Jakarta

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Jakarta, the Capital of Indonesia on the country's Island of Java. The city hosts several, annual, art and culture festivals, and exhibitions, including Arts and Craft, Film, Food and Fashion. It is a bustling multicultural city with several museums mostly in the Merdeka Square area. The local cuisine is the Betawi food, influenced by Malay, Chinese and Peranakan. Jakarta has an enormous range of food available at thousands of venues from modest “Warung” food-stalls and travelling vendors to fine dining restaurants foodcourts..

What to do and see in Jakarta

Jakarta Indonesia, or the DKI Jakarta Province  as it is officially known, is a vibrant city and the list of what to do and see in Jakarta is endless. Jakarta's rich history has changed its face dramatically over the centuries, contributing to a wonderful Jakarta population. Also know as the Special Capital Region of Jakarta, the city ranks first by population and development opportunities in the Republic of Indonesia.


What to do and see in Jakarta - Jakarta Pin Drop
Jakarta Capital of Indonesia

Sunda Kelapa

The first historic evidence from Jakarta dates back to 397 year AD as part of the Kingdom of Sunda, when its name was Sunda Kelapa. The city was a very important and prominent trading centre for the kingdom. Later on, between the 7th and 13th century, the Java area, was still officially a Sundanese land. However it fell under the influence of the Srivijaya Empire. At that time agriculture was the main source of income for the citizens and most of their houses were built on wooden piles.

Jayakarta

What its people now know as DKI Jakarta Province has changed names many times, inc Jayakarta. The city was first approached by Europeans in the early 1500's. Portuguese ships arrived on the Java island in search of Indonesian spices. The relationship between the local Sunda Kelapa people and the Europeans began as a friendship and alliance against the Sultanate of Demak. Unfortunately, that didn’t last for long. In 1527 after an attack carried out by a Demakese general, the Portuguese fled. Sunda Kelapa then became part of the Banten Sultanate, furthermore its name changed to Jayakarta, which in Sanskrit means “victorious deed”.

Prince Jayawikarta

Who was Prince Jayawikarta? The then ruler of the Sultanate, Prince Jayawikarta kept close ties with the Dutch. As a result of that at the end of the 16th and the beginning of 17th century Dutch and English voyagers reached the shores of Jakarta.Initially with the purpose of trading Indonesian spices. Not long after, however, the friendship between Prince Prince Jayawikarta and the Dutch took a serious decline. Prince Jayawikarta and his army, supported by the English, attacked the Dutch fortress. He was defeated and that led to the beginning of Jayakarta’s colonial era and rule by the Dutch. The city was named Batavia, or Dutch East Indies.
What to do and see in Jakarta Batavia Cafe
Batavia Cafe Jakarta

Dutch East Indies

Following the new dutch rule, Batavia, the capital of Dutch East Indies as it was known, saw major economic development. Trade deals grew rapidly on black pepper, cloves and nutmeg. Many were augmented by non-indigenous crops like cacao, sugar, rubber, tobacco, tea, coffee and opium. The Dutch East Indies growth attracted many multicultural immigrants such as Arab and Chinese. Many of the new Migrants were forcefully deported. Mainly as the level of immigration was putting a huge strain on the Dutch East Indies government. This process was often merciless and unfair, causing ethnic Chinese inhabitants to move outside the city walls to an area called Glodok. Today this is known as Glodok Chinatown and hosts Pasar Glodok Jakarta or Chinatown Market Jakarta.

Sukarno Jakarta’s Founding President

The end of the Second World War marked the beginning of the Indonesian independence in 1946. Its name was changed for the last time to Jakarta otherwise known as the DKI Jakarta Province. Four years later, Jakarta became the capital of Indonesia and ruled by Sukarno Jakarta’s Founding President. President Sukarno had plans for Jakarta to make it an exceptional international and multicultural city. President Sukarno began numerous architectural projects to bring this vision to life, whilst preserving the Colonial Architecture in Indonesia. Some of the Indonesian architectural designs include a Semanggi cloverleaf highway, the major boulevard Jalan MH Thamrin and Jalan Sudirman Jakarta. The National Monument Jakarta (Monas), Hotel Indonesia, now Hotel Indonesia Kempinski, shopping centres, and many others. President Sukarno had a daughter named Megawati Sukarnoputri, who was President of Indonesia from 23rd July 2001 to 20th October 2004. She was also head of Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), one of Indonesia's largest political parties. She tried for re-election in the 2004 presidential election but was defeated by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

DKI Jakarta Province

Today Jakarta is believed to be the Indonesian equivalent of New York due to its economic powers and business opportunities. DKI Jakarta Province is administratively equal to a province. However it has a special status as the Indonesian capital. Officially, the city’s name as a province is Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta, meaning "Special Capital City District of Jakarta" and abbreviated DKI Jakarta. The DKI Jakarta Provincial Government has a Governor. Furthermore each of its 5 Administrative Cities has a Mayor. They are not elected by the general public, but appointed by the Governor of Jakarta. Currently this is Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Jakarta Governer Ahok. In addition, there’s also an administrative regency called Thousand Islands Regency or Kepulauan Seribu, Governed by a selected Regent. The Thousand Islands Regency (Kepulauan Seribu) actually consists of 105 small islands in the Java Sea.

Jakarta population

Ever since the confirmation of Independence, The Jakarta population has been rising vigorously. From only 500,000 citizens in the early 1920s, this number reached 10,075,310 in 2014. The figure consists of DKI Jakarta Province, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi. Average Jakarta population growth rate of approx 3.6% per annum. What is the current population of Jakarta? Given its small land territory of only 664 km2, the city has a population density of more than 151 thousand  people per km2, making it 9th in the world. An interesting fact is that the gender ratio is almost equal, however women's rights still continue to be an outstanding issue.

Colonial Architecture in Indonesia

Jakarta history is rich and has been commemorated in Indonesian architecture design, landmarks and museums. There are numerous examples of preserved Colonial Architecture in Indonesia buildings. Mostly influenced by the Malay, Javanese, Chinese, Arabic and Dutch cultures. Great architects like J.C. Schultze left their footprints in this vibrant city. J.C. Schultze designed some of the most notable buildings - Gedung Kesenian Jakarta, also known as the Jakarta Art Building. Furthermore he signed the Indonesia Supreme Court and Ministry of Finance or Kementerian Keuangan. The modern architecture features many skyscrapers, which gives the city a high-end international look. What is Jakarta tallest building? This is currently Gama / Cemindo Tower but will soon be overtaken by Treasury Tower Jakarta at District 8 In fact, there are 88 buildings taller than 150m in Jakarta, which puts the capital in the world’s Top 10 Skyscraper Cities. Another 26 are either proposed or under Construction that are 200+m

National Monument Jakarta

Among the list of what to do and see in Jakarta are some of Jakarta’s most popular landmarks consisting of political buildings, sports venues and artistic pieces of architecture. The National Monument Jakarta, is also known as Monas. Designed by Jakarta’s first leader after independence, Presiden Sukarno, is the country’s symbol of nationalism. It is 137m tall and located at Merdeka Square. Going to the top of it reveals the beautiful view of the entire city landscape. To get access you only need to pay Rp 7,500. Close by is Merdeka Palace, otherwise known as Presidential Palace Jakarta, which is open for visits on weekends at no admission fee. Formal clothing, however, is recommended.

What to do and see in Jakarta - monas merdeka square jakarta
National Monument Jakarta, also known as Monas


Keen sports fans may be interested in visiting Senayan Sport complex, also known as the Gelang Bung Karno Stadium. The stadium is massive and surrounded by a large green area, often used for recreation and time away from the busy setting of the city. Another interesting landmark is the Bundaran Hotel Indonesia. It has a big fountain, featuring a beautiful statue right in front of the city’s major malls and shopping centres. Adjecent to Bundaran Hotel Indonesia is Bundaran Bank Indonesia

Jakarta Museums

In terms of museums Jakarta lacks nothing! The clusters of different museums with historic, natural, artistic, scientific and religious exhibitions. Most are situated in Central and East Jakarta. For Jakarta Museums, the most popular ones are:
  1. Jakarta History Museum
  2. Fine Art and Ceramic Museum
  3. The Maritime Museum Jakarta
  4. Gedung Gajah (National Museum of Indonesia)
  5. Istiqlal Islamic Museum
  6. Jakarta Cathedral Museum
  7. Komodo Indonesian Fauna Museum


What to do and see in Jakarta - Istiqlal Mosque
Istiqlal Mosque Jakarta

Aside from museums, where can one go to see traditional and modern performances?

Jakarta Economy

The Jakarta economy is one of the most developed in Asia, attracting many foreign investors and businesses. Furthermore, alone, the Jakarta economy  generates almost one-sixth of Indonesia’s GDP (so $148.53 billion according to latest data). The main driving sectors in the Jakarta economy  are banking, service sectors, trading, financial service, and manufacturing. Businesses usually concentrate on mechanical engineering, biomedical sciences, chemicals, electronics and automotive. Jakarta Foreign investors are generally focused on the property development sector. This includes office and commercial buildings, luxury apartments and various class hotels. So what is good for Jakarta Foreign Investors? This is part of the reason why the cost of living in the city continues to rise. The rents are very high and so are the prices of land. Whenever housing projects are undertaken, they are usually situated in the outskirts of the capital. Thus saving space for financial and commercial buildings within the city.

What to do and see in Jakarta - Love Indonesia
Investors are falling in love with Indonesia

Jakarta Manufacturing Industry

The export of goods manufactured or produced in Jakarta usually goes through one of two main Jakarta shipping ports - Lampung and Central Java East. Within the Jakarta Manufacturing Industry, most Jakarta exported goods are oil and gas, textile, construction materials, electric appliances, rubber and automotive. Jakarta and Indonesia as a whole have great trade relations with Japan, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and the United States. The import of goods goes mainly through two specific Jakarta shipping ports, Bongkar Port and Jakarta Capital City. The Jakarta Manufacturing Industry mainly produces food ingredients, machinery and equipments, and chemicals. A big import for the city is beef although recently Jakarta calls for beef trade reprisals. However on the flip side Australian co’s have been investing in Indonesian cattle producers.

Jakarta past Governors

Governance of the city has changed models several times since Indonesian independence. The first Jakarta Government was held by a Mayor from 1946 till 1960. After that office was changed to that of a Governor and remains as such till today, 17 Governers later. August 2007 was a remarkable period the Jakarta political situation as the first governor elections were held. Prior to that the governor was selected by the local house of representatives.The current Jakarta Governer Ahok, actual name Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, was elected on 19th November 2014. The previous Governer was Joko Widodo who is now the President of Indonesia. During Jokowi’s term he was known as- Jokowi 'a governor at home on the streets' Similarly to other local governments, Jakarta’s relies on support from the Central Government. The city office is finding it hard to resolve all issues the capital faces due to insufficient finances dedicated to the province. Locally, the main income for the government comes from vehicle ownership and transfer fees and taxes. Prioritised areas for expenditure are education, environment programs, transport and Jakarta flood control measures. Also included are various types of social spending (such as health and housing).

Local culture and religion of Jakarta

Jakarta is like a huge salad bowl of languages, ethnicities, religions and customs. Being the big and developed city that it is, makes it an attractive destination for many Domestic and International migrants. One of the main ethnic groups are Javanese, Betawi and Sundanese. While the Javanese are considered the local inhabitants originally. The Betawi are descendants of Southeast Asians. They inhabited the region of Batavia in the 18th and 19th century during the Dutch East Indies occupation. The Betawi language is an interesting mixture between East Malay dialect, Dutch, Portuguese, Sundanese, Javanese, Chinese and Arabic. It is also regarded as ‘the cool’ language, used on the streets of Jakarta. Some local people work as a Betawi language translator for documants and publications. Generally, the Betawi people and their culture is not as prevalent in the city centre as it is in the suburbs. Their customs, food and music have been largely influenced by the Chinese and the Arab.

Jalan Jaksa Festival

Festivals are also on the list of what to do and see in Jakarta. Jakarta is making every effort to preserve the different cultures with various festivals such as the Jalan Jaksa Festival or Kemang Festival, also known as the Kemang Food Fest Jakarta. There are also numerous performing art centres. These include:
  1. The classical concert hall Aula Simfonia
  2. Jakarta Concert Hall in Kemayoran
  3. Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) art centre in Cikini
Many traditional Indonesian art performances are at the pavilions of some provinces in Taman Mini Indonesia Indah. Wayang and Gamelan. Here you can see Javanese music performances, which are often also present in high-class hotels.

Jakarta Religion Demographics

With the presence of so many different cultures in the city it comes as no surprise that the Jakarta Religion Demographics are religiously diverse. As the official religion in Indonesia is Islam, the main religious group in the capital is Muslim. Is Indonesia sunni or shia? The majority of Muslims in Indonesia are Sunni. Shia only represents around 1 millions Indonesians in the Jakarta area. Also elsewhere in Java, Madura and Sumatera, There are also significant numbers of Protestants, Buddhists, Catholics, Hindus and Confucianists. This futher supports diverse Jakarta Religious Demographics. In Jakarta there are many religious sites representing the official and the minority faiths, these  include:
  1. Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta
  2. Cut Mutiah Mosque
  3. Cathedral Church,
  4. Immanuel Church
  5. Gereja Ayam
  6. Sion Church
  7. Vihara Dharma Sakti.

Jakarta Districts and areas

As we already mentioned Jakarta is split into five administrative areas and one regency, overall a huge area but what are the Jakarta Districts and areas?

What to do and see in Jakarta - Jakarta Skyline
Jakarta Skyline

Central Jakarta

Smallest of them all is Central Jakarta, but it is of most political significance and home of the DKI Jakarta Provincial Government. The architecture in the area is largely influenced by the Dutch during the colonial age of Dutch East Indies. When Jakarta was called Batavia. Some of the main sites include the National Monument Jakarta, Jakarta Cathedral, Istiqlal Mosque. Furthermore there are many museums, like the Komodo Indonesian Fauna Museum and the Gedung Kesenian Jakarta

West Jakarta

West Jakarta is the heart of small business in the capital. This is where Glodok Chinatown, Pasar Glodok Jakarta and Jakarta Old Town (Kota Tua Jakarta) are located.

South Jakarta

South Jakarta is the posh area, inhabited by well-off residents and tourists. Here there’s a high concentration of luxury shopping centres and entertainment venues. South Jakarta Hotels are considered some of the best in Jakarta When you fly into the city you will likely first pass through East Jakarta as the Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport is located there. Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport is used for commercial, military, private and presidential purposes.

North Jakarta

North Jakarta is where the big business is based. This area is the only one bounded by the Java Sea. Tourists can also enjoy the Ancol Dreamland, otherwise known as Taman Impian Jaya Ancol. Here is the largest integrated tourism area in South East Asia. What attraction does Ancol Dreamland have to offer?

What to do and see in Jakarta - pole climbing ancol dreamland
Pole climbing show at Ancol Dreamland

Thousand Islands Regency

Jakarta’s only regency, the Thousand Islands Regency or Kepulauan Seribu prides with unique ecosystems. Water sports and attractions such as wind surfing, diving and water cycling are extremely popular in the area. The perfect solution if you are not sure what to do and see in Jakarta.

Javanese Cuisine

Typical Jakarta Indonesian cuinsine is considered to be the Betawi, dating back to the Dutch East Indies era . It is heavily furthermore influenced by the Malay and Chinese cuisines as well as partly by the Javanese and Sundanese. There are also traces of some Arabic, Indian and Europeans dishes. One of the most popular dishes in Jakarta is Soto Betawi JakartaSoto Betawi recipe consists of chunky beef bites and offals in rich and spicy cow's milk or coconut milk broth. Other traditional foods feature Soto Kaki Sapi, Kerak Telor Jakarta (spicy omelette), nasi ulam, asinan, and gado-gado (salad in peanut sauce).

Jakarta Street Food

Jakarta street food, like shopping, is often on people's list of what to do and see in Jakarta. There is a broad variety of Jakarta Street Food, all of which is extremely popular. It is usually sold on stalls and by travelling vendors. Most common street dishes are nasi goreng kampung (fried rice), siomay Bandung (fish dumplings), bakpau (Chinese bun) and sate (skewered meat). What is in Nasi Goreng Kampung and Siomay Banding? The city, of course, offers numerous high-end restaurants. Here people enjoy the finest local and international cuisines, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, Indian, French, Italian, American and many others.

What to do and see in Jakarta - Mie Bakso
Bakso is a popular dish on the streets of Jakarta

Where to go In Jakarta

The question is, where to go in Jakarta when you’re there? Jakarta is not a city where you can get easily bored. There is an extensive list of what to do and see in Jakarta. The capital offers hundreds of entertainment venues, themeparks, historic sites and artistic and sports facilities for every taste and interest.

What to do and see in Jakarta - milkfish in pecinan market
Milkfish in Pecinan Market


For a proper insight into the Indonesian culture in its glory, visit Taman Mini Indonesia Indah in East Jakarta. The tour of Taman Mini Indonesia Indah includes 30 Indonesian provinces and samples of all the 250+ cultures present in the country. The entrance is only Rp 10,000. Taman Mini Indonesia Indah is a breathtaking insight into Indonesia. Its culture will give you an insight in a short time that would take months, or even years to see for real For the lovers of historic sites, Colonial Architecture in Indonesia and museums, Kota Tua Jakarta (Old Town Batavia) is a must-see destination. With many food and souvenir street vendors, the site gives the ultimate tourist experience at affordable prices. The area also features more than 10 different museums including:
  1. Jakarta History Museum
  2. Museum Wayang
  3. Museum Bank Indonesia
  4. Museum Seni Rupa dan Keramik.
 

Family activities in Jakarta

There are endless lists of what to do and see in Jakarta Family activities in Jakarta, you may want to go to Jungleland Sentul City, where you and your children can enjoy a number of rides, a science park and a dinosaur land. Animal lovers can enjoy the enormous Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta, a home of more than 3,600 Indonesian wildlife species. The tickets are very cheap - just Rp 4000. If you want to buy a tropical bird you can apparently  visit the Jakarta Bird Market in South Jakarta. Pick from hundreds of colourful birds and other animals. Want to catch the latest movie? No worries - there are cinemas in all of Jakarta’s malls. The ticket prices vary between Rp 25,000 and Rp 70,000 because of the varied standard of theatres and movie choices. A Jakarta malls map can be seen here. That will help you decide on how to plan your itinerary of what to do and see in Jakarta.

Music and Entertainment in Jakarta

Jakarta represents foreign cultures as well as it does local ones. Music and Entertainment in Jakarta, inc festivals and international artists’ concerts are held all year round. The music genres include anything from Korean pop, through rock and jazz, to R&B and reggae. There are plenty of sports activities available in the city for all who like to keep fit. Some of the most easily accessed sports for practice are football, badminton, bowling, drifting and golf. Many of the big hotels provide free fitness and spa centres for their guests. And if you simply want to loosen up with friends after work, why not karaoke? It’s an extremely popular entertainment choice in Asia and Jakarta’s favourite Karaoke chains are Inul Vista, Happy Puppy and NAV. Most major cities in Indonesia host a car free day on a Sunday. The Jakarta car free day runs from Jalan Sudirman Jakarta, to National Monument Jakarta. The day promotes walkers, runners, and cyclists of all abilties to use the day to get exercise, socialise and hang out. Where can you find out more about Jakarta car free day?

Jakarta shopping area

Shopping is often on people's list of what to do and see in Jakarta when you are there. Jakarta offers numerous options for shopaholics with various budgets. The largest Jakarta shopping area, and actually mall in the world is located in the Indonesian capital. If you are looking for luxury designer brands such as Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, Ralph Lauren, etc., your best shot would be at Plaza Indonesia, Grand Indonesia Shopping Town, Plaza Senayan,  Senayan City or Pacific Place. In case you have a more modest size pocket try going to some of these:
  1. Mall Taman Anggrek
  2. Pondok Indah Mall
  3.  Mal Kelapa Gading
  4. Central Park Jakarta
  5. Ciputra World Jakarta
Here are stores where you can get goodies from high-street brands like Topshop and Zara.

Mangga Dua Square

A very cheap option would be some of the local markets such as Mangga Dua or Manga Dua Square. Here you can find items at wholesale prices as well as replicas of original brands. You can bargain your way to a great deal. Mangga Dua Square also offers a good range of electrical and computer shops. ITC Mangga Dua is another major shopping mall that sells almost everything and at cheap prices. Put that on your list of what to do and see in Jakarta. Most hotels in Jakarta have supermarkets within their premises, but you can also find plenty of them outside of your hotel. Most popular chains are Geant, Hero, Hypermarket, Lotte, Superindo, CemChicks and Carrefour. If you love goods with antique value you can go to Jalan Surabaya Jakarta where there is a large number of antique shops located on the street.

Pasaraya Grande shopping mall in South Jakarta has a whole floor, especially for Indonesian antiques and handcrafted goods.

Premium and budget hotels in Jakarta

If you are compiling a list of what to do and see in Jakarta, you will need somewhere to stay. When visiting the city you have a choice of premium and budget hotels in Jakarta. Some have no official star ratings to luxury and boutique hotels that can be described as ‘out-of-this-world’. Bear in mind that you will likely pay 21% tax and service charge in addition to your price of stay. There are a number of online booking sources to locate suitable rooms and book. Super cheap hostel accommodation can be found in Jakarta backpacker area - Jalan Jaksa, in close proximity to Gambir Station and Sarina, giving you access to the Trans-Jakarta busway. Most basic rooms cost about Rp 50,000 per night and those that have ACs and own bathroom go up to Rp 100,000 per night. Want find info on the best of rough places to stay? Mid-range hotel prices with standard rooms vary from $26 to $100 per night. If you’ve decided to spoil yourself in a luxury accommodation or even some Jakarta fine dining, you won’t be short of options. Jakarta has to offer various foreign brands such as Grand Mercure, Ibis, Novotel, Intercontinental, Le Meridien and Kempinski, as well as local high-end hotels like Mulia and The Sultan Hotel & Residence. Prices for a standard room per night are above $100.

Getting around Jakarta

The transport and infrastructure is currently undergoing development and there are various ways of getting around Jakarta, regardless of your budget. Soekarno–Hatta International Airport (CGK) is the main airport serving the Greater Jakarta area. The airport recently underwent an expansion in order to be able to accommodate all inbound and outbound flights and passengers. The Halim Perdanakusuma Airport (HLP) serves domestic flight of low cost airlines, private and VIP/Presidential flights. Long-distance railways connect Jakarta with the neighbouring regions and cities in Java. Rush hours are often overcrowded.

Taxis, Rickshaws, Motorcycles and Buses

The main taxi company operating in Jakarta is Bluebird Group who offer a range of vehicles for different travel and budgets. Local commuters often choose to use conventional buses such as the Kopaja and MetroMini economy minibuses, which serve numerous routes throughout the city. "Auto rickshaws", called bajaj are a form of traditional transportation which was developed back in the 1940s. Today they are not allowed on the main roads in Jakarta but still operate in the back streets of some parts of the city.

What to do and see in Jakarta - Three wheeled Bajaj
A three wheeled Bajaj


Even though ojeks or motorcycle taxis are not an official form of public transport. They are however very popular in the capital. They sometimes provide a great escape from heavy traffic. Also a good option due to having to go through narrow alleys and crowded urban roads. Gojek, a relatvely new mobile booking service for travel and other support services is growing fast and used by thousands every day.