Must see attractions in Jakarta

  • Top ChoiceSights in Merdeka Square & Central Jakarta

    Museum Nasional

    The National Museum is the best of its kind in Indonesia and an essential visit. The enormous collection begins around an open courtyard of the 1862 building, which is stacked with magnificent millennia-old statuary including a colossal 4.5m stone image of a Bhairawa king from Rambahan in Sumatra, who is shown trampling on human skulls. The ethnology section is superb, with Dayak puppets and wooden statues from Nias sporting beards (a sign of wisdom) plus some fascinating textiles.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Merdeka Square & Central Jakarta

    Merdeka Square

    It is here that Jakartans come to take a breather from the traffic. The figurative centre of Jakarta, Merdeka Square ( merdeka means independence) is actually a trapezoid measuring almost 1 sq km. In the 19th century, the Dutch called it Koningsplein (Kings Square) and it became a focal point for the city after they moved the government here from old Batavia (Kota). It's always had an important role in local life. The main entrance is on the south side.

  • Sights in South Jakarta

    RUCI Art Space & Cafe

    RUCI Art Space has become a favourite on the city's burgeoning art scene. Occupying an industrial space in the hip neighbourhood of Senopati, the gallery hosts regular solo and group exhibitions from local contemporary artists. Work ranges from painting and photography to installation art. A large cafe is attached, decorated with designer furniture and selling drinks (coffee from 30,000Rp), mains (noodle and rice dishes from 55,000Rp, tacos from 35,000Rp) and desserts (milk fritters, panna cotta, cinnamon banana fritters from 35,000Rp).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kota & Glodok

    Taman Fatahillah

    Kota’s central cobblestone square, surrounded by imposing Dutch colonial buildings, is Jakarta's most attractive location and a popular gathering spot for tourists and locals. The stately bell-towered former town hall (1627) now houses the excellent Jakarta History Museum, while the former Palace of Justice (1866) building has been transformed into the Museum Seni Rupa Dan Keramik, showcasing traditional and contemporary Indonesian artists. Also here is Museum Wayang, featuring the best wayang (flat wooden puppets) collection in Java.

  • Sights in Jakarta

    Taman Mini Indonesia Indah

    This 100-hectare park has full-scale traditional houses for each of Indonesia's provinces, with displays of regional handicrafts and clothing, and even a mini-scale Borobudur. Museums, theatres and an IMAX cinema are scattered throughout the grounds, which all command additional entrance fees (from 20,000Rp to 140,000Rp). Other attractions include a small water park, space exploration museum and an atrium with more than 760 species of birds from around Indonesia. Free cultural performances are staged in selected regional houses.

  • Top ChoiceSights in South Jakarta

    Museum Layang-Layang

    Families will love Jakarta's kite museum, located in a quiet backstreet in Pondok Labu, South Jakarta. Inside a traditional Indonesian house, complete with courtyard, there's a collection of around 600 kites. A 10-minute educational video explains the different styles and origins of kite flying (and that it probably all started in Indonesia). The impressive range of kites includes a 3D giant horse and cart, dragon, ship and lion fish, plus 2D kites made of bamboo and banana-tree leaves.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Merdeka Square & Central Jakarta

    Galeri Nasional

    Over 1700 works of art by foreign and Indonesian artists are part of the National Gallery collection. While only a few works are on display at any time, there are also large spaces for regular – and well-curated – special exhibits. The centrepiece of the sprawling palm-shaded complex is an 1817 Dutch building.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kota & Glodok

    Museum Bank Indonesia

    This museum presents an engaging and easily consumed history of Indonesia from a loosely financial perspective, in a grand, expertly restored, neoclassical former bank headquarters that dates from the early 20th century. All the displays (including lots of zany audiovisuals) are slickly presented, with exhibits about the spice trade and the financial meltdown of 1997 (and subsequent riots), as well as a gallery dedicated to currency, with notes from every country in the world.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Jakarta

    Museum Macan

    Opened in late 2017, Museum Macan is Indonesia's first modern and contemporary art museum and an exciting cultural development for the city. It was built to house the private art collection of businessman Haryanto Adikoesoemo, who has amassed some 800 works by Indonesian artists. Touring exhibitions have included Anish Kapoor, Ai Weiwei, Jeff Koons and Yayoi Kusama.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kota & Glodok

    Jin De Yuan

    This large Chinese Buddhist temple compound dates from 1755 and is one of the most atmospheric and important in the city. The main structure has an unusual roof crowned by two dragons eating pearls, while the interior is richly adorned with Buddhist statues, ancient bells and drums, and some wonderful calligraphy. Dense incense and candle smoke wafts through the rooms.

  • Sights in Kota & Glodok

    Jakarta History Museum

    The Jakarta History Museum is housed in the old town hall of Batavia, a stately whitewashed Dutch colonial structure that was once the epicentre of an empire. This bell-towered building, built in 1627, served the administration of the city and was also used by the city law courts. Inside, it has a collection of artefacts and an impressive 10m painting depicting the attempted siege of Batavia by the Mataram forces in 1628.

  • Sights in Jakarta

    Ancol Luar Biasa

    On Jakarta's bayfront, the people’s ‘Dreamland’ is a landscaped recreation complex popular with families. It has worn amusement rides, and sporting and leisure facilities, including bowling, but it gets crowded on weekends. Prime attractions include the Pasar Seni (art market), which has cafes, craft shops and art exhibitions.

  • Sights in Merdeka Square & Central Jakarta

    Monumen Nasional

    Ingloriously dubbed ‘Sukarno’s final erection’, the 132m-high National Monument (aka Monas), which rises into the shroud of smog and towers over Merdeka Square, is both Jakarta’s principal landmark and the most famous architectural extravagance of the former president. Begun in 1961, Monas was not completed until 1975, when it was officially opened by Suharto. The monument is constructed from Italian marble and topped with a sculpted flame, gilded with 50kg of gold leaf.

  • Sights in Kota & Glodok

    Museum Wayang

    This puppet museum has one of the best collections of wayang (flat wooden puppets) in Java and its dusty cabinets are full of a multitude of intricate, eerie and beautiful characters from across Indonesia, as well as China, Vietnam, India, Cambodia and Europe. The building itself dates from 1912. Ask about the occasional free wayang performances.

  • Sights in South Jakarta

    Jakarta War Cemetery

    During WWII, thousands of people were made prisoners of war and killed in and around Jakarta. Early victories by the Japanese killed scores of troops from colonial Dutch military as well as the British Commonwealth. After the war, the Dutch and the UK, on behalf of the Commonwealth, established this cemetery to bring together the deceased from across Indonesia. It's a beautiful and serene place. The staff keep gates locked to avoid vandalism, but will unlock the gates for visitors.

  • Sights in Cikini & Menteng

    Museum Perumusan Naskah Proklamasi

    This atmospheric mansion saw historic events as Indonesia proclaimed its independence at the end of WWII. It was the home of the Japanese naval commander Tadashi Maeda and is where, on 16 August 1945, Sukarno and Hatta were convinced the time had come to compose the proclamation that was announced the following day. The museum features the meeting room of those present that night and includes details like the typewriter where the words were pounded out.

  • Sights in Kota & Glodok

    Museum Bahari

    Near Jakarta's historic port are several 17th-century VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie; the Dutch East India Company) warehouses that comprise the Museum Bahari. This is a good place to learn about the city’s maritime history, with a sprawling series of galleries covering everything from nautical legends and famous explorers to WWII history in the archipelago. Also included in the price is the 1839 Syahbandar Menara observation tower, just before the entrance to the maritime museum.

  • Sights in Merdeka Square & Central Jakarta

    Masjid Istiqlal

    The striking, modernist Masjid Istiqlal is adorned by patterned geometric grates on the windows. Completed in 1978, it's the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, with five levels representing the five pillars of Islam. Its dome is 45m across and its minaret tops 90m. Non-Muslim visitors are welcome. You have to sign in first and robe up (men should cover their legs, women their legs and arms). Once suitably dressed you’ll be directed to a gallery overlooking the main hall.

  • Sights in Kota & Glodok

    Museum Bank Mandiri

    One of two bank museums within a block of each other might have you scratching your head, but it's worthwhile popping in to explore the behind-the-scenes inner workings of a bank, and the interior of this fine 1930s art deco structure. Marvel at the marble counters and vintage counting machines, abacuses, old ATMs and colossal cast-iron safes. Pause on the terrace overlooking the Kota hubbub, before taking the grand staircase up to admire stained-glassed panels and the lavish board room.

  • Sights in Merdeka Square & Central Jakarta

    Istana Merdeka

    The presidential palace (one of six in Indonesia) stands to the north of Merdeka Square. It was built in 1879 and was Sukarno's official residence during his reign, although Suharto spurned it. On 27 December 1949, the Dutch flag was lowered for the last time and the red-and-white flag of independent Indonesia was raised. Hundreds of thousands of Indonesians gathered to witness the event and chant merdeka (freedom).