Kota Jakarta is located on the northwest coast of Java. Prior to colonisation, ancient Jakarta was part of one of the oldest Hindu empires in Indonesia, Kingdom of Sunda. A city known by many names, the port of today’s North Jakarta flourished as Southeast Asia’s major trading post on the spice route for centuries, attracting foreign powers.
After years of racial tolerance, a fight broke off in the early 17th century, and the Dutch colony Batavia was born. Today, Jakarta has gone through decades of infrastructure rehabilitation, with most of its landmarks built during the Suharto-era in the 60s. Jakarta’s modern nationalist monuments towering over old colonial architecture is a symbol of the Islamic city’s rise to independence.
What to see & do
Wayang kulit is a prominent aspect of the Indonesian art and culture. Wayang, in this context refers to the theatrical performance of puppet shadows, is generally accompanied by the rhythms of gamelan. The puppets are made of leather, giving them the name kulit. Museum Wayang has one of the best collections of puppets in Java, showcasing a multitude of characters from across Indonesia, as well as Asia and Europe. Be sure to head there on a Sunday morning to catch a free wayang performance.
Delve into the rich history and pre-history of Indonesia before it turned into an Islamic country, at Museum Nasional. The museum has some serious collection of idolise statues, charming textiles, and royal artefacts as well as a section dedicated to the origin of mankind in Indonesia. This is the one museum in the city that’s an essential visit – the impressively enormous collection of antiquities will wow you for hours.
Indonesians are known for their traditional urut techniques and therapeutic jamu treatments, so take a break from sightseeing and visit an elegant spa in South Jakarta for a relaxing Javanese massage, and an Indonesian herb body treatment.
Many, especially from neighbouring countries, flock to Jakarta to SHOP! Join the hustle and bustle at Jakarta’s famous flea market in Mentang. This is the place to show your haggling skills. Let’s put it this way, if haggling is a sport, this market is the arena. Stuff your shopping bags with bargain buys including artworks, jewellery, textiles as well as woodcarvings.
How to get around
You can choose to get around the city by bus, taxi or car, though most would opt for car. For NZD50 a day, you can hire a car with a driver, and NZD40 without a driver. As roads in Jakarta can be confusing and congested, the latter is a less popular option. Buses are cheaper, you can choose from regular city buses or big air-con buses.
How to get there
Garuda Indonesia, AirAsia, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, and Singapore Airlines operate connecting flights from cities in Australia and Southeast Asia to Jakarta. From New Zealand to Jakarta, you’ll have to fly via either Australia, Singapore, Bangkok, Malaysia or Denpasar.
Jakarta Soekarno Hatta Airport is located 20km west of Kota Jakarta, and journey to the city will take approximately 1.5 hours. Catching a taxi will cost you about NZD16 one way, which is reasonably price for convenience and comfort. Note, only go with registered taxis.