Jakarta: 8 Things to Do in Indonesia’s Lively Capital

Jakarta: 8 Things to Do in Indonesia’s Lively Capital

Often just used as a transit point for people traveling to the country's popular islands of paradise, the capital of Indonesia offers plenty of fascinating things to do that should persuade you to spend a little longer here. With a vastly different culture to mainland Southeast Asia, it's worth staying in the capital to soak in the fast paced life of the city that you won't find anywhere else across the archipelago. While the city is notorious for its bad traffic, it's seen a vast improvement in recent years and isn't so noticeable if you're traveling outside of rush hour. Jakarta is known for its huge and lavish malls, many of which seem like cities within the city, with almost everything on offer in the complex.

table of contents

[x] close

Jakarta: 8 Things to Do in Indonesia’s Lively Capital

1. Taman Impian Jaya Ancol (Ancol Dreamland)

For those that just want a little excitement and fun on their trip, there's no better place to visit than Ancol, located towards the northeast of the city. Here you'll find a huge range of entertainment in this huge water park on the edge of Jakarta Bay. Apart from the water-related rides and activities, the park hosts regular dolphin shows, aquariums and a bird park.

2. National Monument of Indonesia

Photo by Khoroshunova Olga/shutterstock.com

At the center of the city, the National Monument of Indonesia or Monas as it's often called, is a 132-meter tall structure erected as a symbol for the struggle for independence built on the 17th August 1961. A lift inside the monument can take visitors up to the top of Monas, offering stunning views over the center of the city.

3. The Old Town of Jakarta

Photo by Soreen D

Built in 1619 by the the Dutch East India Company, the old town of Jakarta or Kota Tua showcases some beautiful colonial-style architecture and buildings, a window into the city's past when it flourished as a trading port at the height of the spice trade. Nowadays most of the buildings are used as museums such as the stunning Jakarta History Museum housed in the old city hall.

4. Taman Mini Indonesia Indah

Photo by saiko3p/shutterstock.com

Showcasing buildings and historical sites from the archipelagos' diverse and unique cultures, this museum of miniatures is a great place for those wanting to get a feel for the country with little time to travel around. You'll find 27 different areas each representing different provinces of Indonesia, highlighting the region's culture and history. At the center of the park, there's an artificial lake featuring miniature versions of the islands of Indonesia which can be seen from a cable car that travels across the park.

5. Ragunan Zoo

Photo by Teguh Jati Prasetyo

The zoo is sprawled over 140-hectares in Pasar Minguu on the southern side of Jakarta. There are over 3000 animals housed here, which includes several endangered species. The zoo is over 150 years old, the oldest in Indonesia, established during the Dutch in 1864. Some of the most popular animals here include hippos, white tigers, sambar deer and the native Komodo dragons.

6. Jakarta Kota Railway Station

Photo by commons.wikimedia.org

Jakarta Kota railway station was known as Batavia Zuid till the beginning of the 20th century. It serves as the central station connecting Gambir station, Jatinegara station and Pasar Senen station with other stops along the island of Java. The station is the lifeline of Jakarta and a primary point to commute between cities. If you are planning a visit to places outside of Jakarta without a car, then coming here is a must. The design was done by a Dutch architect Frans Johan Louwrens Ghijsels, using a combination of local and European Art Deco style.

7. Jakarta Cathedral

Photo by MOROZ NATALIYA/shutterstock.com

The Roman Catholic Cathedral is a neo-gothic style monument located on the northern edge of Lapangan Banteng or Banteng Square, built during the Dutch colonial period. The present structure was a reconstruction of the old cathedral built in 1829, which then collapsed in 1890. The new church was built in 1901 over the ruins. The cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and bears the official name 'Church of Our Lady of Assumption. It has three altars, on the left side is the Altar of Saint Mary, on the right is Saint Joseph and the central altar is the most revered. The magnificent central altar, gold cross, and tabernacle were made in the Netherlands in the 19th century and installed here in 1956.

8. The National Museum of Indonesia

Photo by saiko3p/shutterstock.com

Located on Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat, at the center of the city and the west side of Merdeka Square, the National Museum of Indonesia is a treasure trove of archaeological and historical artifacts. The museum has an extensive collection of historically significant items from throughout the country's history. On the forecourt of the museum you'll be greeted by the colossal bronze elephant statue which dates back to 1871, gifted by the Siamese King Chulalongkorn, leading to the museum's nickname of 'Museum Gajah (elephant).' The museum has a lot of collections reflecting Hindu-Buddhist stone engraved statues, mainly Hindu deities and Shi Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. It was first started in 1778 by Dutch scholars under the Royal Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences with the initial aim to collect and preserve ancient scripts and literature, gradually changing to store archaeological finds from the region.


Across all the thousands of islands belonging to Indonesia, the region is home to a multitude of different cultures, often influenced by local branches of religions such as Hindu, Buddhism and Christian beliefs. Along with this vast expanse of cultures comes numerous traditions and cuisines, all of which you can see represented in the capital, Jakarta. Gaining acknowledgement recently for one of the most underrated cuisines in the world, if there's any food you're looking to try from the country, you'll be sure to find it in Jakarta.