Top Things to See in Jakarta
Jakarta is of the biggest and most exciting cities in the world. Despite its wild mixture of historical landmarks, museums, amusement parks, and other unique sights, Jakarta often gets overlooked by travelers on their way to Indonesia's coastline and island destinations (like Bali). However, if you don't stop by Indonesia's capital, you are sorely missing out.
The National Monument (Monas)
Monas is rightfully considered to be the go-to symbol of Indonesia. This enormous obelisk was constructed to honor the country's fight for its freedom, and nowadays, it serves as a platform for hosting art exhibitions and cultural festivals, which are usually free to visit. You can also find some of the rarest Indonesian architectural objects within the halls of the National History Museum, which is located inside this structure. If you do not want to pay for admission, the area around the Monument is the perfect place for a street food picnic and some iconic selfies.
Taman Mini "Indonesia Indah"
This landmark is the embodiment of Indonesia's cultural wealth in miniature form. The name may be "mini", but this park is huge - you can spend all day here seeing everything from Sabang to Merauke. The TMII represents the culture and traditions of tribes that live on the country's islands as well as the sights and symbols of Indonesia's urban centers. You are welcomed to take a look at the houses, clothes, and sacred objects that belonged to different ethnic groups, as well as to marvel at art pieces from all the thirty-three provinces of Indonesia. Bring lots of water, sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat, as the afternoon of walking in the heat may get tiring fast.
Situated in Northern Jakarta, the Ancol district is the go-to choice for tourists that want to spend time in the city. Here you can find both Ancol Bay City and Ancol Dreamland, the biggest recreational park in the Jakarta - perfect for families with children. Among other attractions, there's a golf course, an amusement park (packed with over 40 different rides), a beautiful walking park around a lake, a small zoo, hotels, nightclubs, restaurants of at all price ranges, and swimming pools. If you only have a few days in Jakarta, most of the sites to see are in this district, especially if you are travelling with a family.
Ragunan Zoo
Ragunan Zoo is the first animal reservation in Indonesia, offering hours of entertainment for animal enthusiasts. The zoo boasts of an impressive collection of over four thousand animals from three hundred different species, including the Schmutzer Primate Center, which is reportedly the biggest primate center in the south east Asia in their original habitats. There are many food and drinks stalls in the zoo itself, but it is wise to take a water bottle and snacks with you so that you don't get weary walking around. For a little extra cost, you can rent a bike, a horse carriage, or a golf cart to zoom around the zoo in style.
Jakarta Old Town
Don't let the roughened exterior fool you - Old Town, also known as "Old Batavia", presents an excellent opportunity to study the history and culture of South-Eastern Asia, offering hundreds photography opportunities of the museums and historical buildings located in the district. This is where the city born, with hundreds of Indonesian and Dutch colonial buildings nestled side by side. The streets are lined with old cars and local vendors. For a unique experience, book a boat trip down the river to see the area from a different perspective.
Istiqlal (Independence) Mosque
The Istiqlal mosque is one of the most prominent mosques in the world and can accommodate over120,000 Islam followers. The praying hall is topped with a 150-feet wide dome that rests on twelve enormous columns - it's well worth stepping inside just to see the sheer size of it, as pictures do not do it justice. The architecture was built to represent unity in diversity, a national value that represents Indonesia as a whole. You will be required to cover your arms, legs and your head before entering.
Jakarta Cathedral
Situated just across the street from the Istiqlal Mosque, the Jakarta Catholic Cathedral is a prime example of the neo-gothic architecture style. The structure was designed to form a 200-foot long and 30-foot wide cross, while the church itself was built by using bricks that imitate stonework and wood. If you are familiar with the Gothic architecture of western Europe, the cathedral seems like it is almost out of place in Jakarta - but this is the beauty of visiting such a diverse city. There is no official tour or entrance fee, but feel free to walk around and snap pictures respectfully as you wish, or attend mass on a Sunday morning.
Jakarta is such a large and diverse, bustling city that it can be overwhelming to take it all in, especially if you are only here for a short time. Some tourists don't give enough credit to this enormous cultural center, instead favoring the beaches and tropical destinations of Indonesia instead. However, if you decide to go there, you will not be disappointed.

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