Jakarta is the capital city of the Republic of Indonesia, a country composed of more than 13,000 islands with a population of over 180 million. Comprising more than 300 ethnic groups speaking 200 different languages, the Indonesia population exhibits marked diversity in its linguistic, culture, and religious traditions. As the Capital City, Jakarta is a melting pot of representatives from each of these ethnic groups. Jakarta is a special territory enjoying the status of a province, consisting of Greater Jakarta, covering of 637.44 square km area. Located on the northern coast of West Java, it is the center of government, commerce and industry and has an extensive communications network with the rest of the country and the outside world. Strategically positioned in the archipelago, the city is also the principal gateway to the rest of Indonesia. From the Capital City, sophisticated land, air, and sea transport is available to the rest of the country and beyond.
Jakarta is one of Indonesia’s designated tourist areas. It is a gateway to other tourist destinations in Indonesia and is equipped with all the means of modern transportation by air, sea, rail, or by land. It has the largest and most modern airport in the country, the most important harbor in Indonesia and is well connected by rail of good roads to other destinations in Java, Sumatra, and Bali. As Indonesia’s main gateway, Soekarno-Hatta International Airport serves a growing number of international airlines and domestic flights. Jakarta is a city of contrasts; the traditional and the modern, the rich and the poor, the sacral and the worldly, often stand side by side in this bustling metropolis. Even its population gathered from all those diverse ethnic and cultural groups, which compose Indonesia, are constantly juxtaposed present reminder of the national motto; Unity in Diversity.
Finding its origin in the small early 16th century harbor town of Sunda Kelapa, Jakarta’s founding is thought to have taken place on June 22, 1527, when it was re-named Jayakarta, meaning Glorious Victory by the conquering Prince Fatahillah from neighboring Cirebon. The Dutch East Indies Company, which captured the town and destroyed it in 1619, changed its name into Batavia and made it the center for the expansion of their power in the East Indies. Shortly after the outbreak of World War II, Batavia fell into the hands of the invading Japanese forces that changed the name of the city into ‘Jakarta’ as a gesture aimed at winning the sympathy of the Indonesians. The name was retained after Indonesia achieved national independence after the war’s end.
The ethnic of Jakarta called “Orang Betawi” speaks Betawi Malay, spoken as well in the surrounding towns such as Bekasi and Tangerang. Their language, Betawi Malay, has two variations: conventional Betawi Malay, spoken by elder people and bred in Jakarta, and modern Jakarta Malay, a slang form spoken by the younger generation and migrants.
Jakarta is administratively divided into the following named districts (note that these district except central Jakarta are very dense in terms of area):
- Central Jakarta (Jakarta Pusat) – The Heart of Jakarta’s Administrative, Government and financial, an aptly named district and the site of Jakarta’s symbol, the 132 metre Monas (Monumen Nasional) which is located in world’s largest city square “Lapangan Merdeka”. Surrounding the area lies the presidential palace, government building, Istiqal Mosque (the largest Mosque in Southeast Asia), Jakarta’s gothic cathedral and also the National Museum of Indonesia. There are also various museums within this part of the city such as National Gallery of Indonesia or Jakarta Planetarium. The area is also home to Jakarta’s major landmark Bundaran HI or the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, which is where Jakarta’s topmost exclusive malls are located. One small road in the area called Jalan Jaksa or Jaksa road, a backpacker street, houses numbers of budget hotels and restaurants for travelers.
- West Jakarta (Jakarta Barat) – Home to Jakarta’s only surviving old town area “Jakarta Kota Tua” a small area consisting of Dutch colonial buildings, its streets are throng with hawker food, crafted good vendors, artist as well as Jakartans youth hanging around. This area is home to the Fatahillah Museum or Jakarta History Museum, and numbers of few other museums cafes converted from old Batavia’s offices, banks, warehouses, and shops. It is also home to Jakarta’s Chinatown called “Glodok” area. Glodok is more of the electronic promenade of Jakarta, however, is rich in street hawker food and Chinese cuisine restaurant as well as old Chinese temples complexes. There are a lot of shopping going on in this area as well, as it is home to Indonesia’s largest shopping mall “Mall Taman Anggrek”(Orchid Garden Mall).
- South Jakarta (Jakarta Selatan) – Jakarta’s middle-upper class and elite’s residential area and is also part of Jakarta’s business centre. Where you can find upscale shopping centres and malls, restaurants, hotels, bustling nightlife and entertainment centre and affluent residential areas. One of the famous areas in the south is Kemang, a street filled with lanes of restaurant, pubs, nightclubs, and boutique shops which are popular among the Jakartans and expats alike. The Senopati area is also a burgeoning food street with some of the city’s hippest and best restaurants and lounges, quickly displacing Kemang as the place to go and be due to Kemang’s unbearable weekend traffic and new flashier options. These are where the elite local’s go to eat and drink. The SCBD, Central business district also has some great options for lunch and the best clubs and lounges in the city. South Jakarta is also home to Gelanggang Bung Karno stadium in Senayan sports complex area, which is Indonesia’s largest stadium.
- East Jakarta (Jakarta Timur) – Industrial Quarter of the city, Location of Taman Mini Indonesia Indah where you can see parts of Indonesia’s multiethnic community rounded up as 1 and the most populous city within Jakarta, also crafted good at Utan Kayu art community, Cibubur camping ground, and Jakarta’s 2nd airport, Halim Perdanakusuma airport.
- North Jakarta (Jakarta Utara) – Jakarta’s main harbor area famed for its seafood and is the gateway to Thousand Island province of Jakarta. The Place is home to the area filled with excitement and bustling entertainment The Ancol Bayfront City Asia’s largest integrated tourism area consisting of the fascinating Dufan theme park, Sea World, art markets, eco parks, shopping mall and beachside entertainment. The beautiful Thousand Islands is located just across the sea of Jakarta, it can be crossed by jetty service and is a place where people could escape the city’s heavy combustion and pollution and enjoy the beautiful beach with marine parks and world-class resorts.
- Thousand Islands (Kepulauan Seribu) – Off-shore the mainland, lie hundreds of small islands, some of which are inhabited, but many are not and some are part of Marine National Park. Excellent diving spots will be difficult to find as the more popular ones are perhaps have been destroyed by tourism. To reach the islands, simply go to Muara Karang Port where scheduled passenger boats leave every 7 am in the morning.
Jakarta’s nickname among expats is the Big Durian, and like its fruit namesake, it’s a shock at first sight (and smell): a sweltering, steaming, heaving mass of some 28 million people packed into a vast urban sprawl. The so-called megapolitan is a charm for Indonesians, both as a business and a government center, as it is the most developed city in Indonesia. But all of this comes at a cost: the city has been struggling very hard to keep up with the urban growth. Major roads are packed up during rush hours, while the public transportation system has been unable to alleviate that much traffic. Housing the population has been a problem too and adding to that, the numerous people’s mentality are yet to make the city a great place to live in, as dreamed of.
All that said, while initially a bit overwhelming, if you can withstand the pollution and can afford to indulge in its charms, you can discover what is also one of Asia’s most exciting, most lively global cities. There is plenty to do in Jakarta, from green parks & historical centers, to cosmopolitan shopping, diverse gourmet choices, and one of the hippest nightlife in Southeast Asia!
The port of Sunda Kelapa dates to the 12th century, when it served the Sundanese kingdom of Pajajaran near present-day Bogor. The first Europeans to arrive were the Portuguese, who were given the permission by the Hindu Kingdom of Pakuan Pajajaran to erect a godown in 1522. Control was still firmly in local hands, and in 1527 the city was conquered by Prince Fatahillah, a Muslim prince from Cirebon, who changed the name to Jayakarta.
By the end of the 16th century, however, the Dutch (led by Jan Pieterszoon Coen) had pretty much taken over the port city, and the razing of a competing English fort in 1619 secured their hold on the island of Java. The Dutch razed the old Jayakarta port during their conquest and rebuilt the town with dutch style of town planning, fort and canals. Under the name Batavia, the new Dutch town became the capital of the Dutch East Indies and was known as the Queen of the East.
During these times the town flourishes as the center of the Dutch East Indies Trading Company and grow radpidly, and during this time as well that Chinese and Eurasian population grew within the city. In order to keep order and control the Dutch banned the native Javanese to live within the walled part of the city while encouraging Chinese immigrant to flock the commercial walled city with its canal. It is also known that after the Dutch conquest of Malacca, Significant number of Portuguese decent people from Malacca were taken as captive to Batavia and they live in area called “Kampung Tugu”.
The old Batavia which were planned in Dutch planning and canal were not doing so well, in fact the canal itself became breeding ground for mosquitoes. The city centre became unhealthy and filthy and the city were nicknamed “The Cemetry of the Europeans, this is also the reason why the city grew more in land.
In 1740, Chinese settlers rebelled against the Dutch. The rebellion was put down harshly with the massacre of thousands of Chinese settlers. The remaining Chinese settlers were exiled to Sri Lanka.
In 1795, the Netherlands were invaded and occupied by France, and on March 17, 1798, the Batavian Republic, a satellite state of France, took over both VOC debts and assets. But on August 26, 1811, a British expedition led by Lord Minto defeated the French/Dutch troops in Jakarta, leading to a brief liberation and subsequent administration of Indonesia by the British (led by Sir Stamford Raffles of Singapore fame) in 1811-1816. In 1815, after the Congress of Vienna, Indonesia was officially handed over from the British to the Dutch government.
In the early 1800s most canals were filled in, the town was shifted 4 km inland and the Pearl of the Orient flourished once again.
In the 18th century, more than 60% of Batavia’s population consisted of slaves working for the VOC. The slaves were mostly engaged to undertake housework, while working and living conditions were generally reasonable. Laws were enacted that protected slaves against overly-cruel actions from their masters; for example, Christian slaves were given freedom after the death of their masters, while some slaves were allowed to own a store and made money to buy their freedom. Sometimes, slaves fled and established gangs that would roam throughout the area. From the beginning of the VOC establishment in Batavia, until the colony became a fully-fledged town, the population of Batavia grew tremendously. At the beginning, Batavia consisted of approximately 50,000 inhabitants and, by the second half of the 19th century, Batavia consisted of 800,000 inhabitants. By the end of the VOC rule of Batavia, the population of Batavia had reached one million.
The name Jakarta was adopted as a short form of Jayakarta when the city was taken over by the Japanese in 1942. After the second world war, the Indonesian declared their independence at Koningsplein which is today’s Merdeka Square. The Indonesian war of independence followed after the second World War, with the capital briefly shifted to Yogyakarta after the Dutch attacked. The war lasted until 1949, when the Dutch accepted Indonesian independence and handed back the town, which became Indonesia’s capital again.
Since independence Jakarta’s population has skyrocketed, thanks to migrants coming to the city in search of (illusive) wealth. The entire Jabotabek (Jakarta-Bogor-Tangerang-Bekasi-Depok) metropolitan region (now officially Jabodetabekjur last census count (2010) was 28 million people, a figure projected to have hit 30 million already. The official name of the city is Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta Raya (DKI Jakarta), meaning “Special Capital City Region”.
Jakarta has a tropical monsoon climate and the average rainfall measures 1.816mm (71.4 inches). The city experiences very small seasonal variations, since the average 24-hour temperature ranges from 26.1°C (79°F) in January to 27.2°C (80.6°C) in May, while heat and humidity persist year round. Temperatures have never fallen below 18°C (65°F) or risen above 36°C (97°F). The majority of precipitation falls from November to April.
Jakarta is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.
Dunia Fantasi (Fantasy World) at Ancol, Jakarta.
Jakarta History Museum, Kota
Monas (National Monument). Located at Lapangan Merdeka (Freedom Square), Jakarta’s best known landmark, the 137 metre monument is located in the centre of Merdeka (Freedom) square. From the observation deck, you can view the city. At the basement there are dioramas that portray the dramatic story of Indonesia history.
Presidential Palace, (north of the National Monument). Official residence and office of the Indonesian president is open to the public on weekends for free, preferably make reservation first and use formal clothes, no sandals.
Gelangang Bung Karno Stadium, (Senayan Sport complex in South Jakarta). A large stadium surrounded by a large park, the area is a good way to enjoy a fresh air away from the congestion and as well to see a large stadium provided you are interested in it.
Bundaran HI, (Hotel Indonesia Traffic Circle). A large fountain with a statue, located in Central Jakarta and is in front of the city’s grand major malls.
- Ancol Dream Park (Taman Impian Jaya Ancol). Ancol Dream Park is located right on the coast. The Park itself is well worth the visit, however, don’t hold high expectations for the beach or for the quality of the sea water. Both the beach and the sea water are polluted and best avoided.
- Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, (Beautiful Indonesia in little park). See the whole Indonesian culture from here. It offers an exciting tour of 30 provinces of Indonesia with samplings of the country’s more than 250 cultures. Highlight features are the Museum Indonesia and the Keong Emas IMAX theater. Entrance ticket fee to the complex Rp 10,000 per person and individual attractions must also be paid for – prices range from 5,000-40,000 depending on the attraction.
- Jungleland Sentul City, located in Bogor regency however far from the city center lies Indonesia’s largest and newest theme park. There are much more variety of rides in the theme park compared to Dunia Fantasi (Fantasy world), complete with a science park and a dinosaur land, a great place for both kids or adults who like to get their adrenaline boiled.
- Gedung Kesenian Jakarta, (Jakarta Arts Theater). Neo-renaissance structure, previously meticulously restored, and now one of the proud landmarks among the Jakarta buildings which have been conserved. Some of the city best performance by both local and visiting artists are often held here.
- Museum Nasional (Monas), Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat no.12, Jakarta. Opens : Tu-Fri 8:30AM-4PM, Sat-Sun 8AM-5PM and closed on Mon and public holidays. Houses a vast collection of prehistoric, ethnographic and archaeological artifacts, including one of the world’s largest collections of Southeast Asian ceramics and Hindu Javanese art. The museum was opened in 1868. See the Jakarta/Central article for more detail, including tour information.
- National Gallery of Indonesia. The National Gallery of Indonesia has existed as a cultural institution in the field of visual arts. Today the museum kept 1770 artworks by Indonesian and foreign artists, among the most notable are Indonesian artists Raden Saleh, Affandi, Basuki Abdullah, and also some foreign artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Hans Hartung, Victor Vasarely, Sonia Delaunay, Pierre Soulages, and Zao Wou Ki.
Museum Art Mon Decor. A new museum located in Jakarta, it houses various numbers of modern artwork by various Indonesian artist from all over the region.
- Textile Museum. Houses a large collections of textiles related to the religious and social practices of the major islands of the archipelago, including batik, ikat and kain ulos.
- Gedung Proklamasi, (Proclamation Building). The historical site of Indonesian independence, where on August 17th, 1945 Soekarno-Hatta (Indonesian first President and vice-President) declared the nation’s independence.
Lubang Buaya. Marks the site where an alleged failed coup d’ etat by Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI), the Indonesian Communist Party, met its end, alongside the bodies of several high-ranking generals who are believed to have been tortured to death.
- Museum Taman Prasasti. A museum that is located in what formerly is a wealthy Dutch graveyard, the museum is surrounded with tombs and monuments with European designs and arts.
- Museum Polri. Indonesia’s police force Museum, located in the southern part of the city.
Satria Mandala Museum. A war museum located in Southern Jakarta, displaying sets of weapons, tanks, and war planes.
- Museum Adam Malik,. Small museum dedicated to Mr Adam Malik, a renowned figure who represented Indonesia in the United Nations, among many of his other feats including as an Indonesian foreign minister.
- Museum Bank Mandiri, (in the Old Town or Kota Tua area opposite the Northern Terminus of Corridor 1 of the Busway and Kota Station). See the history of banking in the Dutch colonial era. Sections include the history of how the Dutch segregated the services offered to bankers by race, the history of the creation of Bank Mandiri and it’s memorabilia , Colonial Era Bank Governors and Rupiah bank notes through time.
- Museum Bank Indonesia a museum located next to Bank Mandiri, it is one of the most modern museum in Indonesia, with a history of trades and currency in Indonesia during the colonial times.
- Museum Wayang, (Puppet Museum). Dedicated to puppetry and is located at Kota Tua, one of Indonesia’s most famous traditional art forms. On display are the wayang kulit shadow puppets, three-dimensional wooden puppets and special dance masks. Wayang performances are presented on Sunday at 10AM.
National Archieve Museum. Formerly the Dutch archive building now is a museum, it is also located in the Kota Tua area.
- Museum of fine ceramic and art. Formerly the court of justice in Dutch colonial era, now houses potteries and artworks of Indonesia.
- Kota Tua, (Old town Batavia). Is the old town of Jakarta, situated at north of Jakarta nearby the Glodok China Town. The area collides modern Jakarta with its old Dutch colonial charm. It includes a square of the old city, complete with sets of Musseum and cafes. and is filled with street vendor selling goods and food at reasonable range of price. The place is home to many historical museum, which are Museum Fatahillah the old Dutch Town hall building that are now historical museum, Museum Wayang, Museum Mandiri, Museum Maritime (old warehouses) and Bank Indonesia Museum. This area is popular among local populace as a family recreational destination, as well artist and photographer’s playground.
- Jembatan Kota Intan, (Kota Intan drawbridge). The bridge was developed coincide with the development of Batavia by Jan Pieterzoon Coen in 1628, and the only one of the rests of many suspension bridge ever decorating Batavia city.
- Sunda Kelapa Port/Old Harbour. The old port area of Sunda Kelapa remains today as a bustling hub for inter islands trade. Graceful Bugis phinisi schooners, the world’s last wind-powered sailing fleet used for trade, still berthed at the quay as they have for century.
- Fish Market and Museum Bahari, (“Maritime Museum), (at the mouth of the Ciliwung river). This market area bustles with activities related to the sea. The Museum Bahari situated at the harbour, is housed in restored Dutch warehouses dating back to the first trading post of the Dutch East Indies.
- Pasar Baru. Although the name means New Market, it doesn’t mean the place is new at all. Dating back to the Dutch colonial era, it has been one of the main hub for commodities trading. And nowadays, it has been nothing short of a mixture of stores packed up in a very limited space. You can bet to find unbranded items of medium to high quality and fairly low price here.
- Paleis Van Daendels. Formerly a palace for a notorious Dutch East Indies Governor General, Herman Willem Daendels, now is the financial department building. You are not allowed to go inside, however this building is a must for colonial architecture fans and is just a little further from the Monas area.
- Istiqlal Mosque, The biggest mosque in Southeast Asia with a capacity of 120,000, located near the Monas Square. It was designed by Frederich Silaban, a Christian architect. Foreign visitors of all religions are welcome; remove your shoes before entering and stop by the desk for a free tour with an English-speaking guide.
- Cut Mutiah Mosque, A mosque that is named after an Indonesian national heroine Cut Nyak Meutia who took part in the struggle against Dutch colonialism in Aceh, formerly a Dutch property for an architecture firm.
Jakarta Cathedral, A Dutch colonial Neo-Gothic Roman Catholic cathedral, and the seat of the Bishop of Jakarta. There is a museum attached to the Cathedral on the top floor.
Immanuel Church, A Dutch colonial Protestant church located near the Monas Square, designed in classic architecture.
- Gereja Ayam, Or in English means Chicken Church, a beautiful Dutch colonial church located near Pasar Baru in Central Jakarta.
- Sion Church, The oldest church in Jakarta, located near the Kota Tua area.
Vihara Dharma Sakti, An old Buddhist temple located inside the Glodok Chinatown.
- Pekan Raya Jakarta. Or in English language “Jakarta Fair”, an annually held event in Jakarta International Expo, Kemayoran. It features exhibitions, trade promotions, shopping, music performances, various shows, amusement rides and a food festival. The fair is meant to celebrate the anniversary of Jakarta. The Jakarta Fair sees exhibitors from across the country display a whole range of goods and products ranging from specialty food items to traditional handmade arts and crafts. In addition to the many exhibitors, there is also live entertainment including music, dance and cultural performances.
- Jalan Surabaya, (Surabaya Street). Lively open-air antique market on the fringes of the Menteng residential neighborhood. A good place to bargain for exotic treasures.
- Taman Ismail Mazurki. A park complex with a theater building and Jakarta’s planetarium.
- Ragunan Zoo, (in South Jakarta near Pasar Minggu). A 185-hectare city zoo contains a comprehensive collection of some 3,600 species of wildlife from throughout Indonesia. Look for the rare Komodo dragon. Pusat Primata Schmutzer consists of gorillas and other primates. Entrance ticket fee is only Rp 4000 ($0.5) due to subsidies from Jakarta administration. Perhaps a better alternative to Ragunan, however, is Taman Safari near Bogor (see the Get Out section for details.)
- Bird Market, Jl. Barito in South Jakarta and Jl. Pramuka in Central Jakarta. Various colourful tropical birds and other animals are on sale.
- Jalan Jaksa, is a short street situated just to the south of Monas, in the Sarina area. It is popular with ex-pat backpackers and the party crowd. There is also a string of cafes, inexpensive restaurants with cheap beer and a variety of entertainment. You’ll either love it or hate it.
- Kepulauan Seribu (Thousand Islands), (north of Jakarta in the Java Sea). The Kepulauan Seribu are easily accessible by speed boat from Ancol marina for a price, or simply go to Muara Karang Fishing Port where scheduled passenger boats (ojek kapal) leave every 7am in the morning. This spray of some 300 hundred sandy, picturesque islets offers invigorating respitee for those wishing to escape from the bustling city.