Wondering what to do and where to go in Indonesia's capital city? Here are our top things to do in Jakarta - your ultimate guide to activities, tourist attractions and awe-inspiring landmarks...
Bright lights, big city… Nope, that’s not New York City, it’s Jakarta. Home to over 10 million residents, Indonesia’s capital city is always buzzing with skyscrapers, zooming vehicles and busy people roaming the streets 24/7. So if you’re a new Jakarta resident or a first timer and you don’t know where to begin your city adventure, don’t worry, you’re not alone! Here, we’ve rounded up our favourite things to do in Jakarta – from awesome activities and where to go for mani-pedi and sophisticated cocktails, to unique tourist attractions and must-see landmarks.
THINGS TO DO IN JAKARTA – A GUIDE TO THE CITY’S TOP ACTIVITIES & SIGHTS
1. Head to the salon for a heavenly creambath
Essentially a deep conditioning treatment combined with a fab shoulder massage, the creambath is the creme de la creme of hair treatments in Indonesia. Go the traditional route with herbal treatments or indulge in a luxurious hair spa, whatever your choice, your tresses will love you for it. Ahh, bliss…
2. Get yo’ nails did
Whether you’re into incredibly intricate nail art or just want clean and polished tips, nail salons in Jakarta can do it all. And a plus point? These pretty manicures and pedicures come at prices that can’t be beat.
3. Or… skip the salon and make your beauticians come to you
Can’t be bothered to venture out into the traffic? Lucky for you, the city is abundant with mobile salon and spa services that bring the five-star treatments into your home.
4. Use GoJek for EVERYTHING!
Want to know how to really live like a local? Jakartans use GoJek or Grab for everything, a quick fix to so you don’t get stuck in traffic, and food delivery service when you’ve got late night munchies. Download the app, stat.
5. Start your big night out with tipples high up in the sky
With spectacular views, electric beats, and an irresistible party atmosphere, there is no better place to pre-game than our favourite rooftop haunts. Our fave? The Cloud Lounge at Altitude The Plaza with stunning interiors to match the views!
6. Go club-hopping and dance the night away
Jakarta is renowned for its vibrant and unparalleled nightlife. Once you’ve got a few drinks in you, take the party on to one of the city’s many award-winning clubs. There’s really nothing like it.
7. Wear your sunglasses at night and rave on
If you’re a big fest-head like us, you must add the Djakarta Warehouse Project to your Jakarta bucket list! Jakarta’s premiere dance festival is the ultimate party of the year. For a more laid back dance party, We The Fest is another fun music festival to catch during the summer.
8. Battle the perils of your Sunday morning hangover with a leisurely massage
Because high quality, affordable massages are hands down the best part of living in Asia – big cities included!
9. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always hair of the dog with a boozy brunch
Yep, the institution of brunching has made its mark in the big city. With countless of elegant restaurants in Jakarta, you’ll want to make Sunday brunching a must-do when living in or visiting the city. See these five-star hotel restaurants for the best bottomless brunch and bubbles.
10. Pick up some bits and bobs at your local pop-up market
Love ’em or hate ’em, you’re bound to walk out of one of these pop-ups with a new purchase in hand (whether it’s a dessert to satisfy for your sweet tooth craving or trinket you never knew you needed). There are many to choose from each weekend, with themes ranging from stalls serving a smorgasbord of street food, boba, organic goodies and independent fashion, and most are easy on the wallet. Our fave all-in-one market has to be Brightspot Market, where you can leisurely shop and eat the days away…
11. Pop into a cat cafe to see what the fuss is all about
We can’t think of anything better than spending a few hours cuddling with these adorable furry fluff-balls. If only we could take these cute kitties home with us!
12. Hit up all the historical monuments and landmarks
Every Jakartan needs to pay all the landmarks a visit at least once. One that must make it on your itinerary is Monas, AKA Indonesia’s National Monument. Sure, it’s a tad touristy, but the tall golden structure symbolizes Indonesia’s independence and makes for a great photo op. Top tip: ride all the way to the top viewing deck to see sky high views of the Big Durian.
13. Get cultured and visit an independent art gallery
Jakarta isn’t just about cheap thrills. The Indonesian indie art scene is a growing one that has the attention of art-lovers in the region. Make sure you’re in town for Art Jakarta, but for art all year round, check out independent art spaces featuring young, up-and-coming local artists before they hit it big.
14. Stroll through history with a walking tour of Old Town Batavia
Old Town Batavia is nothing like that sleek, urban Jakarta we’re used to today. The hub of colonial time Jakarta is admittedly pretty run down, but an interesting look at the history of our bustling city. There’s a regularly held nifty pop-up market that happens in one of the restored buildings that’s worth checking out – they also hold guided walking tours you’ll want to sign up for.
15. Get acquainted with the best Indonesian sweet treats
Jakarta is a melting pot of Indonesia’s diverse culture, and what better way to learn about it than to taste all the street foods? A must-try is martabak manis, a traditional sweet treats typically sold from food karts that’s available in all shapes, colours and flavours, and we have yet to find a version we don’t like…
16. Then munch your way through the rest of delicious Indonesian street food
Nasi goreng gila for post-clubbing eats is a favourite of ours. Bubur ayam (chicken rice porridge) also always seems to tastes better from a roadside stall. Hot tip: everything tastes better with a generous dollop of sambal!
17. Try elevated Indonesian cuisine to impress a date
If you can’t stomach food from the streets (don’t worry, you’re not alone) get a taste of Indonesian food like you’ve never seen before. Namaaz is one of the fine dining eateries that are upping the ante when it comes to innovative local dishes in Jakarta.
18. Go on a nature walk – believe it or not this exists!
This may be hard to imagine, but Jakarta isn’t all concrete. You need to drive a little bit up North to find the Mangrove Forest. Take a walk, or rent out a boat to explore the swamps. Just don’t forget to bring insect repellent – those mosquitos can bite!
19. Discover independent Indonesian designer labels at multilable fashion stores
If wardrobe staples by Peggy Hartanto and Laison by Aurelia Santoso are not hanging in your closet, it’s high time to make your way over to our favourite multi-label boutiques. These stores are treasure troves full of independent Indonesian labels that’ll quickly become your favourite!
20. Get the red-carpet treatment at the movie theatre
Movie watching in Jakarta is a seriously first class experience. Want to share a daybed and snuggle under a plush blanket with your date? Text the snack bar attendant your munchies list? Or book out a micro theatre to watch the Game of Thrones finale on a big screen? Done.
21. Bounce around on a giant trampoline
Ever get jealous of that kid in school whose parents let them put a trampoline in their backyard? Relive your childhood fantasies with a major bouncy park – kidults are welcome.
22. Unplug for the weekend and book a yacht to the Thousand Islands
Pulau Macan, or Tiger Island, is a slice of paradise a mere boat ride away. The eco-friendly private island boasts white sands and clear blue waters, the perfect escape from hectic city life.
23. Challenge your mates to a laser tag stand off
The epic arena is complete with glowing black lights and awesome laser gear to shoot at your mates. You’ll want to bring the whole gang as it’s a lot more fun when teams stand off against each other for some top-notch fun. The sweet facility also has laser mini golf if you fancy trying to score a hole-in-one in complete darkness.
24. Pretend you’re Katniss Everdeen and practice your archery
Head over to the many archery clubs and fields in Jakarta to prepare for The Hunger Games. You know, just in case.
25. Jog, rollerblade, skateboard, or ride your bike around GBK.
Hatch some Pokemon eggs while you’re at it! You can also take over the few gyms in the area.
26. Make your way down to Car Free Day at least once
It’s best to go early before the crowds and speeding bicycles make it circus. It’s really an experience to be strolling down the main roads of Sudirman without all that traffic!
27. Sing your heart out at a karaoke bar.
For a tricked out karaoke experience, head to Sun City, one of the most opulent karaoke lounges in town. With VIP rooms abundant, a seedy bar this is not. They serve a killer dim sum too!
28. Stumble upon a hidden bar for secret speakeasy vibes
With killer cocktails, an epic whiskey list, and a buzzing atmosphere, what’s not to love about these tucked away drinking dens? Here are our go-to hidden speakeasies whenever the clubbing scene gets too wild…
29. Catch a kick-ass jazz band performance
Yearn for the years before electronic beats took over the nightlife scene? Fret not, many of Jakarta’s top bars have awesome live music nights where you can get loose to cracking up-and-coming local acts.
30. Get Instagram-worthy hair done by a pro
Getting ready for a wedding or just a girls night out and can’t seem to decipher those deceptive Youtube tutorials? Whether you want a braid even Khaleesi will envy or a messy up-do, leave your tresses to the hands of expert hair stylists! Salons in Jakarta are so affordable it’s no wonder everyone looks polished at all times.
31. Don’t stop there, get your make-up done too!
Sign up for the whole she-bang and get dolled up… It’s the big city after all. And the best bit is, you can find some fabulously affordable prices of under IDR 1mill.
32. Channel your inner domestic goddess and sign up for a cooking class.
We absolutely love eating out, but we also love impressing our friends and family with our newfound culinary skills. And psst… the kiddos can train for Junior Masterchef too!
33. Drink your way through Jakarta’s best coffee shops.
With a new café popping up every other week, coffee culture is major in the Big Durian. Top tip: swing by all the best coffee shops in Kemang, for perfectly brewed cuppas.
34. Treat yourself to a fabulous staycation at a glamorous boutique hotel
For your next minibreak, skip the hassles of air travel and enjoy a staycation at one these fine gems. Plush robes + hotel sheets + room service = heaven…
35. Shop ’til you drop at the MANY shopping malls in Jakarta
With a major shopping centres available in every neighbourhood, you can’t blame Jakartans for making hanging out in malls one of their ultimate pastimes. Indulge yourself in some retail therapy, or just window shop through the store fronts of international high street brands, luxury designers and great local finds.
36. Perfect your downward dog (or just go straight to savasana)
You need yoga to survive this crazy city. Lucky for us, there’s plenty of studios and shalas across the city to inhale and exhale in peace…
37. Take your special someone on a day of pampering just because…
A couples’ massage is a fabulous date idea where everybody wins!
38. Take your empty stomachs and eat your way through PIK
This North-side foodie neighbourhood is always up on the latest food trends.
39. Round up your friends for a paintball war
Every man for themselves, of course.
40. Impress your date with a romantic candle-lit dinner
There’s a reason why the classic dinner date never gets old! Impress your beloved and let sparks fly at one of Jakarta’s top romantic restaurants.
Happy Jakarta exploring, Honeys!