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At first glance, Jakarta has the hallmark energy of any major city, with its bustling streets and vibrant nightlife. Even its recognizable skyline of skyscrapers is reminiscent of a modern Western city. But when you explore further, you discover that its past is still very present. Before Jakarta became a sprawling modern metropolis, spanning 255 square miles and serving at the home of 10 million people, it was Batavia, the Dutch colonial capital and a busy port city for the Dutch East India Company.
To be sure, a Jakarta itinerary can occupy a singular space in any trip to Indonesia, regardless of what else you plan to do, other other places you want to go. Even if you prioritize spending time in more traditionally appealing destinations like Bali or Borneo, pass a few days exploring things to do in Jakarta.
Explore Batavia, Jakarta’s Old Town
When you search flights to Jakarta, you probably imagine bad traffic and tall skyscrapers, not a Dutch-colonial Old Town. This changes the moment you walk into Fatahillah Square, which is located in the heart of Batavia, Jakarta’s old town. Other historical things to do in Jakarta include Museum Sejarah Jakarta and Museum Wayang, which spotlights the delicate art of Javanese puppetry.
If you head north, you’ll come upon Sunda Kelapa, which was a major trading port for the Dutch East India Company and is still active today, even if it’s not one of the top places to visit in Jakarta you find in guidebooks. Traditional wooden Bugis Phinisi schooners dock at the historical port for a picturesque sight. Down the street is the Maritime Museum, which used to be a spice warehouse during the days of the Dutch East India Company.
Frolic Around Freedom Square
In the heart of Jakarta is Medan Merdeka, known in English as Freedom Square. In a way, this area is quite similar to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. In the center of the large, manicured square stands the towering Monumen Nasional (National Monument), known by its shortened nickname, Monas.
At 433 feet high, this concrete obelisk is a recognizable part of the Jakarta skyline, and one of the most famous things to do in Jakarta. It’s topped with a gilded flame that sits above an observation deck. For a small fee, you can take an elevator to the top for incredible views of the city, where you can spot other Jakarta attractions if you look hard enough.
Visit the President of Indonesia
A half mile Medan Merdeka, facing the square from the north, you’ll see Istana Merdeka (Freedom Palace), which is the official residence of the President of Indonesia. Continue walking eastward from and you’ll come across a symbol of Indonesia’s religious tolerance: Gereja Katedral, a neo-gothic Roman Catholic cathedral completed in 1901, facing Istiqlal Mosque, the largest mosque in Southeast Asia.
These points of interest will give you a good introduction to both Jakarta and Indonesia—during the day. The city takes on an entirely different dimension by night, however, regardless of which things to do in Jakarta you prioritize seeing.
Cut Loose on Jalan Jaksa
Indonesia is a Muslim country, so it might surprise you to learn that Jakarta has impressive nightlife. In fact, one of the most popular things to do in Jakarta for travelers and locals alike is to visit Jalan Jaksa, which is home to many cocktail bars and even nightclubs.
Of course, you needn’t drink or party in order to enjoy Jalan Jaksa. The street hosts plenty of street food stalls, where you can enjoy Indonesian favorites like nasi goreng fried rice—the best of what to do in Jakarta involves consumption, be that eating or drinking. Moreover, you can simply enjoy a vibrant, youthful energy here: Many Jakarta hostels are here.
Find Cheap Flights to Jakarta
Jakarta flight prices tend to be relatively low, but you can ensure the best deal possible by keeping a few best practices in mind:
- Consider flying less well-known airlines. Shanghai-based China Eastern, for example, often offers cheaper prices than Indonesia’s own Garuda Indonesia
- Use Skyscanner’s “Cheapest Month” search to find the cheapest dates to fly to Jakarta in a whole month. Not being tied to a specific week to explore things to do in Jakarta increases your likelihood of finding a deal.
- Plan to arrive in Jakarta mid-week. Since Indonesia’s capital is primarily a business city, Monday morning arrivals tend to be the most expensive.
- Learn about how Skyscanner can forecast precisely the Best Time to Book, regardless of when you plan to travel to Jakarta.
Use the widgets above and below to search Skyscanner for the best prices on flights to Jakarta. Simply type of your airport, city or country of origin into the “From” field below, then enter “CGK” into the “To” field. Click “Search flights” and prepare to be stunned by the incredible Indonesia flight deals.