Planning a trip to the multicultural Jakarta Indonesia

It’s never too early (or too late) to start thinking about your next travel destination. Despite having a travel wish list which includes countries like New Zealand, South Africa, and Greece, I also want to visit Southeast Asia. Not only is Southeast Asia tropic and budget-friendly, but the landscape is breathtaking! One of the countries that I’m looking forward to visiting is Indonesia. Comprised of 17,000 islands, Indonesia boasts pristine beaches, vibrant coral reefs, waterfalls, volcanoes and lush forests. Although Indonesia is known for Bali’s beaches and Ubud’s sacred temples, I’d also like to visit Jakarta Indonesia.

Indonesia by Scott Kuo

Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia and it is a huge metropolis (about the size of Singapore). It is one of the largest cities in the world and its infamous for traffic jams.

Many refer to Jakarta as “the city of contrasts” because it’s both traditional and modern. There’s also a large gap between the rich and poor. Luxury skyscrapers are right next to shantytowns and slums.

Sunset on Jakarta by Mazuu 

While some travelers may decide to skip Jakarta, explore Jakarta in 48 hours or visit other places in Indonesia, I’m drawn to Jakarta’s ethnic and cultural diversity.

With over 300 ethnic groups who speak 200 languages, discover the multicultural heritage of Jakarta!


Cultural Things To See In Jakarta Indonesia


Jalan Surabaya Antique Market

Antique brass, silver, and copper on display. Photo by Danumurthi Mahendra

One of the places that caught my eye in planning a trip to Jakarta is the Jalan Surabaya, an exotic antique market in central Jakarta. I love handcrafted ornaments, ceramics, and antique wood sculptures, so I wouldn’t want to miss visiting this market and picking up a few souvenirs. I would also relish the opportunity to talk to the merchants. I can only imagine the photos and stories I would have to share! 

Cultural Significance: Jalan Surabaya has been around for over 40 years. Antiquing is a craft passed down from generation to generation. Most merchants at the market today are second generation traders. Before the market, merchants carried their crafts on their shoulders and sold their goods on the street.


City Bus Tours

Although I prefer getting to know a city intimately by foot, I can’t resist wanting to go on Jakarta’s free city tour bus – that’s right it’s completely free. This tour would help me get acquainted with the landscape and would bring lots of context to the capital’s historic sites.


Betawi Cultural Village

The Betawi are the indigenous people of Jakarta. They come from different races and ethnic groups including Chinese, Dutch, Indian, Arabic and Portuguese.

Cultural Significance: The Betawi Cultural Village of Setu Babakan preserves the indigenous Betawi culture. In this small village, I would marvel at original Betawi architecture, watch cultural performances and try the flavorful Indonesian cuisine.


Istiqlal Mosque and Jakarta Cathedral 

Istiqlal Mosque by Ronggur Habibun

Jakarta is home to the Jakarta Catholic Cathedral and Istiqlal Mosque (Independence Mosque). These two spiritual places are right across from each other and symbolize religious harmony and tolerance. 

Cultural Significance: Did you know that Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world! 

Istiqlal Mosque is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia. It has five floors and a large prayer hall in the center of the dome. During my visit, I would book a free guided tour to learn more about Islam and its influence on local culture.


Places to Stay

Merlynn Park Hotel best rate: Merlynn Park Hotel is a centrally located 4-star hotel. With average rates of $46-$64 USD (based on a standard room), this is a good price for accommodations in Jakarta. Merlynn Park offers free breakfast, pool access and lots of other amenities that would make my stay relaxing.

Planning my trip to Indonesia made me realize that Jakarta Indonesia is more than just a gateway city. It deserves more than a day or two of exploration and I can’t wait to share my experience with you soon!


Resources: Other blog posts that I found helpful in planning my trip to Jakarta Indonesia.

5 Ways to Enjoy Jakarta, Indonesia

A Girl’s Survival Guide to Traveling to Jakarta

8 Random Things to Know Before Traveling to Jakarta

14 replies
  1. Taylor says:

    My mom grew up in Jakarta, but we skipped right over it when we were there. Did you like it more than other parts of Indonesia?

    • Kenny T.K. Chow says:

      Yes, sure I did. It’s an issue, but somehow it didn’t affect my tracel much…. (as I kind of expected it). Just make sure you have ample time for critical issues like catching a flight, unless you want a heart attack….

  2. megan_claire says:

    We’re really looking forward to spending time exploring Indonesia – now that we’re back based permanently in AUstralia, it should be a pretty cheap flight to hop over to Jakarta for a bit 🙂 Thanks for the tips!

  3. Kenny T.K. Chow says:

    I think Jakarta is a big city with a lot of malls and shopping centers.
    Yet the only thing is the traffic… The city doesn’t have subway so it’s hard to get around the city efficiently – leave ample time as you might sometimes got stuck in traffic. @

  4. Wanderlust Marriage says:

    Would love to visit Jakarta too! We spent 3 weeks in Malaysia and loved the cultural diversity and could see that being an interesting aspect to Jakarta and then with such diversity comes delicious food!! Hope you make it there soon 🙂

  5. Wanderlust Marriage says:

    Would love to visit Jakarta too! We spent 3 weeks in Malaysia and loved the cultural diversity and could see that being an interesting aspect to Jakarta and then with such diversity comes delicious food!! Hope you make it there soon 🙂

  6. Amused Observer says:

    Indonesia is not really on my travel list, but I can’t really explain why, because all the pictures of it, like the ones here, are really inviting 🙂

  7. Liane Studio BAT Lab says:

    It usually seems as Jakarta is overlooked, but I think it’s a beautiful place and definitely worth a visit. Hope you’ll enjoy yours soon!


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