Often overlooked by both domestic and international tourists, Jakarta actually has plenty of tourist hotspots. As home to Indonesia’s largest international airport, most tourists only come to Jakarta as their starting point to visit other places in the country, such as Bali, Lombok, Komodo Island, Yogyakarta, or Kalimantan (Borneo). While this city won’t give you a true tropical paradise experience, it is still a fascinating place to visit. Thanks to its diverse culture, intriguing history, and never-ending development, the capital city of Indonesia has many things waiting to be discovered by tourists.
Jakarta, as the main and largest city of Indonesia, is infamous for its traffic. However, public transportation is now a lot better, especially with the new MRT or Jakarta Metro Mass Rapid Transit. Navigating through many popular places in this city is now easier than ever. If you are planning to visit Jakarta for 3 days, or you have 3 days to spare before going to other places in the country. Here’s our recommended itinerary for 3 days in the city.
Day 1: Old Town and surroundings
Start your tour by visiting Kota Tua Jakarta (Jakarta’s Old Town). This place is still one of the top highlights of Jakarta. As you probably know from history, Indonesia was once a Dutch colony for more than 300 Hundred years. You can explore Indonesia’s Dutch colonial roots and get a glimpse of how the city used to look like before the skyscrapers. The place is filled with museums, art galleries, and cafés situated in old colonial-style Dutch buildings. The heart of Jakarta’s Old Town is the Fatahillah Square, where you’ll find a fountain and people performing modern arts around it. Here, you can rent colorful vintage bicycles known as Sepeda Ontel to tour around the landmarks.
The most famous landmark in the area is the Fatahillah Museum (also known as the History Museum of Jakarta). Fatahillah Museum was built in the 17th century as a Town Hall. Today, you can explore the museum, observe the artifacts from Jakarta’s Sunda Kelapa era, and learn more about Indonesia’s long and complicated history. Other popular landmarks in the area include the Wayang Museum, the Fine Arts and Ceramic Museum, Kota Post Office and Art Gallery, the Bank Mandiri Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Tower of the Harbor Master, and the Bank Indonesia Museum.
Prepare yourself to taste various delicious food as Jakarta’s Old Town is filled with cheap street food vendors as well as fine dining restaurants. One of the most popular restaurants in the area is Café Batavia, which offers iconic colonial ambiance mixed with original-style Dutch East India cuisine. It is the perfect place for you to eat lunch. If you want to taste Indonesia’s traditional drink, Jamu, visit Acaraki Coffee.
From Jakarta’s Old Town, you can hop on a Bajaj or ojek or walk to the city’s Chinatown in Glodok. Here’ you’ll find an array of Chinese shops selling various Chinese products, such as candles, lantern, hio (Chinese red stick), as well as delicious food. One thing you should remember is to walk carefully and mind your belongings since the street is almost always crowded with people. Beyond the Chinese shops, you’ll find a Chinese temple known as Toa Se Bio. The temple, also known as Vihara Dharma Jaya, is named after a god, Toa Sai Kong. You will also find Gereja Katolik Santa Maria de Fatima around the area. What makes the church very interesting is that it looks like a Buddhist temple, but it’s actually a catholic church. After exploring Chinatown, if you still have some time to spare, you can sneak in some shopping time at Mangga Dua Mall, which is a local’s favorite.
Day 2: Merdeka Square and Bundaran HI
On your second day, you should visit the Merdeka Square, which is located at the very heart of Jakarta. Merdeka Square and its surrounding areas are considered as one of the largest squares in the world. Standing tall in the center of the square is the famous Monumen Nasional (Monas) or National Monument. This monument symbolizes the fight for Indonesia. You can relax on the grassy lawn that surrounds the monument for some outdoor-time or ride the elevator to the top of the monument to the observation deck and admire the sweeping city views. On the ground floor of the museum, you will find displays of Indonesian history in dioramas, starting from the prehistoric era to the country’s battle for independence.
From Monas, check out the National Gallery and it is a combination of an art gallery and a museum. Considered as one of the best museums in Indonesia, it displays over 1,700 pieces of art. The museum has the aim to protect, develop, and make proper use of artworks as a recreation and cultural-education facility. It features impressive art pieces from Indonesian and international artists. After exploring the National Gallery, take a short walk to Istiqlal Mosque and it is the biggest mosque in Southeast Asia that holds a cultural and historical significance. Just across Istiqlal Mosque is the Jakarta Cathedral, which boasts fascinating neo-gothic architecture and tall spires.
While you’re still in the Merdeka Square area, visit Pasar Baru (New Market). Despite its name, it is one of the oldest markets in the city. Most vendors have been selling their goods here for generations. You can find antiques, textiles, electronics, spices, and many other things here. Some tourists visit the market just for the experience instead of shopping.
Not too far from Merdeka Square, you will find Bundaran HI (Hotel Indonesia roundabout in English). This roundabout is composed of an iconic fountain with the Selamat Datang monument (‘selamat datang’ means ‘welcome’) in the center. Around the roundabout is some of Jakarta’s upscale hotels and malls. Grand Indonesia and Plaza Indonesia are two luxurious malls located right across the roundabout. These malls are filled with restaurants and shops. Visitors can find everything here, from designer goods, top-fashion, books, to home décor.
Day 3: A day trip to Kepulauan Seribu
On your last day in Jakarta, you should check out Kepulauan Seribu, which literally means Thousand Islands. It is the name given to the many tropical islands scattered around the Bay of Jakarta. This area is the perfect destination for anyone who wants to escape from the hustle and bustle of Jakarta and enjoy some sun. Since there are around 110 islands, you need to choose which island you want to go to. Island hopping is possible, but since you have less than 12 hours, there are only a few islands you can visit.
The most popular island is Pulau Bidadari, which is the nearest island to Jakarta’s main area. It is only 3 minutes away by boat. On the island, you can visit Fort Martello, which was built around the 17th century. There are a lot of floating cottages for visitors who want to spend the night on the island, but you can relax on its beaches and soak up some sun. Another popular island is Pulau Ayer, which was the retreat for Soekarno, Indonesia’s first president. The island is particularly popular among families and large groups. If you want to spend some time swimming or snorkeling, you should visit Pulau Tidung, Pulau Pramuka, and Pulau Pari. Pulau Pari also offers one of the most magical sunsets in Jakarta!