Once known as Batavia back in the days of the Dutch East India Company, Jakarta has become one of the top ten fastest-growing tourism destinations.
The capital of Indonesia, Jakarta is a gateway for exploring the nation’s more prominent holiday escapes like Bali and Komodo Island, with many tourists simply using the city as a stopover point.
Experiencing all that Jakarta has to offer in a day can be quite challenging, especially since you could easily spend a full day stuck in traffic without proper planning.
So here are some of my top ideas for how you can spend just 24 hours in Jakarta the next time you’re passing through.
Travel Guide to Seeing Jakarta in a Day
Getting to Jakarta and When to Go
Nearly all travelers that fly into Jakarta will be passing through Jakarta’s main airport known as Soekarno–Hatta International Airport.
Many cities offer direct flights to Jakarta or you may simply have a quick stopover in nearby cities like Bangkok or Singapore. From Jakarta, you can fly to most major destinations within Indonesia.
Getting around Jakarta involves the use of airport shuttle buses, taxis, motorcycles, and buses. Whichever mode of transport you use, expect a lot of traffic.
Unless you enjoy extreme heat and humidity, your best bet is to travel during the dry season which runs from roughly June to September. However, even during the dry season you can expect it to be warm and a bit humid.
How much you can realistically accomplish in 24 hours really depends on what you want to see and how thorough of an experience you choose to have at each attraction.
The key to experiencing Jakarta in a short period is to avoid moving around during peak traffic periods which are weekdays during early morning and late afternoons/early evenings. Your best bet to experiencing as much as possible would be to schedule your visit during a weekend.
Top Things to See in Jakarta in a Day
Jakarta’s Istiqlal Mosque is the equivalent of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia. Built in commemoration of Indonesia’s independence, it is recognized as Southeast Asia’s largest mosque, being able to accommodate over 200,000 people.
You are allowed to visit the mosque whatever faith you may be, although non-Muslims are not allowed in the main prayer hall. The mosque opens quite early around 4:00AM daily, with the main guest entry being the Al Fattah gate which is located just opposite the Jakarta Cathedral.
The mosque features two domes and a giant minaret, the main dome being an impressive 45 meters across and the minaret standing over 60 meters tall. There are also gardens, hallways, and terraces to explore, with a fountain operating in the gardens on Fridays.
Note that appropriate attire is required and shoes must be removed before entry, with sarongs and veils available for tourists to wear while inside the mosque.
It’s hard to miss the 130-meter-tall obelisk standing tall in central Jakarta’s Merdeka Square. Known as the National Monument or “Monas”, the national landmark was built to commemorate the nation’s independence much like Istiqlal Mosque.
If you’re short on time, you can simply stop by and walk around the monument and the 80 hectares it sits on. There are pretty grassed areas with trees, along with deer and a musical fountain.
If it’s not too busy, you can go inside the monument and head to the lookout observation deck for impressive views over Jakarta and learn more about Indonesia’s history and its fight for independence via the National History Museum which is onsite.
Jalan Surabaya Flea Market
Take a trip back in time to the colonial days of Jakarta when it was known as Batavia. The Jalan Surabaya Flea Market is filled with market stalls selling 19th century and turn of the century antiques.
It’s basically a museum filled with historical artifacts that you can actually purchase.
You’ll find the market in the upscale Menteng District where you can enjoy a little less congestion than in city center. Be ready to haggle, at least if you want to save up to 50% or more of the initial quoted or listed prices.
On offer are old Dutch East Indies coins, traditional masks and wood carvings, maritime-related antiques, local crafts, and more. Just be a bit careful, as there are a number of modern forgery or replica antiques mixed in with the authentic good stuff.
If you get stressed out over all the city congestion, head to Ancol Beach, the only beach near the city that doesn’t involve taking a boat ride to an offshore island.
While it may not offer a big stretch of sand, Ancol beach offers the chance to swim and cool off during the heat of the day. The beach is shaded in palms and lined with restaurants and shops.
Beach chair rentals, showers, and toilets are available. Overall, it’s a decent place to spend an hour.
Jakarta’s Old Town
Once the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company, Kota Tua or Jakarta Old Town offers the chance to get a feel for what it felt like to walk through colonial-era Batavia during the spice trade days.
The Old Town is filled with Dutch architecture dating back hundreds of years, many of the buildings having been repurposed into businesses or attractions such as museums and cafes.
Fatahillah Square sits in the center of Old Town and offers up many photogenic spots. There are a number of museums worth a quick peak including the Jakarta History Museum which is housed in an early 18th century building and displays tens of thousands of artifacts, the quirky Wayang wooden puppet museum, a ceramics museum, and a maritime museum housed in old Dutch East India warehouses.
Even the local favorite café named Batavia Café is set in a mid-19th century colonial building. Choose to walk through Old Town or speed up your visit by renting one the colorful bikes available.
Explore All of Indonesia at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah
Why settle for just seeing Jakarta in 24 hours when you can get a glimpse of all of Indonesia in a single day by visiting the Taman Mini Indonesia Indah or “TMII” for short.
This 250-acre cultural park is filled with museums, activities, an IMAX cinema, and a theatre. The park is divided into distinct sections, each featuring the culture and customs of Indonesia’s different provinces.
Indonesia is made up of between 17,000 and 18,000 islands, making it impossible to see them all in one visit. Thanks to TMII, you can see replica houses, cultural performances, and traditional dress from places like Sumatra, Kalimantan, Papua, Sulawesi, and the Lesser Sunda Islands.
The various museums at TMII focus on subjects like transportation, sports, nature, and even postage stamps. There are also various gardens, aviaries, and a man-made lake which features small islands laid out to resemble the Indonesian archipelago.
Don’t miss TMII’s Skylift cable car or boat rides on the lake. You can access the many areas of this extensive park by using the Aeromovel fast train, Sky lift, and shuttle buses.
If You Have More Time
Packing all the things mentioned above into a single day will be challenging in itself, but if you find yourself with an extra day or so, there are some other notable things worth checking out in Jakarta
Jakarta is known for its great shopping, so if you are in need of basically anything, check out the Grand Indonesian Mall, Indonesia’s largest, as well as Taman Anggrek Mall which is equally impressive.
Both offer everything from high-end luxury goods to everyday items, as well as plenty of places to eat and in the case of Taman Anggrek, Southeast Asia’s first indoor ice rink.
Seeing many of Indonesia’s rare and endangered animals would usually take embarking on a several weeks’ long guided jungle safari to observe, but you can head to Ragunan Zoo and be guaranteed to see many of the country’s most iconic animals.
The zoo dates back to the mid-19th century and houses hundreds of animals from around the world including many Indonesian species such as orangutans, Sumatra tigers, unusual looking babirusas, and of course Komodo dragons.
It would take you days to explore everything at the Ancol Dreamland tourism resort. Basically Southeast Asia’s version of Disney World, Ancol is a collection of theme parks and attractions.
In the mix is Fantasy World (Dunia Fantasi) with its dozens of rides including roller coasters, the Atlantis Water Park, SeaWorld, a golf course, beaches, and more. The site was surprisingly once a mosquito-ridden swamp that contributed to the many malaria outbreaks during colonial times.
Other interesting locations around Jakarta include the Sunda Kelapa Port and taking a day trip to one of the nearby Thousand Islands that lie scattered in the Java Sea.
Around a dozen islands are frequented by tourists who come in search of overwater bungalows, snorkeling, water sports, and sandy beaches.
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