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Discover Underrated Jakarta

The capital of Indonesia will surprise you—especially if you aren't expecting much. From the towering Monas National Monument to the storied streets of Dutch-colonial Batavia, things to do in Jakarta prove that this oft-overlooked city is very much worth visiting.

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The capital of Indonesia will surprise you. 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, it was Batavia, the Dutch colonial capital and a busy port city for the Dutch East India Company.

At 255 square miles and an estimated urban population of 10 million, Jakarta is a massive and dense city—compare that to New York’s 305 square miles and 8.5 million people. Many international travelers enter Indonesia via Jakarta, but all too often leave the capital immediately. Even if you plan to spend time in more traditionally appealing destinations like Bali or Borneo, spend 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 spotlihgts 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. 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.

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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.

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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

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. Moreover, you can simply enjoy a vibrant, youthful energy here: Many Jakarta hostels are here.

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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 widget 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.