesian food along the way. Here’s how.
Morning: Heritage Hike
Start the day with a walking or bicycle tour of old Batavia, the name Dutch colonists gave to what is now Jakarta. Stroll among colonial-era buildings on Fatahillah Square in Jakarta Old Town (Kota Tua); check out sights such as the Wayang Museum, devoted to the Indonesian art of puppetry; and relax with a cool drink at historic Café Batavia. Next, check out the sailing ships at Pelabuhan Sunda Kelapa, the city’s old harbor and the place where Jakarta truly began. Finally, explore Jakarta Chinatown (Glodok) and savor a lunch of its signature fusion: Chinese Indonesian food.
Afternoon: Culture Vulture
Make Jakarta’s gridlock bearable by exploring with a private driver this afternoon. Check out contemporary signature sights such as MONAS (the national monument of Indonesia), the Istiqlal Mosque, and Jakarta Cathedral en route to the National Museum. Explore with a guide who can lead you through the epic collection, spanning hundreds of thousands of years and thousands of islands, and introduce you to this archipelago nation’s rich culture. Alternatively, enjoy a more family-friendly encounter with Indonesia’s 18,000-odd islands at the cultural theme park known as Taman Mini Indonesia Indah.
Night: Food Fantasy
One of the great joys of any visit to Indonesia, food in Jakarta stretches far beyond its best-known exports: satay and beef rendang. Discover Jakarta like a local with a feast of street food from the humble neighborhood eateries known as warung or the roll-along street stalls called kaki lima. Don’t miss the myriad different styles of fried rice, coconut satay from Madura, jackfruit curries, tangy beef soups, and tropical fruit from the notorious durian to succulent rambutan. Wrap up the night by discovering Jakarta’s sleeker side, over a tropical cocktail in a rooftop bar.