THINGS TO DO IN JAKARTA
Kota Tua Old Dutch Town
Kota Tua, or Old Town, is the area of the early Dutch walled-city centred on Kali Besar or Main River (now called Kali Krukut or Krukut River). The main thoroughfares at the time were the roads that ran both sides of this river.
The southern boundary of Kota Tua was near the current Kota Railway Station, the Museum Mandiri and Museum Bank Indonesia. On the western side of the Kali Besar river is the Standard Chartered Bank building, and on the eastern side is the Cipta Niaga building. There are several dozen colonial era buildings in this area.
Further north near the old port of Sunda Kelapa is the Maritime Museum in an old fort. Generally speaking, the buildings closer to Sunda Kelapa are older than the buildings nearer Fatahillah Square and the railway station.
In 1808, Governor Daendels ordered that the Dutch administration be moved two km south to the area called Weltevreden, near the current Presidential Palace, Monas Square and the adjoining suburbs of Menteng and Cikini.
Kota Tua remained the centre of commerce, industry and banking. The existing canal down the centre of Jalan Gajah Mada and Jalan Hayam Wuruk connected the two areas.
Glodok (or Kota) is the hub of the local Chinese business district. Specialising in retailing, wholesaling and banking, the Chinese of Jakarta have taken over the old Dutch quarter north of the Presidential Palace. Outdoor stalls abound in the area after dark when the usual businesses have closed, especially on Jalan Pecenongan, Jalan Mangga Besar and Pasar Baru.
North Jakarta (Jakarta Utara) and Kota Tua (Old Town)
Pasar Ikan – Old Dutch stone fort located on Jalan Pakin.
Sunda Kelapa – Port for cargo sailing boats located on Jalan Maritim.
Taman Fatahillah – Old Dutch town square located on Jalan Pos Kota.
Jembatan Merah – Old Dutch bridge located on Jalan Kali Besar.
Museum Wayang – Wayang Puppet museum located at Jalan Pintu Besar Utara 27.
Museum Bahari – Maratime museum located on Jalan Pasar Ikan.
Balai Seni Rupa – Museum for The Arts located at Taman Fatahillah Square
Ancol Complex – Waterfront parkland, Pasar Seni art market and recreation area located on Jalan Lodan Timur.
Central Jakarta (Jakarta Pusat)
Presidential Palace – Dutch colonial Governor’s residence located on Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara.
Monas (National Monument) – obelisk monument located between the Jalan Jaksa area and the Presidential Palace, set on 1 sq km of parkland.
Istiqual Mosque – largest mosque in SE Asia located on Jalan Pos to the east of Monas.
Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) – Exhibition and performance complex for the Arts located on Jalan Cikini Raya, Menteng
Bharata – Venue for performance on Wayang Orang Traditional Javanese Dance Opera located on Jalan Gunung Sahari, Senen
Museum Nasional – Archaeological museum located on Medan Merdeka Barat.
Museum Textil – Museum specialising in tradional weaving and batik located on Jalan Jembatan Tinggi, Tanah Abang.
Dutch Colonial Buildings in Central Jakarta
In the 1800’s the Dutch Government moved the administrative capital a few km south of Kota Tua to the area surrounding the 1 sq km Merdeka Square which has the Monas National Monument at its centre.
On the northern side is the Merdeka Presidential Palace, once the Dutch colonial Governor’s residence. There are also several buildings at the Harmoni intersection at Jalan Juanda.
On the eastern side are the Immanuel Church, Jakarta Cathedral and the Main Post Office.
On the western and southern sides are various buildings including the National – Archaeological Museum, the National Library
Not far to the south past Jalan Kebon Sirih is the suburb of Menteng, which was built as a residential area for the Dutch inhabitants. There are many large beautiful colonial-era buildings spread throughout Menteng.
Walk Around Menteng in Central Jakarta
Menteng is an up-market residential suburb of central Jakarta that dates to Dutch colonial times. Most of the homes are built on large blocks with lots of greenery.
– Starting from the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout, head east along Jalan Iman Bonjol, between the Mandarin Hotel on your right, and the Deutsche Bank building on your left.
– Continue along Jalan Iman Bonjol, cross over Jalan HOS Cokroaminoto, and continue east to Taman Suropati park on your left.
– Turn left into Taman Suropati, head north through the park, and exit the park onto Jalan Teuku Umar. Continue along Jalan Teuku Umar, past the homes of various ambassadors and former heads of government, as far as Jalan Prof. Moh. Yamin.
– Turn left into Jalan Prof. Moh Yamin and head west. There is a canal down the centre of this road. The other (northern) side is named Jalan Sutan Syahrir. Each side is one-way traffic.
– Just before you reach Jalan HOS Cokroaminoto, turn left into Taman Menteng park. Left (south) along Jalan HOS Cokroaminoto is the small up-market Menteng shopping area, which includes a Batik Keris showroom.
– From the shops return to the corner of Jalan Prof. Moh Yamin, turn left (west) and head back towards the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout.
The distance from the roundabout to Taman Suropati is 1.1 km, so the full walk is around 2.5 km.
The Arts – Live Venues in Jakarta
Radio Republic Indonesia Jln Medan Merdeka Barat (traditional dance)
Taman Izmail Marzuki Jln Cikini Raya, Menteng (dance, music, painting, exhibitions etc)
Bharata Jln Gunung Sahari, Senen (wayang orang)
Museum Wayang Jln Pintu Besar Utara (Wayang Kulit)
Places to Visit Near Jakarta in West Java
Bogor is best known for its Botanic Gardens (Kebun Raya), cool climate and the old summer palace of Indonesia’s first president, the late Ir. Sukarno. It rains often in Bogor, so visit the gardens early in the morning.
A cheap place to stay in Bogor is Penginapan Damai at Jln Major Oking 29.
Plenty of food stalls are near the Railway Station.
To get to Jakarta, catch the train to central Jakarta .
To Sukabumi catch a bus; to Bandung, the train.
Carita is the closest beach resort to Jakarta and is a favourite weekend retreat for expatriates and locals alike. There are cottages available for nightly rental, as well as the Krakatau Beach Hotel. There is also medium-priced accommodation available on the beach at Anyer and Merak.
The road to the west from Jakarta begins at Grogol and meets the coast at Cilegon – the site of Indonesia’s steel industry. At Cilegon the road forks. 10km to the right is Merak Ferry Terminal to Sumatra, for those continuing overland. To the left, the road follows the coast to Anyer, Carita and on to Labuan.
Buses to Carita Beach leave from the Grogol Bus Terminal daily at 7 am and 9 am, and the trip takes about four hours.
In the ocean off Carita is the new Krakatau Volcano, having risen again from the sea floor after it was totally destroyed in the 1883 eruption. Boat trips are regularly organised and leave from Labuan harbour. At times when the volcano is active, flames and smoke are clearly visible from the beach. The photo above was taken before the massive eruption in 2018.
Ujung Kulon National Park
The Ujung Kulon (West Cape) National Park can only be reached by boat from Labuan. Prior permission from the Department of Parks and Wildlife is needed for a trip to the home of the last Javanese Rhinoceros, though don’t expect to see any!
Old Banten is located two and a half hours drive west of Jakarta, on the northern coastline near the city of Serang. Formerly known as Bantam, it was the main trading port for pepper in the sixteenth century, until overpowered by the Dutch VOC/East India Company in the seventeenth century.
Still standing are the remains of 2 old palaces – Kraton Sorosowan and Kraton Kaibun, and one of the oldest Chinese temples in Indonesia – Avalokiteshvara Vihara.
Within the old walled city is the Great Mosque of Banten, and a Dutch fort built in 1682.
Set in a highland valley, Garut is well worth a one night stop-over. The scenery is beautiful and the hot baths at Tarogong are a pleasant walk from town. Watch the village ladies collect shellfish in the streams beside the road. There are a few cheap Losmen near the railway station.
A harbour named after the Goddess of the South Seas, Nyai Loro Kidul. The sea here is especially dangerous, and tourists regularly drown in front of the Samudra Beach Hotel, so be careful. The rips and cross-currents will give even the best surfers a real swim for their money. There are strange tales of scrub fires on the headland at night, but in the mornings there is no sign of there being a fire! Any of the losmen on the waterfront past the market are cheap and quiet.
To get to Pelabuhan Ratu, take the turn-off at Cibadak if coming from Bogor, or turn-off at Sukabumi if coming from Bandung.
From Bandung there are two routes leading to Bogor and Jakarta. The shorter, through Puncak Pass, is very busy with buses as there are many hotels and holiday houses in the Cibodas and Cianjur areas.
Sukabumi is on the road that skirts the western side of Mt. Cede and Mt. Pangrango. There are picturesque hot baths at Sakah, not far out of town.
This beach resort can be reached by train from Bandung or Jogja. Either way, alight at Banjar which is on the border between Central and West Java. From Banjar, catch a bus to the market at Pangandaran. Beware! Drivers on this route are notorious for changing the fare on the way. Make sure you agree to a price before you leave Banjar. From the market, catch a becak 2 km to the beach.
There are a few places to stay on Jalan Pantai Barat, which faces the sunset. Walk over to the eastern beach to watch the locals pull in the fish nets in the morning, and the western beach in the afternoon. Take a long walk through the nature reserve on the headland. Buy fresh fruit from the market each morning. A highly recommended place for a rest on your trip through Java.