Is Jakarta worth a visit? – Even a small 2 night visit?

Somewhere in MONAS area..
Jakarta’s ICON – MONAS Tower

 

Let me confess first, Jakarta was never in my list of places to visit. Reason? It is due to numerous travel blogs which constantly gave me the feeling of city being congested with traffic jams and specifically nothing much to visit – from the point of view of a traveller.
Since I was on a budget trip, the cheapest option for me to enter Java was through Jakarta. Tickets were booked and now, when we are entering the city, I and my friend who was accompanying me for this tour, decided to spend at least a day in Jakarta.

Damri Bus Stop Near Jakarta Airport

Things which helped us in our Jakarta Tour!!

  1. Using APP based taxi booking (UBER/GRAB) – I already had in my head the idea of Jakarta Taxis ripping travellers’ and even Locals by quoting exorbitant prices for any tour. I decided to use UBER for my tour. Incidentally, I found that there was one more option available in Jakarta to travel through- GRAB which was similar to UBER (app based taxi booking) and had wider presence in Jakarta. Both have payment by cash option available.
  2. Booking my accommodation near Gambir Station – It gave me two advantages- first, most of the tourist attractions we wanted to visit were quite nearby. And it was the centre of the city. Taxi/UBER/GRAB/OJEK were available in plenty at all times of the day.
  3. Purchased Telkomsel/ SIM-PATI SIM immediately on my arrival – and this certainly gave me handy access to internet, from the time I stepped out of airport.
Hotel Royal City – Our Stay in Jakarta

Our Stay

Stayed in Royal City Hotel, and I have to say that it was completely worth the price we had to pay. Located just 2 km away from National Museum, the hotel had superb connectivity through Trans Jakarta across Jakarta city.

Trans Jakarta

Lifeline of Jakarta city and connects almost all the major parts within the city parameters. Follow the link for the route map.

Day 1 – The day we arrived

We chose to use Damri Bus, which connects Jakarta airport with few of the major points within Jakarta city. Its an air conditioned bus, with a decent frequency. Though, I feel if you are not alone (and even otherwise), using UBER/GO-OJEK / GRAB is a lot better option.
NOTE – OJEK conceptually is same as UBER/GRAB, with motorbike as the transport medium. This comes very handy when you are a solo traveller and offers cheaper and faster way of transportation.

This is what best i could click – GoOjek

Food Adventure

Jakarta has a lot of famous street food points. We chose to visit Pasar Santa, which is not a local street point as such, but a food Market and a good one. Pasar Santa (Santa Market) is a food court present in a dying mall. A very interesting post and thorough review of this market can be found in a blog post by Ivy here.

Pasar Santa – Food Junction

Jakarta without clubbing – Doesn’t make sense!!

Though I’m not a diehard fan of night club as such but visiting one in Jakarta was a good decision. We were already quite close to almost all the famous night dance clubs and planned to visit one of the main expat friendly and highly recommended club X2 (for a complete list of night-club’s in Jakarta – Click Here).
Entry Fees – Paid 150 K IDR as entry fees which includes a drink as well (being a weekend), but it was totally worth it.

Our plan was to leave X2 within next two hours, but ended up staying there for at least 4-5 hours.

Note: I found Jakarta a completely safe city, but I would recommend to use UBER/GRAB for night travel.

My Friend Vishnu.. busy in exploring club entrants 😛

Day -2: A sightseeing day!!

We had numerous places in our mind to visit during our only full day in Jakarta- MONAS, TAMAN SARI, KOTA TUA(Old town), Istiqlal Mosque to name a few, but we ended up visiting only MONAS and KOTA TUA.

MONAS (National Monument)

An obelisk monument, built to commemorate Indonesian struggle for Independence. This is for sure the highlight of Jakarta with wide open ground contrasting city of Jakarta. MONAS is not just a standing tower, there are multiple interesting points both inside and outside the tower.

Recommendation – Entrance to MONAS is now only through prepaid card (Bank Mandiri) available at the ticket counter itself. The card is quite useful and is being promoted as city card currently been accepted in Trans Jakarta (Jakarta Public Bus) as well.

Though, if you are traveling in group, consider buying only one card and not multiple as each card cost 10 K IDR and it seems that it is non-refundable.

The most interesting point in MONAS was the National History Museum and the way complete history of Indonesia was explained till quite recent times using a display of dioramas. There are 51 dioramas in the hall and each one symbolizes an interesting story.
There is a Hall of Independence inside the goblet part of MONAS as well which contains various symbols of Independence.

A beautiful representation of Indonesian History
Indonesian Symbol of Independence

MONAS observation deck

I couldn’t get the ticket for the observation deck. Hard luck!!
Please note – tickets are limited – avoid weekends when it is especially crowded.
MONAS Timings – 7 – 12 AM
Ticket Price – Museum/Goblet + Observation Deck entrance fees (Adult – 15 K IDR, Student – 8 K IDR)
How to get there – Use TransJakarta and alight at Monas, or take UBER/GRAB/Go-Ojek.

All National Museum, Jakarta Cathedral, Istiqial Mosque are around the same area, and one can even chose to walk from MONAS (else Trans Jakarta is available). I gave them the miss by just capturing them from outside, as I was more interested in visiting KOTA TUA.

Istiqlal Mosque as seen from MONAS

KOTA TUA

We used Jakarta Metro to reach KOTA TUA, which turned out to be a good choice, as the old town was just 200 m away from Jakarta KOTA station.
KOTA TUA couldn’t impress me. Major point “Old town square/ Fatahillah square”, was overly crowded (or my timing was wrong- a weekend). Besides, it is a big court area surrounded by multiple Dutch colonial buildings. There are many museums as well and I chose to visit Warung(Puppet) Museum, which was very interesting with nice collection of puppets from round the globe.
It was already the end of our day!! In the evening, we again tried getting the ticket to MONAS observation deck. But, hard luck again :(.

Indian “Warung” in Indonesia – Can’t stop myself from clicking them 🙂
Poster Image of Kota Tua

A sweeten adventure – Martabak Boss

Martabak Boss is a soft spongy crumpet-like cake sold on street stalls across the city, especially after dark as a late night treat. The Martabak is cooked in two separate halves and filled with an intriguing mixture of cheese, butter, peanuts, chocolate sauce and drizzled with condensed milk. Though one Martabak is meant for 2-3 people, it is tempting enough to fill yourself with one whole and then regret later for over eating.

Where to try – There are number of parlours of Martabak Boss around the city – Just Google it!!
Prices start from –  60 K IDR

Overall, Jakarta was not bad and a day went pretty quick in this bustling city.

Verdict

Yes of course!! Given you have sufficient time. Infact i missed many beautiful and must visit points Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, Istiqlal Mosque, Catholic cathedral and many more.


Quick Last minute Info:

  1. Indonesia is a liberal Muslim country, though please try to follow usual courtesies.
  2. Well connected by Trans Jakarta – Follow BRT bus route map here.
  3. Getting out of Jakarta – Consider using Train or Flights (bus can get really tiring). For Train refer to seat61 .

Please let me know, if you like this post. Do you think this will help you in planning Jakarta? Please comment if I missed anything important to mention.

Thanks for reading and happy traveling.

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