Photo and editing: Adrian Christopher Koss
Because large cities are not just about skyscrapers …
When you picture the largest and busiest cities in the world, probably the first thing you think of is the traffic, the smog, and the fact that the place never seems to stop or sleep. Well, yes, for most cities this is true, but also for most cities you will find another side entirely; Jakarta is one of those cities.
Despite the fact that Indonesia’s capital city is huge and bustling, it is also cultural, traditional, and beautiful, if you take the time to look beyond the skyscrapers and the beeping horns of the grid-locked traffic, and look into the history and traditions that weave through daily life.
Of course, whenever you plan a holiday anywhere in the world, be it a backpacking trip, a city break, or a beach holiday, you need to look very closely into your accommodation options, to ensure that you are based in the right place. Jakarta is, as we have mentioned, a huge city, and that means seemingly endless accommodation options for you to choose from. You can book online the hotels you choose, which usually gives you a better deal for your budgetary needs overall. Le Meridien Jakarta is a great choice of central hotel, with comfort and facilities to ensure your break in this huge city goes without a hitch. Put simply, a central location is certainly desirable.
A modern hotel is a must, however what you choose to see doesn’t have to be up there with the present day. Jakarta is of course full of skyscrapers and shopping malls, such as the huge Plaza Indonesia of FX Mall, however there is much of the old and authentic to check out too.
The National Museum of Indonesia is a must visit, located in the centre of the city. As well as being somewhere to learn all about the history and culture of the country overall, this is an architectural star of the city, and is also known as Elephant Building, because of the statue of an elephant you will find there. On top of this, the National Monument is also an iconic place to head. During the day this huge tower looks impressive, but at night time it truly comes alive.
If you’re into the arts, the National Gallery will show you sights to fill your day, and this is also a slightly different kind of building, with much of it based outdoors – perfect for a hot, sunny day! Gedung Kesenian Jakarta is also a place you have to check out, where you will find concerts and theatres shows, featuring authentic and traditional dance. The building was constructed back in the Dutch colonial period also, so the architecture is quite grand.
Of course, two of the city’s main sightseeing must dos are the Jakarta Cathedral and Istiqlal Mosque. Jakarta Cathedral is a beautiful Roman Catholic church, and Istiqlal Mosque is the largest in SE Asia, built to mark the country’s independence.
And finally, if you fancy a spot of shopping, avoid the malls and head to Pasar Baru, AKA Jakarta Market. Here you will find local arts and crafts, as well as imitation goods and delicious street foods. Mangga Dua is another authentic shopping area, where you won’t break the bank buying a few souvenirs to take home.
Jakarta might be a large and busy metropolis, but it’s a city with character and history too.