Welcome to Jakarta, Indonesia‘s bustling capital and the country’s beating heart. Located on the northwest coast of Java, this sprawling metropolis is not just a city; it’s a kaleidoscope of cultures, a culinary haven, and a treasure trove of history. With a rich cultural heritage, vibrant markets, and a thriving culinary and nightlife scene, Jakarta invites travellers to immerse themselves in its unique urban tapestry.

From iconic landmarks like the National Monument (Monas) to the bustling streets of Kota Tua (Old Town), Jakarta offers travellers a fascinating exploration of Indonesia’s history and contemporary charm. Get around the city using a combination of public transport like the TransJakarta bus system and ride-hailing apps for a fuss-free experience.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or returning to uncover more of this city’s wonders, let our quick but informative travel guide walk you through the essentials.

First things first… Getting to know Jakarta’s history

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Centuries ago, before Jakarta became the bustling capital of Indonesia, it was a strategic trading port known as Sunda Kelapa. The area thrived under the influence of the Sunda Kingdom back in the 14th century.

But all that changed when the Portuguese arrived in the early 16th century and decided to rename the city to Batavia, where it established itself as the centre of spice trade. All that changed again when the Dutch later took over control from the Portuguese, solidifying their dominance in the region.

Under Dutch rule, Batavia grew successfully as the administrative and economic centre of the Dutch East Indies. However, the city bore witness to the harsh realities of colonialism, with the local population facing oppression.

The 20th century saw another change, marked by the Japanese occupation during World War II and the subsequent struggle for independence. Indonesia declared its independence on 17 August 1945, and Jakarta became the capital of the newly formed republic.

After gaining independence, Jakarta metamorphosed and went through rapid urbanisation and development. The city expanded, embracing its role as Indonesia’s political, economic, and cultural hub. Through periods of growth, challenges, and resilience, Jakarta transformed into the dynamic metropolis it is today, embodying a rich tapestry of history and serving as a testament to Indonesia’s journey toward independence and progress.

Getting in and around safely

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Jakarta is famed for its traffic, but with some careful planning, navigating Jakarta can be a breeze with various transportation options:

TransJakarta: Also known as Jakarta BRT, it’s the city’s efficient bus rapid transit system, which connects key areas in the city. It’s a cost-effective and quick way to explore Jakarta.

GoJek and Grab: Embrace the convenience of ride-hailing services like GoJek and Grab. These apps provide affordable motorbike taxis (gojeks) and car rides, offering a quick and efficient way to beat Jakarta’s notorious traffic.

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Jakarta MRT: The Jakarta MRT is a good option for convenient and fast journeys across the city. Its suburban railway network is pretty extensive, so exploring is made even easier.

Taxis: Jakarta has plenty of taxis, but opt for reputable taxi companies such as Blue Bird or Express to ensure a safe and metered ride.

Walking and cycling: Clock in some steps and burn some calories by choosing to cycle or walk around the city. Walking is especially great in pedestrian-friendly areas so you can stumble upon some hidden gems.

Pro-tip: Jakarta’s traffic can be challenging, especially during peak hours. Plan your travels to avoid the rush hour madness and make use of alternative transportation options to get around the city more efficiently.

Where to stay

In Jakarta, travellers can find a diverse range of accommodations to suit every preference. From modern hotels to budget-friendly ones, you’ll be spoiled for choice.


The Dharmawangsa Jakarta

Mandarin Oriental, Jakarta

For a touch of luxury in the city, check in to The Dharmawangsa, whose outdoor pool becomes a calm haven in between your shopping sprees. There’s also the Mandarin Oriental Jakarta, where world-class amenities and impeccable service create a lavish retreat.


Holiday Inn Jakarta Kemayoran

Morrissey Hotel, Jakarta

For a balance of comfort and affordability, choose Holiday Inn, where tastefully decorated rooms will give you a relaxing stay. But if you’re looking for a home away from home, Morrissey Hotel is a wise option. Its studio apartment offerings are perfect for travellers who prefer a more house-like setting.


YELLO Hotel Harmoni, Jakarta

Favehotel Wahid Hasyim, Jakarta

Stretch your budget without compromising quality at YELLO Hotel Harmoni or Favehotel Wahid Hasyim, as both properties provide comfortable stays with modern amenities.

Places to see & things to do

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National Monument (MONAS): Dive into Indonesia’s history at the National Monument, a towering symbol of the country’s independence. Take an elevator to the top for a breathtaking view of the metropolis.

Kota Tua (Old Town): Wander through the charming streets of Kota Tua, Jakarta’s Old Town, where colonial buildings house museums, cafes, and vibrant street art. Don’t miss Fatahillah Square, the city’s hub of cultural activities.

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Istiqlal Mosque: Visit the Istiqlal Mosque, the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, known for its impressive architecture and serene ambience. Nearby the mosque is Jakarta Cathedral, its proximity showcasing religious diversity in the country.

Taman Mini Indonesia Indah: Experience the cultural richness of Indonesia at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, a park featuring traditional houses from across the archipelago, museums, and cultural performances.

    Where to eat

    Soto Ayam Ambengan Cak Jito: You can’t say you’ve fully experienced Jakarta without a pit stop at Soto Ayam Ambengan Cak Jito. Known as one of the best soto spots in town, this place showcases some of Indonesia’s best flavours.

      Address: Jalan Pesanggrahan 2C, RT.7/RW.5, North Meruya, Kembangan, West Jakarta City, Jakarta 11620, Indonesia
      Phone: +62 822 2023 4493

      Nasi Goreng Kambing Kebon Sirih: To taste Jakarta’s iconic nasi goreng (fried rice), visit Nasi Goreng Kambing Kebon Sirih. This street food stall has been serving flavourful fried rice for decades.

        Address: Jalan Kebon Sirih No.3, RW.2, Kebon Sirih, Menteng, Central Jakarta City, Jakarta 10340, Indonesia
        Phone: +62 811 864 011

        Plaza Senayan Food Court: For more diverse culinary offerings, check out Plaza Senayan Food Court, where you can sample Indonesian, Asian, and international cuisines in a bustling setting.

          Address: Plaza Senayan, Jalan Asia Afrika No 8, Gelora, Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta City, Jakarta 10270, Indonesia

          Bebek Malio: Indulge in crispy and flavourful fried duck at Bebek Malio, a beloved eatery serving delicious bebek goreng (fried duck) and East Java cuisine. Have it with their bumbu hijau paste – an in-house speciality.

            Address: Jalan Tebet Timur Dalam Raya No. 117 5, RT.5/RW.6, Tebet Tim., Kec. Tebet, Kota Jakarta Selatan, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 12820, Indonesia
            Phone: +62 21 8378 9212

            Bars to check out

            Jakarta’s nightlife scene offers a mix of trendy bars and vibrant nightspots. Here are some of our top picks:

            Cloud Lounge & Dining: Perched on a rooftop, Cloud Lounge offers breathtaking views of Jakarta’s skyline. This upscale bar has an extensive cocktail menu, a stylish ambience, and live music, so a night out here won’t be disappointing.

              Address: The Plaza Office Tower, Jl. M.H. Thamrin Kav. 28-30, Jakarta 10350, Indonesia
              Phone: +62 812 8250 4949

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              Skye Bar & Restaurant: Known for its chic rooftop setting, guests can enjoy a diverse menu of cocktails accompanied by panoramic views of the city. The bar also hosts events frequently and features a modern and trendy atmosphere – a perfect night-out setting.

                Address: Menara BCA, Level 56, Jl. M.H. Thamrin No. 1, Jakarta 10310, Indonesia
                Phone: +62 21 2358 6996

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                Henshin: Henshin is a stylish rooftop bar perched on The Westin Jakarta. Spanning three floors, this venue offers a unique blend of Japanese-Peruvian cuisine and a vibrant bar scene. The panoramic views and contemporary decor make it a popular choice for travellers and locals searching for a trendy spot.

                  Address: The Westin Jakarta, Level 67 – 69, Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said, Kav. C-22, Jakarta 12940, Indonesia
                  Phone: +62 21 2788 7768

                  Chāo Cháo: Escape the urban hustle and treat yourself to a night of wining and dining at Chāo Cháo. Expect an extensive menu of superb Chinese cuisine with a stunning view of the city to match. From contemporary flavours of China to well-crafted cocktails, a night out at this establishment is usually rated 11/10, so you know it will be good.

                    Address: SCBD Lot 11, Jl. Jenderal Sudirman, RT.5/RW.3, Senayan, Kec. Kby. Baru, Jakarta, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 12910, Indonesia
                    Phone: +62 811 9628 001

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                    Cool things to know about Jakarta

                    Image by Zalfa Imani

                    Jakarta is so much more than food and nightlife; immerse yourself in Jakarta’s art scene by visiting galleries like Art:1 New Museum or catching traditional performances at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta. Explore hidden gems like Pasar Santa, a trendy market with unique eateries and indie shops.

                    Best time to visit

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                    Plan your visit between May and September to avoid the rainy season. The dry season during these months allows for enjoyable outdoor activities and sightseeing without the hindrance of heavy rainfall.