Many visitors to the capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta, will tell you that there isn’t much to recommend it. It’s hot, brash, crowded, and extremely polluted, and is often described by residents as ‘The Big Durian’ in reference to the famously stinky Asian fruit. That said, if you plan on spending any length of time in Indonesia then you may well find yourself with a few days to spare in Jakarta as you pass through on the way to somewhere that’s easier to handle. If you do end up here for any reason, even by choice, then there a few highlights that are worth braving the constant traffic for.
Monas Tower is one of the most iconic buildings in all of Jakarta and you will probably pass it at some point as you cross town. The tower was built as a symbol of the Indonesian struggle for Independence and you’ll find it in Merdeka (Freedom) Square. There is a museum at the base which is open to the public and an observation deck at the top with views over the city, and the tower is topped with a bronze flame called the ‘Flame of Independence’. For Indonesians on a trip to Jakarta from other areas this is an absolute must-visit so expect lots of adoring crowds. One of the best things about Monas is that it can be hard not be caught up in the feeling of national pride that fills the air around this monument, just don’t expect crystal clear views from the top.
Taman Mini Indonesia Indah
If you don’t have time to visit the whole of Indonesia which is impossible with only a 30 day visa and 17,000 islands to choose from, you would do well to take in one of Jakarta’s more interesting attractions, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah or ‘Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park’. The theme park is divided into the 26 different provinces that make up Indonesia and visitors can enjoy a fast paced tour of this fascinating country with models of traditional houses, scenes from daily Indonesian life, and explanations of local customs. It may sound a bit fake but if you aren’t going to explore much of Indonesia outside of the central areas then Taman Mini will show you a snapshot of one of the most interesting and diverse countries in the world in just an afternoon.
Jakarta definitely isn’t for everyone and if you don’t have time to travel there then it’s not necessarily worth going out of your way for unless you want to see another smoggy city. If you are passing by however then there are a few attractions to keep you going for a day or two, although you’d be better to move on sooner rather than later.