Surprisingly, we’ve had quite a number visitors in the past year: friends and family, coming from France, China, Thailand… and even though Jakarta may not be an obvious touristy destination, this 3 day itinerary seems to make everyone happy, all tried and tested by yours truly 🙂
DAY 1 – CITY CENTER & MENTENG
Visitors are taken inside by a guide and must leave their belongings in a cloakroom. Avoid bringing valuable and dress appropriately (covered shoulders and long pants, or borrow a long robe on site).
Entrance is free but tips are welcomed. Avoid Friday prayer (around mid day), when the Mosque is closed to visitors.
Skip Monas, it’s not a pleasant walk to get there, riding to the top will involve some queuing and you will be able to see it from Masjid Istiqlal.
Galeri Nasional or Museum Nasional
If you don’t have a lot of time, visit one or the other.
It’s best to visit Galeri Nasional when there are temporary exhibitions (the permanent exhibition is quite small), check their website ahead and read about my previous visit here.
Museum Nasional will be closed shortly for renovations. If it is opened, try to follow one of their guided tours organized by volunteers of the Indonesian Heritage Society (regular guided tours in English, French, Japanese, Korean…).
Quick Indonesian lunch at Sate Khas Senayan
There are definitely better Indonesian restaurants out there but it is in Menteng (good starting point for the afternoon walk), is clean, has an English menu with pictures that first timers can easily handle, service and food quality are reliable (and you can impress your guests at dinner anyways).
My typical order for 2-4 people would be a mix of classics: chicken satay, soto ayam or soto betawi, tahu telor, gado-gado and a fresh coconut to drink (expect Rp150,000/pax).
Walk to Jalan Surabaya with a coffee stop at Giyanti
If you can handle the heat and feel like walking in the tree-lined streets of Menteng, cross the road from Sate Khas over to Menteng’s biggest park (Taman Menteng) and follow this itinerary. It will take you to through parks, quiet residential streets and will end at Jalan Surabaya, also known as the Antique market street (a leisurely stroll of about an hour, read previous post about the antique market and Giyanti here).
Drinks at a rooftop bar (I love Hause, but there are other options such as Skybar, Arthotel…) followed by dinner at Tugu Kunstkring.
This is a great place to bring out-of-town guests, who will get a glimpse of the bygone Dutch colonial era. The historical building originally housed the Fine Arts Circle of the Dutch East Indies and nowadays serves as a fine dinning restaurant/gallery. There is a lot to choose from (Indonesian cuisine along with a bit of Chinese and Dutch/European classics) but most people come for the
DAY 2 – OLD TOWN AND CHINATOWN
Walking tour of Chinatown with Jakarta Good Guide, ending with lunch at Pantjoran Tea House (details about my last tour here)
Fatahilah square and visit of Wayang museum followed by a coffee at Gedung Olveh
Go to a mall for a quick dinner and a movie (early wake up on day 3!)
I know that may sound like a wasted evening, especially if you are coming from far away but cultural events are quite rare here and depending on where you are coming from, you might enjoy the first class experience provided in most big theaters here (check out PREMIERE theaters). You’ll be able to watch your movie sitting in an extra large individual seats that can almost lay flat, order food…
We usually go to Grand Indonesia because it’s the closest mall to our house and has many F&B options: Abura Soba or Saigon Delight for a quick dinner, Café Milano or Benedict for something more formal.
DAY 3 – SENTUL
Sentul half day hike (depart at 6:30am, come back around 2pm) – details here
Massage with Spalosophy (their amazing therapists come to you, equipped with their massage table. Best to book a few days in advance, Rp170,000 for a 90min massage)
For those who are not staying with friends or family, the most strategic location is central Jakarta. Friends have highly recommended Kosenda Hotel (for the young and hip) and Hermitage Hotel (a classic luxury hotel set in a Dutch era building) and there are also many options on Airbnb.
There are many things worth bringing back home, but traffic makes shopping difficult as most boutiques are located in the South. These are the items I love to bring back for friends and family: food (chocolate from Pipiltin, handcrafted sea salt, organic coconut sugar found in local supermarkets), batik clothes for children and batik fabric (from here), wooden trays (from Cayenne, or online from Mimesaa), natural skincare products by Utama Spice.
In the city center, a good place to shop all of the above is Alun Alun (multibrand store located in Grand Indonesia Mall) perhaps not the cheapest place to go but they carry a great selection of locally made gifts and handicrafts (and there is a great supermarket at the basement of the same building to pick up a few items, and a cinema on the 6th floor).
For a mixed selection of modern and urban designers, head to the Goods Department (a concept store with multiple locations, including one in Plaza Indonesia, across the road from AlunAlun).