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Jakarta, previously known as Batavia, was once the capital of the Dutch East Indies, and there are many buildings that date to this colonial era. Jakarta Cathedral is one such hotspot, and is more than 100 years old. Istiqlal Mosque is also a popular place to visit, and is Indonesia’s largest and most revered mosque.
If you are taking a family trip to Jakarta then Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park) is well worth a visit, as it provides a child-friendly overview of the whole country, using painstakingly crafted miniature models. Other must-sees include the Ancol Dream Park and the 137m-tall Monas National Monument.
While Jakarta will never leave you wanting for things to do, try to make time to explore beyond the city limits. Head to Bogor to visit its Botanical Garden, a tropical wonderland cloaked in more than 15,000 tree and plant species native to the region. You can also visit the tea plantations that surround the city.
Hiking and snorkelling tours in Gunung Krakatau are a great way to get out of the city and explore the islands off the coast.
Back in Jakarta there are plenty of family-friendly activities to enjoy, including paintball, go-karting and ice skating. Golf is particularly popular, with an astonishing 35 courses located in and around the city. Petrol-heads might appreciate a visit to one of the city’s “drifting” circuits, where high-performance cars screech and skid their way around the tarmac.
There are plenty of festivals and celebrations throughout the year. One of the most popular is the Namaste festival in November, where visitors can find out more about the ancient art of yoga. The Jakarta Fair is held for a month between mid-June and mid-July and celebrates the cultural diversity of Jakarta City. It is focused around the Monas National Monument, in the heart of the city.
Jakarta has eateries of all sizes and you will find yourself spoiled for choice in menu options. Traditional dishes include soto betawi, which is broth made from coconut milk, tripe and intestines (it tastes much better than it sounds). Alternatively, try kerak telor – a delicious omelette with sticky rice, coconut and dried shrimp. Indonesian cuisine tends to be quite heavy on spices, but there are many places to eat in Jakarta that serve international food.
If you are feeling adventurous, Jakartan street food is highly regarded and surprisingly spicy. It can be sampled in a number of areas, including Glodok and Kota Tua. However, those with sensitive stomachs may prefer to stick to the restaurants.
You’ll find ample opportunities for shopping when you travel to Jakarta, whether you are in the market for traditional crafts and fashions, or high-end, branded products. To sample the authentic commerce of the city, head to one of the large markets in Tanah Abang or Pasar Baru.
There are also many large, modern shopping complexes where visitors can pick up imported goods as well as locally produced items. The retail-obsessed traveller should consider travelling to Jakarta with an extra suitcase.
Essential facts about Jakarta
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip