I had never taken the time to visit this city. At first, I was too busy and then I was telling myself I would make the time whenever friends and family would come visit. But as they came, I realized they were more interested in spending time with us than exploring this city.
So it is only after almost an entire year living in Jakarta that I finally decided to make time to be a tourist, even if that meant doing it alone. Jakarta isn’t that easy to explore so I signed up to the Old Town walking tour with Jakarta Good Guide as they had great reviews on Tripadvisor.
The tour took about 2h30, starting from Kota train station, taking local minibus to Sunda Kelapa and walking back to Batavia Square through small back roads and alleys. It was an interesting visit, with a good mix of colonial architecture, history and glimpses of local lives. Also, because I was the only person joining that day, we were able to improvise a last minute boat ride and could linger/move quicker in certain parts of the itinerary.
Weekend tours are busiest, with a mix of Indonesian and foreigners joining the tours. Monday is not a bad choice because all the museums are closed and the Batavia square isn’t as crowded as usual (so pick another day if you want to combine the tour with museum visits)
The walk is probably not for everybody as it can get very sunny and hot. Make sure you pack some drinks and sun protection.
Jakarta Good Guide is a great way to get to know this city and they organize other tours several times a week (Menteng, Cikini, City Center and Food tour). I did the Chinatown walking tour shortly after and absolutely loved it (more on that coming soon).
The scheduled tours are “pay as you wish” and if you wish to book your own guide, their flat fee is Rp600,000 (whatever the number of participants).
After the tour, I took a taxi to Pantjoran Tea House (around 10min, or about 20min walk), the perfect place for a quiet lunch after walking in the heat. The heritage building used to be a pharmacy and has been renovated recently as part of the government’s program to revitalize the Old Town. Today, it serves as teahouse and Chinese restaurant and offers a welcome respite from the city’s hustle and bustle. I had a simple meal of rice and stir fried vegetables with shrimps, the food was nice and reasonably priced (Rp65,000).
Sunda Kelapa Harbour
The famous Cafe Batavia on Fatahillah Square
Bikes for rent on Fatahillah Square
A Dutch-era warehouse
Gedung Tjipta Niaga, next to Fatahillah Square